Draft prospects have begun the tedious team-by-team visitation process and while we’ve all been speculating about the Parker/Wiggins/Embiid race to the top pick, franchises are starting to match their needs with available talent. They’ve got until June 26 to figure out how to best fill those needs but in case they need a cheat sheet, we put together the Triangle Offense Mock Draft 2.0.
1. Cleveland - Jabari Parker
Even if you and your groupthink brain cells buy into the idea that Parker’s ceiling is the lowest of the consensus top 3 picks, what about the argument that his floor is the highest? The Cavs are a franchise in disarray which can’t roll the dice on an athlete with suspect basketball skills (no handle, no shot) and a center with a fugazi back. Parker gives them protection from drafting a straight up bust. Oh and Jabari can play right now. He’s the surest thing, it’s that simple.
2. Milwaukee - Julius Randle
With a frontcourt built around 220-lb. John Henson and Zaza Pachulia, the Bucks had been targeting double-double machine Julius Randle since the middle of the college season. Milwaukee lucked up the draft board but they’ve got money invested in enough awkward wings and willowy “bigs” already. Based strictly on team need, they should take Randle here or trade down.
3. Philadelphia - Andrew Wiggins
There are essentially three number-one picks in this draft — Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins. Each of them has held the spot at some point this year, and any of the three should provide an immediate boost to whichever teams land them. With Parker off the board, it’s either Wiggins or Embiid.
Embiid may have the largest upside, but the Sixers already have one previously injured lottery pick center in Nerlens Noel who has yet to play a game. Embiid might represent an unnecessarily large risk, especially with Wiggins still available. A 6’8″ forward with a wicked handle, Wiggins could be that wing superstar Philly needs to get to the next level—and if they can land two Rookie of the Years in a row, that’s where they’re headed.4 of 16
4. Orlando - Dante Exum
The problem is, are we sure Dante Exum is a real point guard? Not many have seen Exum play live and he’ll limit his workouts. Orlando has a couple of wings and bigs (Vucevic, etc) but are PG deficient. So Exum it is, almost by default.5 of 16
5. Utah - Joel Embiid
Let’s say for a moment that Embiid slips this low (not likely, but considering his vertebral stress fracture it’s not completely impossible.) But if he is available he’d be an upgrade over Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.6 of 16
6. Boston - Marcus Smart
There are simply far too many Danny Ainge brain-typing jokes to be made if he selects a guy named Smart. That said, Marcus was lottery-bound last year and this playmaking ability hasn’t faded. At 6’4 he’s not really a traditional 2 to put alongside Rondo, but Rondo’s not all that traditional himself. And given Smart’s run-ins with opposing fans, he has the potential to be every bit as prickly—and loyal—as Rondo. Brain type that.
7. Lakers - Jusuf Nurkic
The Lakers need a center, that way if they keep Pau, he’ll have some help defensively, because Chris Kaman ain’t cutting it. Lakers need to get bold and draft Jusuf Nurkic.
8. Sacramento - Aaron Gordon
Sacramento has precious little scoring power at the power forward spot. The Arizona freshman Aaron Gordon could defend alongside starters DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay or provide instant buckets with the second unit.
9. Charlotte - Nik Stauskus
The Hornets are in the relatively luxurious spot of already being a playoff team. That said, they’re a playoff team in the East which isn’t exactly ready to compete with actual good teams (see the Heat series). And while someone like Noah Vonleh COULD be a great piece eventually, they need scoring and need it now. Nik Stauskus immediately becomes their best shooter, giving Al Jefferson an outside to his inside, and providing a new target for Kemba Walker. Stauskas shot 44% from three last year, which is better than Charlotte’s starting backcourt (Walker and Gerald Henderson) shot from the floor. It just makes sense.10 of 16
10. Philadelphia - Adreian Payne.
You want to contend for a title (divsion, conference, world, whatever) you better find a way to secure the services of a stretch 4. Big men with range are valuable because they allow slashers room to operate and they spread the floor for more economic passing lanes. Only thing is, their lack of inside support often messes up roster balance. If you can get a guy who can do both and can rebound? Pfftt, you make it happen. The Sixers can do far, far worse.
11. Denver- Noah Vonleh
Vonleh was a 48.5% three shooter for Indiana this year and can finish with either hand around the rim. He’d be the most skilled forward Denver could get here.12 of 16
12. Orlando - Doug McDermott
The Orlando Magic did not have a 20 ppg scorer last year—Arron Afflalo topped the charts at 18.6 per, with forward Tobias Harris finishing second at 14.6. Doug McDermott won’t average 20 next year either, but the 6’8 forward has the potential to at the very least make a Mike Miller-like impact. Miller, another 6’8 shooter, was drafted fifth overall by the Magic in 2000 and went on to win Rookie of the Year. Admittedly this was in a much weaker draft class, but McDermott was an even better shooter in college.13 of 16
13. Minnesota - Kyle Anderson
Because the Timberwolves need another ball handler/playmaker and Ricky Rubio still can’t shoot. At 6’9 and 230 lb., Anderson is a mismatch machine who averaged 14 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and almost 2 steals per game for UCLA. He’s not the quickest guy, but for a Minnesota team looking at a question-packed future, he’s a worthy addition.
14. Phoenix - Dario Saric
The Croatian power forward excelled in the Adriatic League but has never played high-level pro ball. There’s the question of whether Saric would indeed come to the NBA or head to the Euroleague to work on his D and get stronger, but at 6’10″, 220 lb. Saric’s face-up play could fit in with Phoenix’s fleet-footed backcourt.15 of 16
15. Atlanta - Gary Harris
The Hawks are stocked with frontcourt riches and took the No. 1 seed Pacers to a seventh game even without All-Star Al Horford. They could use a scoring guard like Harris. As a former high school football standout he’s got a little toughness to his game, which should serve him well alongside Horford, Paul Millsap and Pero Antic. And if he can improve his handle some, he can play in any combination with Jeff Teague and Lou Williams. But it’s his shooting that would most help Atlanta. If his 40% from downtown as a freshman wasn’t a fluke (he dropped to 35% last year), he’ll be an immediate help.16 of 16