Through two seasons, the 2018 NBA Draft class already has shown signs of excellence. So, how does each lottery pick grade out so far?
Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns
While he’ll likely never be as good as Luka Doncic or Trae Young, Deandre Ayton is far from a bust with the Suns. Due to his old-fashioned, back-to-the-basket style of play, he doesn’t make many highlight reels or draw a lot of attention.
However, he’s still been very solid, averaging 19 points and 12 rebounds this season.
Marvin Bagley, Sacramento Kings
Maybe I’m harsh with this grading, but there are two factors why Bagley gets a D+. The first is that he hasn’t been able to stay even remotely healthy, and has only played 13 games this season. The second is that he was taken above Luka Doncic, who is already a proven superstar.
While Bagley does have potential, he has to stay healthy for the Kings.
Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
Incredibly, Luka Doncic is only 20 years old. After averaging 28.7 points a game, along with 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists this season, Doncic is already in the elite class of NBA players. It will be interesting to see if he can bring a title back to Dallas later in his career, along with Kristaps Porzingis.
Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies
Another guy who flies under the radar at times, Jaren Jackson Jr. has played very well through his first two seasons with Memphis. After a solid rookie season, Jackson improved in Year 2, posting 16.9 points, and 1.6 blocks a night, while shooting just under 40 percent from beyond the arc.
However, he needs to grow as a rebounder to take his game to the next level.
Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
The only reason the Hawks don’t get an A+ for this pick is that they could have had Luka Doncic.
In Year 2, Trae Young carried a bad Atlanta Hawks team by putting up 29.6 points and 9.3 assists on 43.7 percent from the field. However, Young is a subpar defender with a -2.3 DBPM, which is something he’ll need to improve going forward.
Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic
Through two seasons, Bamba hasn’t been able to live up to the hype he had coming out of Texas. While he’s excellent defensively due to his massive wingspan, his offensive game is all but non-existent. Plus, he often gets into foul trouble, which is a reason why he’s only played 15.3 minutes a night through two seasons.
Still, not all hope is lost for Bamba as he could still be a solid player down the road.
Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago Bulls
Wendell Carter Jr.’s game isn’t anything flashy, but he does his job very well for the young Chicago Bulls. Through two seasons, Carter is averaging 10.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, along with 1.1 blocks on the defensive end.
The biggest question surrounding his game is whether or not he can stay healthy, as he’s missed time in both of his two NBA seasons.
Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers
Someone who got a lot of heat from the media early on, Collin Sexton has played very well for the struggling Cavaliers this season. In Year 2, Sexton put up 20.8 ppg on 47.2 percent from the field and 38.0 percent from deep. However, he needs to improve as a passer, as his 3.0 to 2.4 assist to turnover ratio just won’t cut it for an NBA guard.
Kevin Knox, New York Knicks
After Kevin Knox’s first two seasons in the NBA, his future with the Knicks seems unclear. Knox has looked pedestrian at best, shooting 36.7 percent from the field, with an atrocious -5.2 BPM.
With the team expected to make some moves this offseason, President of Basketball Operations Leon Rose may explore a trade for Knox.
Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns
Quietly, the Villanova product has played well through his first two NBA seasons. While his offensive game is inconsistent at times, Bridges has proven to be a tenacious defender. Through two seasons, Bridges averages 1.5 steals per game, to go along with a 0.9 DBPM. He’ll need to improve his jump shot if he wants to take his game to the next level.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder
After a solid rookie season with the Clippers, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has continued to improve with the Thunder. For an overachieving Oklahoma City team, Gilgeous-Alexander put up 19.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game on 47.3 percent from the field.
If he can continue to improve, Gilgeous-Alexander has All-Star potential.
Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets
Miles Bridges doesn’t attract a lot of attention while playing for the underwhelming Charlotte Hornets. However, he quietly had a nice season in 2019-20, posting 13 points and 5.6 rebounds as well. Bridges is freakishly athletic and often makes highlight plays.
Now, he needs to become more consistent to take his game to the next level.
Jerome Robinson, Washington Wizards
This pick by the Clippers was always seen as a reach, and Jerome Robinson has done next to nothing so far. Landry Shamet, the 26th pick in the 2018 draft, was acquired by the Clippers at the trade deadline last season. Shamet proved to be a knockdown shooter, all but replacing what the Clippers expected out of Robinson.
Los Angeles already gave up on Robinson and traded him to Washington for next to nothing at the trade deadline.
Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets
Finally making his debut this season, Michael Porter Jr. was able to show flashes of potential. Once viewed as a consensus top-five pick, Porter Jr.’s draft stock plummeted after he only played three games at Missouri due to injury. This season, he’s put up 7.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game in 14 minutes off the bench.
It will be interesting to watch him improve in the next few seasons.