The First Round of My Ever-Evolving Mock Draft

Every day, the Excel spreadsheet containing my without-trades mock draft, my with-trades mock draft and my big board sees significant changes because of new information or new ideas. I am happy with it at any given time, but something will inevitably change it, probably in the next few hours, even. That said, let's get the ball rolling with what currently stands as my aforementioned with-trades mock draft.

Pick no. 1: Cleveland Cavaliers select Joel Embiid, C, Kansas

Like clockwork. Picking a potentially generational defensive big man regarded as a cut above a pool of inferior prospects is the obvious choice, right, Mr. Cavaliers? No, seriously, if this pick isn't traded and Joel Embiid isn't picked by the Cavs, people would die. Alright, but seriously, ... if they don't pick him, then my hopes will get infinitely high only to come crashing down when the Bucks of all teams make the correct choice by picking him. Think about the children, Cavs.

Pick no. 2: Utah Jazz select Jabari Parker, F, Duke

Milwaukee receives Pick #5, 2015 top-8 protected 1st, Golden State's 2017 1st and G Alec Burks; Utah receives Pick #2

This (Utah trading up for its wonderboy savior) is happening, guys. I know it. You know it. Sonny Parker strangely doesn't. It works wonderfully for both teams (more on that later), and Utah finally gets its star who is also Mormon! Obviously this has been talked about too much already, but I'd also like to chip in that their newly hired head coach is a Duke alum as both a former star player in the '80s and an 'associate head coach' alongside Coach K in the '90s. Tell me this isn't happening. No, seriously, please don't.

Pick no. 3: Philadelphia 76ers select Andrew Wiggins, G/F, Kansas

AHHHHHHHHHH. Question, class: who wins the Jazz-Bucks trade? Answer: The Sixers. I mean, do I really need to elaborate? What is essentially the perfect fit for this team at the top of the draft falls right into their laps (though I believe it will happen, Utah trade-up or not). Do I rank Wiggins' KU teammate Embiid higher on my board? Yes, of course. Does that really matter? No' 't all.

Pick no. 4: Orlando Magic select Dante Exum, G, Australia

I half-expect Hinkie to pick Exum at 3, regardless of who else is available. But I can't truly believe that. So far, so perfect for every team -- here the Magic land their ultra-athletic point-guard to complete their backcourt that should be scary for years and years and years to come. This pick happens in roughly 95% of mock drafts, according to WalterFootball's NBA mock draft database. So ... yeah.

Pick no. 5: Milwaukee Bucks select Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State

From the trade at #2, obviously. See, the way I see it, people are looking at the Bucks' PG-SG-SF positions incorrectly: they are moving Brandon Knight to the off-ball SG spot, and the soon-to-be 7-footer Giannis Antetokounmpo is entrenched at the SF spot. They already have John Henson (more on that later) and sorta kinda have Larry Sanders at the PF and C spots, respectively, so the one open spot in their lineup is therefore point-guard. Why not just pick Exum at #2, then? Well, because they had the option to trade-rape the Jabari-needy Jazz and arguably still get the better point-guard of the two, obviously. Worth noting that they also got a very good 6th-man type combo guard in Alec Burks as well. Smart-Knight with Burks rotating in is awesome.

Pick no. 6: Boston Celtics select Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona

Here's why Noah Vonleh (or Julius Randle) doesn't make sense for this team, as many have mocked: Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Brandon Bass. PF is by far the Celtics' deepest position; Gordon, however, unlike Vonleh and Randle, has the ability to play both forward positions, and some say he has the ability to guard every position on the court. That's the kind of player the Celtics need, what with guys like the black holes that are Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace getting the most minutes at this position for them. And someone's going to need to pick up the slack on defense if Bradley is snatched up elsewhere in free agency this offseason, as well... so it makes sense that recent reports say Boston is "zeroing in on" Gordon. Good pick, and good on Ainge for not being tempted to accelerate (see: ruin) the promising rebuild they have going for them by trading for Kevin Love or Carmelo Anthony.

Pick no. 7: Los Angeles Lakers select Noah Vonleh, F, Indiana

I don't think the Lakers will make a dumb pick here. I want to say they will take Randle, but who the hell is to say that he is more ready to contribute than Vonleh? vjl110's popular projection models (I would have mentioned them earlier if I wanted to truly utilize them in this post) would disagree. I really want Vonleh for this team as Noel's perfect frontcourt complement, but I can't say in good faith that I believe we have an easy path to nabbing him. I think the #10+Thad+#47 for #7+Nash is a good package for moving up ... I just don't think it will happen. Oh, and I should mention this: For whatever reason, call it gut instinct, I believe Thad is on this team next year and in the years following.

Pick no. 8: Milwaukee Bucks select Julius Randle, F, Kentucky

(note: this cannot go through until the pick is made by the Kings) Sacramento receives F John Henson, G/F Khris Middleton and Pick #36; Milwaukee receives Pick #8, G Jason Terry and F Jason Thompson

If I know you, LB, you're partially envying the Bucks in this draft right now. The Kings do this trade because they get the perfect running mate in the frontcourt for Cousins, as Henson is one of the few great rim-protecting PFs in the league. He has placed in the top7 in the NBA in each of his two seasons in Blocks Per 36, and quietly became one of the better well-rounded big men in the league last year in his at-times-limited minutes in the Bucks frontcourt last year. But they move on from him because the Henson-Larry Sanders experiment failed, and they committed themselves to Sanders last year with a 4yr/$44M deal.

To get the perfect complement to the rim-protecting, offensively-limited Sanders in Julius Randle, they also had to give up a very promising bench 3&D wing who some Bucks fans even deem 'untouchable': Khris Middleton. To make the value better for the Kings, Milwaukee also takes on the awful contract of Jason Thompson and frees up space this offseason by taking Jason Terry -- not to mention that both of these players could also provide some needed depth for this team. All in all, a very fair trade from my where I sit.

Pick no. 9: Charlotte Hornets select Doug McDermott, F, Creighton

So apparently the Hornets are interested in the services of Mr. McBuckets. I could see them going this way or the way of Nik Stauskas here. Fortunately for us, they chose the former. With the defensive prowess of MKG at the 3 and the much-improved Al Jefferson, they could theoretically make this work on both ends of the court. They need scoring and shooting first and foremost, so either player mentioned would work great for them. Pretty simple.

Pick no. 10: Philadelphia 76ers select Nik Stauskas, G, Michigan

I personally rate Stauskas #8 on my big board, ahead of Randle. I believe he is a vastly underrated prospect. First of all, obviously, his fit as a secondary ball-handler and floor-spacer whose D can be covered up between MCW and Wiggins is simply phenomenal. He's also a very hard worker, vastly improving in every facet of the game from his freshman to his sophomore year and gaining 16 lbs of muscle in that span. His one truly weak trait is his defense. I believe, as I've said before, his ceiling is incredibly understated. If you disagree - I simply disagree with you. For the record: my second choice here, if Stauskus goes before #10, would be Saric, assuming we get Wiggins. I love Saric's fit next to Wiggins, but hate it next to every other prospect in the [general consensus] top8.

Pick no. 11: Denver Nuggets select Zach LaVine, G, UCLA

I peeked in on what Nuggets fans thought about a pick of a big man (Nurkic or Saric) here, and came away thinking LaVine or Harris were the only rightful picks possible here. LaVine injects some needed upside into this backcourt, and probably represents the future of the position for the Nuggets. Denver is a weird team to me, so I can't elaborate too much other than say LaVine seems like he would fit awesomely next to Ty Lawson, so ... yep.

Pick no. 12: Orlando Magic select Dario Saric, F, Croatia

Saric is probably a steal at this point in the draft. I don't like giving the Magic Saric for the sake of drafting two international players, so obviously don't get that idea. I don't know if Oladipo is the secondary ball-handler for this team going forward, but if he doesn't fit as such, then this makes all the more sense. It just seems right. It probably gives Orlando the time to sort out their frontcourt what with Harris, Harkless, O'Quinn and the like in the meantime, too. What's not to like?

Pick no. 13: Minnesota Timberwolves select James Young, G/F, Kentucky

If the Wolves don't make the upcoming trade, then the player I have them taking at their next spot would be taken here. But given the circumstances with the teams in between here and there, they take their smooth stroker with upside here and wait on their other guy. Young will be what Shabazz was supposed to be for this team. Bless those Minnesota souls, especially VJL, who deemed Muhammad nearly undraftable with his projection models and Trey Burke worthy of the #2 pick in the draft, and then his team went and traded back from Burke at #9 to select Shabazz (and promising young C Gorgui Dieng).

Pick no. 14: Phoenix Suns select Adreian Payne, F, Michigan State

Payne fits the Suns' prospect profile so close to the T that this pick should already be locked in. It took me a while to realize it, and I had him going #20 to Toronto for the longest time, but I really love this pick for Phoenix here. Great stroker from deep and the perfect stretch-4 for this team. Just... great. Not to mention that he'll be getting into his athletic prime just as this team looks primed to make championship runs (that's the nice way of calling him ooooold).

Pick no. 15: Atlanta Hawks select Gary Harris, G, Michigan State

I originally had him falling to 19, even though he's my #10 prospect. Interesting that his MSU counterpart gets picked before him here. You guys know the deal -- plug 'n' play 2-guard who can stroke it from deep and is one of the best few perimeter defenders in the class. Who better to gradually take Korver's play time and let him ride off into the sunset? Good pick.

Pick no. 16: Minnesota Timberwolves select K.J. McDaniels, G/F, Clemson

Chicago receives F Kevin Love, F Chase Budinger; Minnesota receives rights to F Nikola Mirotic, F Taj Gibson, S&T G D.J. Augustin, Picks #16, #49

I don't think the Timberwolves will get a ridiculous offer for Love. In the end, this is a good offer. Mirotic is supposed to be a fringe All-Star out of the gate who can do it all from either forward position, but most notably shoot from everywhere on the court. Gibson is one of the best defensive bigs in the league who will slot in perfectly next to Pekovic (worth noting that Mirotic fits at the 3 in this lineup and perfectly at the 4 next to Dieng at the 5). Getting a just-out-of-the-lottery pick is great, especially if it lands one of the most perfect-for-MIN prospects in the draft like it did here, as McDaniels is a crazy-athletic, crazy-long, crazy-good-on-D wing. It also lands one of the best shooters/backup guards in the league in Augustin and a throw-in second-rounder. Very solid package, if you ask me.

Pick no. 17: Boston Celtics select Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia

Who played Center for the C's last year? Olynyk? Faverani? I don't even know. They need a wide body like Nurkic in the paint who could be an immediate force, with a high ceiling on both ends of the floor. In my opinion, this will be a guy we look back on and say "how did he fall all the way to the late teens?" or something of the sort, assuming no one 'reaches' on him earlier. Not sure if he comes over this year, but he doesn't need to, with the Celtics.

Pick no. 18: Phoenix Suns select Kristaps Porzingis, F/C, Latvia

Does this pick need to be a draft-and-stash? No. But with a talent like Porzingis ripe for the picking and fitting of what the Suns are doing and trending toward, this is a perfect pick. Once his body fills out and he continues development, he will be just awesome when he comes over in a few years.

Pick no. 19: Philadelphia 76ers select Elfrid Payton, G, Louisiana-Lafayette

CHI receives Pick #52; PHI receives F Carlos Boozer, Pick #19

It came down to purely projection model versus projection model+Hinkie-type player. Kyle Anderson or Jordan Adams, two top3 players according to VJL's projection model, but two whose game may have trouble translating and who are lacking on defense... Elfrid is the #8 player according to the model, but he fits to the T what Hinkie has looked for in the guards he has acquired over the past year. Very long, very athletic, excellent on D, super high ceiling ... and he can't shoot worth a lick. I view him as a skinnier Marcus Smart, and that's a perfect comparison, pound for pound. I love him as a backup point-guard for us and someone who could develop into a star and either start in a two point-guard offense or see significant minutes off the bench like an OKC James Harden. Some might say, at least compared to the Golden State-Utah salary dump of last year, that we get shafted in this deal. If shafted means getting a mid-first-rounder (and giving up a late second-rounder) in this draft for taking on some salary (in this year alone, no less) with our abundance of cap space to facilitate a deal between two other teams, then yeah, we got shafted. I'm personally alllllll for it.

Pick no. 20: Toronto Raptors select Tyler Ennis, G, Syracuse

So why did Hinkie pick Payton over MCW's successor at 'Cuse? Because the latter is a much more traditional, meh-athleticism, meh-length, etc. point-guard. I do like Ennis, though, and he'd be a steal anywhere past ~12 in my opinion. This represents a coup for the Raptors and it gives them a bunch of freedom with their two impending free-agent point-guards, Kyle Lowry and (RFA) Greivis Vasquez. Love this pick for them if Payne isn't available.

Pick no. 21: Oklahoma City Thunder select Jordan Adams, G, UCLA

If anyone can afford to take a gamble with a late pick on what the advanced stats say, it's the Thunder. I'm not a huge fan of Adams, but this is the exact spot he is on my big board, so this is modest value at least for OKC.

Pick no. 22: Memphis Grizzlies select Rodney Hood, G/F, Duke

Likewise, if anyone should take a gamble on the (sorta) length and lights-out shot of Hood, it should be the Grizzlies. If Hood develops effort and then skill on defense (eh) for this notoriously slow-paced, defense-based team, he's easily a starting 3&D wing on it.

Pick no. 23: Utah Jazz select Mitch McGary, F/C, Michigan

I love McGary's fit on this Jazz team. He could come off the bench in the beginning, and his toughness he brings to the frontcourt could do a world of good next to Favors, Kanter and Gobert. I would combine Hairston with Parker here (interesting little UNC/Duke thing), because they do need a guard after giving up Burks, but I simply like this pick better for them. I believe it was Utah's GM that once said you "draft for talent and trade for fit." Both Hairston and McGary constitute 'talent' and 'fit' on this team, so I went with my gut.

Pick no. 24: Charlotte Hornets select P.J. Hairston, G, North Carolina

They go from having no shooters to two of the best three shooters in the draft in one fell swoop. Already very physically mature/tough and universally loved in North Carolina (besides by Duke fans) (trust me, I live here). Kemba-Hairston-MKG-McDermott-Jefferson. D-shot-D-shot-both. Very interesting lineup going forward, whether they start them both out of the gate or not.

Pick no. 25: New York Knicks select Kyle Anderson, F, UCLA

Houston receives F Carmelo Anthony; New York receives G Jeremy Lin, F Terrance Jones, C Omer Asik, Picks #25, #42

It doesn't seem like much because it isn't. But after Chicago (who I think will/should pursue and land Love), there aren't many teams who can offer anything intriguing... but Phil has to accept whatever he can get, because this team isn't going anywhere for another couple of years at the very least. Next offseason they will be able to make moves, and should have some talent developed in-house as well. It should be fun. Anyways, who better or who else to gamble on Kyle Anderson's big upside as a generational talent? The projection models are massively skewed and don't represent true values, in my opinion, because his play style could very easily not translate to the NBA, but VJL's projection model says Anderson is 68% likely to be an NBA-level starter and 25% likely to be a star, with a 1% likelihood at being a bench player and 6% likely to bust.

Pick no. 26: Miami Heat select Shabazz Napier, G, Connecticut

With Mario Chalmers slated to hit free agency (and only Norris Cole sure to return next year), Miami could use an injection of some potential life into their backcourt. This pick isn't made because Napier has experience in the business of winning championships, but that may hold some value to some people - He can hit the big shot and all that jazz.

Pick no. 27: Phoenix Suns select Bogdan Bogdanovic, G, Serbia

You may have heard that the Suns like to shoot the ball. Bogdanovic, while also having a hilarious name, has huge upside with his physical tools and his already pretty polished offensive game (especially his shot from deep)... If he doesn't come over this year, that's fine for Phoenix, too. Match made in heaven at this spot in the draft.

Pick no. 28: Los Angeles Clippers select T.J. Warren, F, North Carolina State

He tumbles all the way down here even with his kinda sorta elite scoring ability because he scores so weirdly. At this point in the draft, with the likes of Matt Barnes seeing the most minutes from the SF position for the Clippers, Warren is well worth the risk.

Pick no. 29: Oklahoma City Thunder select Clint Capela, F/C, Switzerland

One of OKC's picks will probably be a draft-and-stash, and who better to do that with than a taller Serge Ibaka? They took Steven Adams last year, but even so, the future of their C position is still shrouded in mystery. If Adams develops into the starter they need, then Capela can spell both him and Ibaka off the bench when he comes over. Very good value here as well.

Pick no. 30: San Antonio Spurs select Cleanthony Early, F, Wichita State

Isn't this such a Spurs pick? A solid-if-unspectacular, already relatively old stretch-4. It's almost too perfect. Once Pop obviously develops Early's passing and he continues development in his many abilities (shooting, post-game, etc.), he could be a special player for this San Antonio team.

And that about wraps it up. The most notable players left on the board were two that have fallen far from previous statuses, and continue to do so - Jerami Grant and Glenn Robinson III. The trades in the mock were only meant to represent the core deals of the draft that I believe could happen -- obviously I won't sit here and predict a team giving up a first- and second-rounder to move up two spots.

In case you're wondering, the four players I have us picking in the second round are Jarnell Stokes, Damien Inglis (draft-and-stash for a year), Taylor Braun and Kendrick Perry. You may not have heard of those latter two, but they were both relatively high on the projection models and both of their skillsets represent absolute fits for the team going forward. The 2014-15 (16-player..) roster looks something like this, in this instance:

PG: MCW - Payton - Perry - (Wroten)

SG: Stauskas - Wroten - Williams - Richardson - (Payton)

SF: Wiggins - Hollis - Braun

PF: Thad - Stokes - (Sims)

C: Noel - Sims - Varnado

That's about it. Hope you enjoyed it.

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