This is a shot in the dark for a number of reasons. I’m not Adrian Wojnarowski, I’m not Ryen Russillo, I’m not Kevin Pelton, and I’m certainly not Zach Lowe. I don’t have industry sources, executives or scouts I can contact. I got two things: 1. The same whole host of mock drafts you all have and 2. My instincts. When you look as attractive as I do, you gotta know that you’ve got great instincts. This is all in good fun, however. Sports, man. You never know what’s going to happen. All that said, let’s have at it.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers select Andrew Wiggins, Freshman, University of Kansas
Joel Embiid’s out. Period. Which sucks, because in theory putting him on the Cavaliers roster could have made for something pretty great. Which leaves it to one of two players, obviously. Wiggins, and Jabari Parker. The three of them have obviously put themselves in a class of their own. Last year, the Cleveland Cavaliers also had the first overall pick. They selected the Canadian Anthony Bennett out of UNLV, and to say his season was woeful was an understatement. He was thick, listed at 6’8″ and 240 by Basketball-Reference and 259 lbs by ESPN. His PER was 6.95. The moral of the story? Dan Gilbert can’t blow this. And make no mistake, it’s on Dan Gilbert. He’s talked such a big game that it’s all on him. Andrew Wiggins has a high ceiling and will have an instant impact, so the Cavs take a second Canadian.
2. Milwaukee Bucks select Jabari Parker, Freshman, Duke University.
I’ve heard that – for some strange reason, the Bucks want to “win now.” That’s beyond asinine, but whatever, they have Mallory Edens so I hope they’re alright. If you want to “win now” you don’t take Joel Embiid. He’s out for too long and has too long a road to recovery. You take Parker. He makes an immediate impact. Hell, he might be the best player on the floor right away for Milwaukee.
3. Philadelphia 76ers select Noah Vonleh, Freshman, Indiana University
I’ll be clear: The Sixers should try and trade out of this slot. They’re too weak overall, and the two best players on the board – Embiid and Dante Exum – are not needs for them at all. But if they don’t trade out? Noah Vonleh could be interesting. A frontcourt of Vonleh, Nerlens Noel, and Thaddeus Young, with Michael Carter-Williams running the point? That’s intriguing. That said, I have no idea how the Sixers lost quite as many games as they did last year, other than the fact that Thad Young was their only decent scorer. Humbug.
4. Orlando Magic select Joel Embiid, Freshman, Kansas University
Would you look at that! Four freshmen in a row! Oh who are we kidding, that kind of thing isn’t a surprise anymore. There is a history of talented centers in Orlando, though one could argue there is already one there. I’m a big fan of Nikola Vucevic, but Joel Embiid…wait a second….
4. Orlando Magic select Dante Exum, Australia Kangaroos
Okay so he doesn’t play for the Kangaroos, but we have our first official waffle of the draft. And waffles are delicious and amazing. The Magic already have a center, and his name is Nikola Vucevic. They also have a point guard, but Jameer Nelson ain’t gonna be around forever. Dante Exum, Victor Oladipo & Nikola Vucevic with youngsters Maurice Harkless, Andrew Nicholson, and Tobias Harris? You might have something there. Might.
5. Utah Jazz select Joel Embiid, Freshman, Kansas University
If Joel Embiid falls to you at No. 5, you pull the trigger. It probably won’t happen as people will be blinded by all the Olajuwon comparisons, but if it does happen, you pull the trigger. They may have Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, but if you have a chance at Embiid, you pull the trigger, period.
6. Boston Celtics select Doug McDermott, Senior, Creighton University
I said I’m having fun with this, right? From what I gather, the Celtics want to find a way to package this pick and their selection at No. 17 and acquire Kevin Love. If they have to deal Rondo (which I don’t imagine happening), they take Marcus Smart here. If they have to deal Sullinger, I could see Aaron Gordon going here. But then again, you already have your power forward…in Kevin Love. You know what makes sense to me? Doug McDermott in Boston. Great shooters and the Boston Garden. It only makes sense.
7. Los Angeles Lakers select Julius Randle, Freshman, University of Kentucky
Another freshman off the board. I hear Randle’s had some injury issues of his own, but Pau Gasol is hitting the market and he may be as good as gone, so the Lakers need a big man. That said, the Lakers need pretty much everything. I always liked what I saw out of Randle, and I feel like – as long as he’s healthy – he could step right in and do alright for the Lake Show.
8. Sacramento Kings select Aaron Gordon, Freshman, University of Arizona
Wait a second, Aaron Gordon is on the board? He wasn’t perfect this year with the Wildcats, but he’s a dynamic and athletic talent. I’ve seen Elfrid Payton here, but I expect the Kings to bring back Isaiah Thomas here, and with Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum still on the roster, I think you need Gordon more than Payton.
9. Charlotte Hornets select Nik Stauskas, Sophomore, University of Michigan
Ironically, it’s gonna take a little while to get used to the Hornets being the team in Charlotte and not New Orleans. That said, Charlotte’s got Kemba Walker, Al Jefferson, and not much else. Nik Stauskas? He could be the kind of scorer who takes some pressure off of Al Jefferson. I doubt it, but hey, it might work. Whatever.
10. Philadelphia 76ers select Elfrid Payton, Junior, University of Louisiana-Lafayette
You’ve probably never heard of Payton and that’s okay, he doesn’t care. The Gretna, Louisiana native is a highly talented and dynamic guard and considering the Sixers took Noah Vonleh at No. 3, they can take a guard here. Again, you add Payton to the mix of guys mentioned at No. 3 and Brett Brown ought to have something to work with.
11. Denver Nuggets select Gary Harris, Sophomore, Michigan State University
I can envision the Nuggets trading down here because I think they’re lacking the kind of guy who can take over a game, and a survey of guys in the mix in this range yields James Young out of Kentucky — in my eyes at least. Most mocks I’m seeing don’t have Young going for a few more picks though, so if the Nuggets can trade down and still get Young, they should. However, a lot of guys have Harris going to the Nuggets. He plays quality defense and Randy Foye isn’t blowing anyone away, so Harris would have an opportunity early on.
12. Orlando Magic select Dario Saric out of Croatia
Saric wouldn’t be the only eastern European big man for the Magic. I don’t know if that means anything, but it is nifty. I have the Magic taking Exum, so you take Saric here and you have a highly regarded “point-forward” type.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves select Marcus Smart, Sophomore, Oklahoma State University
For a little while there, I forgot I still had Smart on the board. If the Timberwolves are more alert than I was and realize he’s fallen to them, you jump on it. Ricky Rubio is only under contract through next season, and you’re going to need to give fans something to get excited about with Kevin Love gone. Marcus Smart is the most likely guy to do that of those still available.
14. Phoenix Suns select James Young, Freshman, University of Kentucky
I’ll ride with Chad Ford on this, yet another freshman out of Kentucky getting selected. Young is a potent shooter with a long wingspan and can fill the Suns’ need at the wing position.
15. Atlanta Hawks select Jusuf Nurkic out of Bosnia
Because Pero Antic didn’t fill the eastern-European-big-man quota for Danny Ferry and the Hawks, Nurkic is raw but 6’11” and 280 lbs, you can take a flier on “raw” at No. 15.
16. Chicago Bulls select Rodney Hood, Sophomore, Duke University
Hood is the second Duke player taken in the draft, if he falls this far. Also, it’s widely known that the Bulls want to move up in the draft. A polished shooter like Hood, however, who can score anywhere on the floor and brings great size for his position, is the kind of player the Bulls would like to have.
17. Boston Celtics select Zach Lavine, Freshman, UCLA
Some have Lavine going as high as No. 13 to the Suns, which is relatively remarkable for a player who averaged only 9.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg and 1.8 apg this season. However, Lavine is the kind of raw player that I could see Brad Stevens developing into a top talent.
18. Phoenix Suns select T.J. Warren, Sophomore, North Carolina State University
With Hood, McDermott and Lavine off the floor, the Suns will look to add more depth in the frontcourt by taking Warren, a quality scorer who showed flashes of brilliance with the Wolfpack.
19. Chicago Bulls select Tyler Ennis, Freshman, Syracuse University
Again, it sounds like the Bulls want to move up from 16 & 19, but after already taking Hood, it’s time to look at depth at the point guard seeing as your current guy is the most injury-prone man on the planet. Tyler Ennis may still have some questions about his athleticism entering the draft, but he’s a talented playmaker — just what the Bulls will need when Derrick Rose goes down again.
20. Toronto Raptors select Clint Capela out of Switzerland
Never heard of this kid. Hopefully the Raptors have, though, seeing as I’ve got them picking him. You know what the Raptors don’t have enough of? Frontcourt talent. Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson ain’t getting it done, and Capela – though very raw – is 6’11” and 222 lbs and maybe in a couple years he could be a top quality rim protector with enough offensive game to make him a weapon.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder select Shabazz Napier, Senior, University of Connecticut
I’ve seen Napier falling as far as the Heat which would be insane. The Thunder no longer have Derek Fisher and they need a point guard because they don’t have one on the roster. Okay, that may be a little harsh, but I’ve made no bones about not liking Westbrook, and I think Napier could be a better fit here. Besides, they need a guard.
22. Memphis Grizzlies select Adreian Payne, Senior, Michigan State University
Some have Payne going as high as No. 13 to the Timberwolves or No. 16 to the Bulls, but I see him falling all the way to No. 22 and being a tremendous steal for the Griz. Payne is 23 years old and close to a finished product, a big man who can shoot, rebound, and even play the five when necessary.
23. Utah Jazz select P.J. Hairston, Junior, Texas Legends (NBA D-League)
Hairston could go just about anywhere and is ready to play from day one. After taking Embiid at No. 5, you can take a guard like Hairston to show your fans you’ll pick someone who is ready to go. Hairston has the size and strength at his position to go much higher so if he falls to No. 23, Utah should take advantage.
24. Charlotte Hornets select Kyle Anderson, Sophomore, UCLA
I had a chance to watch a fair amount of UCLA basketball this year and I really like Kyle Anderson. Anderson is a savvy playmaker, the “point-forward” type, and after the performance Boris Diaw put on in the Finals, I’m sure teams around the league took notice.
25. Houston Rockets select Jordan Clarkson, Junior, University of Missouri
It sounds like Clarkson is rocketing up some draft boards (see what I did there?) and with the Rockets willing to part with Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley not being the most amazing guy in the world, Clarkson is well with the selection at No. 25.
26. Miami Heat select Mitch McGary, Sophomore, University of Michigan
You know who did not impress me in the Finals? Chris BIRDMAN BIRDMAN Andersen. Chris Bosh has established himself as a guy who likes hanging out on the perimeter, and Udonis Haslem is mad old. Mitch McGary gives the Heat a big body down low, which might help. Heck, anything could help at this point which is hilarious to say because the Heat.
27. Phoenix Suns select Jarnell Stokes, Junior, University of Tennessee
Stokes could very easily go much higher in the draft, and I’d be surprised if anyone – much less the Suns – select three first rounders and have them all on the roster next year. That said, Stokes was a 15 & 10 guy as a Volunteer and with the Suns’ best big men being shooters (the Morris twins), grabbing Stokes and throwing him in the post could be great for the Suns at No. 27.
28. Los Angeles Clippers select Patric Young, Senior, University of Florida
A number of people have the Clips taking McGary here, but he’s off my board and Lob City still needs another big body as part of the frontcourt repertoire. Patric Young may not have a ‘k’ but he is 6’10” 247 lbs and a force defensively, something I’m sure Doc Rivers can come to really appreciate.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder select Jordan Adams, Sophomore, UCLA
If the Thunder see Adams still available at 29, he’d likely be hard to pass on. Then again, if you’ve scouted well, this is the time where pulling a “Spurs” and taking a European kid and stashing him til he’s ready would make sense. Nevertheless (always the more, from the pool table to the kitchen floor), Adams is a big-time scorer who can penetrate and finish at the basket and also possesses the ability to shoot from range.
30. San Antonio Spurs select Walter Tavares out of Spain
Oh the Spurs have a late 1st round pick? Yeah, they’re taking a European kid and stashing him til he’s ready. No question. Tavares is 7’3″ 265 lbs (!!!) with a 7’6″ wingspan, can rebound, block shots, and runs the floor well for someone his size. Oh, and he’s only 22. If the Spurs can get him to improve his game just a bit and bring him over in a year or two, look out.
I’m sorry, I’m still impressed by 7’3″ 265 lbs with a 7’6″ wingspan. And the defending champs could get him and stash him. That’s crazy.
Other names to keep an eye on in the draft: Cleanthony Early (Wichita State), K.J. McDaniels (Clemson), Jerami Grant (Syracuse), C.J. Wilcox (Washington), Glenn Robinson III (Michigan), Spencer Dinwiddie (Colorado), Joe Harris (Virginia), Thanasis Antetokounmpo (Delaware), and really a slew of eastern European big men you’ve never heard of unless you’re Fran Fraschilla or something.
A few more predictions for this year’s draft:
- Where Kevin Love does or does not go will dictate a considerable amount of what occurs in this draft.
- Dan Gilbert is going to do something stupid because he has a big ego and is still upset about “The Decision.”
- The Timberwolves will be haunted by David Kahn and will also do something stupid, also in part because Flip Saunders will be overwhelmed by all of job responsibilities.
- The Spurs will do something really smart – including not being afraid to trade out of the first round and into the second – and no one else will and we’ll continue to sit here wondering why no one imitates the Spurs.
- A lot of players will be selected from UCLA, Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, and Syracuse. Go figure.
- JaKarr Sampson will be taken much earlier than St. John’s fans expect (sound familiar, Johnnies?)
- The Lakers may not make the wisest selection, but they will take someone who they think has star potential. Kobe ain’t gonna be around forever and Pau may be gone. Someone in the Lakers front office will be thinking that it is time to move on.
- Billy King will find a way to make a move that will be what everyone points to as the reason he is fired, when that happens next season.
- Deonte Burton or Bryce Cotton will be selected late in the second round and will use that as added motivation, working harder to prove to the world that they belong at the highest level of basketball.
That’s what I got right now. If I get swayed significantly on this, we may see some updates.