Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Mock draft v3.0
|06.12.14 at 9:50 am ET|
2014 has brought us one of the most unpredictable NBA drafts in years. The only guarantee that we have just two weeks out from draft day (June 26) is that there are no sure things.
If we know one thing, it’s this: Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins will be the first three names called (in no particular order). But all three still have as legitimate a shot to go No. 1 as they do No. 2 or 3.
This is going to be the type of draft where mocks will be changing all the way up until draft night when we find out what actually happens. Here is my latest crack at trying to break it down in my mock draft 3.0, picks 1-17 pick as usual.
1. Cavaliers, Joel Embiid (Kansas, freshman) – No changes here. Embiid is going to work out for the Cavs and show them what he can do on the court. But more importantly, he will have a physical done on his back to make sure it is healthy. With Embiid’s NBA potential, it feels like only a poor medical report can keep him from being the top selection.
2. Bucks, Jabari Parker (Duke, freshman) – I don’t see there being a debate as to whom to take between Parker and Wiggins, but many teams do. In this scenario, the Bucks make the right call. Parker is going to be a star, and could be just the building block the Bucks need to rebuild. Parker is the best player in this draft right now. He should have the inside track at Rookie of the Year no matter where he lands.
3. 76ers, Andrew Wiggins (Kansas, freshman) – The 76ers have the easiest pick in the draft. Simply take the leftover top-three pick that Cleveland and Milwaukee pass on. Although I don’t see Wiggins reaching his ceiling, he is going to be a solid player. Michael Carter-Williams and Wiggins would create one of the biggest, fastest and most athletic backcourts in the game.
4. Magic, Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State, sophomore) – Last mock I wrote that Exum going fourth to the Magic was about as sure a thing as we had in this draft. Well, over the last couple of weeks Smart has been climbing and Exum has been slipping, combining to change this pick to one of the least certain picks in the draft. Exum could still be the pick, but the Magic are just much more familiar with Smart right now. So let’s try this again. The most certain pick in the 2014 draft will be that the Magic take either Smart or Exum. There, that works.
5. Jazz, Dante Exum (Australia) – Exum falls into Utah’s lap here, and the Jazz get a great fit. With their frontcourt in place, the Jazz get a dynamic guard to put next to Trey Burke. The real question would be if Exum goes to Orlando. Would the Magic go big with Vonleh? Or stick with a guard in Smart?
6. Celtics, Aaron Gordon (Airzona, freshman) – Sorry to be boring, but reports that Danny Ainge is locked in on Gordon make it tough to go with someone else here. However, nothing is written in stone. Gordon would immediately become the Celtics‘ best athlete if he were the pick. He is not the only guy who will be working out in Waltham before the draft, though. Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle, Doug McDermott and Smart either have worked out or are scheduled to pay a visit so the Celtics can get a closer look at them.
7. Lakers, Julius Randle (Kentucky, freshman) – The Lakers know what they would be getting in Randle. He is going to be a good NBA player because of his natural ability to score and hit the glass. Will he develop into a star? Who knows? But Randle will be in the league for 10-plus seasons.
8. Kings, Noah Vonleh (Indiana, freshman) – Vonleh slides to the Kings in this scenario, which I’m sure they would gladly take. But this has some meaning for the Celtics as well. The Timberwolves have expressed interest in Vonleh, and the Kings have been vocal about trading for Kevin Love without requiring any assurance he would re-sign. Ainge (who has said he would consider trading for a star without him signing an extension as well) can probably field a better offer than Sacramento, but this doesn’t make things easier on the odds of Love landing in Boston.
9. Hornets, Doug McDermott (Creighton, senior) – Last year’s Bobcats were a decent team. When they become the Hornets this season they could use a good win-now player like Dougie McBuckets. We know Michael Jordan likes to gamble, but the right move is to make a safer pick here. McDermott is just that.
10. 76ers, Nik Stauskas (Michigan, sophomore) – Nobody helped himself in college basketball last season as much as the Michigan sharpshooter. The versatility that Stauskas displayed has him being talked about as one of the potential stars to come out of this draft. Because of all the other talent, it’s tough to make a case for him going before No. 9, but this is a great pick for Philly.
11. Nuggets, Zach LaVine (UCLA, freshman) – LaVine is simply a freak athlete. In a recent workout, he outjumped Wiggins by posting a 46-inch vertical leap. Being a 6-foot-6 combo guard with that kind of athleticism makes LaVine attractive for obvious reasons. The question is, can he play basketball? It looks like he has the tools to develop in the NBA, so LaVine is on the rise.
12. Magic, Dario Saric (Croatia) – Saric is enticing because of his versatility. As a 7-footer, Saric can play around the rim, but he also can handle the ball, has good vision and can step away from the basket. He’s a project, but somewhere around 12 feels right for Saric.
13. Timberwolves, Rodney Hood (Duke, sophomore) – At 6-foot-8 with shooting guard abilities, Hood just brings more to the table than our choice in this spot in the last mock draft, Gary Harris (who seems to be slipping). Offensively Hood is similar to any of the other wing players in this area of the draft. But with his size and athleticism, Hood could be a better defender than expected.
14. Suns, Adreian Payne (Michigan State, senior) – Payne is just such a nice fit in Phoenix. The Suns already have a dynamic duo at the guard positions but need help up front. Payne gives the Suns a win-now player who can help send them in the right direction.
15. Hawks, Gary Harris (Michigan State, sophomore) – Atlanta is looking for a wing, and if a player like Harris slips, the Hawks will pounce. Harris is a very solid player on both ends of the floor, but most importantly he could help fill some of the wing scoring that has been missing since Joe Johnson left town.
16. Bulls, Tyler Ennis (Syracuse, freshman) – The Bulls need a backup plan for Derrick Rose. When he’s healthy, the former MVP is one of the most exciting players in the league. But he’s played just 49 games over the last three seasons, so Ennis would be a great insurance policy. Ennis is a natural leader with a lot of upside at the point guard position for this late in the draft.
17. Celtics, T.J. Warren (North Carolina State, sophomore) – Neither of Boston’s picks have any reason to change if the draft were to end up falling this way. Warren is a guy who can step in and score right away for the Celtics. Ideally, he would fill a wing position for years to come. He has both the skills and physical tools to be a star in the league, something tough to pass up at 17.
Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow.