With the order of the top 14 picks determined tonight, this could either be the last chance for teams like Milwaukee or Philadelphia to dream of landing Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, or the start of a month of dreaming of them in their uniforms. Either way, one last mock draft leading up to tonight’s action can’t hurt, and especially considering the Draft combine just took place.
1. Milwaukee Bucks select Andrew Wiggins, G/F, Kansas
Wiggins is still the prospect with the best mix of instant impact and future potential. By not working out in Chicago with other prospects, he neither helped nor hurt his draft stock, but GMs have seen enough of him to know he’s an instant impact player. The comparisons to LeBron James aren’t as farfetched as some may believe.
2. Philadelphia 76ers select Jabari Parker, G/F, Duke
The 76ers may have some of the pressure taken off of them in this situation. The debate of Parker vs. Wiggins has raged on since the duo entered college together. Scouts and fans argue one is more NBA-ready while the other has more potential. Either way, you can’t go wrong with either of them, and Philly would be happy to land Parker.
3. Orlando Magic select Dante Exum, G, Australia
The newest debate post-Draft Combine is how far up the big board is Exum. He was the highest rated prospect to attend the Chicago-based workouts, and did nothing but help his stock. Now, with a month before the draft, the debate will rage of whether Exum should be taken before Joel Embiid. In this situation, Orlando needs a natural PG more than they need another center.
4. Boston Celtics select Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Wouldn’t this just suck? The Celtics get the best center to enter the draft since possibly Dwight Howard, and they don’t even have a top 3 pick! Embiid’s biggest knock is his possible injury concerns, especially considering a back injury kept him out of action for the latter part of the season at Kansas, including the tournament. But I don’t think Danny Ainge and company can pass him up if he falls to 4th.
5. Utah Jazz select Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona
The Jazz have become some sort of growing place for NBA big men. Just a handful of years ago, they had both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Currently, they have Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors, and in this scenario, they add Aaron Gordon to the mix. Gordon is a bit of a tweener, but measured off the charts with his athleticism at the Draft combine. Already having a point guard, they pass up Marcus Smart and take Gordon.
6. Los Angeles Lakers select Julius Randle, F, Kentucky
This is likely the most ideal situation for the Lakers if they maintain the 6th pick after tonight. Randle’s stock didn’t necessarily fall after the Draft combine, but Gordon and Exum’s went up. Randle was a beast for Kentucky this season, averaging a double-double on the season. With Gasol likely gone, Randle could be the Lakers forward of the future.
7. Sacramento Kings select Noah Vonleh, F/C, Indiana
Vonleh’s stock also rose at the Draft combine, as his physical measurements were incredible. While he didn’t compete in drills, his stock flew up. It’d honestly be a surprise if he’s here at the 7th pick, as both the Lakers and the Jazz might take Vonleh. If not, the Kings will be loving the idea of a DeMarcus Cousins-Noah Vonleh front court.
8. Detroit Pistons select Dario Saric, F, Croatia
With Stan Van Gundy having taken over in Detroit, I anticipate that he will look to mimic the make-up of the Orlando Magic teams that were so successful by surrounding Andre Drummond with shooters. Therefore, it makes sense to pick up Saric, who draws comparisons to a play-making big men like Hedo Turkoglu that was pretty successful under SVG.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers select Doug McDermott, F, Creighton
Personally, I’m not a fan of McDermott at all. But a mix of need and the Cavaliers making their annual dumb decision means that McDermott is a top-1o pick. The Cavs will likely be looking to replace Luol Deng in the starting line-up, and McDermott is the closest they’ll find to a SF at this spot in the draft. The smart move might be to trade down a couple picks and pick up someone like Rodney Hood, James Young, or Adreian Payne.
10. Philadelphia 76ers select Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State
I’m an advocate of drafting the best player available, especially in the NBA. The 76ers grabbed a point guard last year, but Smart is versatile enough to play the shooting guard, and good enough defensively to handle his own against opponents. A back court of Michael Carter Williams and Smart with Parker on the perimeter is frightening.
11. Denver Nuggets select Gary Harris, G, Michigan
Harris did well enough at the combine to see his stock maintain it’s position. His biggest fault is that he measured below average physically, but that doesn’t take away from his skill set. He could step in and likely start right away in Denver next to Ty Lawson and give them an explosive back court.
12. Orlando Magic select Adreian Payne, F, Michigan State
Another pick somewhat forced by need. The Magic would have a lineup of Exum-Oladipo-Afflalo-Vucevic right now, and Payne could step right in as the power forward and give them a core that might be unmatched by any other franchise.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves select Nik Stauskas, G, Michigan
The ‘Wolves severely lacked bench scoring last year, and really consistent scoring in general outside of Kevin Love and Kevin Martin. The best thing Stauskas can do is score. He would be a welcome site in Minnesota, who love to draft guards.
14. Phoenix Suns select Rodney Hood, G/F, Duke
Hood significantly increased his draft stock in Chicago and is likely a lottery pick now. At 6’8, he’s tall enough to play small forward and can score with the best of them in this draft. It’s crazy to think, after Phoenix’s season, they get to add another lottery pick to the bunch.