Here is my second annual NBA Draft Preview. This is my list of the first round and how I think it might go. Without further adieu, here we go with the preview…
The Cavaliers have the top pick again in this year’s draft and I originally had Joel Embiid going here at the first overall pick,but with his foot injury, I have Andrew Wiggins going here. Wiggins scored 17.1 points per game at Kansas and was part of a great line-up with Embiid. In addition to being a great scorer, his defensive prowess has also been praised. The Cavs will definitely feel happy with selecting Wiggins here and he may be a building block for this team to get back to the postseason for the first time in five seasons.
Though the Bucks already have talent at small forward, Jabari Parker is hard to pass up.The Duke star averaged 19.1 points per game in his one and only season there. Though he is known as an all-around scorer, he managed to average 8.7 rebounds per game as well. Parker has the potential to be a 20-point per game scorer in the NBA and the Bucks could sure use a guy who can score at will like Parker.
The 76ers need talent at just about every position except for point guard and a guy like Noah Vonleh is too hard to pass up. I don’t see them taking Joel Embiid because with trading for Nerlens Noel, who has yet to play an NBA game, and the Andrew Bynum debacle a couple of years ago, this team wants healthy talent. The Indiana star measures at 6-10, 250 lbs. with terrific rebounding ability and around the basket he has a great touch. He does need to work on being passive at times, but the kid has a lot of great potential and Sixers fans will enjoy his game.
The Magic should add a point guard who can get to the basket, and Dante Exum from Australia is that guy. Teaming him up with rising star Victor Oladipo would be exciting for Magic fans. The 19-year-old possesses great skill at slashing through the lane,but his three-point shooting is spotty and some question if he is a true point guard, but he has been compared to Michael Carter-Williams and he won the Rookie of the Year award this season. The Exum pick makes sense to a lot of mock drafts, mine included!
The Jazz have size in the frontcourt with Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors, but I think they will add more of it with Julius Randle. Randle’s a very physical and aggresive player who is a great rebounder. He also handles the ball well for a guy his size at 6-9,250 lbs. Some are comparing him to a David Lee or Zach Randolph. I think the Jazz will select Randle if Noah Vonleh is not there at the fifth spot.
6. Boston- Joel Embiid, C Kansas
Despite a recent foot injury, Embiid is a great talent who has a lot of upside. He’s a great defender and has great size a 7-feet, 250 lbs. In his lone year at Kansas, Embiid averaged 19.4 points per game, as well as 14 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per contest. When you’re being compared to guys like Hakeem Olajuwon and Tim Duncan, you’re definitely a guy who should be a high lottery pick. I think the Celtics will enjoy having this guy on their team once he gets healthy. I wouldn’t be surprised if he slips even further than this spot in the draft,though.
Many are saying the Lakers should get frontcourt help, but I think their backcourt should be a bigger concern as well as drafting a player who can take over when Kobe Bryant retires. I think Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State can and will be that guy. Smart’s a high character guy who has a passion to win. He’s a true point guard, but is able to be a two-guard if you need him to be. He doesn’t have a strong outside shot and he can be a bit of a flopper, but when you’re compared to guys like Tyreke Evans and Dwyane Wade, you’re a can’t miss prospect. I think the Lakers would be better off with a guy like Smart on their team.
The Kings are really in a position to add talent to their roster and a guy I think will really help this team is Arizona’s Aaron Gordon. Gordon’s a very unselfish player who also attacks the rebounds and an exceptional defender. His outside shooting is a little lackluster,but he is an exciting talent who can play the power forward or small forward position. He’s been compared to guys like Shawn Marion and Kenneth Faried (and I like Faried a lot). I think he will make the Kings an exciting team and would be a steal at this pick.
The newly renamed Hornets are looking to add players to their roster following their playoff run and why not add a guy who can shoot the ball well? McDermott is a solid three-point shooter and despite lacking a lot of athleticism, but he has such a strong basketball IQ. The Hornets need a guy who can shoot the ball and score when they need it. They already have a good line-up with Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson and McDermott will be a guy ready to contribute.
The Sixers have two picks in this first round courtesy of the Pelicans. I think at this pick they will go for a shooting guard and there are several to choose from at this point of the first round,but I think in the end they go with Gary Harris from Michigan State. He is a bit undersized for an NBA shooting guard at 6-4, but he is a great all-around shooter who I think will have a really good NBA career.
The Nuggets will likely select the best player available at ths pick and that guy is Dario Saric. The Croatian forward at 6-10 can stretch defenses with his outside shooting and has terrific court vision. He may not come to the league right away,though, so if Denver does draft him, they may have to wait for him. Sometimes players like Saric are worth the wait.
Though he is probably going to go later on in the mid-first round, Orlando does need to add some depth to their frountcourt and Michigan State’s Adreian Payne provides that. Very versatile at 6-10,245 lbs., Payne can play both inside and outside and is agreesive when it comes to getting offensive rebounds. This guy can be the next Robert Horry ( sorry for bringing that name up, Kings fans) and he won seven NBA rings in his career. He would be a steal for the Magic at this pick and I think they would absolutely pull the trigger to get Payne.
The Timberwolves can use a sharp-shooter like this guy, Michigan’s Nik Stauskas. His draft stock has risen a little in recent weeks, some have him going as high as the ninth pick,but I think he falls perfectly at 13 to Minnesota. Not only is a great three-point shooter but is also great at the free throw line (Make your free throws,kids!). Kevin Love may be on the move and he can shoot, if so, Stauskas can be a reliable guy when it comes to getting shots to fall.
The Suns are looking to add talent for a possible playoff run and I think a player that would suit them is Duke’s Rodney Hood. Hood reminds me of guys like Rudy Gay and Shane Battier. He can not only shoot the ball, but can grab the rebounds when he needs to and has to. He does have a slight frame, but he has time to develop a bigger NBA body. I think Suns fans will really like this guy on their team.
Kyle Anderson is really a point guard inside the body of a small forward. Still, at 6-9, Anderson is very talented and can rebound the ball. At UCLA, he averaged 8.6 rebounds per game and has a wingspan of 7-2. His athleticism has been questioned and some feel he may not transition well to the next level,but I think the Hawks will love having him on their team and hope to be more talented should they make another playoff run.
I originally had Young going in the first 10 picks, but the things is that while Young is good at many things, he isn’t great…yet. He is,however, a sharp shooter who can beat you in many ways and finds ways to score. I think he would be a great pick for the Bulls who at this point should add some talent to their roster.
The Celtics have two picks in this first round and I think adding some depth at guard would be a wise choice here. LaVine is a guard who can play either the point or the two-guard. He is 6-6, but only 180 lbs. But I don’t think the Celtics will let that prevent them from taking this kid. He can score from long distance and is great in transition. If he works on his toughness, he could be the next Russell Westbrook.
I like Cleathony Early, I think he is going to be a pretty good NBA player and for a Suns team who can only get better from here, he will be a great fit. Though he is older than most of the guys coming out at age 23, he is very talented and young enough to still have a nice career in this league. A key part of the success of the Shockers of Wichita State, Early averaged 16 points per game and helped guide his team to the Final Four in 2013. He has great three-point shooting range and is explosive at the rim and the Suns would love to have him on their team,in my opinion.
The Bulls have two picks in this first round and since their franchise player is made of glass, they need some insurance at point guard. Enter Shabazz Napier. The Connecticut senior is a guy who steps up against big time players. He has great three-point range and shoots well from the free-throw line. The main thing is that should Derrick Rose go down (again), Napier can step in and fill the void.
The Raptors could use a point guard should Kyle Lowry leave. Payton is a very tall point guard at 6-3 and a very good defender. He also has a great pull-up jumper, but needs to work on his consistency. I think Toronto will like having a guy like Payton on their team and will work on adding talent to a roster that made the playoffs last season. He’s been compared to Devin Harris and Rajon Rondo and those guys are pretty good.
The son of former NBA player Glenn Robinson, Robinson III is a very explosive player with great athleticism. He does,however, have a weak outside shot and does need to be more aggresive at the basket, but if he shows flashes of his 2013 season, I think he will be just fine.
With aging veterans Tayshaun Prince and Mike Miller on the roster, it’s time for the Grizzlies to get younger on the wing and I think T.J. Warren would serve well in that role. Warren has great touch around the basket and can post up smaller defenders. He does lack a good three-point shot and isn’t a very explosive for an NBA player, but I think he can serve as a nice roleplayer which is what Memphis truly needs.
23. Utah- Jordan Clarkson, PG Missouri
The Jazz need to add some depth to their backcourt and I think the junior from Missouri,Jordan Clarkson, can do just that. He has great NBA size and can play either the point or the two guard. He can create his own shot when he needs to and has to, but his outside shot needs some work. He has the range to be a great three-point shooter,but it’s inconsistent. Overall, I think Utah will love having this kid on their roster.
24. Charlotte- Jordan Adams, SG UCLA
The Hornets need some backcourt depth and I think Jordan Adams of UCLA fits that need. Some mock drafts have him going anywhere from the late first round the nearly the mid second, but I think he lands nicely at the 24th spot. Adams has the ability to score at will, but is not as explosive as maybe some of the guards slated to go early in the first round. One thing he can do well is get rebounds for you in the open court. I think Charlotte would do itself many favors by getting Adams.
The Rockets just need to get some depth on the bench anyway they can and I think getting a guard like C.J. Wilcox will be beneficial. He is very lethal behind the arc and has been known to be a playmaker. It makes me wonder if he will even be here by the time Houston picks,but if he is,look for them to take him.
The Heat had many things going for them this year,but where they came up short was their lack of depth on the bench. Perhaps that changes with Jerami Grant. The Syracuse star is a little undersized at 6-8,210 lbs.,but over time can develop an ideal NBA body. He is a very active defender and fierce rebounder,but needs to work on his outside shot. Miami needs talent any which way they can get it for their bench and Grant definitely can provide that.
27. Phoenix- Clint Capela, C Switzerland
The Suns have three first round picks and I think they’ll select Capela and kind of leave him overseas until they think he is ready to play for them. The Swiss big man has a lot of upside, but at times he appears lost. He needs to work on being more aggresive and if he can,I think it’s a pick well spent for the Suns.
I think the Clippers need some more frontcourt depth since outside of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jodran,there isn’t much to work with. That’s where McGary comes in. The 6-10 sophomore is a lot like a Tyler Hansbrough and he really reminds me of him,too. He is surprisingly quick for his size,runs the floor well,and is nasty when it comes to shot blocking. He has had back issues and the big question is whether or not he can overcome those issues and be the player that Los Angeles needs him to be. We’ll see.
I originally had McDaniels as the Thunder’s first pick,but the reason he slips to the 29th pick is because he is a bit of a project. He’s very good on the defensive end,but his outside shot needs a lot of work and he settles too much for jumpers. However, he is essentially a bonus pick for Oklahoma City and a good place for him to land.
30. San Antonio- Tyler Ennis, PG Syracuse
The reigning champions should get some insurance for when and if Tony Parker gets hurt again. Tyler Ennis is the guy that falls to them at the 30th pick. Sure, they should probably get some frontcourt help here at this pick as well, but Ennis is too hard to pass up should he fall to the Spurs. He’s been compared to Mike Conley, Jr. and Jrue Holiday and a great floor leader. He’s not prone to turnovers and is great with the pick-and-roll. I think he’ll be a steal for San Antonio.