Explaining the Biggest Surprises of the 2018 NBA Draft


Thursday night’s draft wasn’t quite as crazy as advertised, but it certainly wasn’t devoid of intrigue or drama. From Atlanta and Dallas cutting a deal at the top involving high-profile young players Luka Doncic and Trae Young, to lottery talents Lonnie Walker and Robert Williams slipping lower in the first round, plus the fact that a majority of teams stayed put despite a flurry of trade calls across the league, there’s quite a bit to unpack. Before we start worrying about the 2019 draft—and it’s never too early—let’s take one last look inside last night’s major storylines.

For more 2018 NBA draft coverage, check out our pick-by-pick grades of the first round and our behind-the-scenes look from the Barclays Center.

1. As soon as the rest of the league began to realize the Kings were taking Marvin Bagley, it became clear that the Mavericks and Hawks were destined to be trade partners. Picking at No. 3, the Hawks came to understand they ran the market for Doncic, a player Dallas has openly had the hots for within league circles for some time. As we alluded to in recent weeks, there was a push for Trae Young within the Atlanta organization, but the Hawks felt it was a move they could only make with proper value if they were able to trade down in a desirable way. The Hawks’ preference in any trade for their pick was to move the hefty contract of Dennis Schröder or Kent Bazemore, but the Mavericks understandably balked at ruining their cap situation for this summer by taking on either player.

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