We here at the Pick and Pop Dairies have an unnatural obsession with the NBA and basketball in general. For bloggers Andrew Lipson and Evan Javel, part of that obsession has always been the NBA draft. While the draft is still 133 days away (only a 133 days!), this event remains the glimmer of hope for all those teams stuck in the bottom of the league standings. Hope is eternal, and so is the search for the next great NBA star. And off we go:
Note: Evan won the coin flip and got to pick first. He chose all the odd number picks. Andy picked for all the even teams.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Joel Embiid, 7’0 250 lbs. Center, Kansas
We have all heard the comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon but there will never be another Dream. What Embiid is however, is a supreme athlete with great size, length and superb footwork. Despite only playing basketball for a few years Embiid has already shown an advanced game, which has NBA teams drooling over what he could become under the tutelage of NBA coaches. Despite Embiid saying he might stay another year and his recent injuries he still has the greatest chance of any player in the draft to be transcendent. With a big man rotation of Embiid, John Henson and Larry Sanders the Bucks will be near impossible to score against at the rim.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Wiggins 6’8″ 200 lbs. Shooting Guard, Kansas:
What a pick this would be for the 76ers. An opportunity to get the Canadian phenom would mean that the sixers would have one of the most explosive and youthful back-courts in the league with Wiggins and Michael Carter-Williams. The size, length, and defensive prowess of this tandem would be unmatched in the league, and just the thought of them running together in the open court makes me quite nervous as a Celtic fan. Wiggins is a rare combination of elite athleticism, smoothness and lock-down defense. He has a ways to go in terms of improving the consistency of his shot, as well as refining his post game, but man, the skill set is there for greatness. The 76ers would immediately have one of the best young cores in the game as they will also add Nerlens Noel to the mix in 2014-15.
3. Orlando Magic: Jabari Parker, 6’8 240 lbs. Forward, Duke
The Magic really need a point guard, but when you are given a chance to draft a Carmelo Anthony like scorer you have to jump at the opportunity. Parker is the best pure scorer in the draft, with the ability to score from all over the floor in every single way. He will come in the league and average close to 20 points immediately. Right now Parker’s biggest knocks are his defense and conditioning. I expect the conditioning problem to be taken care of in the offseason, which should end up helping him defensively. The Magic will use Maurice Harkless and Victor Oladipo to help hide Parker’s defensive shortcomings and allow him to concentrate on getting buckets. With Parker, Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic leading the charge the magic will return in Orlando.
4. Sacramento Kings: Dante Exum 6’6″ 190 lbs. Australia:
The highly skilled, rangy guard from Australia would be a perfect fit for the Kings. He is a terrific passer and excels at getting into the lane which would allow Cousins, Gay and co. ample opportunities for open looks. He would be a great weapon in the open floor with his speed and agility while providing mismatches in the half-court due to his height. It would also allow Isiah Thomas to move into a sixth man role, a job I think he would be elite at. Exum’s size will allow him to play off the ball at the shooting guard position, opening up plenty of time for Thomas still. The Kings could go with Randle or Vonleh here if they want to add more size next to Cousins, or Marcus Smart if they feel he fits better with McLemore and Thomas in the guard rotation.
5. LA Lakers: Aaron Gordon, 6’8 210 lbs. PF, Arizona
The Lakers always attempt to build a team that exemplifies the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, Aaron Gordon is capable of carrying that tradition. Gordon is one of the most explosive athletes in college ball despite being one of the youngest players in his freshman class. Right now, Gordon uses his athleticism to defend multiple positions at an elite level but with time he could develop into a great offensive threat similar to Shawn Marion (back when he was the Matrix). Since the Lakers can usually count on filling their roster through free agency, they can afford to gamble on a high upside prospect like Gordon
6. Boston Celtics: Noah Vonleh, 6’10” 240 lbs. Power Forward/Center, Indiana:
I absolutely love Vonleh. He can play both Power Forward and Center, is a great rebounder and a very good defender. He plays with excellent passion and energy, which infects his teammates. He is still learning post moves offensively, but he has good touch around the basket and a very smooth perimeter jump shot. He is shooting 58% from downtown for the season and 72% from the free throw line. He would be an excellent compliment to both Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk in the young Boston front-court. The Celtics would likely use their next pick on a wing player, as that is certainly an area of need, but few players have the star potential that Vonleh has. I believe he is the best power forward in the draft: See yesterday’s article on the top power forward prospects in the draft.
7. Utah Jazz: Marcus Smart, 6’4, 225 lbs. Combo Guard, Oklahoma State
So we all know that Marcus Smart pushed a fan, but that is not why he is in danger of slipping in the draft this year. The biggest knock on Smart last year was his lack of a jump shot, which still continues to hinder his draft value. While he might never perfect his jumper, Smart is still an elite prospect and shouldn’t slip out of the top 10. At 6’4 225 this tank of a guard can provide elite defense and transition scoring at both guard spots. Pairing Smart next to Trey Burke will improve the quality of his looks and greatly improve a poor Jazz defense.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Julius Randle, 6’9″ 225 lbs. Power Forward, Kentucky:
Randle is an elite inside player, showing skills reminiscent of a young Zach Randolph. He is a great rebounder on both ends and has that rare ability to create space when there seems to be none. He also projects to have a very good mid range game as he has an excellent looking release on his jumper. Having said that, I don’t believe he has the potential to be a franchise player, but rather a really good second option. He projects as an all star as he will certainly score and rebound at high rates in the NBA. I worry about his ability to defend NBA power forwards, but I’m sure with good coaching he won’t be a liability. The pick isn’t necessarily one of great need for the Cavs as they have Tristan Thompson already, but you just can’t pass on this skill level and have to hope those two work well together. This is Kyrie’s team, he needs to show people that he deserves the keys to the franchise and adding a stud like Randle will be a great step for him.
9. Denver Nuggets (via NYK): Gary Harris, 6’4 210 lbs, SG, Michigan State
The Nuggets give most of their shooting guard minutes to combo guard Randy Foye, and even played Nate Robinson next to Ty Lawson (before Robinson got hurt). They are in need of a quality two guard that can knock down the three as well as defend. Harris is a well rounded player that provides much more substance than flash. After watch JaVale McGee play Denver fans are yearning for more substance(s) in their lives. Harris will come in and immediately start providing a steady calming influence to Denver’s frenetic paced team.
10. Charlotte Bobcats (via DET): Tyler Ennis, 6’2″ 180 lbs, Point Guard Syracuse:
This kid is a flat out winner. He is super quick with the ball and the best passer in the draft to go along with a good jump shot. He simply makes his teammates better. Syracuse is undefeated this season, and certainly a lot of credit goes to the likes of CJ Fair and Jerami Grant, but Ennis is their heart. Did you watch the end of last nights game!?
11. Philadelphia 76ers (via NO): Doug McDermott, 6’8 225 lbs, Forward, Creighton
Everyone wants to compare McDermott to fellow Creighton alum Kyle Korver but this is flawed comparison. Korver is a knock down shooter while McDermott is a much more well rounded scorer. While McDermott can knock down shots off screens like Korver, he also can score off the dribble, cuts and post ups making him much more lethal. A more apt comparison is Wally Szczerbiak who scored in a variety ways in the NBA despite having below average athleticism. Expect McDermott to use Philly’s up tempo system to manufacture a lot of easy shots in transition in a variety of ways.
12. Orlando Magic (via DEN): Rodney Hood, 6’8″ 180 lbs, SG/SF Duke:
Rodney Hood is a smooth lefty scorer who can pour in buckets from all over the court. He needs to add bulk and strength which will not only help on offense, but even more so on defense where he is currently a below average player. This pick makes a lot of sense as they want to add a quality wing to play with Oladipo and Afflalo. Hood will help stretch the floor and open up driving lanes. Doug McDermott and James Young are also strong possibilities here.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Willie Cauley-Stein, 7’0 244 lbs, Center, Kentucky
Minnesota has a bevy of talent but has not been able to put it together, mostly because they don’t play any defense. At the heart of the problem is Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic‘s inability to protect the paint. Cauley-Stein is a shotblocker extraordinaire who will put an end to opponents parade to the rim and provide a big target for Ricky Rubio to hit with alley oops.
14. Memphis Grizzlies: Dario Saric, 6’10” 225 lbs, Point Forward Croatia:
This would be a superb pick for the Grizzlies as they would get to add a super skilled forward who not only plays with a high basketball IQ, but also finds ways to involve his teammates while relieving pressure on the guards. He is a great passer, ball handler and rebounder. He needs to improve his jump shot, but I think he projects as a good shooter eventually. He would fit really well on the grizzlies as they have the team defense to help him when he faces more athletic small forwards and power forwards.
The rest of the draft are teams that made the postseason. Here is how we see it falling today. We will just keep names for now, going further in depth as the draft gets closer. Please ask any questions you may have or feel free to share your opinions in the comments below the post.
15. Chicago Bulls (via CHA): James Young
16. Atlanta Hawks (via BKN): Nick Stauskas
17. Phoenix Suns (via WASH): Jeremi Grant
18. Boston Celtics (via ATL): Pj Hairston
19. Chicago Bulls: Montrezl Herrel
20. Toronto Raptors: Kyle Anderson
21. Utah Jazz (via GSW): Sam Dekker
22. Phoenix Suns: Zach LaVine
23. Oklahoma City Thunder: Adreian Payne
24. LA Clippers: Wayne Selden
25. Houston Rockets: CJ Wilcox
26. Charlotte Bobcats (via POR): Chris Walker
27. San Antonio Spurs: Jusuf Nurkic
28. Miami Heat: Clint Capela
29. Phoenix Suns (via Indiana): Bogdan Bogdanovic
30. Oklahoma City: Mario Hezonja