Okay, so maybe this year’s NBA Draft class isn’t quite as good as we thought. There are no LeBrons. No KDs. There might not even be a D-Wade in here. The class from 2003 is much better, and let’s not even go into discussions concerning the ’96 class or 1984. With that being said, there is a ton of talent, and we also have to remember: it’s not even April yet. With so many young players coming out, we can guarantee your opinion of them will be drastically different once we get closer to the summer.
Because of the heightened anticipation for the draft this year, we’re releasing an early look at our second mock draft.
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1. Milwaukee Bucks â€“ Andrew Wiggins
6-8, 200 lbs. SF
Just as quickly as people forgot about Wiggins’ average start to his career, the same people are forgetting all the big performances he had after coming up short in the NCAA tournament. In a team-oriented tournament, an individual can carry a team, but it is more common for elite individual talents like Wiggins, Parker and in years past, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Blake Griffin and others to come up short. Wiggins is already a great perimeter defender that will get better with NBA coaching and added strength. He has improved his shooting to the point he is not a major liability. All of Wiggins’ flaws are known and do not take away from his elite athleticism, freakish length, defensive ability and offensive potential.
2. Philadelphia 76ers â€“ Joel Embiid
7-0, 250 lbs. C
The 76ers are trying to build this slowly from the ground up. With Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel on board they are basically using this season as a tryout for other potential players that slipped through the cracks. Embiid is another foundation block in this rebuild. When he was on the court for the Jayhawks, he was the best two-way big man in this class, scoring with polish unheard of from players of his age and rapidly improving every game as a defender. The tools are there for Embiid to be a dominant NBA center down the line not only as a shotblocker, but also as a scorer on the block controlling the paint on both ends of the floor.
3. Orlando Magic â€“ Jabari Parker
6-8, 235 lbs. F
Parker is the last prospect with the potential to go No. 1 overall, but falling in the lap of Orlando, which has been stockpiling talent for 2-3 years, could be the best fit. As a scoring combo forward he complements the young core of Victor Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic with another lottery pick in this draft. More on that later.
Parker has a little of the Carmelo Anthony face-up game as a scorer with the ability to keep the defense off balance shooting from three, the midrange and attacking off the dribble. He may not be the athlete of his peers in this class, but he is sneaky athletic with quick, explosive moves at the rim that catch the defense off guard. In the end, Parker may be the “safest” pick in this group, which is not an insult, especially if “safe” means netting a potential 20-plus point a game scorer.
4. Utah Jazz â€“ Julius Randle
6-9, 250 lbs. PF
The Jazz has also been stockpiling talent over the years and showed some promise leading up to the All-Star Game, but sputtered downward since then. The core of Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke would welcome the athleticism and versatility of Randle to the frontcourt. Randle is a beast in transition and on the glass at the four, giving a new dynamic to the Jazz as a whole.
Right now Randle is more of a perimeter-oriented forward that likes to play off the bounce and facing up against the defense. As he develops his back-to-the-basket game, Randle has the potential to be the best player in this class five years from now.
5. Boston Celtics â€“ Dante Exum
6-6, 188 lbs. G
Some teams just need talent no matter the need or position. One of those teams is the Celtics. Whether the team builds around All-Star guard Rajon Rondo or is building around his eventual departure, the addition of Australian combo guard Exum fits needs across the board. Exum made the decision to enter the draft despite not playing in college or a major league overseas, making him an unknown, but an unknown that left a very favorable impression on scouts at the 2013 Nike Hoops Summit. His game is similar to that of Shaun Livingston (with a more consistent shot) for today’s fans or Anfernee Hardaway for older fans.
6. Los Angeles Lakers â€“ Aaron Gordon
6-9, 225 lbs. PF
Overall the Lakers are an unathletic team that ran up and down but could not stop anyone and lost a step overall without Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant on the court. Howard is gone and Bryant is soon to follow (in a different way), leaving this team with a major void in talent. While Gordon may not become the star that Blake Griffin is or the All-NBA defender that Kawhi Leonard has become, he has a combination of the athleticism and defense of the two respectively. Gordon is one of the hardest-working, on and off the court, prospects that has come along in a long while, improving his game every time he steps on the court.
7. Sacramento Kings â€“ Noah Vonleh
6-10, 240 lbs. PF
There is no question that over the years the Kings have been all about the style, drafting DeMarcus Cousins, Jimmer Fredette and Tyreke Evans in the lottery in recent years, but have lacked the substance of a good team. Vonleh may not be a prospect that “wows” you with SportsCenter moments, but is a solid basketball player and a terrific rebounder at the four. Sliding Vonleh in next to Cousins, and with Isaiah Thomas running the show with pick-and-rolls, could be the perfect fit for Vonleh, who has a lot of Tristan Thompson to his game, with a higher ceiling.
8. Detroit Pistons â€“ Rodney Hood
6-8, 215 lbs. SF
Not even the Pistons know what the Pistons are doing right now. They drafted Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, traded for Brandon Jennings, signed Josh Smith, and took a step back in the development of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. All for another lottery pick? Hood has been one of the best two-way forwards in college this season and showed his full game after sitting out a year and transferring to Duke, where he fought Jabari Parker as the best player on the court for Duke. With his defensive intangibles and shooting, he is another substance player that could help glue all the other pieces together.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers â€“ Gary Harris
6-4, 210 lbs. SG
Michigan State, So.
Do the Cavaliers reach here for a position that is more of a need or take the best player available? The decision is no longer in Chris Grant‘s hands so best player available is a more likely scenario. Harris is a terrific combo guard that has struggled with shoulder injuries for the past two years, but does everything well on both ends of the floor, giving the Cavs an unselfish third guard in the rotation.
10. Denver Nuggets (via New York Knicks) â€“ Jerami Grant
6-8, 210 lbs. F
The Nuggets want to play fast and a more traditional lineup that does not feature a lot of tweeners. Grant falls into that tweener category as a combo forward. He is a terrific rebounder and defender that is still developing as an offensive player. Grant is a long-term prospect that will require patience, but has the upside of a Shawn Marion type, a do-it-all forward.