Figured I’d toss this up; the draft order locks in less than a couple hours, after which teams can only trade the rights to players they drafted, not the picks themselves.
Dunno if Bayless ever posted his full mock he said he was going to do or if he was too busy receiving empty legal threats from old creeps, but I’ll do my lottery mock (assuming no trades, because I’m too lazy to go down that rabbit hole) and offer a few thoughts after the jump. I hate making predictions, so consider this partly what I think will happen, and partly what makes sense.
Also, please do check out Andrew Riche’s excellent, much more in-depth draft preview over at Place To Be Nation.
1. Cleveland- Jabari Parker, F, Duke
Are the Cavs going to select a fat, 6’8″ forward who’s a supposed offensive machine that couldn’t even guard anyone in college for a second straight year No. 1 overall? Even though the owner and management again can’t agree on the pick? Even though Parker showed up to his workout and tanked it, and weight 255 pounds? Looks that way.
Could still very will be Wiggins here, and if they trade out of the spot to a team that isn’t concerned with winning in ’14-15, I still wouldn’t be shocked to see Embiid go No. 1. Injuries aside, he’s clearly the best prospect.
Since Jabari is considered the “sure thing” with the lower ceiling, I’d like to talk about that for a moment. Why are we so sure of what he is and less sure of what Wiggins might be? Why are we sure Jabari won’t be a fat, lazy dickhead? Because that’s the vibe I’m starting to get.
2. Milwaukee– Andrew Wiggins, G/F, Kansas
I’m definitely a pro-Wiggins guy. The analytics don’t love him, but I think there’s a lot of random, static noise in using analytics to project a guy from college to the NBA. I think the Paul George comparisons are right on. I don’t buy the “he has no killer instinct!” argument, because that’s bromide-laced bullshit from people who can’t think of anything real to make their point. I think producing as much as he did in Bill Self’s rigid set offense, while having shitty point guards not getting him the ball, was pretty fucking impressive, personally.
3. Philly- Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Embiid’s injury hurts Philly the most, as they’re forced to choose between a perceived non-elite prospect or take another injured big who might basically have to redshirt. Sweet tank job, Philly! Still, it might not be what they wanted but if Noel/Embiid stay relatively healthy it might be years before anyone makes a layup against the 76ers.
4. Orlando- Dante Exum, G, Australia
Victor Oladipo isn’t a true PG. Exum might not be, either, but these two should make an ideal pairing. I have little else to say here, because like everyone else, what I actually am sure of about Exum is…lacking. Am I sure he isn’t an Evan Turner clone? No, I’m not.
5. Utah- Noah Vonleh, F, Indiana
Personally, I’d group him with Wiggins/Exum/Parker/Embiid as one of the truly elite prospects in this draft. He fits with Favors and Kanter (or makes at least one of them expendable) as a potential stretch 4, but one who can also rebound and defend the rim at an elite level. If he’d switched spots with Parker or Randle last year no one would question his production. Vonleh played with guards who couldn’t get him the ball and played for a dipshit coach that has no clue of how to get his best players the ball. After Oladipo and Zeller last year, Vonleh would make Tom Crean’s third top five pick in two years that averaged less than 10 FGA a game. Tom Crean is just terrible. I love it. I hope he stays at Indiana forever.
6. Boston– Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State
Either an ideal replacement for Rondo as a similarly-styled, though much larger, player. Or a fit next to him, as he can guard bigger wings.
7. LA Lakers– Julius Randle, F, Kentucky
Randle would be a much better prospect in a previous era, one in which power forwards were asked to do more traditional low block-type stuff. Now, the ideal is a guy who can stretch the floor offensively and play outside-in, but also be long enough to defend the rim at the other end. That’s why I think Vonleh is a significantly better prospect. But Randle has a relentless motor and is one of the three or four best rebounders in the draft (along with Embiid, Vonleh and Jarnell Stokes). I think he’s a really good role player, not the Zach Randolph clone some have incorrectly labeled him as.
8. Sacramento– Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona
Could go as high as No. 5 to Utah. Gordon’s gotten a lot of Shawn Marion comparisons, but Marion averaged 20+ points a game in his prime. Can’t see Gordon scoring like that, but the defensive versatility and everything else? Yeah, I see it. His versatility and ability to play away from the basket on both ends is a really good fit with a true, low-post center in Demarcus Cousins.
9. Charlotte– Doug McDermott, F, Creighton
A lot of chatter about the Bulls packaging the Nos. 16 and 19 picks to move up somewhere and take him. I like Dougie McBuckets and think his ability to score translates to the NBA, but I hope they don’t trade two top 20 picks for him. Anyway, McDermott is a perfect fit here and I think the noise about Charlotte looking elsewhere (after a lot of strong talk about this pairing for some time) is just that: noise. Charlotte needs shooting, and Michael Jordan has talked a lot of big talk about upgrading their roster to truly compete next year, which isn’t far-fetched for a team in the East that did win 43 games last year. A rookie who totally fills a specific need and can contribute right away should be the pick here, though Nik Stauskas or Gary Harris would also make sense. I’d even consider Rodney Hood this high.
10. Philly– Gary Harris, G Michigan State
A positional need and, in my opinion, the best available player. A two-guard on the smallish side is less of a concern next to a 6’6″ PG like MCW who’s a dynamic defender. Played through nagging injuries and never showed his full potential at Michigan State, but he’s a complete guard with All-Star potential.
11. Denver– Nik Stauskas, G Michigan
Harris and Stauskas have been attached at the hip so far in their careers; same position, same HS class, one at UM and one at MSU, 1-2 for ’14 Big Ten POY, and both mentioned in the same potential spots in the same draft. They might as well go back-to-back here.
12. Orlando- Adrian Payne, F, Michigan State
I’ve heard nothing tying him to this spot, or even that he’ll go quite this high. So this is kind of a wild-card pick. But Orlando’s needed a big who can shoot from outside ever since Ryan Anderson left. Payne’s not that ridiculous of a shooter, but he’s pretty good and is a well-rounded power forward and not just a “stretch 4” specialist.
13. Minnesota- Elfrid Payton, G, UL-Lafayette
If they’re trading Love, they might as well tear it down and replace Ricky Rubio too. Even if they keep Rubio, both of these two have the length to defend either backcourt spot. Payton’s not a shooter, but he is a scorer/shot-creator and could work next to Rubio.
14. Phoenix– James Young, G/F, Kentucky
One of my favorite players in the draft. A big wing who can shoot fills a glaring need here.