After last night’s shocker of an NBA lottery in which the Cleveland Cavaliers secured the top pick despite a 1.7% chance, it appears there is going to be a shakeup atop the big board. Hopefully I will be heading up isportsweb’s NBA draft coverage from the Barclays Center and to get our coverage kicked off, here is my first NBA mock draft. Let’s start with a look at the stars who could fall in the top 10.
#1 Cleveland Cavaliers: Joel Embiid, Center, Kansas.
If the Cleveland Cavaliers expect to be in the hunt for LeBron James next summer, they cannot draft Andrew Wiggins. If they want to draft Jabari Parker, they would need to put him at 4 which basically means they are giving up on Anthony Bennett, making Embiid is the most logical pick.
With Anderson Varejao turning 32 next season, it’s time for the Cavs to be proactive in solving their problem at the center position. If the draft were today, the Cavs would select Embiid but general manager David Griffin said Cleveland is open to hearing offers for their number one pick. Let’s hope the Cavs can finally make a good decision in the draft because besides Kyrie Irving not a whole lot has gone their way in the past few years.
#2 Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, Forward, Kansas.
My theory on Wiggins is one not held by many. Jabari Parker is the more NBA ready player, and he will win you more games then Wiggins will. But do the Milwaukee Bucks really want to win more games? No, they don’t, and Wiggins has the higher upside so let him get NBA experience under his belt, return to the lottery next year and attempt to make some moves in free agency.
Many teams, including the Bucks, try to grant their fans instant gratification so they throw together a group of guys like Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Ersan Ilyasova in order to reach the playoffs and get swept. It’s okay to suck for a few years if it means a promising future and I think the best move for the Bucks is to select Wiggins, put some fans in seats and come back to the lottery next year.
#3 Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, Forward, Duke.
I think the Sixers were big on “riggin for Wiggins” but they will settle for “sorry for Jabari”. I will admit, if this team were to draft Jabari and the east continues to be as bad as it was this year, this team could be in the mix for the playoffs. I think Parker is that good and I also believe that if Michael Carter-Williams takes the next step it’s not out of the realm of possibility if the East is awful.
There is also a good chance even with Jabari they only win 5-10 more games than they did this year. Parker averaged close to 20 points and 9 rebounds per contest last year at Duke. He reminds me a lot of Rudy Gay and I think he becomes a better outside shooter than Gay is. He’s an incredible talent with a maturity far beyond his years, honestly he’s a good fit for any franchise.
#4 Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, Point Guard, Australia.
The Jameer Nelson era is over in Orlando and it’s time for a change down in central Florida. Smart, humble, and dynamic are the three words which come to mind when I think about Dante Exum. At 6-foot-6 and just shy of 200 pounds, Exum is part of this new breed of taller point guards and when asked to evaluate himself he called himself a drive and kick point guard. The pieces are already in place, he would start immediately and I think he’d kill a pick and roll with Nikola Vucevic. The “kick” in the drive and kick could be to Victor Oladipo who is establishing himself as a solid two guard and will only improve. It does feel like a great fit for the young Australian, and he really is such a great kid I hope he succeeds wherever he lands, right now I believe it will be in Orlando.
#5 Utah Jazz: Julius Randle, Power Forward, Kentucky.
A few people believe that the Jazz will go with Marcus Smart, another point guard, but this team seems to like Alec Burks and Trey Burke. Also, this team could use a junk yard dog in the post that’s not Derrick Favors or Enes Kanter.
Julius Randle averaged 15 and 10 last season for Kentucky and besides the Harrison twins clutch shooting, was the primary reason the Wildcats made their run to the national championship game. No matter who the Jazz draft they will not be ready to compete in the Western Conference for the next few seasons, but I think Randle is a good start. Unless they plan to put Marcus Smart at shooting guard, I see the Jazz going with Randle.
#6 Boston Celtics: Noah Vonleh, Power Forward/ Center, Indiana.
A good friend of mine, Matt Murrer, had the opportunity to work out Noah Vonleh and his assessment was basically what the general consensus is; he’s a solid player with a great upside. Vonleh averaged 11.3 points and 9 rebounds per game last season at Indiana. He can also step out and hit the three as he shot 48.5% from beyond the arc. The Celtics played a lot of small ball last year going with Chris Humphries and Jared Sullinger as their bigs. Vonleh would finally give them a legitimate 5 and a great big for Rondo to run pick and roll with.
#7 Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, Point Guard, Oklahoma State.
Even if the Lakers decide to make Steve Nash their point guard next year, they will need a long term fix at the position and Smart can provide that. I still feel that Smart can be moved to the two guard at any point in his career just because of his size and ability to get to the rim. He’s a score-first guy, and that won’t fit in with Kobe but I can definitely see the Lakers using this guy in some dynamic ways. With Kobe and Nash on the way out, it’s time for some fresh talent, but talent that can also help them make it to the playoffs next season in hopes of giving Kobe a final playoff run. I think Smart is a perfect mix of the two and is exactly what the Lakers are looking for.
#8 Sacramento Kings: Doug McDermott, Power Forward, Creighton.
I was really tempted to put Dario Saric from Croatia here, but he’s a real wildcard mentally and this team could use some stability. Boogie Cousins and Saric would probably fight every game, McDermott I think would compliment Cousins very well because of his ability to stretch the floor.
College basketball’s player of the year last season averaged 26.7 points, 7 rebounds per game, and shot 52.5% from the field while doing so. With McDermott’s ability to space the floor, driving lanes will open up for Isiah Thomas and Rudy Gay. I think McDermott is a great fit and would help create a team that could potentially contend for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
#9 Charlotte Hornets: James Young, Shooting Guard/ Forward, Kentucky.
The Hornets love the toughness they have inside with Josh McRoberts and Al Jefferson. They like Marcus Kidd-Gilchrist at small forward and they love Kemba Walker, their point guard of the future. The position that is causing them a few problems is the shooting guard position where Gary Neal and Gerald Henderson have shared time.
James Young could remedy this issue. I love the 18-year-old lefty. He’s a competitor with a 6-foot-6 frame and a 7 foot wingspan. His length allows him to shoot over defenders and stay in front on defense. He fits the mold of this Hornets team very well with his toughness and grit. He’s working on becoming a more refined shooter and being able to go to his right, but when seeing him speak and watching him perform it is very apparent that this is a guy who just wants to play basketball. He wants to compete, he wants to win, and he fits very well into the fabric of this Hornets roster.
#10 Philadelphia 76ers: Dario Saric, Power Forward, Croatia.
If you haven’t seen this kid play yet, look him up on youtube. He’s essentially a younger Dirk Nowitski, and I mean he’s got all the tools to be that and more. But, as it seems with all European big men there is a considerable risk.
He’s got a poor attitude and defensively will struggle when he arrives in the league. At 19, he’s got time to learn, but the Sixers should take the risk here. With a franchise cornerstone in hand earlier from their 3rd overall pick, the Sixers have the ability to take a risk. If this pick pans out, like I said earlier, they could potentially make a playoff run with this young core of guys in a dreadful Eastern Conference.
As far as Saric’s discipline is concerned, coach Brett Brown is part of the Greg Popovich mold, so he is a disciplinarian and will not be afraid to Saric learn a few lessons the hard way. I think Saric needs a coach like this and it is a great match if he falls this far.