The workouts are done. The tape has been studied thoroughly. The mock drafts have been updated, analyzed, ripped up, rewritten and revised. The fans have made their choices. The agents have made their clients' preferences known.
All that's left is to draft the darn players.
But before the NBA teams do just that, let's take another shot at predicting how the draft will play out. Yes, the first three picks have everyone curious, but there is a ton of talent in this draft throughout the first round. Let's see if we can project where it will end up.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins, SG, Kansas
Joel Embiid changed everything.
He was my pick for the Cavs for weeks, and it made sense to project him here. But after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot, Embiid is going to drop. He's too much of an injury risk.
That raises the question of who will go No. 1. And will the Cavs even keep this pick? Plenty of teams are going to want to move up to get their guy.
For instance, it's gotten to the point that the Philadelphia 76ers don't even seem to be trying to hide their complete infatuation with Wiggins (unless of course, the whole thing is an epic smoke screen, in which case hats off to the organization for the CIA-worthy counterintelligence).
Philly.com's Keith Pompey reported, "According to sources, the Sixers are trying to do whatever they can to draft him," earlier in June.
And in his mock draft on June 17th, ESPN Insider's Chad Ford (subscription required) wrote, "The Sixers have been actively trying to trade up to make sure they land him, and I'm told a swap of No. 1 for No. 3 and Thaddeus Young isn't totally out of the question—as long as the Cavs have some reasonable belief that the Bucks would pass on Joel Embiid at No. 2."
But if they keep the pick, I think they'll go Wiggins. His next-level athleticism and defense make any of his "killer instinct" issues or still somewhat unpolished offensive game less unattractive. He may never be a superstar, but his ceiling is so darn high, that's a risk you have to take.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
Jabari Parker just feels like the right fit for Milwaukee. He can play either forward position, he gives the Bucks an immediate go-to scorer and he should fit well with the players they already have on the roster. And the Bucks already have some pieces to build around, so the instant impact of Parker could really help this organization take the next step immediately.
The Bucks could become enamored with the upside of Wiggins—and if Embiid is available, he'll be hard to pass up—but if the draft falls like this, I believe Parker will be the guy.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Dante Exum, PG, Australia
This probably isn't how the Sixers want this draft to play out—and I still think they could end up either trading up to get Wiggins at No. 1 or staying put and still landing him at No. 3—but Dante Exum is a very nice consolation prize. With the Sixers, he would be asked to play off the ball a bit more next to Michael Carter-Williams, a role he could certainly fill.
Or, the Sixers could draft Exum and dangle Carter-Williams in a trade to add a third lottery pick. They have a lot of options, even if any option that doesn't involve Wiggins—if their purported interest in Wiggins isn't an elaborate smoke screen, that is—isn't their top option.
4. Orlando Magic: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
This is simple for the Magic, who don't need to make a playoff run next year. Embiid may not see the court next season, but who cares? With his upside, picking him at No. 4 and sitting him for a year is a steal. If he can stay healthy moving forward, they're getting this draft's best player four picks in.
5. Utah Jazz: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
Noah Vonleh seems like the guy here. He gives you similar production to a Julius Randle but has comparable (though certainly not equal) athleticism to an Aaron Gordon. A true stretch 4, Vonleh seems like a lock to go in the top five picks at this point and is the best option for the Jazz if the draft plays out this way.
6. Boston Celtics: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
This is a preference pick. It's hard to say what Boston will do with it—I wouldn't be shocked if the team traded it—but if the Celtics keep it, I believe they should add a player who can help them immediately. Randle is that guy. A double-double machine, he would instantly give this team a force down on the block. The Celtics need to add players for Rajon Rondo, and Randle would be a solid pick.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
Marcus Smart would be such a nice complement to Kobe Bryant on the court. A hard-working, well-rounded player, he would have to adapt to being a pass-first guard but would help the Lakers with his intensity, rebounding and defense. A nice fit for L.A.
8. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
The Kings could go with a point guard here, but I'm not sure they could pass on a player with Gordon's upside and athleticism. Watching him in college, I was really taken by his effort, defense and ability to play above the rim. At some point in the draft, talent has to trump need. This is that point for the Kings.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
If you draft Doug McDermott, you do so because you want a spot-up shooter and proven scorer who will help you on the offensive end. The man will get his shot off and is a better overall player than the Kyle Korver comparisons suggest, but he's also never going to be a defensive stopper or penetrator. No matter—the Hornets will be glad to add a player who can fill it up from range.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
This will be a tough spot for the Sixers. Do they add the shooter they desperately need, or do they look at a power forward to pair with Nerlens Noel down low like Dario Saric?
If they trade Young, the answer will be the latter. But if they nab Wiggins and keep Young in the process, I think they'll select Nik Stauskas here. A silky shooter who is more athletic than he's given credit for, Stauskas will bring good size and the ability to play the point in a pinch to the Sixers backcourt. Plus, he'd give them a great kick-out option on the break with his sweet jumper.
This seems like a great fit for Philly.
11. Denver Nuggets: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
The Nuggets seem likely to take the top shooting guard or wing player available with this pick. That player is Gary Harris, who brings a well-rounded game to the 2.
12. Orlando Magic: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
It seems that I might be a little lower on Elfrid Payton than most, but it's more about how I see the board falling than my opinion of the player that sees him selected at No. 12. He easily could go in the top 10, but it also wouldn't be surprising if he dropped to the Magic, namely if they end up with Embiid at No. 4. A nice draft for Orlando.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: James Young, SF, Kentucky
No matter what happens with Kevin Love, the T-Wolves need scorers on the perimeter. That makes both James Young and Rodney Hood the option here. I really like Young's ability to slash toward the basket, so I give him the edge.
14. Phoenix Suns: Rodney Hood, SG, Duke
Hood brings solid size and scoring to the wing for the Suns, an area where they could use upgrading. He doesn't bring much else, but if your only trick in the NBA is the ability to put the ball in the net, you'll always have a role to play.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Zach LaVine, SG, UCLA
Zach LaVine may end up being a point guard eventually, but initially, he would be a nice addition at the 2 for Atlanta. He has a nice shot from range and truly enticing athleticism, and if nothing else, he seems likely to be a nice combo guard down the road. He's raw, but at this point in the draft, it makes sense to take a chance on raw players if they have the chance to grow into something special. LaVine has that chance.
16. Chicago Bulls: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
The Bulls need Derrick Rose insurance—it's really as simple as that. Tyler Ennis is a pure playmaker and would give the team an instant facilitator on offense. If he's not available, don't be shocked if the Bulls nab Shabazz Napier here.
17. Boston Celtics: T.J. Warren, SF, NC State
It's going to be hard for the Celtics to pass up on a pure scorer like T.J. Warren. He just finds unique ways to score the rock, and it's nearly impossible to consistently keep him from getting to the rim. He'll give the Celtics another player who will offer instant production.
18. Phoenix Suns: Dario Saric, PF, Croatia
With three picks, the Suns can afford to stash Dario Saric for two years while he remains in Europe. In two years, we may be looking back on this selection as the steal of the draft.
19. Chicago Bulls: P.J. Hairston, SG, North Carolina
It's no secret the Bulls need to add shooters, and P.J. Hairston would offer them a polished option at the 2. The Bulls would have to feel happy with this draft after upgrading the backcourt with Payton and Hairston.
20. Toronto Raptors: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
I could see the Raptors going with a point guard here, as they could lose either Kyle Lowry or Greivis Vasquez (or both). But if Adreian Payne drops to No. 20, he's just way too good of a value to pass up. This is a no-brainer for the Raptors.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
Jusuf Nurkic is a big, traditional center, and the Thunder could give him plenty of time to develop. The Thunder likely won't plug any immediate holes with this pick, so keeping an eye on the future and drafting for upside should be the approach.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
Cleanthony Early will do a little bit of everything for the Grizzlies on the wing, including scoring, something the team always seems to need more of. This is a great fit for the Grizzlies.
23. Utah Jazz: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
K.J. McDaniels would offer the Jazz length, athleticism and defense out on the wing. Perhaps not the sexiest pick, but McDaniels will give them a grinder.
24. Charlotte Hornets: Kyle Anderson, PG, UCLA
After nabbing some perimeter scoring, the Hornets will roll the dice on point forward (I'm not really sure how else to describe him at this point) Kyle Anderson. He's not a traditional talent, and he won't wow anyone with pure athletic ability, but put the ball in his hands, and good things seem to happen. Anderson could play several roles for the Hornets, making him an intriguing pick.
25. Houston Rockets: Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
The Rockets can draft and stash Clint Capela here given the solid state of their roster in general. Capela is an intriguing talent and could end up being quite the player in a few years.
26. Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn
I love this fit for Miami. The Heat need to add more vibrant playmakers who can help LeBron James immediately, and Napier fits that bill. A natural slasher and scorer, he'll bring leadership and a perimeter shot to a Miami team in need of an injection of youth.
27. Phoenix Suns: Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
They took care of the 2. They took care of the 4. What the heck, why not add a 3, too? Jerami Grant is the best remaining in that role, making him a natural fit for the Suns.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA
You can never have enough scorers, even if you are a team like the Clippers that scored in bushels last year. Jordan Adams won't exactly bring a well-rounded game into the NBA, but he'll certainly score the rock.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: C.J. Wilcox, G, Washington
See Adams, Jordan. C.J. Wilcox would instantly give the Thunder more scoring off the bench, making him an appealing option for the club.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan
Mitch McGary might not ever do anything in the NBA. Or, he might reprise his dominant form from the 2013 NCAA tournament and become a star. If any team in the league can get the latter out of him, it's the Spurs.
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