You may be up to your ears in NFL mock drafts at this point—this is what happens when the league pushes back the draft—but it's time to start polishing those NBA mock drafts, folks.
While the lottery is yet to be determined, we now have a rough draft of what the order will be and, for the most part, a good idea of which prospects will be available for selection. In other words, it's time to start obsessing over the NBA's draft, too.
Below is my first venture into the land of NBA mock drafts this season. While the order will change once the lottery is selected and my own picks will surely change, this should give you a pretty good idea of how the board might shake out.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
The Bucks are bad enough that they can simply take the best player on the board. For the moment, I think that player will be Andrew Wiggins.
Yes, he's more unpolished than Jabari Parker or Julius Randle and doesn't play center like Joel Embiid, but his athleticism and length is going to be too much to pass on. It's important to note that Wiggins played within the system at Kansas and is still extremely raw, making his ceiling very, very high.
Chad Ford of ESPN was asked in a SportsNation chat who he thought would be the better pro, Wiggins or Parker. He answered Wiggins.
I think it's going to be Wiggins. I think having elite size for position and elite athletic abilities give you an advantage at the pro level. Parker has neither. While Parker's skill set is much more advanced than Wiggins, there isn't anything in Wiggins' game that can't be fixed in a few years. Parker isn't going to grow or become an elite athlete like Wiggins. That's why you take him No. 1.
There you have it, folks.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
That being said, Parker is one heck of a consolation prize. He would instantly become the Sixers' go-to scorer and would fit nicely onto a young team with Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel.
The Sixers will likely consider Joel Embiid here, but he doesn't seem like a good fit next to Noel. Ditto for Dante Exum, who could be the pick if they like his upside more and he can translate his game to the shooting guard position.
But Parker is a natural, polished scorer and a very good rebounder. He can also guard either forward position, making him versatile on defense. He doesn't have Wiggins' upside, but he comes into the league with a higher floor.
3. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, PG, Australia
Just what the doctor ordered for Orlando. Victor Oladipo is going to be a very good play, but he's not a facilitator and belongs at the 2. Embiid will be considered, but Orlando already has Nikola Vucevic at the position.
Dante Exum could end up being the best player in this draft, and he's talented enough to play both guard positions. This is the perfect fit for the Magic.
4. Utah Jazz: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Randle might be the better immediate selection, but Embiid's upside will be too tough to pass on. More likely, don't be surprised if Utah shops this pick. A team like the Phoenix Suns that will be looking to add an impact player in the draft and have three first-round picks (Nos. 14, 18 and 27) could come calling with a trade package.
5. Boston Celtics: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
Boston isn't exactly hurting at power forward but Aaron Gordon has the athleticism to play the 3 at times, at least defensively, if called upon to do so. He'll need to develop his perimeter game a bit, but his versatility, athleticism and willingness to do the little things that lead to wins make him an exciting prospect.
6. Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
I absolutely love Randle, and I think he's talented enough to be a top-three pick. This is a guy who finds a way to put the ball in the hoop and he's a beast on the boards. It looks unlikely that Pau Gasol is going to be back in Los Angeles, meaning Randle would be a starter right off the bat.
When Randle declared for the draft, he said (via ESPN), "Kentucky will always have a special place in my heart, but growing up as a kid, there's always been my dream to play in the NBA, and there's no better opportunity for me to achieve that than now."
Getting to play for a famous organization like the Lakers and with a future Hall of Famer like Kobe Bryant? That sounds like a dream come true, indeed.
7. Sacramento Kings, Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
If this is how the board drops for the Kings, they'll do a little jig. The team could really use a more physical presence at the point guard position, and Marcus Smart is a true gamer. He'll attack the rim, he'll play defense, he'll rebound and he'll give you everything he has. Expect him to quickly become a leader on the Kings.
8. Detroit Pistons: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
First things first: It's important to note that this pick is top-eight protected for the Pistons. And would you look at that, they slide right on in at No. 8. Funny how that works out.
As for the selection itself, I know that some folks will think this is a reach, and it very well might be. But the Pistons need a player who can stretch defenses out to the perimeter, and there might not be a better three-point shooter in this draft than Doug McDermott.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
Yes, small forward is the biggest need, but I don't think the Cavs are going to reach for one with a talent like Noah Vonleh on the board. They could also go after a player like Dario Saric, but who knows if he'll play in the NBA next year? Vonleh is still developing but his talent would be too much to pass on here.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (from New Orleans Pelicans): Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
A reminder that this pick is top-five protected for the Pelicans, though it seems unlikely the Sixers won't end up with it. I'm really torn with this pick. On one hand, I like Gary Harris' athleticism and defensive abilities. On the other hand, I don't love his size and his overall offensive game worries me a bit.
I think the Sixers could just as easily target a player like Nik Stauskas, whose pure shooting stroke would fit well into the team's scheme. I'm 50-50 on which direction the team will go right now, but for now, Harris' ability to defend either guard position and his ability to finish on the break makes him the pick.
11. Denver Nuggets: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
Denver's making this pick for two reasons—Tyler Ennis is the best player on the board, and he would make for a nice backup at point guard. He'd be eased into Denver's rotation, though he would be expected to make an impact with any minutes he earned.
12. Orlando Magic: James Young, SF, Kentucky
At the end of the day, the Magic need scorers, and James Young is nothing if not a scorer. Yes, he's streaky, but when he gets going, look out. If the Magic land Exum and Young, well, they'll very quickly be a more dangerous team in the half court.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
This is another protected pick, and, of course, it is a top-13 protected selection. Almost uncanny, that. It's absolutely no secret that this team's biggest need is a perimeter shooter, and Stauskas is arguably the best one in the draft. A true No. 2, Stauskas will be raining threes in Minny's offense.
14. Phoenix Suns: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
I have a felling Phoenix is going to look to trade their picks, so if they actually select at this spot, don't be surprised if they simply accumulate the most talented player available. Saric is one of the smartest players in this draft and a true talent, and he's only outside of the top 10 because it remains to be seen when he'll actually play in the States.
The Suns shouldn't hesitate to snatch him up here, where he represents one heck of a value.
15. Atlanta Hawks: T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State
See a need, fill a need. The Hawks need another scorer out on the wing, and T.J. Warren can certainly fill it up from the 3. One would guess the Hawks would hope Young would drop to them here, as the Kentucky product has more upside, but Warren is hardly chopped liver.
16. Chicago Bulls (via Charlotte Bobcats): Rodney Hood, SG, Duke
Is Rodney Hood a one-trick pony? Perhaps—he seems a little soft, if I'm being honest—but his trick is pretty good, as Hood can really shoot. You'd like to see him add some versatility to his game, but the Bulls need a shooter and they'll like the size he brings to the position.
17. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets): Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA
Kyle Anderson is not only the hardest player to project in this draft, he also has the most unique skill set. You either love his game or you don't know what to make of it, and there doesn't appear to be much middle ground.
Personally, I fall into the latter camp. A team will have to allow him to play as a point forward, of course, but if they do they'll get one of the most intriguing talents in the draft. Rajon Rondo's future with Boston always seems a bit tenuous and a player like Anderson would take some of the pressure off Rondo to create every single scoring opportunity for his young teammates.
An unorthodox pick, perhaps, but one I like for Boston.
18. Phoenix Suns (via Washington Wizards): Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
Another potential trade chip. Capela is a long-term project, yes, but the upside is immense here. And even if they keep the picks, Saric could play immediately while Capela develops in Europe. Either way, it's another value pick for the Suns, and one that could be moved if the team can add another piece via a trade.
19. Chicago Bulls: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
Adreian Payne scratches a few itches. He can contribute right away. He's experienced. He's one of the few stretch 4's in the draft. And playing Chicago's more physical brand of basketball won't be foreign, coming from Tom Izzo's philosophy at Michigan State. In Hood and Payne, the Bulls will instantly upgrade on the offensive end.
20. Toronto Raptors: Zach LaVine, SG, UCLA
Zach LaVine has immense upside and potentially is a steal here. He can play either guard position and his athleticism is off the charts. With a strong jump shot, he'd probably be used in Toronto initially to provide a spark off the bench as a scorer.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Dallas Mavericks): Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
Jerami Grant's motor, size and athleticism would give the Thunder another nice weapon on the wing. If he adds a jumper, look out.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
K.J. McDaniels is such a perfect fit for Memphis, it hurts. He's athletic, he never quits on a play, he plays solid defense and he's a jump shot away from being a truly well-rounded player. He'll contribute for Memphis almost immediately.
23. Utah Jazz: P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends
P.J. Hairston can shoot the rock and would give Utah a nice option at the 2. He may drop if teams have character concerns, but Hairston is an NBA-ready talent and would instantly become a part of this team's backcourt rotation.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (via Portland Trail Blazers): Cleanthony Early, SF/PF, Wichita State
Cleanthony Early has two things going for him—he's experienced, and he brings a traditional game to the small forward position. For a team looking to build on a surprise playoff appearance, adding known commodities rather than rolling the dice will be the name of the game here.
25. Houston Rockets: C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington
Adding another player who can light it up from the perimeter would make sense for Houston. Wilcox fits that bill and would be a nice spark off the bench for the Rockets.
26. Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
Hey, we know LeBron James likes him.
Shabazz Napier is a smart player who will know what his place on the Heat is and will fit in. Napier has his limitations, but his proven track record as a leader and a player able to hit big shots would play well on a team that will be in the playoffs so long as LeBron sticks around.
27. Phoenix Suns (via Indiana Pacers): Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee
Finally, a player that will definitely contribute next year. And, yes, another member of the frontcourt—you can see where I think the Suns need help, eh?. Stokes will give this team a battler on the boards and is a pretty solid value here.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana Lafayette
Consider this Darren Collison insurance. Elfrid Payton would bring size and athleticism to the position when Chris Paul needed a breather, and he'd get the chance to learn behind the NBA's best player at the position, to boot.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
When you're the Thunder, you can afford to stash players in Europe for later. He's a true center, always a valuable commodity, and the Thunder could bring him along slowly.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Mario Hezonja, SF, Bosnia
He's a far better talent than where he's being valued in this draft, if only because he is so green. The Spurs would love nothing more than to draft and stash him for the future.
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