Gonzalez's 2014 NBA mock draft 2.0

Gonzalez's 2014 NBA mock draft 2.0
June 25, 2014, 10:30 am
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Point guard Dante Exum could be the Sixers' choice with the No. 3 overall pick. (AP)

This is not a ranking of players. You can find my latest list of top prospects here. This is also not the order I would necessarily select players in, but rather the order I believe they might go according to various team needs and tendencies. It also doesn’t account for trades because this exercise operates in the hypothetical mock draft universe where those don’t exist. My first mock draft can be found here.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Andrew Wiggins, SF, 6-8/200, Kansas

The Joel Embiid news changed everything. Embiid was the top guy on my prospects list before he fractured his foot and made the navicular bone a household curiosity. Now everything is uncertain. I could see the Cavs moving this pick, but since we’re not sketching out fantasy trades in this space, we’ll go with Wiggins. He fits a need for the Cavs. Huge upside. Still needs to work on his handle and his jumper, but he could be a top-tier defender right away. Pairing him with Kyrie Irving would be a good look for Cleveland.

2. Milwaukee Bucks - Jabari Parker, SF, 6-8/241, Duke

They have Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is young and has tons of potential. They have some good rim protectors in John Henson and Larry Sanders. They have Brandon Knight, who is only 22, but is he the long-term solution at point guard? Maybe the Bucks gamble and go with Dante Exum. My guess is they play it safe and grab Parker, who will fill an immediate scoring void.

3. Philadelphia 76ers – Dante Exum, PG, 6-6/196, Australia
Oh man oh man oh man oh man. (Once more, for emphasis.) Oh man. If Embiid slips because of injury concerns, would it really surprise anyone if the Sixers grab him, put him on the shelf and let him heal? They did that last year. Nerlens Noel had a chance to be the first overall pick before blowing out his ACL. He fell to six, then the Sixers made a trade and let him recover.

Sam Hinkie might be the most patient man in the continental US. (I assume there’s someone super patient in Hawaii or Alaska that we don’t know about.) Embiid is only 20. Long-time league executives have gushed about his potential and mentioned him -- in all seriousness -- in the same sentence as Hakeem Olajuwon. If the Sixers think the foot will heal without issue, it would be hard to pass on Embiid. They could wait out his recovery. If not, if they’re stressed about the stress fracture (and the back), Exum is the pick.

And that’s fine. Brett Brown has reportedly seen Exum play quite a bit in person. And according to Chad Ford, Exum impressed teams with his psych test. He’s almost four years younger than Michael Carter-Williams, and he has a bigger upside. Don’t worry about the fit. Take the talent.

4. Orlando Magic - Joel Embiid, C, 7-0/250, Kansas
I could see the Magic taking Noah Vonleh and Embiid falling even more. Vonleh is shooting up draft boards because of his athleticism and his potential to stretch the floor and develop a reliable outside shot. That would be an attractive player to place with Nik Vucevic and it would give the Magic a monster rim-protecting frontcourt. Maybe. But I think this is the spot where the injury concerns for Embiid finally level off with his obvious talent. So much talent. The Magic gamble.

5. Utah Jazz – Noah Vonleh, PF, 6-10/247, Indiana

The best player available. Not an ideal fit for the Jazz, who have power forward Derrick Favors and center Enes Kanter, both of whom are 22. The Jazz could use a wing, but I don’t see how they pass up Vonleh if he’s still on the board.

6. Boston Celtics – Aaron Gordon, SF, 6-9/220, Arizona
The Celtics are reportedly keen on Kevin Love (who isn’t?), and they have a ton of assets to offer to make a deal happen with Minnesota. But we’re not doing trades here. (Read the fine print. No trades.) So, in this inflexible fantasy mock, they stay put and grab Gordon. Super athletic. Good passer and rebounder. Needs to work on his shot, but the upside is obvious.

7. Los Angeles Lakers - Marcus Smart, PG, 6-3/227, Oklahoma St.

He has the kind of advanced metrics that make hoops nerds believe in him as an NBA-ready point guard. Last year, he had a 30.1 assist rate and a 5.0 steal rate, both of which are impressive. He’s good getting to the rim, and he’s good at getting fouled (James Harden-esque 9.9 FTA per game). He could be a bit better at the line (72.8 percent), and he definitely needs to improve his outside shot (29.9 percent from three on 6.5 attempts per game). But there’s lots to like here. He’s big, good defensively, and he passes well. Immediate upgrade for the Lakers.

8. Sacramento Kings –
 Doug McDermott, SF, 6-8/218, Creighton

The Kings could go a lot of different ways. They have DeMarcus Cousins at center, Rudy Gay at small forward, Ben McLemore -– drafted with their first pick last year – and Isaiah Thomas, who was good for them upon getting the starting point guard spot. There are legitimate questions about what position McDermott can defend in the NBA, but he’s an excellent shooter and he has the highest PER of any player among the top 100 draft prospects.

9. Charlotte Hornets - Julius Randle, PF, 6-9/234, Kentucky

The Hornets have Josh McRoberts (and his hair) at power forward. He can pass and shoot from the outside, but he’s not enough to make the Hornets skip over the best player left on the board. (Neither is Anthony Tolliver.) Randle is a double-double monster. I like him quite a bit. If he somehow fell to the Sixers at 10, that would be grand. But I don’t think he lasts that long.

10. Philadelphia 76ers – Dario Saric, SF/PF, 6-10/223, Croatia

If you’ve read any of our coverage, you know I dig Saric. He can move in transition, he’s a good passer and a capable ball handler. And his three-point shot is getting better. Then he went and broke my heart and signed a three-year contract with a team in Turkey. (I have a weakness for Croatian stretch fours. Don’t judge me.)

A lot of people think Saric won’t come to the NBA for at least another year two years. A lot of people think Saric will fall in the draft as a result. A lot of people should stop making me sad. If there’s an organization that wouldn’t hesitate to draft and stash a 20-year-old with such a versatile offensive skill set, it’s the Sixers. Hinkie, as we noted, is patient. He’s about asset acquisition above all else.

I’m not dropping Saric. I’m keeping the dream alive. Team Saric forever.

11. Denver Nuggets – Nik Stauskas, SG, 6-7/207, Michigan

The Nuggets could use a shooting guard. Randy Foye just had one of his best seasons as a pro, but he’s also 30. Evan Fournier is 21 but I don’t think he’d prevent Denver from taking the best shooter left. Stauskas made 44.2 percent of his threes for the Wolverines (on 5.8 attempts per game). That’s good. The not-as-good: steal rate (1.0), rebounding rate (5.3) and assist rate (18.8). Oh, and he doesn’t have a driver’s license. (Deal breaker!)

12. Orlando Magic – Elfrid Payton, PG, 6-4/185, Louisiana Lafayette
This is where everything really goes off the rails (though in the real universe with trades that will have already happened by this point). Payton has good length for a point guard. He’s a good defender (3.6 steal rate, 1.7 block rate), rebounder (11.7) and passer (32.9 assist rate). He needs to work on his jump shot. He hit 25.9 percent from three (1.5 attempts per game). But along with Victor Oladipo, he would make the Magic backcourt awfully good defensively.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves – Gary Harris, SG, 6-4/205, Michigan St.

I will not write about trade scenarios or Kevin Love or how the Timberwolves are prime candidates to help turn this draft upside down (or, in the likely even that it’s already upside down, turn it right-side up again). I won’t do that. Instead, they get Gary Harris. They can have him. I’m not a fan. A 56.1 true shooting percentage for a guy who’s supposed to be a shooter/scorer? Eh.

14. Phoenix Suns – James Young, SF, 6-8/213, Kentucky
They’re deep at point guard with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. Between those guys and Gerald Green (and maybe Channing Frye, who just opted out of his contract), they have a good bit of perimeter shooting. They could probably use a wing. Young’s three-point shooting could be better (34.9 percent on 7.3 attempts per game), and he wasn’t a super efficient scorer (53.6 true shooting percentage) last year. But he’s athletic and young.

15. Atlanta Hawks - Zach LaVine, PG/SG, 6-6/181, UCLA
He’s a shooter, but a streaky one. LaVine hit 37.5 percent from three and 44 percent from the field last season. He’s also hyper athletic. Yes, the Hawks already have Jeff Teague, but they could use someone to run with him.

16. Chicago Bulls – Adreian Payne, PF, 6-10/239, Michigan St.

As with Saric, my love for Payne is well chronicled. He’s 23 years old, but that shouldn’t deter the Bulls. There’s a good chance they amnesty Carlos Boozer, clear his massive contract, and free up playing time for Payne. Payne has some defensive questions, but his offensive game would work well for the Bulls. He rebounds, has recently developed an outside shot (42.3 percent on 3.4 attempts per game), and he makes free throws (79 percent).

17. Boston Celtics – P.J. Hairston, SG, 6-5/230, NBDL 

He’s big for a guard and he was an efficient scorer at North Carolina before leaving for the D-League. At UNC, Hairston had a 58.6 true shooting percentage and hit 39.6 percent from distance. The Celtics could use a shooter, especially someone with size.

18. Phoenix Suns – Rodney Hood, SF, 6-8/215, Duke

More wings. Wings, wings, wings. This draft has tons of them. The Suns grab another. Hood might be the best shooting wing of the lot. So they get one who’s athletic and needs to improve his shot, and another who can shoot but who’s not as athletic. That’s like one really good wing if you could somehow merge them together Dr. Frankenstein-style. Neck bolts not included.

19. Chicago Bulls – Tyler Ennis, PG, 6-3/182, Syracuse

Had an outstanding assist-to-turnover ratio (5.5 apg, 1.7 tpg) last season. Posted a 32.3 assist rate and 3.9 steal rate. Quality backup for Derrick Rose.

20. Toronto Raptors – T.J. Warren, SF, 6-8/215, N.C. State

He has the second-highest player efficiency rating among the top 100 prospects. That makes it easier for the Raptors to ignore that he’s not very good from three-point range (26.7 percent on 3.3 attempts).

21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Kyle Anderson, SF, 6-9/230, UCLA

His skill set is unique for someone his size. He has a big body. He’s a really good passer (34.3 assist rate) and a capable rebounder (8.8 per game last year). And he plays the passing lanes well for someone so thick (3.1 steal rate). Great fit for the Thunder.

22. Memphis Grizzlies – Cleanthony Early, SF, 6-7/210, Wichita St.

He’s at the top of the three-and-D wing group (37.6 percent on 4.9 attempts per game). He’s also a good rebounder. He and Mike Conley should get along well.

23. Utah Jazz – Jerami Grant, SF, 6-8/215, Syracuse
Grant isn’t a perimeter shooter (he took just five threes last year), but he’s athletic and he’ll be able to run. Works if they bring back Gordon Hayward. Makes less sense if they don’t.

24. Charlotte Hornets – KJ McDaniels, SF, 6-6/195, Clemson
So many wings. This draft is a never-ending supply. Sneaky shot blocker. Good rebounder. Not a great shooter. He hit just 30.4 percent from three last year (3.8 attempts per game).

25. Houston Rockets – Jusuf Nurkic C, 6-11/280, Bosnia
Nurkic is a project, but he has big upside offensively. He’s only 20. Could develop into a quality offensive center given enough time. Needs to work on his defense. In terms of talent and projection, he really shouldn’t last this long. There’s been speculation about the Hawks grabbing him at 15. If not, he could drop.

26. Miami Heat – Shabazz Napier, PG, 6-1/175, Connecticut
The Heat might need some help at point guard. Mario Chalmers is an unrestricted free agent.

27. Phoenix Suns – Clint Capela, PF, 6-11/222, Switzerland
Defensive project. Likely a draft-and-stash. Big upside.

28. Los Angeles Clippers – CJ Wilcox, SG, 6-5/200, Washington
The LA shooting guard situation needs help. After J.J. Redick there’s a lack of depth. Jamal Crawford is 34. Forget about Willie Green and Reggie Bullock. Wilcox is an excellent shooter (39.1 percent from three on 7.2 attempts per game last year).

29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Jarnell Stokes, PF, 6-9/262, Tennessee
Crazy rebounder. Had basically the same rebounding rate as Noah Vonleh last year. Also a passable free throw shooter (70 percent) and good from close-range (53 percent of his twos).

30. San Antonio Spurs – Mitch McGary, PF, 6-10/250, Michigan
A big guy who can pass and rebound. Sounds like Spurs material.

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