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.
11. Denver Nuggets – Tyler Ennis
6-2.5, 181 lbs. PG
Why a PG? This is becoming a smaller and smaller league where play-making is a premium. Having another play-maker to play with or to take the pressure off of Ty Lawson fills a major need for the Nuggets.
12. Orlando Magic (Via New York Knicks) – Adreian Payne
6-9.75, 238 lbs. PF
Michigan State, Sr.
Prototype stretch-four that can shoot, block shots, and rebound at a quality rate. Payne does not have the upside of his younger peers, but he will stretch the floor and help the team out from day one.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves – James Young
6-6.75, 213 lbs. SG
One could argue the T-Wolves are allergic to talented wing scorers or shooting guards, they never seem to have any. Young has his flaws as a defender and erratic ball-handler, but he can shoot and score in bunches.
14. Phoenix Suns – Nik Stauskas
6-6.5, 207 lbs. SG
Probably a basement here for Stauskas considering the Suns style, lack of pure shooters, and the similarities he shares with head coach Jeff Hornacek as a player. Stauskas is “more than a shooter” as we all know and could thrive next to Goran Dragic or Eric Bledsoe.
15. Atlanta Hawks – Doug McDermott
6-7.75, 218 lbs. F
McDermott measured out more as a three at the Combine and could fall because of that. He can still shoot, rebound, and post up similar players giving the Hawks basically an improved, remix version of Kyle Korver.
16. Chicago Bulls (via Charlotte Bobcats) – Jordan Clarkson
6-10, 245 lbs. PF
Michigan State, Sr.
Have to focus on play-making and shooting here, no question. Clarkson can play with or in place of Derrick Rose as a combo guard. Good shooter, some point guard skills, and good size.
17. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets) – Zach LaVine
6-5.75, 181 lbs. G
Overall LaVine might be the least NBA ready prospect in this draft, but that is not a slight and he is going to get drafted this high for a reason. The former UCLA product is a great athlete, explosive, can shoot the ball, and has some point guard skills. Lots of upside and versatility.
18. Phoenix Suns (via Washington Wizards) – K.J. McDaniels
6-6, 196 lbs. SF
For as well as Gerald Green and P.J. Tucker have played for the Suns as of late they are not getting any younger. An upgrade on the wing is sorely needed for this team to be an even more lethal offense, McDaniels is a great athlete and much improved shooter.
19. Chicago Bulls – Kyle Anderson
6-8.5, 230 lbs. PF
Play-making and shooting have to be the focus here again. Anderson is a smart, gifted passer for his size and could fit in well with Derrick Rose as the leader of the second unit making plays for others.
20. Toronto Raptors – Clint Capela
6-11, 222 lbs. F/C
It would not shock me if Capela fell out of the first round or went in the lottery. The Raptors could use some added shot-blocking and athleticism in the front court so this is a natural fit, but he might be a year away.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Dallas Mavericks) – Rodney Hood
6-8.5, 208 lbs. SF
The Thunder need to embrace who they are and stop looking for a value big man in the draft. They have a few. Hood gives them more shooting, quality perimeter defense, and smart team player to fill in a role.
22. Memphis Grizzlies – Elfrid Payton
6-5, 230 lbs. SG
For the Grizzlies the play-making cupboard is oddly bare for a Conference Finals contender outside of Mike Conley Jr. With Team USA Payton embraced a support role where he was a secondary play-maker and primary defender, he will fit in well with Grit n’ Grind.
23. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors) – T.J. Warren
6-8.25, 220 lbs. SF
N.C. State, So.
Point guard, check. Wing play-maker, check. Front court depth, check. Unique scorer that can get his own shot efficiently and is very unselfish? Enter in T.J. Warren.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (via Portland Trail Blazers) – P.J. Hairston
6-5.25, 228 lbs. SG
NBA Developmental League via North Carolina
With Kemba Walker and the aging Al Jefferson the Bobcats have very few offensive options, which limited them last year. Hairston is a former Carolina basketball prospect that has played well in the D-League and provides a big, strong scorer on the wing.
25. Houston Rockets – Russ Smith
6-0.75, 160 lbs. G
On ball defense and defense in general were not strong suits for the Rockets last year. While he isn’t the biggest guy on the court Smith is a high level full-court defender that can also be a Nate Robinson-type on offense. Lightning in a bottle.
26. Miami Heat – Isaiah Austin
7-0.5, 219 lbs. F/C
When you already have LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade the draft becomes about filling holes. Austin is a prospect with worlds of potential as a shooter (NBA three-point range), shot-blocker, and perimeter-oriented big man, but has struggled to fully maximize those gifts consistently.
27. Phoenix Suns (via Indiana Pacers) – Jusuf Nurkic
6-11, 280 lbs. C
Draft-and-Stash: With the third and final pick the Suns can look long-term at a big man that gives them a different look as a bruiser in the paint. Nurkic has a large, wide NBA frame with great touch and interior skill.
28. Los Angeles Clippers – Spencer Dinwiddie
6-6, 205 lbs. G
A big combo guard that can run the offense playing next to Chris Paul helps take pressure off of the All-Star and gives the offense a more dynamic look. Dinwiddie spent the last year on the mend with injury, but was never an explosive athlete. Should come back strong.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Kristaps Porzingis
6-11, 205 lbs. PF
Draft-and-Stash: Porzingis has the size and perimeter scoring ability that NBA teams like out of their big men, but has a ways to go physically. After three trips to the Western Conference Finals the Thunder are not looking for an immediate impact player here.
30. San Antonio Spurs – Dwight Powell
6-11, 234 lbs. PF
The Spurs cannot ever have too many skilled players that have great size, length, and intangibles, can they? Powell is a hybrid-forward that excels at running the offense from the top of the key and is a very good passer.
What do you think?
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