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Rival Views: Top NBA Draft pick in 2018

Everybody loves the NBA Draft and everybody loves looking ahead to the NBA Draft. Today, we look ahead to 2018, and Rivals.com analysts Eric Bossi and Corey Evans debate which member of the class of 2017 could end up the top pick.

It's natural to assume it will be the No. 1 player, Michael Porter Jr., and he does appear to be the early front-runner. Consider this, though. Assuming somebody other than Josh Jackson goes No. 1 this year, it will make eight times in the last 11 years that somebody other than the previous year's No. 1 ranked high school player was taken as the top pick.

So even though Porter is generally considered the favorite to go No. 1 in 2018, the odds are actually against Porter being picked first a year from now. So, if we take Michael Porter Jr. off the table as an option, who goes No. 1 in 2018?

MORE: Bossi on NBA Draft Lottery winners | Mo Williams Q and A

BOSSI'S PICK: DEANDRE AYTON

The odds are that a frontcourt player will be the first player chosen. In fact, the odds are heavily in favor of it happening. Since the NBA introduced the lottery in 1985, only four guards -- Allen Iverson, Derrick Rose, John Wall and Kyrie Irving -- have been drafted first.

For that reason, I'll go big, and I'll go with 2017's No. 3 ranked player, Arizona-bound seven-footer DeAndre Ayton.

The Bahamas native has size, he has good athleticism, he can shoot with range and he has very good hands. However, at times his interest level has come and gone and he's hunted jumpers instead of taking advantage of his size. Additionally, it could be argued that his post game hasn't shown much development over the past two years. But he's always rebounded well, and when he's angry, he is almost impossible to stop.

If Ayton can unlock the key to performing consistently and find a better mix between his inside and outside game, then he could easily develop into the top pick in next year's draft.

EVANS' PICK: MOHAMED BAMBA

All eyes were on the ping pong balls on Tuesday evening, and now the Boston Celtics hold the keys to the 2017 NBA Draft with Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson and Lonzo Ball among the candidates to be the top selection in June.

Michael Porter Jr. is thought to be the potential top pick in next year's NBA Draft but if it's not him, Mo Bamba may be the guy. (And with the Celtics owning the Nets' pick again next year, Boston may be at the very top of the draft again.)

Bamba, who committed to Texas on Thursday morning, is one of the most unique prospects that the high school realm has seen in recent years. An intellectual prospect who at one time considered attending Harvard, Bamba will win the various pre-draft meetings with front office personnel. He's an insightful young man who is as professional of an NBA prospect that you’re going to find. Worrying about Bamba off the floor will not be of any concern.

On the floor, Bamba brings an even bigger argument to the table to be the No. 1 pick in the draft. While the low-post center position has become outdated in recent years and the five-star big man remains more of a project on the offensive end, his defensive traits remain elite.

Physically, the New York native does have to get stronger in the coming months, something that the Texas weight room should help with. However, he recently measured in at 7-feet without shoes and has the agility to properly guard a high ball screen. Moreover, he possesses a 7-foot-9 wingspan and a 9-foot-6 standing reach, both of which would have been top marks at this past month’s NBA Draft Combine.

Bamba will be an NBA Draft darling. His offense remains far behind his defense, but thanks to his book smarts, unbelievable length and consistent improvement, Adam Silver will be announcing Bamba as the top pick in the NBA Draft when 2018 rolls around.

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