Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Mock draft v4.0
|06.25.14 at 1:45 pm ET|
This year’s draft is starting to feel like it could be one of the most entertaining in years. Seriously, how could there be any more drama?
The old projected top pick, Joel Embiid, is injured and sliding down draft boards. We have no clue if Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker will be the No. 1 pick by the Cavaliers. We don’t even know that Cleveland will keep the first pick — teams like the Magic, Jazz and Celtics are rumored to have interest.
The Celtics also are rumored to be one of three finalists to acquire the No. 8 pick from the Kings. Then the Lakers seem pretty serious about trying to package Steve Nash and the No. 7 pick in an attempt to get young talent. Or, dare I say, the Lakers could be trying to clear cap space to make a play on Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James.
A mock draft seems almost pointless since we are expecting so many trades. Let’s not forget that Kevin Love‘s name will be one we hear in rumors a few times Thursday. Expect to see one of the wildest drafts in recent memory, but if there is less movement than expected, here’s how it could shake down.
1. Cavaliers, Jabari Parker (Duke, freshman) – Embiid has been projected as the top pick for a while, even with his back issues. His broken foot is a whole different monster, though. Those two red flags will cause him to slip, and Parker is the best player in the draft right now. Wiggins will get a look here, especially if the Cavs are looking for a player to fit alongside LeBron (in their dream scenario). Owner Dan Gilbert wants to be very involved in the pick, and he reportedly likes Wiggins. That’s a risky strategy for Cleveland, so just take the sure thing in Parker — the Cavs really can’t afford to blow this one.
2. Bucks, Andrew Wiggins (Kansas, freshman) – The Bucks now hold the easiest pick in the draft. Sit back and see what the team with the top pick does, then take the other top prospect. If Parker goes No. 1, then Wiggins goes to Milwaukee to play with a decent young core. The Bucks may prefer one to the other, but they have to be pleased either way it plays out.
3. 76ers, Dante Exum (Australia) – Philly ends up the biggest loser as a result of the Embiid injury. The Sixers would have been the team that ended up with the third top prospect that was passed over, but now they have a difficult choice to make. Embiid probably still is too risky this high in the draft, so Exum is the best overall talent available. Exum would either come in to be a backcourt-mate to Michael Carter-Williams or to take MCW’s job if the 76ers look to trade the Rookie of the Year.
4. Magic, Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State, sophomore) – With Exum off the board, and Orlando seeking a point guard, Smart makes sense with this pick. Of course, any of the big men on the board will be tempting to the Magic, but they have been most interested in Smart and Exum all year.
5. Jazz, Noah Vonleh (Indiana, freshman) – The Jazz already have a lot of young talent in their frontcourt. But if all the guards are taken early, and Utah does not trade up, Vonleh may be the most appealing piece. Vonleh is more capable of stepping away from the basket than the remaining bigs; that could be the determining factor.
6. Celtics, Joel Embiid (Kansas, freshman) – One of the big questions of the draft becomes how far Embiid will slip. Danny Ainge will face a tough decision if he slips to No. 6, and in the end he won’t be able to pass up Embiid’s potential. If Ainge is unable to add an All-Star caliber player through a trade, Embiid is a fantastic fit for the future to play alongside Jared Sullinger in a rebuild scenario.
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, Aaron Gordon (Arizona, freshman) – Gordon probably is the next best athlete in the draft behind Wiggins. His jump shot is his biggest concern, but it sounds like it has been improving in his workouts. The Kings need to add talent, and Gordon would accomplish that, but they may have bigger dreams in Sacramento and could look to trade the pick.
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, and McDermott is just that. McDermott is not Adam Morrison, he is going to be a very good player in the league.
10. 76ers, Nik Stauskas (Michigan, sophomore) – Nobody helped himself in college basketball last season as much as the Michigan sharpshooter. Stauskas’ versatility that he displayed has him being talked about as one of the potential stars to come out of this draft. Because of all the other talent, its tough to make a case for him going before ninth or 10th overall, but this is a great pick for Philly. The ability to play some point guard has been crucial to Stauskas’ rise on draft boards.
11. Nuggets, Zach LaVine (UCLA, freshman) – LaVine simply is a freak athlete. In a recent workout, he out-jumped Wiggins by posting a 46-inch vertical. 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. Cracking the top 10 would be tough for him in this draft, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him go just outside of it.
12. Magic, T.J. Warren (North Carolina State, sophomore) – Warren has had fantastic workouts and seems to be on the rise. This is higher than most see him going, but people seem to forget that it was Warren (not Parker) that won ACC Player of the Year. The Magic could use another wing scorer; Warren averaged a shade under 25 points per game last season.
13. Timberwolves, Rodney Hood (Duke, sophomore) – At 6-foot-8 with shooting guard abilities, Hood just brings more to the table than the smaller guards available here. 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. Don’t forget, the Suns would have been a playoff team with home court in the first round of the playoffs had they been in the Eastern Conference last year. Not quite the rebuilding season many expected.
15. Hawks, Gary Harris (Michigan State, sophomore) – The Hawks could use a wing scorer, and they would have to be satisfied if Harris slipped to them. Harris has been a projected lottery pick all season, but he could fall because of his lack of size for the shooting guard position. That said, Harris is a very talented player. He may not go in the lottery like he planned, but if so he won’t have to wait much longer to hear his name called.
16. Bulls, Elfrid Payton (Louisiana Lafayette, junior) – Payton has performed very well in workouts against players from bigger schools. His workout in Waltham reportedly stood out to the Celtics coaching staff. As a result, his name has become a popular one in the top half of the first round. Payton could easily go higher than No. 16, there’s a lot of hype surrounding him right now.
17. Celtics, K.J. McDaniels (Clemson, junior) – T.J. Warren has been the guy in this slot for a while. Other GMs might be catching on to Warren’s abilities, though, and he easily could be gone by the time the Celtics are on the clock at No. 17. A lot of good names will be available here. Shabazz Napier, Cleanthony Early, P.J. Hairston, Kyle Anderson and Jordan Clarkson all worked out for the Celtics and could be taken with this pick. McDaniels also worked out in Waltham, and he would be the type of athlete the Celtics could use if Warren is not available.
Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow.