Up until last week, the draft was going to be somewhat simple. We all knew who was (probably) going 1st. We knew who the possible stars were, all mock drafts looked somewhat similar, and barring a few draft-day trades like a Kevin Love deal, or some packages involving orders of picks, the NBA draft was going to be exciting yet somewhat predictable. All of that changes now.
According to Arn Tellem, Embiid’s agent:
“Joel Embiid suffered a stress fracture to the navicular bone in his right foot,” Arn Tellem said. “He is scheduled to have surgery tomorrow. Joel will be unable to participate in any additional workouts, and will not attend the draft in New York. We will have no further comment until after the surgery.”
Then we find out he’s out for 4-6 months next season…
What does this mean?
Well, Embiid was considered the almost unanimous #1 pick for the draft. His potential to be an Olajuwon, Ibaka hybrid made him the most exciting talent in the draft. His length, his hands, his athleticism, his offensive game, his defensive dominance, his footwork and more had the Cavaliers drooling, asking the league if they could move the draft a week earlier just so they could have him on their team now. Some teams had qualms about his back injury, but with his talent and potential, they were willing to shrug it off and look past it. For Cleveland, Embiid was going to be the perfect big man to combo with Kyrie Irving, he was going to be that other piece to possibly lure LeBron back to the homeland. It all sounded so perfect, the Cavaliers were sure they had their man. After busting on Anthony Bennet this season, this was redemption and the piece they thought was going to catapult them into legitimacy. Maybe it was… too perfect, because all of those fantasies have now been flushed down the drain with the report that Embiid will have to undergo foot surgery for a fractured foot. A back injury? They can look past. But a back injury and foot surgery? That’s too much. Will he be the same after the surgery? His footspeed still in tact? His athleticism untouched? Who knows, but for the Cavs who have been somehow blessed with back-to-back 1st round picks cannot risk a bust on this pick. It’s too important, for their franchise, for the future of Kyrie Irving, for LeBron, and for the fans. In a draft just oozing with talent, they have to make the right pick, god knows they won’t be getting a #1 again soon… But then again that’s what we thought after last year.
So… What happens now?
1. 76ers include #10 pick in draft proposal to Cavaliers
The 76ers desire one prospect and one prospect only… Andrew Wiggins. Whether it’s his supreme athleticism, limitless defensive potential, or sheer firepower, Philadelphia wants him, and they want him bad. Earlier reports had the 76ers offering the #3 pick and Thaddeus Young for the #1 pick. The Cavaliers while not uninterested, wanted the #10 pick as well. Philadelphia, predictably, was reluctant to part with the pick. Now however, inclusion of the #10 pick might be essential for them to draft Wiggins. While Embiid out of the picture for Cleveland, it comes down to Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins. Reports claim that the Cavs are leaning toward Parker, but if you’re Philadelphia, you can’t risk missing out on Wiggins, especially when they put on the best tanking performance of all-time, just to get him. If you’re the Cavaliers, bluffing would be the way to go. Ask the bogus-story hungry Broussard to leak that the Cavs are leaning toward Wiggins. This puts extreme pressure on Philly and will probably force them into including the #10 pick, which then makes the trade a reasonable thing to do. If you’re Philly, it’s either playing the odds, which are smack in the middle at 50% and praying that the Cavs pick Parker, or part with the #10 pick to get the guy you want OR move on from their obsession with Wiggins and start looking at the bright side of other prospects, so if they do fall in their lap, they won’t be disappointed.
2. Embiid falls in the order… A lot.
Embiid, once thought to be the unanimous #1 pick, has shaken up the entire draft with a fractured foot.
Because he’s such a rare combination of talent, athleticism and potential, it’s hard to believe that Embiid will fall more than 5 or 6 slots in the draft. Alex Len had surgery for a stress fracture in his ankle before the draft and still went #5 to Phoenix. Nerlens Noel had surgery to repair an ACL late in the 2013 college season and still went #6 to New Orleans and then via trade to Philadelphia. So the idea that Joel Embiid is going to lose all his draft value is ridiculous… Usually. Except I think he is an exception. Not only is he having foot surgery, the same surgery Brook Lopez had and missed all season as a result of, but he has back issues, and to top it off, few teams in the lottery can afford to take a risk on Embiid now. If we go down the list, you’ll see its really hard to justify taking Embiid.
1. Cleveland: See above
2. Milwaukee: Been too bad for too long. New owners and constant shitttiness of their franchise calls for a pick that can make a difference almost immediately. They want a guy who can put the team on his back and make Milwaukee a legitimate place to play again. Also have Larry Sanders signed to a long extension as their center going forward.
3. Philadelphia: If you’re not named Wiggins, they don’t care.
4. Orlando: Have their center for the future in Vucevic, one of the best rebounders in the league. They desperately need a new point guard and with the talent of Exum and Smart, passing on them for Embiid seems impossible.
5. Utah: Utah has Kanter in place already and after more minutes and a career year last year it’s unlikely they’d want to focus on taking a center, especially when because now Embiid would no longer be the best talent on the board given he falls this low to begin with.
6. Boston: Seems possible to me that Embiid falls here. The Celtics aren’t trying to impress Rondo, in fact he’ll probably traded moving forward. What they lack pretty severely is a rim protector and with a rebuilding process that is likely to take a few years, they can afford the risk on Embiid.
7. Los Angeles: The Lakers had their worst season since 1960 last year and with Kobe Bryant reportedly 100% healthy you know this team cannot enter rebuilding mode. Kobe has 2 years left of his career and the Lakers are not going to spend draft picks on projects or risks. They need production and they need it fast.
8. Sacramento: With Demarcus Cousins as their star for the future, taking a center here seems meaningless.
9. Charlotte: The Bobcats just became a solid team this year. After the signing of Jefferson and the improvement of Walker, they finally made the playoffs despite being one of the worst teams ever the year before. They were swept in the playoffs, but last season was the first step toward success. A lot of that success was because of Jefferson, their all-star center, meaning getting another center wouldn’t make sense considering all the other talent on the board and their desperate need for shooting. They also don’t want to backtrack in terms of progress, if all things go well, they won’t have a pick this high again, so they need to use it to help them now.
10. Philadelphia: One center missing an entire season due to injury wasn’t enough? The 76ers are finally going to have Nerlens Noel back next season and after the tanking performance of the century, it’s unlikely they waste this pick on another injured center/player who won’t be able to produce immediately.
11. Denver: The Nuggets are actually a team I see maybe taking a chance on Embiid if he were to fall this low. Mozgov had a good year in his first season with substantial playing time. In 21 minutes per game, he averaged 9 points, 6 rebounds and 1 block. But at 27 years old, you have to wonder how much higher his ceiling actually is. The Nuggets also have the insanely athletic, Shaqtin a Fool legend, Javale McGee who fractured his leg last season. Neither of them have star potential, and are both better suited as role players to come off the bench. If the Nuggets were to get everybody healthy next year, taking a risk on Embiid wouldn’t be a bad choice. They can probably afford the risk, and the upside of taking Embiid is that they’d finally have a real starting center with star potential.
12. Orlando: See above.
13. Minnesota: I highly doubt Embiid falls this low, but if he does I don’t think the Timberwolves would take him. They have a gaping hole on the wings, and can address that with someone like Zach Levine, Glenn Robinson III, Rodney Hood or James Young. At the end of last season, they saw how impactful Gorgui Dieng could be on both ends of the floor. In fact, during the last month of the NBA season, Dieng averaged 10.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 0.8 steals in 30 minutes per game. If he were given a whole season of that playing time, statistics clearly show he’d be the center of the future for Minnesota. His development makes taking Embiid relatively pointless.
14. Phoenix: Once again, I highly doubt he falls this far, but he would be a great fit with Phoenix if he were to. Phoenix are in an interesting position in that they were only one game behind the 8th seeded Mavericks from making the playoffs. Dragic and Bledsoe turned out to be a spectacular success and Jeff Hornacek’s Suns were the pleasant surprise of the season. All signs point to more success and improvement for them so they can afford to take a risk on someone like Embiid. He’s athletic enough to run the floor and actually provides the Suns with a real rim protector on the inside. Alex Len was a flop in his first season and taking a risk on Embiid would give them trade options with their assets as well as a possible superstar center for the future. If it does turn out that Embiid’s injuries do stunt his growth as a player than they shouldn’t be fazed considering they’ll most likely be in the playoffs come next April.
So… the point is Embiid can fall, and can fall hard. It’s not so much that he is a humongous risk, (he’s just a big one) but the teams in the lottery aren’t in positions where they have the luxury of taking a risk – especially in a draft with so much talent, missing out this year may come back to haunt them in years to come.
Mock Draft Now That Embiid Is Having Foot Surgery?
1. Cavaliers: Jabari Parker (76ers may include #10 pick, #3pick and Thaddeus Young for #1 Pick)
The Cavaliers need someone who can produce now, the Cavaliers have been trying and trying to become something in the East. From their trade for Deng to their risk on Bynum, everything they do is geared toward making some sort of playoff run. Call it the curse of LeBron or bad luck but whatever they do doesn’t seem to be working. They need someone in the draft who can produce immediately and Jabari Parker is the most NBA-ready guy in this draft.
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.
2. Bucks: Andrew Wiggins
Barring no trade from the 76ers to move to 1st place, the Bucks will likely take Andrew Wiggins with this pick. With insane athleticism, and upside both offensively and defensively Wiggins is hard to pass on. While his offensive skill set is quite raw, his physical tools make give him unlimited potential to become both a defensive and offensive star. He doesn’t have that X-factor yet in terms of taking over a game, but with the responsibility of the Bucks on his shoulders, that should change very quickly. The Bucks are looking for someone to carry their franchise and Wiggins might just be the one. A lineup of Knight, Wiggins, Antetokounmpo, Henson and Sanders would be a nice young core moving forward.
3. 76ers : Noah Vonleh
They’re unlikely to take Embiid considering they already did the whole, “take an injured center and wait a year for him to play thing.” They have their center of the future and for the 76ers they’d be looking for someone to partner with Noel in the frontcourt. Vonleh while similar to Noel has tons of defensive potential due to his length and athleticism, but Vonleh also has the ability to stretch the floor (he shot 48% from deep last year), that trait is something that can be developed and honed as he grows in the NBA and could prove to be the perfect compliment to Noel. This also makes Thaddeus Young even more expendable.
4. Magic: Dante Exum
The Magic need a point guard. They’re entering a new era of Orlando basketball and while it was a great run, Jameer Nelson’s time as starting point guard is over. At 32 years old, he can still be a veteran leader from the bench but in his place Dante Exum, the mysterious, Australian prospect would make a promising young, athletic backcourt with Oladipo. Exum has good size for a point guard and while it’s not definitive whether he’ll play the 1 or the 2 in the NBA, Oladipo is facing the same problem which in my eyes makes it less important to fit a role specifically. If both players are combo guards, with the ability to make plays and play off the ball, then having a concrete point guard becomes less important.
5. Utah: Aaron Gordon
While they just signed Favors to a long term extension, the best talent on the board are all power forwards and out of the duo of Randle and Gordon, Gordon has what the Jazz don’t: Athleticism in the front-court. Favors and Kanter are big bodies but lack foot-speed, quickness and a high vertical. Gordon, while undersized, makes up for it with extreme leaping abilities and quickness around the court. He could become a rim protector for the Jazz who as of now lack one. He can run the floor and with his aforementioned athleticism, should be able to make an impact on the boards as well. As for his offensive game, it needs some work, but his work ethic tells me he’ll be able to develop a jump shot and some post-moves quickly during his career.
6. Boston: Joel Embiid
With no real rim protectors and a whole villageful of undersized big men, taking Joel Embiid, given he falls this far is the right choice to make for Danny Ainge and a Celtics team looking completely to the future. Ainge has also not been shy in the past about taking risks when it comes to prospects with health issues:
“We try to think long term that if a guy has to miss a couple months, it shouldn’t deter us from taking him if he is going to be the best player long-term. We’ve had some success with that with [Avery] Bradley and [Jared] Sullinger. Even Leon Powe slid all the way [to the second round, because of knee concerns]. And, unfortunately, Leon’s knees gave out eventually, but we got good years out of him. There can be some value there, but there’s always risk.”
Embiid could work out and he couldn’t but Ainge has no problem rolling the dice and taking the risk, especially when they’ve just began their rebuilding process and are looking for any diamond in the rough to help them get back to elite level in the East.
7. Los Angeles: Marcus Smart
The Lakers are in win now mode. Despite a horrific 2014 campaign, with Kobe back and healthy, and 2 years left in his legendary career, the Lakers will waste no time rebuilding.
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.
8. Sacramento: Elfrid Payton
With all signs pointing to Isaiah Thomas leaving Sacramento this off-season, the Kings will look to replace him with a point guard with size. Their problem with Thomas is not with his ability to score the ball, or provide a spark offensively. It’s that at 5’9 he gives up a lot of size at the point guard position. For a team that already treats defense like a foreign language not worth learning, they can’t have their point guard letting other players have their way into the paint. While Isaiah is clearly an extremely talented player for his size, and will probably find a starting role on some team who needs him, the Kings don’t need offense, they need defense and they need it bad.
Elfrid Payton who has catapulted up the draft rankings these last few weeks has been praised in workouts for his tenacity and quickness. At 6’4, and lighting fast he has the size and athleticism to defend opposing point guards. His jump-shot needs a lot of work, but luckily for him, the Kings aren’t a team that lacks scorers. He’s an unselfish player with a knack for getting to the basket and for a team who often chucks around shots, his tenacity and penetration could really jump help the Kings offense take some sort of shape.
9. Charlotte: Doug McDermott
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.
10. Philadelphia: Nick Stauskas
After picking Vonleh with the #3 pick, they’ll now look for someone with range to compliment Michael Carter-Wiliams’ lack of shooting. While Stauskas 44% shooting from deep would be a great compliment to Carter-Williams’ lack of outside touch, Stauskas is more than just a shooter. He’s just about 6’7 meaning he’d be larger than most of the 2 guards he’d be matched up against. Additionally, people don’t give him enough credit for his athleticism. 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. All in all, Stauskas and Philly make a great fit, and the 76ers can look to the future happy knowing that their backcourt is solidified.
11. Denver: Dario Saric
For Denver, one of the league’s youngest and fastest paced teams, Saric would fit in perfectly. He has the ability to stretch the floor with his outside jump-shot (35% from downtown), his ability to run the floor and his playmaking abilities. He fits the mold of versatile, agile big men that the Nuggets like to have. After what Boris Diaw did in the finals as a point-forward, what Saric brings to the table has become even more valuable. He’s quick but still has true power forward size at 6’10, 223.
12.Orlando: Julius Randle
If the Magic take Dante Exum with the 4th pick they’d have their backcourt of the future. What they might start looking at now is some front court depth. Harris played the 4 a lot for the Magic last year but other prospects like Andrew Nicholson haven’t panned out. Randle, who could go much higher, has limited upside due to lack of athleticism. Rumors about a foot injury have also diminished his draft stock.
Julius Randle – 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. 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.
13. Minnesota: James Young
While nobody really knows what’s going to happen with the future of Kevin Love and the Timberwolves, Flip Saunders has to try and do his best to get the most out of this pick. The Timberwolves lack size and athleticism on the wings. James Young can solve both of these problems. At 6’7, with a 7 foot wingspan, James Young will be able to guard multiple positions at the next level. Offensively, he’s athletically gifted and with his combination of strength and quickness, has a knack for getting to the basket.
14. Phoenix: Zach LaVine
Despite having one of the best backcourt duos in the league, they don’t have a reliable option to back them up. That’s where LaVine comes in. LaVine as seen in his 46 inch vertical, is almost literally capable of jumping out of the gym. For an already athletic and fast Phoenix team, LaVine would fit in perfectly.
The Suns love to get up and down, playing at a blistering pace of 98 possessions a game and scoring 105 points per game as well. LaVine who is freakishly athletic and fast – posting the fastest lane agility time at the combine with 10.42 seconds and the 2nd fastest shuttle run time with 2.8 seconds – has all the tools to excel in a Phoenix offense. Some are unsure about what position he’ll actually play in the NBA. While he is firm in his claim that he is a point guard and didn’t get to show that off at UCLA, even if he’s more of a 2 guard it won’t matter because he has the skills, the athleticism and the outside shot to play either. For an already young team blossoming with talent, the 19 year old LaVine seems like a perfect fit.
15. Atlanta: Jusuf Nurkic
While Atlanta really missed their all-star center Al Horford this season, what was even clearer was that in his absence there is a gaping hole in the middle of the paint. Elton Brand is there more for veteran experience than anything else and while Pero Antic does stand at 6’11, he can often be found floating on the perimeter spotting up for threes. The Hawks need a classic big man to have on the bench so they still have a presence inside when Horford is out of the game.
Nurkic is a big guy. At 7 feet, 280 pounds, there are not a lot of players in the NBA that can match what he brings to the table in terms of size and strength. While he lacks athleticism, his soft touch around the basket makes up for it offensively. Defensively, he boasts a 7’2 wingspan and 280 pounds of power to protect the rim.
16. Chicago: Rodney Hood
The Bulls lack a couple of things on their team. The most obvious is shooting. Besides Mike Dunleavy and occasionally Kirk Hinrich and D.J Augustin, the Bulls have no outside threats, which makes it very hard for them to score when the opposing defense can be content to sit back and pack the paint. The other thing they’re missing is an athletic small forward to fill the hole left by the Luol Deng trade.
Rodney Hood can solve both of those problems. At 6’9, 208 pounds, Hood has great size for his position. On top of his physical gifts, he is also a good shooter from deep, shooting 42% from downtown last season. For the Bulls they can kill two birds with one stone here and I hope they do.
17. Boston: Gary Harris
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.
18. Phoenix: T.J Warren
T.J Warren, while not overly athletic, has a knack for scoring the ball. He averaged 24.9 points last season at N.C State due to his versatile offensive repertoire. He isn’t an exceptional shooter but has a clear feel for the game, and with his strength and size he should be able to score against opposing small forwards in the NBA. For a bench that already scores 39 points per game, Warren’s offensive skills will only make them better.
19. Chicago: Adreian Payne
With rumors of Taj Gibson being traded and Carlos Boozer possibly being amnestied or moved via a sign and trade, it’s time to bring in the next big man to do the dirty work for Chicago (I’m not saying Carlos Boozer does dirty work… he doesn’t.)
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. For a team desperate to add some shooters, Payne is the perfect combination of a dirty work big man who can stretch the floor for them.
20. Toronto: Tyler Ennis
With the possibility that Kyle Lowry is on the way out of Toronto this summer, Ennis could come in and be the man to replace him. If Lowry stays, Ennis will be mentored by an all-star caliber player. Sounds like a win-win to me.
Ennis isn’t very athletic but that’s not why he’s such an intriguing prospect. His strengths are similar to those of a classic past first point guard. Ennis sees the floor exceptionally well, and is a natural born playmaker, always looking for open teammates ahead of his shot. While he doesn’t have extended range on his jump-shot, he can hit open mid-rangers when he’s open. He won’t blow by players on the perimeter but he’s a crafty scorer with a feel for the game and someone who can step in and make an immediate impact.
21. Oklahoma City: Jarnell Stokes
Oklahoma City needs to add some offensive support for Westbrook and Durant, but that kind of immediate offensive production is better off found through free agency than through the draft. Kendrick Perkins actually makes the team worse and Nick Collison’s minutes continue to deteriorate as he gets older – his knee surgery doesn’t help either. The Thunder could beef up their front-court with Stokes.
Stokes is a very physical, strong big man who averaged 15 and 10 at Tennessee last year. Unlike the Thunder big men, he has a polished low-post game. Like the rest of the Thunder big men, he loves to bang and work on the inside. While he may be a little undersized at the power forward position, his strength and his length (7’1 wingspan) make up for it.
22. Memphis: Glenn Robinson III
While this may be a bit high for Robinson, to me he is the perfect fit for Memphis. He’s big, strong, extremely athletic and has a beautiful shooting touch from all areas of the court. While Tayshaun Prince is still signed through 2015, it’s clear he is no longer the championship caliber player that won a ring with the Pistons in 2004. He has no jump-shot, is not athletic enough to get to the basket, and isn’t quick enough to guard the more athletic wings of the league like Durant, LeBron and Paul George.
Robinson, at 6’7, 211 pounds has an NBA body and the athleticism to go along with it. He can defend multiple positions and offensively he can provide the Grizzlies with another weapon from outside. With his combination of shooting and athleticism on the wings he could really provide a spark for a Grizzlies team with few athletes.
23. Utah: Jordan Clarkson
While Trey Burke is clearly the starting point guard of the Utah Jazz, Utah doesn’t have anybody to back him up. Burke also gives up a lot of size and Clarkson at 6’5″ would make up for that. The duo can learn and grow together as players and even one day play together in the starting lineup as Clarkson is as much of a combo guard as he is a point. While his jump-shot needs a lot of work, Clarkson is skilled with the ball and very quick and athletic.
24. Charlotte: Shabazz Napier
Not only does Charlotte not really have a reliable back up point guard but they desperately need some shooting. Napier, the Final Four Most Outstanding Player this past season, has range from just about everywhere on the court. Despite his size, he’s a pest on defense and is incredibly quick with the ball in his hands, often making opposing guards look silly with his explosive first step. Napier was not only the best player on the championship UCONN team but he was the leader. It was visible in every game he played and it’s that leadership and toughness on top of all the skill that will make him successful in the NBA.
25. Houston: K.J McDaniels
The Rockets don’t need anymore shooting or offensive minded players. What they lack on the wings off the bench is athleticism and size. McDaniels at 6’6, 195 pounds is the perfect guy to give the Rockets what they’re missing. He posted a 37 inch vertical, he has a 6’11 wingspan and luckily for Houston, he’ll be the third player on the team who actually locks down on defense. For a very fast paced team like Houston, McDaniels works due to his ability to run the floor and his explosive finishing ability at the basket.
26. Miami: P.J Hairston
The Heat need shooting. They need it to function. Without shooters surrounding Wade and LeBron – two below average outside shooters – their offense doesn’t run smoothly. Hairston is the perfect fit for an offense like that. Hairston is a strong, physical guard with deep deep range and could help the Heat as a role player on the perimeter. In the process he’d be learning from two of the best shooting guards ever in Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen, so that can only be good for his development.
27. Phoenix: Kyle Anderson
While it’s unlikely Phoenix even keeps this pick, if they do, Anderson is the type of talent the young, versatile Suns team would love to have. Anderson is the prototypical point forward. He’s 6’9 with a 7’3 wingspan and although he has the body of an undersized power-forward, he has the skill and court-vision of a point guard. Different from the crop of versatile forwards already on the team in the form of Channing Frye, and the Morris brothers, Anderson isn’t a shooter, he’s a passer and a playmaker. He isn’t a great athlete, but can guard multiple positions and can be a Boris Diaw type of guy in the NBA.
28. Los Angeles: Mitch McGary
Despite Clint Capela being on the board, the Clippers don’t have time for a project with this pick. They’re in win-now mode and need some depth behind Griffin and Jordan. McGary was suspended for marijuana, but it’s ok but medical is legal in Los Angeles anyway, and I’m pretty sure Blake Griffin and DeAndre toke up now and then during the off-season. McGary was an integral part of Michigan’s run in 2012. As an athletic, strong big man, McGary is a strong rebounder and shot blocker and like in college, he should be a force down low. If it weren’t for back issues this past season he would’ve been much higher – the Clippers are lucky to steal him at 28.
29. Oklahoma City: Jerami Grant
There’s not much the Thunder can improve with this pick, but if I had to address one need it’d be for an athletic wing off the bench. Jeremy Lamb isn’t strong enough or big enough to play the 3 and who knows if Caron Butler will be back next season. Grant gives the Thunder one of the best athletes in the draft and NBA-ready size to go with it. He’s dangerous in the open court and can guard multiple positions for the Thunder as well.
30. San Antonio: Clint Capela
Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Spurs have a thing for international talent. So with the 30th pick, why not continue the trend? Tim Duncan will soon be gone and maybe Capela the 6’11 forward from Switzerland will be able to take his place. With a 7’5 wingspan and elite athletic ability, Capela is a nasty shot blocker and although his offensive game is raw, something tells me that’s never a factor when the Spurs are picking prospects.