Young Bloods: Meet the studs of the 2018 NBA Draft Class

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Hoop fans all over the world will once again have to seek basketball elsewhere as the National Basketball Association (NBA) recently wrapped up its 2017-2018 season.  

Although we would have to wait until October to get our much-needed NBA fix, exciting times still lie ahead with a new wave of talented young bloods coming in next season.

Contrary to last year’s guard-heavy pool, the 2018 NBA Draft on June 21 will feature plenty of quality two-way big men who could easily fit in today’s fast-paced and spread-out game. Several NBA-ready wing players could also crack the rotation of lottery teams, while squads in need of floor generals can also choose from an impressive stable of candidates.

This year’s crop, however, will have some big shoes to fill, considering the 2017 NBA Draft produced a great number of future superstars.

In anticipation of the 2018 NBA Draft, FOX Sports PH wants you to get to know the talented rookies that will rule the league in the coming years.

 

DeAndre Ayton

Position: Center

Last played for: Arizona Wildcats

A number of skilled big men have entered the NBA draft in recent years, with the likes of Karl Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid, and Kristaps Porzingis making their presence felt early in their careers. It looks like Deandre Ayton might soon join the list.

Listed by most mock drafts to be picked first overall by the Phoenix Suns on June 21, the 7’1 Bahamian center is lauded by scouts for his nifty footwork and polished offensive repertoire.

The 19-year-old phenom possesses impressive strength to dominate the interior while also showing the ability to stretch the defense with his outside shooting.

Ayton normed averages of 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds in his lone collegiate career.

Luka Dončić

Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard

Last played for: Real Madrid (EuroLeague)

At only 19 years of age, Luka Dončić was named EuroLeague Final Four MVP and led Real Madrid to the championship. The Slovenian stud has the uncanny ability to create shots for others and make those around him better.

Standing 6’8, Dončić can fill either guard position, while his high basketball IQ would allow him to run an NBA offense right away.

He is also used to playing with high level competition, having played for Real Madrid since he was 16.

Marvin Bagley III

Position: Power Forward

Last played for: Duke Blue Devils

Bagley was simply a match-up nightmare for opposing teams in college, maximizing his superior athleticism to torch defences for 21 points 11.1 boards per game.  

The lefty point-forward has shown the ability to make shots at will and can provide immediate offensive help to whichever team drafts him.

He is also expected to sign a five-year rookie shoe deal with Puma.

Michael Porter Jr.

Position: Small Forward

Last played for: Missouri Tigers

Porter was an early favorite to go number one in this year’s draft until a lower back injury robbed him of his lone college season.

Although health concerns caused his stock to drop, teams would still think twice to pass up on Porter’s NBA-ready frame and refined skillset suited for today’s fast-paced offenses.

 Trae Young

Position: Point Guard

Last played for: Oklahoma Sooners

Young had a dazzling individual season for the Oklahoma Sooners, leading the entire NCAA Division I in both points (27.4) and assists (8.7).

It remains to be seen if he can carry the same success to the pros, but his shot-making ability and absurd range should put the league on notice.

 Mohamed Bamba

Position: Center

Last played for: Texas Longhorns

Bamba enters the draft as an extremely raw prospect offensively, but is heralded by scouts as the most NBA-ready on the defensive end.

He was measured at 7’1 with a 7 ‘10 wingspan at the NBA Combine, breaking the record previously held by Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert.

Jaren Jackson Jr.

Position: Power Forward/Center

Last played for: Michigan State Spartans

Eighteen-year-old prospect Jaren Jackson Jr. appears to have the most potential to grow in this year’s draft, both physically and offensively.

His length and athleticism should make him a factor defensively, but his biggest asset would be his outside shooting; he posted an effective 39.6 clip from beyond the arc in college.

Mikhal Bridges

Position: Small Forward/Shooting Guard

Last played for: Villanova Wildcats

“Three-and-D” specialists seem to be in-demand nowadays in the league, and Mikhail Bridges could possibly be the best one from this bunch.

The sweet-stroking wing was an instrumental part of Villanova’s national title runs in 2016 and 2018.

Collin Sexton

Position: Point Guard

Last played for: Alabama Crimson Tide

The “Young Bull” Collin Sexton had an impressive one-year college career, posting solid averages of 19.2 points and 3.6 dimes for the Crimson Tide.

The speedy guard is perhaps best remembered for his gutsy effort in a loss against the University of Minnesota, finishing with 40 points despite playing shorthanded (3-5) for majority of the second half.

Wendell Carter Jr.

Position: Power Forward/Center

Last played for: Duke Blue Devils

Carter is possibly the best low-risk, high-reward prospect in this year’s draft.

Although not exactly as flashy as his Duke frontcourt mate and fellow freshman Marvin Bagley, Carter presents a well-rounded skillset, averaging 13.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 2.1 blocks for Coach K’s Blue Devils.

Other Notable Names: Miles Bridges, Lonnie Walker, Robert Williams, Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Zhaire Smith, Aaron Holiday, Troy Brown, Donte DiVincenzo

Photo from Getty Images/FIBA 

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