1. Cleveland Cavaliers
Andrew Wiggins – Kansas – SF
Wiggins is just too much talent to pass up on. No matter what Cleveland does with this pick, whether it be trade it for a player or trade down, Wiggins is the surest bet. His skills and potential together make for perhaps a once in a generation player. Sports science showed off his ridiculous vertical on Instagram. If Cleveland hopes to retain Kyrie Irving, then picking a player that can produce now and win NOW should be a top priority.
2. Milwaukee Bucks
Joel Embiid – Kansas – C
Milwaukee find themselves in a completely opposite situation than Cleveland.
While Cleveland needs to win now, Milwaukee can let their young players grow as they strive for success.
Embiid has franchise changing, league leading center potential. So why not actualize it?
While his back may be fragile ( for what we know) and his big game experience is minimal, Embiid can still be a cornerstone for this Milwaukee team. Plus, Jabari Parker just does not fit on this team when they have Giannis Antetokoumpo at the wing position.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
Jabari Parker -Duke – SG/SF
Jabari Parker has drawn a lot of Carmelo Anthony comparisons, and that may be exactly what Philly wants him to be.
They already have passing, rebounding, shot blocking, and steals from guys like Michael Carter-Williams, Thaddeus Young, and (hopefully) Nerlens Noel. At “6”8″ and 241 pounds, Parker has the right size to battle down low as a forward AND stroke the outside shot like a guard.
His potential is truly equal to the previous top 2 picks, but the team fit is there for Philly, whilst it was not for the first two teams.
4. Orlando Magic
Dante Exum – Australia – G
Exum is one of the most mysterious and talked about players in the NBA Draft. How will his skills translate? What kind of competition is he used to and how will it affect him against NBA players?
These and many other questions are yet to be answered, but I’m sure the Orlando Magic won’t want to wait to find out. Exum has superstar potential, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he came out of this draft the BEST player.
His scoring and versatility fit well with Orlando, where Jameer Nelson is a thing of the past and Arron Afflalo is more valuable a name than a player for Orlando.
5. Utah Jazz
Noah Vonleh – Indiana – PF
Personally, I just don’t see the hype around Vonleh. He is unproven, raw, and did not even lead his team to the NCAA tournament.
While I disagree with his high ranking, the Utah Jazz and other NBA teams seem to feel different. Whether he would start or not in Utah is questionable, as they already have Derrick Favors manning the 4.
He could embrace a bench role and come along as a starter in time, though. Overall, Vonleh’s numbers could very well be similar to Cody Zeller’s of this past season, but his production may be undervalued.
6. Boston Celtics
Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State – G
Smart fits well in Boston alongside Rajon Rondo.
He can play 2 guard while Rondo still runs the point. That is, if Rondo still remains a Celtic after this offseason. Either way, drafting Smart is the smart thing to do. He can play either positions and change games immediately.
His 23 point, 13 rebound, 7 assist, 6 steal game in the first round of the NCAA tourney proved that. He is an all around contributor with 2 way stardom skills, and the Celtics shouldn’t think twice about swiping him off the board.
7. Los Angeles Lakers
Aaron Gordon – Arizona – F
Despite Julius Randle being the better player, Gordon has killed the combine so far and the Lakers could look at him for some possible star potential.
His position is truly unknown and his NBA comparison varies from Shawn Marion to Blake Griffin, but his production looks cut in stone. Around 10-15 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.5 steals should do it for the Lakers management to be happy.
The player, whoever it may be, that the Lakeshow take in this draft is not going to change their franchise. But, It will help draw more free agent interest for a team that has Kobe and a young gun like Gordon. Free agency is the Lakers path to success again, but this pick won’t hurt.
8. Sacramento Kings
Julius Randle – Kentucky – PF
Randle fits in with this Sacramento team perfectly. He is a cheap and much more talented replacement for the highly overpaid Carl Landry and Jason Thompson.
His NCAA tournament outing was fantastic as well, leading his Wildcats to the title game vs. UConn. He was a consistent glass-eater and scorer in each game for the team as well as being their leader.
Sacramento has been looking for a future power forward and a long time solution at the position for quite some time now, and if the Kings don’t trade the pick, then Randle is likely to solve those problems.
9. Charlotte Hornets
Nik Stauskas – Michigan – SG
The biggest surprise of this lottery besides Cleveland’s “completely fair” winning of the lottery has to be the Hornets getting this pick. The top eight protected pick that Detroit owed to Charlotte this season came to Buzz City the same day that they officially changed to Buzz City.
Charlotte will not take this pick for granted, though, and will likely take Stauskas at number eight. His potential and playing style is very similar to Golden State’s Klay Thompson, and that is something Charlotte could really use.
His outside stroke and off the ball movement is necessary for this Charlotte team, who was among the bottomfeeders of the league when it came to three point shooting last season.
10. Philadelphia 76ers
Dario Saric – Croatia – SF
Saric is likely the only prospect left here with superstar potential.
Pairing him with MCW, Thaddeus Young, Nerlens Noel, and higher pick Jabari Parker would give them an equal balance of shooting,scoring, rebounding, and defense.
Saric can plug right into the starting lineup IF they rid themselves of Young, and Saric would likely enjoy that. He has experienced success overseas and will probably not like a bench role in the NBA.
For a player who has been named MVP and won the championship in the Adriatic league, that is probably not the role he deserves.
11. Denver Nuggets
James Young – Kentucky – SG
Young comes to a team that’s trapped in a the terrible state of mediocrity. With no impact players besides Ty Lawson, the Nuggets could take the risk here with James Young.
Young’s draft stock shot up in the NCAA tournament, leading his team to the championship game alongside fellow Wildcat Julius Randle. His shooting stroke and defense are something that could really help this Denver team out from no-man’s land and shore their hole at shooting guard for the foreseeable future.
12. Orlando Magic
Tyler Ennis – Syracuse – PG
Taking Ennis and pairing him with fellow draftee Dante Exum would solve nearly all of Orlando’s problems. They can bring both Afflalo and Oladipo off the bench and have two of the best sixth mans in basketball. They would also be the deepest guard rotational team in the NBA.
Both Oladipo and Afflalo have flourished off the bench, so that relegation would not hurt too much. The Magic already have players to fill small forward (Tobias Harris) and center (Nikola Vucevic), and a power forward could be had in free agency.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves
Zach LaVine – UCLA – G
LaVine has killed it this combine, and he has a lot of GMs with mid-first round picks drueling for the chance to draft him.
He won’t get past number 13, though.
Minnesota won’t miss the chance to take this sort of talent at number 13. LaVine has Russell Westbrook like potential and, even though the Wolves have two capable starting guards(Kevin Martin, Ricky Rubio), his potential is higher than both of them.
14. Phoenix Suns
Adreian Payne – Michigan – PF
Payne is a perfect fit in Phoenix’s system. For a team that hasn’t had a quality starter at the 4 since the days of Stoudemire, Payne has the opportunity to flourish in Arizona.
His shooting skills will easily stretch defenses enough to where Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe can easily get into the paint. He also compliments Channing Frye’s shooting, who would likely come off the bench.
Payne can really help this Phoenix team that’s full of contributors, and don’t be surprised if they take him with the last pick of the lottery.
15. Atlanta Hawks
Rodney Hood – Duke – SF
Hood joins the ranks of a Hawks team that desperately needs a star. While it is doubtful that he can be that star they desire, he can still be a second or third option on this team.
DeMarre Carroll had an excellent year for the Hawks, but he is still not a starting caliber wing. Hood could easily be so.
Often overshadowed by Jabari Parker on the 2013-2014 Duke Blue Devil squad, Hood may have something that scouts previously have not uncovered. The Hawks will just have to find out.
16. Chicago Bulls
Doug McDermott – Creighton – F
Chicago gets a steal here at number 16. McDermott could easily have the most impact on a playoff team right away. His scoring ability is among the most elite in the draft class, and his scorer’s mentality is something that can really intimidate a defense.
Chicago has lacked the lights-out shooter since they traded Kyle Korver, and Mike Dunleavy has not been the replacement they needed. With two first rounders, taking the surefire producer in McDermott is a good bet.
17. Boston Celtics
Gary Harris – Michigan – SG
Boston is fortunate here for Gary Harris to fall all the way to them. With Avery Bradley likely to command a huge contract that Boston should not give him, Gary Harris could be a longterm solution at shooting guard, depending on the Rajon Rondo situation.
His skills and production are hard to put a nail on, but he reminds me a lot of a current day Dion Waiters. His playmaking ability and how he can create his own shot are things that Boston should look at.
He is by far the best player available at this point, and putting him as the sixth man role OR starting him alongside Marcus Smart (a Rondo deal would be necessary) is a good strategy for Boston GM Danny Ainge.
18. Phoenix Suns
Clint Capela – Switzerland – C
After taking Michigan forward Adreian Payne with their 14th overall pick, the Suns can afford some risk here with the shot blocking center from Switzerland.
Capela’s stock has varied up and down all year, mostly depending on the stocks of other mid-first round picks. He does have a limited upside, with his scoring not mature. He is much like a more athletic Bismack Biyombo and could give Phoenix the depth at center they need.
19. Chicago Bulls
Cleanthony Early – Wichita State – F
After stealing Doug McDermott 3 picks earlier, they get a risky but high-upside player in Cleanthony Early. His 31 point performance in the NCAA tourney turned some heads towards Early, and his versatility as a shooter and a rebounder intrigue teams.
Much like a more athletic Boris Diaw, Early could easily be the first guy off the Chicago bench next season, depending on how much shifting occurs down in Chi-town this offseason.
Overall, Early is an exciting pick that Chicago may need if they have to shed one or both of Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson’s contract.
20. Toronto Raptors
Kyle Anderson – UCLA – PG/SF
Kyle Anderson is one of the most intriguing prospects this year. He is the only player to be known to play both point guard and small forward. While the Raptors are likely to retain the red-hot Kyle Lowry and PG is not a position of need for them, small forward is.
Terrence Ross and DeMar DeRozan both are more natural shooting guards, so the depth at the wing is growing thin. Anderson could come into Toronto and immediately make an impact with his versatile play.
Much like the role Paul Pierce played in Boston, Anderson as a kind of point forward for the Raptors could end up a great situation all around.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder
T.J. Warren – North Carolina State – G
Warren’s scoring ability is among the best of ALL prospects, as he led the NCAA in scoring last season. Oklahoma needs more offensive options, as evident by their struggles in the playoffs to work as a team. The Thunder rely too much upon stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to lead them to victory, and maybe it’s time to try to shovel that load to some other guys.
Players like Reggie Jackson, Caron Butler, and Steven Adams have all been huge for the Thunder postseason run so far. Adding a scorer that would command tough defense on would be a good strategy for Sam Presti and company as they attempt to build the championship contender they deserve.
22. Memphis Grizzlies
P.J. Hairston – UNC/ Dallas Legends – SG
Memphis needs help at really every non-big man position right now, and Hairston has lock-down scorer potential to pull them out of the funk.
Tony Allen is very productive and a fan favorite, so moving him to small forward and allowing Hairston the opportunity to shine as a starter would be ideal. Tayshaun Prince is no longer a starting caliber forward, and him and his massive contract must be relegated to the bench or get off the roster.
Allen and Hairston would make for a great combo of defensive toughness and offensive punch for the Grizzlies.
23. Utah Jazz
Jerami Grant – Syracuse – F
With Gordon Hayward likely gone this offseason, Utah can use this pick on insurance. Grant offers massive size and wingspan that could help Utah defensively. His offensive game is a bit weak, but Trey Burke and company can provide that.
Grant is a prospect who doesn’t fit many places, but landing in Utah may be the best for him and the Jazz organization.
24. Charlotte Hornets
Shabazz Napier – UCONN – G
Charlotte wants winners.
That is what they have done by drafting NCAA champions 2 of the last 3 years (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker) and what they are likely to continue doing. They already have shored up their holes at three point shooting by taking Nik Stauskas, so why not go for Napier, a proven winner.
Napier fits in Charlotte’s system as a small guy that, like a Hornet, can get up in the faces of shooters and scorers. Both his defense and his heart on offense make him an attractive prospect for Buzz City.
And, the last time Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier were on the same team, they brought home a championship. Maybe this reunion can be the first step to recreating that success for the bright team in Charlotte.
25. Houston Rockets
Jordan Adams – UCLA – SG
Houston needs shooters, and Adams’ 35% from downtown can fix that. He is a versatile guard who averaged over 17 points in college. The Rockets struggled to find offense in the playoffs this season, relying on Dwight Howard in the post and James Harden chucking up shots.
While the Rockets would also love a point guard here, Francisco Garcia’s departure makes Adams a bigger need than a point guard.
26. Miami Heat
Elfrid Payton – Lousiana Lafayette – PG
Payton is much like Patrick Beverley – A energizer bunny on the court. He can bring the Heat a perhaps starting point guard if Mario Chalmers decides he has had enough success in Miami to bolt for the money.
I would say the Heat would count their blessings if Elfrid Payton fell to them at no. 26 and not hesitate on taking the energy guy from Louisiana Lafayette.
27. Phoenix Suns
Glenn Robinson III – Michigan – SF
With their third first round pick, the Suns can take a guy to help out their depth on the wing.
Despite Gerald Green’s crazy year, he is not a longterm solution at small forward. Glenn Robinson could be.
His size and strength is enough to battle with guys like Carmelo Anthony on defense, and his driving the lane is a skill defenses will have to respect. Phoenix will look very interesting next year, having several rookies and second year guys on the team. Robinson can try and carve himself out a role for the Suns.
28. Los Angeles Clippers
Mitch McGary – Michigan – PF
Depth is the Clippers specialty, and depth is all the Clippers are going to get here at no.28. McGary’s nearly non-existent college career somehow still has him projected as a first round pick. This is odd, but the Clippers can afford the risk.
With Blake Griffin locked up for many years down the line, the responsibility on McGary will be minimal. He can develop into a contributor off the Clipper bench for the next few years, and I’m sure he’ll be fine with that on a team like Lob City.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder
Jusuf Nurkic – Bosnia – C
While they seem to have found their starting center of the future in last years draft (Steven Adams), the Thunder are likely to part ways with their current starter, Kendrick Perkins. With this break comes a hole at backup center, and Jusuf Nurkic can provide that role.
While some project the Bosnian to go in the teens, I just don’t see that many teams taking risks on unproven international guys. Nurkic will have time to get accustomed to the NBA life on a contender like Oklahoma City, and that shouldn’t be too much of a hassle for either team.
30. San Antonio Spurs
Bogdan Bogdanovic – Serbia – SG
Ok, first of all, this guy has the funniest name of any NBA prospect.
Bogdanovic fits the mold of a Spurs late round draft choice. An international guy with medium upside and overseas experience.
Bogdanovic could play in his rookie year, but with Marco Bellinelli, Danny Green, and Patty Mills on the roster, his playtime would likely be minimal. Still, he is the best remaining player and the Spurs would be silly to not take the Serbian guard.
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