It was so simple a week ago. Last wednesday, Embiid was a lock for one, the bucks fell in love with kinda-hometown-kid but not really Jabari Parker and the Sixers would get their top guy Andrew Wiggins. But then on friday June 19th, this happened:
Joel Embiid has suffered stress fracture in right foot and slated for surgery on Friday, agent Arn Tellem says.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 19, 2014
And just like that everything changed.
Number 1 Pick:
As of today, and this has changed a thousand times since that tweet was sent out, I am confident that Andrew Wiggins will be selected number 1 and Jabari will go number 2. If you look at the Cav's roster, Jabari just doesn't fit as well as Wiggins. Kryie, Waiters and Bennett (I assume they still see him in their long term plans) all are offensive first and ball in their hands type of players, Jabari is the same way. Additionally, if your 3 and 4 are some combo of Anthony Bennet and Jabari Parker you are in major trouble defensively, especially considering Kyrie is a below average on ball defender as well. Wiggins on the other hand steps in immediately as a defensively stopper at the 2 or 3. He won't be forced into that alpha role right away as the team has Kyrie and in transition he will be a nightmare for defensives to stop. Wiggins to Cleveland at 1.
Number 2 Pick
Just like Wiggins fits Cleveland and Jabari does not, the opposite is true about the Bucks. The Bucks are a defensive loaded team right now. Larry Sanders, John Henson and the Greek freak are all defensive first players. What the bucks need is a ball dominate scorer- enter Jabari Parker. Additionally, having a shot blocker in Sander or Henson behind him will cover Jabari's defensive flaws and the Greek Freak has more thanenough athleticism to go around. Jabari to the Bucks at 2.
Number 3 Pick
And now we get to the pick, that I've spent way too much time for the last week thinking about. So many options, but I'll stick to the main three: Exum, Embiid and Vonleh. Each have their positives are negatives. Starting with Exum, I started to fall in with this guy. First, having that much length and size is a huge plus on both sides of the ball. His first step isnasty and just watching him play he has that "it" factor- something indescribable but you know when you see it. Chad Ford has reported his IQ is off the charts. Also, have you seen the foot locker commercials, he handles himself with maturity and grace you don't see from a player who is only 18. (He'll be MCW's age 3 years into his career!!)
Foot Locker x adidas: Life Changes After the Draft "Dorky Neighbor" feat. Dante Exum (via Foot Locker)
He comes with a lot of risk though. The fear of the unknown, the Darko factor, his jumper needs works, can he excel at the highest level, can he and MCW fit together. All of these are fair, but after a few days of studying and watching and listening to Chad Ford rave about him (he even said one GM said he's the closest thing to Kobe he has seen), I think he's my top choice at 3.
The next option is the player who started all this chaos. Joel Embiid. Derek did an excellent job laying out the positives for Embiid this morning and instead of rehashing them here just go read it:
The case is compelling and one that I agree with for the most part, however big guys with bad backs and feet just scare me. I've watched the '84 draft documentary enough that I'm terrified of drafting Sam Bowie. He could be a star or he could be like the many other bigs with injury problems and never fully recovered. What really scares me about Embiid is even if we give him the whole year off, his injury could still come back. It's not like Noel who had a freak fall and torn his ACL. Stress fractures are much worse in terms of longevity of an NBA player. Maybe were passing on Hakeem but it would be like drafting Sam Bowie- gut feeling.
Noah Vonleh is the final option at 3 I think. I'm a huge Vonleh fan. I think he is a long athletic stretch four. Huge wingspan, solid rebounder, excellent shooter. I think he pairs very well with Noel. With all that being said, he will never be a star. Vonleh is the second or third best player on a good team and probably the third on a championship team. He scares me in that he never showed that takeover a game ability in college. That could be Tom Creans' fault more than anything but a workout warrior who flies up the draft board without real college production always gives me pause. However, if he's the pick at 3 because the Sixers don't like the fit of either Exum and Embiid, I'll be fine with it. I would love trading up for 10 and getting him. An Exum and Vonleh draft would be an incredible haul.
A Few Thoughts of Other Players
I'm not going to go through and do an entire mock draft but I will give my views of some of the other "top players" and some of my personal favorites
Aaron Gordon: Not a fan at 3, Would love at 10. Defensive playmaker instantly. Unreal athletic ability. Even if he can't shoot, does everything else so well. Starter with upside from day 1.
Julius Randle: Scared to death of him. Foot injury doesn't scare me as much as his lack of size. He bullied people in college and HS, what happens when he can't do that in the NBA. Below average defender. Great rebounder. Better shooter than people think. Not sure who he covers or if he can become a starter in the league. I see a big off the bench.
Marcus Smart: Very torn on him. Love his competitiveness and ability to get to the rim. Tenacious defender. His downside is a rich man's Tony Allen. Not sure he will ever develop a jumpshot. Can he stay in the starting line up without a jumper? I think so but I'm concerned.
Dario Saric: I was anti-Saric at first but then the more I watched him, I started to love him. A point forward. Would fit well with Noel. The idea of a Wiggins/Saric/Noel front court was my dream about a week ago. Signing the contract hurts but the Sixers aren't trying to win now. Let him develop for a few years first. I'm concerned that he will never come over. Would need to talk to him or his agent about his thoughts on Philly before drafting him. Love the talent and upside
Doug McDermott: Not a fan at 10. He can score yes but so can TJ Warren and you don't see him going top 10. He can't cover anything position. 4s can take him down low and 3s beat him off the bounce. Is he better than Adam Morrison yes but not by much. Please stay away.
The Shooters (Stauskas, Harris, Young and Hood): I rank them Stauskas, Young, Harris, Hood but it's very close. I think the wings are this draft's strength and I would probably move back from 10 if Stauskas is gone and get one of the other three. Stauskas to me is the purest shooter and biggest offensive threat of the four. He also can create for himself and I would love him next to either MCW, Exum or Smart..
Zach Lavine: He scares me. Not as down on him as Levin or some of the other LB writers but my takeaway is what good is upside if he only has a 1% chance of reaching it. I think he's on the Sixers radar if we trade down from 10 but I doubt he gets past 11 or 13.
Elfrid Payton: He intrigues me. If he dealt MCW and got Wiggins instead of Exum I think he's a really interesting choice at 10. A ton of talent just needs time to develop. Similar to Damien Lillard A great passer, jumper needs some work too.
KJ McDaniels: My personal favorite of this class. A Classic 3 and D. Very similar to Kawhi Leonard. Would love a combo of Harris and McDaniels if he trade back and get 16 and 19
Whats interesting to me is that in a so called great draft, scouts seem pretty negative about a lot of the players. A few quotes about the top 7 guys (Smart wasn't included).
I’d take him no. 1. Physically, ready to go. Offensively, great feel. He’s a version of Paul Pierce. He’s not Paul further out yet, not as clever. But his size adds another dimension. Creates space for himself, finishes with either hand and like Pierce, he’s deceivingly athletic. Parker will contribute Game 1. He’s the safest pick.
I think in the draft, if Embiid is healthy, Wiggins goes no. 3. He will be lost in an NBA half-court offense. He is great in transition, but he has no ball skills. All right hand, no idea what to do without the ball. He struggles with confidence. He actually reminds me more of Gerald Green than any of these studs he’s compared to. He’s an erratic shooter and has no plan when attacking the rim. He will be easy to coach against with his limited game right now. Needs to find out what playing hard is. He tries hard, but I don’t see that second gear. He would scare me as your franchise’s no. 1 pick, with all the stuff that will go along with being no. 1 in this class.
Awful passer, but he doesn’t want to pass anyway. He goes one way, tries to knock everyone over. He’s so left-hand dominant it was comical. If you put him in a gym by himself, could he make a right-handed layup? He’s a good athlete but didn’t always use it. A lot of his stuff, offensively, won’t work in the NBA. It’s going to be a huge adjustment for him. A lot of his shit is going to get sent back. His shot from 15-17 feet needs a ton of work. Good luck with that! He’ll be a worker but not a big-time scorer.
He’s riding the wave, like Dion Waiters. Same agent. It’s all mystery and intrigue. He did enough at the Hoop Summit to be in the conversation. Everyone else, we have seen the film, we know the positives and the negatives. Embiid, injuries; Parker, body; Wiggins, shot. [The process] exposes the flaws. It’s all positives for Exum. We haven’t seen much, so we all think he’s great. With the other guys, we built them up pre-draft, then spent months picking them apart. Exum avoided all of this. I think he’s a high-turnover guy, and he can’t shoot. We talk about Wiggins’s shot … well, it’s better than Exum’s.
Don’t think he’ll be a star. It’s not his personality. He’s a starter but has to be your third- or fourth-best player. I like him — [I'm] not goo-goo-ga-ga over him. Work ethic is a question because he wasn’t in great shape when I saw him. How is that possible? June 26 is the biggest night of your life. He said he was hurt, which I get … but does that mean you can’t get on a bike? This is an audition. It’s not an overriding factor, but you consider it. Like him as a kid, not sure what happened at Indiana. He didn’t get a lot of minutes, and I’m not sure he wanted to leave. Too good of a kid not to figure it out.
I think he’s Shawn Marion. Here’s why I like Gordon, and it’s rare for me (my teams have always been about shooting; you need it to win). It’s simple: Gordon impacts the game without being a shooter. It’s hard to do that. He knows 100 percent what he is. Jabari Parker will take a million bad shots; Gordon already knows he can’t take them.
Every player has their positives and negatives, at this point I just want the draft to be here so we can get excited about whatever Hinkie pulled off.
30 More Hours- Can You Make it?