The Draft never goes as anyone expects or projects that it will. There is always some shocking pick (hello Anthony Bennett) or trade that completely changes the trajectory of the picks that follow. I thought it would be fun to try to predict a few possible surprise picks (and Non picks) that would definetly make things interesting come draft day.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers-Joel Embiid C Kansas
If the reports about Embiid's back are true then this pick is a no brainer. Cleveland was so desperate for good center play that they brought in Andrew Bynum and Spencer Hawes (no knock on my main man spencer hawes but c'mon). Anderson Verajao is getting up there and often injured so I just cant see the Cavs passing up on a talent like this that fits so well with Kyrie.
2. Milwaukee Bucks-Dante Exum PG International
Milwaukee's has some of the best international scouts in the business. Over the years this organization has shown no fear in taking a flier on an international player with upside in the first or second rounds. Dante Exum may have as much upside as any other player in this draft, including Andrew Wiggins. Such a combination of size, length, explosion, and point guard skills may be too difficult to pass up for the bucks. I could see them bypassing Jabari Parker to avoid complicating an already complicated front court situation with Larry Sanders, Ersan llyasova, John Henson, and ZaZa Pachula. I could see them rolling the dice with Giannis at the 3 and instead of forcing wiggins to the 2 turn drafting Exum to allow Brandon Knight (who had a breakout year last but is more suited for off the ball duties) to shooting guard. Not saying that will save the ship but its definately not a bad start.
3. Philadelphia 76ers- Andrew Wiggins SG/SF Kansas
Do I really need to say that much about this?
4. Orlando Magic Jabari Parker F Duke
Orlando wins big as a result of the Exum pick. Jabari Parker is the best scorer in this draft, and for a team who's go to scorer last year was Aaron Afflalo thats quite a coup. They are going to have to figure out the dynamic between Parker and Tobias Harris but thats a good problem to have if youre the Magic
5. Utah Jazz Aaron Gordon F Arizona
Utah Jazz officials have said they consider Derrick Favors to be a Center and not a power forward. I am operating under the belief that newly hired Quin Snyder will share in that assesment of Favors, and will lean towards getting him a running mate. Now, Utah could easily go Noah Vonleh or Julius Randle instead BUT the reason I pick AG here is because I compare AG to Andrei Kirilenko. I also believe strongly that Aaron can play the 3 if need be and Utah currently starts a combination of Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams, and Jeremy evens at the small forward position -_-
6. Boston Celtics Dario Saric PF/SF International
This pick is all about Rajon Rondo. If they trade Rondo then clearly this pick will be a point guard Marcus Smart or maybe Zach Lavine if you're feeling lucky (unless they get a PG back in the trade). Noah Vonleh would probably be the better pick, but I feel like the celtics need a more versatile power forward who can play small forward as well since its clearly not working out too well with Jeff Green.
7. LA Lakers Marcus Smart PG/SG Oklahoma State
Once again, Noah Vonleh may very well be the pick here with his center length and upside. Julius Randle wouldnt be a bad pick either depending on who the Lakers next coach, but the lakers are in the western conference. In the Western Conference you need a point guard to combat Russell Westbook, Tony Parker, Mike Conley, Dame Lillard, Chis Paul, Jrue Holiday (cough) etc etc. Smart would also fit well with the ultra competitive Kobe Bryant who he would be mentored by at the same time. I just think its a good fit for both parties. They'll probably still draft Vonleh though if hes there.
8. Sacramento Kings Noah Vonleh PF/C Indiana
HERE WE GO! THERE HE IS! Right next to Boogie Cousins and thats going to be DAMAGE for opposing front courts going forward. It also helps that Vonleh is already use to playing for a team full of guys who wont pass him the ball at Indiana so it wont be such an adjustment when the same thing happens on a team with boogie, rudy gay, and Isaiah Thomas. Good Luck Noah!
9. Charlotte Hornets Zach Lavine G UCLA
Im sorry, but isnt this SUCH a Charlotte pick? Besides that the scrappy Hornets need a guard that can take some responsibilities off of Kemba's shoulders while injecting some upside on a team full of guys who are solid yet unspectacular
10 Philadelphia 76ers Doug McDermott PF/SF Creighton
Not going to lie to you guys....I sat in front of this computer for like 30 minutes trying to decide between Nik Stauskas and Dougie McBuckets. Honestly, I'd be good with either one (Id be good with Adrien Payne too btw but thats neither here nor there) so I just flipped a coin and there you go. The best shooter in the draft, and arguably the best scorer in the draft as well. People are concerned about his foot speed blah blah but he showed at the combine hes not a slouch athletically, and i love the fit he would have with Thad as well at the Forward spots.
11. Denver Nuggets Juice Nurkic C International
Brian Shaw says he wants an offense where he can work from the inside out, and he currently does not have the horses up front to do so. Juice (my favorite name in this draft) may very well give him that ability to do so with a VERY nice back to the basket game for his age, and a nasty demeanor to go along with it. I compare him to Pekovic but a little more skilled offensively. Denver is pretty deep everywhere else (unless they trade the Manimal) so they could also just go best player available here, but I like Juice for what they're trying to do on offense.
12 Orlando Magic TJ Warren PF/SF North Carolina State
"They" say T.J. Warren is higher on alot of draft boards then he is on mock drafts, and I believe "them." You could argue Warren is as good a scorer as Jabar or Mcbuckets, and some would argue hes even better. His shooting percentage from 3 is kind of scary but for a team like Orlando who shoots the most 2 pointers in the league I they will really enjoy T.J's midrange game. Its a thing of beauty. (i clearly picked jabari parker first, forgot, and made this pick but scew it....not changing it now)
13. Minnesota Timberwolves Adrien Payne PF Michigan State
I dont care what Flip Saunders says...Kevin Love is GONE. The T-Wolves need a shooting guard badly because Kevin Martin just isnt a starting caliber guy anymore, but you have to start trying to find some value to put at PF when Love leaves eventually. Why not replace him with another stretch 4? Makes sense to me. Adrien Payne is the most slept on player in this draft. If he was 20 instead of 23 he'd be a top 10 pick. If he was an international player instead of a local guy he would be considered a lottery pick for sure. Hes a stretch 4 who plays D and will bite your head off. What else do you want?
14. Phoenix Suns James Young SG/SF Kentucky
James Young scares the crap out of me because he could be joe johnson....but he could also be nick young. And there can be only 1 swaggy p baby.
15. Atlanta Hawks Nik Stauskas SG Michigan
The atlanta Hawks love shooting 3's within this new system Coach Budenholzer has implemented. I cant see them passing up on one of the best shooters in this draft. Stauskas isnt just a 3 point shooter either he has almost a steph curry like repotire of step backs, off the dribble shots, and floaters that may be even more lethal with more development. The hawks could use an upgrade on the wing but my question is....whats up with john jenkins? I havent seen him since he scorched kentucky a few years ago in the sec tournament. Everybody has atlanta taking an international big but they took 2 last year so i cant see it.
16. Chicago Bulls Julius Randle PF Kentucky
Yeah, I know its a stretch he drops this far but many are predicting he does drop a bit in the draft. Could you imagine though? This guy playing for this coach. It would be like poetry. Really really mean, hardworking, and bulldozing poetry but poetry all the same. Im sure someone will pick randle before this but once you get past a few teams in the top 10 his game doesnt fit alot of teams. Do you think we would take him if he was there at 10?
17. Boston Celtics Gary Harris SG Michigan State
Avery Bradley is the answer at SG. Is he? IS he? really? Boston does need a center though so one of the international bigs could also be in play here.
18. Phoneix Suns Rodney Hood F Duke
This pick is trade bait I will bet my HOUSE the Suns arent the ones making this pick so I just went best player available.
19. Chicago Bulls PJ Hairston SG North Carolina Via D-league
PJ Hairston has had some issues, but hes a tough kid. Thibs definately puts a premium on tough kids and it just so happens this tough kid can shoot the lights out of the gym and defend as well. Sold. I kind of want to give chicago a PG. Elfrid payton would be a good fit, but the derrick rose situation is so in the air. Plus thibs is good at getting good play from after thought guys like dj augustine.
20. Toronto Raptors Tyler Ennis PG Syracuse
I'll be honest. Im from pittsburgh. Im a pittsburgh panther fan so screw Tyler Ennis.
21. Oklaholma City Thunder Kristaps Porzingas C/PF International
If we learned anything about OKC from their playoff run its that 1. They need a new coach 2. They need some type of low post scoring threat coming off that bench, and Ive heard (this is one guy I dont know much about) that Porzingas can provide that.
22. Memphis Grizzlies Glen Robinson III SF/SG Michigan
Two Words....Tayshaun Prince. You know what, more then two words because they can move Glen Robinson to shooting guard if former first round pick Jamal Franklin doesnt pan out. Either way, this team needs 3 point shooting in the worst way. Memphis has to find a way to create more space for Z-bo and Marc Gasol to operate when the defense wants to bog down and clog the paint on them. Who knows what the crazies in this front office are going to do though. Its a circus in memphis right now
23. Utah Jazz Vasilije Micic PG International
Has no one else heard all these reports coming from Utah about Trey Burke not being the guy going forward? That surprised the hell out of me, but apparently alot of jazz officials arent too high on him. This kid is a combo guard he can serve as a replacement or running mate for trey burke or alec burks if either falter/get traded. Seems like a utah pick, but they also might be picking a possible gordon heyward replacement if they decide not to resign him.
24. New Orleans Hornets Walter Tavaras C International
New Orleans needs to put a Center next to Anthony davis, and this kid is 7'3". Size rises in the draft....alot of these guys could end up going even higher then this. Tavaras is big, long, mobile, can rebound, can block, and not so offensively polished. When your PF is the brow you dont really need a big who can score though. The hornets could also use a SF and may take one here if they believe Jeff withey can make the second year jump
25. Houston Rockets Kyle Anderson PG/F UCLA
Remember when I said I bet my house phoenix doesnt make that pick earlier? Well, i bet my LIFE Houston doesnt pick at this one. Matter of fact, we might even end up with this pick. #sixers #hinkie
26. Miami Heat Jordan Adams SG UCLA
Jordan Adams is one of my favorite players in this draft. He can flat out score, he can defend, hes not the best athlete but hes a basketball player. I call him diet James Harden and i want him to be a sixer. The Miami Heat have Dwayne Wade and Ray Allen Currently at SG. Its time......
27. Phoenix Suns PF/C Clint Capela
28. LA Clippers C/PF Mitch McGary Michigan
The clippers dont have ANYBODY backing up Blake and DJ besides Big baby davis, yuck.
29. Oklaholma City Thunder KJ McDaniels SG/SF Clemson
OKC need more perimeter defense but they could go a variety of different ways with this pick. Cleanthony Early maybe to backup KD. Another PG to eventually replace the blossoming reggie jackson? A international guy to stash overseas while they see where there current roster ends up? Its always interesting to see what okc does with their picks.
30. San Antonio Spurs Damien Inglis PF/SF International
International Stretch 4 with athleticism and upside? Yes, Because they're the Spurs