The 2018 NBA Draft is Thursday night from Brooklyn, and it should be all that anyone around the Association is talking about. However, it has largely been overshadowed by the big news that San Antonio Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard, a Top-5 player in the league when healthy, wants a trade.
The Spurs could call Leonard’s bluff because they can offer him so much more money as a free agent next summer, but if the team is going to trade him there’s a good chance it happens before/during Thursday’s draft so San Antonio can plan for the 2018-19 season and add young talent.
It’s fair to say that each of the NBA’s other 29 teams will be calling the Spurs about Leonard. He wants a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers, but the Spurs will do what’s best for them.
One team interested in Leonard is the Phoenix Suns, who will pick first overall in the draft for the first time in franchise history. That pick surely would interest San Antonio in any Leonard deal, but it’s expected that Phoenix will keep it and select University of Arizona freshman seven-footer Deandre Ayton. Oddsmakers at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com list him as a huge favorite to go first overall.
Ayton, from the Bahamas, last season became the third player in conference history to win Pac-12 Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors, joining Shareef Abdur-Rahim in 1996 and Kevin Love in 2008. Rahim had a good NBA career and Love is in the midst of a very good one, but neither possessed the ceiling of Ayton.
The draft’s drama thus should begin at No. 2 with the Sacramento Kings. Most expect them to choose between Luka Doncic, considered by some the top European prospect ever, and Marvin Bagley, the ACC Player of the Year as a freshman at Duke. Doncic, the youngest MVP in EuroLeague history at age 19, is given 2018 NBA Draft odds of +175 to go second or better Thursday and -220 odds for third or worse. Bagley is -350 to go third or better and +260 for fourth or worse. The Atlanta Hawks pick third and the Memphis Grizzlies fourth.
It used to be that NBA teams would select by position of need, by that’s not really the case any longer because the league has become almost position-less. So, it’s best player available. There are two polarizing prospects who will go somewhere in the lottery in Oklahoma point guard Trae Young and Missouri forward Michael Porter.
Young was unbelievable as a freshman at Oklahoma in becoming the first player ever to lead the country in scoring and assists. However, he’s really small, might have trouble finding his own shot in the NBA and figures to be a major liability on defense. Then again, some scouts see Steph Curry. Young is -140 to be picked at No. 7 or better and +110 eighth or worse.
Porter Jr. was considered by most the top high school player in last year’s class but played only a couple of games for Missouri due to back surgery. That’s going to scare off some teams. Porter is -150 to be selected at No. 6 or better and +120 seventh or worse. The Chicago Bulls have been rumored to be looking at both Young and Porter; they pick No. 7.
For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.