Many draft prospects improved their stock with strong play in the NCAA tournament, but only Shabazz Napier and Nick Johnson made big leaps into the first round due to their performance during March Madness.
The top-eight picks remain a consensus group, but after that, the selections are dictated by unique team needs and strategies.
Here is the updated draft order along with a prediction for each pick in a trade-speckled first round.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas Jayhawks
The Bucks need help with just about everything and sit 50 games below .500 with four contests left to play. You may recall that at the start of the NBA season, there was a lot of talk about teams tanking to get Andrew Wiggins. (Someone even set up a website devoted solely to that concept.)
With the season drawing to a close for moribund Milwaukee, there is no need to deviate from that plan. After averaging over 17 points per game as a freshman, Wiggins would fit nicely between O.J. Mayo and Ersan Ilyasova in the starting lineup. He also has the talent to be a "super-sub" off the bench as a rookie.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas Jayhawks
Embiid battled a back injury late in the season, but he proved his worth prior to that and put himself in the mix to become the top pick. The Sixers would be ecstatic to place him alongside Nerlens Noel in the frontcourt.
Embiid racked up pretty stats, posting 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game as a freshman. The young man from Cameroon is relatively new to the game, and if his back can withstand the rigors of the NBA, the Sixers might have landed a generic-brand version of Hakeem Olajuwon.
3. Orlando Magic: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke Blue Devils
In SportsNation chat with fans on April 2, ESPN's Chad Ford mentioned that both Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker were "seriously considering returning" to college, which was news that had the potential to drastically alter the top of the draft. While Embiid officially declared for the draft on Wednesday, Parker has yet to make a decision.
Assuming Parker opts for the NBA and eschews the chance to play with incoming freshman and friend Jahlil Okafor, he would be a great fit for the Magic, as he would team up with last season's electric rookie shooting guard Victor Oladipo and help to form a frightening young core in Orlando.
As a rookie, Parker could back up Arron Afflalo, who is coming off a stellar season, and he could be part of a solid young frontcourt tandem along with Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic.
4. Boston Celtics: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky Wildcats
Julius Randle's Wildcats stormed all the way to the NCAA title game despite being an eight seed, during which Randle recorded double-doubles in his first four tournament games, becoming only the second freshman to ever do so, per ESPN Stats & Info. He also averaged a double-double (15.0 points and 10.4 rebounds) for the entire season, recording 24 such games in total.
Randle could be a wrecking ball for the C's up front, and his presence would allow to the team to stop starting the likes of Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries.
5. Utah Jazz: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona Wildcats
Gordon excelled during the tournament and averaged better than 16 points per game in the Wildcats' first three wins. He bricked eight of his 11 shots in the team's Elite Eight loss to Wisconsin, but he also hauled in 18 rebounds.
Utah has Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter up front, and with Marvin Williams plodding toward free agency, Gordon would be a good fit to shore up the position.
6. Los Angeles Lakers: Dante Exum, G, Australia
Exum has the talent of a top-four player, but in this draft order he gets bumped due to point guards like Rajon Rondo (Boston) and Trey Burke (Utah) blocking his path toward being selected higher.
The Aussie has professed an affinity for Los Angeles and an admiration for Kobe Bryant. While Exum may want to be in L.A. more than the team needs him there, Kendall Marshall's skills at the point only work in Mike D'Antoni's all-offense system.
As Chris Mannix of SI.com wrote in late March:
Exum has been working out in Los Angeles in preparation for the draft. There have been reports that Exum, who is represented by Kobe Bryant’s agent, Rob Pelinka, may be angling for the Lakers to draft him...Scouts rave about the Australian’s natural talent. Exum can play both guard spots, but his long-term future is likely at shooting guard.
Unlike the flotsam and jetsam that racked up stats for the Lakers this year, Exum would be a building block for the future beyond Kobe.
7. Sacramento Kings: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana Hoosiers
Derrick Williams is OK, but Vonleh could be a long-term solution at the 4 in Sacramento.
Due to Indiana's struggles this season, Vonleh did not get as much attention in March as other prospects on this list, but his 11.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game would make for a ferocious pairing with DeMarcus Cousins.
8. Detroit Pistons: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State Cowboys
Marcus Smart had some anger issues on the court this season, including a chair-kicking tantrum and an incident which involved him shoving a portly, loud-mouthed fan in the first row. It's OK, though, Detroit can get him someone to talk to about that.
The Pistons are desperate for defense after ranking 25th in defensive rating this season. Luckily, Smart brings plenty of defense.
He also averaged 18.0 points and 2.9 steals per game this season as a sophomore, as he displays a rare combination of skills on both ends of the floor. With a promising frontcourt of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, Smart would give the Pistons something to build around in the backcourt.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Rodney Hood, SF, Duke Blue Devils
Hood is a lefty, and it may take everyone in the NBA a couple of seasons to learn and remember that. No, that's not an off-hand layup!
What Hood lacks in defense and rebounding, he makes up for with 6'8" size and solid 2-guard skills as a shooter and penetrator. He recorded 16.4 points per game last season, and he offers potential as a shooting guard without rankling Dion Waiters. (Just remember to tell Waiters that Hood is a small forward.)
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans): Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State Spartans
Harris does more slashing than a backslash key, and he plays with boundless energy, which makes opponents wonder how he could possibly drink that much Gatorade. Though he's not an effective shooter from beyond mid-range, he would be an excellent spark plug for an NBA second unit with the ball-handling skills to play the point as well.
11. Denver Nuggets (via New York): Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton Bluejays
McDermott won the Wooden Award as the nation's top player this season, and he also received the best-player honor from the Associated Press. He even won the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's Player of the Year award as well.
The senior brings more than experience with him thanks to his savvy at the position and fantastic range. He finished his college career with 3,150 points, good for fifth on the all-time list. This kid is the next Kyle Korver.
12. Orlando Magic (via Denver): Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse Orange
Despite averaging just under 13 points per game last season, Ennis profiles like a pass-first, push-the-tempo point guard. He offers great end-to-end speed combined with elite court vision.
I don't mean to cast aspersions, but sometimes Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson looks closer to 42 years old than 32. It will be time to reboot the position soon.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State Spartans
I'm not saying that Kevin Love is going to leave lovely Minnesota and head back to his birth state of California, but if he did, Payne would make for a serviceable replacement.
The Spartans forward combines high-flying athleticism, great rebounding ability, and rim-protection skills along with a very dangerous shot from long range. He knocked down 1.4 three-pointers per game at a 42 percent clip last season, helping him to average 16.4 points per game.
14. Memphis Grizzlies: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan Wolverines
Teams interested in Nik Stauskas are interested in one thing: shooting. The sophomore scored 17.5 points per game while shooting 47 percent from the field, 44 percent from three-point range and 82 percent from the foul line.
If you have watched the Grizzlies lately, then you are aware that they need all the shooting help they can get. They rank 22nd in the league in three-point field-goal percenage, per ESPN.com.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
Though he's not particularly athletic, the 6'10" Saric has a versatile skill set that makes him both a good rebounder and a very good ball-handler. He doesn't offer a strong mid-range or long-range game, but a 6'10" player who can bring the ball up and see the floor is so rare.
16. Phoenix Suns (via Washington): James Young, SF, Kentucky Wildcats
James Young is yet another player in the mold of a swingman. He's got the size at 6'7" to play the 3 and the skills to play the 2. He can create off the dribble and penetrate defenses to cause problems. He needs to work on his shooting efficiency, however, as he barely edged above 40 percent as a freshman.
17. Chicago Bulls (via Charlotte): Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky Wildcats
With apologies to Nazr Mohammed, the Bulls need a new big man off the bench. Though center is a position falling out of vogue in the NBA, there will always be a market for seven-footers with some versatility.
Cauley-Stein averaged 2.9 blocks per game in his sophomore year. But with an average of just 6.8 points in 23.8 minutes per game, most teams would like to see someone with a more polished approach on offense this high in the first round. Then again, this is Chicago we're talking about.
18. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn): T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State Wolfpack
Warren posted 24.9 points per game for the Wolfpack this season on 52.5 percent shooting. That's the kind of deft scoring that Boston needs, and he can bring it both around the rim and when he steps out. He also chipped in 7.1 boards and 1.2 steals per game.
19. Chicago Bulls: Kyle Anderson, G/F, UCLA Bruins
Chicago loves guys that can play at the 2 or the 3. Jimmy Butler is in that mold, as is stopgap Mike Dunleavy. In Anderson, the Bulls have a chance to select a player who enjoyed a light-bulb season in 2013-14, as the sophomore from Fairview, N.J., was excellent for the Bruins.
Though not a gifted defender, Anderson crashes the boards with the best of them. He really improved his scoring and ball distribution as well, and he finished with 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. He also shot 48 percent from three-point range.
20. Toronto Raptors: Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
Capela is just shy of 7'0", and the Swiss mister brings the speed to run the floor. He's got good athleticism around the rim to make him a potent rebounder, and he displays good defensive intensity as well.
Plus, he could discuss European politics with Jonas Valanciunas. Toronto is kind of like the Switzerland of North America, in a geographical relativist kind of way, so he will feel right at home.
21. Phoenix Suns: Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse Orange
Grant is another guy who might profile as more of a 2-guard than a 3, but his shooting lacks consistency so far. Rather, Grant just runs his motor all game long and has the athleticism to leap over opponents, making him an excellent rebounder.
The Suns don't have many positions of need with Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic in the backcourt, and they also have Miles Plumlee, Alex Len and the Morris twins up front. But Grant would slot in perfectly as a small forward or an oversized 6'8" shooting guard.
22. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Dallas): Zach LaVine, G, UCLA Bruins
OKC is searching for an upgrade at the 2-guard spot. LaVine is a big point guard at 6'5", and he has the shooting ability to keep the ball and launch it up. He can get caught between his passing and scoring in a Russell Westbrook kind of way, but his quickness and versatility are too good to pass up here.
23. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): Nick Johnson, SG, Arizona Wildcats
Yes, this is a bit of a reach, but Johnson provides the pure shooting that can help off the bench immediately, and he supplements that with excellent defense.
No team in the NBA has allowed more points per 100 possessions this season than the Jazz—not the Bucks, not the Sixers and not the Lakers. Did I mention Johnson is a very good defender?
24. Charlotte Bobcats (via Portland): Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville Cardinals
Harell is a little small for a power forward at 6'8", but he plays bigger than his size. His ample athleticism makes him an elite rebounder, and he brings a toughness on defense that shows the physicality to play the 4. He can even shoot from mid-range.
25. Houston Rockets: Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee Volunteers
Do you like 15.1 points and 10.6 rebounds per game? Well then, Stokes is your man! He's a tough-as-nails defender who hungers for rebounds. He would give Houston another low-post presence and could be the option on the block for the second unit.
26. Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut Huskies
LeBron James tweeted out that he thinks Napier is the top point guard in the lottery. Sorry, Exum, Smart and Ennis.
Napier led Connecticut on an inspiring run to the 2014 national title—which is actually his second college basketball title, as he also won one with the team as a freshman in 2011.
Not only was he the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament this year, but his mental toughness and will to win would fit in perfectly on a team that does so much winning.
27. Phoenix Suns (via Indiana): P.J. Hairston, PG, NBA D-League
Hairston is a big boy at 6'5" and 220 pounds. He brings toughness to the backcourt, but he's not just a bruiser. He knocked down 39.6 percent of his three-pointers in the 2012-13 season as a North Carolina Tar Heel, and he scored 14.6 points per game. He could provide depth to a backcourt that was seriously hampered by the injury to Eric Bledsoe, despite Dragic's fantastic season.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG, Serbia
Bogdanovic is a good shooter and ball-handler who can also rack up steals on defense. The clear drawback is that he may not come directly to the NBA, but development in competitive leagues abroad is not necessarily a bad thing, especially for a team as good as the Clippers are right now.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Since Steven Adams, last year's first-round pick from New Zealand, worked out so well, the Thunder should repeat the feat and draft Nurkic, a 6'11" Bosnian center.
Nurkic has plenty of strength from his 280-pound frame and some scoring skills around the rim. That said, he is a little lacking in athleticism, so don't expect him to do much leaping or running.
30. San Antonio Spurs: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
What do you get for the team that gets itself whatever it wants? That's easy: a versatile player who excels on defense.
McDaniels has superb athleticism and high-flying ability. He's a very good rebounder and shot-blocker despite standing at just 6'6", and his on-ball defense is enviable. Spurs maestro Gregg Popovich would approve.
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