The NCAA tournament has really shaken up the draft, as some of the NBA's future stars have seen their stocks both rise and fall as a result of the action of March Madness.
With this tournament acting as the final in-game audition for prospects to impress NBA teams, executives across the Association take what they see from these games into consideration when drafting. Players who can perform on the highest stage often get bumped up a few spots. Those who underperform or let the pressure get to them fall.
Much like any mock draft, the NBA's version fluctuates almost daily. This is how the first round would go down if it were to happen today.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
NBA futility has essentially become a race for the services of Andrew Wiggins. The freshman from Kansas has a chance to be a legitimate NBA superstar, and the Milwaukee Bucks desperately need one.
Wiggins has dropped 41, 30, 22 and 19 in his past four games and enters a round-of-32 matchup against Stanford in position to perform well yet again. The Bucks should not pass up on such an outstanding talent.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Joel Embiid's back injury has knocked him down from the top overall selection, and after missing out on Wiggins, the Philadelphia 76ers will draft him regardless.
Even with Nerlens Noel in the fold at center, Embiid is simply too much of a talent to pass up. The injury could very well be an isolated incident, giving Philly two young centers to work with. That's a good position for a team in position to improve to be in.
3. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia
The Orlando Magic need a facilitator and future leader of the offense, so they should look no further than Australia's Dante Exum. The guard can score in bunches but also shows the awareness to set up his teammates when they're open.
Exum flashes the same talent that Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers has. Lillard is obviously the more finished product, but the Magic would be thrilled if Exum turned into that type of talent. He has that type of potential.
4. Utah Jazz: Jabari Parker, SF/PF, Duke
Jabari Parker's poor showing in the second round of the NCAA tournament against Mercer hurt his stock just a little bit. Parker played like a freshman, and that's the last thing NBA executives wanted to see.
He scored 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting, but he also turned the ball over four times and was called on four personal fouls. He didn't look comfortable and appeared to be out of his element—not what you want from an NBA prospect.
Parker has the potential to be a future NBA star, but he might be best-served spending another year at Duke and maturing in big games.
5. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
The only benefit of being bitten by the injury bug this season is that the Los Angeles Lakers have set themselves up for a high lottery pick in the draft.
A point guard like Marcus Smart would join Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and potentially Pau Gasol (if he re-signs) on a team that could be a surprise contender. They'll have to improve their depth off the bench, of course.
After Nash retires, Smart would step into a starting role at the point. Los Angeles is a great destination for the Oklahoma State product.
6. Boston Celtics: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
Julius Randle is generally a consistent double-double threat. I say "generally" because he'll sometimes give you lines like he did against Florida in the SEC championship game—1-of-7 shooting, four points, seven rebounds.
The Boston Celtics could use someone like Randle. He's strong, athletic and moves well inside, giving him the edge against some slower forwards in the post. Young teams succeed when they have strong presences inside, and Randle would give Boston just that.
7. Sacramento Kings: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
Noah Vonleh can do a little bit of everything.
He led the Big Ten in rebounding despite playing in just 26.5 minutes per contest. He has a very good post game with his back to the basket, though it could use a bit more polish. He can even hit from the perimeter from time to time, evidenced by his 16-of-33 showing from deep this season.
He can dominate inside because of his 7'4" wingspan and would be a great addition to a Sacramento Kings team in need of more young talent.
8. Detroit Pistons: Rodney Hood, SF, Duke
The Detroit Pistons need a guy who can shoot consistently from deep, and Rodney Hood fits the bill. He shot 42 percent from deep this year as the second-fiddle to Jabari Parker.
Hood has shown the potential to score in bunches, but he took somewhat of a backseat to Parker this season. In the right situation, he can shine. The Pistons are a good landing spot for him.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Gary Harris can score and hook up his open teammates for open looks when the defense allows it. That makes him an ideal fit for a Cleveland Cavaliers team that thought they were getting that in Dion Waiters.
Harris is one of many Michigan State stars who has a future in the NBA, but he has the most potential of them all. His scoring average of 16.9 points per game is a direct result of his improvement in shot selection, as well as his ability to create for himself.
He can be a star with Cleveland.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans Pelicans): Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia
Dario Saric could possibly stay in Croatia after being drafted, but the 76ers can afford to wait. They aren't contending any time soon. Saric still doesn't even know if he'll declare for the draft, via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.com: "I will not decide anything until the end of the season."
He appears to have the skill set that would make him worth waiting for should he decide to play another season internationally.
11. Denver Nuggets (via New York Knicks): Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
Nik Stauskas can shoot with the best of them, but not just as a spot-up shooter in the corners.
The Michigan product is lightning-quick off the dribble. He has the skills with the ball in his hands to fake a drive to the basket and then pull up and hit right over the defender. Lethal from the perimeter, Stauskas has the talent to slide right into the Denver Nuggets' regular rotation.
12. Orlando Magic: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
Aaron Gordon is certainly a work in progress, but he has the type of potential that the Magic won't want to pass over.
He doesn't convert well from the perimeter and he is a train wreck from the free-throw line, but Gordon excels defensively and can be an immediate presence in that aspect of the game.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Zach LaVine, PG/SG, UCLA
He's not NBA-ready yet, but Zach LaVine is worth keeping on the bench for the Minnesota Timberwolves until he's fully developed.
LaVine is athletic and possesses a fantastic stroke from distance. He handles the ball exceptionally well and can create shots for himself. Consistency has been a little hard to come by at times, and that's really the biggest thing LaVine needs to work on moving forward.
14. Phoenix Suns: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
Willie Cauley-Stein is a walking double-double waiting to happen. The big man also possesses the shot-blocking ability to dictate the outcome of games by controlling the interior. His offensive game is a work in progress, but Cauley-Stein is too strong defensively to not take a chance on.
Phoenix loves athletes who can make plays—Cauley-Stein fits that mold.
15. Boston Celtics: Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
Clint Capela laughs in the face of contact and always finishes strong around the rim. He's explosive under the basket and can even run the floor well enough to score in transition.
It's not all good with Capela, though. He occasionally lacks aggressiveness and can appear lost in the speed of the game at times. While supremely talented, he needs to learn the ins and outs of the game a little more before being considered an instant-impact prospect.
He's still worth the risk for Boston at No. 15, even after taking another power forward—Julius Randle—earlier.
16. Chicago Bulls (via Charlotte Bobcats): Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
Derrick Rose cannot stay healthy. It's time for the Chicago Bulls to seriously consider drafting someone who can take some of the pressure off him to play big minutes each game.
Syracuse's Tyler Ennis has good instincts and makes smart plays. He can even score and convert from deep when called upon, so taking Ennis would appear to be a no-brainer here.
17. Phoenix Suns: Doug McDermott, SF/PF, Creighton
Doug McDermott doesn't flash much defensively, but he's polished enough on offense to step in and play a big role on a Suns team that stands to improve even more next season.
"McBuckets," as they call him, can drill it from deep with uncanny consistency. Defenses can't contain him, as evidenced by 27.0 points per game this year. McDermott isn't a reach at No. 17, despite what some may tell you.
18. Atlanta Hawks: James Young, SG, Kentucky
Freshmen have been the story of the past college basketball season, and James Young is one of the names that gets overlooked when analysts discuss Wiggins, Embiid, Parker, Randle and a few others.
Consistency has been a huge issue for Young, but he can get hot quickly. He's a bit streaky and goes through games where his shot just doesn't fall. When he's on, though, he's difficult to defend.
The Atlanta Hawks could use him in a reserve role until Kyle Korver and Lou Williams are ready to give way to his talents.
19. Chicago Bulls: T.J. Warren, SF, N.C. State
T.J. Warren dropped 24.9 points per game this season with a mentality and skill level that make him one of the more NBA-ready scorers in the draft.
The Bulls could use some extra scoring ability on the wing. They should not look past Warren, as he can do almost everything with the ball in his hands.
20. Toronto Raptors: Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville
Montrezl Harrell still has a lot to prove, but luckily, he has the opportunity to show NBA scouts what he's made of in the Sweet 16. He's a key cog for Louisville.
While he's super athletic and plays well above the rim, Harrell has his faults. He's a poor free-throw shooter, so teams in crunch situations can just put him on the line to save face. Plus, he's not particularly good at setting up teammates when he draws double teams.
Harrell has the stage in front of him to put these doubts to rest, however.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Dallas Mavericks): Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Jusuf Nurkic is a big body who loves to bump in the paint and finish strong at the rim. He's a tough player to out-body, and that physicality makes him a good fit on an Oklahoma City Thunder team that could use a bruiser down low.
Nurkic needs a little NBA seasoning, so he might not contribute right away. In a few years time, he'll be a player who proved to be worth waiting for.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
With scary athleticism and a wingspan of 7'2", Jerami Grant is a guy who can step in and play defense for the Memphis Grizzlies from training camp. He can use his uncanny length to re-direct passes, tip lob passes, grab offensive boards and finish high above the rim.
Grant isn't much of a shooter, though, so the Grizzlies may have to think of creative ways to implement him into the offense.
23. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA
Kyle Anderson was always considered an NBA prospect, but his performance in the Pac-12 title game really put him on the map. In that game against Arizona, he scored 21 points, grabbed 15 boards and dished out five assists.
He was basically a walking stat line.
Anderson is a slow-mover with the ball in his hands, and that's really why he'll end up dropping into the late first round.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (via Portland Trail Blazers): Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
Already a strong defensive team, the Charlotte Bobcats could use a little more physicality down low. Michigan State's Adreian Payne is strong, athletic and quick down low and has the ability to defend opposing big men.
He's an interesting prospect given his age (23), but all that really means is that he's nearly fully matured. You know what you're getting from a guy like Payne—and that's a guy who can provide solid production in nearly all facets of the game.
25. Houston Rockets: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
K.J. McDaniels led the ACC in shot blocking as a small forward. Yeah, the guy is scary athletic and plays very, very well above the rim.
McDaniels is a pretty streaky shooter, but his presence on defense more than makes up for the games that his shot isn't falling. The Houston Rockets could always use more defense on the perimeter, and that's exactly what he would provide.
26. Los Angeles Clippers: Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG, Serbia
As a shooting guard, Bogdan Bogdanovic can act as a second facilitator next to the point guard. He's an unselfish player who is not afraid to give up the ball to his teammates with better looks. With court vision that rivals some NBA point guards, Bogdanovic will find a home in the NBA.
In order to adapt to the NBA game, Bogdanovic will have to learn from the best. Is there a better place to learn than under Chris Paul? Bogdanovic can learn even more about the art of passing while still working on his scoring ability.
27. Miami Heat: Wayne Selden, SG, Kansas
Wayne Selden didn't put up the best numbers in his freshman year at Kansas, but rest assured, he has the tools to succeed with a little more polish.
He finishes strong near the basket with both hands, has a good mid-range jumper and sets up his teammates well when drawing a crowd down low. He's not super athletic and isn't particularly quick off the dribble, however.
The Miami Heat offer him the perfect opportunity to hone his skills while learning from some of the best.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Nick Johnson, SG, Arizona
Johnson can hit transition threes and is very athletic when attacking the basket. He's a combo-guard who can be a third-scorer on a Thunder team that look ready to go places in the upcoming years.
29. Phoenix Suns (via Indiana Pacers): Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
Shabazz Napier was a fringe first-rounder prior to his showing thus far in the NCAA tournament. Not anymore.
He scored 24 points against St. Joe's in the round of 64 and then 25 points in Connecticut's round-of-32 upset of Villanova. Napier made 9-of-13 shots in that game.
He is an exceptional scorer with good instincts and a knack for setting up open teammates. He's even a good rebounder, evidenced by his 5.9 boards per game this year. The Suns can finish off a great first round by making this selection.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Elfrid Payton, PG, UL-Lafayette
Tony Parker says he wants to play five or six more seasons, but it wouldn't be a bad idea for the San Antonio Spurs to begin grooming his replacement while he's still there.
Elfrid Payton can learn from one of the best in the business while also learning how to play in one of the best systems the NBA has to offer. Payton can create for himself with the ball in his hands, but he can even set up his teammates because of his great awareness.
Coming from a mid-major, Payton needs a little seasoning against better competition. Playing sparingly and learning from Parker can help him with that.
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