The top 14 picks are now set, with two teams receiving a pair of lottery picks due to trades: the Orlando Magic (4 and 12) and the Philadelphia 76ers (3 and 10).
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1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Andrew Wiggins
6-8, 200 lbs. SF
For every Cavs fan that asked for a do-over after the NBA Draft, well, here you go. The Cavaliers won the lottery, beat the odds, and have a new General Manager in David Griffin in a position to gain a lot of equity with the fan base. In this spot Griffin can draft the most athletic talent in Andrew Wiggins to pair with the young nucleus of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, and Tristan Thompson. The team was a fringe playoff team all last year and adding a dynamic wing with defensive potential, transition scoring ability, and the upside of Wiggins fits in nicely with them. Wiggins is not the most NBA-ready prospect, which makes Grant think more than twice about Jabari Parker here, but he has too much potential to pass up on. Just look at last year’s draft for all the evidence you need in justifying picking the player with the most potential rather than the player you think “fits” in the best.
2. Milwaukee Bucks – 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 Bucks could go in many different directions and be an outlier here, but after the coin lands on Wiggins for the Cavs 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 right away with the athletic bookends of Larry Sanders and Giannis Antetokounmpo in the front-court as the counterbalance and scoring threat. 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. Philadelphia 76ers – Joel Embiid
7-0, 250 lbs. C
To have the year the 76ers had last year and to welcome in a fresh, healthy Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid to the front-court will be a welcome addition for head coach Brett Brown. Embiid makes a lot of sense here moving Noel to the four and not relying on him right away to be an 82-game center in this physical game coming off of injury. With his offensive skill-set and defensive potential Embiid in a lot of ways is the perfect counterpart to the excellent defensive abilities of Noel in the front-court. With Michael Carter-Williams running the show Embiid can take some pressure off of him by throwing the ball down to the block for easy buckets as Embiid develops. Not to mention the 76ers will be on the clock again fairly soon here in the lottery…
4. Orlando Magic – Dante Exum
6-6, 196 lbs. G
In two years the Magic could have the most dynamic back-court in the NBA with Victor Oladipo and Dante Exum. Think about what that would look like for a minute. The core of Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, and Moe Harkless would welcome the additional play-making ability of Exum playing both guard positions. He is the “international man of mystery” in this class, but Exum has proven against like competition that he is the next in line of the big, athletic point guards that can score and distribute the ball. As of right now he is more of a two and will be able to play off of Jameer Nelson and Oladipo early on with little pressure on him night-in-and-night-out.
5. Utah Jazz – Julius Randle
6-9, 250 lbs. PF
The Jazz falling hurts because they were looking at getting whoever dropped between Wiggins, Parker, Embiid, and Exum, but now they have a pool of very talent prospects on the next tier. With Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward, and Derrick Favors as the primary core in Utah an athletic rebounding machine like Randle would open up things for the offense. His transition scoring ability and potential to grab 20-20 on any given night is a rare blend. Add in the potential of Randle eventually running point forward and this team is going to be a nightmare for opponents on the offensive end sooner versus later.
6. Boston Celtics – Noah Vonleh
6-9.75, 247 lbs. PF
General Manager Danny Ainge has been trashing this draft class from day one and he slide down a spot. Call it karma if you will. In falling he does not have to worry about selecting one of the overrated athletes at the top, they are all gone, rather he slides in Vonleh with Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, and Kelly Olynyk to slowly build this team up. Vonleh does not blow you away in any one particular category, but is the best combination of post defense, rebounding, and mid-range shooting for any big man in this class. Slowly, he could be the most undervalued and consistent player in this class.