Draft workouts are in full swing, and we are starting to get a better idea of what kind of players teams will be targeting throughout the draft. With three weeks to go, there will still be plenty of movement as teams narrow their focus, but the top eight picks remain the same from my first mock draft.
Team needs were taken into account, but these selections are based on I who believe each team will take, as of today.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Andrew Wiggins, F, Kansas
The top prospect in this class, Wiggins has a combination of skill and athleticism that will allow him to make an immediate impact in the Cavaliers’ lineup while still having a lot of untapped potential to make him a strong pick at No. 1. The combination of Kyrie Irving and Wiggins, with a hopefully improved Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett, could give Cleveland a dominant scoring group.
2. Milwaukee Bucks – Jabari Parker, F, Duke
Ideally, Joel Embiid will be given a clean bill of health, and I would put him in this slot. However, until that happens, Parker becomes Milwaukee’s best option at No. 2. Parker will give them an instant boost in scoring, and the ability to play him inside or out should give the coaching staff plenty of lineup options.
3. Philadelphia 76ers – Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Embiid’s health will be one of the most talked about parts of this draft over the next month, and what teams are able to find out will help determine who is going to pick him. In this scenario, he falls to the 76ers and instantly gives the Sixers a dominant rim-protecting duo in Embiid and Nerlens Noel. It also gives them two very raw offensive players, though Embiid may be a bit further along.
4. Orlando Magic – Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State
The addition of Smart will not only give the Magic a much-needed point guard presence (I am a non-believer in the Victor Oladipo as a point guard campaign), but in combination with Oladipo, they will have a potentially very good defensive duo in the backcourt. Dante Exum may be the other option here, but I am not sold yet that he could be an NBA point guard, and taking him will likely keep the Oladipo experiment going. The Magic are much better off getting the point guard and defensive stopper in Smart.
5. Utah Jazz – Dante Exum, G, Australia
The lottery’s mystery man this year, Exum has good size, and he is skilled for his age. He hasn’t really faced top-level competition and many teams will be getting a real close look at him for the first time in the coming weeks. As mentioned above, I’m not sold on Exum as a point guard, but he could become a solid complement next to last year’s first round pick, Trey Burke, in the Jazz backcourt with the potential for some short stints running the point.
6. Boston Celtics – Noah Vonleh, F, Indiana
Personally, I have Julius Randle rated higher than Vonleh, but with Jared Sullinger already in the fold and coming off a good season, the longer Vonleh would make more sense with this pick, and he could play alongside Sullinger. Also, Vonleh’s ability to shoot from the perimeter would allow Sullinger to operate around the basket where he is most comfortable.
7. Los Angeles Lakers – Julius Randle, F, Kentucky
The Lakers are looking at a complete rebuild during Kobe Bryant’s final years with the team, and while a higher pick could have secured their future a bit more, Randle has the ability to make an immediate impact next season. Randle is a strong post player who is very agile for his size, and he can be a terror on both the offensive and defensive boards. He won’t give a very good defensive presence yet, but he will be a double-double threat from the get-go and a nice piece to start the Lakers rebuilding.
8. Sacramento Kings – Doug McDermott, F, Creighton
This is a stretch in terms of where I have McDermott’s value, but Sacramento would be an ideal spot for him to bring his scoring strengths. He can provide a much needed consistent perimeter shooter, which would open up space for the ever-improving DeMarcus Cousins to operate in. Concerns about McDermott’s defensive ability have been blown out of proportion, and he understands the game well enough to cover up his deficient areas.
9. Charlotte Hornets – Gary Harris, G, Michigan State
I consider Harris to be the best shooting guard prospect in this class, even though some may have concerns about his size. Harris will be able to provide some scoring and defense right away for the Hornets, but the real payoff could come long-term as he continues to hone his skills. He may force his way into the starting lineup quickly.
10. Philadelphia 76ers – Rodney Hood, G/F, Duke
Having taken Embiid at No. 3, the Sixers can look to address the need to add some athleticism and scoring on the wing. There may be a few options here, but Hood’s length and shooting ability should open up the floor well for the big men and for Michael Carter-Williams to get to the basket.
11. Denver Nuggets – Jusef Nurkic, C, Bosnia
Big-bodied with still-developing skills, Nurkic could be the Nuggets’ big man of the future. I wouldn’t expect him to come over right away, but as Denver’s offense continues to fit the mold of coach Brian Shaw, Nurkic should be ready to step in and contribute with his offensive skills in a few years.
12. Orlando Magic – Dario Saric, F, Croatia
The Magic shored up their backcourt with Marcus Smart at No. 4, and they can look to add another strong offensive weapon in the highly-skilled Saric. While it isn’t known yet whether Saric will come to the NBA right away, he could be a very good addition to the Magic’s core group of young players in the near future.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves – Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona
Kevin Love is certain to find his way out of Minnesota at some point in the next year, and while Gordon isn’t really a replacement, he will provide an extremely athletic forward who can run the floor and rebound, as well as guard multiple positions. He still has a lot of work to do on the offensive end, but he will certainly bring a little excitement to the Timberwolves.
14. Phoenix Suns – Nik Stauskas, G, Michigan
This season’s surprise NBA team, the Suns were supposed to be in rebuilding mode but fell just shy of the playoffs. Stauskas will give the team a dead-eye shooter who can also create scoring chances for himself or others off the dribble.
15. Atlanta Hawks – James Young, G, Michigan State
The Kentucky freshman is a tremendous athlete with good size and the potential to be a very good shooter. He needs time to learn the game more, but the Hawks could use his athletic ability and could get some quality minutes early from him on the wing.
16. Chicago Bulls – Tyler Ennis, G, Syracuse
Ennis will help provide stability at the point guard position for the Bulls as Derrick Rose comes back from another knee injury. This, to me, is the Bulls playing it safe, though I rate Elfrid Payton ahead of him as a point guard prospect. Coach Tom Thibodeau should be able to help Ennis build his defensive ability, and his ability to protect the ball will work well in their offense.
17. Boston Celtics – Elfrid Payton, G, Louisiana-Lafayette
Rajon Rondo’s career with the Celtics will end sooner rather than later, and Phil Pressey certainly isn’t the answer as his replacement. Payton will remind many of a young Rondo with his ability to rebound well for his size and a strong ability to get into the lane and create. He needs to work on becoming a more consistent shooter, but he will improve. Payton will also provide a strong defensive presence on the perimeter, which will make him very popular with coach Brad Stevens.
18. Phoenix Suns – T.J. Warren, F, North Carolina State
With their second of three first-round picks, the Suns can elect to add another offensive weapon in Warren, one of the NCAA’s top scorers this past season. Warren loves to find holes in the defense to get his shot and he will find plenty of them with Dragic at the point. He is also able to seek out mismatches when he has a smaller defender on him, setting up in the low or mid-post area for a quick shot.
19. Chicago Bulls – Adreian Payne, F, Michigan State
Payne will give Chicago a strong inside-outside scoring presence with very good size and underrated athletic ability. Payne showed steady improvement throughout his college career, and while his ceiling may not be much higher, he is ready to contribute from Day One for a Bulls team that needs scoring.
20. Toronto Raptors - K.J. McDaniels, F, Clemson
McDaniels is one of the more underrated players in this draft class, and he could end up being a steal for the Raptors here. He will provide a tremendous defensive presence on the wing for a team that really needs it. McDaniels is also a strong slasher and rebounder, as well as an improving shooter. I have him slotted here now, but by the draft, he could border on being a lottery pick.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Kyle Anderson, F, UCLA
Anderson is the toughest player to project in this class with his unique skill set. He has high-level vision and passing skills to go along with an improving jumper, but at 6’9, he will be playing at the forward position. What he does provide coaches with is the ability to mix and match lineups and finding him spots on the floor where he can be most effective. I ‘m not sure anyone knows who he will defend in the NBA, but his skills are tough to pass up at No. 21.
22. Memphis Grizzlies – Jerami Grant, F, Syracuse
The Grizzlies may have just a year or two left with the current core, and Zach Randolph may decline his player option for the upcoming year. Grant isn’t going to replace Randolph, but he is a high-level athlete who should help on defense and on the boards fairly quickly. If he can develop his offensive skills well, he will be a nightmare matchup for many defenders.
23. Utah Jazz – PJ Hairston, G, Texas Legends
The Jazz added some talent to their backcourt at No. 5 with Dante Exum, and now they can add some strong shooting at the wing with Hairston. He showed great scoring ability in his D-League stint last season, and he should be able to step into the rotation quickly, at least as a shooter to stretch the floor.
24. Charlotte Hornets – Glenn Robinson III, F, Michigan
The Hornets added some shooting and defense earlier with Gary Harris, and now they can look to add some more scoring potential on the wing with Robinson. He didn’t seem to take the step forward many expected this past season, but he still has a good mix of skill, athleticism and upside to make this a strong pick in the last first round.
25. Houston Rockets – Zach LaVine, G, UCLA
LaVine may be one of the most polarizing picks in this year’s draft. Some see his elite athleticism and see a huge future. Others, like me, see an AAU player who happens to be out of high school now. There’s no doubting that there is potential in LaVine, it’s just very far off. Houston has built a strong D-League team that knows how to develop players to fit the Rockets’ system. LaVine could benefit from a learning environment like that
26. Miami Heat – Jordan Adams, G, UCLA
The third player from UCLA taken in this first round, Adams is the best scorer in the group with the type of game that will allow him to get plenty of points at the NBA level. He loves to operate in the mid-range area, but he has the skill to post up smaller guards and get easy buckets. He’s improving as a long-range shooter and he can be a major part of the Heat’s backcourt down the road.
27. Phoenix Suns – Clint Capela, F, Switzerland
This is the Suns’ third first-round pick and a great place for them to take a chance on a draft-and-stash candidate with strong potential. He has very good size and athletic ability, though he needs time to continue to develop his skills and toughness for the NBA level.
28. Los Angeles Clippers – Shabazz Napier, G, Connecticut
Coming off his second national championship in four years at Connecticut, Napier could become a very good backup behind Chris Paul, but he is also experienced enough to step in immediately and give some minutes. Doc Rivers will love his toughness.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Kriztaps Porzingis, PF/C, Latvia
The Thunder will look to plan for the future a bit with their second first round pick. Long and athletic, Porzingis’ skill is developing rapidly, and he can be ready in a few years to come over and help the Thunder add some depth to their frontcourt.
30. San Antonio Spurs – Spencer Dinwiddie, G, Colorado
The Spurs can really go in many directions here, but the first idea that popped into my head was taking a chance on the injured Dinwiddie. He should be recovered from his knee injury by the start of next season, but the Spurs won’t need to rush him into action. He can give them a big guard with some point guard abilities who can get to the basket easily against smaller defenders.
31. Milwaukee – Cleanthony Early, F, Wichita State
32. Philadelphia – Bogdan Bogdanovic, G, Serbia
33. Cleveland – Mitch McGary, F, Michigan
34. Dallas – Artem Klimenko, C, Russia
35. Utah – Jarnell Stokes, F, Tennessee
36. Milwaukee – CJ Wilcox, G, Washington
37. Toronto – Jordan Clarkson, G, Missouri
38. Detroit – Deonte Burton, G, Nevada
39. Philadelphia – Jabari Brown, G, Missouri
40. Minnesota – Isaiah Austin, C, Baylor
41. Denver – Russ Smith, G, Louisville
42. Houston – Dwight Powell, F, Stanford
43. Atlanta – Patric Young, C, Florida
44. Minnesota - Cameron Bairstow, F, New Mexico
45. Charlotte – Thanasis Antetokounmpo, F, Delaware 87ers
46. Washington – Nick Johnson, G, Arizona
47. Philadelphia – DeAndre Daniels, F, Connecticut
48. Milwaukee – Roy Devyn Marble, G, Iowa
49. Chicago – Johnny O’Bryant, F, LSU
50. Phoenix – Khem Birch, F, UNLV
51. Dallas – Jahii Carson, G, Arizona State
52. Philadelphia – Damien Inglis, F, Australia
53. Minnesota – DeAndre Kane, G, Iowa State
54. Philadelphia – Markel Brown, G, Oklahoma State
55. Miami – Joe Harris, G, Virginia
56. Denver – Jordan McRae, G, Tennessee
57. Indiana – Kendall Williams, G, New Mexico
58. San Antonio – Alec Brown, C, Green Bay
59. Toronto – Jordan Bachynski, C, Arizona State
60. San Antonio – Cory Jefferson, F, Baylor