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.
11. Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans Pelicans) â€“ Dario Saric
6-10, 223 lbs. F
Second lottery pick! Carter-Williams, Noel, Parker, and… adding a potential draft-and-stash international prospect like Saric might be better long-term versus the alternative, which is playing 5-7 players in the rotation with less than two years of NBA experience. Philly fans do not be alarmed; Saric is a Swiss Army Knife forward that does a little of everything and was once considered a top-5 pick a few years back. Thanks New Orleans!
12. Orlando Magic (Via Denver Nuggets) â€“ Tyler Ennis
6-2, 180 lbs. PG
Second lottery picks for everyone! Or at least the 76ers and Jazz… The worst-kept secret in basketball for two years has been that the Magic want to add a young point guard to steer the ship with all the talented athletes on the roster. Ennis is not a flashy point guard, but he plays with tremendous poise and was one of the best playmakers in college all season.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves â€“ Aaron Harrison
6-6, 218 lbs. SG
Other than Latrell Sprewell, have the T-Wolves ever had a decent shooting guard? In general? With Aaron Harrison (No. 2, not No. 5), the T-Wolves add a very talented scorer that has the potential to score in bunches out to the three-point line. This season he has been arguably the second-best player on Kentucky and he picked the perfect time to play the best game of the year advancing to the Sweet 16.
14. Phoenix Suns â€“ Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
6-7, 215 lbs. SF
A little high for your taste? Well, Hollis-Jefferson is one of the best athletes in the country and plays with energy on the glass, in transition, and on defense in the same way that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist did a few years ago. MKG went No. 2 overall and RHJ has the potential to be just as good, if not better at the next level.
15. Boston Celtics (via Atlanta Hawks) â€“ Marcus Smart
6-4, 220 lbs. PG
Oklahoma State, So.
Let’s face reality, the Celtics need help on the perimeter and in the playmaking department. They could go big here after taking Exum in the lottery, but the NBA is a perimeter-oriented game and they need as much help as they can find. Smart has two-way potential as a very good on-ball defender already and can play both guard spots when needed. His shot is a major question mark, but one that can be worked on with coaching, repetition and confidence.
16. Chicago Bulls (via Charlotte Bobcats) â€“ Adreian Payne
6-10, 245 lbs. PF
Michigan State, Sr.
Payne is a rare combination of fitting a need, the style of play, and comes in seasoned to help a playoff-caliber team right away. The Bulls need floor spacers and Payne is the prototype for the stretch-four breed in the NBA, but he is not defensively limited like most as a quality low-post defender and shotblocker.
17. Phoenix Suns (via Washington Wizards) â€“ Clint Capela
6-10, 211 lbs. PF
Draft-and-stash all the way. Unless the Suns move this pick or a considerable amount of their young roster, adding 2-3 more rookies makes little sense. Capela is not ready to come over and contribute right now. He also fits the mold of athletic and versatile players that they gravitate towards.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Brooklyn Nets) â€“ James Young
6-6, 215 lbs. SF
Injuries and bad luck have derailed the Hawks this year, but they have a solid nucleaus of talent on the roster right now. Young talent. Bringing in a shooter with the athletic potential of Young builds more depth for a team that should be in the playoff mix for a while.
19. Chicago Bulls â€“ Andrew Harrison
6-6, 215 lbs. PG
Derrick Rose is the present and the future for the Bulls at the one. No question. Thena again it never hurts to have a very talented backup that makes life easier for Rose, right? Harrison has the size to play off of Rose in the offense and the tools to run the show himself, giving the Bulls a dynamic they have not had in almost two decades–two perimeter players that can score the ball.
20. Toronto Raptors â€“ Sam Dekker
6-8, 220 lbs. F
The Raptors already have a plethora of talented perimeter players and lack a punch inside. While Dekker is more Chandler Parsons than Al Jefferson, he adds a dynamic and much needed depth inside at either forward position.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Dallas Mavericks) â€“ Doug McDermott
6-8, 225 lbs. F
OKC’s championship window is open right now and yet they’ve still been able to build depth and talent along their bench with names like Perry Jones, Steven Adams and Jeremy Lamb. McDermott could be an amazing role player playing off of the Thunder’s two big stars.
22. Memphis Grizzlies â€“ Wayne Selden Jr.
6-5, 230 lbs. SG
The Grizzlies struggle to score consistently and that has been a thorn in their sides for a few years now. Selden is a two-way wing in the same mold as Wesley Matthews with his ability to defend the perimeter, score and stretch the floor with his shooting.
23. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors) â€“ Zach LaVine
6-5, 180 lbs. G
LaVine made his name throughout the season making highlight play after highlight play in the open court. He is a terrific athlete and can play both guard spots well with as much upside as any prospect being looked at outside of the lottery.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (via Portland Trail Blazers) â€“ Willie Cauley-Stein
7-0, 244 lbs. C
A few years ago the Bobcats wifffed on a big man with defensive potential in Bismack Biyombo, who was an unknown freakish athlete. This time around is different as Cauley-Stein has been front and cetner blocking shots, playing full-court defense, and developing in front of our eyes. He has a Miles Plumlee basement with the potential to be an impact defender at the next level.
25. Houston Rockets â€“ Jordan Clarkson
6-5, 193 lbs. G
Clarkson could easily rise higher through the draft ptocess with his size, shooting and playmaking ability. He is not a pure point guard and played off the ball a lot this year, but makes plays and can score the ball.
26. Miami Heat â€“ T.J. Warren
6-8, 215 lbs. SF
N.C. State, So.
The Heat have stars and typically use this type of selection on a need that could fill a hole in the roster on the cheap. With Warren, they could do all of that while adding the best scorer in the draft class, giving the Big Three a hired gun off the bench.
27. Los Angeles Clippers â€“ Russ Smith
6-0, 165 lbs. G
Russdiculous has gone from a head-scratching shooter, to a microwave off the bench, to a poised (for him) leader that ran the Louisville Cardinals to a top-5 overall record and a trip to the Sweet 16, again. This year he has passed when needed (career-high 13 assists) and scored often (21-plus points in 11 games), becoming a complete player.
28. Phoenix Suns (via Indiana Pacers) â€“ Jabari Bird
6-6, 190 lbs. SG
Sticking with the theme of athletic two-way players for the Suns here with Cal freshman Bird, who came on strong before he missed time with injury. Bird has the size and athleticism to play both wing positions, giving the team another undervalued weapon to work with.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder â€“ Nik Stauskas
6-6, 205 lbs. SG
More shooting and spacing for Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka is always welcome. The Thunder have a lot of young, developing talent on the bench, but none with the shooting prowess of Stauskas.
30. San Antonio Spurs â€“ Montrezl Harrell
6-8, 235 lbs. PF
The Spur Machine always finds the right player for them in the draft and adding Harrell, who might be underrated or just raw, would be another example of that. Harrell is a great athlete and can play above the rim. He plays a lot like a young Thomas Robinson but more athletic.
What do you think?
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