If you're like me, you can't wait for the NBA draft. If you're like me, you live in a lottery city (Philadelphia) with a team that has come under rough times recently and can't wait to see how this draft changes the fortunes of the franchise.
And if you're like me, you are hoping your team can land Andrew Wiggins, but I digress.
If you're like me, you are also always looking to find out more about the top prospects. Along with trying to break down what teams will be looking to do in this draft, I'll also paint the portrait of what each prospect would bring to his new team.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
What to believe, what to believe?
At any draft, the counterintelligence flies at you fast and furious. Such has been the case with Joel Embiid, especially when he is mentioned in connection to the Cavs. Let's review the roller coaster his draft stock has taken, just in the past few days.
We'll start with this, from Sam Amico of Fox Sports:
But wait, what's this? ESPN Cleveland passes along a conflicting report from Tony Rizzo:
Meanwhile, Fran Fraschilla was playing some Spin Doctors in the background and provided his own analysis on the report:
And Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops brings us full circle:
Oy, what a tangled web we report.
Look, franchise centers come along very rarely, and Embiid's ceiling is atop the Empire State Building. Assuming the concerns about his health are a smoke screen—and at the moment, I think they are—he'll end up being a Cav.
But yes, about 3,417 other conflicting reports will be headed your way shortly.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
Obviously, what happens with the first pick will completely impact the next two selections. So, if Embiid goes to Cleveland, what will the Bucks do?
I think they'll go for the sure thing. Parker doesn't have Wiggins' upside or defensive abilities, but he's a pure scorer who will make an immediate impact. On a team that already has a few players to build around, Parker could step in and become the focal point of the offense, whereas Wiggins will need time to develop.
It's a tough decision, but the Bucks take the surer thing in Parker.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Wiggins, SG, Kansas
This is exactly how the Sixers want the draft to work out. Honestly, I have a feeling the Sixers will end up with Wiggins even if it isn't at No. 3, as they have some trade chips to move up and get him. But I think there is also a strong possibility they can stay put and still bring him aboard.
He just fits them so perfectly. His defense and the utter terror he strikes in opponents on the break fit Philly's style of play wonderfully, and no team can offer him the time to develop quite like the rebuilding Sixers. It's the right fit for both parties, and I think you'll see the joining of this union at the draft.
4. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, PG, Australia
The Magic would likely love to be in the top three, but they'll be good with selecting Dante Exum. A combo guard who will likely play the point in the NBA, he will pair nicely with Victor Oladipo and give Orlando one of the best young guard duos in the league.
5. Utah Jazz: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
Welcome to the power forward portion of the draft. The next several teams likely aren't looking for a power forward, but that is where the value is. Noah Vonleh gives you a little of Julius Randle—he has the potential to be a double-double machine—and some of Aaron Gordon's athleticism. That makes him the first 4 off the board.
6. Boston Celtics: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
The Celtics need a go-to guy to pair with Rajon Rondo. Randle brings that. He's more polished than Gordon and is an absolute beast on the glass. Celtics fans will warm to him quickly.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
Getting a backcourt mate for Kobe Bryant has to be a priority, and Marcus Smart is a great get here. He'll play defense. He'll crash the boards. He'll defer to Bryant. He'll get in the lane and score easy buckets. He's an ideal fit for the Lakers.
8. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
Gordon's athleticism makes him so appealing. If he can add a jumper, a team could even play him at the 3, and he can definitely defend several positions. He's a high-energy player who will help his team in every phase of the game. The Kings will be glad to see him drop to them at No. 8.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
The Hornets need outside scoring, and they'll get it from Doug McDermott. Will he be a defensive liability? Yes. Will he score enough to make up for that fact? Probably. With McDermott, you know exactly what you are getting.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
After adding otherworldly athleticism to the wing, the Sixers add some shooting as well. Gary Harris might give them more defense at the 2, but Nik Stauskas is bigger and has a pure jumper from range. He'll fit into what the Sixers are trying to build nicely.
11. Denver Nuggets: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
The Nuggets are going to take the top 2 on the board, and with the Sixers going with Stauskas, that player winds up being Harris. He isn't the pure deep threat that Stauskas is, but he brings a well-rounded game to the table. A nice fit for the Nuggets.
12. Orlando Magic: Dario Saric, PF, Croatia
It's an all-international draft for the Magic. With two picks in the first 12 selections, they can afford to roll the dice on Dario Saric, who might not be headed to the NBA just yet. If he does come this year, the Magic will be adding another top-10 talent to the young guns they already have on the roster.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: James Young, SF, Kentucky
James Young is a bit streaky, but he's the perimeter scorer the Timberwolves need. He's also capable of playing the role of slasher and attacking the rim, and if he can become more consistent, he could be an excellent scorer at the next level.
14. Phoenix Suns: Rodney Hood, SG, Duke
Rodney Hood wants to score the rock, and he happens to be pretty good at doing just that. Will he provide much in the way of defense? No. But he can fill it up, and if he continues to evolve his offensive game, this one-trick pony will at least have one heck of a trick.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Zach LaVine, SG, UCLA
Zach LaVine is one of the most intriguing players in this draft. He's crazy athletic and sees himself as a point guard, but he didn't start at UCLA and enters the league as a very unpolished combo guard. Is he Russell Westbrook? Far from it. Could he still develop into something special? Most assuredly.
16. Chicago Bulls: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
Elfrid Payton will be climbing up draft boards. And for a Bulls team that needs insurance behind Derrick Rose, he'll offer a bit more pizzazz than Tyler Ennis, who will also be in play here. This is one of those picks where need meets value perfectly.
17. Boston Celtics: P.J. Hairston, SG, North Carolina
This is another nice get for the Celtics. P.J. Hairston will give them a polished scorer from the outside to pair with Rondo. With Randle and Hairston, Boston will be adding two players who can contribute immediately.
18. Phoenix Suns: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
Little slows Adreian Payne down. Heck, mono barely causes him to break a sweat. He'll bring the Suns an athletic option down low. He should be able to provide a consistent scoring threat if he continues to grow his game on that end of the court.
19. Chicago Bulls: Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
If Cleanthony Early can improve his jump shot, he could end up being the sleeper of this draft. It will take him some time to adjust to the 3, but he's strong, athletic and quick enough to make the adjustment. He's the type of player who will help a team in multiple ways.
20. Toronto Raptors: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
The Raptors could find themselves without a point guard this offseason, though it seems likely either Kyle Lowry or Greivis Vasquez will return. Ennis would give them the perfect deputy to whichever player sticks around, as his steady presence on the ball and pass-first mindset makes him a great addition to the backcourt.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia
Another riser right now. This is a stash pick for the Thunder, as they can wait on a player with Porzingis' talent to make it to the NBA. This is a pure upside pick, but his natural tools are off the chart, so Thunder fans would be wise to wait this pick out. It could pay off major dividends in a few years.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: T.J. Warren, SF, NC State
The Grizzlies need another scorer, and at this point in the draft, Warren is the best scorer on the board. Few players in this draft can score in as many ways or are as tricky to guard in spot-up situations as Warren. He simply finds a way to put the ball in the hoop. That's exactly what the Grizzlies need.
23. Utah Jazz: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
Athleticism. Defense. Intensity. Energy. K.J. McDaniels brings a lot to the court. He's another player who is a consistent jumper away from being an solid NBA starter.
24. Charlotte Hornets: Kyle Anderson, PG, UCLA
What exactly is Kyle Anderson as a player? A big point guard? An unconventional power forward? A point forward? Whatever his role ends up being, the one thing he has going for him is a unique skill set. If the Hornets are patient with him and carve out a role that suits his skills, he could be one of the sleeper picks of the draft.
25. Houston Rockets: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
Jusuf Nurkic is raw, no doubt about that, but with some patience and seasoning he could become a great NBA center. The Rockets have no need for rushing him along and can instead focus on him becoming the heir apparent to Dwight Howard down the line.
26. Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn
The perfect fit. The Heat will likely look to add a point guard on the cheap this year, and Shabazz Napier would be the perfect man for the job. He's a smart, experienced leader, and his slashes to the basket would fit Miami's offensive attack. The fact that he can hit a clutch shot in the postseason is the cherry on top of this selection.
27. Phoenix Suns: Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA
Like Parker and Hood, Adams is going to give you a scorer from the outset. He has one thing on his mind, and that is tickling the twine. If he can round out his game a bit more beyond that, his development in the NBA could be very intriguing to watch.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
Jerami Grant's size and athleticism are his main calling cards. He's unpolished, but he makes up for it in the short term with his hustle and ability to crash the rim. If he can continue to develop his jump shot and defense, he could be a great find this late in the draft.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: C.J. Wilcox, G, Washington
The Thunder could use another bomber in the backcourt, and C.J. Wilcox would give them just that. The Thunder could go in a lot of different directions here, but you can never have too many talented guards.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan
Mitch McGary is the hardest man in this draft to project. Without questioning he could have used more seasoning in college, but now that he's headed to the NBA, it remains to be seen how he'll develop. He was the breakout star of the 2013 NCAA tournament, so the Spurs will be gambling on that player being the one they've drafted.
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