Future Watch: 2018 NBA Draft Top 10 Picks – Initial Reaction – The 2018-19 NBA season is officially underway with the completion of yesterday’s draft. We still have the much anticipated free agency period that begins in July, but now is the time to celebrate the new rookie class. Here is an initial look at this year’s first ten picks and how they shape up for collectors.
Pick #1: Phoenix Suns – Deandre Ayton – C – Arizona:
Ayton, for the most part, was the consensus number one pick in this year’s draft. Phoenix needed a big man, and he conveniently played close to the organization at the University of Arizona. Last year as a freshman, he compiled 24 double-doubles in 35 games. He already has a fantastic toolbox of offensive post moves and can contribute immediately as a scorer. He will need a lot of work on the defensive end of the floor, something the entire Suns squad needs to address.
For collectors, Ayton will be a draw because he’s the number one pick and he is going to score points. Big men don’t get as much love as guards or wings on the secondary card market, but Ayton will still command a lot of interest. His ability to score in a variety of ways will get him featured on numerous highlight reels next season. Phoenix isn’t the best market for nationwide collectability, but we’re in a time where that shouldn’t matter too much. If Ayton can come in and put up a double-double on most nights, he’ll get plenty of hobby love.
Pick #2: Sacramento Kings – Marvin Bagley III – PF – Duke:
Sacramento’s pick was pretty much set in stone when Bagley was one of the only top prospects to attend workouts and submit medical information to the team. For the organization, this is a fine pick. He’s an athletic big man with a good motor and finishing ability at the basket although he’s a bit left-hand dominant. His long range shot should translate to the NBA. For the Kings, they got a guy who wants to play for them and can bring some scoring to the center position. Did they pass up on better players with high ceilings? Most definitely.
Bagley’s market for collectors will be lukewarm at best as the season starts. He played for Duke, and collectors looking for him in his college uniform will find plenty of cards from Panini later this summer. Kings fans will either be happy to have a player who wants to play for the team, or they’ll be salty because the team passed on Luka Doncic. Bagley will have to put up numbers for collectors outside of Northern California to take notice.
The first and easily the biggest trade from the 2018 Draft came when Dallas made an aggressive move for Doncic. Easily one of the best European prospects to enter the NBA draft, Doncic was seen by a lot of scouts as the best and most NBA ready player in this year’s class. He’s stands 6’8″ at the point guard position and can do everything on the court. Many casual fans will see Doncic as a boring Euro-Guard but he’s much more than that. Not only is he a gifted passer and playmaker, he’s also a tremendous shooter. His step-back move at the three-point line is reminiscent of James Harden. Once Doncic is comfortably in an NBA strength and conditioning program, watch out.
Dallas is a great fit for Doncic. The team is looking to get back to playoff relevance ASAP, and the organization has a lot of options to make a significant jump in the standings this next season. Rick Carlisle is a tremendous coach, and team owner Marc Cuban isn’t afraid to be aggressive on the free agent market. The Western Conference is tough, and it might take Dallas another year or two to make the playoffs, but they’re much closer with Doncic on the roster. Right now, he’s a top 3 player in terms of rookie collectability and there’s a chance he finishes next season as the rookie card everybody is looking for.
Pick #4: Memphis Grizzlies – Jarren Jackson Jr. – PF – Michigan State:
Memphis may have not made the most tantalizing pick, but they made the right one. Jackson has a very high ceiling on both ends of the floor and a lot of skills that will keep him in NBA rotations for years to come. His 7’4″ wingspan gives him great shot blocking ability, and he runs the floor well for lobs in transition. He needs to work on his passing out of the post, and adding strength will be a top priority. He tends to get bullied in the post.
The Grizzlies should be in full rebuild mode this offseason, and Jackson is a fantastic piece for the team to build around. Collectors haven’t shown Memphis that much love over the years, and that will probably continue into 2018-19. Jackson has the chance to be a great player in the NBA, but he may be more of an afterthought for most collectors next season.
The Doncic-Young trade was easily the most polarizing move of the night. You’ll see Atlanta’s draft grades ranging from A+ all the way down to D. Passing on Doncic will be in the minds of a lot of Hawks fans heading into the season, but their consolation prize is pretty good. Not only did the team get Dallas’ first-round pick next year, they get a player with tremendous shooting range. Trae Young led the NCAA in scoring and assists last season, and his highlight reels are very intriguing. He has Stephen Curry range from outside the arc. The kind of range that only makes sense when you’ve seen him hit multiple 30-foot shots in a night. His long range shooting will draw many comparisons to Curry throughout the summer and as the season starts, and that’s fine. It only helps his hype with collectors.
However, Young will have to do a lot to raise to Curry type levels with collectors. He’s only 6’2″, and he’ll immediately be a defensive liability against bigger point guards. For collectors, that shouldn’t matter as long as he’s sinking buckets. Fans show up early to Warriors games to watch Curry go through his shootaround, will they do the same for Young? Time will tell, but there’s a lot of offensive upside to like with this young point guard.
Young signed an exclusive autograph trading card memorabilia agreement with Panini on June 18th, and he’ll be heavily marketed heading into next season. All it will take is a few highlight reel plays for him to have one of the top rookie cards in this year’s class.
Pick #6: Orlando Magic – Mohamed Bamba – C – Texas:
Orlando’s GM John Hammond LOVES length, and he got plenty of it with Mohamed Bamba. Standing seven feet tall with a 7’10” wingspan, Bamba is already a very gifted shot blocker and gives the Magic a tremendous rim defender. Offensively he’s quite raw outside his ability to catch lobs in transition or off the pick-and-roll. Still, he can make an immediate impact on defense and the Magic will give him plenty of time to round out his game.
Adding lower body strength needs to be a priority as he can get pushed around by stronger centers. Big men seem to get lost a lot in today’s game, and Bamba will need to develop his ability to switch onto and stay with stretch forwards on defense. He showed some shooting range at Texas, but he needs to develop his post moves to stay on the court.
Bamba gives a bit of a Dikembe Mutombo vibe. If he can be that type of player: an aggressive shot blocker and lob-catching dunker, collectors will take notice. Playing in a market like Orlando will probably keep him a bit under the radar, and he should have a lot of affordable rookie cards as the season begins.
Pick #7: Chicago Bulls – Wendell Carter Jr. – C – Duke:
Many scouts thought Carter Jr. was a better player than teammate Marvin Bagley. The Bulls and their fans have to be thrilled Carter fell to them. He makes a lot of sense with their current squad. Physically mature with a 7’3″ winsgspan, Carter brings a polished approach and can step in immediately for the Bulls. He has great hands and tremendous touch around the basket. He’s also an active passer who looks to set his teammates up in the paint and can kick to open three point shooters.
Defense will need to be a priority for Carter as he heads into the season. He isn’t the best switch defender and gets beat often in pick-and-roll situations. He played on a stacked Duke team and would often get lost during stretches of games. This would lead to lapses in confidence and silly turnovers/fouls. Still, his offensive ability and upside makes him a great player for Bulls fans to collect.
Pick #8: Cleveland Cavaliers – Collin Sexton – PG – Alabama:
Outside of Lebron James, it’s tough to find a Cavaliers player worth collecting. Sexton will try to change that narrative. He brings a ton of confidence and shooting ability to the point guard position and had a great run at the end of his college season. The Cavaliers certainly took notice, and snatched up Sexton earlier than many draft experts expected.
Standing only 6’2″, Sexton will need to rely on his length and strength to succeed in the NBA. He’s a solid ball handler, capable of making plays in transition and in half-court sets. He’s the perfect player for a team in a complete rebuild and it looks like that’s what will be happening in Cleveland this summer.
Kyrie Irving showed that rookies in Cleveland can get noticed by collectors. Sexton is a bit different, as he doesn’t have nearly the same offensive ability Irving had coming out of college. If the Cavaliers hand the point guard reigns to Sexton right out the gate, that will go a long way to help with his collectability.
Knox was projected as a mid-to-late first round pick leading up to the draft and saw a big jump after some individual team workouts. Scouts compared his pre-draft workouts to Donovan Mitchell and Paul George. That’s bold, but it should give Knicks fans hope. He’s a high character guy, very well spoken. It shouldn’t take more than a few fan interactions for word to spread that this is a guy to root for and collect.
It may take awhile, but New York has a really nice piece for the future in Knox. He’s a versatile offensive player, capable of scoring at all three levels. He has NBA range from behind the arc, and operates very well in catch and shoot situations. Standing 6’9″ with at 6’11.5″ wingspan, Knox fits the mold of a modern NBA hybrid wing-forward.
Knox’s ceiling is high, but he also has a low floor. He had a lot of sloppy games at Kentucky. Not every Kentucky player comes to the NBA ready to make an impact. It may take some time for Knox but this is a great pick for an organization looking to become relevant. Knox’s rookie cards will fluctuate based on his production throughout the season. He’ll be a good buy low/sell high target. There will be opportunities to do both with his cards next season.
Pick #10: Philadelphia – Mikal Bridges – SF – Villanova (TRADED TO PHOENIX):
This pick was a bit of a bummer. Bridges played for NCAA Champion Villanova (located in Philadelphia) and his mother works in the 76ers organization. After Bridges shook commissioner Adam Silver’s hand and made his way to the ESPN interview, he was joined by his mother to celebrate. What could be better? Bridges gave Villanova and the city of Philadelphia an NCAA championship, and he’s staying close to home with an organization on the rise that employs his mother. Unfortunately, that all changed when he was traded to Phoenix for Zhaire Smith.
Bridges heads to Phoenix where he’ll be overshadowed by Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker. That’s ok, he’s more of a “glue guy” anyway. At his best, he can be a Draymond Green type of player for the Suns who does all the little things. His standing with collectors will be determined by how well Phoenix does in the standings. If everything clicks right and they’re an exciting three or four seed in the Western Conference in 2021-22, Bridges could see some hobby love.
Future Watch: 2018 NBA Draft Top 10 Picks – Initial Reaction
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