NBA Re-Draft 2018: Would Luka Doncic or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander become No. 1?

Few draft classes in the 2000s produced as much talent as the 2018 NBA Draft.

He has produced MVP candidates such as Luka Doncic and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. It has produced All-Stars such as Trae Young and Jaren Jackson Jr. It has produced NBA champions such as Michael Porter Jr. and Bruce Brown.

But it also produced players who failed to live up to expectations. And with hindsight being 20/20, here’s how a lottery overhaul for the 2018 NBA Draft would likely play out, according to The Oklahoman’s Joe Mussatto and Justin Martinez:

More: OKC Thunder vs Dallas Mavericks Predictions, Odds: Who Wins the NBA Playoff Series?

2018 NBA Draft Lottery Overhaul

1. Phoenix Suns: Luka Doncic

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) dribbles past Phoenix Suns forward Josh Okogie (2) during the first half at American Airlines Center.

Actual choice: Deandre Ayton

The Suns hired a Slovenian head coach in Igor Kokoskov, then made the mind-boggling decision to pass on the Slovenian superstar to Doncic.

In Phoenix’s defense, Deandre Ayton was a key starter during the Suns’ 2021 NBA Finals run. But the Ayton era ended badly and Doncic is on a legendary trajectory.

-Joe Mussatto

2. Sacramento Kings: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

December 14, 2023; Sacramento, California, United States; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) dribbles against Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox (right) during the fourth quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Actual choice: Marvin Bagley III

Sacramento missed the mark horribly by selecting Marvin Bagley III, who made only 69 starts in four seasons with the team.

Gilgeous-Alexander would have been the right choice. He would form one of the deadliest duos in the NBA today alongside De’Aaron Fox.

-Justin Martinez

More: Mussatto: Why Thunder vs Mavericks is the NBA rivalry we dreamed of

3. Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young

April 17, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, United States; Chicago Bulls guard Javonte Green (24) defends against Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) during the second half during a 2024 NBA Playoffs game at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Actual choice: Luka Doncic (traded to Dallas)

The Hawks selected Young at No. 5 after trading No. 3 to Dallas, where the Mavericks wisely selected Doncic.

I was tempted to favor Jalen Brunson over Young here, but Young took the Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals and I imagine a world in which Atlanta doesn’t make the Dejounte Murray trade.


4. Memphis Grizzlies: Jalen Brunson

February 6, 2024; New York, New York, United States; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) dribbles against Memphis Grizzlies forward Vince Williams Jr. (5) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Actual choice: Jaren Jackson Jr.

I cannot, in good conscience, let Brunson be left out of this overhaul twice.

Memphis is surely happy with its current selection of Jackson, but Brunson’s game is on a whole other level. And since this was before Ja Morant arrived in 2019, selecting Brunson as Mike Conley’s successor would have been a good move on Memphis’ part.


5. Dallas Mavericks: Mikal Bridges

February 3, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States; Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges (1) against Philadelphia 76ers guard Jaden Springer (11) during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Actual choice: Trae Young (traded to Atlanta)

I don’t think Dallas would approve of this rephrasing.

There is a very steep cliff after the top four. I’ll go with Bridges, a top 3-and-D option who is best deployed like that, not as a No. 1 guy like we saw in Brooklyn.


More: NBA Playoffs 2024: full schedule, bracket breakdown, how to watch

6. Orlando Magic: Jaren Jackson Jr.

January 26, 2024; Memphis, Tennessee, United States; Memphis Grizzlies forward center Jaren Jackson Jr. (13) shoots toward the basket as Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac (1) defends during the first half at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Actual choice: Mo Bamba

In addition to being the title of a Sheck Wes song, Mo Bamba’s time in the NBA was not very memorable.

Orlando would have been happy to land Jackson. He would have been the Magic’s defensive anchor, taking pressure off Nikola Vucevic and allowing him to focus on getting buckets.


7. Chicago Bulls: Michael Porter Jr.

April 27, 2024; Los Angeles, California, United States; Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. (1) fights for position with Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) during the third quarter in game four of the first round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

Actual choice: Wendell Carter Jr.

Porter might have the purest jumper in this class.

He’s the perfect fit in Denver, but I’d be curious to see what he would have looked like in Chicago with a bigger role.


8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Deandre Ayton

April 7, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, United States; Portland Trail Blazers center Deandre Ayton (2) shoots the ball over Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Actual choice: Collin Sexton

Although Ayton hasn’t done much to improve his game throughout his time in the NBA, he has career averages of 16.7 points and 10.5 rebounds.

That’s not a bad pick at No. 8 for the Cavaliers, whose most promising young center at the time was second-year Ante Zizic.


More: Cleveland Cavaliers vs Orlando Magic predictions, odds: who wins the NBA playoff series?

9. New York Knicks: Robert Williams III

October 27, 2023; Portland, Oregon, United States; Portland Trail Blazers center Robert Williams III (35) shoots a basket during the first half against Orlando Magic center Moritz Wagner (21) at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Actual choice: Kevin Knox

Among the 60 players drafted, Williams ranks 36th in minutes played between Keita Bates-Diop and Chimezie Metu.

Taking Williams here, fingers crossed for better luck in case of injury. It’s a silly stat, but Williams ranks No. 1 in this draft class in win shares per 48 minutes.


10. Philadelphia 76ers: Collin Sexton

January 27, 2024; Charlotte, North Carolina, United States; Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton (2) handles the ball against Charlotte Hornets forward Brandon Miller (24) during the second half at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Actual choice: Mikal Bridges

Collin Sexton would have been a fan favorite in Philadelphia.

While Markelle Fultz struggled to live up to high expectations, Sexton would have been a sparkplug with a toughness that fit the city. He’s averaged 18.9 points on 38.3% shooting from deep throughout his career, which is good value at the No. 10 pick.


11. Charlotte Hornets: Grayson Allen

Phoenix Suns guard Grayson Allen (8) drives to the basket against Charlotte Hornets forward Aleksej Pokusevski (17) during the first quarter at Spectrum Center in Charlotte on March 15, 2024.

Actual choice: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (traded to Los Angeles Clippers)

Allen is a career 41% 3-point shooter who shot a league-leading 46% this season. I’m sure Duke fans would have accepted this choice.


More: Why former Thunder guard Tre Mann attended OKC’s playoff win over New Orleans

12. Los Angeles Clippers: Anfernee Simons

Actual choice: Miles Bridges

Anfernee Simons is not Gilgeous-Alexander, who Los Angeles ultimately acquired on draft night.

Still, I wonder how Simons would have evolved if he had immediately been given the keys to an offense instead of being Damian Lillard’s understudy. Simons averaged career highs of 22.6 points and 5.5 assists this season, so the potential is clearly there.


13. Los Angeles Clippers: Donte DiVincenzo

New York Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) blocks a layup attempt made by Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso (6) in the third quarter at Madison Square Garden on April 14.

Actual choice: Jerome Robinson

Not the flashiest pick, but DiVincenzo has been a solid rotation player in each of his four NBA stops. This season with the Knicks was the best of DiVincenzo’s career.


14. Denver Nuggets: Bruce Brown

November 8, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, United States; Indiana Pacers forward Bruce Brown (11) shoots the ball as Utah Jazz guard Keyonte George (3) defends in the second half at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Actual choice: Michael Porter Jr.

Brown shined in his lone season with Denver in 2022-23, and the team won its first championship in franchise history.

It’s hard to miss Porter in this overhaul. But Denver would be happy to benefit from a few more years of Brown’s service.


More: Predictions, Odds: Denver Nuggets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves: Who Wins the NBA Playoff Series?

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: 2018 NBA Draft Recast Is it Luka Doncic or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander?

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