NBA Lottery Mock Draft

I think mock drafts are an exercise in futility, especially where, as here, there isn’t a clear cut number one pick. But, they are fun. And they give us something to discuss for the next few weeks. So, without further ado, here is my mock draft, focusing only on the Lottery picks (top 14).

1.Cleveland Cavaliers: Joel Embiid, C, 7’0, 250 lbs, Kansas

I’ve read the rumors just as much as you did, but there is no way the Cavs are passing up on Embiid. He is a 7’0 and has the ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor. As much as I like Wiggins, I think he might have the highest ceiling of any player in this draft.The Cavs are old at center, with Anderson Varejao turning 32 before the start of next season. He fits best with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, who are shoot first guards that would likely not co-exist with either Parker or Wiggins. He would also help shore up their defense, serving as a taller, but slimmer version of Serb Ibaka. The only way things go sideways are if Embiid’s agent, Arn Tellem, follows through on reports suggesting that he will not disclose Embiid’s medical records to certain teams to prevent them from drafting Embiid. Is Cleveland on that list? It wouldn’t surprise me in the least. If it’s not Embiid, I think the Cavs go Parker.

2.Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker, SF, 6’8, 241 lbs, Duke

I’ve gone back and forth on this one. Wiggins has better two-way potential, but he is markedly similar to the a player the Bucks already have, the Greek Freak, Giannis Anteokounmpo (yes, I had to Google how to spell his name). Both are SG/SF with insane athleticism but a weak jump shot. I think the Bucks will not be able to pass up on Parker’s ability to step in immediately with 20 point potential.

3.Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Wiggins, SG, 6-8, 200 lbs, Kansas

Just know that if this happens, there will be riots in Philly. It’s the worst kept secret in the league that the Sixers have wanted Wiggins all year. After the lottery, Sixers’ owner Josh Harris openly admitted that he told Wiggins the Sixers would take him if he was available at 3 (Hinkie, who takes secrecy to the extreme, likely was not thrilled when he saw that on the interwebs). In fact, don’t count out the Sixers trading up to the top spot. Hinkie made a not so subtle hint that it was possible, when he said how attractive two picks in the top 10 are to most teams. Wiggins will be at his best in the open court, where he can use his world class athleticism to his advantage. Which fits seamlessly into the up-tempo offense run by coach, Brett Brown. And a lineup of MCW, Wiggins, Young, Noel and lottery pick at 10? That is an exciting prospect.

4.Orlando Magic: Marcus Smart, PG, 6’3, 237 lbs, Oklahoma State,

The first relative surprise of the draft. Many have Exum to the Magic here, but I think they go Smart. The Magic likely would have taken him second overall last year had he declared for the draft. And while he had a down year, he is still incredibly talented and fits a glaring need for the Magic. He is a darling of the analytics community; ranking as a top three player in this draft by almost every conceivable advanced metric. He can get to the rim at will and will be an immediate contributor. The Magic’s front office relies heavily on analytics, so don’t be surprised if Smart is the pick here over Exum.

5.Utah Jazz: Dante Exum, G, 6-6, Australia

The Jazz want Jabari Parker badly, but they can’t complain if the draft plays out this way. While some believe Exum is a point guard, the Jazz have Trey Burke in place. So Exum could slide over to the two. He has the measurables to play the position — at 6’6 with a 6’10 wing span. He only needs to improve his shot. Heyward can side to small forward, giving the Jazz a dynamic young lineup of Burke, Exum, Heyward, Favors and Enes Kanter.

6.Boston Celtics: Noah Vonleh, PF, 6’10, 247 lbs, Indiana

Watch for Boston to try to move this pick (and potentially other assets) for Kevin Love. Reports suggest Love will sign an extension with the Celts, and Danny Ainge has gone on the record saying he does not believe this draft contains a franchise caliber player. Thus, a deal makes sense. If the Celtics stay put, they would be hard pressed to pass on Vonleh, who many scouts have compared to Chris Bosh. He is incredibly athletic, has the ability to stretch the floor, and has a very high ceiling.

7. Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle, PF, 6’9, 234 lbs, Kentucky

The Lakers have so many holes on the roster, they really can go in any direction they want. Randle is the best player available, and represents tremendous value at 7. With Paul Gasol on the tail end of his career, Randle could slide in to the power forward spot and be a lock for 18/10 every night. He is an incredibly rebounder, can score at the rim, and has the ability to stretch the floor.

8.Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon, F, 6’9, 220 lbs, Arizona

The Kings have openly stated their desire to move this pick for an established vet. So don’t count out the Sixers. They have an attractive trading chip in Thaddeus Young, who is 25, on a moderately priced deal, and is the type of versatile "glue" guy that brings energy and character to a team that sorely needs it. The Sixers could even throw in their 32nd pick (second round), since it carries the equivalent value of a first round pick this year given the draft’s relative depth. If the trade happens, it would be a lock for the Sixers to take Aaron Gordon, the PF/SF combo from Arizona. If the trade doesn’t happen, guess what? It will still be Gordon. He is one of the most athletic players in this draft, a lock down defender, and has excellent handle/passing ability for a big. While he is a bit of a tweener to play PF, he has the chance to be a special talent in this league for a long time.

9.Charlotte Hornets: Nik Stauskas, SG, 6’7, 207 lbs, Michigan

The Hornets remind me of the Sixers a few years ago: good enough to make the playoffs, but not good enough to be serious contenders for the title. But given how terrible the Hornets have been, I think the ownership group, Michael Jordan included, are happy with making the playoffs on a regular basis. The Hornets need shooters, and Stauskas is one of the best pure shooters in the draft. He can help space the floor for big man Al Jefferson, which will also open things up for Kemba Walker to do some damage in the lane.

10.Philadelphia 76ers: Doug McDermott, SF, 6’8, 218 lbs, Creighton

If the Sixers end up with Jabari Parker at 3, who is a liability on defense, then I think the Sixers go Gary Harris here, who has the chance to be the best defensive guard in this draft. But since the Sixers landed my man crush Wiggins at 3, I think they attack another glaring hole on this roster and add the best pure shooter in this draft in Doug McBuckets. Nik Stauskas could be another option. McDermott alleviated some concerns about his athleticism at the combine. But measurable aside, he is a cerebral player that understands the game of basketball and would be the perfect complement to the uber-athletic, but shooting deficient lineup the Sixers would have. And if they somehow trade for the #8 spot and land Aaron Gordon? I’m giddy just thinking about it.

11.Denver Nuggets: Zac LaVine, PG, 6’6, 181 lbs, UCLA

Tyler Enis is the best player available, but there is a logjam at the guard position, and Denver has point guard filled with Ty Lawson. LaVine is arguably the most polarizing player in this draft. Some scouts project him to be one of the draft’s best players. Others think he will be a bust. LaVine makes sense for Denver here because he is a combo guard that can be just as effective at the two. He put up impressive numbers at the combine, is a deadly shooter, and has the chance to be a homerun with the 11th pick in the draft. Gary Harris is the safer pick, but the Nuggest have enough safe guys on their roster; I think they swing for the fences here.

12.Orlando Magic: Dario Saric, F, 6’10, 223 lbs, Croatia

There is a risk Saric won’t come over from Europe. So the Magic will have to do their homework on his availability before drafting him. But at this point, the talent is too good to pass up. He is an extremely skilled point-forward that has drawn comparisons to Toni Kukoc. And he would fit perfectly with the athletic skill players the Magic have been stockpiling.

13.Minnesota Timberwolves: Adreian Payne, PF, 6’10, 239 lbs, MSU

This pick seems like a no brainer, and just about every mock draft has Payne going to the Wolves. If the Wolves don’t trade Kevin Love, then I think it’s James Young, the streaky shooter from Kentucky. But the Wolves have to trade Love while they still can. So landing Payne, who is a good stretch four, would alleviate some of that pain.

14.Phoenix Suns: James Young, SF, 6’6, 213 lbs, Kentucky

Gary Harris and Tyler Enis are both tremendous value here. But the Suns have their backcourt set with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. The Suns could use depth at small forward. Young is a good shooter with the ability to attack the rim. While streaky in college, many project him to be more consistent – and thus more deadly – in the pros. And this should fit nicely into the Suns up-tempo, free flowing attack, where Young’s ability to shoot should open up the floor even more for Dragic and Bledsoe.

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