My 2013 NBA Mock Draft didn't turn out very well at all. The Cavs screwed me over with the first pick being Anthony Bennett and I didn't do much better after that. I mostly blame the Cavs though, because they are to blame for everything wrong with the NBA Draft. Everything is their fault. So I figured I would give creating an NBA mock draft another shot and see how I do this year. After all, I can't go out with last year's mock draft. With Joel Embiid getting hurt (again) I feel like it's shaken up the draft board a little bit. There's bound to be a team that will take a chance on him and I can't figure out which one it will be. Big men with negative back and foot histories always scare me, so I would be very nervous to draft him if I were an NBA team.
As always, expect a hundred trades to occur which dramatically change this mock draft. In fact, I expect every draft pick to be traded at some point. So whenever I am making a pick for a team, just assume the words "Team X will probably trade this pick" are written as well.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers- Andrew Wiggins, SF
Remember "Riggin' for Wiggins" and all of that prior to the college basketball season starting? Wiggins didn't do much to prove NBA teams shouldn't tank in order to land him. He played on a very loaded Kansas team, played well and was eventually overshadowed by Joel Embiid, who is tall, and more importantly tall. Embiid can block shots and is raw, so naturally THAT is the guy NBA scouts had their eye on until he had his injury issues. Not that Embiid may not be great, but NBA scouts drool over tall guys with potential when compared to wing players with potential. Anyway, I think the Cavs pick Wiggins over Jabari Parker in this spot. Wiggins is a more natural small forward (Parker seems to have conditioning issues), and though I think Parker is the more certain player, I do think Wiggins should be the pick here.
2. Milwaukee Bucks- Jabari Parker, SF
Yeah, the Bucks already have a small forward. Yeah, Parker seems to have conditioning issues (which as a Duke fan I didn't know about, which tells you either it's bullshit or Coach K keeps this shit really close to the vest...it was always explained that Parker gained weigh in high school due to an injury, so it seemed like a one-time thing, not a trend) which could explain a few things like Parker being benched randomly at the end of games and the insistence from the coaching staff that Parker stay consistent through the whole game. Still, as a fatty or a non-fatty Jabari Parker can score and do multiple things on offense really well. So it would help to have Larry Sanders and John Henson behind him to help block some of those shots that will inevitably need to be blocked as the defender passes by him to get to the rim. Plus, if he plays the power forward spot then he's a matchup problem.
3. Philadelphia 76ers- Dante Exum, PG/SG
I'm tempted to mock Vonleh here, but Exum is the type of wing talent that is hard to pass up at this point. Pairing him with Michael Carter-Williams would give the Sixers two talented guards who can be interchangeable. Exum is accused of being a player without a position, but by having Carter-Williams stay as the point guard, Exum can move to shooting guard or even play some point guard in certain lineups. I confess to not know much about Exum. I've read the scouting reports and read about his strengths and weaknesses. It seems he could fit in well with Carter-Williams, plus gives them length at the shooting guard spot.
4. Orlando Magic- Joel Embiid, C
Third time is the charm, right? The Magic couldn't keep their previous two franchise centers from leaving for the Lakers, so why not try to take advantage of the best center in the draft falling to them? Someone has to take Embiid. He's got too much potential and he plays center, so there's no way I see him falling too far. I admit there is no way in hell I would take Embiid. I didn't consider him a lock as the #1 overall pick when he was healthy, so with his injuries I couldn't justify taking him. He's a lot of potential and will need to work with a good big man coach to get that potential out of him. It's a lot different playing against college athletes versus playing against NBA athletes, especially for a guy with such little experience as Embiid has. I get the Olajuwon comparisons, but Olajuwon also played more than one season in college basketball. For me, if he isn't injured then I think he could be a good NBA center as long as he keeps up with the physicality of the league, which he has not shown he is capable of doing yet outside of one aborted year in college.
5. Utah Jazz- Noah Vonleh, PF
The Jazz seem to have success with power forwards and Vonleh will probably be their pick due to the injury questions around Julius Randle. All things being equal, I would take Julius Randle in this spot. Still, the Jazz have talked about moving Favors and Vonleh can play center if Enes Kanter never becomes the type of player the Jazz were hoping he would be. I think his upside makes him the choice over Randle, though I think there is something to be said for Randle being the more sure thing (at least in my mind).
6. Boston Celtics- Julius Randle, PF
The guy is a double-double machine. Yes, he has injury concerns but that hasn't scared Danny Ainge off before when it comes to drafting guys like Jared Sullinger. I've seen Aaron Gordon mocked here repeatedly and I just can't believe it. Gordon is a great rebounder and has upside galore, but he looks like he'll be a great player. Otherwise he can't shoot and his offensive game is extremely limited at this point due to that. Also, I don't buy that Marcus Smart would be the pick here. He's another guy who can't shoot and I think the Celtics are going to build from the inside-out.
7. Los Angeles Lakers- Marcus Smart, PG
Bill Simmons would hate me for complimenting Kobe, but if there is any player who understands Marcus Smart's competitiveness and how to channel it in the appropriate direction then it would be Kobe Bryant. Smart isn't a very good shooter, but he is built to drive to the lane and (contrary to belief) is a very unselfish teammate. He can play both guard spots and got a bad rap in college. Smart's biggest issue is shot selection, but he can score and again (contrary to belief) can be a leader. I think Smart would have a great chance of succeeding in Los Angeles with the Lakers.
8. Sacramento Kings- Aaron Gordon, PF
The Kings have a need at power forward and they could even hope to take some of the "Dunk City" excitement from the Clippers with Gordon on the other end of some alley-oops. Gordon simply isn't my kind of prospect, which could very well be why I'm not good at analyzing college basketball players. He can rebound based on his athleticism, but I struggle to find too much else he does exceptionally well, though he isn't a bad three-point shooter. Maybe I'm missing something about Gordon when I've watched him play. He's not going to be able to out-athlete everyone in the NBA. I'm willing to accept I could be wrong about Gordon, but I don't think I am.
9. Charlotte Hornets- Nik Stauskas, SG
Taking Doug McDermott here is a typical HornCats move. Yes, they need a shooter, but why take a guy with such limited range and such a bad defender? So I'm trusting the HornCats won't screw this up and take the correct sharpshooter available at #9. Stauskas is a great shooter and that's all that he may end up being in the NBA. He's got guts though and plenty of room to develop. Why not take a chance on him when he's younger and has more chance to be a star than McDermott? I love teams who take proven college stars, but in this case, I think the HornCats need to take the sharpshooter with the better chance to be more than just a role player.
10. Philadelphia 76ers- Doug McDermott, SF
Just a gut feeling that I have. The 76ers would have a great group of guards if they draft Exum and Gary Harris. They need a low post threat, but I think any of the other power forward would be a stretch at this point in the draft. I choose McDermott here because Philly does need outside shooting and for some reason I almost mocked T.J. Warren here. The guy can straight score points. If the 76ers don't take McDermott then maybe they would go for Rodney Hood or Gary Harris. You can see I have no idea who the 76ers will pick here, but I'm sticking with McDermott. Just as a note, I had McDermott falling to the Thunder at #21 originally and moved him up here because I convinced myself he wouldn't last until #21. I have to mention this in case he falls so everyone knows I was right until my balls shriveled up and I didn't have the guts to do my own mock draft as I believed the real draft would fall. I'm a wimp.
11. Denver Nuggets- Elfrid Payton, PG
On a much smaller scale, Payton could be the Damon Lillard of this year's draft. He's a guy who hasn't gotten a lot of press, but has had great workouts and can play both point guard and shooting guard. The Nuggets need a backup for Ty Lawson and they started Randy Foye at shooting guard last year. They could do worse than taking Payton in this spot.
12. Orlando Magic- Rodney Hood, SF
If the Magic are really going to be shopping Aaron Afflalo then it wouldn't hurt to take a guy who could be his replacement at #12. Hood has been called underrated by so many NBA scouts that I think he is overrated in a few aspects. He's not going to be a star in the NBA, but he's developed into a great shooter and has shown he is willing to work hard, as well as being a good rebounder from the small forward position. He tends to get lost sometimes and disappear from games. This is mostly due to the fact he can get tentative at times and will defer to his teammates. He's not going to be great in the NBA, but he can be a starter for a decent team and will rebound at his position.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves- Gary Harris, SG
If the T-Wolves are serious about trading Kevin Love then choosing another stretch four (albeit much less talented) would be a good way to start replacing Love's production. But I think Gary Harris is too talented to pass up at this point. I'm pretty sure Flip Saunders and Tom Izzo are boys, so Saunders taking a Spartan with the T-Wolves first round pick makes sense in that respect. My fear about Harris is that I found him moving to the background a lot when watching the Spartans last year, but his talent can't be denied. He can provide scoring off the bench, which the T-Wolves need.
14. Phoenix Suns- James Young, SF
I really like James Young and I think he will fit in very well with the Suns up-tempo style. He's one of the guys who sort of got lost in the shuffle at Kentucky this past season and was overshadowed by Julius Randle and the Harrison twins. For fear of overrating him, there's no reason I can't see him averaging 15/6/3 three years from now in the NBA with the Suns.
15. Atlanta Hawks- T.J. Warren, SF
I know the Hawks have had their eye on Kyle Anderson, but I think the Hawks have to do something about the small forward position and provide more scoring to the team from that spot. I said this about Shabazz Muhammad last year, so feel free to ignore me, but Warren can straight score. T.J. Warren didn't have a great supporting cast at N.C. State last year either, so it's not like he was being set up by teammates for easy baskets or wasn't the focal point of every opponent's defensive game plan. If the Hawks want scoring, then I think Warren is their guy.
16. Chicago Bulls- Zach LaVine, SG
I wouldn't draft LaVine at all. Like not in the 2nd round either. He couldn't find his way on the court to merit a Top 20 selection with a just-okay UCLA team (He played 24 minutes a game), but he is athletic and has measurables. The Bulls need some scoring from the wing spot and he has that dreaded potential. I hope the Bulls don't make this pick.
17. Boston Celtics- Tyler Ennis, PG
I'm not buying that the Celtics would take Dario Saric here. It's not that long of a wait, but they need help on the team now. Tyler Ennis provides the Celtics with a backup point guard and insurance just in case Danny Ainge gets a trigger finger and decides he does want to trade Rondo. Plus, maybe drafting Ennis will make up for the horrid selection of Fab Melo a few years ago (shudders). Ennis is talented, but he has that annoying "it" factor that I think goes well with the Celtics.
18. Phoenix Suns- Adreian Payne, PF
Payne is another one of those college seniors who supposedly have almost
hit their potential. I'm not arguing, but simply pointing out that
Payne improved dramatically from his junior to senior year. Is his
talent maxed out? I think so, but I also never had him as a Top 20 pick a
year ago. Still, Payne fits in well with the Suns team as a stretch-four who can hit the three-point shot and rebound. The Suns would then have a replacement for Channing Frye with another tall guy who can shoot.
19. Chicago Bulls- Shabazz Napier, PG
The Bulls need a backup point guard and Napier's stock shut up as he inexplicably led the UConn Huskies to a national title. I don't know if he's worth a pick at #19, but this is around the time Napier will go and the Bulls need a backup point guard while awaiting Derrick Rose's next knee explosion. That whole "it" thing I talked about Ennis having? It seems Shabazz Napier has it too. Of course so did Khalid El-Amin and Bulls fans know how that turned out. Of course El-Amin was a fat motherfucker whose best attribute is that he was fine with Jim Calhoun's loose recruiting style and was consistently a bad shooter for a guard who didn't understand his strengths (eating) and weaknesses (shooting too many three-point shots). Yeah, I'm bitter and biased. But El-Amin WAS fat.
20. Toronto Raptors- Kyle Anderson- PG/SG/SF/PF
I have no idea what Kyle Anderson is. He isn't really athletic enough to be considered a wing, he's too tall to be a point guard and probably not big enough to be a power forward. Still, he is intriguing because he is a really tall guy who can handle the ball. So while he may not be the answer at point guard for the Raptors, he fits in on this team in multiple spots. This pick makes sense to me, which obviously means it won't happen.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder- Dario Saric, SF
I swear to God, if the Thunder draft a guy to stash him overseas I'm going to scream. They need bench help now and the draft is the best way to get that help. So I hope I'm wrong about this pick. Saric may end up being a very fine basketball player, but the Thunder need to improve their bench for this upcoming season so they have some sense of scoring from the second unit. In reality, P.J. Hairston or K.J. McDaniels would fit perfectly here as well. Either way, the Thunder would be set with either player. I can see them going with an overseas guy though.
22. Memphis Grizzlies- C.J. Wilcox, SG
He can shoot and score. He's not got bad size for a shooting guard either. Again, this makes too much sense to me, which means it won't happen. I don't think Wilcox is going to be a great player in the NBA, but there is always a spot for a guy who can bury a few three-point shots.
23. Utah Jazz- Clint Capela, PF
He's another in a line of international players I don't know much about to sufficiently discuss in this spot. The Jazz have needs now, but from everything I have read about Capela he is a year or two away from producing in the NBA and is a good rebounder/shot-blocker. Seems like a good pick to tuck away for future use.
24. Charlotte Hornets- P.J. Hairston, SG
I want to mock P.J. Hairston here for so many reasons. Screw it, I'm going to do it. If the HornCats select Hairston here then they would have gone all-in on the "we need a shooter" spot in the draft, but Hairston has a ton of talent. He can get hot very quickly and has proven in the D-league that he could handle the competition of the NBA. I wouldn't be too upset if the HornCats selected him with the #9 pick actually. It would be a reach, but he fits a need. If they are going to draft Doug McDermott at that spot for his shooting then they may as well draft Hairston at #9. I'm possibly overstating the case a bit.
25. Houston Rockets- Jordan Clarkson, PG/SG
Clarkson is a combo guard who really isn't a combo guard. What I mean by that is he has the size to play the shooting guard spot, but he can also handle the basketball. He's a shooting guard in my mind. The Rockets need bench scoring and he can play point guard if the Rockets end up trading Jeremy Lin. I've seen Clarkson on quite a few "underrated prospects" lists prior to this draft, and while I'm not totally sold on him being any more than a bench player, this (or Cleanthony Early) seem like a Rockets pick.
26. Miami Heat- Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG
I am torn between the Heat choosing a player that can help now or drafting a player from overseas who won't count against the salary cap this season. I am going with the Heat keeping their options open in this spot and taking a player from overseas who may not necessarily be in the NBA next year. If the Heat do go with a player ready to contribute this year they have some really good options. K.J. McDaniels would be a great choice as a defender off the bench, Jordan Adams has that whole "potential" thing going for him, and if they want to waste a draft pick but draft a guy who is tall then Mitch McGary could fit in for them. Personally, I would draft Cleanthony Early if I were the Heat.
27. Phoenix Suns- K.J. McDaniels, SF
McDaniels may not be the best shooter on the planet, but with Kawhi Leonard shining during the NBA Finals it is tempting for the Suns to draft a guy who could be a poor man's Kawhi Leonard. McDaniels is another guy who was stuck on a bad college team and still found a way to score and he is an absolute pest on the defensive end and can block shots. I don't know if he will ever be anything in the NBA, but his ability to defend could easily make him a contributor off the bench.
28. Los Angeles Clippers- Mitch McGary, PF/C
This is a layup for me. I wanted to mock Jordan Adams here, but the Clippers need help in the frontcourt. McGary is widely overrated due to his great NCAA Tournament two years ago, but he's a high energy guy who will fit in well with Chris Paul and the Clippers. He'll never be a starter for a good team but this is a good situation for McGary to try and succeed in. I can't overstate how overrated McGary is though. He is 22 years old, has very little offensive game, and is going to be drafted based on a run of three to four weeks where he played exceptionally well. He's got some skills I guess, but he's not a first round pick in my opinion.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder- Cleanthony Early, SF
This pick is more of a "I wish they would do this" pick. I figure the Thunder will draft an overseas guy and stash him. I don't think they should panic, but the time is now to improve their bench. I think the Thunder have to come out of this draft with two additional bench players. Early really improved over this past season and he's also a willing defender off the bench. I almost went with Jordan Adams in this spot or had the Thunder reach for a big guy, but went with an older player who is ready to come and contribute off the bench now.
30. San Antonio Spurs- Dwight Powell, PF
A smart pick would be either Walter Tavares or any player from France (look, it's Damien Inglis and he's from France!), but I will assume that the Spurs are taking a player from the United States. This is probably a dumb assumption. There is no way the Spurs can ever replace Tim Duncan, so trying is futile, but they do need to provide some more depth behind him. This is probably a bit of a reach for Powell, but he is athletic, a good passer, and can shoot from outside the paint. Besides, the Spurs have their own system and they just want guys willing to try and succeed in that system. Powell may be a reach, but he has first round talent.
So feel free to go ahead and tell me how dumb I am or come back and see how the trades have completely screwed this mock up.