The 2017 NBA Draft was praised for its depth at the point guard position. No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz may be sidelined right now but, with the then-Washington star operating in tandem with Lonzo Ball, Dennis Smith Jr., De’Aaron Fox and Frank Ntilikina, last year’s point guard class was both deep and talented at the very top.
While it is still early, the 2018 group is mostly recognized for its talent at the big man positions. In Alabama point guard Collin Sexton, though, it features at least one sure-fire top 10 pick at the point. At this point, Sexton’s claim to fame on a national scale may be his ridiculous performance in leading the Crimson Tide to a competitive outcome while playing 3-on-5 earlier this season. His skill set moves far beyond that, though, even if it is a hat-tip in the direction of his already-legendary competitive streak.
The 6’2 freshman is averaging 21.8 points (on 47.1 percent shooting) to go along with 3.3 assists per game to begin his one and (likely) only college season and Sexton’s full skill set has been on display. He is a terrific athlete that knows how to use his quality size and burst on both ends, with the caveat that his jump shot is still a work in progress, despite the fact that he’s hitting 47.1 percent of his threes. If anything, that is the one knock on his game, as Sexton appears to have the drive to put in the effort needed to impact the game on the defensive end and that bit of safety helps to override the shooting questions.
It is certainly fair to suggest that Sexton’s ultimate ceiling may not reach that of players like Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley III and DeAndre Ayton but, in terms of what he has shown, there is little doubt that he will be a quality NBA point guard for a long time. How much is that valued in the current draft landscape? Well, let’s find out with our December mock draft.
1. Chicago Bulls – Luka Doncic (SG/SF, Slovenia)
There will be plenty of momentum for American college players, simply because the visibility is much greater with the vast majority of the basketball-watching population. Still, it cannot be overstated just how impressive Doncic has been to this point in his development and that matters. Is his upside quite as high as some of the explosive big men in this class? Perhaps not, but Doncic’s floor is so high that it almost doesn’t matter.
2. Sacramento Kings – DeAndre Ayton (C, Arizona)
Ayton’s performance to this point has done nothing to discourage the thought that his upside exceeds anyone in this group. Offensively, he is already a terror with an NBA-ready body and, because he presents some floor game to go along with size and strength, the sky is the limit. On the other end, Ayton is more tools-y than anything right now but, once he figures out how to use his gifts to protect the rim, look out.
3. Atlanta Hawks – Marvin Bagley III (C/PF, Duke)
Because of his early production at arguably the most visible program in college basketball, Bagley has been the most discussed player in the early going. He has been absurdly good (and efficient) on a per-minute basis and that helps to assuage any doubt about his ability to make a quick impact when joining the NBA. That was a legitimate concern given that he reclassified late in the process to enter college a year early, but his motor and athleticism already play up in a big way. Can he shoot consistently from the perimeter and/or protect the rim? Those are the open questions but he’s a top-five player already and, if he proves one or both of those over the course of the campaign, No. 1 isn’t out of the question.
4. Phoenix Suns – Mo Bamba (C, Texas)
This is the first “reach” in this particular mock draft, if only because Michael Porter Jr. would be a brutal fit given Phoenix’s recent draft history. Making selections based on fit this high is perilous but there is enough concern about Porter Jr.’s health to open the door. With Bamba, the Suns would add a much-needed defensive anchor for the future and his 7’9 wingspan is the talk of the pre-draft process. There are real questions offensively, but Bamba has a functional jump shot and could be a terror by simply evolving into an average offensive center at the NBA level.