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.

Zion, Nash, Davis: Seven players, coaches who enter NBA season under pressure

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Every NBA season comes with pressure — the pressure to win, the pressure of fan emotions and expectations, and for players the pressure that this is their livelihood. There is real pressure to stick in the NBA and earn that handsome paycheck.

But some players and coaches enter this season under more pressure than others.

Here are seven players and coaches who are under added pressure this season.

Anthony Davis

“This is not going to work without AD. No disrespect to Bron, no disrespect to Russ. They’re going to be who they are… but AD, having AD available…. it’s going to be invaluable. He’s the centerpiece to that championship table we’re trying to build.”

That was new Lakers coach Darvin Ham talking about Anthony Davis — the lynchpin to everything Ham hopes to do in Los Angeles. As he said, LeBron James will be LeBron (read: elite, even at age 37), and Russell Westbrook will be Russell Westbrook (he’s saying all the right things, but…), but if the Lakers are going to be any threat in the West it starts with Davis. Ham needs the Davis from the bubble — healthy, elite defender, playmaker, solid midrange jump shot — because he plans to run the offense through AD.

More than just this season, the Lakers have to come to a decision: Is Davis the No.1 option they can turn the franchise over to after LeBron steps away? Can he physically carry that burden and not break down? Davis can be one of the game’s elites, but is he ready to carry the Lakers franchise? Their future direction depends on that answer.

Zion Williamson

The acquisition of CJ McCollum last season helped bring the Pelicans together. They made a push into the playoffs with a solid core of McCollum, Brandon Ingram, Herbert Jones, Jonas Valanciunas, Larry Nance, Devonte' Graham and others. Watching New Orleans you couldn’t help but think, “If Zion Williamson were healthy…”

Now we get to find out. Williamson is reportedly in the best shape of his life (take all offseason conditioning comments with a shaker of salt) and ready to resume his role as a No.1 offensive option and maybe the best interior scorer in the game. The pressure of getting paid is off Williamson — he got his max extension — but the pressure of living up to it is just starting.

Steve Nash

When your star player says “him or me” during the offseason — even if that ultimatum gets rescinded — you enter the season under a microscope. Nash would have been getting a close look even if Kevin Durant didn’t drag his name into his offseason drama — there are plenty of front office people around the league not convinced Nash is up to the task in Brooklyn. There is enormous pressure on this team to get things right — to avoid a meltdown — and if things go at all sideways in Brooklyn Nash will be the fall guy. His seat is already warm.

Kyrie Irving

While we’re in Brooklyn… Ben Simmons is the logical first name to pop into your head when thinking of players under pressure with the Nets — and with good reason. We haven’t seen him on an NBA court in over a year and his play and fit are critical to the Nets’ hopes of contending. But there is another player who faces real contract pressure in Brooklyn.

Kyrie Irving wanted a trade out of Brooklyn this summer, the Nets said “go ahead and find one,” and Irving found his market was not nearly as deep and strong as he expected (the Lakers were interested, and he reportedly was interested in them, but any trade would have involved Russell Westbrook and got too tricky). Irving is in a contract year now and there is pressure on him to remind everyone that, when focused and committed, he is an All-NBA point guard and game changer. But will he stay focused and committed this season?

Tom Thibodeau

Knicks president Leon Rose came out this week in a softball-filled interview on MSG Network and backed his coach. When asked if Thibodeau was under pressure, Rose said, “I don’t see it that way at all. The way I say it is we’re continuing with the plan.” Nothing went according to plan with the Knicks last season. While not all of that was Thibodeau’s fault — he didn’t cause Julius Randle‘s shooting regression — if things get off to another slow start after spending money on Jalen Brunson this summer, somebody is going to have to pay the price. Thibodeau’s job may not be as secure as Rose tries to paint.

James Harden

James Harden is positioned to have a monster regular season. He’s asked to be more of a playmaker, get the ball to MVP candidate Joel Embiid, put Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris in positions to thrive, and score a few points in there as well. Harden could be poised for an All-NBA level regular season — and then the playoffs start. That’s where the pressure is. Harden’s long history of playoff foibles (including some flat outings against the Heat last year) will be under a microscope this season because Daryl Morey has built a team of solid role players — this team is good enough. It’s up to Harden (and Embiid) to prove he can also be an elite player in the postseason.

Kawhi Leonard

Steve Ballmer has paid an enormous… well, it’s chump change to him, but it’s still an enormous amount of money to turn the Clippers from league laughing stock into a respected franchise (sorry, it’s true Lakers fans). These Clippers are contenders. But that title contention rests on the shoulders of Kawhi Leonard. He has to both be healthy and play like the guy who helped lift the Raptors to a title. If Leonard and Paul George are healthy and playing like their All-NBA selves come the postseason the Clippers are a massive threat — two-way wings win playoff series and the Clippers would have two of them. It’s just on Leonard (and Paul) to be that guy.

Westbrook says he’s ‘all-in on whatever it takes for this team to win’

Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers
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Welcome to NBA media day, when optimism overflows and everyone swears there are no chemistry problems, no fit questions, it’s all puppies and rainbows with their team.

The night before Lakers media day, Russell Westbrook got a head start on saying the right thing in an interview with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Trade? Not worried about it. Fit? Not going to be a problem. Everyone is good now if you ask Westbrook, and he was in trade talks all summer is irrelevant.

“I need to just do my job. Whether I’m wanted [by the Lakers] or not doesn’t really matter. I think the most important thing is that I show up for work and I do the job like I’ve always done it: Be professional and go out and play my ass off and compete…

Maybe [he is] as a starter or maybe it’s off the bench. “I’m all-in on whatever it takes for this team to win,” Westbrook said. “I’m prepared for whatever comes my way.”

Words are nice, but actions are what will matter. Westbrook reportedly said all the right things to LeBron James and Anthony Davis a year ago before getting traded to the team, but his not wanting to play a role and fit in was a big issue. Westbrook swears it won’t be this time, whatever Ham wants Westbrook will execute.

“There’s so much optimism on how we can be great, how AD, LeBron, myself — can be unstoppable in my opinion,” Westbrook said.

That’s optimism. Even if Westbrook fits in, Davis stays healthy all season, and LeBron continues to defy father time, these Lakers are not title contenders. A playoff team for sure, but not contenders.

These Lakers will face adversity — maybe early, Los Angeles has a rough first couple of weeks — and how the Lakers, under new coach Darvin Ham, respond to those challenges will define their season. Last season’s response from the Lakers was… not good. They rolled over. Ham has promised not to let that happen, but there will be things out of his control.

Last season Westbrook was one of those things for Frank Vogel, we’ll see how he responds this season.

Suns, Crowder agree he will sit out training camp while they seek a trade

Jae Crowder does salsa dance in Suns-Lakers Game 6
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Jae Crowder wants out of Phoenix and the Suns have been looking for a trade to accommodate that.

It hasn’t come together, so the Suns and Crowder agreed he should sit out training camp while they find one (this team does not need another distraction in camp).

We knew this was coming because Crowder himself announced it a couple of days ago. While he deleted the Tweet, nothing ever completely disappears online.

Two quick thoughts on this news.

First, it means Cameron Johnson will start at the four, something that was likely anyway as the Suns look to add shooting to help space the floor.

Second, this news does not help the Suns’ leverage in getting a trade. It’s understandable that Crowder didn’t want to be in camp and that the Suns didn’t want the distraction, but now everyone knows the pressure on the Suns to get a deal done and they will lowball their offer.

There are a few potential landing spots out there. Crowder hinted online he would welcome a return to Miami, and the Heat need help at the four after P.J. Tucker left for Philly. The Heat would base a trade around Duncan Robinson, but to make the salaries match the Suns would have to throw in another player — Dario Saric, Landry Shamet, Cameron Payne, Torey Craig or after Jan. 15  — and that seems unlikely.

Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Boston (but it’s tough to make the salaries match up), and even a team like Minnesota could work. The challenge is the Suns are a win-now team and will want a player who can help them this season and all those teams are in the same space. Right now there may not be an offer available. As camps open and teams start to understand what they do and don’t have, a deal could come together.

Crowder will be home waiting for that to happen, not with the Suns team.

Giannis Antetokounmpo says Stephen Curry is the best player in the world

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Giannis Antetokounmpo is at the top of pretty much every “best player in the world” list right now.

Except his own.

For Antetokounmpo, the best player in the world is the one that leads his team to the title, so today, it is Stephen Curry (hat tip to Lance Allen of NBC Milwaukee).

It’s easy to see where Antetokounmpo is coming from, but basketball is a team game. The best player may not be on the best team, despite his skill set, and that team may not win. Curry was spectacular in leading the Warriors to their fourth banner since he arrived, he’s near the top of the best in the world list, but it’s not all about winning.

The takeaway from what Antetokounmpo said is how much he wants to win — he wants a second ring.

The Bucks enter the season as one of the favorites to win that ring, but it’s going to take a lot of things going right for that to happen.

Including Antetokounmpo showing he is the best player in the world.