NBA Mock Draft 5.0: Final projections
Wiggins or Parker? Parker or Wiggins? Or... Exum? The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to put out mixed signals about who they favor with the No. 1 overall pick. Rival executives tell SI.com that the Cavs are also still open to dealing the pick, with Philadelphia, Utah, Boston and Sacramento expressing the most interest.
Onto SI.com’s Mock Draft 5.0:
Parker said Wednesday that he believes he is headed to Milwaukee, and there is a growing sense that he wants to play there. There are legitimate questions about where Parker will play -- the Bucks have rookie sensation Giannis Antetokounmpo entrenched at small forward and recently re-signed Larry Sanders at power forward (or center, depending on who you ask) -- but players with Parker's offensive skillset don't come along every day. Parker has failed to dazzle in workouts and executives that have seen him have questioned his conditioning. But his offensive potential is undeniable.
Embiid will get strong consideration, despite general manager Sam Hinkie’s history with navicular fractures -- he was an executive in Houston when Yao Ming battled a similar injury. But Exum, who is projected by several executives as a two-guard, is a tremendous talent. An Exum-Michael Carter-Williams backcourt could create havoc off the dribble.
This is a tough spot for the Jazz, who covet Parker and Exum and are high on Vonleh, league sources said. Gordon is something of a tweener but he is strong defender and rebounder already and could play small forward in the NBA. Utah has engaged in trade talks to move into the top three and reportedly has expressed a willingness to include forward Derrick Favors in a deal. Embiid, according to a source, is not under strong consideration here.
This just feels like a Danny Ainge pick, doesn’t it? Ainge is in Year 2 of a long rebuilding process and has the full support of ownership. The early reports indicate that Embiid could be back in 4-6 months, though doctors and medical experts have advised SI.com that the average recovery time is 6-9 months, and could be as long as a year. But if Embiid heals properly -- and despite the anecdotal evidence suggesting a broken navicular bone could be a career-threatening injury, most of these injuries heal cleanly -- he could be just the type of franchise player Boston covets.
Sacramento has been actively shopping this pick, according to multiple rival executives. If the Kings keep it, Smart is a strong young point guard to add to a developing core. He also could provide some insurance in case restricted free agent Isaiah Thomas departs this summer.
New mock, same home for McDermott. The Hornets need a scorer, someone to take the pressure off Al Jefferson, and McDermott is as solid as they come. He's not just a shooter; several executives who have seen McDermott work out have raved about his diverse arsenal of shots. And if any coach can turn McDermott into a serviceable defender, it's Steve Clifford.
The rebuilding Sixers add a potential starting two-guard in Stauskas, who has impressed scouts with his perimeter shooting. Stauskas is limited athletically and needs to improve his ability to score off the dribble, but he has good size for the position. Gary Harris is a possibility here, too.
The Nuggets are aggressively shopping this pick, according to rival executives. Denver is willing to move down in the draft and has included the pick in talks for Minnesota's Kevin Love. Harris is undersized but a rugged defender who struggled from the perimeter last season. If he can rediscover the shooting stroke from his freshman season, he could be a steal.
The news that Channing Frye will opt out of his contract opens the door for a player like Payne, a stretch forward/center who can fill a similar role. The knock on Payne is his age (23), but for a Phoenix team that was fighting for a playoff spot last season, getting a polished player is a good thing. Rodney Hood and James Young are candidates here as well.
Nurkic's stock is all over the board, with some scouts seeing him as a lottery talent and others slotting him in the 20's. Atlanta G.M. Danny Ferry dipped into the international pool last year (twice) and Nurkic is the kind of soft handed, offensive minded big that could develop into the starting center the Hawks have been missing for years.
Saric's decision to play in Turkey next season -- and possibly one more -- makes his slot tough to predict. The Bulls, with two picks in the first round and a desire to keep the books clear for the pursuit of LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony, can afford to take a flyer on Saric, a strong point-forward type who was the MVP of the Adriatic League last season.
The Celtics have a decision to make with restricted free agent Avery Bradley, who could command a contract in the neighborhood of $7 million to $9 million per year, according to rival executives. There is some debate over the value of Hairston’s D-League stats, but his size and inside-out scoring ability are very appealing.
Napier's stock continues to rise. He accepted an invitation to sit in the green room during the draft, a sure sign Napier expects to be selected early. The Bulls are confident that Derrick Rose will be at full strength by training camp, but Napier, a polished playmaker, is a good insurance policy. Tyler Ennis and T.J. Warren are strong candidates here too.
Ennis is a candidate at No. 15 (Atlanta) and No. 19 (Chicago) but won’t get past Toronto. While Ennis is a steady playmaker and effective pick-and-roll player, there are questions about his athleticism and his ability to make plays off the dribble against NBA defenders. The Raptors would eagerly snag the Toronto-born Ennis here to either back up pending-free agent Kyle Lowry or be in the mix to replace him.
Warren isn’t the perimeter threat Oklahoma City needs, but the versatile scorer could provide instant punch to the Thunder’s second unit. Warren has looked excellent in workouts, showcasing his old school game that was so effective at NC State.
LaVine is another player with a rapidly fluctuating stock. He's the best athlete in the draft -- one scout says he runs faster baseline to baseline than any player he has ever seen -- and showcased a sharp, albeit streaky, jump shot early at UCLA last season. LaVine prefers playing point guard, but the Jazz, with Trey Burke, are obviously set at that position.
Charlotte has discussed trades for this pick, according to a league source. The Hornets get a strong rim protecting prospect here in Capela, who will need seasoning. Hornets coach Steve Clifford loves defenders, and the long, athletic Capela has huge potential. Capela is a very good athlete who international scouts say improved significantly as a defender last season with Elan Chalon in France. Capela may be a draft-and-stash candidate but don't be surprised if a strong player development coach like Clifford wants to get his hands on him early.
The free wheeling Rockets -- which traded center Omer Asik to New Orleans on Wednesday -- could move this pick, too. A draft-and-stash option like Bogdan Bogdanovic is a candidate here, but if the Rockets are looking for immediate help, McGary, who has limited the flow of information about the back injury that cost him most of last season, leading some executives to speculate that McGary has a first round promise.
As SI.com previously reported, the Suns have been shopping this pick, looking for a future No. 1. Teams love Anderson's offensive instincts and playmaking, though persistent questions about his defense could push him deep into the first round.
The Clippers could use more athleticism at the small forward position. There are a lot of concerns about what kind of offensive player Grant can develop into; he's little more than a dunk and put back guy now. The son of ex-NBAer Harvey Grant -- and nephew of Horace -- has a strong pedigree though, and superior length and athleticism for the position.
The Thunder have a history of getting good value in the later rounds and Adams, a strong scorer with good size who has nice catch-and-shoot potential, is solid value pick.