Before we get this mock started, let's dispense of a few of the storylines that emerged after Tuesday night's NBA draft lottery.
For starters, the lottery isn't fixed even if it is flawed. And who cares if it's flawed? You don't get to complain about tanking in one breath and then complain about a system that is supposed to discourage tanking in the next.
And c'mon, LeBron James isn't going back to Cleveland just because they won the lottery again. Now, if they trade for Kevin Love, then you can talk to me about James returning to Cleveland...
Okay, with those storylines aside, let's talk about the actual draft, shall we? Cleveland has a huge decision to make at No. 1, as do most of the squads in the top 10, as the depth in this draft is impressive. But everything will stem from what the Cavs do, so without further ado, let's find out who they select.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins, SG, Kansas
The Cavaliers inexplicably won the NBA's draft lottery once again despite extremely long odds, but they now face a truly difficult decision.
Andrew Wiggins has more upside than Jabari Parker, is safer than Joel Embiid and is one of the best athletes to hit the draft in years. Embiid has once-in-a-generation upside at the center position, but his back concerns are a red flag. And Parker is the most ready to step in and contribute right away for the Cavs.
None of these selections would be surprising; none would be poor decisions, either. Early indications have the Cavs leaning toward Embiid, according to Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com:
The Cleveland Cavaliers have 7-footer Embiid at the top of their draft board, but it's still early in the process and the team needs to obtain medical information on the Cameroon native's back injury, sources told ESPN.com on Wednesday.
Sources also told ESPN.com that while Embiid is first on the organization's wish list, that doesn't mean that Cavs general manager David Griffin—who had the interim tag lifted earlier this month—isn't also considering Wiggins and Parker with the first pick.
Of course, you can take that with a grain of salt at this point. The Cavs are going to throw up a lot of smoke screens until the draft. Heck, they might even end up trading this pick.
But if they keep it, I think Wiggins is the guy. His athleticism is rare, his upside is huge and he doesn't have any red flags outside of perhaps a temperament that isn't aggressive enough yet. That's something that can be instilled.
Wiggins isn't going to be the next LeBron James, no, but in five years he could be one of the league's better players.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
The Bucks will have a choice of their own to make here, but can they afford to pass up a talent like Embiid at the center position? Larry Sanders and John Henson aren't franchise-changing players on the block, but Embiid could be the next great center in this league.
That's going to be hard to pass on.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
In many ways, Philadelphia's draft, at least at the No. 3 pick, is devoid of pressure. They either stay put and take whomever of the top three players falls to them, or they get overwhelmed with a trade and move the pick.
Pretty simple, really.
Still, you have to think they'd love to add a pure scorer like Parker. Defensive-minded players like Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams would cover for his deficiencies on that side of the court, and he would instantly give this team a go-to option on offense.
The Sixers can't really lose at No. 3, but you have to think they'll be hoping either Wiggins or Parker is available.
4. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, PG, Australia
The Magic would likely love to see Embiid fall to them, but that won't happen. Still, nabbing a combo guard at No. 4 with the upside of Dante Exum to pair with Victor Oladipo has to have them salivating. Exum is a bit of a project, yes, but he and Oladipo could be the foundation of a championship team in the future.
5. Utah Jazz: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
This is a tough spot for the Jazz. Surely, Parker is the man they would have wanted, but he'll be long gone. Noah Vonleh's athleticism, shooting touch and ability to crash the boards with the best of them will make him too intriguing to pass up here.
6. Boston Celtics: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
If the Celtics actually keep this pick and don't attempt to replicate the "rebuild-by-trade" strategy that brought them Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2007, they need a player who can step in and contribute immediately. Power forward isn't a huge need, but Randle is the best player remaining and will instantly bring a double-double threat.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
Yes, power forward will be a need once Pau Gasol departs, but you have the feeling the Lakers are keeping that position warm for Kevin Love if he hits free agency next summer. Marcus Smart is not only the long-term answer at point guard for Steve Nash, but he could either start next year or be a valuable player coming off the bench. Aaron Gordon might have a bit more upside, but Smart is the better player now and a better fit if landing Kevin Love is the long-term goal.
8. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
The Kings are going to take the best player on the board, and that happens to be Gordon, who is an athletic forward with the ability to guard three positions. His offensive game needs a lot of work, but his defense and energy would be a nice addition to Sacramento.
So too would his versatility. When asked where he saw himself playing at the next level by Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, he gave an interesting answer:
"I see myself as a forward. I see myself as a basketball player. Obviously, you have to play a position in the NBA, but I'm going to do a little bit of everything. Post up, hit jumpers, go by people. I'm going to do it all. I'm confident that I can play both the three and four."
The Kings will certainly give him the chance to prove it.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
It's no secret the Hornets need outside shooting, so the real question will be who they look to fill that role, Nik Stauskas or Doug McDermott? Stauskas is the better athlete and can play both guard positions, so he'll be the more appealing selection here.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Zach LaVine, SG, UCLA
The Sixers are another team that needs perimeter shooting, so they'll take a long, hard look at Stauskas if he's available. If he's off the board, a combo guard like LaVine that is long, athletic and can shoot from range will be appealing. He'd be a nice pair with Carter-Williams.
11. Denver Nuggets: Garry Harris, SG, Michigan State
The run on shooting guards continues! Gary Harris really would be the perfect fit for Denver, as he is a solid shooter and plays strong defense on the perimeter. Shooting guard is the obvious and pressing need, and the Nuggets wouldn't be reaching on a player like Harris at this slot.
12. Orlando Magic: Dario Saric, PF, Croatia
It's an international draft for the Magic, and it's arguable that Orlando will be bringing aboard more upside than any other team with these two selections. Dario Saric may not come to the NBA next year, but when he does debut for the Magic, he'll impress his size and skill.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
The Timberwolves really need perimeter shooting, and for the moment we're just going to pretend the team doesn't trade Kevin Love before the draft, creating a huge vacuum at power forward. McDermott is the top perimeter scorer in this draft, but his lack of athleticism and questionable defensive ability will see him drop slightly. Still, he'd be a nice fit for the Timberwolves.
14. Phoenix Suns: James Young, SF, Kentucky
The Suns could use help on the wing, and Young possesses a ton of upside. He was streaky at Kentucky, yes, but when he got going he was hard to stop on the offensive end.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Rodney Hood, SG, Duke
Quite simply, Rodney Hood would give the Hawks a solid perimeter scoring threat. It's questionable he'd give them much else, but there's no doubt he can light it up from range.
16. Chicago Bulls: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
It's time to find Derrick Rose's backup. He's simply too injury prone at this point to trust he'll stay healthy for an entire season, so finding a player who can step up in his absence and make an impact is key. Tyler Ennis isn't a flashy player, but he's a steady, smart option at the position who will always look to facilitate for a teammate first.
17. Boston Celtics: P.J. Hairston, SG, North Carolina
Boston needs shooters, and P.J. Hairston will bring just that to the Celtics. He's had a year to reflect and mature in the Developmental League after being booted from North Carolina and has thrived, so he should be ready to contribute in Boston from the outset.
18. Phoenix Suns: Adreian Payne, PF, Michgian State
This might be a bit too low for Adreian Payne, given his athleticism and ability to light up the scoreboard, but this is how I see the board falling. The Suns would be more than happy to snag him if he's available at No. 18.
19. Chicago Bulls: Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
As I seem to write every offseason, the Bulls could use perimeter scoring. He's a high-energy guy who can score and rebound, and that versatility would make him perfect on the gritty, defensive-minded Bulls.
20. Toronto Raptors: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
With Kyle Lowry and Greivis Vasquez both about to hit free agency, adding another point guard will be a priority for the Raptors this offseason. Payton brings good size and athleticism to the position, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him become a regular contributor right off the bat.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: C.J. Wilcox, G, Washington
You can never have too many shooters, right? That's the thinking for this pick, as the Thunder nab a player who should quickly give them a spark off the bench.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: T.J. Warren, SF, NC State
Memphis needs help on the wing, and they could always use more scorers. T.J. Warren makes it a habit of getting to the rim and finishing, and if he adds a three-point shot he could be a very nice presence on the wing. He's not a defensive stopper, but on a team full of them, he doesn't need to be one.
23. Utah Jazz: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
K.J. McDaniels is one of the more intriguing players in this draft, as his athleticism, defense and ability to get to the rim make him a nice, aggressive addition to the Jazz. He'll need to work on his jumper, but practice makes perfect, right?
24. Charlotte Hornets: Kyle Anderson, PG, UCLA
Is Anderson a point guard? A 2-guard? A point forward? A little bit of each?
When asked by Mannix if teams were asking him where he wanted to play, he said they were more interested in telling him where he might fit in:
They told me what they see me playing in their offense. A lot of the NBA game is interchangeable between the one, two and three positions. It's just talking about where they would have me playing. Nobody has really told me what exact position they would have me play. A few teams told me they have multiple guys bringing up the ball.
I'm super intrigued by Anderson. He's the type of player who could really thrive if a team was willing to experiment with him, as his skill set is pretty rare. Defense will be an issue, but a team like the Hornets would be an interesting landing place for the unique UCLA talent.
25. Houston Rockets: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
Jusuf Nurkic might not come over to the NBA for a few years yet, but the Rockets aren't exactly clamoring for impact rookies, so they can afford to wait. If it is a good enough strategy for the San Antonio Spurs, it's a good enough strategy for the Rockets.
26. Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn
Shabazz Napier actually makes a lot of sense for Miami, which might be losing Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole this summer. Napier is undersized but would be the perfect point guard to pair with LeBron James, as he could play off the ball and light it up from beyond the arc or look to drive and dish when orchestrating the offense.
27. Phoenix Suns: Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA
Not a bad haul for the Suns, who address three different positions in this draft. Adams is a pure scorer, something the team could use in the backcourt with two combo guards already in place.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
Jerami Grant will give the Clippers a long, athletic and defensively sound player at the 3. They can afford to wait on his jump shot, as scoring isn't exactly a problem for the Clippers.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Clint Capela, F, Switzerland
Another draft-and-stash prospect for a team that can afford to wait is Clint Capela if he doesn't come to the NBA right away. Whenever he gets to the states, he'll bring the Thunder another long and athletic player to utilize on the block.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan
McGary is raw and fairly unproven, but he's also a gamer and a fairly skilled big who would have gone higher had he not been injured. He's a long way away from being Tim Duncan's replacement, but he'll give the team another option at the power forward position, and could end up being a major steal.
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