About a month ago I posted my first mock draft. In the words of Lloyd Christmas, “I was way off!”
Since April, the lottery has provided us the clarity of who will own each pick, while the draft combine gave the prospects a chance to show team executives their talent. The result? A completely different draft board. We think we know the top three picks, but we have no clue in what order. This is a good draft, we know that, but predicting the picks is as tough as any year.
So without further adieu, here’s my mock draft 2.0, covering both of the Celtics‘ selections.
1. Cavaliers, Joel Embiid (Kansas, freshman) — From all accounts, it sounds like Embiid’s back is healthy. If that holds true when the 7-footer goes through his workouts, Embiid’s potential will be too high for Cleveland to pass up. Everyone is quick to use the Greg Oden comparison, but Embiid is much smoother on his feet for his size.
2. Bucks, Andrew Wiggins (Kansas, freshman) — The Bucks are absolutely horrible, but they have good young pieces in Larry Sanders, John Henson and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Since they already have so many players to develop, why not do the same with Wiggins? Personally, I do not see Wiggins as a star in the league. But if the Bucks do, they will roll the dice on him.
3. 76ers, Jabari Parker (Duke, freshman) — Philly makes out great here coming away with a sure thing. Parker is ready to play now and probably would be the best player on the 76ers roster. At worst he is a longtime NBA starter, but I see Parker as the clear-cut best player in this draft. I would be surprised if he did not end up as a less-selfish Carmelo Anthony-type player.
4. Magic, Dante Exum (Australia) — Orlando has long loved Exum. The Magic should have the chance to snag him at No. 4, and they will if they can. This is probably the surest pick in the draft at the moment. There are rumors that Philly would take Exum and No. 3 and look to trade the Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams. MCW’s trade value probably will never be higher, but taking Exum over Parker would be a mistake.
5. Jazz, Noah Vonleh (Indiana, freshman) — Vonleh has scouts going crazy over his 7-foot, 4 1/2-inch wingspan. Obviously that is a nice quality to have in a league with as much size as the NBA, but is Vonleh’s length important enough to draft over talents like Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon? I’m not yet sold, but many are.
6. Celtics, Aaron Gordon (Arizona, freshman) — From all I can gather, Danny Ainge loves Gordon if he is going to use the No. 6 pick. I wrote last week about the players that Ainge will most likely be selecting from with this pick. There are some unique talents on the list, but in the end Gordon’s potential, flexibility to play both forward spots, and versatility on both ends of the floor make him the pick.