The event is taking place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York and has huge ramifications for all 30 of the league’s franchises

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on June 22, 2018

The Phoenix Suns have used the top pick to draft the physically imposing DeAndre Ayton, who averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game in his lone season at the University of Arizona. Ayton is projected as an elite low-post player and stands 2.16m tall and weighs in at 118kg. He was widely expected to be the first player chosen.

Marvin Bagley III was taken by the Sacramento Kings at number two and Luka Dončić was selected third by the Atlanta Hawks. Dončić was immediately traded to the Dallas Mavericks for the fifth pick and a future first-round pick.

Dončić, a multidimensional combo guard with a preternatural understanding of the game, joins the NBA after enjoying unprecedented success for a 19-year-old in the EuroLeague. In a competition seen as the second strongest in the world, he won the league’s MVP (most valuable player) award and guided his team, Real Madrid, to the championship.

Ben Morel, the NBA’s Managing Director, Senior Vice President, Middle East & Africa, previously told The CEO Magazine that Dončić would increase interest in the league across Europe.

“We’re following his fantastic early career with great interest. We look forward to him joining the NBA in due course,” Morel said.

“The pipeline of talent is very strong in the region and will continue.”

Bagley was arguably the winner of the night being selected in second spot, higher than he was projected by most NBA draft experts. While other top prospects connived to get out of being drafted by the shambolic Sacramento Kings franchise, Bagley benefitted from being a rare example of a star prospect who was openly willing to join the team.

Conversely, Michael Porter Jr. reportedly turned off a number of teams with his endless reserves of self-regard and tumbled down the board to the 14th pick. After high school, Porter had been considered one of the top two or three prospects in the nation. He then suffered major back injuries and only made three underwhelming appearances in college basketball before declaring for the draft. This didn’t prevent him from favourably comparing himself to a number of elite NBA players. Along with concerns over his back, his attitude caused many teams to decide against drafting him.

Fashion, flat earth theory and the future of the NBA

The annual NBA draft is an event that captivates the sporting world. Each franchise has five minutes to make their choice (and just two minutes in the second round) and each selected player receives a team cap from his new team from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

Behind the scenes, team executives are a flurry of activity, updating their selection based on the players available and often wheeling and dealing with other teams to trade picks and move up or down the draft board.

As usual, players’ fashion choices at the draft event were hotly scrutinised. Several players went sockless. Guard Trae Young boldly broke with tradition by wearing suit shorts, while Cleveland-bound Collin Sexton was on the end of good-natured jibes from Sports Illustrated for “trying to make maroon work”.

For all the frivolity of the event (and the strong role that luck plays in determining the order of players chosen), it has profound implications for the league’s franchises. Correctly evaluating the incoming talent and choosing the right player in the draft can be the difference between a franchise becoming a hugely profitable perennial contender or floundering in the doldrums of the league.

Leading up to the draft, the players’ college or international records are analysed in forensic detail, footage of their games is carefully analysed and physical attributes such as their standing reach and wingspan are measured.

At yesterday’s pre-draft media availability, some draftees were grilled on their celebrity crushes and quizzed by teams on what kitchen utensil they would be. Others were even asked if they thought the earth was flat, a belief apparently held by Boston Celtics superstar and self-styled philosopher Kyrie Irving.

San Antonio Spurs draftee Lonnie Walker IV revealed he planned to avoid crying when he got drafted by “stretching his eyes”.

The top five players in the 2018 NBA draft with their previous team and new NBA team:

  1. DeAndre Ayton (Arizona): Phoenix Suns
  2. Marvin Bagley III (Duke): Sacramento Kings
  3. Luka Dončić (Real Madrid): Dallas Mavericks via trade with Atlanta Hawks
  4. Jaren Jackson Jr. (Michigan State): Memphis Grizzlies
  5. Trae Young (Oklahoma): Atlanta Hawks via trade with Dallas Mavericks