With the NBA Draft looming, we wouldn’t be a real basketball site if we didn’t post our own Mock Draft based on what we’re hearing. Picks 1-7 are below. Look for further installments as we get closer to the big day.
- Cleveland Cavaliers – Andrew Wiggins, SG, Kansas: Make no mistake, sources close to the Cavs front office say that team management is firm in its belief that Jabari Parker is the best basketball player in this draft. However, they also say that owner Dan Gilbert has established a mandate that upside trump all other considerations when drafting, and that there is a consensus within the organization that Kansas center Joel Embiid possesses the most upside. For that reason, I say they select Wiggins, the player who I have not yet mentioned in this post. This way, no matter what happens, I seem like I was in the loop.
- Milwaukee Bucks – Joel Embiid, C, Kansas: I’m hearing that the Bucks favor whoever the Cavs pick at #1, so, if the Cavs draft someone, which – according to the everyone I’m talking to – they are almost certainly will, the Bucks are likely to miss out on their top guy. That said, those same sources say that the new Bucks owners rank put-back dunks as one of the three most fun basketball plays to watch, which vaults Embiid, a put-back god, ahead of Duke’s Parker for this slot.
- Philadelphia 76ers – Jabari Parker, SF, Duke: I spoke with a member of the Sixers scouting department last week while attending a workout at Peak Precision Performance Performers’ Pinnacle, a Los Angeles-based training organization currently prepping several of this year’s projected top picks for the Draft. The scout I spoke with said that Sixers GM Sam Hinkie absolutely despises Parker as a basketball player. He said that watching Parker play defense during Duke’s NCAA Tournament loss to Mercer caused Hinkie to reflexively vomited a cheesesteak into a nearby trash can, and that he became irritable and impolite whenever he saw the Duke star get swallowed up by long, athletic wings this season. He couldn’t stress enough how deeply Hinkie hates Parker’s weaknesses. But, with Parker among a consensus “big 3” in this year’s draft, the scout said Hinkie doesn’t want to be teased for skipping on him when the GMs gather for their next secret GM meeting (apparently the GMs can be vicious when it comes to teasing each other’s blunders…they’re so catty!), so he’s likely the guy here.
- Orlando Magic – Dante Exum, PG, Australia: I won’t bullsh*t you, I totally forgot to call around about the Magic. To be honest, I always forget they’re a team. Did you know Jacque Vaughan is their coach!?! How long has this been?? Time flies! Seems like he was a player just yesterday. Anyways, NBADraft.net has them picking Exum, so, ya know, whatever.
- Utah Jazz – Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton: You do the math.
- Boston Celtics – Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky: From everyone I talked to at the pre-Combine, Combine, post-Combine, and Combine reunion where the gang back gets together a week later to tell funny stories about the good times we had, it sounds like the Celtics are in pure rebuild mode. They want to get younger, younger, younger, period. Word is that their analytics department has targeted a late 1994 birthday. Randle, Kentucky’s bear on the blocks, was born 11/29/94, so I wouldn’t be shocked if this pick goes to the stat heads. But, if not, I wouldn’t be shocked either. I’m never shocked. I know stuff.
- L.A. Lakers – Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma St.: Right now, the Lakers are putting nearly a dozen prospects through private workouts, and by private workouts I mean, they’re having sleepovers at Kobe’s house so he can test their will to win. According to sources close the situation, while Mitch Kupchak does in fact have a binder containing top prospects’ pictures and biographical details, Kobe is the main (only) decision maker on this one. Smart, known as a ferocious competitor himself, apparently was the only player to endure Kobe’s grueling six-hour Connect Four marathon, so he looks primed to be the pick here.
Check back to see additional picks next week.