The NBA Playoffs are now in full swing, and it seems like more underdogs are ready to pull off major first round upsets than not. That has given hope to all teams across the league, proving that the NBA isn't as top heavy as we all thought.
As a result, teams at the bottom can logically think they're a star away from having a serious chance at competing and getting a playoff spot. And this draft is LOADED with stars.
1) Milwaukee Bucks - Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
Milwaukee can't go wrong with either Parker, Wiggins, or even Embiid here, but Parker is the one with the least amount of question marks. He's a great offensive player both on the perimeter and in the paint, and is an excellent rebounder.
Wiggins has the potential to be better than Parker but he tends to disappear in games at times, and Embiid has some injury questions. Parker will make the Bucks relevant from Day 1, and he's loyal enough that the franchise won't have to worry about him wanting to leave.
2) Philadelphia 76ers - Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
Whoever ends up with the second pick might be in the best position of the whole draft. Philly gets to take whoever the Bucks don't, and will still end up with a bona fide star. I say they go Wiggins over Embiid here because they already have Nerlens Noel (remember him?) on their roster, and Wiggins can score with the best of them.
3) Orlando Magic - Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Orlando needs help at every position other than at shooting guard, thanks to Victor Oladipo, and it will be very tempting to take a point guard here. However, Embiid is just too good to pass on, especially considering the great point guard options they'll have with the 12th pick.
4) Utah Jazz - Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia
Utah just needs to draft the best player available, and Exum just might end up being the best player in the draft. He's 6'6" and can play either guard position, but the casual fan might not know a lot about him because he plays overseas, and so we bring you the first edition of the International Player YouTube Highlight Video!
5) Boston Celtics - Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
Of all the superstar freshmen, Randle was the only one that took his team to the Final Four. Boston doesn't necessarily need help down low, but they do need to get some legitimate talent to try and rebuild this team. Randle's the most offensively talented big man in this draft, and he can anchor the post in Boston for many, many years.
6) Los Angeles Lakers - Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
The Lakers have several directions they can go with this pick, but they desperately need a point guard. Marcus Smart is the most talented one in the draft, and is the best bet for Los Angeles. He's hyper-competitive and fills the stat sheet, but some of his antics from the past year may have hurt his draft stock. Still, he's too talented to pass up here.
7) Sacramento Kings - Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
Sacramento has a good deal of talent on their roster, but just needs to acquire more depth. Gordon has a ton of raw ability and is a team-first guy who is will do the dirty work, something this team desperately needs.
8 ) Detroit Pistons - Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Detroit was a train wreck this year because their three big men experiment of Josh Smith, Andre Drummond, and Greg Monroe was a total failure. Their point guard position is solidified by Brandon Jennings, but they need help at the two and three. Harris is one of the most talented two-way guards in the draft and is another team-first guy. His ability to stretch the floor and not demand shots, along with good defense, makes him a perfect fit to stay in the state of Michigan.
9) Cleveland Cavaliers - Noah Vonleh, PF/C, Indiana
The Cavs are in disarray, and could easily go with McDermott here. However, the unknown status of Luol Deng and their seemingly never-ending search for a viable big man will lead them to take Vonleh, another project. He has a ton of raw ability and can play both the four and the five, but it will take some time for him to totally develop.
Philly is looking to fill needs, and after selecting Wiggins second, shooting guard becomes their biggest hole. Stauskus and Harris are pretty even on most teams' draft boards, and the Big Ten Player of the Year can really fill it up. He'll give the Sixers a much needed boost from long range.
11) Denver Nuggets - James Young, SG/SF, Kentucky
Denver has a desperate need for shooting guard, which is why they reach a little bit for Young here. That's not saying Young won't be a good NBA player; he'll be able to give the Nuggets a viable option in the backcourt alongside Ty Lawson.
12) Orlando Magic - Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
The Magic have needed a point guard for a few years and were left hanging when Marcus Smart skipped the draft last season. They could still grab Smart in the third spot, but it'll be tough to pass on Embiid, especially with Ennis likely available here. Ennis is a pure point guard and was the most clutch player in the country last year. His selection would give Orlando a solid backcourt with him and Oladipo.
13) Minnesota Timberwolves - Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
Minnesota was the third highest scoring team in the league this past season, but struggled from behind the three-point line. McDermott can fill it up from everywhere, and will fill the Wolves' need for a small forward.
14) Phoenix Suns - Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia
Phoenix was arguably the league's most heartwarming story of the year, largely due to their team chemistry. Their backcourt is set with Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, and Gerald Green, but more talent would be welcomed in their frontcourt. There are questions as to when Saric will come overseas and play in the NBA, but his top-10 ability makes the gamble worth it at this point.
15) Atlanta Hawks - T.J. Warren, SF, NC State
Atlanta has been the story of these playoffs with the way they've handled Indiana, but they still have to add pieces to maintain any sort of long-term success. The quickest way to address that is to boost their mediocre offense, and few players in this draft can fill it up from everywhere better than ACC Player of the Year T.J. Warren.
16) Chicago Bulls - Rodney Hood, SG/SF, Duke
Without Derrick Rose, the Bulls are one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA, which they'll need to address in the draft. If Warren's not on the board, look for them to look elsewhere on Tobacco Road and grab Hood, who is a deadly shooter and underrated slasher.
McDaniels was born to play for Brad Stevens. He is an incredible defensive player and a jack of all trades. He'll do all the little things to help make a team successful, and he can be a viable secondary offensive option that you don't have to call a play for.
18) Phoenix Suns (from Washington Wizards) - Adriean Payne, PF, Michigan State
The Suns need low post play in the worst way, and Payne is a really good value at this point in the draft. He's another team-first guy and has enough range to stretch the floor. He'll also be some solid insurance in case Saric takes another year or two before coming to the NBA.
19) Chicago Bulls - Zach LaVine, PG/SG, UCLA
Chicago continues their offensive draft strategy by taking LaVine here. He has a ton of raw ability and can do everything you want offensively. He is a streaky shooter, but he will be able to provide the Bulls with a spark off the bench right away next year as he develops.
20) Toronto Raptors - Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
Nurkic is a big, big man and a true center, and could form a nice foreign duo with Jonas Valanciunas down low in Toronto. Time for another International YouTube Video!
21) Oklahoma City Thunder (from Dallas Mavericks) - Cleanthony Early, SF/PF, Wichita State
It's become painstakingly obvious that the Thunder need some SERIOUS scoring help to assist Westbrook and Durant off the bench. Enter Cleanthony Early, who has the size and athleticism to play both down low and on the perimeter. He showed at Wichita that he can score in a plethora of ways against the best competition in the NCAA Tournament, and there's not reason to think he won't be successful in the NBA.
22) Memphis Grizzlies - P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends/UNC
Memphis is another team, like Chicago, that is offensively challenged. We know Hairston can light it up, especially from deep, but his character issues came to light after not being reinstated by the NCAA, sending him to the D-League. But the Grizzlies have a strong locker room that should get the most out of Hairston.
23) Utah Jazz - Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
Utah needs help on the wing, and Jerami Grant is the best one on the board. He's still a work in progress, but he has the skills to contribute off the bench right now while he reaches his potential and can ease into a starting role.
24) Charlotte Bobcats (from Portland Trail Blazers) - Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan
The Bobcats are stuck in no mans land with this pick. They could use a stretch four, but I think they'll give Zeller another season to develop—plus there's not one worth this pick. They also need another wing scorer, and while it's a reach, Robinson is the best one on the board.
25) Houston Rockets - Kyle Anderson, PG/SF, UCLA
Houston needs to start looking for insurance players with several of their inexpensive contracts about to end, and Anderson is one of the most versatile players in the draft. He can play every position other than center, and his playmaking skills are perfect for the Rockets' drive-and-kick system.
26) Miami Heat - Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
Miami's roster is pretty well intact without a lot of holes to fill, but they can always add more size. He still has to develop, but Capela has the talent to be a lottery pick, as shown in his International YouTube Video.
27) Phoenix Suns (from Indiana Pacers) - Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee
The Suns continue to load up on forwards to help bolster their low-post rotation. Stokes had an inconsistent career at Tennessee, but was an absolute beast when he gave maximum effort. His rebounding will give Phoenix a big boost.
28) Los Angeles Clippers - Elfrid Payton, PG, UL-Lafayette
The Clippers are another team without any serious needs, but Payton could provide them with a cheap, long term option at backup point guard behind Chris Paul. He's a defensive specialist that is somewhat limited on the offensive end, but LA already has enough scorers.
29) Oklahoma City Thunder - Mitch McGary, C, Michigan
OKC continues to shore up their bench rotation by landing McGary, who would've been a lottery pick in last year's draft. He'll be a big upgrade over Hasheem Thabeet off the bench.
30) San Antonio Spurs - Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
San Antonio will do a little dance if Napier somehow falls to them. He singlehandedly led UConn to its second championship in four years, and proved he's an extremely well-rounded player in the process, leading the Huskies in points, rebounds, and assists. Napier would be the heir apparent to Tony Parker once he moves on.
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