The NBA playoffs are in full swing, but for about half the fan bases in the NBA, the focal point is on the NBA draft. Some of the top-tier players have already committed to entering the draft like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embid and Julius Randle.
Does this class have the potential to be like the 2003 class that featured LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade? We shall see. But there are more than a few intriguing names that will be immediate impacts at the next level.
The following order is composed of the odds to win the draft lottery, the actual order will be finalized in three weeks on May 20th.
Without further ado, Sportsnaut’s first NBA Mock Draft.
1. Milwaukee Bucks
Joel Embid, Center, Kansas
The Bucks have a tough choice to make between the big three of Embid, Parker, and Wiggins. But, Milwaukee believes swingman Giannis Antetokounmpo can turn into a star small forward. Pairing him with Embid will give the Bucks a bright future that starts right away.
2. Philadelphia 76ers
Andrew Wiggins, Forward, Kansas
The Sixers were the worst team in the NBA during the last two months, and may have been the worst team we have ever seen for a stretch of a few weeks. The Sixers need a superstar, and no one has more potential than Wiggins. While he might not be as good as Parker right now, he can develop into one of the better players in the NBA if his tools are developed properly. Pairing Wiggins with Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams is the best possible scenario for Philadelphia.
3. Orlando Magic
Jabari Parker, Forward, Duke
Some have said that Jabari Parker could be the next Carmelo Anthony. That’s good enough for the Magic to pair with Victor Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic for the next 10 years. The three of them could be the most fundamentally sound trio in the Eastern Conference, but can Parker be a true superstar?
4. Utah Jazz
Marcus Smart, Guard, Oklahoma State
The Jazz already have a good core of Enes Kanter, Gordon Heyward, Derrick Favors and last year’s first-round pick in Trey Burke. Adding Smart would finish the Jazz’ starting lineup for Utah, and a pairing of Smart and Burke in the backcourt will be one of the most dangerous duos for years to come. Expect the Jazz to compete in a year or two with such a young core.
5. Boston Celtics
Dante Exum, Guard, Australia
While Exum may not be an immediate star, he boasts on of the highest ceilings in the draft. If the Celtics do want to move on from Rajon Rondo, Exum can man the point immediately. If not, Exum and Rondo would produce well together, as Exum is more of a scorer.
6. Los Angeles Lakers
Julius Randle, Forward, Kentucky
Lakers fans do not want the front office to mess this up, and the front office doesn’t want to miss on this pick. The Lakers go with the safest player in the draft in Julius Randle. Randle may not have the star power as some of the other players in the draft, but he can be an immediate double-double guy and give the Lakers some much needed presence under the rim.
7. Sacramento Kings
Noah Vonleh, Forward, Indiana
The Kings have one of the best centers in the NBA in DeMarcus Cousins and a very good young point guard in Isaiah Thomas. Pairing those two with the possible re-signing of Rudy Gay who is a star when he wants to be and the Kings only have one more need, another scoring presence under the basket. Vonleh can provide that, and he and Cousins would be as dominant as any front court in the NBA.
8. Detroit Pistons
Nik Stauskas, Guard, Michigan
The Pistons need someone who can put the ball in the hoop. It sounds like a cliché, but the Pistons just cannot score the basketball. Their front court is as good as can be with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, and they have a good small forward who can do a bit of everything in Jose Smith. Adding Nik Stauskas to that mix gives the Pistons a more complete starting lineup.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers
Doug McDermott, Guard/Forward, Creighton
This may not be a popular pick for the Cavaliers, but with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiting being the only real scorers on the Cavaliers’ roster, Cleveland needs a pure scorer. Doug “McBuckets” can do just that and will be able to contribute 15 points per game right away if given the opportunity. He is not a great defender, but his ability to play three positions on the floor gives him value for the Cavs.
10. Philadelphia 76ers
Gary Harris, Guard, Michigan State
The Sixers added Andrew Wiggins to complete their “star-studded” starting lineup with Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel. But they need as much talent as they can get. Adding Gary Harris at shooting guard will give them four starters with one or less years of experience. If these youngsters pan out, the Sixers could be very good for a long time.
11. Denver Nuggets
Aaron Gordon, Forward, Arizona
The Nuggets have their core in place with Kenneth Faried, Ty Lawson and even Danilo Gallinari when he returns from injury. Adding Gordon gives them that freakish athlete who could turn into a star in a few seasons. Gordon will not start right away, but since is ceiling is so high, the Nuggets can take a chance on him. Had he not broken his foot, he would have gone in the top 10.
12. Orlando Magic
Dario Saric, Forward, Croatia
With the Magic’s second pick in the top 12, Orlando can take more of a risk after adding a very good player in Jabari Parker. Saric is another one of those prospects from Europe that can offer impact once he gets used to the speed of the NBA game. Saric is a good shooter, but has excellent touch in the paint and is said to be an incredible passer.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves
Cleanthony Early, Forward, Wichita State
We all fell in love with Early during the NCAA tournament in the last few seasons, and he will be a good player right away for the T’Wolves. Rumor has it that Kevin Love could be done in Minnesota, so the Wolves would need someone to step in and score right away in Minnesota.
14. Phoenix Suns
James Young, Forward, Kentucky
The Suns missed the playoffs by what seems like an inch, and will be ready to go next season no matter how this pick shapes up, but adding a player like Young to that stable of contributors in Phoenix will make a deep team that much deeper. Young is one of the youngest players in the draft this year, and he will have all the time in the world to develop in Phoenix.
Stay tuned for Sportsnaut’s next NBA Mock Draft and more NBA coverage.
Photo by Joe Camporeale, USA Today Sports Images