The NBA Draft Lottery is tomorrow, which will throw a wrinkle into the top selections with some players dropping and others moving up depending on need and order. So it’s time to update our latest mock draft so you know how things stand going into the ping pong ball portion of the Draft. While most of the top picks skipped this past week’s combine in Chicago, there was some movement at the top anyway with a certain Kanas freshman dropping out of the top 3.
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1. Milwaukee Bucks – Andrew Wiggins
6-8, 200 lbs. SF
At this point the pick is a coin flip for the Bucks, for some teams it will be a three-sided dice role, but for the Bucks they benefit from drafting either Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker. The organization has a new owner and needs to bring on a head coach, but they have begun to create a style in recent years. They drafted Larry Sanders, John Henson, and Giannis Antetokounmpo giving them elite length and athleticism in the front court. Parker gives them a pure, natural scorer, but also creates a logjam at the 3/4 on the roster. Wiggins is free to play the two or the three and can potentially play with those three and give the Bucks a potential franchise star at the same time.
2. Philadelphia 76ers – Jabari Parker
6-8, 235 lbs. F
The best place to be in this draft might be at the No. 2 spot, because the decision is made for you in a lot of ways. Obviously the 76ers could go in many different directions, but after the coin lands on Wiggins for the Bucks they can calmly walk to the podium and accept their consolation prize. Parker is a pure, natural scorer that can play the three or the four on the offensive end. He fits in as a Robin immediately to the current Batman in Michael Carter-Williams to form a dynamic duo. Parker’s shooting, scoring, and offensive acumen make him an easy pick here. Not to slight his talent, Parker is an option to go No. 1 Overall any year, and could be the best overall player long-term in this class.
3. Orlando Magic – Dante Exum
6-6, 196 lbs. G
A unique case here as the International Man of Mystery in this class is exactly what Dante Exum is. He has proven he is one of the best players on the court in every setting he played in from elite high school tournaments, to international tournaments, to Australian basketball. Exum has the size, ball-handling, and athleticism to play the one and the two, but is more of a two at this stage in his development. Can a team take a prospect that is more unknown than known this high in a draft of this caliber? Long-term an Exum-Victor Oladipo backcourt with the athleticism, length, and play-making could be as dynamic any in the league.
4. Utah Jazz – Joel Embiid
7-0, 250 lbs. C
With question marks about his back and the league becoming smaller and smaller Embiid has the potential to fall, but at the same time could also be the No. 1 Overall Pick. The Jazz have slowly put together a quality young roster where Embiid could fit in with Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward, and Derrick Favors as a core going forward. Embiid has the unique ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor at a high level and is a more fluid athlete than most players his size. Still very raw, but at Kansas he showed that his learning curve is well above average as he got better and better literally game by game.
5. Boston Celtics – Julius Randle
6-9, 250 lbs. PF
At times Randle is the forgotten one of this class despite proving to be at the very minimum a beast on the glass and a great transition athlete. When he turns it on Randle is one of the few athletes that could be a double-double machine and be a candidate for 20-20 nights as well with his tenacity on both ends on the glass. The Celtics are trying to build from the bottom up and Randle has the potential to be that initial building block with Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley, and head coach Brad Stevens.
6. Los Angeles Lakers – Noah Vonleh
6-9.5, 247 lbs. PF
Style over substance can hurt a team that has literally zero pieces on the roster right now that will be relevant factors on the team in 1-2 years. This team was patched together with replacements last year like an open audition to see if anything worked or looked like it could long-term. The result was a trip to the lottery and no head coach. Vonleh already has the look and feel of a tremendous defender in the post and a quality rebounder. His offense is coming along as well, just at a slower rate.
7. Sacramento Kings – Aaron Gordon
6-8.75, 220 lbs. PF
There has been a lot of debate over Gordon as an overall prospect. Some say he is a Top 5 talent based on athleticism, motor, character, and upside while others simply ask what position he will play. Will he develop a jump-shot? Two valid questions that will likely keep Gordon out of that Top 5 range and fall to a team that might be further along in the building process, like the Kings, and who could use his “glue” skills to enhance the rest of the team. Gordon may not be a “star” which can be said for every prospect at this stage, but he has a lot of positive intangibles the Kings sorely need.
8. Detroit Pistons – Marcus Smart
6-3.25, 227 lbs. G
Oklahoma State, So.
The Pistons got their coach in Stan Van Gundy who is known for his teams’ defensive effort and using versatility at a high level. Where the team struggled last year was on the defensive end. They were inconsistent at best. With Smart as a combo guard putting pressure on the perimeter and Josh Smith and Andre Drummond protecting the paint this team could improve overnight with SVG at the helm. Smart has a lot of work to do with his shooting which is a major liability at the next level as seen with cautionary tales in recent years (Kendall Marshall). Adding a big, strong combo guard like Smart gives the Pistons a weapon on both ends of the floor.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers – Dario Saric
6-10, 223 lbs. F
In recent years the Cavaliers have taken calculated risks in the draft with equations drawn up on a Willie Wonka Calculator. With a new general manager there is a lot of pressure on him to not make an outlier pick, but one that would actually help the team. Best player available strategy has to be the philosophy with Daric here who has been considered a lottery talent for nearly three years now despite his up-and-down career on and off the court. As a point forward Saric can run the offense in spot duty and play both forward positions offensively.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans Pelicans) – Gary Harris
6-4.5, 205 lbs. SG
Michigan State, So.
If Harris measured out at 6-5 or 6-6 then he would be considered a Top 5 Pick, but that inch limits his effectiveness in the eyes of NBA decision-makers. Someone like Nik Stauskas might be more coveted now because of his measurements despite the fact that when they played head-to-head Harris was able to lock down the taller sharp-shooter. Harris is a classic combo guard that can do everything well, but is not a pure passer or an athletic enough scorer to play one position full-time.