NBA Mock Draft 1.0: Lottery loaded with big names
The season is over. Now the real work begins.
For most of the NBA's rebuilding teams -- and there seemed to be an awful lot of them this year, didn't there? -- the draft offers the best chance to reshape their rosters. And while there is no LeBron James, Dwight Howard or Anthony Davis in this year's draft, it is chock full of budding talent with enormous potential.
The buildup for the June 26 draft is a long, two-month process. There are the combine and individual workouts, where players' strengths and weaknesses will be dissected. Hitting on the right pick -- or picks -- could position a franchise as a playoff contender for years, while missing could set a franchise back even longer. But no pressure, really.
Here is SI.com's Mock Draft 1.0, with the order based on regular-season records. The May 20 draft lottery will determine the top three picks, with the rest of the order based on records.
1. Milwaukee Bucks -- Andrew Wiggins, G/F, Kansas
Wiggins has quickly emerged as an early favorite among executives from many lottery teams. He has his warts -- a lack of aggression and tendency to drift during games being chief among them -- but his ceiling is considered higher than anyone else's. At 6-foot-7, 200 pounds, Wiggins can conceivably play two positions, though multiple executives say the best fit is two-guard. A Wiggins-Giannis Antetokounmpo-Larry Sanders trio is a nice core for Milwaukee to build around.
2. Philadelphia 76ers -- Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Word around the league is that the Sixers are high on Wiggins. They will settle for Embiid, the draft's best center prospect, who would pair with Nerlens Noel to form an athletic frontcourt. Embiid's back isn't an issue -- yet. NBA executives are eager to get their hands on his medicals at next month's draft combine in Chicago.
3. Orlando Magic -- Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
Parker -- who announced his decision to declare for the draft on SI.com -- is an NBA-ready scorer. He can score inside and out and is a strong rebounder. Orlando has needs everywhere. While there are lingering questions about Parker's defense (does he play any?) and position (at what forward spot does he belong?) his talent makes him a natural building block.
4. Utah Jazz -- Dante Exum, G, Australia
The 6-6, 188-pound Exum is a dynamic talent. Scouts rave about his quick first step, and his jump shot has improved significantly over the past year. The combine and individual workouts will be the first time many league execs get a firsthand look at Exum, but those who have observed him see a star quality in the Australian guard.
5. Boston Celtics -- Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
Boston has two young power forward prospects in Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, but Randle's potential could be too much to pass up. Randle possesses a diverse offensive repertoire. He can score inside and out, drawing comparisons ranging from Zach Randolph to Michael Beasley. The Celtics figure to be active in trade talks this summer, so increasing the team's frontcourt depth should not be an issue.
6. Los Angeles Lakers -- Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
The Lakers need a point guard -- the oft-injured Steve Nash, 40, is the only one under contract for next season -- and Smart is easily the most NBA-ready. A bulldog defender, Smart's size (6-4, 220 pounds) fits the mold of the new NBA playmaker. Smart's perimeter game needs work, but his strength and speed off the dribble will enable him to play right away.
7. Sacramento Kings -- Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
The Kings have shuffled through several power forwards in recent years. The 18-year-old Gordon is raw and his jump shot needs a complete overhaul, but his athleticism, rebounding and defense are enthralling attributes. Gordon, who has drawn comparisons to Blake Griffin and Shawn Marion, could solidify the Kings' power forward position for years to come.
8. Detroit Pistons -- Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
The Pistons, who are just beginning the search to replace president Joe Dumars, have a need at small forward. Enter Saric, a fast-developing point forward prospect. Saric leads the Adriatic League in scoring (16.3 points) and is second in rebounding (9.5).
9. Cleveland Cavaliers -- Noah Vonleh, F-C, Indiana
Vonleh is extremely raw offensively, but he is a strong rebounder and a capable shot blocker. After whiffing on Andrew Bynum, and with a $9.8 million team option on Anderson Varaejao, Cleveland needs help up front. In time, Vonleh could provide it.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans) -- Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
11. Denver Nuggets (via New York) -- Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
Stauskas is a dangerous three-point shooter with a quick release and an emerging all-around offensive game. He is a work in progress defensively, but Stauskas has good size for his position.
12. Orlando Magic (via Denver) -- Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
The Magic grab the point guard they covet here in Ennis, who was one of Syracuse's most consistent players. Ennis isn't especially athletic or particularly accurate from deep (35.3 percent), but he thrives in the pick-and-roll and, well, the last 'Cuse playmaker to come into the draft turned out to be pretty good.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves -- James Young, SG, Kentucky
The Wolves need shooters and Young, despite an uneven freshman year, has big-time potential. Young is fearless, which sometimes leads to questionable shot selection. He tinkered with his shooting form during the season but seemed to get it together late, when he put together some of his best shooting efforts.
14. Phoenix Suns -- Rodney Hood, F, Duke
With three first-round picks, the Suns could go several directions here. Hood put up a clunker in Duke's opening-round loss to Mercer in the NCAA tournament, but he was a prolific scorer all season, including from beyond the three-point line (42 percent). Defense and ball handling are question marks, but Hood's ability to score from the perimeter can't be overlooked.
15. Atlanta Hawks -- Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
Hawks GM Danny Ferry likes to tap the international market -- witness the drafting of Dennis Schroeder and Lucas Nogueira in the first round last year -- and could nab another in Nurkic, a bruising post player. Nurkic is raw but has the physical tools to develop into the type of center Atlanta needs.
16. Chicago Bulls (via Phoenix) -- T.J. Warren, SF, NC State
Warren is unorthodox -- he has great size for a small forward but lacks the traditional athleticism and perimeter shooting. But Warren is a scorer (which the Bulls need) with a nice in-between game and a willingness to move without the ball that Tom Thibodeau will love.
17. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn) -- Kyle Anderson, G, UCLA
The success of Michael Carter-Williams this season has increased teams' fascination with taller point guards. Anderson is a natural playmaker who thrived when UCLA handed him the reins this season. Scouts question Anderson's speed and defense, but when paired with a two-guard who can defend point guards -- like, say, Avery Bradley -- those issues can be ironed out.
18. Phoenix Suns (via Washington) -- Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
Payne is 23, which is the biggest thing working against him. He is a terrific inside-out player who rebounds and is solid from the free-throw line. The Suns' success with Channing Frye this season could motivate them to grab a player who plays a lot like him.
19. Chicago Bulls -- P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legands
If Hairston put up the numbers he did in the D-League (21.8 points) at North Carolina, he would be a lottery lock. Hairston's issues at UNC will be a hot topic at the combine, but if teams like what they hear he could come off the board quickly because of his inside-outside scoring.
20. Toronto Raptors -- Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
League executives see him going anywhere between 10 and 25. If he's here, McDermott's NBA-ready offensive game fills Toronto's need for a polished frontcourt scorer.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Dallas) -- Jerami Grant, F, Syracuse
Grant is a project. He's a big-time athlete with great physical tools, but it's still unclear what position he plays in the NBAl. Is he a small forward? Grant will need to become more of a perimeter threat (he didn't make a three-pointer in five attempts this season). Is he an undersized four? He will need to improve his strength and rebounding to play there. Grant needs time to develop. Which is exactly what Oklahoma City is in a position to give him.
22. Memphis Grizzlies -- Zach LaVine, G, UCLA
LaVine's stock soared after a hot-shooting start to the season and plummeted after his shooting leveled off. LaVine is perhaps the fastest player in the draft, with elite athleticism. He needs to add strength and be more consistent, but he's a potential NBA starter.
23. Utah Jazz (via Golden State) -- K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
McDaniels is a tremendous athlete whose stock has steadily improved throughout the season. He's also a fearsome shot blocker who thrives in the open floor. His offensive skills don't match his athleticism yet, but if they do McDaniels has enormous potential.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (via Portland) -- Bogdan Bogdanovic, G, Serbia
The Bobcats need perimeter shooting and Bogdanovic may be just what they are looking for. Bogdanovic is an emerging three-point shooter who can get to the basket and plays an unselfish game.
25. Houston Rockets -- Clint Capela, F, France
Capela is another dynamic athlete who thrives in transition. While the Rockets will be on the lookout for a stretch four in the offseason, Capela is a long, mobile big with a high defensive ceiling and the potential to develop into an intimidating power forward as he fills out.
26. Miami Heat -- Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan
McGary was projected by some teams as lottery pick before a back injury ended his season in mid-December. Instead, he could be a late first-round steal. A high-energy power forward with double-double potential could appeal to Miami, which will likely lose Shane Battier and Michael Beasley this summer.
27. Phoenix Suns (via Indiana) -- Vasilije Micic, PG, Serbia
The Suns are already overloaded with young talent; Micic, a heady point guard, is a perfect draft-and-stash pick. The 20-year-old Micic has good size (6-4) and plays with a lot of confidence. His outside shot needs work, but in a year or two Micic could be ready to step into the Suns' backcourt.
28. Los Angeles Clippers -- Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn
29. Oklahoma City Thunder -- Mario Hezonja, SG, Croatia
Hezonja has been buried on the bench of his Spanish team for much of the season, but scouts who have seen him play love his potential. Hezonja is a diverse scorer who can shoot from anywhere on the floor and finish in the paint. It's unclear if Hezonja plans to enter the draft. If he does, someone in the first round will scoop him up.
30. San Antonio Spurs -- Glenn Robinson III, F, Michigan
Robinson didn't develop into the lottery pick many projected he would this season. But he's a good athlete who had enough breakout games -- including a 20-point performance against Arizona -- for someone to take a chance on him. Robinson will need to improve his perimeter shooting significantly (he regressed to 30.6 percent from three-point range this season) to make it in the NBA.