Now that the NBA Draft Lottery is over, team-based projections for the 2018 NBA Draft, which is a little over a month away, are rolling out quickly.
Sports Illustrated released its most recent mock draft Wednesday, and it has two former Michigan State standouts in the top 10. It projects Jaren Jackson Jr. will go No. 3 overall to the Atlanta Hawks and Miles Bridges will land with the Philadelphia 76ers, who have the 10th pick.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 16, 2018
Jackson and Bridges, who led Michigan State to the 2018 Big Ten regular-season title, have been projected lottery picks since stepping foot on the Spartans’ campus.
Jackson was a top-10 recruit coming out of high school last season and lived up to expectations, averaging 10.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 blocks en route to earning Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Here’s what Sports Illustrated NBA writer Jeremy Woo had to say about the versatile power forward:
“The Hawks leapfrogged one spot to No. 3, which ironically comes after they lost a tiebreaker with the Mavericks for third-best odds. The move will likely give them their choice of big men. Atlanta already has John Collins in place as an athletic, rim-running big, and while this will be close between Jackson and Marvin Bagley, the former’s skill set is a better complement. Jackson is extremely young for his class, and while he’s not as offensively polished or ready for the NBA, he possesses a critical duality for modern bigs: he can step out and shoot from outside, while also defending in space and protecting the rim. Jackson needs to mature physically and mentally before he can become a mainstay, but has improved at a rapid rate over the last couple years. Atlanta has time to let him grow.”
Bridges could have been a lottery pick last season but decided to stay in school and pursue a national championship. His title aspirations fell short, as Syracuse eliminated No. 3 seed Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s second round, but his draft stock remained largely the same. Bridges, a consensus second-team All-American, led the Spartans in points (17.1 per game) and finished second behind Nick Ward in rebounds (7.0 per game).
Woo believes Bridges can be an “ideal fit” for a Sixers team that already has a solid young core of players.
“While questions remain about how good of a shooter Bridges actually is and how much of a defensive plus he can become, he’s extremely athletic and has the makings of a utility-type combo forward. The four is probably his most natural spot, despite a lack of ideal positional size. Bridges could benefit from reimagining himself as a high-energy glue guy.”