Once again, the lottery gods are smiling on Cleveland. For the third time in four years, the Cavaliers came away with the No. 1 overall selection on Tuesday night, ascending from 1.7 percent odds all the way to the pinnacle.
The odds of this happening not one time, not two times, not three times—OK, three times—is laughably minuscule. Meaning 0.046 percent chance unlikely. Meaning Dan Gilbert is more likely to have signed off his soul (in comic sans, of course) in the moments following LeBron James' departure than the Cavs winning these three picks.
Yet, here we are.
Cleveland sits No. 1 again, Milwaukee and Philadelphia get some damn good consolation prizes, and Stan Van Gundy is feverishly calling his agent wondering if Wite-Out can nullify a signed contract. (Sorry, Stan. It won't. The stink of Joe Dumars, it seems, cannot go away even after his departure.)
What we're left with is a draft that largely holds to expectation. Pre-lottery projections are mostly still intact. There is still a team lacking an obvious answer atop the draft, followed by a sea of squads hoping their contemporaries make that one mistake that leaves them with a no-brainer selection.
With that in mind, let's quickly—OK, not so quickly—check in on my first post-lottery outlook for the entire first round.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins (SF, Kansas)
This pick should come down to Wiggins and Joel Embiid. The Cavaliers already have an influx of offense-first players on their roster, and both Kansas stars project as stoppers at their respective positions. Embiid would give Cleveland the rim protection it sorely lacks—an absence largely caused by passing on Jonas Valanciunas for Tristan Thompson in 2011.
Wiggins is just too hard to pass up. He's one of the most advanced wing defenders in his class at age 19, equipped with enough first-step quickness and athleticism to eventually make All-Defensive teams.
Though still not a LeBron Jamesian talent, Wiggins is a melding of what Embiid and Jabari Parker bring to the table. His somewhat disappointing freshman season still saw him average 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while hitting 34.1 percent of his threes. That's just OK, but defenses aren't going to be able to ignore him on the perimeter entirely.
Wiggins is ready to start now like Parker and rivals Embiid for the highest upside in the class. Plus, his arrival allows the Cavs to avoid overpaying Luol Deng in free agency without ending up covered in egg.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Joel Embiid (C, Kansas)
Medical clearance is key here. Embiid, like Parker and Wiggins, did not attend the predraft combine in Chicago. That means there is no easily disseminated medical report on Embiid, who missed the Jayhawks' final six games with a fracture in his back.
Given the scary history of top centers—only two drafted in the top five have made an All-Star team the past decade—every high-lottery team will want Embiid to undergo a thorough medical exam. The rub here is that he does not have to consent. His absence in Chicago allows him to control which teams have access to his medical records.
The Bucks have a high-powered new ownership, but they were a complete mess last season. With Larry Sanders also in the fold, it's possible Embiid's representation holds him out and hopes he drops to Philadelphia at No. 3 or even Orlando.
All things equal, I think Embiid is the pick. We'll have to see how the process plays out.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker (SF, Duke)
The Sixers are already crossing their fingers that Wiggins or Parker is available here. They already rolled the medical dice on a promising center last year in Nerlens Noel. Even if Sam Hinkie were to pass on Embiid, Dante Exum in many ways mirrors Michael Carter-Williams. Going super long in the middle or on the wing isn't a bad strategy; it's just not preferable when two elite wings are available.
Parker solves a ton of problems. He's a scoring savant on a team whose core is already desperate for spacing. The Carmelo Anthony-Paul Pierce comparisons have been bandied about for months, and they're not far off. Parker is the hands-down favorite for Rookie of the Year to me regardless of where he goes; he could score close to 20 points per game instantly.
Conditioning and defense are issues, as is his streaky shot. He is decidedly not ready to be a 40 percent three-point shooter the way he looked early at Duke. When you can get a player whose closest comps are two Hall of Famers, landing at No. 3 isn't all that bad. Parker is the safest player in this class.
4. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum (PG, Australia)
We are not breaking news here to say the Magic need a point guard. They needed one last year. Perhaps no team's draft strategy was altered more than Orlando when Marcus Smart decided to return to school last year. Don't be surprised if his name is quietly leaked here as a possibility. We have vastly overrated his downfall as a prospect.
At this juncture, Exum is the consensus. He is a potential fourth encroaching on the Big Three's status, a mystery man who is at once spellbinding and fear-inducing. It is hard to tell whether his novelty has made him overrated, or if the inherent skepticism regarding his level of competition has made him underrated.
No matter, the thought of putting a freakish 6'6" point guard in the same backcourt as Victor Oladipo should scare the entire Eastern Conference. Oladipo worked some at the point during the regular season, and Exum's size would allow the two to tag in and out as the primary ball-handler.
5. Utah Jazz: Marcus Smart (PG, Oklahoma State)
The Jazz would have been totally satisfied with any of the Big Four, but they landed at No. 5. This is the worst possible scenario for general manager Dennis Lindsey, who told reporters in a conference call Tuesday he's already considering moving up, per Jody Genessy of the Deseret News:
Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey said the team will perhaps try to aggregate picks 5, 23 and/or 35 to trade up.— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) May 21, 2014
If Lindsey is unable to move up—an overwhelming likelihood—he will probably look to move back. There aren't many obvious fits here, with the team committed to the Enes Kanter-Derrick Favors frontcourt and Trey Burke plugged in at point guard. It's an unenviable spot.
Provided the Jazz stand pat, they'll choose between Smart and the trio of top power forwards (Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon and Julius Randle).
Smart gets the initial nod here for the same reasons Exum would if he were available. He's a polar opposite point guard from Burke. An aggressive, strong defender, Smart will be able to handle elite defensive assignments that Burke can't. He would allow Burke to guard more "hider" players while providing the Jazz another explosive ball-handler on the perimeter. Burke's quietly poor shooting splits should rise with someone able to handle the defense's attention.
6. Boston Celtics: Noah Vonleh (PF, Indiana)
The Celtics drafted a stretch big last year in Kelly Olynyk, but the jury is still out on whether he can be a useful NBA player. Don't start carving out his Hall of Fame plaque yet over that three-game sample to end the season, Celtics fans.
Vonleh is a prospect teams are only going to fall in love with more as the process goes along. His massive hands were the second-biggest in NBA combine history, and his ridiculous wingspan (7'4") will help cover for his mediocre lateral quickness. Executives gravitate toward Vonleh because he fits the perfect prototype of a stretch 4 in today's NBA. Tom Crean didn't allow him to flash his jumper nearly enough at Indiana, an instantaneous change that coaches will make at the next level.
Like any team in the 5-10 range, the Celtics are going to listen to offers for this pick—most notably for veteran help (Hi, Kevin!).
Staying here and taking Vonleh isn't a half-bad second option at all.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle (PF, Kentucky)
The entire city of Los Angeles expected the Lakers to move up into the top three. Hell, even from my suburban Pennsylvania home, I was surprised when their envelope came out at No. 7. Historic greatness and luck will condition us human beings that way.
Now stuck, the Lakers have to navigate the minefield of instant gratification versus long-term considerations. Anyone with a keyboard is going to peg this pick bound to Minnesota as a part of some Kevin Love caper. The Lakers are never bad for long, and their dumpster fire of a roster could use some veteran help.
Randle might be the best middle-road option. He's going to remind exactly no one of the Showtime glory days, but he is an NBA player right this minute. Parker and Randle are the two obvious Rookie of the Year candidates, regardless of where they land. A back-to-the-basket force who plays hard from the opening tip, Randle is a throwback to the days of playing through the post.
(Side note: It'll be interesting if Randle and Gordon are both available. There's nothing like taking wind out of the Clippers' sails by grabbing a kid [Gordon] whom some see as a Blake Griffin clone.)
8. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon (PF, Arizona)
Sacramento is already the Land of the Power Forward. Carl Landry, Jason Thompson and Derrick Williams are all under contract next season at nearly $19 million combined. That's a damned nightmare.
Gordon would do little to un-muck the depth chart. He's a springy power forward who could be coaxed into occasional small forward duty, but that risks ruining his development. He is a 4 long term and needs to be trained as such wherever he goes. In many ways, the Kings are one of his scariest destinations.
That said, putting him next to DeMarcus Cousins would make an awfully promising frontcourt. Gordon is a tenacious, athletic defender who runs around like a madman on every possession. That infectious energy is attractive to Mike Malone, a defense-oriented coach who knows a structured system will not turn this core into a top-10 unit.
If the Kings land Aaron Gordon at No. 8 in the draft, that's a phenomenal get. Doubt he'll be on the board. Beast w hops/upside— Joe Davidson (@SacBee_JoeD) May 21, 2014
Adding Gordon to the mix just might.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Nik Stauskas (SG, Michigan)
The biggest non-Cleveland winner of draft night, Charlotte conveys its pick (No. 16) to the Chicago Bulls. The most likely scenario heading into the lottery was the Hornets' first pick not coming until No. 24 overall—well out of reach of the draft's elite talent.
Lo and behold, here we are. The Hornets, in desperate need of shooting help, have their choice of the draft's three best. Stauskas, Creighton's Doug McDermott and Duke's Rodney Hood are all distinct possibilities at No. 9.
Charlotte's spacing was a train wreck last season. Opposing teams had no problem double- and triple-teaming Al Jefferson because they knew the Hornets shooters couldn't hurt them.
Adding Stauskas to the mix changes that. He's a pure shooter with deep range who can create for himself off the dribble. Any of the aforementioned trio would be a solid fit.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Zach LaVine (PG/SG, UCLA)
Philadelphia's first pick is wholly dependent on its second. Drafting Embiid forces Hinkie to think instant offense, where McDermott, Stauskas, Hood and James White are all potential options. The Sixers were a hellscape on both ends of the floor last season, so it's really about proper roster filling and value at this point.
In this scenario, Hinkie can afford to swing for the fences. Parker will help prop up the offense instantly, and there is no obvious big-man answer on the board. I'm higher on Adreian Payne than most, yet I'll even admit he'd be a reach at No. 10. Bosnian center Jusuf Nurkic is another wild-card possibility.
LaVine, then, stands out as a shrewd risk. A 6'6" combo guard, he spent one semi-miserable season at UCLA. His minutes dwindled as the season went on, and many questioned his decision to enter the draft when he's so obviously raw.
LaVine went out at the combine and showed scouts just why. He outpaced everyone in the lane agility drill by three-tenths of a second, finished near the top of the other speed drills and flashed a compact jumper with NBA range. The potential is sky-high, and pairing him with Carter-Williams is just not nice.
11. Denver Nuggets: Gary Harris (SG, Michigan State)
The Nuggets are one of the lottery's hardest teams to peg. They're in the midst of a strange transition. With the exception of Ty Lawson, no one has a clue whether he's a part of the future or merely a trade piece. There is a ridiculous amount of depth but a complete lack of foundational players.
Harris fits a semi-need at shooting guard. Randy Foye is a solid starter and potential cheap trade piece. No one knows what to make of the wing depth or what will happen the rest of the summer. Harris can defend on the perimeter, can handle the ball and create for others. He runs the danger of being "just another guy" on this roster, but he'll carve a niche if the team can untangle its depth chart.
12. Orlando Magic: Doug McDermott (SF, Creighton)
For an analytically-inclined team, the Magic are dreadful from beyond the arc. Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo were the only semireliable jump shooters on the roster last season. Nelson is a free agent, while Afflalo has seemed destined for a trade two straight years. With neither Tobias Harris nor Maurice Harkless developing enough as shooters, general manager Rob Hennigan needs to find an answer.
Concerns about the National Collegiate Player of the Year's athleticism were somewhat assuaged at the combine, when he recorded a 36.5-inch vertical and performed admirably in the speed and athleticism drills. There is an inherent lack of upside drafting McDermott. He'll never be an All-Star, and some of the things that made him great in college—most notably his post game—will disappear in the pros.
Still, it's hard to pass up McDermott's production. There is no substitute for an instantly translatable skill like his jumper. Hood and Young are other viable options.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: James Young (SF, Kentucky)
Nothing is set in stone until the Timberwolves decide what to do with Kevin Love. If he's traded before draft night, this will probably be Minnesota's second pick of the night.
If the Wolves keep Love and roll the dice for now, Young is a solid fit. Minnesota desperately needs shooting on the wing, and the Chase Budinger signing has not worked out. He profiled as a mediocre long-range shooter when Flip Saunders gave him a $15 million deal last summer, and that's exactly what he was in limited playing time.
Young is a solid (if somewhat inconsistent) shooter who has long-term starter upside. Assuming Saunders is willing to chalk the Shabazz Muhammad pickup as a loss—which he should—there aren't many better options on the board.
14. Phoenix Suns: Dario Saric (SF/PF, Croatia)
The Suns are the Bizarro Nets. They have too many draft picks. No team can build its entire core on young players. There has to be a mix of youth and veterans, if only to save long-term salary headaches. Phoenix will be aggressive with this pick and the rest of its treasure trove of first-round picks—especially after its near-playoff run this season.
Drafting Saric is a way to be aggressive without actually trading the pick. It's unclear whether he will come over this year, next or at all, frankly. Nor is it even a lock that he keeps his name in this draft.
Phoenix is only one of a few lottery teams that can afford the risk. Usable role players will be available later in the draft, and Saric's high potential makes him a possible steal at No. 14.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Rodney Hood (SF, Duke)
If the Pacers thought the Hawks' spacing gave them issues before, just wait until they add Hood to the mix. Hood is among the best shooters in this class. He has a quick, fluid release on catch-and-shoot opportunities and an excellent mid-range game—particularly off the dribble. Few see him as a dribble-drive threat, but he's adept at finding space to get his shot off in the pick-and-roll.
Atlanta needs defensive help, and Hood will do little in that regard. Nevertheless, he fills a need on the wing and might wind up pouring in 15 or so points per night someday. At No. 15, it's hard to ask for much more.
16. Chicago Bulls: Adreian Payne (PF, Michigan State)
This is literally the best fit on the draft board. The Bulls have hemmed and hawed about using their amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer, whose fourth-quarter minutes nearly evaporated this season. With Chicago expected to pursue Carmelo Anthony in free agency and Boozer's departure needed to facilitate that process, Gar Forman would be remiss if he didn't take this opportunity.
Yeah, Adreian Payne seems like a Bulls guy. ESPN dudes loving him. I'd be very happy with that pick.— Jason Patt (@Bulls_Jay) May 15, 2014
Payne developed from undersized, post-heavy center into a prototypical stretch 4 in basically the course of a year. In his first three seasons at Michigan State, he took 45 three-point jumpers combined. As a senior, he shot 104 alone and made a strong 42.3 percent.
Perspective: Payne was a better and more active three-point shooter this season than Parker. Watching film of his four years highlights the progressive development. Even when he was showing flashes of an improved jumper as a junior, it was hard to give him much beyond a mid-second-round grade.
Now, he looks like a David West clone. Upside is a concern at 23 years old, but no one has ever confused Tom Thibodeau as a master of patience with young talent. Payne can play right away, allow Taj Gibson his rightful starting spot and help free money for a big-name free agent.
What's not to like?
17. Boston Celtics: P.J. Hairston (SG, North Carolina)
The Celtics are a threat to trade every one of their picks, with this being no exception. No. 17 is inherently less valuable than No. 6, but Danny Ainge might needle a colleague into trading up for a free-falling talent—in this case Tyler Ennis.
We're not riding on the slippery trade slope here, so Hairston is a natural match. The Celtics lack wing shooting, and Hairston is the only remaining player with a first-round grade, a plus jumper and a good bit of untapped potential. The former North Carolina product looked sharp in his short D-League stint.
Hood and Young are other options if one of them drops.
18. Phoenix Suns: Tyler Ennis (PG, Syracuse)
Even with Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic in the fold, point guard depth is an issue. Ish Smith is the only backup point guard on the roster, and his contract is fully nonguaranteed for next season.
The Suns could also use some variety in their guard rotation. Bledsoe and Dragic are both at their best when they're attacking the basket to score. They're both fine passers and unselfish players, but a backup whose primary elite skill is passing wouldn't be the worst thing.
Ennis fits the bill and is a probably a steal here. He was the most steel-nerved freshman in the country last season, knocking down clutch shot after clutch shot after clutch shot. No spotlight seems too big. The Suns also have an infrastructure in place where he can sit, work out the kinks in his jumper and develop under a great offensive coach in Jeff Hornacek.
19. Chicago Bulls: Shabazz Napier (PG, Connecticut)
Coming one pick away from Ennis dropping here is a disappointment. A Payne-Ennis combo meal would have every evaluator putting the Bulls near or at the top of their postdraft "winners" list. Chicago needs frontcourt depth and a backup point guard with D.J. Augustin set to cash in his magical two-month run in free agency.
With Ennis gone, we continue on down the line. I have Louisville-Lafayette product Elfrid Payton ranked higher on my big board, but Napier needs less work and feels more like a Thibodeau talent. Napier is another senior leader to add with Payne, a good defender who could become great in Thibs' defensive system and an irrationally confident shot-maker who at times single-handedly carried Connecticut.
Plus, I like the smooth transition of the Bulls replacing Augustin with another trinket-sized guard. I'm superficial that way.
20. Toronto Raptors: Cleanthony Early (SF, Wichita State)
The Raptors have a ton of roster decisions this summer. Kyle Lowry is a free agent due a huge pay raise, and general manager Masai Ujiri has to decide whether to award it or begin a more long-term outlook. We'll get a good idea of where Ujiri sees negotiations going on draft night. Taking someone like Payton might signify that Lowry is more likely to depart than return.
On the other hand, Early fills a massive hole on the defensive perimeter. Dwane Casey was forced to dust off John Salmons multiple times against Brooklyn in the playoffs because he had no other answer on the wing.
John Salmons. In 2014.
That is not good. DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross are the long-term core on the wing, though neither is ready to handle top defensive assignments. Early obviously won't be in his rookie year either, but he is a high-energy guy who can bother either wing position with his athleticism and aggression.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Elfrid Payton (PG, Louisiana-Lafayette)
Sam Presti's seemingly never-ending search for a reliable bench scorer continues. Jeremy Lamb's confidence looks shot as he racks up DNPs this postseason. Caron Butler is due to hit the open market. Thabo Sefolosha can't hit anything.
In this scenario, the Thunder are in a strange position. Unless they're willing to reach, there is no shoot-first wing option available. Presti would jump on the likes of Hairston or Hood if they were to somehow drop to No. 21. That leaves the Oklahoma City boss with the choice between drafting and stashing a Nurkic type or selecting Payton as an insurance policy.
Reggie Jackson can begin negotiating a contract extension this summer. He'll be a restricted free agent next summer. After stepping in admirably for an injured Russell Westbrook and being among the most reliable sixth men in the league this season, Jackson has the most negotiating power he's ever had. The Thunder are going to think long and hard about how much they're willing to pay a backup point guard this summer. I wouldn't be surprised if Jackson's name is even floated in trade scenarios.
Either way, Payton provides insurance against a departure—this summer or next. He can't shoot a lick, but he is long and athletic and able to switch over to either guard position defensively. His first step is sensational, and he's an unselfish talent who loves setting teammates up for easy baskets.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: T.J. Warren (SF, North Carolina State)
Let's be real here. No one knows what in the hell Memphis is doing right now. Nothing about this situation makes sense. Until it does, we're keeping Warren here as a placeholder. The Grizz need scoring help on the wings, and though Warren isn't a three-point threat, he'd be a significant offensive upgrade over Tayshaun Prince.
23. Utah Jazz: Kyle Anderson (SF, UCLA)
Gordon Hayward is a restricted free agent this summer, where he is expected to command a ton of attention. The Jazz have to decide quickly how high they're willing to go.
Hayward struggled in his first season as a primary scoring option. His counting stats went up across the board, while his shooting splits took a nosedive. Utah views him as a uniquely talented offensive player who still has a good deal of potential. Is that potential worth risking eight figures annually, though?
Anderson is an insurance pick against such a scenario. Minus a three-point shot, he brings many of Hayward's qualities to the table. He's an elite rebounder and heady passer for his position who works best offensively as a primary ball-handler. There are few (if any) higher-IQ players in this draft.
Anderson is also slow on his feet and a walking defensive liability in the making, whose development as a shooter may decide his NBA trajectory.
At No. 23, he is probably worth the risk.
24. Charlotte Hornets: Jusuf Nurkic (C, Bosnia)
There is a good possibility Nurkic goes earlier. He's the second-best center in a draft bereft of bigs. In a year where so many teams have multiple first-round picks, it stands to reason one might punt its second selection and hope Nurkic develops for a year or two overseas.
Finding the right fit is the only issue.
If he's here, Charlotte is as good as any. The Hornets already nabbed their biggest need in this scenario, and none of the American-born players is an especially strong fit. Jerami Grant and K.J. McDaniels are athletic, defense-first swingmen, something the team already has in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Maybe Jarnell Stokes could be an option if the Hornets want to reach for a 4.
Nurkic has the highest upside of any player remaining and might be ready to step into a starter's role around the time Al Jefferson's contract is due to expire.
25. Houston Rockets: Clint Capela (PF, Switzerland)
Foreign guy fiesta! The Rockets already have a crowded roster and little need for a rookie who will come in and never play a minute. I'd be surprised if Houston even picks here unless it's to stash someone like Capela.
The Swiss forward is incredibly raw and needs at least two years to develop before he can sniff an NBA floor. Houston is one of the few teams that can afford to give him that opportunity. Given Capela's high upside and athletic profile, the Rockets might wind up with a diamond in the rough.
26. Miami Heat: Spencer Dinwiddie (PG/SG, Colorado)
Dinwiddie is an interesting talent whose draft stock is largely dependent on health. A first-round talent who threw Colorado on his back at times, he tore his ACL midway through last season and is still recovering. He interviewed with teams and went through the anthropometric portion but can't do any basketball-related activities.
The Heat seem like a decent bet to take a risk, mostly because he might kill two birds with one stone. Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers are free agents after this season. No one knows whether Allen will retire or come back. Chalmers might want to sign with a franchise where there is not a Tumblr page dedicated to people yelling at him.
When healthy, Dinwiddie is a smooth combo guard who can occasionally handle primary ball-handling duties and space the floor. The presence of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James negates the purpose for a wholly traditional point guard. If his health checks out, Dinwiddie might be a low-cost replacement who can fill part of the Chalmers and Allen roles.
27. Phoenix Suns: Jerami Grant (SF, Syracuse)
Grant is a project I'm less sure by the day will ever work out. He can't shoot much at all right now, and though he is billed among the best athletes in the draft, he surprisingly opted out of the athletic drills in Chicago. Nothing but bad vibes are surrounding his stock right now.
Rolling the dice is a bit easier when you have three first-round picks and are sitting at No. 27. Grant plays hard every possession, has a 7'3" wingspan and projects as a very good wing defender. He and Gerald Green would have a field day running pre-practice dunk contests.
The Suns took a chance on an unpolished athlete last year in Archie Goodwin. They won't be afraid to do it again with Grant.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Glenn Robinson III (SF, Michigan)
For the 4,125th time: The Clippers need a reliable third big man off the bench and a wing defender. These are the things that were said all season as Doc Rivers stockpiled a group of wings that would have been awfully impressive in 2009 and Big Baby. More than anything, their lack of those two defensive positions is why the Clippers are sitting at home right now.
Former Michigan teammates Mitch McGary and Robinson stand out as solid options. Robinson gets the nod here because he feels a bit undervalued and there are a ton of questions about McGary's health. Either would work fine, though.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kristaps Porzingis (PF/C, Latvia)
The Thunder don't have a second-round pick, so it'll be interesting to see what they do here. Drafting and stashing someone like Porzingis, a Latvian center probably three years away from the NBA, is probably the best long-term call, given the uphill battle any rookie has in getting significant minutes.
The lack of a second-round pick makes one wonder whether Presti may pull the trigger on a C.J. Wilcox or Jabari Brown. The dearth of shooting on the roster became awkwardly apparent when the Grizzlies pushed Oklahoma City to seven games. Holding Kevin Durant to 22 points is the equivalent to cutting the head off a snake.
Going with Porzingis is more a showing of faith that the Thunder are planning to use their mid-level exception this summer to fill that wing-shooting role instead of hoping a rookie can handle it. Their financial history makes that a risky bet.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Jarnell Stokes (PF, Tennessee)
Stokes was a collegiate double-double machine. He's a big, physical presence who already has an NBA body and can bang around in the paint. The Spurs can't keep trotting Boris Diaw out there forever, and Tim Duncan is eventually going to retire—more likely after next season than this one.
Duncan can't be replaced, obviously, and Diaw is a funky, weird, wonderful, unique talent. Stokes is a different player than both. The Spurs could do a whole lot worse at No. 30 than gaining a backup big who can come in and contribute instantly on both ends of the floor.
All measurements are via NBA.com.
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