The Draft is hours away, and while there are going to be many surprises, trades and shocks tonight, here’s the mock draft with everything taken into account.
With Afflalo being traded to Denver, all talks of this pick going to Orlando are out the window. Despite offerings from the Jazz and Celtics, the Cavaliers haven’t found an offer they like and will most likely keep the pick. With it, comes Jabari Parker.
At 6’8, 260, Parker has the size and strength needed to score and bang with the athletes in the NBA. He was a great rebounder in college and will continue to be at the next level because of his power and his girth. HIs offensive game is extremely well polished and versatile and can score in a plethora of different ways. Despite criticism about his lack of athleticism, he is actually quicker and more agile than people give him credit for – take a look at the video above for proof. The bottom line is that the Cavaliers need some sort of production right now to keep Kyrie around, to attract future free agents, and to finally reach legitimacy and Parker is the man for that job.
If Parker goes #1, Wiggins is the obvious choice. While some say he lacks the motor of Jabari Parker, he has the upside and potential that Parker does not. Wiggins is the most athletic draft prospect since LeBron James and that’s something you can’t teach. Skill can be improved and developed, but the ability to run and jump like Wiggins does is a one of a kind type of thing. With his length and size, Wiggins can guard multiple positions and unlike Parker will have no problem guarding players on the perimeter. While his offensive skills are more raw, Wiggins will be able to affect the game in other ways while his offense develops overtime. Wiggins is the type of player that can put a franchise on his back and carry them. With a young core of Wiggins, Antetekounmpo, Knight and Sanders the Bucks have a nice foundation for the future.
An Exum-MCW backcourt combination would be as intriguing as guard duos get. Both are 6’6. Both are long and athletic. Both can play point and off the ball. Both can defend multiple positions well. The 76ers like Exum and they like the idea of him playing with MCW in a fluid backcourt where some possessions MCW runs the offense and other possessions Exum does. They’d pose a mismatch for most teams they face and despite the lack of shooting they would have, the upside probably outweighs the fact that they wouldn’t be a threat from outside. Both can get into the paint with ease and both are natural playmakers, making the shooting struggles less of a focus.
According to sources the 76ers are fighting hard for the #1 pick and are offering #3, #10, #32, 2015 1st rounder and Thaddeus Young for #1 pick to acquire Wiggins so don’t be surprised if something of that nature goes down.
Vonleh is long, and very athletic, sporting the longest wingspan of 7’4″ in the entire draft. His physical tools give him huge upside both defensively and offensively but what makes him such a good fit for Orlando is that he can shoot from the outside (48% in college) which makes him a great complement to Vucevic who operates solely on the inside. Vonleh is versatile and can guard multiple positions and with his ability to shoot he should be a problem for opposing defenses to guard.
The Jazz are in a weird position where they have a solidified front-court but are faced with only power forwards as the best talent available. Between Randle and Gordon, Gordon brings something to the table that the Jazz don’t have: Athleticism. Gordon’s physical tools give him a huge upside both offensively and defensively. He has a raw post-game but so did Blake Griffin when he came into the league. He’s undersized for his position but his athleticism and length makes up for it. He also has the potential to be a rim protector in the paint with his 7 foot wingspan and 39 inch vertical. The Jazz are unlikely to trade for the #1 pick unless they beef up their existing offer. As it stands, they’re offering Derrick Favors, and the #5 and #23 picks for #1. If they included Alec Burks the Cavaliers would have more to think about, but would still be unlikely to bite.
Embiid’s draft stock has significantly decreased since his foot surgery. A big man with back issues is something to worry about but foot surgery and back issues is too much for teams to take a risk on, especially because of some of the circumstances of the teams in the lottery. Boston is the perfect team to take a chance on Embiid. They severely lack any sort of defensive presence in the paint. With Kris Humphries a free agent, and Sullinger and Olynk both undersized and unathletic, the team needs a rim protector. Embiid falls could step right into that spot. The Celtics have just begun their rebuilding process so taking a risk on Embiid who will be out for likely the whole season next year is something they can afford to do. Ainge hasn’t been scared of health issues in the past, most notably in his drafting of Avery Bradley who had ankle issues and Jared Sullinger who had dealt with back problems. Both of them have panned out well for the Celtics and Ainge is unlikely to let Embiid fall past him at #6. With Rajon Rondo likely on the move soon, Embiid could be the player they begin to build around. He has the offensive upside of a superstar and the physical tools to be one of the best interior defenders in the league. He’s only played basketball for 2 years and already has the offensive skillset in the post of a young Olajuwon. With more years in the league he could become him. The only concern is his health, but the Celtics will take the upside over the downside in this selection. There are rumors that the Celtics are linked to the Kings in a trade that would send Rondo to Sacramento and the #8 pick to Boston, but it has little weight behind it and is likely a baseless rumor.
The Lakers need a point guard and an NBA-ready player and taking Smart kills two birds with one stone. Smart has an intriguing combination of NBA-readiness and unlimited upside. At 6’4, 227, Smart already has an NBA body. He’s not a great shooter but an aggressive driver to the basket and with his size and strength he’s a great finisher around the basket and through contact. He’s very athletic and quick and with a 6’10 wingspan he’ll be able to defend both guard positions if he needs to. The Lakers are looking toward the future and the now, and Smart is someone who can produce for them now while also giving them the point guard they need once the Kobe era is over.
The Kings want a pass first point guard with size and they’d get exactly that from Payton. He’s 6’4″ and has a 6’8 wingspan – a huge upgrade in the size department over Isaiah Thomas. Payton, while a poor shooter from the outside, is lightning quick and great at getting into the paint and making plays. On the other end of the floor, with his length and quickness he is a lockdown defender and could actually bring some competitiveness and energy to that part of the game. Payton has climbed up the draft boards in recent weeks and Sacramento is lucky to find him. There have been rumors of Sacramento trading this pick for Rajon Rondo or trading this pick in general but nothing legitimate has surfaced so for now we’ll assume they keep the pick.
While the Bobcats were one of the feel-good stories of the NBA last year, they had a problem with shooting the ball. Besides Gary Neal, who was not always reliable with his shot, the Bobcats lacked players who could stretch the floor. As a result, defenses were content to sit back and wait in the paint for the Bobcats to attack on the inside.
Doug McDermott comes out of college as the 5th highest scorer in NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball History. Averaging 27 points a game in his senior year, while shooting 45% from deep, McDermott would be the perfect player to compliment Al Jefferson and the entire Bobcats offense. He’s not the most athletic guy in the world and will have some problems defensively due to a severe lack of foot-speed, McDermott has all the skill in the world and he knows how to score in every imaginable way. He’s a sharp shooter, has a polished post game, and because of his strength and wide lower body he’ll be able to bang down low with the bigger bodies in the NBA.
With Exum at #3 the 76ers will then focus on their front-court. Thaddeus Young is always being mentioned in trades and Randle could step in and make him even more expendable. Randle fits with what the 76ers love to do: run. He can run the floor and is a bulldog in the open court. While not the most athletic prospect or the one with unlimited upside – besides Jabari Parker, is the most NBA-ready player in the draft. He is undersized and doesn’t have a lot of length but is much more athletic and quick than people give him credit for. He’s comfortable handling the ball as well, and is a bull dog going to the basket. He also has that fuck you that GM’s covet in a player coming into the league. With his strength, size and touch around the rim, he should be effective immediately. He is undersized at his position but because of his girth and his power he’ll be a force down low.
This pick might be Cleveland’s if they trade with Philadelphia for the #1 pick.
With their acquisition of Arron Afflalo, they’ve solidified the shooting guard position and while it’s unclear if he’ll be on his way to Minnesota, for now there isn’t a need to draft a shooting guard. This pick might not even be theirs if its traded to Minnesota in a deal for Kevin Love. But for now, we’ll pretend that’s not relevant. The Nuggets are fully capable of making a playoff run if everyone is healthy and that’s why they can take a risk on Saric. Saric will be stashed in Turkey for 2 years but the Nuggets can afford to wait as there is no dire need for someone to come in and make an impact immediately. Saric is the prototypical point forward. He has a natural feel for the game, can shoot from the outside and can run the floor and make plays like a point guard. If we’re talking pure skill, Saric might be the winner in this draft class.
With Vonleh going 4th, they need to focus on a point guard. LaVine played shooting guard at UCLA but has assured everyone he’s a point guard. What makes him a perfect fit for the Magic is that Oladipo cannot shoot. LaVine on the other hand is a very talented shooter with deep range (37.5% in college) After Wiggins, LaVine is also the most athletic player in this draft class and with that athelticism comes defensive upside and the ability to get into the paint. He’s a strong ball handler and has great size for his position. With the Magic nowhere near contending for the playoffs next year, LaVine is a project with humongous upside that they’ll likely take the chance on. He also fills the hole at point guard that the Magic need to address. He still has the ability to play off the ball though because of his speed and his shooting range, he’d complement Oladipo perfectly.
With Kevin Martin being just not all that good at basketball, another shooting guard wouldn’t hurt Minnesota. Stauskas is an exceptional shooter, hitting 44% of threes last season at Michigan. In his two years of college play, he went to deep runs in the tournament and performed each time. He’s used to the big stage and the bright lights and shouldn’t have a hard time adjusting to the pressure of the NBA. He has good size at 6’7 for his position and is actually deceivingly athletic. He posted a 36 inch vertical at the combine and actually posted the 5th fastest time for the lane agility drill with 10.79, beating other supposedly more athletic guards like DeAndre Kane and Marcus Smart.
Phoenix promised Warren they’d draft him and it seems like here would be the spot to do it. Warren isn’t all that athletic but he’s a natural born scorer who averaged 25 per game at N.C State last season. He has a good feel for the game and size for his position and should be a nice addition to a bench that already scores 39 points per game.
The Hawks need some size off the bench for when Horford isn’t in the game. Antic is a perimeter shooter more so than an inside presence and Elton Brand is hardly the big athlete the Hawks want patrolling the paint. Nurkic is a big guy. A big guy. He’s 6’11, 280 with a 7’2″ wingspan. Most guys in the NBA would not be able to contain him on the boards and in the paint. Drafting Nurkic also might be a nice play if the Hawks decide to amnesty Horford to clear space for LeBron or Carmelo.
With Taj Gibson possibly leaving to clear space for Carmelo, and Boozer possibly being amnestied, Payne would step right in as the next big man next to Joakim Noah. Payne is a big, highly athletic forward who can run the floor and bang down low. His athleticism along with his years at Michigan State make him a highly capable defender, which makes him a perfect candidate to play for a defensive minded team like Chicago. What’s more, Payne is a very good outside shooter, draining 42% of the threes he took last year.
With Jeff Green possibly on his way out of Boston, Rodney Hood could be the athletic wing the Celtics need to step into his place. If not, they don’t have anybody like Hood on the bench. Hood is 6’8, 208 pounds and can shoot the ball from deep (42% from long range last season).
I have some doubts about Gary Harris. He’s a decent outside shooter. He’s relatively undersized for his position and he doesn’t possess the athleticism or quickness of other guard prospects in this draft. However, what I do like in him is his commitment to defense – something instilled in him during his two years at Michigan State, and his basketball IQ. He plays like a veteran, and despite his size he is a very strong guard with good defensive fundamentals. He has a good midrange game, and because of his strength, is able to finish around the rim through contact. With an always active motor, he should fare well at the next level.
The Bulls are looking for some shooting and for a backup point guard for Derrick Rose and Napier is a player that can step in and make a difference right away. He played 4 years at UCONN and is extremely experienced and a natural born leader. He’s lightning quick and won’t have a problem shaking defenders on the perimeter. He’s also a lockdown defender despite his size. He’s a great decision maker and ball handler and could lead the 2nd unit for the Bulls.
20. Tyler Ennis
The Raptors are unsure if Kyle Lowry will re-sign and Greiviz Vazquez reportedly wants to be a starting point guard somewhere, which lessens their chances at resigning him. Ennis is the purest point guard in the NBA in terms of court vision and a pass first mindset. He’s not athletic but is very strong and can finish around the rim. What’s most endearing is his maturity and his sense of leadership that he exerted during his freshman season at Syracuse.
The Thunder are unlikely to keep this pick but if they do Anderson would be a great fit. The biggest criticism of the Thunder offense is that they have a tendency to be stagnant. Anderson is a natural born point guard in a power forwards body. He’s a facilitator and has great floor vision. He’d bring playmaking and a pass first mentality to a team which has nobody like that.
The Grizzlies can’t shoot and Hairston scored 22 points per game at North Carolina last year because of his shot and his silky offensive game. He’s an athlete and has size for his position.
I don’t think it’s that crazy for Young to fall this far. He’s a decent shooter, and is extremely athletic but doesn’t give two shits about defense. He’ll be able to get to the rim in the NBA and hopefully his shots start falling. For Utah, there’s no real need at any position and Young would clearly be the most talented player at this point.
The Hornets still need shooting and Early has plenty to offer in that department. He shot 38% from deep last season and displayed maturity and leadership beyond his years. He has great size for his position as well and the Hornets really lack athletic wings like him, never-mind ones that can shoot.
Houston has enough shooting to give the entire league a 3 and still have plenty for themselves. What they lack is athleticism at the wing position after Chandler Parsons. K.J McDaniels is one of the best athletes in this draft. He posted a 36 inch vertical and he’s 6’6″ with a 6’11” wingspan. He excels in the open floor which fits right into what the Rockets love to do. He’d also provide some lockdown defense on the perimeter – something the Rockets are sorely missing.
Miami needs some more big bodies. Stokes was one of the best rebounders in college basketball last season and has a nice offensive post game to go with it. He could provide some beef down low for a relatively small Miami team as well as a different look on the inside.
The Suns need some more big bodies but don’t mind working on a project like Capela. They are going to be a playoff team next season so they can afford to wait on Capela to develop more skills and get a better feel for the game.
A back problem last season and a weed controversy has hurt his draft stock but there’s no doubting his talent and NBA readiness. He’s a physical, big, energy man who can do the dirty work but also has a touch around the basket and offensive skills to help on that end of the court. He’s very athletic for his size which helps him on the boards and in blocking shots. He’s a steal for the Clippers at #28.
The Thunder could use some size and athleticism at the wing position off the bench. Grant, while lacking in offensive talent, is a pure athlete and has the strength and size to guard multiple positions and get to the paint.
The Spurs will most likely stash this pick as they do have a tendency to do so. Tavares is the biggest guy in this draft at 7’3, 265 pounds. He’s not a crazy athlete, but he has the size of a Shaquille O’Neal. And he’s Spanish! Perfect.