Tag: Boston Celtics

carmelo Antnony

NBA’s Top 50 free agents: From LeBron James to Caron Butler and everyone in between


Free agency in the NBA comes up fast — the Finals end, it’s less than two weeks until the draft and then in less than a week free agency opens. It’s head spinning.

And it’s hard to keep track of who is out there as a free agent — so we at PBT are here to help.

Here is my list of the top 50 free agents on the market. Some of them — that guy at the top of the list or that guy in Dallas just a few spots below him — are not really going to test the open market, but they are free agents and on the list. Comb through it and see who your team should sign… then go look at the salary cap numbers and see if you can make it work.

1. LeBron James (used early termination option). Simply the single best player on the planet and whatever team is on is an instant contender. It has never been likely that he would leave Miami unless Wade and Bosh made a power grab, they didn’t (opting out as well) and now those three are just figuring out the numbers so Pat Riley has room to maneuver. LeBron is not taking meetings with other teams. That said, there is nobody like him in the game today and he is a free agent, so he has to top the list.

2. Carmelo Anthony (used early termination option). This is the one guy in our top four who is actually available. He can be had. Anthony can flat-out get buckets and with that he improves your team instantly. No, he doesn’t defend well. Yes, when he’s on offense the ball sticks sometimes. But the man is a versatile scorer — shoots the three, puts the ball on the floor and drives, draws fouls, hits contested looks, and rebounds. If you put him on a team with a good defensive center and a point guard who can keep him from dominating the ball, he can take you to the top.

3. Chris Bosh (used early termination option). His skill set is often undersold by people who don’t get the game or what Miami asked him to do. He is a shooter who can score inside and out (but prefers the jumper, and he hits the three). He plays a very high IQ game, understands spacing and system. He is one of the two or three best big men in the NBA defending the pick-and-roll. He willingly took a lesser role in Miami and is comfortable with it, which is why he’s not bolting. He will take less to stay, he is personally and professionally happy in Miami.

4. Dirk Nowitzki (unrestricted free agent). Just a pure scoring machine — smart and efficient. He hits threes, can score on the block and if he gets the ball at the elbow the defender is helpless. He’s getting older and his defense is slipping, but he’s still a top player in the league. He’s not leaving Dallas, the only question is how much he makes — last season he made $22.7 million and owner Mark Cuban said he will pay Nowitzki whatever he wants, but expect Dirk to take something closer to half last year’s salary, to help the team have room to chase a free agent.

5. Eric Bledsoe (restricted free agent). He came back from knee surgery last year and reminded everyone that he is incredibly athletic and can lift a team. He can score in transition, attacks the rim, looks like a top offensive weapon and is a dogged defender. Teams might be right to be concerned about his health. Suns GM Ryan McDonough has said they will match any offer — and remember he traded for Bledsoe, he’s not letting him go. If Bledsoe doesn’t get the max he will not be far off it.

6. Kyle Lowry (unrestricted free agent). An aggressive, attacking, driving player (and forceful defender), and after his agent laid it on the line for him Lowry’s off-the-court demeanor and issues improved last season. He is the best pure point guard in the class and a team can actually get him. That means a guy long underpaid in this league is about to get his due. The Raptors want to keep him but it’s going to come down to price, Lowry will have many suitors (and there are plenty of Heat rumors, depending on how much money they have).

7. Greg Monroe (restricted free agent). Potential future All-Star big man who has a versatile offensive game — he can score and make good decisions from the elbow, he finishes well from the post and runs the floor well. Stan Van Gundy would love to see how Monroe and Andre Drummond would grow together but Joe Dumars also left Josh Smith and his massive contract in the way. Monroe has been good not great so far in his career but he has some real fans around front offices that think the problems were how the Pistons used him, not Monroe himself. Don’t be shocked if he gets a max offer that the Pistons cannot match.

8. Chandler Parsons (restricted free agent). Incredibly athletic wing player who can hit the three and finish strong at the rim. He gets offensive spacing, his defense is a work in process but improving. The Rockets do not want to let him go, which is why they didn’t pick up his option (he could have played for them for less than $1 million but then been an unrestricted free agent next summer). He’s restricted and the Rockets will not turn their attention to him until after they go big game hunting, another team may step in with a big offer but the Rockets are very likely to match.

9. Lance Stephenson (unrestricted free agent). He is in alternating moments both brilliant and a nightmare. He can create shots for himself and others, he attacks on offense and can finish through contact. Very versatile defender. Then there’s the guy either blowing in LeBron’s ear or taking plays (and games) off, his aggressive style can become wild and reckless. How much are teams willing to bet on his maturity — how much are Larry Bird and the Pacers wiling to bet? Will another team that strikes out on their first big free agent targets go big with Stephenson as the fallback? One of the most interesting free agent scenarios to watch.

source: Getty Images
2014 NBA Finals – Game Two

10. Dwyane Wade (used early termination option). For a stretch, he can still be Dwyane Wade — he will destroy you in space, can attack the rim and handle contact, he plays a smart game and he understands what the Heat will do on offense. Of the “big three” he is the least likely to leave Miami and Pat Riley made it clear one way or another they would take care of the face of the franchise.

11. Gordon Hayward (restricted free agent). A guy with a number of fans in front offices around the league for his well rounded game — the Suns reportedly may offer the max, but the Jazz would match. He is a good scorer (16 points a game) inside and out, creates shots, good defender, and is fairly efficient. He’s good at a lot of things, great at none of them. How much will another team offer him to be a guy who can fit in as a second/third option, how much will the Jazz match?

12. Luol Deng (unrestricted free agent). Really strong defender who is an underrated offensive weapon (as a third scoring option he will get you points as the roll man or cutting off the ball). I think being on a Bulls team without Derrick Rose then being buried with the Cavaliers may help a team get him at a good price. Could be a good grab for an established team (Miami, Houston, Dallas) or a team on the rise.

13. Marcin Gortat (unrestricted free agent). Very complete, well rounded game, capable of playing power ball inside, he has a steady midrange jumper. Good defender but not always timely with the help. Just solid. Washington sent a crew from the front office to Poland to pitch him before free agency starts, but he’s the kind of guy a team with a little cap space and a need up front could use. (Miami?)

14. Pau Gasol (unrestricted free agent). He’s getting a little older but it looked worse than it really was thanks to Mike D’Antoni’s system. He’s still a very polished scorer, either from the low post or the elbow, has a midrange shot, has good court vision and is a very good passing big man, plus he defends better than he gets credit for. Look for a good team to pick him up (he wants to contend) and look for him when used right to have a bounce-back season. Then Lakers fans ask, “Why didn’t he play like that for us?” D’Antoni.

15. Channing Frye (exercised player option). He is a classic stretch four — 55.5 percent of his shots were three pointers last season and he hit 37 percent of them, which is actually below his career average). Teams tend to do better when he is on the court. He opted out looking for a longer-term deal in Phoenix but teams looking at bigger name fours who strike out could come calling.

16. Isaiah Thomas (restricted free agent). Fans in Sacramento love the guy and with good reason — he is small but lightning quick, gets to the rim, and last season he averaged 20 points a game with a very efficient .574 true shooting percentage. He’s a score first point guard. His big issue is defense, not for lack of effort but his size has teams just shooting over the top of him. Sacramento’s front office seems torn on him, will be interesting to see if another team will try to poach him with a big offer.

17. Trevor Ariza (unrestricted free agent). He is a good defender who last year shot the ball well all over the court on his way to 14.4 points a game and a .590 true shooting percentage. But this is not the first time he had a really good year in a contract year, and last time he fell off a few steps the next season. Teams should be leery. Washington has made re-signing him a priority.

18. Avery Bradley (restricted free agent). He is a fantastic defender, someone you can throw at quick point guards and slow them down. You might look at him as a “3-and-D” guy as he hit 39.5 percent from three last season, but he needs to be on a team where someone else is creating the shots and he’s just knocking them down.

19. Paul Pierce (unrestricted free agent). He’s not your primary scoring option anymore but he’s still got this crafty ability to get off his shot and knock it down with a hand in his face, whether from three or the elbow. He’ll be 37, no long term deals are coming, but he can help a contender. Likely to re-sign in Brooklyn but the Clippers among others reportedly will make a pitch.

source: Getty Images
2014 NBA Finals – Game Four

20. Boris Diaw (unrestricted free agent). As the Miami Heat can tell you, he’s a very versatile player that they found hard to defend because he’s both smart and unpredictable. He can shoot the three, drive the lane, and is a gifted passer. When focused as he has been in San Antonio he’s good, but put him in another situation such as Charlotte and he almost ate his way out of the league. It’d be a surprise if he signs with anyone other than the Spurs.

21. Andray Blatche (unrestricted free agent). He had a bounce back year in Brooklyn and that will get some teams to come calling. He scored 11 points a game with a pedestrian true shooting percentage of .532. Not a great defender. Look at his history and there are questions, but he deserves a raise from the $1.4 million he made last year and some team will give it to him, likely the Nets to keep him.

22. Nick Young (unrestricted free agent). Swaggy P is an unrepentant gunner who never met a shot he didn’t like, but will make more of them than he should. If a team is looking for a sixth-man to just come in and put up points he’s a fit, ask him to do more than that and they’ll regret it.

23. Shaun Livingston (unrestricted free agent). One of the best comeback stories in the NBA, he has developed into a rock-solid point guard. In Brooklyn last year Deron Williams could still make the high-end plays that Livingston can’t anymore, but Livingston was steadier and smoother with the offense. May not be able to go heavy minutes with him, but a solid addition to any roster.

24. Vince Carter (unrestricted free agent). The athleticism that made him legendary only shows in flashes now (and at age 37 those flashes become more infrequent) but he is a reliable, steady scorer and a smart, veteran player. Great fit in Dallas, which wants to retain him.

25. Rodney Stuckey (unrestricted free agent). He attacks the rim aggressively, has a decent midrange game, and is basically a volume scorer (he put up 13.9 points a game last season but with a below averaged true shooting percentage of .516). If you’re looking for a sixth man to bring points, toughness and energy off the bench he’s a good call.

26. Darren Collison (unrestricted free agent). A solid backup point guard who played well for the Clippers last season when Chris Paul was down for a stretch. He’s still quick, but picks his spots to use it. One of the better backup point guards on the market this summer and the Clippers have made keeping him a top priority.

27. Greivis Vasquez (restricted free agent). He’s a quality backup point guard — he’s got good size, is quicker than you think and a very adept passer. He has lateral quickness issues which really show on the defensive end. So long as you are using him as a backup he can be a quality addition to a team.

28. Josh McRoberts (unrestricted free agent). Works hard on every possession and if you don’t think he’s athletic you will end up in one of his poster dunks. He’s good at a lot of things — passing, being tough inside and can hit some threes. He’s not great at any one thing. He was key in Charlotte last season and they want him back but other teams will have interest.

29. Ray Allen (unrestricted fee agent). Still in great shape, still the consummate professional and still can knock down the corner three. But the fading athleticism has made doing things other than shooting (such as defending) difficult and he seems frustrated by that (speaking to him at the Finals I got that impression). Likely re-signs with Heat, maybe another contender, or retires.

Shawn Marion, Tony Parker

30. Shawn Marion (unrestricted free agent). The days of “the Matrix” are gone but he still is solid with the ability to hit the three, drive inside and score (or post up smaller players) and he’s a decent defender. At age 36 it should be a short deal but he can help a team looking for forward depth. Dallas wants to retain him.

31. Anthony Morrow (unrestricted free agent). He shot 45.1 percent from three last season — he does that one thing very well (and not much else), but that one thing is important so he will get some nice checks coming his way.

32. Spencer Hawes (unrestricted free agent). A floor spacing big man who averaged 15.3 points a game and shot 41.6 percent from three last season. He is a good passer, can block a few shots and get you a few rebounds. Teams looking for a big to stretch out defenses could do a lot worse.

33. Chris Andersen (unrestricted free agent). He can rebound, block shots and is very mobile for a big man, but at age 36 the athleticism for his size that made him stand out (well, besides all the ink) is fading. How fast he fades determines his value. He wants more than the $1.4 million he was on the hook for last season.

34. Thabo Sefolosha (unrestricted free agent). A “3-and-D” guy who shot just 31.6 percent from three last season for OKC. He’s just 30, if you think the three point shot will return he’s a solid pickup, but if it has taken back off to Switzerland his usefulness is limited.

35. Glen Davis (unrestricted free agent). Big Baby salvaged himself somewhat after a disastrous end in Orlando by being the best Clipper big man off the bench come the playoffs (which meant he just had to be better than Ryan Hollins, Davis is still that). He’s an okay scorer, rebounder and defender, but can go through long unfocused stretches. After series of injuries not going to get a long term deal.

36. Danny Granger (unrestricted free agent). Like Big Baby had a bit of a resurgence with the Clippers last season but Doc Rivers leaned on him less come the playoffs. Not near the All-Star pre-knee surgeries guy, he can still be a solid part of the rotation on the wing.

37. Marvin Williams (unrestricted free agent). A guy with all the physical tools and a very laid-back, unaggressive, uninspired game. He can be part of a team’s rotation but they can’t lean on him for much.

38. Patty Mills (unrestricted free agent). He’s very quick and can get to the rim and get you points. He’s aggressive by nature, loves every shot he sees, but also is an adept passer. He’s played really well in the Spurs system this season, buyer beware if you try to put him in another one. Spurs want to keep him.

39. Jodie Meeks (unrestricted free agent). He’s a shooter but he does it efficiently — 74.2 percent of his shots were three pointers (hitting 40.1 percent) or at the rim. Had a .601 true shooting percentage last season. He was asked to score in Mike D’Antoni’s wide open system, how he fits in others is the question.

source: Getty Images40. P.J. Tucker (unrestricted free agent). He was a tough, gritty, enforcer of a defensive player who shot 38.7 percent from three last season to provide a little value at the other end. Whether he can do that for a team other than the Suns remains to be seen.

41. Evan Turner (restricted free agent). His stock plummeted after how he played in Indiana — he put up raw numbers in Philly where he was asked to shoot but when forced to blend into the Pacers team concept he could not. What team is going to look to bring him in now?

42. Mario Chalmers (unrestricted free agent). He can hit the three, play a little defense and turn the ball over more than he should. Is used to teammates yelling at him. He’s not a bad point guard but Miami would love to upgrade the spot.

43. Xavier Henry (unrestricted free agent). He found a rhythm and a way to use his athleticism in Mike D’Antoni’s offense but there are questions about what he brings to something more structured. Needs to land on an up-tempo team.

44. Jerryd Bayless (unrestricted free agent). Another solid backup point guard out there on the market — he’s quick, can get inside and is a threat from three, knows how to run a team. Will have the occasional big numbers night. Makes a nice sixth man.

45. Ramon Sessions (unrestricted free agent). Add him to the list of quality reserve point guards out there. He can get to the rim and score, does know how to set up teammates and is solid at running the team. Seems like he’s been around forever but he’s just 28.

46. Steve Blake (unrestricted free agent). He worked hard to become decent at running Mike D’Antoni’s offense, got traded to Golden State and was a mess. He can shoot the three, can play off or with the ball, but needs a defined (and somewhat limited) role.

47. C.J. Miles (unrestricted free agent). He’s a good shooter (39.3 percent from three last season) and that’s a good reason to keep him in the rotation, coming off the bench to knock down shots. Not going to get much beyond that.

48. Mike Miller (unrestricted free agent). He was actually healthy last season and helped the Memphis Grizzlies space the floor, plus he plays a smart game and can make some good reads on defense. That said there is a long injury history so it’s a buyer beware signing.

49. Jordan Hill (unrestricted free agent). A pure hustle guy, his numbers indicated he should have played more for the Lakers but they had frustrations with him off the court that bled over. Can be a solid rotation big that the fans will love because he works hard every play.

50. Caron Butler (unrestricted free agent). He knocked down 44.1 percent of his threes in Oklahoma City, which got him minutes in front of the fading Sefolosha. He’s liked in the locker room, good in the community and brings a decent all-around offensive game but no defense to the table.

Guys who just miss the cut: Mike Scott, DeJuan Blair, Jordan Crawford, Greg Oden, Devin Harris, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, Trevor Booker, E’Twaun Moore, Greg Stiemsma, Hedo Turkoglu, Jan Vesely, Jason Collins, Matt Bonner, Rashard Lewis, Rasual Butler, Udonis Haslem.

NBA Draft winners and losers: Good day for the Sixers, rough day for their fans


Let’s just admit this up front: Projecting the draft winners and losers just hours after the draft is a fool’s errand. There is no way to know how these players are going to pan out long term — guys we think were steals will fade away, guys we shrugged at tonight will be the guys fans ask their GM “how did you pas on this guy?” a few years from how. An injury or two will change everything.

That said, I’m willing to play the fool tell you who won and lost. And do it fully expecting to be proven right in five years.

This was a quieter draft than expected, what was supposed to be a beehive of trades saw only a few. Teams were drafting for themselves and some did it better than others.

Winner, Denver Nuggets. They were my biggest winners on draft day. Over the course of Thursday they turned Evan Fournier, Doug McDermott and a second round pick into Arron Afflalo, Gary Harris — maybe the steal of the draft after he fell to 19 — and potential future big man Josef Nurkic (stashed in Europe for a couple years). Two guard was the Nuggets weak spot 24 hours ago, no more. The Nuggets got better without giving up much.

[MORE: Every trade involving a 2014 NBA draft pick]

Winner: Philadelphia 76ers. They took a smart gamble and got maybe the best player in the draft in Joel Embiid — when you’re rebuilding and you need elite talent you swing for the fences not play it safe. Put Embiid next to Nerlens Noel in a couple years and if they can stay healthy they can be a force in the paint. The Sixers got a good future point forward in Dario Saric (who will spend the next two years in Turkey, developing. They picked up the very athletic Jerami Grant out of Syracuse, who should make some plays and fits an up-tempo system like the Sixers run. They rolled the dice on a few Europeans as well who may pan out down the line.

Loser: Philadelphia 76ers fans. This team lost 26 games in a row late last year and isn’t going to be much if any better next season. Embiid could pan out to be a great pick (and is likely at least a good one) in a couple years, and when Dario Saric comes to the NBA in a couple years he could be a big boost. But neither of those guys is playing next season. It’s going to be the largely same tanktastic roster in Philly, and that sucks for fans asked to sit through another year of it. Intellectually Sixers fans get the building plan, but it’s hard to watch right now.

[MORE: Top five players passed over in the draft]

Winner: Charlotte Hornets. Two great picks… see what happens when Michael Jordan lets GM Rich Cho do his job. First they got Noah Vonleh. Indiana power forward slipped down the board on draft night, right to the Hornets. He is a great fit — they have Al Jefferson banging inside and needed a stretch four to space the floor, Vonleh is that guy (he shot 48.5 percent from three last season). Then later on they traded with the Heat and got one of the underrated studs of the draft in P.J. Hairston — the guy can flat out shoot the rock and after much of a D-League season he is more ready to step in and contribute from Day 1 then most of the other guys in the draft.

Winner: Adam Silver. The handling of the Isaiah Austin situation, selecting the Baylor star for the league and brining him on stage, was almost as masterful as how he handled the Donald Sterling situation. Classy act. Silver continues to just kill it as commissioner so far (except for the age limit thing).

Loser: Zach LaVine. The UCLA prospect did not exactly want to go to Minnesota. Way to endear yourself to a fan base already pissed their star player is trying to push his way out of town.

Winner: Andrew Wiggins. He’s the No. 1 overall pick and he’s going to have Kyrie Irving feeding him the rock. The owner is desperate to make the playoffs and if everyone can just stay heathy the roster as it is now can do that in the East.

[MORE: Wiggins goes No. 1 overall, just like he always planned]

Loser: Kevin Love. He and his agent pushed to get traded before the draft and to a destination he wanted, but he is still a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves as you read this. Wolves president Flip Saunders doesn’t feel the need to make a move until he is ready, and he’s willing to wait for a better deal. Even if that means Love has to come to Timberwolves training camp, which would be very awkward.

Winner: Boston Celtics. Marcus Smart fell to them at No. 6 and with Rajon Rondo potentially being on the move this is a brilliant pick. Smart defends, competes and is going to be a good PG in the Association for a decade. Then they got another guy with great potential in James Young down at 17. Two guys who can be part of the future Celtics.

Winner: Los Angeles Lakers. Julius Randle is a guy who can step right in and play for them now and can be part of whatever the post-Kobe future is for the Lakers. He was long projected to fall all the way to 7 but this was a guy the Lakers liked and is a guy that may well pan out better than a number of guys taken ahead of him.

[MORE: Julius Randle hopes to learn plenty from Kobe Bryant]

2014 NBA Draft pick-by-pick draft tracker (info on all the picks, trades)

2014 NBA Draft

No more rumors, no more smokescreens and no more agents trying to spin — it’s time for action.

NBA teams are on the clock.

The 2014 NBA Draft is here.

In this post we will update you with every pick, telling you a little about the player your team just selected. We’ll also keep you up to date with all the trade action going on (and there could be a lot of that tonight). Just hit refresh and you’ll have the latest news and analysis as teams sort through a crop of players with a lot of potential but a lot of questions.

[Want NBA draft gear? Click here]

Let’s get this underway with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who for one year is not going to get booed.


1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins, 6’8” small forward, Kansas. The most hyped, anticipated draft pick in years, it’s a lot to live up to but he has a lot going for him — freakish athlete, he has good skills (which need polishing on the offensive end), he defends very well, and by all reports is very coachable with a good hoops IQ. He can be a key building piece along with Kyrie Irving. Can he be transcendent is another question.

2. Milwaukee Bucks:Jabari Parker, 6’8” power forward, Duke. A polished scorer, the most NBA ready of the top picks, he can put up points for the Bucks from Day 1. He can be used as a four in small line-ups or at the three for bigger one, that plus his versatility on offense led to Carmelo Anthony/Paul Pierce comparisons. But Parker has a lot of work to do on the defensive end (remember Coach K benched him late in Duke’s tournament loss, it was for that reason). Still, put him in a front line rotation with John Henson and Larry Sanders (if he gets his head screwed back on) and you have something to build on.

3. Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid, 7’0” center, Kansas. You already know the concerns about him being injury prone — he had two screws put in the navicular bone of his right foot, after a stress fracture in his back. Those are the kinds of injuries that can become chronic. Still, this is a great gamble by the Sixers. In a league without many dominant centers anymore, Embiid could become one. Before the injury he was incredibly athletic and mobile for someone his size, he was great at rim protecting, he could rebound, and his offensive game was all about potential. How far he bounces back remains to be seen but if he gets close to his potential the Sixers have a steal. They likely just have to wait a year to find out.

4: Orlando Magic: Aaron Gordon, 6’9” power forward, Arizona. A little surprised he went this high. One of the best athletes in a draft deep with good athletes, Gordon is going to impress Magic fans making plays running the floor in transition (expect some spectacular dunks), he will grab boards and he can defend multiple positions. But he has a lot of work to do, he needs a lot of polish in the halfcourt offense — he doesn’t have a good jumper or post up game. He just gets his points on athleticism, that could limit his ceiling (especially if it doesn’t change). Shawn Marion is often the comp used with him. Gordon and Victor Oladipo give the Magic a couple nice young pieces out of the last two drafts.

5. Utah Jazz: Dante Exum, 6’6” combo guard, Australia. He’s a big point guard who can play at the two spot, offering a lot of versatility next to Trey Burke in the backcourt. He’s got impressive skills for a young player — he can get to the rim and plays a smart game — with plenty of room to grow. He needs to develop a consistent jumper with three point range, the jumper needs work. There was a division between people in the Marcus Smart camp and the Exum camp — Exum has a higher ceiling but is lest tested and a bigger gamble. Still, the Jazz need a star to go with some nice young pieces, he’s the one guy on the board who could become one.

6. Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart, 6’3” point guard, Oklahoma State. With questions about what Danny Ainge will do with Rajon Rondo, Smart could be the Celtics’ point guard for the next decade. Smart has good size, he’s aggressive in attacking the rim, he’s a deft passer and, most importantly, he is possibly the best defender in the draft. He’s got to develop a more consistent jump shot, he’s got to learn to limit turnovers, but this is a quality pickup.

7. Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle, 6’9” power forward, Kentucky. He said he grew up a Kobe Bryant fan, now he gets to see what it’s like to be his teammate. Lakers’ fans are going to like Randle from the start because he can come in and start putting up points and grabbing boards from Day 1. He is strong and agile, which makes him dangerous in the post and on the boards. He can put up double doubles from the start. There is mixed opinions about how good a defender he can be, he’s not long. He needs to ultimately develop a jumper and take care of the ball better, this things can limit his ceiling. But there’s a lot to like.

8. Sacramento Kings: Nik Stauskas, 6’6” shooting guard, Michigan. This seems high to me but he is probably the best shooter in this draft, he has ridiculous range and can shoot from the midrange as well. More than just catch-and-shoot, he can put the ball on the floor a little to create a shot for himself (although how well he does that against faster NBA defenders remains to be seen). The Kings need someone who can space the floor and create a little extra room for DeMarcus Cousins inside, although last year the Kings picked Ben McLemore to be that guy (not sure how they fit together). There are serious questions about his defense — he’s not quick laterally, not long and he’s going to be matched up on athletic freaks at the two guard spot. His improvement at that end of the floor determines his playing time and longevity in the league.

9. Charlotte Hornets: Noah Vonleh, 6’9” power forward, Indiana. He slipped on draft day, he was top five projected by many. He’s a big man seemingly built for the modern game, able to play inside and score with either hand (he has a nice jump hook) plus he can shoot from deep, hitting 48.5 percent from three last season. He plays bigger than his size thanks to a massive 7’4.5” wingspan, plus he has huge hands. The questions are his high turnovers, poor passing, and doubts about whether he is explosive enough to adjust to the NBA game in the paint. He can learn next to Al Jefferson, nice fit.

10. Philadelphia 76ers: Elfrid Payton, 6’4” point guard, Louisiana Lafayette. He is being traded to the Orlando Magic for Dario Saric. For Payton this is good, he is a better fit in Orlando (no Michael Carter-Williams at the same position). One of the fastest risers in the draft over the past few weeks, there is a lot to like. A tall point guard he can break down defenses off the dribble, is good at finding teammates with the pass, and uses his quickness and length to be a very good defender. The big problem is he lacks a jump shot — he shot 25 percent on jumpers in the half court offense last season. That has to be fixed, but he has good form.

11. Denver Nuggets (to be traded to Chicago Bulls): Doug McDermott, 6’8” forward, Creighton. He appears headed to the Chicago Bulls in a trade, a place that is a great fit for him as they need shooting from the four and he can do that. McDermott certainly has the outside shot (44.9 percent from three) but more than that he can put the ball on the floor, post up and score in a variety of ways — and do it efficiently. The question is how his game translates — he’s not a great athlete by NBA standards, he plays below the rim, and while he got mismatches in college in the NBA the guys guarding him will be more athletic. How does he adjust? And there are questions about how well he can defend at the next level, and if he can’t defend Tom Thibodeau will not play him.

12. Orlando Magic: Dario Saric, 6’10” forward, Croatia. He will be traded to Philadelphia is a swap for Elfrid Payton. Saric has signed a contract to spend the next two years playing in Turkey, so this is a draft and stash for the Sixers after the trade. Saric is maybe the versatile offensive player in this draft, you may not know his name but scouts have followed him for years. He has point-forward skills with a very high hoops IQ. Saric has impressive ball handling skills for his size, great scoring instincts (in the post and in transition), plus he can pass. He needs a more polished jumper and to get stronger, plus to work on his defense, and he’s going to do that in Europe. Still a lot of potential here.

13: Minnesota Timberwolves: Zach LaVine, 6’6” shooting guard, UCLA. The question here isn’t athleticism — as the picture that went around the Web showed, he can leap out of the building. He is an elite NBA level athlete. The question is can he play basketball well? He used just 9.7 percent of UCLA’s possessions while on the floor, he is fantastic in transition or coming off screens, but he struggled to create in the half court. His jump shot mechanics are ugly but he hit 37 percent from three. PBT’s own Ed Isaacson didn’t even rank him in the top 10 shooting guards because of questions about his skills. Expect to see him get some D-League run as a rookie to see if he can find more of an all-around game.

14. Phoenix Suns: T.J. Warren, 6’8” forward, North Carolina State. One of the top scorers in college basketball last season, he knows to find holes in the defense to get his shot, works hard off the ball, has a nice runner, and should pair well with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe in Phoenix. However, most of those shots are from the midrange, a dying shot in the NBA (Warren shot 26.7 percent from three and his jump shot mechanics are not good). He’s not much of a passer How will his game translate?

15. Atlanta Hawks: Adreian Payne, 6’10” power forward, Michigan State. This is a good pick for Atlanta. Payne finally put his entire game together his senior year in Lansing, and he is a stretch four prospect in the NBA (he shot 42 percent from three last season). Not just a shooter, Payne can put the ball on the floor and has a post game. Is he strong enough to guard fours in the NBA? His defense has not been great, but is not terrible. Paired with Al Horford and Paul Millsap in the rotation it gives the Hawks some versatility along the front line.

16. Chicago Bulls (to be traded to Denver Nuggets): Josuf Nurkic, 6’10” center, Bosnia. He’s big, he’s physical but he is a bit of a project. There are things to like — NBA size, toughness, good footwork, he’s an efficient scorer with a good touch around the rim, and he works for rebounds. That said he’s not athletic for a center by NBA standards, and he needs to learn how to play defense and just gain experience in general. He could spend time in Europe for seasoning before coming over. Which is likely what the Bulls want because they want cap space to go after another star.

17. Boston Celtics: James Young, 6’7” swingman, Kentucky. He looks like an NBA wing, tall and long (6’11” wingspan). Young was recruited as a shooter but he hit just 35 percent from three last year and inside the arc took far too many contested shots. He can put the ball on the floor but really only goes left, something defenses figured out. He has the athleticism to be a good defender but needs a lot of work and more focus on that end. A lot of potential here but a lot of work to do to realize it.

18. Phoenix Suns: Tyler Ennis, 6’2” point guard, Syracuse. He is a real floor general kind of point guard, one who showed a mature game on the court. The kind of guy who could be a solid backup for Goran Dragic. The question is what kind of playmaker Ennis can be at the NBA level — he struggled to do that in college (don’t let a few buzzer beaters fool you, he only finished 50% of his half court offense shots in the paint) and the defenses are about to get tougher.

19. Chicago Bulls (to be traded to Denver Nuggets): Gary Harris, 6’4” shooting guard, Michigan State. This late in the draft this is a steal for Denver (and a great backup for Arron Afflalo). One of the best two guards in this class, he has a sweet shooting stroke he can use either off the bounce or catch-and-shoot. He plays a smart game, rarely turning the ball over. Maybe the things scouts like best about him is his defense — he can guard the one or the two, although he will be tested against taller two guards in the NBA. He’s not athletic for the NBA level, he’s not going to create his own shot much, but he’s a guy who could pay off long term as his skills develop more.

20. Toronto Raptors: Bruno Caboclo, 6’9” small forward, Brazil. The first way off the board, unexpected pick… expect we should have expected nothing less from Masai Ujiri. Caboclo worked out for zero teams. He came out of the NBA’s international Basketball without Borders program. Aside that he’s a complete mystery. Fran Fraschilla said on the ESPN broadcast he is athletic but very, very raw and at least three or four years away from the league. So a long-term draft and stash.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Mitch McGary, 6’10” center, Michigan. For a player that needs to develop some McGary couldn’t have landed in a better spot. He is a pick-and-roll big man who is trying to add the pick-and-pop to his game but appears to need work on his shot (he only played 8 games last season due to injury). He gets his buckets mostly running in transition, on the offensive glass (he’s aggressive going for rebounds) or just moving off the ball. He sets an NBA caliber pick already. He’s pretty average defensively. Should make a decent backup big off the bench.

22. Memphis Grizzlies: Jordan Adams, 6’5” shooting guard, UCLA. My favorite of the three Bruins likely to go in the first round, he plays a smart game. He finds holes in the defense to get of his shot and is an efficient scorer, although he needs to develop a three point shot, especially because the Grizzlies need shooting. He is a good, smart defender on and off the ball. He’s not an explosive athlete but he’s got a unique game in this draft class and should have a good NBA career.

23. Utah Jazz: Rodney Hood, 6’8” small forward, Duke. Good value pick for the Jazz here. Hood has the size of an NBA wing and is one of the best shooters in the draft hitting nearly 43 percent from three last season. He can shoot from the midrange, put the ball on the floor some and tends to make the smart pass. The questions are his defense (he was disinterested at times) and how his game translate when guarded by athletic threes not mismatched on fours as often happened at Duke.

24. Charlotte Hornets: Shabazz Napier, 6’1” point guard, Connecticut. He will be traded to the Miami Heat, according to multiple reports. The two-time NCAA champion has a lot of fans (including LeBron James) but scouts have not been as high on him, seeing him as a solid second string NBA point guard (but one who can step into that role tomorrow). He scores well in isolation or off the pick-and-roll, generally good shooter who can create space, and plays tough defense. The issues are his decision making is far from consistent (remember Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb looked pedestrian with Napier) and while his athleticism was enough for college he’s going to find it harder to create room at the NBA level.

25. Houston Rockets: Clint Capela, 6’11” power forward, Switzerland. This is likely a draft and stash pick, which makes sense for Houston as they try to keep their cap space to chase some big game. Capela had a breakout year in the top French league, has good size and is very mobile for a big man, he can finish at the rim and there is a lot of potential at both ends of the court. But he needs to fill out and get stronger, he needs to get much better at reading the game on defense and adding offensive polish.

26. Miami Heat: P.J. Hairston, 6’5” shooting guard, Texas Legends (D-League). He is going to be traded to the Charlotte Hornets for Shabazz Napier and picks, and this is a great pickup for Charlotte. Kicked out of North Carolina Hairston did what more players should do (and will if the age limit gets raised) — used the D-League for development. He can play some minutes right away in the NBA and he gives the Bobcats shooting. He has easy and comfortable three point range and can put the ball on the floor and attack off the bounce, although his catch-and-shoot needs to be more consistent. He struggled with his decision making at the pace of the D-League games and his defense was inconsistent, but he’s been playing at a higher level of competition and that will show (watch for him to have a good Summer League).

27. Phoenix Suns: Bogdan Bogdanovic, 6’6” shooting guard, Serbia. Not to be confused with the Bosnian with the same last name (whose rights belong to the Nets), this is still likely another draft-and-stash candidate (who may not come over, he will get big money offers to stay, more than an NBA rookie deal). He has good size, ball handling skills (he was forced into a point guard role last season and did well), and can shoot out to three. There is a lot of potential here, the questions are his defense and decision making skills remain. Good gamble by Suns.

28. Los Angeles Clippers: C.J. Wilcox, 6’5” shooting guard, Washington. Has the potential to be a three-point specialist in the NBA. He shot 39.1 percent from three last season and hit 43 percent on catch-and-shoot chances. He is one of the best shooters in the draft, plus he can put the ball on the floor. He has an impressive 6’9” wingspan, which will help his otherwise average defense. If he improves on that end of the floor you can see him getting on the court to space the floor at the other end.

29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Josh Huestis, 6’8” small forward, Stanford. He didn’t really standout when asked to lead Stanford on offense, but teams think he could be a good NBA role player. Specifically a defensive stopper — he is athletic, a smart defender and shows real pride on that end of the court. He was all over Wiggins in the NCAA Tournament. He shot 34 percent from three last season and that’s his key — he can be a “3 and D” guy if he develops the three. With the Thunder is the perfect place for a young player to develop.

30. San Antonio Spurs: Kyle Anderson, 6’8” small forward, UCLA. He played basically a point-forward position for UCLA and was their primary ball handler — he has fantastic passing skills and floor vision. That should fit in well with the Spurs. While he shot 48 percent from three last season he has a slow release and took most of his shots off the bounce and there are questions about how he adapts at the next level. One big concern is he’s going to struggle to defend his opposite number. However, if one guy should fit in with the Spurs it is Anderson.


31. Milwaukee Bucks: Damien Inglis, 6’8” small forward, French Guiana. Good second round pick for the Bucks. He has a great NBA build for the three — 6’8” at 240 pounds with 7’3” wingspan. He has good ball handling skills, is a good passer (when not turning it over) and is strong in transition. More impressive is his defense, he can cover the three and the four. His jumper has looked good in the French League but not so much when brought over to American workouts. A draft and stash guy, he’s the second youngest player in the draft and could develop into a player.

32. Philadelphia 76ers: K.J. McDaniels, 6’6” small forward, Clemson. He is long (6’11” wingspan) and that helps him generate steals on defense, which is the end of the floor getting him drafted. He’s very athletic and can guard the 1-3, which is something coaches like. He can hit an open jumper if he sets his feet, but he can’t create his own shot and gets most of his points off hustle — running in transition, hitting the offensive boards, and with that getting to the line.

33. Cleveland Cavaliers: Joe Harris, 6’6” swingman, Virginia. He’s a shooter and his NBA niche is floor spacing from the wing. He shot 40 percent from three his senior year and was knocking down the catch-and-shoot with the best of them at the draft combine. He works hard off the ball to get open and he can pump fake and drive if the defense is there, plus he has nice passing skills. But he is limited athletically, especially considering who he would match up with on the wing in the NBA. The question is if he can defend well enough to stay on the floor and get shots.

34. New York Knicks: Cleanthony Early, 6’7” forward, Wichita State. He can flat out score and do it efficiently, whether inside from the post if you put someone smaller on him, or he can shoot the jumper (37.6 percent from three) if someone larger is on him. If Carmelo Anthony leaves this guy is going to get a lot of shots. The question is how he adjusts to the NBA size — in college he got mismatches at the four most of the time, but in the NBA he will have to play quicker, longer guys at the three. Defense is going to be a concern, can he adjust to that at the NBA level? At age 23 (one of the older players in the draft) there are questions about how much more he can and will improve.

35. Utah Jazz: Jarnell Stokes, 6’8” power forward, Tennessee. He’s going to Memphis in a trade, and he will fit in there. He’s old school and brings the power to the power forward position. His most translatable skill is rebounding — he uses his strength to clear out space on both ends of the court and just out works guys. He has a good touch in the paint. He is not as explosive as the guys he’ll have to defend. On the other end of the court he needs to develop a midrange shot.

36. Milwaukee Bucks: Johnny O’Bryant, 6’8” power forward/center, LSU. When he’s being aggressive he can put up points, either from the post or knocking down midrange jumpers. He is physically strong and can defend on the block. The issue here has been conditioning and focus on the court, he showed more of that last season and the Bucks are betting he can make the next leap. He has the physical tools to play in the NBA, it’s the mental side he has to prove. Could be part of an interesting front court rotation in Milwaukee.

37. Toronto Raptors: DeAndre Daniels, 6’8” small forward, Connecticut. Highly recruited out of high school, he started to show some of that promise last season — he saved his best for the NCAA Tournament and the Huskies title run. He is long and athletic, and he is a good shooter from the perimeter (42 percent from three this past season). He can catch-and-shoot or go up off the bounce. Not great handles, he doesn’t really create shots (and can sometimes chooses bad ones), and he’s an average defender. But there is potential here.

38. Detroit Pistons: Spencer Dinwiddie, 6’6” shooting guard, Colorado. He tore his ACL during his senior season at Colorado which caused him to fall to the second round, where he is a good pick. Because of injury it could be a while before he gets on the court. When he was playing he was really more of the ball dominating guard who can get into the lane, finish or draw contact. He is a solid passer but not a classic playmaker. He’s not a great defender but not terrible. It may take a couple of years, but he could be a quality rotation guard in the league.

39. Philadelphia 76ers: Jerami Grant, 6’8” small forward, Syracuse. Really good second round pick, especially for uptempo Sixers. He is as athletic as anyone in this draft and he is long (7’2” wingspan). He also is raw. He can finish inside but get him outside 10 feet and his jumper is inconsistent (although somewhat improved). Kind of the same thing on defense, his athleticism on defense leads him to make plays and show potential, but he needs work on reading the game.

40. Minnesota Timberwolves: Glenn Robinson, 6’7” small forward, Michigan. Yes, he is the son of former No. 1 pick Big Dog Robinson. He is aggressive going to the rim but got most of his touches working off the ball — he looked good with Trey Burke setting him up two years ago but struggled to create his own shot this year. He can score within 15 feet but his jumper needs to be more consistent and show range (30.6 percent from three). He’s an okay but not thrilling defender.

41. Denver Nuggets: Nikola Jokic, 6’11” center, Serbia. He plays a very high IQ game with a great feel for when to shoot and when to pass. He has an unconventional game but one that could find a home in the NBA at some point. For now he’s a draft and stash guy.

42. Houston Rockets: Nick Johnson, 6’3” shooting guard, Arizona. The Pac-12 player of the year. He’s athletic, competitive, backs down from nobody. He’s not a guy who should do a lot of shot creating for himself and others (he struggled some with a larger offensive load this past season), but working off the ball he can make plays and shoot (36.7 per cent from three last season). He fell this far because is he is very undersized at the two.

43. Atlanta Hawks: Walter Tavares, 7’3” center, Cape Verde. To answer your first question, Cape Verde is an island off the coast of Senegal that is its own nation. Tavares has NBA size and shown good shot blocking and rebounding skills playing in the Spanish ABC league, but he is raw and somewhat new to the game. His offensive game needs a lot of polish still. He’s relatively new to the game and learning, expect this to be a draft and stash and see if he can develop in Spain for a few years.

44. Minnesota Timberwolves: Markel Brown, 6’3” shooting guard, Oklahoma State. He’s the $1 million man — the Brooklyn Nets bought his rights on draft night for that sum. Marcus Smart’s backcourt running mate, he’s a fantastic athlete but a guy who is undersized for the two at the NBA level. In college he could work off the ball and hit contested shots, that will get harder with the NBA level. He’s going to need to spread the floor and knock down shots to stick in the NBA.

45. Charlotte Hornets: Dwight Powell, 6’11” power forward, Stanford. He’s a good athlete for his size, which intrigued teams. He’s versatile, able to score in the post with a jump hook or facing up on the perimeter. That said, to really stick in the NBA that jumper is going to have to fall a lot more than the 25 percent it did from three last season. His jumper in general needs to be more consistent.

46. Washington Wizards: Jordan Clarkson, 6’5” combo guard, Missouri. He is being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. He can play either guard spot but even at the two he’s really going to be a guy who wants the ball in his hands and to drive and create. Mostly create for himself. He needs to improve his jumper (25 percent on catch-and-shoots last season, 28.1 percent from three overall). His decision making is up and down (he doesn’t have the athleticism to get himself out of trouble with that at the NBA level) and his defense is okay but his effort is in and out at that end.

47. Philadelphia 76ers: Russ Smith, 6’1” point guard, Louisville. He is being traded to the New Orleans Pelicans for Pierre Jackson. Smith had a fantastic and fun college career, but he helped his draft stock more by making fewer wild plays and maturing his game his senior year. He showed a more consistent outside shot, hitting 39 percent from three. His greatest asset is fantastic speed, which he has used to create for himself but he can create more for others. He’s a good defender. The concerns are he’s small for a point guard and he still makes some odd decisions, which could keep him off the court.

48. Milwaukee Bucks: Lamar Patterson, 6’5” shooting guard, Pittsburgh. This could be a nice pick, a good second round gamble. He’s a two guard whose best skill may be passing — he has a great feel for the game and vision of the court. He also shot 38.8 percent from three last season. He plays a smart game. The reason he’s still around is his athleticism — he’s average for the college level, and the levels are about to crank up a few notches (particularly at the two).

49. Chicago Bulls: Cameron Bairstow, 6’10” power forward/center, New Mexico (via Australia). He averaged 20.4 points a game for the Lobos last season and more impressively did it with an efficient 61.1 true shooting percentage. He is a very good midrange jump shooter. He’s not terribly athletic which leads to questions about how his game adapts and how well he defends at the next level.

50. Phoenix Suns: Alec Brown, 7’1” center, Wisconsin Green Bay. He turned heads at the NBA Draft combine, not just because of his hight but he hit 18-of-25 from three. He’s a good second round gamble as a big who can stretch the floor. However, he is not athletic for the NBA level and whether he can adjust and still play his game (as well as defend) is the question.

51. New York Knicks: Thanasis Antetokounmpo, 6’6” small forward, Delaware 87ers, via Greece. They will love him in New York. Yes, he is the older brother of the Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo. Like his brother Thanasis is very athletic and very raw. He brings a real energy to the game but put up pretty average D-League numbers and needs more time to develop. If he can develop a more consistent shot and bring his energy to defense he can make waves in the NBA.

52. Philadelphia 76ers: Vasilije Micic, 6’6” point guard, Serbia. He’s a big point guard and one with court vision, one who works particularly well in transition or the pick-and-roll when he can use his size to get into the lane and finish or find his open teammate. He turned the ball over a lot (23 percent of his used possessions), his jump shot is not near where it needs to be, and there are questions about his ability to defend other, quicker point guards. Still, not a bad gamble.

53. Minnesota Timberwolves: Alessandro Gentile, 6’6” swingman, Italy. The 21 year old has been playing at high levels internationally since he was 17. The guy is just a scorer and he has good size. What teams question is his athleticism — it’s not at an NBA level and teams are not sure he can adjust.

54. Philadelphia 76ers: Nemanja Dangubic, 6’8” shooting guard, Serbia. He will be stashed overseas for a while. He’s not much of a shot creator but can athletic and works off the ball. Needs to get stronger, needs to work on his shop. Teams got a good look at him at Adidas EuroCamp this past year, where he was MVP.

55. Miami Heat: Semaj Christon, 6’3” point guard, Xavier. He is going to Charlotte as part of the trade that got the Heat Shabazz Napier. Christon has good size for an NBA point guard (he can play combo) and plays hard at both ends of the floor. He’s unselfish. His problem is he doesn’t have much of a jump shot (although it improved as he hit 38.8 percent from three last season although he doesn’t take a lot of them) and isn’t efficient when he drives and tries to finish.

56. Orlando Magic: Devyn Marble, 6’6” shooting guard, Iowa. In theory he’s a catch-and-shoot guy at the NBA level, but he only hit 35 percent from three this past season. That has to improve. He can put the ball on the floor and tends to make good decisions when he does. He’s up and down defensively. A bit of a gamble but that’s what the late second round is for.

57. Indiana Pacers: Louis Labeyrie, 6’10” power forward/center, France. This pick will go to the New York Knicks via trade. He’s a classic big European stretch four. He’ll be stashed overseas.

58. San Antonio Spurs: Jordan McRae, 6’5” shooting guard, Tennessee. He has been moved to the Sixers in a trade. He is long, with a 7’0” wingspan, and he is a good athlete. He shot 34 percent from three last season and is really one of those guys who just seems to find ways to score. He can pass, has a good feel for the game. The questions are is he physically strong enough and is he athletic enough for the NBA.

59. Toronto Raptors: Xavier Thames, 6’3” shooting guard, San Diego State. He has been moved to the Brooklyn Nets in a trade. He was a scorer for San Diego State but there are questions about if he is athletic enough to create at the next level (in one big workout his three pointer wasn’t falling, so he put it on the floor and took contested midrange shots). Maybe he can adjust, the Nets are taking a flyer on it.

60. San Antonio Spurs: Corey Jefferson, 6’9” power forward, Baylor. He also has been traded to the Brooklyn Nets. Normally we like to write off “Mr. Irrelevant” but remember Kings PG Isaiah Thomas was pick 60th and turns out he can play and is about to get paid as a restricted free agent. Jefferson will try to follow that path.

PBT’s final mock draft: Wiggins, then Parker, then it gets nuts

Marcus Smart, Tyler Ennis, Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Noh Vonleh, Doug McDermott, Aaron Gordon

This is maybe the most unpredictable NBA Draft of the last 10 years. A lot of players on the same tier talent wise, disagreements among scouts on just how good particular players can be, and finally there will be trades. Maybe many, many trades.

Still, we’ll try to predict it.

PBT’s NBA Draft expert Ed Isaacson of NBADraftBlog.com and Rotoworld has his final mock draft out on the day of the draft. Here’s how we see it breaking down.


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
Parker will give the Bucks an instant boost in scoring, and the ability to play him inside or out should give the coaching staff plenty of lineup options. The attention he will receive from defenses should allow some of Milwaukee’s other young players to have the space they need to score themselves, and they have enough long basket protectors to hide Parker on defense.

3) Philadelphia – Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Since the last mock draft, a foot injury was also uncovered, and I still believe the Sixers will roll the dice on Embiid. I’ve mentioned before that offensively, he and Nerlens Noel are different enough that they could complement each other, and they would form an imposing defensive duo. Plus, the return of a healthy Noel with Embiid out will give Noel time to develop his game on the court aside from being with another big man, and allow Embiid to take his time getting healthy.

4) Orlando – Noah Vonleh, F, Indiana
I had Marcus Smart here through the first two mock drafts, but think Vonleh’s potential and size could win out in the end. It helps that has the Magic have a solid core of young players, including frontcourt players, who can ease the transition on Vonleh, though he could help in some areas right away. Smart or Dante Exum could still be in play here, but the Magic can fill the guard needs a little later.

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.

6) Boston – Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State
As Boston continues to rebuild, it’s a smart idea to find the eventual successor to Rajon Rondo at point guard and Smart seems to be a perfect fit for coach Brad Stevens, as well as having an ability to slide to the 2 to play alongside Rondo as needed. Smart’s ability to defend will get him plenty of time early, and his offensive game should adjust fairly well to the NBA, as long as he refrains from taking some of the bad shots he did in college.

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 give 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 – Rodney Hood, G/F, Duke
Hood will give the Hornets some much needed size on the wing, to go along with strong shooting ability and athleticism. The big key to getting the real value from this pick will be Hood buying into coach Steve Clifford’s defensive mindset and putting in the effort to improve.

10) Philadelphia – Nik Stauskas, G, Michigan
Having taken Embiid at number 3, the Sixers can still improve their backcourt here with Stauskas, a tremendous perimeter shooter and a good enough ballhandler to help take some of the point guard pressure off Michael Carter-Williams. The threat from three-point range is the key, and Stauskas’ ability to stretch the floor will help everyone else on the floor with him.

11) Denver – Dario Saric, F, Croatia
Saric has to spend two more years over in Europe, but he is a highly-skilled offensive player who will fit into many different roles. With no real glaring needs heading into next season, it’s easy for the Nuggets to roll the dice on Saric and wait two years for the possible payoff.

12) Orlando – Elfrid Payton, G, Louisiana-Lafayette
The Magic shored up their frontcourt with Noah Vonleh at number 4, and they can still address their need at point guard with Payton. He’s a strong defender, rebounder and distributor, and though he needs to improve as a perimeter shooter, he has a great ability to put pressure on defenses with his penetration ability. In a few years, a Payton-Oladipo backcourt could be one of best young ones in the league.

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 – Gary Harris, G, Michigan State
This season’s surprise NBA team, the Suns were supposed to be in rebuilding mode, and fell just shy of the playoffs. The status of Eric Bledsoe returning to the team is unknown, so Harris could immediately step in and provide a versatile scorer in the backcourt who can run the floor and defend well.

15) Atlanta – 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 is the ability to mix and match lineups to find him spots on the floor where he can be most effective. To get the most out of Anderson, a coach who is willing to think outside of the box is needed, and Mike Budenholzer could be that coach.

16) Chicago – Shabazz Napier, G, Connecticut
Napier will help provide stability at the point guard position for the Bulls as Derrick Rose comes back from another knee injury. A strong leader, Napier could take total control of the team’s second unit and his ability to defend should be very appealing to coach Tom Thibodeau, plus he has shown he can score when needed.

17) Boston – James Young, G, Kentucky
The Celtics drafted their point guard of the future in Marcus Smart earlier and now they can address a need on the wing with the athletic, but raw, Young. He has shown, at times, that he can shoot as well as get to the basket, but doesn’t do either one consistently enough to be effective. Also, he isn’t a very good defender, but hopefully coach Stevens will help him there.

18) Phoenix – Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
With the second of their three first round picks, the Suns could take a shot at the big-bodied Nurkic, who at 6’11, 280 pounds, already has NBA size. Nurkic is still developing on both offense and defense, but he moves very well for his size, and in a few years, he could give the Suns an intriguing option in the middle

19) Chicago – TJ Warren, F, North Carolina State
With their second first-round pick, the Bulls can address a need for scoring with one of the college’s best in Warren. He loves to find holes in the defense to get his shot and a healthy Derrick Rose should create many for him. He is also able to seek out mismatches when he has a smaller defender on him, setting up in the low or mid-post area for a quick shot. Long-range shooting still needs to be worked on, but he will put up points quickly regardless.

20) Toronto – Tyler Ennis, G, Syracuse
Kyle Lowry may be on his way out of Toronto and the Raptors may be able to get their point guard of the future in Toronto-native Ennis. Ennis will bring a steady influence to the point position, and he showed in his one year of college that he doesn’t shy from big moments. Whether he can guard at the NBA level will be a big question going forward.

21) Oklahoma City – Glenn Robinson III, F, Michigan
The first of two first-round picks, the Thunder could add some depth to their bench, with the son of a former number 1 overall pick. He didn’t seem to take the step forward many expected this past season, but he still has a good mix of skill, athleticism and upside to make this a pick worth making at this point.

22) Memphis – Adreian Payne, F, Michigan State
Payne will give Memphis 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 Grizzlies team that may not have Zach Randolph next season.

23) Utah – PJ Hairston, G, Texas Legends
The Jazz added some talent to their backcourt at #5 with Dante Exum, and now they can add some strong shooting at the wing with Hairston. He showed great scoring ability in his D-League stint last season, and he should be able to step into the rotation quickly at least as a shooter to stretch the floor.

24) Charlotte – KJ 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 Hornets here. He will provide a tremendous defensive presence on the wing for a team that emphasizes defense. McDaniels is also a strong slasher and rebounder, as well as an improving shooter.

25) Houston – 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. Houston has built a strong D-League team that knows how to develop players to fit the Rockets’ system. LaVine could benefit from a learning environment like that.

26) Miami – 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 he can be a major part of the Heat’s backcourt down the road.

27) Phoenix – Jerami Grant, F, Syracuse
This is the Suns’ third first-round pick, so they can afford to take a shot at the raw Grant. Grant isn’t going to contribute much right away, but he is a high-level athlete who should help some on defense and on the boards. If he can develop his offensive skills well down the line, he will be a nightmare match-up for many defenders.

28) Los Angeles Clippers – Mitch McGary, C, Michigan
Coming off a back injury that erased most of his season, McGary could be a solid rotation player down the line for the Clippers. He plays with a lot of energy and he doesn’t mind doing all of the little things teams need to wing games. At worst, he will help on the defensive side and with rebounding.

29) Oklahoma City – Clint Capela, F/C, Switzerland
The Thunder will look to plan for the future a bit with their second first round pick. This is a great place for them to take a chance on a draft-and-stash candidate with strong potential. He has very good size and athletic ability, though he needs time to continue to develop his skills and toughness for the NBA level.

30) San Antonio – Jordan Clarkson, G, Missouri
The Spurs can really go in many directions here, but they can look to add to their backcourt for the future with the versatile Clarkson. He can give them a big guard with some point guard abilities who can get to the basket easily against smaller defenders. If he can be a more consistent shooter, he may find a home eventually at the 2.


31) Milwaukee – Cleanthony Early, F, Wichita State
32) Philadelphia – Bogdan Bogdanovic, G, Serbia
33) Cleveland – Jarnell Stokes, F, Tennessee
34) Dallas – Artem Klimenko, C, Russia
35) Utah – CJ Wilcox, G, Washington
36) Milwaukee – Markel Brown, G, Oklahoma State
37) Toronto – Jabari Brown, G, Missouri
38) Detroit – Patric Young, F/C, Florida
39) Philadelphia – Spencer Dinwiddie, G, Colorado
40) Minnesota – Cameron Bairstow, F, New Mexico
41) Denver – Russ Smith, G, Louisville
42) Houston – Dwight Powell, F, Stanford
43) Atlanta – Roy Devyn Marble, G, Iowa
44) Minnesota – Joe Harris, G, Virginia
45) Charlotte – Thanasis Antetokounmpo, F, Delaware 87ers
46) Washington – Nick Johnson, G, Arizona
47) Philadelphia – Damien Inglis, F, Australia
48) Milwaukee – Johnny O’Bryant, F, LSU
49) Chicago – DeAndre Daniels, F, Connecticut
50) Phoenix – Nikola Jokic, C, Serbia
51) Dallas – Deonte Burton, G, Nevada
52) Philadelphia – Vasilije Micic, G, Serbia
53) Minnesota – Khem Birch, F/C, UNLV
54) Philadelphia – Josh Heustis, F, Stanford
55) Miami – Jahii Carson, G, Arizona State
56) Denver – DeAndre Kane, G, Iowa State
57) Indiana – Jordan Bachynski, C, Arizona State
58) San Antonio – Melvin Ejim, F, Iowa State
59) Toronto – Jordan McRae, G, Tennessee
60) San Antonio – Cory Jefferson, F, Baylor

Celtics talking trade with Cavaliers for No. 1 pick

Rajon Rondo, Kyrie Irving,Tristan Thompson

If the Cavaliers were publicizing their indecision for the No. 1 pick to draw trade offers – and I think they were – it’s working.

The Magic reportedly made a strong offer of No. 4, No. 12 and Arron Afflalo.

The Celtics want to trade up, too.

A. Sherrod Blakely CSN Northeast:

A league source has told CSNNE.com that the Celtics have engaged the Cleveland Cavaliers about acquiring the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.

multiple sources indicate Boston would lean more towards Wiggins than Parker.

The Celtics have the Nos. 6 and 17 picks, which obviously hold less value than No. 4 and 12. Aside from Rajon Rondo, Boston has no player with as much value as Afflalo.

So, unless they’re wiling to trade Rondo for No. 1, the Celtics probably can’t trump Orlando’s offer. Maybe adding multiple future first rounders would help – Boston has plenty from the Nets and Clippers – but I still doubt it’s enough.

There’s no harm trying, but Danny Ainge is probably better off hoping Joel Embiid falls to No. 6.

[Need NBA Draft gear? Click here]