My big goal for today’s mock was to push the Milwaukee Bucks out of the top three. The lottery machine was surprisingly uncooperative in this endeavor.
1. Boston Celtics - Jabari Parker, Duke
I just like what Boston could potentially do with Parker more than I like the Wiggins fit. The Celtics already have experience figuring out what to do with a guy of Parker’s physical profile, with Jeff Green in hand, and they could use the added scoring punch that Parker would likely bring. The two-man game of Rajon Rondo and Parker would make for excellent offense, and I have a feeling that Brad Stevens would be a good pick to develop Jabari’s defensive game.
2. Orlando Magic - Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
The Magic are one of my favorite potential landing spots for Wiggins. He fits in nicely with their team full of highly athletic high-upside guys, and would be a nice upgrade over Mo Harkless at the three.
3. Sacramento Kings - Julius Randle, Kentucky
I like the fit of a power forward for the Kings better than a center or a point guard, so Randle is the pick in this scenario for Sacramento. Randle has an underused long-range shot that will be key for him to develop in the NBA, and if he can, it helps the Kings space the floor and put two monster rebounders on the floor together in Randle and Cousins. There could be defensive limitations here, but seriously, try and stop Cousins and Randle from scoring inside.
4. Milwaukee Bucks - Joel Embiid, Kansas
Embiid is by far the best player available at this spot, and the Bucks would probably be foolish not to grab him. Yes, it creates a logjam in the middle for them with Larry Sanders, John Henson, and Ekpe Udoh, but it also gives them a ton of young assets to work with in free agency. With a new ownership group in place, GM John Hammond might be able to make rational moves this offseason, and if Embiid falls into their lap, I could potentially see the Bucks moving Henson for either a draft pick or a young asset who’s a better fit.
5. Philadelphia 76ers - Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
It’s kind of difficult to put the Sixers in a tough spot in this draft because they need so much, but Philly is kind of in one if this is how the draft breaks. Smart probably makes the most sense here due to fit. Him on the wing with MCW is a nice potential defensive combination, and while they can’t shoot, that’s a monster transition duo. Smart just makes more sense for the Sixers than Dante Exum, and that’s what makes this the pick.
6. Utah Jazz - Aaron Gordon, Arizona
I’m really starting to fall in love with this scenario. Gordon playing stretch four with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter would help the Jazz defensively, and he could be given the time he needs to develop on an insanely young team. Let Marvin Williams and Richard Jefferson walk, let Gordon play 35 minutes a game, and he’ll figure himself out.
7. Los Angeles Lakers - Dante Exum, Australia
Exum learning from Steve Nash and potentially developing into a mutant 6’7” transition distributor sounds fun. Exum has expressed interest in playing in L.A., and he’s a very safe pick for this team because of his versatility. Also he could be a great feeder and defensive bailout guy for Kobe, if you’re interested in that.
8. Detroit Pistons - Doug McDermott, Creighton
There’s just not a situation in the world where I can see Detroit taking Noah Vonleh, so he continues to slip while the Pistons grab a shooter to pair with Josh Smith. The Hawks last year really benefited from the combination of having Kyle Korver and Smith on the floor at the same time, and McDermott should be able to play that role reasonably well. Detroit needs guys that actually can compliment their quagmire of improperly fit star players, and McDermott’s a great option to do that.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers - Noah Vonleh, Indiana
A dream scenario for Cleveland. Vonleh is the type of floor-spacer and defensive presence this team desperately needs in its frontcourt, and if he drops to number 9, it’s a great scenario. Cleveland develops him as a center, where he compliments Tristan Thompson and transitions into a supercharged version of Anderson Varejao as a pick-and-roll threat and defensive stopgap.
10. Philadelphia 76ers - James Young, Kentucky
With Marcus Smart on board, and a wealth of shooting guards available, this is a rather unfortunate spot for the Sixers, again. With shooting guard taken care of, a small forward who can shoot and make up for the Smart/MCW mid-range bonanza is probably their big need. Young can do that, and while I worry about the sudden swagginess of their perimeter unit, Thaddeus Young and Nerlens Noel should be a fairly efficient frontcourt, and this combo would give the Sixers some explosiveness on both ends. They’d probably suck again next year, but this looks fun.
11. Denver Nuggets - Dario Saric, Croatia
I have never really thought about Saric to the Nuggets until now, but he makes a ton of sense for them, actually. A tall distributor that can score well on cuts to the basket and in the midrange is very important to the triangle, and Saric can do all of those things. He’d probably be a Euro-stash for at least next year, but Denver’s cap situation is a little tight next year anyway, so that’s not a huge deal. Saric could give the Denver offense some really unique looks.
12. Orlando Magic - Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
Just makes a ton of sense. Plug him in for Jameer Nelson, let him dish assists to Afflalo, Wiggins, Tobias, and Vucci Mane, make sure he never attempts a shot in traffic, and let him be your floor-leader and late-game takeover guy.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves - Nik Stauskas, Michigan
My last two mocks have had Stauskas off the board before Minnesota picks, but in the event he’s there, he’s perfect for this team, who needs an efficient bench scorer that can handle the ball when Ricky Rubio sits. Stauskas could be a combination of what the team expected from J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved, and would be a great fit for a team that’s pretty close to getting to a playoff level.
14. Phoenix Suns - Gary Harris, Michigan State
Harris went on a bit of a free-fall here, but as the best player available, the Suns would probably have to take him. Harris could slot in at shooting guard and develop as a slasher and defensive stopper next to Goran Dragic.
15. Atlanta Hawks - Kyle Anderson, UCLA
I’m interested. Solid secondary ball-handler, decent shooter, rangy defensive player. All of these things sound nice for Atlanta, and I’m particularly interested in a Teague/Korver/Anderson/Scott/Horford lineup. Go Five-Out, dribble-penetrate with Anderson and Teague and let Scott and Korver fire away from deep. FUN.
16. Chicago Bulls - Clint Capela, Switzerland
Somewhat unfair, but Capela fits so well on the Bulls. He’s another garbage-collector underneath to pair with Joakim Noah offensively, and has some great potential in a Thibodeau defensive system.
17. Boston Celtics - K.J. McDaniels, Clemson
Thought about Rodney Hood and Jusuf Nurkic here, but I like the fit of McDaniels more. The Celtics need to replace Jerryd Bayless and to find insurance in case Avery Bradley signs for big money elsewhere, and McDaniels can slide in as a rangy wing that would allow the Celtics to better hide Jabari defensively. Also, Rondo/Bradley/McDaniels/Parker/Sullinger sounds amazing for small-ball.
18. Phoenix Suns - Adreian Payne, Michigan State
You know what the Suns actually need? more athleticism in their frontcourt. Markieff and Channing Frye offer great shooting, and Miles Plumlee is absurd and fun and all, but adding someone like Payne to turn Dragic fast breaks into highlight reels would be a nice idea. The Suns would also then pick Keith Appling at pick 50, and East Lansing has now been annexed by the state of Arizona.
19. Chicago Bulls - Rodney Hood, Duke
20. Toronto Raptors - T.J. Warren, N.C. State
The Raptors bolster their offense with the draft’s best off-ball scorer. I like what Dwayne Casey’s staff has done for Demar DeRozan and Terrence Ross on their outside shots, and think the same could be done for Warren. A good fit for both sides.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder - P.J. Hairston, Texas Legends
Apologies to Dallas fans, who this week were reminded that OKC gets their pick because two years ago they traded for Lamar Odom (WHOOPS!). OKC could always use another wing, and Hairston fits in as a solid two-way guy for them.
22. Memphis Grizzlies - Jerami Grant, Syracuse
He’s not Tayshaun Prince! And Memphis seems like a nice place for him to develop his defensive potential.
23. Utah Jazz - Zach Lavine, UCLA
Could back up Trey Burke and Alec Burks, and packs some nice scoring punch on a team that needs it. Seems like an excellent third guard for these guys.
24. Charlotte Bobcats - Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Jusuf slid very far in this draft, but I think the Bobcats are a candidate to grab him here. They could really use another shooter, but a backup center for Al Jefferson is also a good idea, and having just remembered Jeff Taylor is still a thing, I think Charlotte could get a lot of value from Nurkic at this spot.
25. Houston Rockets - DeAndre Daniels, UConn
A wing who can rebound well would pair nicely with Chandler Parsons, and if Daniels can be an efficient three-point shooter at the next level, Houston would get a lot of value from him.
26. Miami Heat - Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
I just can’t get over the idea of a Norris Cole/Dwyane Wade/Early/LeBron/Chris Andersen lineup destroying everything with full-court alley-oops.
27. Phoenix Suns - Bogdan Bogdanovic, Serbia
There are no Michigan State players to take at this spot, but Phoenix could afford to take a Euro flier with one of their picks, so this is a good place for 2Bogdanz to end up.
28. Los Angeles Clippers - Elfrid Payton, UL-Lafayette
Chris Paul’s new understudy.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder - Artem Klimenko, Russia
If only because Sam Presti doesn’t want his former employer to nab this year’s Giannis Antetokuonmpo. Klimenko is a huge unknown (Literally, he’s playing in the Russian B-League, and is also enormous) coming into the draft, but the Thunder have a first-rounder to burn thanks to Dallas, and could let him sit over in Europe until he’s ready to replace Kendrick Perkins.
30. San Antonio Spurs - Isaiah Austin, Baylor
The Spurs need to re-sign Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner this summer, and odds are they will probably only bring back one. Austin does some of the things both guys do, and even if he’s just the new 12th man for this team, he fits.