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 February 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 first mock draft.
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1. Milwaukee Bucks â€“ Andrew Wiggins
6-8, 197 lbs. SF
No one prospect or talent can save the Bucks in one year, that much is most definitely for certain. The team needs a draw, someone who in the future can be an All-Star caliber player, and at the very least hope. With Wiggins you can create an elite athletic core with unmatched length with Wiggins, Larry Sanders and Giannis Antetokounmpo. The excitement for Wiggins has died down a little, but he has shown flashes of being a versatile scorer and an elite defender at the NBA level.
2. Orlando Magic â€“ Joel Embiid
7-0, 240 lbs. C
The Magic already have Nikola Vucevic as a double-double machine in the paint and could use help at other positions, but this is a draft where in the top 4-5 picks you take the best available prospect. That is Joel Embiid. Over the years the Magic have built themselves around great big men with Shaq and Dwight Howard, territory that Embiid could reach at his full potential. After just three years of basketball Embiid has already shown some of the best footwork and skill inside of any big man in years.
3. Philadelphia 76ers â€“ Jabari Parker
6-8, 241 lbs. F
Last summer the 76ers drafted the athletes in Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel to get the rebuilding process started. Now they get a chance to add a potential 20-plus point scorer in-between those two that is efficient and versatile. Parker could be the No. 1 overall pick in any other draft with his size, shooting ability, and overall package. He is not the athlete that his peers are, but Parker has a smooth, smart way to his game that allows him to be effective no matter the athletic competition.
4. Boston Celtics â€“ Julius Randle
6-9, 248 lbs. PF
The final shoe to drop in the “potential franchise player pool” lands here with the Celtics, who could use Randle right now. Over the years the team has drafted a handful of big men already making Randle a less obvious choice here despite his ability to be a double-double machine and one of the best athletic scorers at the four at the next level. Randle is one of those prospects where the ball just finds him on the glass because he is active and always in a good position. A Rajon Rondo and Julius Randle duo could be very formidable, if they keep the All-Star point guard.
5. Utah Jazz â€“ Dante Exum
6-6, 188 lbs. G
If the Jazz could get a little higher and nab Embiid this would be a homerun past 3-4 years in the draft for them. They already have a nice core with Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke with other complementing pieces. Adding another dynamic playmaker like Exum really could elevate the team in a few years with his ability to play both the one and the two. Playing in Australia does not help Exum with NBA fans because he is out of sight, but he has impressed every NBA decision-maker when he has been in front of them against the top talents, including most of the prospects in this top 10 over the summer.
6. Sacramento Kings â€“ Aaron Gordon
6-9, 225 lbs. PF
This is a perfect marriage for the Kings. Let me explain. They have the potential star center in DeMarcus Cousins and the perimeter scorers to be a good team. What they lack is an athlete that is as unselfish as Gordon, who is willing to do all the little things that makes a team good. He is also dynamic enough to become an All-Star down the road.
7. Los Angeles Lakers â€“ Marcus Smart
6-4, 225 lbs. PG
Oklahoma State, So.
Falling from potential No. 1 overall pick in 2013 to the franchise with 16 championships is not a bad consolation prize. Smart is everything the Lakers do not have in terms of intangibles, defensive ability, and versatility. He could also add a few years to Kobe Bryant‘s legs.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers â€“ Gary Harris
6-4, 205 lbs. SG
Michigan State, So.
Eventually they have to get one of these picks right, right? Outside of Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson the draft has not been good for the Cavaliers, who have tried to be the smartest team in the room consistently with little to show for it. Harris is a combo guard that can make plays with the ball and shoot the ball to stretch the floor. His biggest asset might be his defense, which is not talked about enough.
9. Denver Nuggets (via New York Knicks) â€“ Noah Vonleh
6-9.75, 242 lbs. PF
The Nuggets want to play a more traditional lineup and still get up and down the floor, which is why Kenneth Faried has taken a step back this year. Vonleh is a traditional power forward that rebounds, plays his position, and can play in a fast pace offense if needed.
10. Charlotte Bobcats (via Detroit Pistons) â€“ Jerami Grant
6-9, 215 lbs. F
Well, the Bobcats are usually the team that makes the wildcard picks like Bismack Biyombo, Cody Zeller and even Kemba Walker. Some have paid off and at this point in the draft there are no more certainties so a roll of the dice on Grant who could be a playmaker at the forward position, rebound at a high rate, and contribute as a quality defender is worth the risk. After all, it is the Bobcats.
11. Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans Pelicans) â€“ Wayne Selden
6-5, 220 lbs. SG
Carter-Williams, Noel, Parker, and… Adding another athlete like Selden who can be a big time shooter, but more importantly is a tough playmaker that absorbs contact going to the rim as well as anyone at this stage gives the 76ers another chip in the rebuild. Thanks New Orleans!
12. Minnesota Timberwolves â€“ James Young
6-6, 210 lbs. SF
Shooting and perimeter scoring make this an obvious choice. There are other talented prospects that can do those things, but Young can fit in-between the established players in Minnesota to be a Michael Redd-type shooter and scorer.
13. Orlando Magic (via Denver Nuggets) â€“ Andrew Harrison
6-5, 207 lbs. PG
With one pick already in the bag, does need take over best available talent? That is an interesting question for the Magic who could use a dynamic athlete at the point guard position to complement the athletic core they are building.
14. Memphis Grizzlies â€“ Willie Cauley-Stein
7-0, 244 lbs. C
The foundation of the Grizzlies is based on great interior play and defense. With that they could use extra shooters and scorers, but Cauley-Stein could be an excellent pupil for both Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph to groom over the next few years.
15. Chicago Bulls (via Charlotte Bobcats) â€“ Adreian Payne
6-10, 240 lbs. PF
Michigan State, Sr.
Let’s face reality, the Bulls need shooting, scoring, playmaking, depth, and the Carlos Boozer era is over. Adding Payne gets them shooting and a big man that can play both frontcourt positions on both ends of the floor.
16. Atlanta Hawks (via Brooklyn Nets) â€“ Chris Walker
6-11, 230 lbs. PF
One of the other unknowns in this class is Walker, the freshman who has not played for Florida just yet. In high school Walker was nearly unguardable with his athleticism, skill, and size. It is a risk to take someone this raw and unknown in the first round, but Walker is a calculated risk.
17. Phoenix Suns (via Washington Wizards) â€“ Dario Saric
6-10, 223 lbs. SF
With their first of three picks, the best available player strategy comes to mind. The Suns need a few things to continue the momentum they have started this season, but they do not need more young players stepping in right away. Drafting Saric, a dynamic playmaker that has been up-and-down (on and off the court), and stashing him for a year or two seems like a good call.
18. Chicago Bulls â€“ Zach LaVine
6-5, 180 lbs. G
Back to the Bulls. Playmaking, shooting, and depth are still needs for them after adding Payne earlier. LaVine has been a rising star this year with his size, shooting, athleticism, and ability to play both guard positions. Still a raw prospect, but very intriguing.
19. Toronto Raptors â€“ Sam Dekker
6-7, 195 lbs. F
As of late the Raptors are playing well, but they are a below average shooting team, average rebounding team, and do not make a lot of plays for others. Dekker does all of those things well from potentially both forward spots.
20. Boston Celtics (via Atlanta Hawks) â€“ Rodney Hood
6-8, 210 lbs. SF
Already adding a dynamic forward in Randle allows the Celtics to focus on the role players needed to be a good team again. Hood is a very talented shooter with NBA range, size, and has shown flashes of being more than just a shooter on the offensive end.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Dallas Mavericks) â€“ Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
6-6.5, 212 lbs. SF
One of the more undervalued prospects because of the role he plays and limited numbers is Hollis-Jefferson. His athletic potential is through the roof on defense, to the point where he could be a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist-type talent in 2-3 years.
22. Phoenix Suns â€“ Jabari Bird
6-6, 190 lbs. SG
One of the better two-way perimeter players in the country with the ability to shoot the ball is Bird. The Suns are emphasizing athleticism, two-way play, and youth right now as they continue to build momentum.
23. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors) â€“ Doug McDermott
6-8, 225 lbs. F
At this point, especially after taking the project Exum earlier in the draft, Utah just needs players. McDermott provides the perimeter shooting that neither Favors nor Enes Kanter provide currently, and he’s ready to step in right away.
24. Houston Rockets â€“ Semaj Christon
6-3, 187 lbs. PG
The Rockets have their star, their complementary big man, and a few nice young pieces. They could use a point guard that can set the offense and take pressure off of James Harden, which is the type of point guard Christon is.
25. Los Angeles Clippers â€“ Aaron Harrison
6-5, 210 lbs. SG
There have been times Harrison has looked like a lottery pick with his overall play, so grabbing him here is a steal for the Clippers. Harrison is a big-time shooter that can be a very well-rounded scorer when motivated.
26. Miami Heat â€“ Glenn Robinson III
6-6, 210 lbs. SF
Young, talented athletic legs are what the Heat needs to continue this pace as championship contenders for longer than just this year. The addition of GR3 gives them a versatile forward that can shoot the corner three and has gained more confidence attacking with his athleticism.
27. Charlotte Bobcats (via Portland Trail Blazers) â€“ Nik Stauskas
6-6, 190 lbs. SG
Insert “More Than Just A Shooter” reference here ______. Stauskas is clearly more than just a shooter with his improved ability to put the ball on the floor and more opportunity to make plays. He can be a J.J. Redick-type off of the Bobcats bench.
28. San Antonio Spurs â€“ Mario Hezonja
6-6, 200 lbs. SG
With the way other two guards have been playing in college, Hezonja might slide in the draft and become a draft-and-stash prospect. He has the athleticism to transition to the NBA and is a quality shooter with good size.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder â€“ Montrezl Harrell
6-8, 235 lbs. PF
Every year the Thunder seem to have multiple picks and then make the most of them. In this Mock, they already added the athletic Hollis-Jefferson to the fold and here they add the very athletic Harrell. More young pieces to mold and develop around their two superstars.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Indiana Pacers) â€“ Jordan Clarkson
6-5, 193 lbs. PG
Third pick here at No. 30 and after the Suns ended up with a quality talent in Archie Goodwin last year one pick earlier, there is confidence that they can do the same here. Clarkson is an athletic point guard that can add depth, more playmaking and shooting.
What do you think?
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