By Hassan Cordova
#1 Cleveland Cavaliers: Joel Embiid
He’s the clear cut #1 pick for this franchise…….if healthy. An athletic big man who’s a great shot blocker, has great foot work, and has yet to reach his true potential. Did I mention He’s only been playing basketball for 4 years? If any red flags show up the Cavs may look at Embiid’s college teammate Andrew Wiggins. This is also the Cavs we’re talking about, they just may pick Wiggins with it being likely that SF Luol Deng leaves in free agency. They may also get creative and move last year’s #1 pick Anthony Bennett to the PF spot, while letting Tristan Thompson go in free agency after this season. But for now the pick is Embiid, who with Kyrie Irving will be a cornerstone for this franchise, or may even help lure someone away from Miami this off season….
#2 Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins
One of the most hyped players in recent memory, Andrew Wiggins, would give the Bucks a franchise player for many years to come. An absolute athletic freak, who’s deadliest in the running game, would step into the bucks starting lineup immediately and help out not only on offense, but most definitely on defense as well. His inconsistencies at the beginning of the season had many scouts questioning his motor and passion for the game. But, he shut most of them up with a strong second half to his season.
#3 Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker
The most ready-now prospect in this year’s draft class, Jabari Parker will fill many roles for the 76ers, and will contribute right away. He’ll add immediate scoring to help a team with very few weapons. His defense is a huge concern right now, as well as who he’ll be able to guard in the NBA. The likely NBA rookie of the year will team up with Point guard Michael Carter Williams and big man Nerlens Noel to form a promising young core.
#4 Orlando Magic: Dante Exum
The biggest mystery in this year’s draft, 18 year old Dante Exum, should be suiting up for Indiana next year, but opted to enter the NBA draft. This Penny Hardaway clone will give the Magic the option of cancelling the Victor Oladipo point guard experiment and move him to his natural 2 spot. Is Exum a true point guard? No one knows for sure, but his versatility and size will allow him to play both guard positions. Look for Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart here if the Magic aren’t completely sold on this year’s mystery man..
#5 Utah Jazz: Julius Randle
This would be a great add for the Jazz. Randle teaming up with Favors and Kanter would give the Jazz a lot of front court depth. Randle’s combination of speed and power would add a player they haven’t had since the days of Karl Malone. He’s a bully in the post, who can rebound and score in bunches. His defense is a big concern, as scouts don’t know who he can guard in the NBA. He needs a lot of work on his face up game and jump shot. Could form a deadly duo with Favors if the Jazz let Kanter leave after this season. Look for Indiana’s Noah Vonleh or Arizona’s Aaron Gordon here if the Jazz don’t go with Randle.
#6 Boston Celtics: Noah Vonleh
The potential #1 overall pick next year, decided to enter this year’s draft and adds much needed size to a small Celtics front court. Vonleh’s overall skill set, along with his size and length, will be a huge asset for the Celtics. His shot blocking ability and rebounding will allow him to play alongside Jared Sullinger or Jeff Green. As his face up game continues to develop look to him become a Chris Bosh clone and an all star for many years to come.
#7 Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart
With this pick the Lakers have their point guard of the future, when Steve Nash retires after this season. Smart is a unique player who can play both guard spots, but will be called upon the man the point with Kobe back healthy. A true competitor with great size for his position he’ll fit right in with the Lakers. His shooting is a bit of a concern, as well as some red flags from his sophomore season. His work ethic and skill set will make the Lakers over look any deficiency’s he may possess. The Lakers could give a look at Arizona’s Aaron Grodon here.
#8 Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon
Assuming the Kings don’t trade their pick, Arizona’s Aaron Gordon is the pick. They desperately need some defensive help, and Gordon was one of the top defensive players in the country last year. With some continued development on his jump shot and face up game, he’ll be a good fit to play alongside Demarcus Cousins. With Gordon the Kings will have arguably the most athletic team in the NBA. As stated before the pick may be dealt, or they may go with Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis, with point guard Isiah Thomas’s future in doubt.
#9 Charlotte Hornet’s: Nik Stauskas
This Michigan Wolverine adds much needed shooting to an already formidable defensive group. While Gilchrist and Henderson are good wing players, neither are 3 point threats nor catch and shoot players. He may struggle on the defensive side against quicker wing players, but will have McRoberts and Biyombo protecting the rim. May end up being one of the premiere shooters in the league in the near future.
#10 Philadelphia 76ers: Gary Harris
The 76ers desperately address a need at shooting guard by Adding Harris. A very athletic and quick guard with a good shooting stroke, will replace the fading skills of Jason Richardson. Harris is a solid defender, but there are some question marks regarding his size, and if he’ll be able to guard NBA shooting guards. Playing alongside Michael Carter Williams and the shot blocking presence of Nerlens Noel should quiet any fears some may have.
#11 Denver Nuggets: Zach Lavine
Zach Lavine will bring a lot of versatility to a thin back court. This athletic freak will be a great fit as he can play both guard spots and really get down the court. The only serious question is if he’s an actual point guard or will the Nuggets play him strictly at shooting guard. With Nate Robinson not a lock to return look for Lavine to see a lot of time at both guard spots. Will need to get stronger and work on his jump shot, but I feel his game is better suited for the NBA
#12 Orlando Magic: James Young
With their second lottery pick the Magic add would one of the country’s top shooter. Young is an under rated athlete who should mesh well with this young team. His ball handling and shot creation will need some help, as well as getting quicker to guard NBA guards and Small forwards.
#13 Minnesota Timberwolves: Dario Saric
All star power forward Kevin Love is all but gone from Minnesota, and while Saric may not step right into his role, he has the tools to be a top forward in the western conference. Armed with a great basketball IQ and the ability to create shots for others he’ll add some much needed play making ability. He doesn’t have great athleticism and his speed may worry some, but this face up power forward’s length should help him out.
#14 Phoenix Suns: Rodney Hood
Hood brings instant scoring and a quick trigger to a team that desperately needs it. He has a good first and has the ability to be a catch and shoot type player. Not a good rebounder and needs to get stronger to help him guard NBA small forwards and to finish at the rim. Has really good athleticism which will help out a lot, but still settles for too many jump shots.
#15 Atlanta Hawks: Adreian Payne
The Hawks add a stretch 4 with 3 point range and some serious size and athleticism to the front court. Will get immediate minutes behind Millsap and Horford. The only knock on Payne is that he’s 23, which takes him out of the lottery. An above average athlete, who has improved every year since being at Michigan State isn’t a great shot blocker or rebounder, but that should improve practicing with all star big men Horford and Millsap
#16 Chicago Bulls: Tyler Ennis
Ennis could sneak into the lottery with strong workouts, but he’s a steal for the Bulls at 16. With all of Derrick Rose’s injuries the past couple of years it’s always nice to have a point guard with a high basketball IQ on your roster. While Ennis doesn’t have the physical tools, speed, and athleticism of Rose, he’s a smart player who gets to the lane and can make plays for his teammates.
#17 Boston Celtics: PJ Hairston
An enigma in the draft because of his dismissal from the UNC squad this year then joining the NBA’s D league, PJ Hairston could be the steal of the draft. A lot of red flags drop Hairston to this position, but with his shooting ability and athleticism he could be an immediate contributor for the Celtics.
#18 Phoenix Suns: Kyle Anderson
Anderson possesses a rare combination of size and play making ability. He has an uncanny ability to set up his teammates. After making huge improvements from his freshman year to his sophomore year, this point forward should be able to help a team out. His nickname is “Slo-mo” due to his lack of foot speed and lack of athleticism. Needs to continue to improve his shooting and his ability to create his own shot.
#19 Chicago Bulls: TJ Warren
The ACC player of the year is a scoring machine, who should fit right in with the Chicago Bulls. He has a good shot and should fill the small forward role once Mike Dunleavy leaves. Warren doesn’t have great athleticism and his defense is something that needs to improve. Once he extends his range he should be a key asset for the Bulls.
#20 Toronto Raptors: Elfrid Payton
With current point guard Kyle Lowry’s future in doubt, the Raptors go with mid major super star Elfrid Payton. Blessed with great length, athleticism, and speed, Payton should have no trouble making the transition to the NBA game. He should be an above average defender in the NBA, he just needs to get stronger.
#21 Oklahoma City Thunder: Glenn Robinson III
Robinson is a very athletic player who likes to play above the rim and has a high motor. He has an NBA body and isn’t afraid to mix it up. While he isn’t a poor shooter, he’s not a great shooter, and tends to disappear at times on offense to due his passiveness. With some improvements in his jump shot and ball handling, Robinson has the opportunity to learn from one of the top players in the NBA, Kevin Durant.
#22 Memphis Grizzlies: Doug McDermott
College basketball’s player of the year falls down to a team who can use his outside shooting and scoring. With Tayshaun Prince and Mike Miller at the end of their contracts, the Grizzlies have a glaring hole at their small forward position. McDermott isn’t very athletic or quick, but has a high basketball IQ and knows how to score and get open.
#23 Utah Jazz: Jusuf Nurkic
This 19 year old big man uses his strength and length to score down low and to rebound. He still is a project who’s continuing to learn the game, but should be able to contribute. With Jazz center Enes Kanter’s future in Utah in doubt after this season, Nurkic may be asked to play sooner rather than later. He isn’t very athletic or explosive, and guarding big men who can play out of the post may pose some problems
#24 Charlotte Bobcats: Jerami Grant
The Bobcats add more defensive help to an already strong defensive unit. Grant should have no problem coming in and guarding NBA small forwards. He’s an athletic forward, who needs to gain some weight, and continue to work on his jump shot. The Bobcats won’t lose much when starting small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist heads to the bench for a rest.
#25 Houston Rockets: CJ Wilcox
A very good outside shooter, who can fill it up from deep. One of the top shooters in this year’s draft, Wilcox can help stretch the floor for a team with a lot of weapons. Not great at creating his own, but won’t be asked to with James Harden, but has good size and athleticism. His defense is questionable, but has good enough size that will allow him to guard NBA shooting guards.
#26 Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier
The hero of the NCAA tournament, Napier should be a good insurance policy if Mario Chalmers leaves Miami in free agency. A true leader and competitor, with ridiculous quickness, should fit right in running the fast break with James & Wade. His size and lack of athleticism, may hinder his ability to guard bigger point guards. He is a fearless player, who can create his own shot.
#27 Phoenix Suns: Jordan Adams
This Bruin shooting guard originally declared he was staying in school, only to declare for the a week later. Made huge improvements his sophomore season, as his shooting and scoring ability were shown off all season. A solid defender who can put the ball in the whole should take some pressure off Suns point guards Bledsoe and Dragic. Not a great athlete, so will have to work on scoring over bigger guards.
#28 Los Angeles Clippers: Mitch McGary
A probable lottery pick last year, McGary opted to stay in school for his sophomore year. A bad back injury kept him out of action the second half of the season, and a failed drug test forced him to enter the NBA draft, even though he won’t be able to work out for NBA teams. The Clippers make this pick to add to a thin front court, with a player who has a lot of potential. Not a great athlete, but has a good basketball IQ and great size. Plays hard and has the ability to be a good rebounder and scorer around the basket. Will most likely not play a lot next season due his back injury and conditioning issues.
#29 Oklahoma City Thunder: Semaj Christon
This John Wall clone will add some point guard depth for the Thunder, in the case that Derek Fisher retires and Reggie Jackson leaves in free agency. Semaj possesses great speed and quickness for a guard his size, and his length allows him to be a really good on ball defender. He desperately needs to work on his shot, as his mechanics are awful.
#30 San Antonio Spurs: Cleanthony Early
A versatile combo forward with the ability to shoot from the outside, is just the kind of player the Spurs covet. Plays with a lot of energy and has good athleticism. He’s a bit too small to play power forward, but has the ability to guard both forward spots.