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2018 NBA Draft Big Board 2.0: Breakout Stars Rise up the Rankings

The lottery is beginning to take shape as the college basketball season rolls on. Which players have helped their stock the most? The Crossover's Front Office reveals its Big Board 2.0.

With about a month of college games in the bag and plenty of data to pore over, it’s a good time to re-assess the 2018 NBA draft's top 60 prospects as conference play approaches.

While our Mock Draft aims to project what the draft might look like on a given day of the season and factors in team needs, the Big Board serves as our own point of reference for the available player pool. These rankings are based on our own evaluations and conversations with NBA scouts, and establishes how we'd rate prospects in a vacuum (a scenario, of course, that will never actually happen). 

Gifted Arizona center DeAndre Ayton remains atop our draft board, with Luka Doncic and Marvin Bagley a close second and third, respectively. High-scoring Oklahoma guard Trae Young moves into first-round territory, as does intriguing draft-eligible high schooler Anfernee Simons. The big picture remains extremely fluid. Here’s how we see it.

(Note: Rankings and stats last updated Dec. 11).

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1. DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona | Freshman

Height: 7'0" | Weight: 260 pounds | Age: 19 | Last Ranking: 1 

Elite physical tools, soft touch around the basket and a promising jump shot make Ayton a tantalizing prospect. He has most of the traits you want in a modern center plus the athletic ability to face up and play in space. The college game comes easily to him, and Ayton checks essentially every offensive box for his position. There are fair questions about his defensive comprehension and shot-blocking woes, but with his nimble feet and sheer size and strength, he has the tools to be an above-average presence around the rim. He’s a manchild with crazy-high upside and a potential franchise cornerstone.

2. Luka Doncic, G, Real Madrid

Height: 6'8" | Weight: 220 | Age: 18 | Last: 3

At 18, Doncic has become perhaps the top player in the Euroleague and a potential No. 1 pick. He’s comfortable as a lead ball-handler and has become deadly from three-point range. He makes his teammates better and reads the floor beyond his years. While he will face an adjustment to the speed of NBA defenses, there’s not really much to nitpick here, and his strong performances for Slovenia against high-caliber competition round out an impressive résumé. Doncic appears a safe bet to continue on the fast track and contribute at a high level as an NBA playmaker.

3. Marvin Bagley III, F/C, Duke | Freshman

Height: 6'11" | Weight: 235 | Age: 18 | Last: 2

Known for his aggression on the glass and competitiveness, Bagley manufactures easy baskets and possesses uncommonly fluid athleticism for a guy his size. He should become a versatile defensive piece on the perimeter, but has struggled to guard on the interior thus far. His growth as a scorer in the halfcourt will ultimately make or break him, and his jump shot is a work in progress, but his makeup and base strengths give his value a solid floor. His quick adjustment from reclassifying out of high school to dominating college competition is truly impressive. With his ball-handling and ability to face up, he has considerable room to grow.

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4. Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas | Freshman

Height: 7'0" | Weight: 225 | Age: 19 | Last: 5

With off-the-charts length and impressive mobility, Bamba is potentially a dominant interior defender. His 7’9” wingspan deserves a sentence of its own. He has a slender frame and continues to round out his offensive skill set, but has shown ability as a jump shooter and is a constant threat to catch lobs. He’s further off from contributing than some of this draft’s other elite prospects, but his best-case scenario is right there with them. Bamba has an opportunity to evolve into a defensive-minded antidote for the young, perimeter-oriented bigs beginning to take over the NBA.

5. Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri | Freshman

Height: 6'10" | Weight: 215 | Age: 19 | Last: 4

Porter is a smooth, polished scorer who thrives on the perimeter and should be able to play either forward spot. Shooting is at a premium, and Porter’s ball-handling and perimeter skills give him a chance to contribute immediately. He can be a ball-stopper, and rounding out his game with playmaking and defense are the next steps, but he’s a pretty ideal frontcourt prospect in the pace-and-space era. Following back surgery, concerns over his long-term health and mobility are warranted. Barring major red flags, he won’t fall far.

6. Jaren Jackson Jr., F/C, Michigan State | Freshman

Height: 6'11" | Weight: 240 | Age: 18 | Last: 6 

Jackson boasts NBA bloodlines and an intriguing blend of scoring touch, shot-blocking and three-point shooting potential. On top of that, he’s also producing on the court and competing hard as one of the youngest players in college basketball. His jump shot mechanics are unorthodox, which may limit how much of that specific success translates. As his body fills out, Jackson should become a better finisher around the rim. He has made major all-around strides over the last year or so and is worthy of consideration high in the draft.

7. Robert Williams III, F/C, Texas A&M | Sophomore

Height: 6'9" | Weight: 240 | Age: 20 | Last: 7

A strong, athletic big with some inside-out scoring ability and a nose for the ball, Williams is a talented rim-runner who catches lobs and does a good job on the offensive glass. Williams is also a good passer with better feel than he’s been given credit for. It’s imperative he finds ways to better involve himself in games as a scorer, but he’s currently cast into a secondary role on a very good team. As a result, his offensive impact can be highly inconsistent. There aren’t many college bigs who play above the rim as easily as Williams can, and he has considerable potential as a Clint Capela-style five-man.

8. Collin Sexton, G, Alabama | Freshman

Height: 6'2" | Weight: 190 | Age: 18 | Last: 10

Sexton is an aggressive, shoot-first guard whose handle and burst allow him to consistently penetrate defenses and draw fouls. He’s shown some improvement as a three-point shooter and has the ability to be a good defender when locked in. Sexton isn’t a pure point and can improve as a decision maker with the ball, but he has a good chance to become an effective change-of-pace scorer at minimum. He can occasionally struggle to finish around bigs, but his blend of shot-creation and toughness is rare. If he continues to draw fouls at a high rate in the NBA, the outlook should be sunny.

9. Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky | Freshman

Height: 6'9" | Weight: 215 | Age: 18 | Last: 12

On an inconsistent, younger-than-usual Kentucky roster, Knox has emerged as John Calipari’s top prospect. He’s developed into a capable three-point shooter and has enviable physical tools, with the size and reach to guard either forward spot and rebound effectively. Knox could stand to be more aggressive attacking the basket, and still has games where he disappears for long stretches. But his body and versatility project well, and he’s still quite far from the player he could eventually become.