By Norm Elrod

When: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 7 p.m. ET
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
How to Watch: ESPN

Deandre Ayton #13 of the Arizona Wildcats reacts after dunking against the USC Trojans during the championship game of the Pac-12 basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena on March 10, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Wildcats won 75-61.

Deandre Ayton (Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Storylines:

Who will be the top pick? A lot of experts have Deandre Ayton slated to go first, and with good reason. A first-team All-American at Arizona as a freshman, the 7’1″ center averaged over 20 points and 11 rebounds. He’s an NBA-ready player to build around and the Phoenix Suns, which hold the top pick, need help up and down the roster. The Suns haven’t drafted well in recent years, aside from Devin Booker (2015) and possibly Josh Jackson (2017). Will they make the right call this year?

Just how stacked is this year’s draft? A recent mock draft from Gary Parrish at CBSSports.com projects the following players to go one through five: Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Jaren Jackson Jr., Luka Doncic, and Mohamed Bamba. The downside grows (or the upside shrinks) the further we get into the draft pool. Note that Parrish’s top five doesn’t include Trae Young, who was the biggest story in college basketball for much of last season, or Michael Porter, Jr., who entered the year as the projected top pick prior to back surgery. And players like Mikal Bridges, a great shooter who who just won a national championship, and Miles Bridges, a strong shooter and passer who can guard multiple positions, will likely be day-one contributors wherever they end up. This draft class has talent, but every draft class has talent, so how will this draft class compare with those from other years?

Real Madrid's Slovenian Luka Doncic (R) goes for the basket past CSKA's US center Othello Hunter during the Euroleague Final Four second semifinal match between CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid at Belgrade's Stark Arena on May 18, 2018.

Luka Doncic (Photo Credit: Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty Images)

Does Luka Doncic have NBA-level athleticism?┬áDoncic may be the most polished European prospect ever. He has played three seasons with Real Madrid, debuting in 2015 at the age of 16 and winning the league MVP award in 2018. The teenager helped lead Slovenia to its first EuroBasketball championship in 2017, collecting All-Tournament Team honors along the way. Despite the prodigy’s stellar career to date (and the fact that he’s already played with and against NBA-level talent), questions remain about his ability to transition to the NBA. Is he athletic enough? Can he make space and get to the rim?

What will the Cavaliers do with the eighth pick? The Cavaliers have LeBron James, the best player in a generation, and next season they may not. With that uncertainty, the team will need to select the player that best fits their future plans, whatever those might be. Do they take the best player that’s available? Do they take the player with the biggest potential upside? Do they take a player that they can turn around and trade quickly, if they need to. Or do they trade down (or out) and stock up on picks and NBA contributors?

Trae Young #11 of the Oklahoma Sooners looks at the court after passing the half court line against the Texas Longhorns at Lloyd Noble Center on February 17, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma. The Longhorns defeated the Sooners 77-66.

Trae Young (Photo Credit: Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Draft Order (First Round):

1. Phoenix Suns
2. Sacramento Kings
3. Atlanta Hawks
4. Memphis Grizzlies
5. Dallas Mavericks
6. Orlando Magic
7. Chicago Bulls
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Brooklyn Nets)
9. New York Knicks
10. Philadelphia 76ers (from Los Angeles Lakers)
11. Charlotte Hornets
12. Los Angeles Clippers (from Detroit Pistons)
13. Los Angeles Clippers
14. Denver Nuggets
15. Washington Wizards
16. Phoenix Suns (from Miami Heat)
17. Milwaukee Bucks
18. San Antonio Spurs
19. Atlanta Hawks (from Minnesota Timberwolves)
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Oklahoma City Thunder)
21. Utah Jazz
22. Chicago Bulls (from New Orleans Pelicans)
23. Indiana Pacers
24. Portland Trail Blazers
25. Los Angeles Lakers (from Cleveland Cavaliers)
26. Philadelphia 76ers
27. Boston Celtics
28. Golden State Warriors
29. Brooklyn Nets
30. Atlanta Hawks (from Houston Rockets)