Now that the NBA draft order is set — with the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the lottery Tuesday night for the third time in the past four years — it’s time to dissect this highly anticipated draft class. Here are three questions surrounding the June 26 event.
Who should go No. 1?
Kansas center Joel Embiid looks most like the top pick, being a 7-footer with great shot-blocking ability and low-post moves. But the back injury that ended his freshman season early could be a concern. Then there’s Duke’s Jabari Parker, who put together the most productive freshman season in college basketball last year. He averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds a game for the Blue Devils. But Parker’s limited athletically. The best option for the Cavaliers at No. 1 is Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins. The forward was at times a little too passive on offense during his freshman season, but Wiggins, left, is the most talented player with the highest ceiling.
Who’s a sleeper pick?
This draft class is one of the deepest in recent history, and there’s plenty of value in the mid to late first round. Coming off his team’s NCAA championship, UConn guard Shabazz Napier may be the most intriguing. He’s an undersized guard, but he’s quick and plays big — having led the Huskies in rebounding this season. Other possible sleepers who could be available outside the lottery include T.J. Warren, Cleanthony Early and Tyler Ennis. N.C. State’s Warren, right, was third in the country in scoring, averaging 24.9 points a game. Early helped lead Wichita State to a 35-1 season. And Ennis was Syracuse’s steady point guard who led the ACC in assists this season.
What about the Wizards?
Washington traded away its 2014 first-round pick to the Suns in the deal to acquire center Marcin Gortat, so its lone draft pick this year is at No. 46. Finding a second-round pick who can contribute right away is often difficult — even the Wizards’ No. 3 pick in 2013, Otto Porter Jr., didn’t play much in his rookie year — but there could be some viable options waiting for the Wizards. Some of the bigger names expected to still be around in the middle of the second round include Louisville’s Russ Smith, Arizona’s Nick Johnson and Virginia’s Joe Harris.
Mock NBA Draft
We match each team with the player who would be the best fit:
1. Cleveland — Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas. There’s not a player in this draft with a higher ceiling.
2. Milwaukee — Joel Embiid, C, Kansas. An athletic 7-footer should at least have a major impact on defense.
3. Philadelphia — Jabari Parker, SF, Duke. He’s probably the most NBA-ready but not as athletic as top two.
4. Orlando — Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky. The Magic need a post player, and he’s a double-double machine.
5. Utah — Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona. There wouldn’t be a more athletic frontline than Gordon-Derrick Favors.
6. Boston — Dante Exum, SG, Australia. The 6-foot-6 18-year-old could be Rajon Rondo’s perfect running mate.
7. L.A. Lakers — Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State. As a big point guard (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), he can do it all.
8. Sacramento — Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana. He needs to develop but would complement DeMarcus Cousins well.
9. Charlotte — Doug McDermott, PF, Creighton. Charlotte needs scoring, and that’s what McDermott does best.
10. Philadelphia — Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State. If they got Parker at No. 3, Harris would be a nice fit.
11. Denver — Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State. He would space the floor with his 3-point shooting and add size to the Nuggets’ frontcourt.
12. Orlando — Rodney Hood, SF, Duke. Drafting Hood and Randle would revamp the Magic’s frontcourt.
13. Minnesota — Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan. They could use a shooter, especially if they trade Kevin Love.
14. Phoenix — James Young, SF, Kentucky. He averaged just 0.7 points per game less than Randle at Kentucky.
15. Atlanta — T.J. Warren, SF, N.C. State. Averaging 24.8 points a game in the ACC is no joke.
16. Chicago — Dario Saric, SF, Croatia. If Hood, Young and Warren are gone, Saric may be the best option.
17. Boston — Cleanthony Early, PF, Wichita State. Boston’s frontcourt could use an athletic scorer.
18. Phoenix — Jerami Grant, PF, Syracuse. He’s got to develop but should be an immediate help on the boards.
19. Chicago — Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA. His versatility would help the Bulls’ stagnant offense (so would a healthy Derrick Rose).
20. Toronto — Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse. If Kyle Lowry leaves via free agency, Ennis could play right away.
21. Oklahoma City — K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson. The Thunder could use another scorer off the bench.
22. Memphis — Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn. If he pans out to be anything like Kemba Walker, this is a steal.
23. Utah — P.J. Hairston, SG, D-League. The ex-Tar Heels guard averaged 21.8 points in the D-League.
24. Charlotte — Zach LaVine, SG, UCLA. The 6-foot-5 guard is a project, but he’s extremely explosive.
25. Houston — Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan. He would give Houston more athleticism at small forward.
26. Miami — Mitch McGary, C, Michigan. If McGary didn’t hurt his back, he easily would have been a top-10 pick.
27. Phoenix — Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee. He’s small for an NBA power forward, but Stokes is powerful and a tenacious rebounder.
28. L.A. Clippers — Patric Young, C, Florida. The Clippers badly need depth behind Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
29. Oklahoma City — Isaiah Austin, C, Baylor. The shot-blocking athletic 7-footer should be a defensive asset.
30. San Antonio — Semaj Christon, PG, Xavier. He’s got speed and could be a good slasher off the bench.