It's rare we come into a draft with certainties—and this year is no exception—but it sure seems likely that the top three picks in this year's draft will be Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker in some order.
But which teams will take them? Will there be trades? If so, how will they affect the rest of the draft?
Let's find out.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
The Cavs are smart to keep their cards close to the vest, and in a year with three very good players atop the draft, part of that strategy may simply be that the team is far from decided on whom to select.
Embiid has once-in-a-generation upside at the center position, but injury concerns might give the Cavs pause. Parker is the best player right now, but his upside is limited, and he'll never be much of a defensive player. Wiggins has crazy athleticism and is already a strong defender, but there are concerns he doesn't have the killer instinct that NBA superstars possess.
I just think it will be difficult for the Cavs to pass on a player with Embiid's upside. We're talking about a player who has the talent to be the next dominant center in this league at a time when the position is no longer loaded with stars (heck, the league cut the position out of all-star voting, which tells you all you need to know).
He might be the riskiest of the three because of his back. But if he checks out with the medical team, his selection would make a ton of sense from a talent and need perspective.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
Jabari Parker fits the Bucks well. He would be a nice fit at forward for them, and perhaps more importantly, he's a polished scorer who would put the ball in the bucket from Day 1. I don't think Milwaukee will be concerned with all of the "upside" talk—Parker's floor is already pretty high, so a lower ceiling shouldn't be a huge concern.
If the draft falls this way, the Bucks could just as easily take Wiggins. But they already have a few talented players to build around, so the instant impact of Parker will be appealing to them.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Wiggins, SG, Kansas
If Wiggins falls to the Sixers at No. 3, they will be thrilled. But they may find a way to get him no matter what, as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer passes along:
The Cavaliers were awarded the No. 1 overall pick at last month's lottery, and the Sixers reportedly have inquired about trading for that pick. The Milwaukee Bucks are second, and the Sixers have the Nos. 3 and 10 picks in the draft, which will be held June 26.
But earlier this month, Fox Sports Ohio reported that another team in the top three called the Cavaliers to measure their interest in trading the pick. The Sixers were the team interested in moving up, ESPN.com reported Tuesday.
The report said the Sixers aren't willing to give up their third and 10th picks in exchange for the No. 1 selection. They will, however, possibly give up a combination of the No. 3 pick and power forward Thaddeus Young, according to the report.
Wiggins would really be a great fit. His athleticism and defensive ability would play well in Philly's full-court offense, and he would finally give the team a player to build around in the half-court offense. Plus, there won't be any pressure on him to "be the man" immediately; as the Sixers are in the midst of a long-term rebuilding project, he would have plenty of time to develop.
It's the perfect marriage, and it seems likely to come to fruition.
4. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, PG, Australia
The Magic have an interesting choice to make here—do they go with a point guard to pair with Victor Oladipo at No. 4 and seek a big man at No. 12 or vice versa?
The talented Dante Exum will make it hard to pass on the former option. A combo guard who would likely be the primary ball-handler for Orlando, he would free Oladipo to play his more familiar role at the 2 and give the Magic one of the most dynamic young backcourts in the NBA.
5. Utah Jazz: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
The Jazz would probably love for the Magic to pass on Exum, as they don't really need another big. If that doesn't happen, they could look to trade this pick, or they could consider selecting Marcus Smart. More likely, though, they'll simply take the best player on the board. In this case, that happens to be Noah Vonleh, a big, athletic double-double machine.
6. Boston Celtics: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
Like Parker, Julius Randle may be devalued by the "upside" crowd, but he is already a pretty polished player on the offensive side. A consistent double-double threat, he would give the Celtics an immediate partner in crime for point guard Rajon Rondo.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
The Lakers should address the point guard position if they can, and if Smart is available, he would make a ton of sense. A natural leader and well-rounded player, he would be a great running mate for Kobe Bryant in the backcourt.
8. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
Aaron Gordon is such an intriguing prospect because of his impressive athleticism. He doesn't quite fit as a traditional 3 or 4, and his offensive game will need polish no matter where he ends up, but his effort on the boards and on defense is unquestioned. He'll carve out a role on the Kings.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
The Hornets need outside scoring, and Doug McDermott would certainly give him that. Yes, he'll be a defensive liability no matter where you put him, but one thing you shouldn't knock is his athleticism, as Adam Levitan of Rotoworld tweeted in late May:
Don't call Creighton's Doug McDermott unathletic. He posted an eye-opening 36.5 inch max vertical at Combine. Dante Exum did 34.5 inches.— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) May 23, 2014
Of course, he won't be asked to provide gravity-defying dunks in Charlotte. But at least any concerns about his jump shot getting blocked can probably be put to rest.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
This would be a great draft for the Sixers if it worked out this way. The athletic wing in Wiggins paired with a consistent outside shooter like Nik Stauskas? Just what Dr. J ordered. Stauskas is a big 2 and a willing defender, so he would fit this team nicely.
11. Denver Nuggets: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
If the Nuggets stay put, they'll likely take the top 2 on the board. Harris will quickly give them a productive player on both ends of the court. Don't be shocked if he goes to Philly at No. 10.
12. Orlando Magic: Dario Saric, PF, Croatia
The Magic would likely be quite pleased if Dario Saric was awaiting them at No. 12 to fill the power forward position. A true talent and a player who would likely go in the top 10 were he guaranteed to come to the NBA next year, he would be a great get here and cap off a truly international draft for the Magic.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: James Young, SF, Kentucky
As always, the Wolves need outside shooting and scoring from the wing. James Young can be inconsistent, but he's capable of hitting shots from distance or slashing to the rim. A solid athlete, he would make a lot of sense for Minny.
14. Phoenix Suns: Rodney Hood, SG, Duke
The Suns would probably select Young here if he's available, as they need help at the wing, but Rodney Hood is a nice consolation prize. A natural scorer, he'll need to ramp up his defensive effort to earn consistent minutes early in his career.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Zach LaVine, SG, UCLA
Few players have intrigued me in this draft process more than LaVine. An excellent athlete and true combo guard, he didn't even start at UCLA. But his potential and athleticism are off the charts, and he could end up being a really difficult point guard to deal with (think a poor man's Russell Westbrook) if he's allowed to develop at that position.
16. Chicago Bulls: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
Another point guard off the board and another riser in Elfrid Payton. Tyler Ennis would probably be the steadier, safer choice here, but Payton is the better athlete and helps a team in every area. He'd look great as insurance for Derrick Rose.
17. Boston Celtics: P.J. Hairston, SG, North Carolina
This might be a little high for P.J. Hairston, but he would give the Celtics some much-needed scoring from the perimeter. Adding him and Randle would give this team an instant bump in offensive production next year.
18. Phoenix Suns: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
After addressing the wing earlier in the draft, the Suns could turn to an intriguing athlete at power forward in Adreian Payne. His versatility and ability to produce from the inside or outside will make him a tough player to guard at the next level.
19. Chicago Bulls: Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
Cleanthony Early will give the Bulls the type of high-energy, defensively minded player they'll love at the 3. He shoots the ball well enough to contribute on the other end, too. This feels like a "Bulls pick."
20. Toronto Raptors: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
Both Kyle Lowry and Greivis Vasquez could depart in free agency, so nabbing a point guard in this draft is vital. Ennis would be a great value here and would contribute instantly as a valuable option off the bench, backing up whichever player ends up staying.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
Clint Capela is a bundle of talent but is fairly raw. Still, the Thunder can afford to wait out any prospect with this much potential, so it's is a natural fit.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: T.J. Warren, SF, NC State
The Grizzlies get something in T.J. Warren they really need—instant offense. The other aspects of his game need work, but he will instantly fill up the box score for Memphis.
23. Utah Jazz: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
K.J. McDaniels would bring toughness and a well-rounded game to Utah. If he can improve his jumper, look out.
24. Charlotte Hornets: Kyle Anderson, PG, UCLA
Kyle Anderson is such a mystery, because who knows where he'll end up playing? Point forward? But his unique skill set is rare, so if used properly, he could end up becoming a very good player. The Hornets have enough other pieces in place to experiment with Anderson.
25. Houston Rockets: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
The Rockets don't have a ton of immediate needs in the draft, so they can draft and stash. Jusuf Nurkic could end up being the next great center in Houston.
26. Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn
This pick just makes sense. The Heat will likely look to replenish at point guard this summer, and Shabazz Napier would give them a smart, slashing option at the position. He'd pair wonderfully with LeBron James and company.
27. Phoenix Suns: Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA
The Suns would do well to address three different positions with three different types of players. Adams is a pure scorer who would give the Suns a spark in the rotation.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
Scoring the rock isn't an issue for the Clippers. Stopping teams from scoring the rock, however, has been a major issue. Jerami Grant is a defensive stopper who would fill a need.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: C.J. Wilcox, G, Washington
Hey, you can never have too many shooters, right? Wilcox would give this team another perimeter option off the bench and a bomber from range.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan
Such a "Spurs pick." Mitch McGary is pure upside at the moment, but if he develops that talent, he could end up being a huge steal.