The Sports Network's NBA Mock Draft: Vol. 2
By Jim Brighters, NBA Editor
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Joel Embiid's foot surgery sure changed the complexion of this year's NBA Draft.
Projecting where he goes at this point, and this is without the benefit of knowing his expected recovery time, is daunting. Both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks want to improve as quickly as possible, so it makes less sense for either of those teams to take this tantalizing talent who could be shelved anywhere from two months to 12.
The Sixers at No. 3 alternately make sense and don't. They are clearly a team willing to wait out an injury for the right player as they did this past season with Nerlens Noel, and this rebuild will take some time. Sixers' brass has patience. But would they be willing to do it all again for another, probably better, version of Noel?
With a week out, everything must be scrapped. A healthy Embiid would've gone No. 1 to Cleveland. Now, and possibly without the strongest medical updates handy by Thursday night's draft, prognosticating order and player is very tricky.
1. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS - ANDREW WIGGINS, Kansas
Embiid was their guy as apparently David Blatt will become the head coach. Wiggins is one heck of a consolation prize.
Wiggins is NBA-ready, an elite perimeter defender already and a superb athlete. If the Cavs are married to their young talent like Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters, then Wiggins even fills a need at small forward.
The 76ers could come calling with this pick. One has to wonder if their insistence at refusing the third and 10th picks softens in the wake of Embiid's injury. Philadelphia didn't want Embiid, it wants Wiggins, so the Sixers might pony up more knowing they lose their chance at a healthy member of the holy triumvirate at the top.
Or, the Sixers could still offer Thaddeus Young and the third pick, and Cleveland might take that, and still get its man, Embiid, there.
Smart money still favors the cautious route and that's Wiggins. Remember, the Cavs took a gamble on injured goods last year in Anthony Bennett, so it's hard to imagine they do it again.
2. MILWAUKEE BUCKS - JABARI PARKER, Duke
Milwaukee is now in position to take the remaining stud Cleveland doesn't want. The Bucks probably liked Embiid, too, but Parker gives the organization a superstar.
And Parker would be a fairly local one, growing up in Chicago. How would drafting Parker hinder Giannis Antetokounmpo's development? It may, but coach Larry Drew can find a way to put both on the floor if Larry Sanders returns to form this season. He'll be the shot-blocking presence to bail them out.
Dante Exum might get a serious look here because the Bucks want to upgrade the point guard spot, but Parker is too good to pass.
3. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS - DANTE EXUM, Australia
The Sixers are definitely the losers in the Embiid injury game. They could've taken their chances at whichever wing, Wiggins or Parker, fell to them, although, as stated earlier, they love Wiggins.
A trade could brew here, but there's also merit to taking Exum.
The Sixers could pair him with reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Michael Carter- Williams and make a huge starting backcourt. It would give coach Brett Brown, who coached Exum some with the Australian national team, and coached his father, flexibility.
Drafting Exum also could make Carter-Williams expendable. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo reported the Sixers would like to acquire yet another lottery pick and maybe MCW is the right fit to make that happen. I'm not totally sold other teams love Carter-Williams as much as the Sixers, who gave him pretty close to free reign with this struggling group in his first season.
With two first-rounders, five second-rounders, GM Sam Hinkie at the helm and semi-valuable assets in Carter-Williams and Young, the Sixers will be busy on draft night.
4. ORLANDO MAGIC - JOEL EMBIID, Kansas
Even with this injury, Embiid won't be gone forever. His talent is alluring and pairing him with Nikola Vucevic would definitely fill a long-term need as there is no second big man in Disney World.
Embiid's talent is such that while a drop in his draft status is expected, he's not going to sink like a mob informant with a cinder block tied to his ankle. Fourth seems about right and Orlando, like Philly, isn't in need of rushing the process.
5. UTAH JAZZ, NOAH VONLEH, Indiana
Vonleh has moved past Aaron Gordon in most minds, although Utah would love if Exum fell. If Gordon Hayward bolts, Exum can play some shooting guard alongside Trey Burke, last year's first-round pick.
But, Vonleh is so enticing. He's an elite athlete with good shooting touch. He could form a great, young frontline with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, who will be a restricted free agent after this season.
Utah might be in the mix to move up to try to get Parker. With two first- round picks, it makes some sense, but most teams higher will want more than the fifth and 23rd picks.
6. BOSTON CELTICS - AARON GORDON, Arizona
The Celtics are another team that could be busy draft night. They are strongly in the mix for Kevin Love and have the assets to make a deal, thanks to all of those first-round picks the Brooklyn Nets gave them for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. This pick would have to be included.
If the C's stay pat, Gordon is best available. His athleticism is ludicrous and he's a worker, so the flaws in his offensive game will improve. Gordon's just a tad green, so the Celtics make perfect sense.
7. LOS ANGELES LAKERS - JULIUS RANDLE, Kentucky
A lot has come up about Randle and a foot injury. He's denied the severity and has worked out for teams. That's enough for me.
Randle is polished and ready for the league. He's a great passer from double teams and mature enough to handle the rigors of playing alongside Kobe Bryant, who, if you hadn't heard, can be difficult at times.
If the Lakers are too scared by Randle's damaged dogs, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart could be the guy as a long-term replacement for Steve Nash.
8. SACRAMENTO KINGS - MARCUS SMART, Oklahoma State
Sacramento might need a point guard if Isaiah Thomas bolts via free agency. Smart is the best available, although rumors say the Kings could easily trade this pick.
Smart is the best pure point guard in the draft, even better than Exum. Granted, the Australian has bigger, more varied potential, but in terms of facilitating and leadership, Smart is the guy.
9. CHARLOTTE HORNETS - DOUG MCDERMOTT, Creighton
The Hornets need scoring desperately and if it came from a spot-up shooter, well, that would be swell. I still contend Michigan State's Adreian Payne would fit the Hornets beautifully as a stretch four, but McDermott will be the guy here.
10. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS - DARIO SARIC, Croatia
With Exum in tow, the Sixers might take the top two foreign prospects.
Saric is an incredibly skilled point-forward type who may not come over to the NBA this year. It would be nice if the Sixers had those assurances, but they can afford to wait.
While Saric fills a need for Philadelphia - that need being talented bodies - he's not a traditional power forward in the sense that he's not a banger. He's a play-maker and a team can never have enough of them.
11. DENVER NUGGETS - NIK STAUSKAS, Michigan
Denver needs a shooting guard. Stauskas is a shooter.
See, it's not always as difficult as everyone makes it. Take that, analytics people.
12. ORLANDO MAGIC - ELFRID PAYTON, Louisiana-Lafayette
If the Magic are the ones to gobble up Embiid, then point guard is a huge need. They'd love to grab Exum early, but if he's gone, Payton is not a terrible backup plan.
He's tall and a great defender. According to reports, teams love his tenacity and this seems like a good spot for him. Jameer Nelson could show him the way for a year, then turn it over to Payton. Coupling him with Victor Oladipo would give the Magic a formidable defensive backcourt and a versatile one to boot.
13. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES - ADREIAN PAYNE, Michigan State
Welcome to a possible post-Kevin Love world, Timberwolves faithful. Love will most likely be traded before the start of the season and Payne will be a nice fit to replace him. He's older - 23 - and can do almost everything Love can, just not nearly as well. Payne's a great four with good 3-point range and athleticism.
A lot of what happens with this pick is contingent on what offer Flip Saunders and Co. take for Love. If this is the second time they choose on draft night, the Wolves may take a bigger gamble.
14. PHOENIX SUNS - GARY HARRIS, Michigan State
Eric Bledsoe could bolt in free agency, but no matter what, the Suns need help at the wing spots. Harris is the best two-way wing player in the draft besides Wiggins. Getting Harris here is a steal for a Suns team that narrowly missed the playoffs and is trending upward.
15. ATLANTA HAWKS - JUSUF NURKIC, Bosnia
Apparently this behemoth has caught Danny Ferry's eye. He likes foreigners.
The Hawks have plenty of work ahead of them. They have great pieces in Paul Millsap, Al Horford and Jeff Teague. A wing player like Kentucky's James Young or Duke's Rodney Hood could make sense, but Horford is better served as a power forward, not a center. Thus, Nurkic.
16. CHICAGO BULLS - JAMES YOUNG, Kentucky
The Bulls need scoring and shooting, but they've been rumored candidates for a trade up in the draft. They also own the 19th pick and there have been reports that Chicago is willing to package both to get up to as high as 11 and draft a shooter. Stauskas is good, but Young is a great prospect as well.
17. BOSTON CELTICS - RODNEY HOOD, Duke
Avery Bradley is a free agent, so the C's could definitely use help at the shooting guard spot. Hood's a great scorer already, but he's a problem defensively. If Boston doesn't make a huge splash in the trade market, leaving this draft with Gordon and Hood would be a respectable haul.
18. PHOENIX SUNS - T.J. WARREN, North Carolina State
Again, the Suns are in the market for wings and Warren is a great scorer. He would help tremendously in the Suns' system of athletes making athletic plays.
19. CHICAGO BULLS - P.J. HAIRSTON, North Carolina
Hairston played in the D-League last season. The 21-year-old also is one of the draft's best shooters, which would come in handy on the Bulls.
We don't really know what the Bulls will look like. They are going to go hard after Carmelo Anthony in the offseason, and to do so, they will need to amnesty Carlos Boozer and trade some decent contributors. If Taj Gibson is to be dealt, then Chicago might need to make a move for some up-front help.
It's going to be a hectic offseason for Tom Thibodeau, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Co.
20. TORONTO RAPTORS - TYLER ENNIS, Syracuse
The Raptors might lose Kyle Lowry and Greivis Vasquez via free agency, so Ennis is the best point guard available. Plus, Ennis was born in Toronto. How aboot it?
21. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER - ZACH LAVINE, UCLA
The Thunder once again have multiple picks and could use someone like LaVine to bolster their bench. He's a combo guard with athleticism until the end of time. OKC can take risks on guys like this, develop them, then utilize him when needed. If Thabo Sefolosha isn't back, then the need for depth will be rather immediate with Derek Fisher now the head coach of the New York Knicks.
22. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES - K.J. MCDANIELS, Clemson
McDaniels is a great athlete and already a plus defender. The Grizzlies badly need improvement from the small forward spot after Tayshaun Prince was dreadful last season. McDaniels isn't offensively polished, but in Memphis, where defense is still highly valued, he'd be a nice fit. The Grizz would love if Warren fell to them.
23. UTAH JAZZ - KYLE ANDERSON, UCLA
Utah can get really versatile in this draft with Vonleh early, then Anderson here. He can do a little bit of everything and plays three positions. That versatility is enticing and he could take over for Hayward in time. He can even play the point, and with his size, the Jazz could play him with Burke.
24. CHARLOTTE HORNETS - JARNELL STOKES, TENNESSEE
A good two-way scorer, he could provide some inside pop alongside Al Jefferson. If the Hornets gobble up McDermott at nine, Stokes addresses another need, which is the big forward spot. He's more traditional in the low post, which is where Jefferson lives, but adding help to the interior is a good thing.
25. HOUSTON ROCKETS - CLINT CAPELA, Switzerland
The Rockets will need to either trade this pick or draft and stash since they want as much money as possible to try and woo LeBron James, Love or Carmelo Anthony. Capela is the best stash candidate.
26. MIAMI HEAT - MITCH MCGARY, Michigan
Miami has needs, but also needs to know what the future holds with the Big Three. The Heat should covet someone on the interior badly and McGary is that guy. He'll provide rebounding and toughness, and if James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh return, that's the bulk of available cap space. McGary could contribute immediately.
Watch out for point guards here. Mario Chalmers is a free agent and after his woeful play in the NBA Finals, Pat Riley may not be inclined to bring him back. Shabazz Napier and Jordan Clarkson are solid options as well.
27. PHOENIX SUNS - JORDAN ADAMS, UCLA
This is Phoenix's third first-round pick, so this is great trade bait or ripe for a foreigner who won't play this season. But, Adams can score the ball. He's not a great fit with the Suns' system, but he's the best value left in terms of scoring.
28. LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS - SHABAZZ NAPIER, Connecticut
This is an unfair indictment of how I value Napier. He's very good and can be in the pros. I just don't see him going mid-round because point guard is actually a very strong position in this draft. Napier can back up Chris Paul if Darren Collison leaves via free agency. I fully expect Napier to go higher, maybe Toronto or Chicago, but can't guarantee it.
29. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER - JORDAN CLARKSON, Missouri
Another combo guard, which will be in need if Reggie Jackson moves into the starting lineup permanently.
30. SAN ANTONIO SPURS - CLEANTHONY EARLY, Wichita State
I know it makes no sense since Kawhi Leonard is the future of the NBA, but I love Early. He has to go in the first round. Someone like the Sixers could package some twos and snap him up.
06/20 11:39:25 ET