Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Mock draft v2.0 has more clarity
|05.30.14 at 10:04 am ET|
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.
7. Lakers, Julius Randle (Kentucky, freshman) – I’ve been saying all along that the Lakers have the ability to just take the best player on the board when their pick arrives. You could argue that is Marcus Smart, but with Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant under contract next season, a guard is not L.A.’s top need. Randle becomes especially valuable if Pau Gasol walks in free agency.
8. Kings, Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State, sophomore) – Smart is the player with the highest potential here, and he would be a good fit in Sacramento. Smart probably fluctuates more on boards than any player ranked this high in the draft. He could land anywhere from No. 5 to the late lottery.
9. Hornets, Doug McDermott (Creighton, senior) – Last year’s team — then called the Bobcats — really wasn’t that bad. Michael Jordan is on the lookout for a star to go with Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker. The Hornets most likely can’t find one at No. 9, but McDermott will contribute right away and help them get better. His floor is higher than almost anyone in the draft, so this is a very safe pick — something relatively unknown to MJ.
10. 76ers, Nik Stauskas (Michigan, sophomore) – Stauskas’ draft stock has soared recently. People around the league are falling in love with what he may be able to offer aside from being one of the best shooters in the draft. Stauskas is deceivingly athletic, and if he proves that he is capable of handling some point guard duties, he could find himself a lock to end up in the top 10.
11. Nuggets, Dario Saric (Croatia) – Saric is considered a point forward with an inside-out skill set. Saric says Dallas promised it would take him at No. 13 in the 2013 draft if he had stayed in, but he opted out. There are players that are NBA ready on the board here, but his potential will entice someone to pull the trigger on him in the lottery.
12. Magic, James Young (Kentucky, freshman) – Orlando, like Philly, is fortunate enough to be selecting twice in the lottery. Young is a good fit with this pick because he gives the Magic a player who can be on the court with Exum and Victor Oladipo. Not only that, he can provide wing scoring from all areas of the floor, including NBA 3-point range.
13. Timberwolves, Gary Harris (Michigan State, sophomore) – Harris is a bit more undersized then we thought, but his skills are undeniable. Harris is a knowledgeable two-way player who should be very solid in the NBA. You probably won’t be getting a future star, but he is not a guy who will fall out of the league over the next couple of years.
14. Suns, Adreian Payne (Michigan State, senior) – Phoenix should be looking for win-now players, and Payne fits the bill. This neck of the draft is filled with smaller guards, which the Suns have plenty of at the moment. Zach LaVine will be considered here (if he slips this far), but Phoenix is thin up front and Payne will help fix that.
15. Hawks, Zach LaVine (UCLA, freshman) – This is about as far as I see LaVine falling. He is a project, but his ability to play both guard positions is intriguing, much like Exum. Someone will draft him for being 6-foot-6 with a 43-inch vertical and hope his skills develop. He has a nice-looking shot at times, so stardom is not out of the question for LaVine.
16. Bulls, Rodney Hood (Duke, sophomore) – Hood fits a need for the Bulls and can step in and provide some immediate contributions. It is tempting to use this pick on some Derrick Rose insurance, but the Bulls also pick at No. 19 and I expect them to take a point guard there.
17. Celtics, T.J. Warren (North Carolina State, sophomore) – Boston has lacked wing scoring since the moment Paul Pierce left, and Warren is exactly that. He averaged 24.9 points in the ACC last season and potentially could play both shooting guard and small forward, which should be very attractive to the Celtics. Warren could be a better alternative to Jeff Green and would look good playing next to Gordon (assuming Gordon is the No. 6 pick). Warren and Gordon could share the court at shooting guard and small forward or small forward and power forward, respectively — giving Brad Stevens a lot of flexibility. Boston also could look to go smaller with this pick. Names like Tyler Ennis (who has been slipping), Elfrid Payton and Shabazz Napier will be considered.
So there you have it. Just keep in mind that the draft is being held on June 26. So much has changed in the last month that it would be surprising not to see more deviations in the next four weeks.
Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow.
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