The 2018 Draft will be recognized as one of the best in NBA history in just a few years. The draft was loaded with talent, many of whom are among the best players in the league today. Looking at the growth of the top-7 picks so far, it is clear to see that 2018 was a special year for the NBA.
While not all of these picks are stars, they are growing by the year and will continue to improve. But the very best players in the 2018 draft are already NBA stars and having an immediate impact in the playoffs this season. Here are the top-7 picks that are prospering in the league right now.
Players Disappointing So Far
Kevin Knox - No. 9 Pick
Season Statistics: 3.9 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.3 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Kevin Knox has been a flop so far as a member of the New York Knicks. Knox was given a run of playing time to start his career but his minutes are not increasing as the years go by. Despite his size and athleticism, he hasn't made an impact as a starting-caliber player just yet.
As a result, Knox has been very disappointing. After playing 28.8 MPG in his rookie season, he has played 17.9 MPG last season to only 11.0 MPG this year. Knox most likely played his final season with the Knicks, and his limited playing time as a top-10 pick is a disappointing reality.
Mo Bamba - No. 6 Pick
Season Statistics: 8.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.3 SPG, 1.3 BPG
Mo Bamba has not reached many expected heights so far, but his potential is there. Bamba is 7'0" tall with length by his side, so an improved post-game and physical strength are what is needed next for the Orlando Magic center.
His statistics are improving slightly every year and his minutes should improve as he gains more confidence on the court. Bamba will need to improve his career 32.5% 3-point percentage to get major minutes, however, because an offensively limited big man isn't needed in modern NBA rotations.
Wendell Carter Jr. - No. 7 Pick
Season Statistics: 11.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Carter Jr has had a turbulent season as he was traded after 32 games with the Chicago Bulls. Carter Jr is a talented big man with size and an offensive game, so the Magic will have to decide if they want to keep him or Mo Bamba long-term. It will be difficult to see both players getting major minutes on the floor together.
Although Carter Jr has been relatively consistent for the past 3 years in terms of his protection, a jump is expected soon. He is only 22 years old and at 6'10", he will have opportunities to be effective. Shooting 24.1% from three is not very good, so he must improve his shooting to gain more minutes on the floor.
Players Meeting And Exceeding Expectations
Marvin Bagley III - No. 2 Pick
Season Statistics: 14.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Bagley III was one of the most hyped prospects in the 2018 Draft because he can be the perfect modern power forward. He is athletic enough to guard multiple positions and has upside in his offensive game. Bagley has not seen his production jump at all over his first 3 seasons, which is strange considering his physical gifts.
But Bagley III can play basketball, there is no question about it. He is only 22 years old and his shooting numbers are very raw. Bagley III is only draining 57.5% of his foul shots and 34.3% of his threes, so improvement is expected there. Overall, he is one of the most promising players from the draft.
Miles Bridges - No. 12 Pick
Season Statistics: 12.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.2 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Miles Bridges is one of the brightest sparks in the 2018 Draft even when no one expected him to become a starting-caliber player. He is playing 26.8 MPG through 3 seasons with the Hornets and his playing time should increase as he shows more confidence in his game. The positive news has been his three-point shooting.
Bridges nailed 40.0% of his three-pointers this year, despite taking around 4 a game. Bridges is 6'6" so he can handle both forward positions which is a massive plus in the modern game. Bridges has slightly exceeded expectations because he can be trusted to play big minutes so far.
Jaren Jackson Jr. - No. 4 Pick
Season Statistics: 14.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.6 BPG
Jaren Jackson Jr can do a lot of things on the floor and there is no question he is a long-term player for the Memphis Grizzlies. With Ja Morant on the court, it will be very useful to have a shot-blocking big man who can shoot alongside him. In 117 games so far in his career, Jackson Jr is shooting 37.4% from three.
Averaging 1.5 BPG is nothing to sniff at as a young player and he has shown a willingness to be an effective paint player against opposing teams. Jackson Jr only played 4 games this season so hopefully, he can bounce back and take a big step in his game.
Mikal Bridges - No. 10 Pick
Season Statistics: 13.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.9 BPG
The Phoenix Suns finished with the 2nd seed in the Western Conference because of a lot of factors, but the play of Mikal Bridges was one of them. Bridges is a perfect wing player in today's game because he is lethal from deep (42.5%), and is a stout defender. Phoenix found a gem with the No. 10 pick.
Bridges is forming a nice partnership with Chris Paul and Devin Booker because he can spot up for open shots and fights every possession on defense. His play against the Los Angeles Lakers was impressive in the first round and he will only get better as one of the best players out of the 2018 Draft.
Collin Sexton - No. 8 Pick
Season Statistics: 24.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Sexton was in the running for both the Most Improved Player of the Year Award and also the All-Star Team this year. He took a jump from averaging 20.8 PPG and 3.0 APG to 24.3 PPG and 4.4 APG. He is explosive, confident, and has All-Star potential.
The Cleveland Cavaliers know that Collin Sexton is their franchise star so they will do anything to continue to build around him. Sexton took 18.4 shots per game this season so as his workload increases, he will soon be one of the best players that came out of the 2018 Draft.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander - No. 11 Pick
Season Statistics: 23.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 5.9 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Gilgeous-Alexander is already one of the best guards in the game and he is only 22 years old. His raw athleticism gives him an advantage every night but there is no denying his skill set as an all-around player. At 6'6", he can be a very dominant point guard.
Gilgeous-Alexander is the franchise star for the Oklahoma City, as the franchise passed up on both Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul got his talents. His shooting was fantastic this season as well, nailing 50.8% from the field and 41.8% from three. There is no doubt that the No. 11 pick has exceeded expectations.
Michael Porter Jr. - No. 14 Pick
Season Statistics: 19.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.9 BPG
Porter Jr should have finished top-5 in the draft because everyone knew how talented he is. At 6'10" sign slick handles and a jump shot, he is an All-Star caliber player in the league. He only fell to the No. 14 pick due to doubts about his back, but the 22-year old has pushed all these concerns away with his play.
After Nikola Jokic, Porter Jr might be the most valuable member of the Denver Nuggets. He can play both forward positions and has a ton of confidence in his scoring ability. Nailing 54.2% of his field-goal attempts and 44.5% of his threes this year, Porter Jr is a star in the making.
Deandre Ayton - No. 1 Pick
Season Statistics: 14.4 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.2 BPG
Ayton is lighting up the playoffs so far, averaging 19.5 PPG and 13.5 RPG against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. Ayton is managing very well against experienced stars such as Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond, and it is clear he is the best big man in the 2018 Draft.
Deandre Ayton will continue to benefit greatly from the play and leadership of Chris Paul, as he is learning how to be a winning player on both ends. Ayton has not let anyone down with his play since his rookie season and he will be an All-Star soon.
Trae Young - No. 5 Pick
Season Statistics: 25.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 9.4 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.2 BPG
The Atlanta Hawks wanted Trae Young so bad that they traded down in the draft to get him. While missing out on Luka Doncic causes a lot of people to scratch their heads, Young is a terrific point guard who has led his team into the playoffs as the 5th seed this year.
Trae Young averaged 25.3 PPG and 9.4 APG this year and in terms of shotmaking and playmaking, he looks a lot like a Stephen Curry Lite. Young is a miniature player so he gets exposed on defense on a lot of possessions but there is no denying he is an offensive machine so he should've been drafted in the top-3.
Luka Doncic - No. 3 Pick
Season Statistics: 27.7 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 8.6 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.5 BPG
A lot of people knew Luka Doncic was good, but nobody saw this kind of production coming from the Slovenian. In only his third season, he is already a triple-double machine averaging 27.7 PPG, 8.0 RPG, and 8.6 APG for the Dallas Mavericks. Thanks to Doncic, the Mavericks have made the playoffs the last two years.
Luka and the Mavs also shocked the Los Angeles Clippers by taking a 2-0 lead early in the series and even with the Clippers win, it is clear who the best player in that series has been. At this rate, Doncic is destined for the Hall of Fame before he plays a decade in the league. As the most impactful star in the 2018 Draft, he is also the best player in the world under 23 years old.