*Draft order as of the start of play on Feb. 1, 2014
The Pistons still aren’t bad enough to get their pick, or good enough to make the playoffs! What are these playoffs I speak of? Probably just an illusion like an oasis in the desert, or the moon landing! Let’s get to the draft and take a look at what the Ben Gordon trade that allowed us to sign Josh Smith is really going to cost us.
**NBA Comparisons made on style of play, not overall talent/impact and limited to current players
1st – Milwaukee Bucks: Joel Embiid – C – Kansas – 7’0, 250 +4 spots
NBA Comparison: Dwight Howard
My first mock had Embiid falling to the 5th spot, with my reasoning being that none of the first four teams needed a Center. Forget that. The only team who could pick 1st and reasonably turn down Embiid is the Rockets. If you have a chance to draft a guy who can make an impact like Embiid, you take him and send your current C packing. With his length, athleticism and developing strength and knowledge of the game, Embiid can make an impact on both ends of the floor in a variety of ways. He’s a superb rebounder and shot blocker on the defensive end; he’s always a threat to catch an alley-oop or score on a putback on the offensive end. And to Joel, sorry for the snub, please don’t dunk on my family.
2nd – Orlando Magic: Jabari Parker – SF – Duke – 6’8, 235 lbs -1
NBA Comparison: Carmelo Anthony
Parker has hit a bit of a rough patch since we last met. Since Jan. 13th, Parker has shot above 50% from the field just once and has produced more turnovers than assists. However, he has maintained his stellar rebounding, and has continued his season-long parade to the free throw line, a skill that will certainly translate to the NBA. Parker vs. Wiggins probably isn’t the clear-cut decision that it was a few weeks ago, but I’d still give the nod to Parker at this point. Plus, Orlando needs all the shooting it can get on the wings, with Arron Afflalo likely on his way out at the trade deadline.
3rd – Boston Celtics: Andrew Wiggins – SF – Kansas – 6’8, 200 lbs =
Michael Jordan Rudy Gay
In the last three weeks, Wiggins hit his low point, and then bounced back to finally produce like people thought he would. In a Jan. 18th matchup with Oklahoma State, Wiggins was nearly invisible. Wiggins only connected on 1 of his 5 FG attempts, scoring a season-low 3 points. In the three games since then, Wiggins has averaged 24.3 PPG on 21-36 shooting, including 7-14 from behind the arc. Wiggins at this point needs to demonstrate more consistency and a willingness to impact his team’s offense in more ways than just scoring. Wiggins’ A:TO ratio of .67 is the main reason that people laugh at those who originally compared Wiggins to LeBron James.
4th – Philadelphia 76ers: Julius Randle – PF – Kentucky – 6’9, 250 lbs =
NBA Comparison: Zach Randolph
The big-bodied forward fits well playing alongside defensive-minded Nerlens Noel. The question with Randle playing for the up-tempo offense that the 76ers feature, is his ability to get up and down with all the weight on his frame. However, his combination of rebounding ability and scoring prowess are hard to pass up for a team that doesn’t feature a single player with back-to-the-basket ability. His high turnover numbers are a bit concerning; Randle averages over 3 turnovers per game, and has had four games where he turned the ball over 5 or more times.
5th – Sacramento Kings: Marcus Smart – PG – Oklahoma State – 6’4, 225 lbs -3
NBA Comparison: Tyreke Evans
Smart has struggled since the last mock draft. Smart has displayed a lack of composure on several occasions, including an outburst where he kicked a chair out of frustration. Not an ideal quality in any player, let alone a PG. As far as his play is concerned, Smart hasn’t been scoring at the elite level he had through the first 16 games. Over the past four games Smart has shot 17% from three, as well as 38% on 2-point attempts. However, he hasn’t lost his knack for setting up his teammates, and he still has great physical tools to be an elite defensive PG in the NBA. Smart, McLemore (if he can find himself), Gay and Cousins is a potentially successful core if surrounded with the right veteran role players.
6th – Los Angeles Lakers – Rodney Hood – SF – Duke – 6’8, 215 lbs +2
NBA Comparison: Danny Granger
The Lakers have been making it clear that they plan to make a run at Phoenix Suns‘ PG Eric Bledsoe in Restricted Free Agency this offseason, so I have the Lakers skipping over Exum. Hood would provide the Lakers a competent, efficient scorer to place next to whatever big name FAs they attract over the next few summers. His versatile scoring, size and length would allow Hood to play both Forward positions if asked to, depending on what moves the Lakers make. Hood’s 51%/45%/84% shooting line show an ability to get the job done in a variety of ways. Hood is probably the most unheralded prospect in this draft, but should make for a solid starter in the NBA for a number of years.
7th – Utah Jazz – Gary Harris – SG – Michigan State – 6’4, 210 lbs =
NBA Comparison: Eric Gordon
The Jazz have played so well since the return of Trey Burke from an injury that they are hurting their chances of landing one of the star wing players that they so badly need. Fortunately, Gordon Hayward’s versatility in being able to play SF allows them the freedom to draft a SG, and Harris is the best one on the board. Harris is a scoring machine, who also defends well and looks ready to take on the physicality of the NBA game. Harris grades out well on both his ORtg and DRtg, and may be the steal of the draft if he can stay healthy and continue to develop his passing ability. If he does enhance his playmaking skills, his NBA comparison may be closer to James Harden, due to Harris’ ability to get to the free throw line with ease.
8th – Cleveland Cavaliers – James Young – G/F – Kentucky – 6’7, 205 lbs +2
NBA Comparison: DeMar DeRozan
Young has flourished as the main perimeter scoring option for the Wildcats this season, and could either take over the SF position for the Cavs is Deng isn’t retained, or the SG position if he is. Young isn’t a strong three-point shooter, but might develop that skill with a few years in the league. Even if he doesn’t, his ability to create looks off the dribble, and to finish in traffic will make him a successful scorer in the NBA. Going off of Cleveland’s past drafts, I should probably project a player from way later in the draft, due to their propensity to reach.
9th – Charlotte Bobcats (via DET) – Doug McDermott – SF – Creighton – 6’8, 225 lbs +7
NBA Comparison: Khris Middleton
With the pick acquired in the Ben Gordon trade, the Bobcats choose a shooter to space the floor for Al Jefferson. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist just isn’t getting the job done, and Kemba Walker is their best perimeter threat. The Bobcats need somebody to pull defenses off of the block. McDermott is a bit of a reach at #9, but they don’t need a PG, and McDermott fills a need. McDermott’s 39 point outburst against St. John’s was a display of pure scoring ability. If he can do more than shoot at the NBA level, McDermott may grade out more similar to Gordon Hayward.
10th – Denver Nuggets (via NYK) – Dante Exum – PG – Australia – 6’6, 185 lbs -5
NBA Comparison: Michael Carter-Williams
The slide finally stops for Exum, despite the Nuggets also not needing a PG. While the Nuggets don’t need another PG, they lack depth at SG where Exum might translate due to his size. Exum would also serve as a good trade chip, if this pick hasn’t been traded before the Nuggets make it. Exum could be a bit of a project due to his lack of strength, but has pure skills and is a heady player.
11th – Philadelphia 76ers (via NO) – Jerami Grant – SF – Syracuse – 6’8, 210 lbs =
NBA Comparison: Al-Farouq Aminu
With the pick acquired in the Jrue Holiday trade, the 76ers pick a SF to replace Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young, who is likely to be dealt before the trade deadline. Coupled with Julius Randle in this draft and Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams in the previous draft, the 76ers add to their young core with a SF who has boom or bust written all over him. Grant lacks a reliable jump shot, but possesses elite length and athleticism.
12th - Orlando Magic (via DEN) – Tyler Ennis – PG – Syracuse – 6’2, 180 lbs +7
NBA Comparison: Darren Collison
Ennis has been rocketing up most mock drafts in the past few weeks, and it’s no different here. Ennis’ Assist to Turnover Ratio is nearly 4:1 this season, and he’s shooting 40% from three, as a Freshman in the ACC. Ennis’ game is well-rounded, as he has the height and the frame to possibly be a good rebounder for his position in the NBA and is already a developed distributor and defender. Ennis seems like a fairly low risk prospect.
13th – Minnesota Timberwolves – Willie Cauley-Stein -F/C – Kentucky – 7’0, 235 lbs+1
NBA Comparison: Samuel Dalembert
Cauley-Stein is a versatile pick for the Wolves, providing rim protection off the bench if Kevin Love is around, and flanking Nikola Pekovic if Love is elsewhere. Cauley-Stein has a long way to go before he can be considered a serviceable player on offense, but the only better post defender in the draft is going 1st overall. If Minnesota picks below 13th then this pick would be made by the Phoenix Suns.
14th – Memphis Grizzlies – Dario Saric – F – Croatia – 6’10, 225 lbs -2
NBA Comparison: Competent Hedo Turkoglu
Saric isn’t ready physically for the NBA, but he’s a skilled ball-handler and passer for his size, and could expand his range out to the NBA three-point line. Memphis could use more production from the SF spot; with Quincy Pondexter out and Tayshaun Prince continuing his steep decline, they’re left to count on James Johnson. Saric isn’t an ideal fit for a defensive-minded team, but the Grizzlies could use him on offense.
15th – Chicago Bulls (via CHA) – Noah Vonleh – PF – Indiana – 6’10, 240 lbs -2
NBA Comparison: Amir Johnson
Vonleh has all of the offensive skills to be a good PF in the NBA. He has range out to the college three-point line (10-18 this season), can score inside (54% on 2pt FGA) and is an adequate offensive rebounder (12.3 OReb%). Vonleh doesn’t bring much to the table on defense in terms of shot blocking, but he is a strong defensive rebounder (27.6 DReb%). The Bulls could use more frontcourt depth, as Taj Gibson’s name has come up in trade rumors, and Carlos Boozer is an amnesty candidate.
16th – Atlanta Hawks (via BKN) – Kyle Anderson – SF – UCLA – 6’9, 230 lbs +1
NBA Comparison: Nic Batum
Anderson’s versatile play should transfer well to the NBA if he can add some good weight to his frame. Averaging close to 15 PPG, 9 RPG and 7 APG on 50 FG% and 50 3PT%. A lack of elite athleticism and strength is the only thing holding Anderson out of the lottery. Atlanta could use a replacement for DeMarre Carroll at the SF position.
17th – Phoenix Suns (via WAS) – Nik Stauskas – SG – Michigan – 6’6, 210 lbs N/A
NBA Comparison: Klay Thompson
Stauskas has been on a tear of late, displaying his ability to score from pull-up jumpers, on penetration and of course from behind the three-point line. Stauskas is a good athlete, but lacks ideal NBA strength, which will make him a defensive liability for at least the first few years of his career, if not his whole career. Stauskas is also proficient at valuing the basketball, and at finding his teammates for open looks by creating off the dribble. Stauskas is a good insurance policy if Bledsoe isn’t retained, and a very good bench option if he is.
18th – Chicago Bulls – Andrew Harrison – G – Kentucky – 6’5, 215 lbs N/A
NBA Comparison: Russell Westbrook
This is a good time for a reminder that comparison are only on style of play. Harrison is nowhere near as good as Westbrook, and he has been a bit of a letdown this season, compared to his hype. The one area he could be more like Westbrook, is in the ability to finish inside. Harrison struggles to score in the paint and off movement, only converting 38% of his two-point attempts. The Bulls could use his versatility with Derrick Rose’s injury issues.
19th – Atlanta Hawks – Jordan Clarkson – PG – Missouri – 6’5, 195 lbs -4
NBA Comparison: Reggie Jackson
Clarkson is a big-bodied PG who mitigates his lack of shooting ability by excelling at finishing in the paint, and by getting to the free throw line. At this point in his career, he’s a score-first PG who could also play off the ball in the right backcourt. Developing a reliable jump shot could be key to whether or not Clarkson is a viable NBA player.
20th – Toronto Raptors – Elfrid Payton – G - UL-Lafayette – 6’3, 180 lbs +3
NBA Comparison: Eric Bledsoe
Payton is a do-it-all guard who isn’t restricted to just one position in the backcourt. He’s better with the ball in his hands, but his size, length and quickness would allow him to guard SGs on the other end of the floor. Payton struggles to shoot the three-ball, which is the main flaw in his game. With added strength, Payton could be a valuable member of any NBA team’s rotation.
21st – Oklahoma City Thunder (via DAL) – T.J. Warren – SF – N.C. State - 6’8, 230 lbs -3
NBA Comparison: Thaddeous Young
Warren is a big, strong body who gets things done inside the arc. Warren is apt at creating off the dribble by using his size. He isn’t an elite athlete or jump shooter. He’s also a gifted rebounder, who could play PF in a small-ball lineup. This pick is a luxury for OKC, who can afford to miss on a guy who might pan out to be a good rotation player.
22nd – Utah Jazz (via GS) – James Michael McAdoo – F – UNC – 6’9, 225 lbs =
NBA Comparison: DeMarre Carroll
McAdoo, who was once seen as a high lottery pick, has seen a huge drop in his stock over the past two years. He lacks the jump shot or ball-handling to play SF, and the strength play PF. McAdoo could benefit from the right strength program in the NBA and possibly fill in to a decent PF, but tweeners often struggle in the NBA. McAdoo provides depth at the forward positions off the Jazz bench.
23rd - Phoenix Suns – Isaiah Austin – C – Baylor – 7’1 225 lbs -5
NBA Comparison: Spencer Hawes
Austin is a major project. He needs to add at least 25 pounds before he can even think about guarding NBA Centers. Austin, who is blind in one eye, can stretch the floor and work off the dribble, but will always be limited by his frame. His length allows him to block shots at the college level, and would likely translate to the next level as well.
24th – Houston Rockets – C.J. Wilcox – SG – Washington – 6’5, 195 lbs -1
NBA Comparison: Anthony Morrow
Wilcox relies solely on the three point shot to do the majority of his scoring. He’s limited by a lack of strength, and projects to be a liability on the defensive end. Houston could use Wilcox to surround Dwight Howard with another shooter.
25th – Los Angeles Clippers – Glenn Robinson III – SF – Michigan – 6’7, 220 lbs -15
NBA Comparison: Andre Iguodala
Robinson lacks the aggressive tendencies to be a successful wing in in the NBA at this point in his career. If he continues to sit back and watch his teammates, he may be forced to try and enter the 2015 draft, as his stock is currently plummeting. That being said, he still possesses elite athleticism, the body to be a good defender and an okay catch-and-shoot jump shot if he has space. Robinson will be a prospect to watch over the last two months of the college season.
26th – Miami Heat – Adreian Payne – C – Michigan State – 6’10, 240 lbs
NBA Comparison: Channing Frye
Payne has a higher ceiling than most college seniors do when they enter the draft. Having added a three-point shot to his game in the past two years, Payne can play the role of a stretch four, and also has the size to stretch the floor from the Center position. Injuries have slowed Payne down this year, and it is always troubling when a guy his size has a foot injury. That injury is the thing that keeps him out of the top-20, in my opinion. The longer he’s out, the further he falls.
27th – Charlotte Bobcats (via POR) – Dwight Powell – PF – Stanford – 6’10, 245 lbs =
NBA Comparison: Josh McRoberts
Powell draws the McRoberts comparison for his ability to pass the ball out of the high post. Playing in Stanford’s triangle offense, Powell is averaging over 4 APG. Athleticism concerns may limit his ability to defend in the NBA.
28th – San Antonio Spurs – Clint Capela – F – Switzerland – 6’10, 215 lbs +1
NBA Comparison: Serge Ibaka
Capela is a high potential international pick, something the Spurs love. Due to his lack of strength and crude offensive game, Capela would likely be another draft-and-stash pick for the Spurs.
29th – Phoenix Suns – Deonte Burton – PG – Nevada – 6’1, 190 lbs -3
NBA Comparison: Avery Bradley
Burton is a blur with the basketball, but lacks a reliable outside jump shot. His physical gifts and quickness could make him a valuable defender as a pro. Phoenix could use the dep