Version 2.0 by John Schrank (@jpschrank)
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas, 7’0, Fr.
I believe we’re down to a clear cut top 3 with Embiid, Parker, and Wiggins. All three have great potential in the NBA, but still have their flaws as well. I think that by the time draft day comes scouts and GM’s are going to be enamored by Embiids athleticism, size, and footwork. By then his foot and back issues may be fully healed and a thing in the past. He probably has the highest celing of any prospect and we’ve seen this scene in the past where highly regarded wingmen are passed over for big men.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas, 6’8, Fr.
Andrew Wiggins could easily be the number 1 player taken in the draft but some people only see him as a defensive specialist and spectacular athlete that needs to work on their shooting and consistency. He’s my number 1 player on the board with his potential on the wing. With Embiid out we saw some glimpses of some star talent scoring 41 & 30 points in back to back games.
3. Orlando Magic: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke, 6’8, Fr.
Jabari Parker has had the best regular season of all the top prospects, and many GM’s view him as the most NBA ready right now. Parker didn’t have a great tournament showing and has recently been looked at as someone a little bit slower athletically and not a good defender.
4. Utah Jazz: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky, 6’9, Fr.
The safest prospect in this entire draft is Julius Randle. He’s going to rebound well and has good strength and power for his size. The only thing he’s really missing is the franchise changing potential the other three ahead of him have, but that unexpected tournament run really boosted his stock and locked him as a top 5 pick.
5. Boston Celtics: Dante Exum, SG, Australia, 6’6
Exum is one of the big question marks in this draft. We know he has talent, size, and athleticism at his position. We don’t know well it will translate due to the low level of competition he has faced internationally. There is certainly a chance he can rise up to number 3 or 4 if he performs well in all the pre-draft workouts. The versatility in possibly being able to play both PG and SG is going to be very intriguing for teams. Especially now that were seeing more teams employ more two PG rotations and sets.
6. Los Angeles Lakers: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona, 6’9, Fr.
Outside of Shabaz Napier and the Kentucky boys, nobody has lifted their stock as much as Aaron Gordon has with his tournament play. He reminds me of a mix of Blake Griffin and Kenneth Faried, a player with freakish athleticism and a non-stop motor. Shooting, particularly at the FT line will shy some people away, along with his size being a “tweener”. I still think potential is too high and LA needs to try and find a star desperately.
7. Sacramento Kings: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana, 6’10, Fr.
Indiana didn’t make the NCAA tournament so a lot of people don’t know much about this guy. He’s a terrific athlete and the ideal stretch 4 in the NBA. He is still incredibly raw down low in both ends but the potential is there. A little bit of a project here, but could be a good compliment to DeMarcus Cousins.
8. Detroit Pistons: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma St., 6’4, So.
Detroit Pistons need a “bad boy” and get their reputation back from the late 80’s. All jokes aside Marcus Smart does have a lot of talent. He possibly could go higher but he hasn’t really done anything to help his stock between underperforming this year as an individual and with his team. The suspension didn’t help his case either.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Rodney Hood, SF, Duke, 6’8, So.
Similar to Jabari, Hood’s performance in the tournament isn’t going to help him. He does have potential though and showed some signs of a great player. The Cavs have been looking to for a SF since LeBron has left, and there’s been no indication that Deng will be staying.
10. Philadelphia 76ers(acquired via Pelicans): Gary Harris, SG, Michigan St., 6’4, So.
Gary Harris should have come out last year where he could have been one of the top players taken; instead he falls to the back end of the lottery. The 76ers get their shooting guard who can score in various ways to go along with Carter-Williams who has his own issues shooting the ball.
11. Denver Nuggets (acquired via Knicks): Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia, 6’10
Saric can possibly be a Point Forward in the league, having the ability to dribble, being a former point guard. He’s also the number one European prospect that scouts have watched last couple years.
12. Orlando Magic(acquired via Nuggets): Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse, 6’2, Fr.
Tyler Ennis is not afraid to attack the rim and draw contact. NBA scouts are going to love that about him along with his ability to lead already as a freshmen and make clutch shots. Some team is going to fall in love with Ennis making him a lottery pick. Size and athleticism could cause him to slip a bit in the end.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: James Young, SG/SF, Kentucky, 6’6, Fr.
Everyone got a first hand look at James Young’s athleticism in the National Championship with that dunk over UCONN’s big men. He also possesses great size for a shooting guard and a great looking jump shot. Timberwolves could really use some athleticism and scoring to add to their offense.
14. Phoenix Suns: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan, 6’6, So.
Three point shooting is as highly regarded as ever and this guy can stroke it. He also showed in the tournament that he can put the ball on the floor a bit and run the pick and roll which helps nudge him into the lottery.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton, 6’8, Sr.
The senior McDermott has had a tremendous season and is one of the better scorers in the draft. At worst he will be a good outside shooter and reminds me of a Ryan Anderson type player where teams can go small and put him at the 4. Athleticism and defense will be an issue but the guy is a proven scorer, ranking 5th all time in NCAA history. We know the Hawks love to shoot the 3.
16. Chicago Bulls(acquired via Bobcats): Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan St., 6’10, Sr.
Boy do the Bulls need offense desperately. Adreian Payne has become one of the most polarizing NCAA athletes this season with his relationship with the girl who passed away, and also his play in the NCAA tournament. Let’s also not forget the athleticism he showed in the dunk contest. As a stretch four the Bulls could really use his offensive abilities.
17. Boston Celtics(acquired via Nets): Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA, 6’9, So.
The Celtics are in a rebuild mode and need another guy that can handle the ball. They take Kyle Anderson who at 6’9 has plenty of potential to become a dynamic SF in the league because of his ball-handling ability. Some have compared him to Andre Iguodala because of his playmaking ability.
18. Phoenix Suns(acquired via Wizards): TJ Warren, SF, N.C. State, 6’8, So.
TJ Warren is a terrific athlete who showed his scoring ability carrying N.C. State through the first couple rounds of the tournament. The Suns are looking for athleticism and offense to work into there fast pace system.
19. Chicago Bulls: Shabazz Napier, PG, UCONN, 6’0, Sr.
Shabazz Napier could go earlier after he carried and lead a 9-seeded UCONN team to a National Championship game. Some have concerns over his size but he has no question marks in terms of the intangibles. He also showed the ability to create his own shot and generate his own offense will help his stock out as well. All it takes is one team to love him and he can be a lottery pick.
20. Toronto Raptors: Cleanthony Early, PF, Wichita State, 6’8, Sr.
Cleanthony Early is a high energy type player that can space the floor. His season with Wichita boosted him into the 1st round. There are still some questions on whether he can play the PF, but the Raptors could use a player like him.
21. Oklahoma City(acquired via Mavericks): Zach LaVine, SG/PG, UCLA, 6’5, Fr.
OKC like always goes best player available and that is Zach LaVine. LaVine is incredibly raw but reminds some of Russell Westbrook with his explosiveness.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Clint Capela, PF, France, 6’10
The international guys are starting to take over and sometimes when theirs no tape on you it’s hard to be critiqued and you end up going earlier than you should. That’s what happens here. Capela is very raw and a major work in progress but has all the starting tools to be a good PF in this league. At this point in the draft it’s ok to take some risk, Capela may be playing overseas for another year or two.
23. Utah Jazz(acquired via Warriors): Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse, 6’8, Jr.
Jerami Grant is an already willing defender with great size and strength. He’ll be able to come in right away and help out the Jazz defensively.
24. Charlotte Bobcats(acquired via Trail Blazers): DeAndre Daniels, SF, UCONN, 6’9, Jr.
The Bobcats love drafting champions. We’ve seen it with both regimes. The Bobcats take DeAndre Daniels from UCONN here. He also helps them with his three point shooting ability that the team currently lacks.
25. Houston Rockets: Jordan Clarkson, G, Missouri, 6’5, Jr.
The Rockets are eventually going to need a point guard that can score the basketball to fit with their offense. Jordan Clarkson has size and he can score the ball. Missouri’s season was somewhat of a disaster, hopefully this doesn’t hurt his draft stock too much.
26. Miami Heat: Semaj Christon, PG, Xavier, 6’3, So.
Christon’s shot has much to be desired for, but his quickness and perimeter defense is already excellent. The Heat will need another PG once they let Chalmers walk this offseason. Christon should be able to help the Heat do what they do best, run and play defense.
27. Phoenix Suns(acquired via Pacers): Vasilije Micic, PG, Serbia, 6’5
Micic may be the best passer in the entire draft, but is a little bit slow and reminds some people of Ricky Rubio. He could be a good distributor on their bench unit, while the Suns space the floor with their 3 point shooters.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette, 6’3
Payton is a very similar player to Semaj Christon except played against worse completion and for a smaller school. Payton is also a very rangy defender and great athlete.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Glenn Robinson, SF, Michigan, 6’6
Robinson should have came out in last year’s draft and been a potential lottery pick. This season was very disappointing for him, but some still think he has a lot of talent waiting to be unleashed. Hopefully Durant and company can get the most out of him.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Bogdan Bogdanovic G/F, Serbia, 6’6
The Spurs add another international player to their team with Bogdanovic. He could definitely end up being stashed until next year but he shows great ball handling ability where he could possibly play 3 different positions in the NBA. There is a lot of potential here at the back end of the first round.