PBT Mock Draft: With the No. 1 pick, the Cleveland Cavaliers select… Andrew Wiggins

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It’s more fun to write about drama. It’s more fun to say, “There is no consensus No. 1 pick, this could go any direction.”

Reality is, as long has been expected, Andrew Wiggins likely goes No. 1. Most scouts grade him out as the top prospect, only Joel Embiid’s back might change that. The real fun question becomes who goes next? And through the rest of the first round?

This is the first mock of the season at PBT — our draft expert Ed Isaacson of NBADraftBlog.com and Rotoworld rightly believes you can’t really do a mock until you know the draft order. Now we do. So he has compiled a mock for Rotoworld and PBT.

The draft order will shift on team’s boards as they work guys out closer to the draft and our future mocks will reflect that. Also, per Isaacson, “Team needs were taken into account in a very broad way at this point, but these selections are based on who I believe each team will take, as of today.”

1) Cleveland – Andrew Wiggins, F, Kansas

The top prospect in this class, Wiggins has a combination of skill and athleticism which will allow him to make an immediate impact in the Cavaliers’ lineup, while still having a lot of untapped potential to make him a strong pick at number 1. The combination of Kyrie Irving and Wiggins, with a hopefully improved Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett, could give Cleveland a dominant scoring group.

2) Milwaukee – Jabari Parker, F, Duke

Ideally, Joel Embiid will be given a clean bill of health, and I would put him in this slot. However, until that happens, Parker becomes Milwaukee’s best option at number 2. Parker will give them an instant boost in scoring, and the ability to play him inside or out should give the coaching staff plenty of lineup options.

3) Philadelphia – Joel Embiid, C, Kansas

Embiid’s health will be one of the most talked about aspects of this draft over the next month, and what teams are able to find out will help determine who is going to pick him. In this scenario, he falls to the 76ers and instantly gives the Sixers a dominant rim-protecting duo in Embiid and Nerlens Noel. It also gives them two very raw offensive players, though Embiid may be a bit further along.

source: Getty Images4) Orlando – Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State

The addition of Smart will not only give the Magic a much needed point guard presence (I am a non-believer in the Victor Oladipo, point guard campaign), but in combination with Oladipo, they will have a potentially very good defensive duo in the backcourt. Dante Exum may be the other option here, but I am not sold yet that he could be an NBA point guard, and taking him will likely keep the Oladipo experiment going. The Magic are much better off getting the point guard and defensive stopper in Smart.

5) Utah – Dante Exum, G, Australia

The lottery’s mystery man this year, Exum has good size and he is skilled for his age. He hasn’t really faced top-level competition and many teams will be getting a real close look at him for the first time in the coming weeks. As mentioned above, I’m not sold on Exum as a point guard, but he could become a solid complement next to last year’s first round pick, Trey Burke, in the Jazz backcourt, with the potential for maybe some short stints running the point.

[MORE — Ed Isaacson’s top underclassman of the 2014 NBA Draft]

6) Boston – Noah Vonleh, F, Indiana

Personally, I have Julius Randle rated higher than Vonleh, but with Jared Sullinger already in the fold and coming off a good season, the longer Vonleh would make more sense with this pick and he could play alongside Sullinger. Also, Vonleh’s ability to shoot from the perimeter would allow Sullinger to operate around the basket, where he is most comfortable.

7) Los Angeles Lakers – Julius Randle, F, Kentucky

The Lakers are looking at a complete rebuild during Kobe Bryant’s final years with the team, and while a higher pick could have secured their future a bit more, Randle has the ability to make an immediate impact next season. Randle is a strong post player who is very agile for his size, and he can be a terror on both the offensive and defensive boards. He won’t provide a very good defensive presence yet, but he will be a double-double threat from the get-go and a nice piece to start the Lakers’ rebuilding.

8) Sacramento – Doug McDermott, F, Creighton

This is a stretch in terms of where I have McDermott’s value, but Sacramento would be an ideal spot for him to bring his scoring strengths. He can provide a much needed consistent perimeter shooter, which would open up space for the ever-improving DeMarcus Cousins to operate in. Concerns about McDermott’s defensive ability have been blown out of proportion and he understands the game well enough to cover up his deficient areas.

9) Charlotte – Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia

Big-bodied with still-developing skills, Nurkic could be the Hornets’ big man of the future. I wouldn’t expect him to come over right away, but with Al Jefferson’s contract up in a couple of years and Bismack Biyombo a continued disappointment, it may be tough for the Hornets to pass up on this opportunity that could pay off down the road.

10) Philadelphia – Nik Stauskas, G, Michigan

Having taken Joel Embiid at number 3, the 76ers can use the 10th pick to shore up the backcourt alongside Michael Carter-Williams. Stauskas will give the Sixers an immediate deep threat, while also giving them another playmaker in the backcourt.

source: Getty Images11) Denver – Rodney Hood, G/F, Duke

The Nuggets have some crowding at the shooting guard position, but Hood has the ability to slide over to the other wing and give them another long-range threat. He has great size and is very good running the floor, giving Ty Lawson another target in the open floor.

12) Orlando – Dario Saric, F, Croatia

The Magic shored up their backcourt with Marcus Smart at number 4, and they can look to add another strong offensive weapon in the highly-skilled Saric. While it isn’t known yet whether Saric will come to the NBA right away, he could be a very good addition to the Magic’s core group of young players in the near future.

13) Minnesota – Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona

Kevin Love is certain to find his way out of Minnesota at some point in the next year, and while Gordon isn’t really a replacement; he will provide an extremely athletic forward who can run the floor and rebound, as well as guard multiple positions. He still has a lot of work to do on the offensive end, but he will certainly bring a little excitement to the Timberwolves.

14) Phoenix – James Young, G, Kentucky

This season’s surprise NBA team, the Suns were supposed to be in rebuilding mode, and fell just shy of the playoffs. They may not be able to keep rising star Eric Bledsoe, who may command too much money, but Young will give a different type of presence to the backcourt. He has good size and should be a good shooter, though he needs to become much more consistent. He runs the floor well and should provide a nice complement to Goran Dragic in the Suns’ backcourt.

15) Atlanta – Gary Harris, G, Michigan State

I consider Harris to be the best shooting guard prospect in this class, but I can see teams looking at other options ahead of him, so he falls here to Atlanta. Harris will be able to provide some scoring and defense right away for the Hawks, but the real payoff could come long-term as he continues to hone his skills. Tremendous value if they can get him at number 15.

[MORE — Ed Isaacson’s Top 10 seniors in the 2014 NBA Draft]

16) Chicago – Tyler Ennis, G, Syracuse

Ennis will help provide stability at the point guard position for the Bulls as Derrick Rose comes back from another knee injury. This to me is the Bulls playing it safe, though I rate Elfrid Payton ahead of him as a point guard prospect. Coach Tom Thibodeau should be able to help Ennis build his defensive ability, and his ability to protect the ball will work well in their offense.

source: Getty Images17) Boston – Elfrid Payton, G, Lousiana-Lafayette

Rajon Rondo’s career with the Celtics will end sooner rather than later, and Phil Pressey certainly isn’t the answer as his replacement. Payton will remind many of a young Rondo with his ability to rebound well for his size and a strong ability to get into the lane and create. He needs to work on becoming a more consistent shooter, but he will improve. Payton will also provide a strong defensive presence on the perimeter, which will make him very popular with coach Brad Stevens.

18) Phoenix – T.J. Warren, F, North Carolina State

With their second of three first-round picks, the Suns can elect to add another offensive weapon in Warren, one of the NCAA’s top scorers this past season. Warren loves to find holes in the defense to get his shot and he will find plenty of them with Dragic at the point. He is also able to seek out mismatches when he is a smaller defender on him, setting up in the low or mid-post area for a quick shot.

19) Chicago – Adreian Payne, F, Michigan State

Payne will give Chicago a strong inside-outside scoring presence with very good size and the underrated athletic ability. Payne showed steady improvement throughout his college career and while his ceiling may not be much higher, he is ready to contribute from Day One for a Bulls team that needs scoring.

20) Toronto – K.J. McDaniels, F, Clemson

McDaniels is one of the more underrated players in this draft class, and he could end up being a steal for the Raptors here. He will provide a tremendous defensive presence on the wing for a team that really needs it. McDaniels is also a strong slasher and rebounder, as well as an improving shooter. I have him slotted here now, but by the draft, he could be bordering on being a lottery pick.

source: Getty Images21) Oklahoma City – Kyle Anderson, F, UCLA

Anderson is the toughest player to project in this class with his unique skill set. He has high level vision and passing skills to go along with an improving jumper, but at 6’9, he will be playing at the forward position. What he does provide coaches with is the ability to mix and match lineups and to find him spots on the floor where he can be most effective. I ‘m not sure anyone knows who he will defend in the NBA, but his skills are tough to pass up at number 21.

22) Memphis – Clint Capela, F, Switzerland

The Grizzlies may have just a year or two left with the current core, but there aren’t likely to be any college players who bowl them over in this spot, so Capela could be a good future piece when the team looks to replace player in a year or two. He has very good size and athletic ability, though he needs time to continue to develop his skills and toughness.

23) Utah – Glenn Robinson III, F, Michigan

The Jazz added some talent to their backcourt at #5 with Dante Exum, and now they can add some potential scoring and athleticism at the wing with Robinson. While he didn’t take the step forward that many expected last season, Robinson is still developing as a player and worth a shot at number 23. Also, Robinson should have an added comfort level being reunited with his old Michigan teammate, Trey Burke.

24) Charlotte – Jerami Grant, F, Syracuse

Taking Nurkic at number 9 was a step towards securing Charlotte’s future in the frontcourt, but adding Grant should pay off some quicker dividends. Grant’s skills may still be developing, but he is a high-level athlete who should help on defense and on the boards fairly quickly. If he can develop his offensive skills well, he will be a nightmare match-up for many defenders.

25) Houston – P.J. Hairston, G, Texas Legends

He may not have played for the Rockets’ D-League team last season, but the team does know the value of players developing there, and with Hairston they get a player who is already adjusted to spending time in the D-League, but he also has some very good long-term potential. The Rockets’ offense can never have enough shooters and Hairston is a very good one. He could be make an impact by the end of year one if given a chance.

26) Miami – Zach LaVine, G, UCLA

LaVine may be one of the most polarizing picks in this year’s draft. Some see his elite athleticism and see a huge future. Others, like me, see an AAU player who happens to be out of high school now. There’s no doubting that there is potential in LaVine, it’s just very far off. Miami would be a nice place for him to develop long-term, and there’s no real risk taking him at this point of the 1st round.

27) Phoenix – Kriztaps Porzingis, PF/C, Latvia

This is the Suns’ third first-round pick and a great place for them to take a chance on a draft-and-stash candidate with big potential. Long and athletic, Porzingis’ skill is developing rapidly and he can be ready in two years to come over and give the Suns some added depth to their frontcourt.

28) Los Angeles Clippers – Jordan Adams, G, UCLA

The third player from UCLA taken in this first round, Adams is the best scorer in the group with the type of game that will allow him to get plenty of points at the NBA level. He loves to operate in the mid-range area, but he has the skill to post up smaller guards and get easy buckets. He’s improving as a long-range shooter and the Clippers don’t need to rush his development.

29) Oklahoma City – Shabazz Napier, G, Connecticut

Russell Westbrook isn’t going anywhere, but the Thunder may not be able to hold on to Reggie Jackson long-term, so they can get a solid back-up in Napier who will be able to step in and take the role on quickly, if necessary. Napier is a winner and should fit easily in with the Thunder’s culture.

30) San Antonio – Spencer Dinwiddie, G, Colorado

The Spurs can really go in many directions here, but the first idea that popped into my head was taking a chance on the injured Dinwiddie. He should be recovered from his knee injury by the start of next season, but the Spurs won’t need to rush him into action. He can give them a big guard with some point guard abilities who can get to the basket easily against smaller defenders.

Tempers flare in chippy Game 4 between Heat, Sixers

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Miami is a physical defensive team, and in Game 4 at home Saturday they cranked that up. The Heat also are a handsy team they clutch, grab, hold, and get away with what they can (that isn’t new to this playoff series).

The Sixers are getting weary of it, and in a game with plenty of double technicals thanks to the referees trying to keep control. The game bubbled over a little midway through the second quarter when Robert Covington made sure Goran Dragic didn’t get off a shot after a foul.

These two teams don’t like each other. 😅

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Ben Simmons also leaned into Wade on a screen and pancaked him. But drew a foul.

😅

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Miami had the lead after three, but the Sixers have owned the games late this series. It’s going to go down to the wire.

Advantage Utah? Jazz’s Derrick Favors “100 percent” back

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — When Derrick Favors can find ways to impose his will, good things happen for the Utah Jazz.

Favors has been quietly, albeit effectively, getting it done against the Oklahoma City Thunder, playing in the shadows of Utah rookie of the year candidate Donovan Mitchell and Jazz center Rudy Gobert.

But a healthy Favors is making an impact.

The Jazz have returned to Utah with the series tied 1-1, thanks in no small part to Favors. He tallied career playoff highs of 20 points and 16 rebounds in Utah’s 102-95 road win on Wednesday.

Jazz coach Quin Snyder will start Favors at power forward alongside Gobert beginning with Game 3 on Saturday. But he will also utilize him as a backup center to spell Gobert. Favors has done his part to make playing alongside Gobert work by extending his shooting range to improve offensive spacing. He has also made himself an effective roller.

“He’s always been a good pick-and-roll player, regardless of `position,”‘ Snyder said. “We’ve never really thought of him as one position or the other. We’ve thought of him as a basketball player and tried to have him understand his strengths and then play to his strengths.”

Indeed. In the first two playoff games against the Thunder, Favors is averaging 13.5 points on 52 percent shooting and 10.5 rebounds.

It is exactly the type of impact Favors envisioned making when fighting to reclaim his body from knee and back injuries that afflicted him for the better part of two seasons.

“I’m back to being 100 percent,” Favors said. “Back healthy. Back moving the way I know I can move and playing the way I know I can play. It’s a big advantage for us.”

There’s no question having Favors at full strength has improved Utah’s ability to counter a Thunder team featuring the potent trio of Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. The veteran forward/center offers versatility on both ends of the court honed through playing multiple positions as circumstances dictate.

Crashing the boards definitely tops the list when checking off Favors’ strengths. He ranks second on the Jazz roster in rebounding behind Gobert with 7.2 rebounds per game.

When Favors is active on the glass, it can change the direction of a game for Utah. In Game 2 against Oklahoma City, he grabbed eight offensive rebounds through the first 2 1/2 quarters. By contrast, the Thunder totaled six offensive boards as a team in the same stretch.

“His length and his strength allow him to get his hands on balls,” Snyder said. “He’s got such good hands that even when he keeps the ball alive, usually something good happens.”

Favors’ willingness to go full throttle around the basket has turned him into a reliable complimentary player on offense. He rolls to the basket with consistency and, more often than not, it pays off for him.

It has turned Favors into a legitimate offensive presence again. He averaged 9.5 points on 48.7 percent shooting while limited to 50 games a year ago. This season, Favors is scoring 12.3 points per game while shooting 56.3 percent from the floor.

“Other teams and other opponents, they look and see I’m 6-foot-10 and think I’m a 5 man or whatever, so they try to take advantage of it,” Favors said. “It just feels good to be able to go out there and move the way that I know that I can move and be able to play the way I know that I can play and teams can’t take advantage of it.”

Favors is focused on staying aggressive as the series with the Thunder shifts to Utah. He is having fun playing basketball again and wants to make sure Oklahoma City continues to feel his presence on both ends of the court.

His teammates certainly do and they understand what a difference it can potentially make as the Jazz battle to keep going in the postseason.

“He’s been like that all year,” Mitchell said, “but he’s definitely turned it up with what he can do.”

 

Heat have work cut out vs. surging Sixers

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MIAMI (AP) — Philadelphia 76ers reserve guard Justin Anderson scored six points on Thursday, but he played a major role nonetheless in a 128-108 playoff win over the Miami Heat.

It was Anderson who worked on the psyche of teammate Joel Embiid, the 76ers’ All-Star center who returned after missing 10 straight games because of a concussion and left-eye injury.

“Justin was hyping me up on the bench, telling me I’m one of the best players in the league and that I have to take over,” said Embiid, who wore a mask during the game. “I liked that.”

Embiid, with that added boost of confidence, produced 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks in 30 minutes. He missed his first five shots from the floor and then made five of his next six, including three 3-pointers.

In addition, Embiid made 10 of 15 free throws, wrapping up his highly successful NBA playoff debut.

On Saturday afternoon, the teams will meet again at AmericanAirlines Arena in a first-round series the Heat trails 2-1.

Certainly, the Heat will try to corral Embiid, but Miami gave its own star center, Hassan Whiteside, just 13 minutes on Thursday, in part because of foul trouble.

Whiteside produced just five points, two rebounds and one block. He made his only shots from the field, but his four fouls helped to keep him off the court.

“I want to get more minutes,” said Whiteside, who led the NBA with 3.7 blocks in 2015-2016 and with 14.1 rebounds last season. “Even with the fouls, I could’ve been out there. I would not have fouled out.”

This season, Whiteside is averaging 14.0 points, 11.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. But, on average, his minutes per game are down seven minutes from last season and even more in the playoffs.

Whiteside said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra “wants me to just be in a corner and set picks.”

Spoelstra, meanwhile, said “it’s part of my job to figure out how he can get to his strengths and make an impact on defense and rebounding.”

Aside from the two centers, the other big story line in this series revolves around the 76ers, a young team that won 18 of its past 19 games. After years of horrendous records amid a major teardown and rebuild effort, the 76ers have looked like the best team in the league during the past month.

They didn’t just beat the Heat on Thursday — they ran them over, making 18 of 34 3-pointers (52.9 percent). They also shot 50.6 percent overall and were plus-eight on rebounds and plus-14 on paint points.

Ben Simmons, the 76ers’ star point guard, nearly had a triple-double with 19 points, a game-high 12 rebounds and seven assists.

JJ Redick, one of the top shooters in the league, scored just 10 points, but 76ers teammates Dario Saric and Marco Belinelli each scored 21 points and each hit four 3-pointers to help the offense flow.

Miami was led by 23 points and eight assists from point guard Goran Dragic. Heat reserve forward Justise Winslow scored a season-high 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. But Miami’s top three shooting guards — Tyler Johnson, Dwyane Wade and Wayne Ellington — combined for just 21 points.

The game’s biggest factor was Embiid, who had been listed as unlikely to play until Thursday afternoon, when he was cleared by doctors.

Embiid had a 7-0 run in the fourth quarter, which continued a trend. In Philadelphia’s two wins in this series, they have outscored the Heat by 31 and 21 points, respectively.

Anderson said Embiid has been a team player throughout.

“One of the things (Embiid) told me during (Thursday’s) game was to tell Coach that he didn’t want any plays run for him,” Anderson said. “He just wanted to play within the scheme.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo laid waste to Aron Baynes with this dunk

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For the first time this series Friday night, the Bucks looked like the more talented team.

That got them a comfortable win at home against the Celtics and set up a huge Game 4 on Sunday, with the Celtics still up 2-1 in the series. This looked more like the Bucks team that some of us picked to win the series, the team with the long and superior athletes unleashed on defense to challenge everything Boston tried. Milwaukee also got a big game out of Thon Maker at the five, which helped spread the floor because he’s a threat from three (as a team, the Bucks were 16-of-33 from deep) that the Celtics had to cover. That opens up driving lanes.

Giannis Antetokounmpo took advantage of those lanes laid waste to Aron Baynes with this dunk.

🛫 THE GREEK FREAK TAKES FLIGHT! 🛬

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Damn. That’s not fair.

🇬🇷💥

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Game 4 is Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee… and let’s just say I’m not betting Baynes will be able to turn the tables and put the Greek Freak in a poster.