Dancing With Noah

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2015 Dancing with Noah … Unprofessional Mock Draft

This draft, more so than most drafts in recent memory (I can only recall last year’s draft with any ease, and also the 1984 draft which is more something I know about and the 2003 draft), has great thorough talent lying the top eight players. It’s a remarkably deep group percolating with all kinds of global basketball goodness. We’ve got hyphens (Karl-Anthony, Cauley-Stein, Hollis-Jefferson), Euros (Kristaps, Hezonja), mano a mano positional intrigue (Towns vs. Okafor, Mudiay vs. Russell, Hezonja vs. Justise), and a pair of storied franchises (Lakers and Knicks) that could throw the whole thing out a whack with their maverick decision making ways. There’s Morey and Hinkie, the fence swinger and extra long looking visionary.

What’s best as a fan though is that there’s excitement. Everything I listed above is tossed into a big ass draft mixing bowl and stirred up into prognosticatory basketball goodness. And Adam Silver and ESPN’s talking heads will serve it up to all of us over the course of three to four hours (or however long the draft is these days) on a random Thursday night in high summer.

Below is the second annual Dancing with Noah mock. It’s weird and unsophisticated, but sprinkled with tasty little surprises throughout. This wasn’t a one-man show. My friends Rex Tredway, Hamilton, Bug, and Maahs joined for the bulk of it. And a couple Twitter personalities repped their teams below so special thanks to Justin Faudree and Jacob Greenberg.

Now let’s draft ……..

1. Minnesota Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns as drafted by Rex Tredway

It’s not a done deal yet, but Karl-Anthony Towns seems to be ahead by a nose in the two horse race to become the first to cross the stage on June 25th. The T-wolves have the luxury of deciding which big man to build the franchise around, but with this decision comes pressure. Flip Saunders has been touting Jahlil Okafor since well before his team secured a victory in the lottery, but the T-wolves’ front office seems set on Towns. Is Towns the best fit? Is he the best compliment to Nikola Pekovic in the frontcourt? Or is he just the safest pick? When you hold the first pick you dream of Lebron, Duncan, and Ewing, but what keeps you up at night is Joe Smith, Kwame Brown, and Greg Oden. Get some rest, Flip.

Tony Towns

2. Los Angeles Lakers, Jahlil Okafor as drafted by Bug

It’s been 10 years since the Lakers struck gold with a quality big man in the draft when they selected the eclectic Andrew Bynum with the 10th pick in 2005. It didn’t last long, but they have two titles to show for it. With Jahlil Okafor the Lakers get back to their roots with a dominant low post force. Some like to critique his defensive presence and motor, but are the Lakers really going to roll with the Ed Davis/Robert Sacre/Jordan Hill poop sandwich for another season? Even Jim Buss can’t fuck this pick up.

jahlil okafor

3. Philadelphia 76ers, Emmanuel Mudiay as drafted by Hamilton

In the last two drafts the Sixers have acquired players who ended their collegiate seasons in travel gear. This time why not go with a guy who didn’t play college ball? Emmanuel Mudiay spent the year in China with the Guangdong Southern Tigers where he put up roughly 18, 6, 6. All I know about Chinese basketball is this happened, but I’m guessing Mudiay’s numbers were a bit inflated by the comp. In any case, he did travel a nation playing basketball for money and – what’s that? D’Angelo Russell did too? Oh … well, good on ya, D! But did you play with a 24 second shot clock? No? Okay, that seals the deal for Philly. Mudiay is the guy.

Emmanuel Mudiay

4. New York Knicks, D’Angelo Russell as drafted by Fendo

While the ghost of Isiah Thomas haunts the hallways of MSG, Phil Jackson’s chilling in Montana no doubt smoking peyote and tweeting three-point philosophies and Jimmy Dolan’s subconsciously scheming new and diabolical ways to break the hearts of loyal Knick fans. But even ghosts, hallucinogens, and incompetents aren’t enough to convince the Knickerbockers to pick Trey Lyles. The decision comes from above and when it reaches the ears of Derek Fisher, he’s giddier than he was that time Billy Hunter was ousted: D’Angelo Russell is the choice and maybe the best player in the entire draft. Only thing is, Phil, Dolan, Melo, and Isiah were bickering over the pick on an MSG conference line when it was mysteriously delivered to Adam Silver. Jonathan Abrams is hatching the oral history as we mock.

d'angelo r

5. Orlando Magic, Kristaps Porzingis as drafted by Maahs

After an amazing showing in Las Vegas against Antoine Tyler, Kristaps Porzingis rose towards the top of every team’s draft board. All joking aside there’s a lot to like about the 19-year-old Latvian prospect and his draft workout. “The Zinger” has the rare combination of mobility, shooting touch, and size (7’1″ with a 7’6″ wingspan to be exact) that has tantalized scouts for years. With a ceiling of a Dirk/Kirilenko/Schrempf and a floor of Tskitishvili/Vesely, Porzingis’ fate will be determined by his growth under Scott Skiles. Yikes. Hopefully Skiles and Co. have a plan in place to develop young Porzingis on and off the floor – different than Skiles’ usual plan of having his team hate the coach after three years.

kristaps

6. Sacramento Kings, Willie Cauley-Stein as drafted by Maahs

He’s the next Tyson Chandler, we know, we know. Every mocker has endlessly compared Willie Trill Cauley-Stein to Tyson Chandler, but WTCS’ ability to defend on the perimeter is what will eventually set him apart from Chandler. And while it took seven years for Tyson Chandler to become Tyson Chandler, WTCS will be able to make an immediate impact on the defensive end. Like most Kentucky guys in the draft (not named Harrison), he has some offensive skills that weren’t on display during last season’s undefeated run. Getting a Kentucky running mate and finally some front court help should provide for a less cantankerous version of Boogie in the 2015-16 season (assuming he’s still on the team and that’s even a possibility under Coach Karl).

cauley stein

7. Denver Nuggets, Mario Hezonja as drafted by Fendo with input from Justin Faudree

I crept into the bowels of my Twitter contacts to speak with noted Europhile and Denver Nuggets guru, Justin Faudree. We weren’t able to go as deep into the conversation as I had hoped, but what became clear was Mario Hezonja’s uniqueness and the intertwining of his place in this draft relative to Justise Winslow. The Nuggets are filled with fresh new faces all eager to make a splash. Playing it safe (Winslow) isn’t winning the hearts and minds of the Nuggets faithful, but going in on a Croatian shooter/athlete with major Chase Budinger potential is the kind of balls to the wall move the people of Denver demand. Who needs defense when you’ve got the Rooster, Mario, and stay high Ty Lawson?

hezonja

8. Detroit Pistons, Justise Winslow as drafted by Hamilton

You don’t hear Winslow’s name mentioned with Detroit at #8 too often because he’s not expected to be sitting there when Stan Van makes his choice. There’s not a team in the NBA that wouldn’t benefit from his defensive willingness and attack-the-basket mentality. As good as he was for Duke last year, he’s damn young and may just be scratching the surface of what he can become. The Harden comparisons are too easy (left handed, uses a Euro step on the drive, gets to the line) and totally neglect the possibility of him being an elite wing defender. The knocks on him are shooting ability and focus. Both those things can improve with time in the NBA and SVG won’t accept anything less.

justise winslow

9. Charlotte Hornets, Trey Lyles as drafted by Bug

Jordan’s Hornets are on the clock, and there isn’t enough space allowable to mention all of the holes on this roster of ragamuffins. MJ was hoping for Cauley-Stein to fall to them to be their defensive anchor after Big Al skips town in a year (or sooner), but he is long gone. As Golden State showed with their championship run, versatility can be a major advantage. With that thought fresh in the minds of all NBA executives, the Hornets go with one of the most versatile players in the draft, Trey Lyles. Lyles came to Kentucky penciled in to play backup PF/C behind lottery picks Towns and Cauley-Stein, but injury forced him into action as a SF playing out of position. Lyles took the position change in stride, and steadily improved as the season progressed. At 6-10, 240, Lyles has the ability to play SF with a big lineup, or slide over center with a small ball lineup. Lyles isn’t great at any one skill, but he can do a bit of everything very well.

t lyles

10. Miami Heat, Stanley Johnson as drafted by Rex

There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to drafting. You either select the “best” player: the guy at the top of your draft board. Or, you draft to fill a need: the guy who fits the best. If you’re the guy who can check both those boxes with one pick, well, you might be Pat Riley. With the selection of Stanley Johnson you get a wing with tremendous upside. An elite athlete who already plays solid D, which seems to be much harder to teach in today’s NBA then developing a 3-point shot (37% at Arizona) and also hits the boards (6.5 RPG). Aside from the upside of Johnson on the court they also draft their way into leverage over both Wade and Deng’s player options.

stan johnson

11. Indiana Pacers, Cameron Payne as drafted by Rex

Roy Hibbert is headed out the door and David West turns 35 this year so the Pacers have to take a big man right? A seven-footer from Texas? The pick has to be Myles Turner right? Not in this mock my friends. The Pacers have plenty of holes to fill on a roster that was completely exposed in a season largely without Paul George. A playmaking PG who averaged 20 and 6 could be just what the Pacers are looking for this upcoming season. I mean, they’ve talked about a more up-tempo style next year and is Rodney Stucky (if he re-signs) really the guy who you want running the show?

campayne

12. Utah Jazz, Myles Turner as drafted by Bug

Once the Jazz decided to ship Enes Kanter out of town, they drastically improved into one of the best defenses in the league down the stretch. Utah’s glaring need is an upgrade in the shooting department (Burks, Burke and Dante Exum shoot at an insanely terrible clip), but the departure of Kanter last season leaves them a bit thin on the front line. With this pick, the Jazz select Myles Turner out of Texas. The 6-11 Turner provides reinforcements for both needs. Don’t let Turner’s size and position fool you, he sported an 84% stroke from the charity stripe and is capable of knocking down the deep ball. The big payoff for Utah will be Turner’s defensive presence. Averaging 2.6 bpg in only 22mpg at Texas, the young big man will fit right in with the defensive tone established by Gobert and Favors late in the 2014-2015 season.

myles turner

13. Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker as drafted by Hamilton

Devin Booker has a clear NBA level skill in his shot. Despite being picked after 3 of his UK teammates in this draft, there were several games during the 14-15 season in which he was their best player. Dude came up with timely 3s when his offensively-challenged team needed them. I clearly remember when his pops played for Mizzou and it makes me feel old as hell. But I digress. Like most NBA teams nowadays, the Suns want to spread the floor. This pick gets at that desire. Shooting ability isn’t just about making them – the threat is often enough to make an impact on games. Booker’s called light in the frame and below average athletically, but this is a make or miss league with a premium on the 3 pointer. When a guy can make ‘em like he does there’s a place for that late in the lottery.

devin booker

14. Oklahoma City Thunder, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson as drafted by Fendo

At this point the draft has drifted into some sort of quality-driven fourth tier of player and with a new coach in place, an elite team that was damned by injuries in 2015, and Sam Presti’s model that may or may not have plateaued, OKC’s in a queer spot. Who’s calling the shots and does it even matter? What do you give the team that already has everything? We guess depth and a future and by we I mean me, Billy D, and Presti. In our dreamy imaginary war room with me dialing in from Seattle and representing the spirit that allowed this franchise to come into existence, our selection is narrowed down to three: Cam Payne, Kelly Oubre, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. We agree Oubre’s ceiling is the highest, Payne is the best player today, and Hollis-Jefferson the most complementary player to the Thunder’s present day roster. Offense just isn’t a problem with this collection of talent and Presti’s keen on Donovan replicating the Kerr/Blatt first year successes. Fellow Seattleites shun me for canoodling with the OKC brass, but mock draft duty calls and I reject their jeers and criticisms. Give us the hyphen, the defense, the Hollis-Jefferson. [After the fact, it becomes clear to me that Cam Payne was already off the board for this pick. Thus I wasted imaginary conversation time stressing about whether he’d be a good fit or if he’d just end up putting OKC in a tight situation like Harden and Reggie Jackson. Presti should’ve told me.]

rondae hollis

15. Atlanta Hawks, Bobby Portis as drafted by Maahs

After all the warm and fuzzy feelings of the regular season were gone, the injury bug and lack of depth ultimately doomed the Atlanta Hawks during the post season. With Paul Millsap and Demarre Carroll hitting free agency the Hawks are in desperate need of wing and post help. Portis, a lean 6’11”, provides immediate depth and his ability to hit the mid-range jumper will fit nicely into Coach Bud’s pace and space philosophy. With an offensive game similar to Chris Bosh, Portis will eventually be able extend is range to the 3 point line.

bobby portis

16. Boston Celtics, Kelly Oubre as drafted by Maahs

At 6’7” Oubre has the length, fluidity, athleticism, and look of your prototypical NBA small forward. A streaky shooter, Obure had a tendency to get lost on offense in his lone year at KU. And while he doesn’t yet excel at one specific thing, he projects to be at least a solid player in the league. Being a solid NBA player isn’t a bad thing, the Celtics current roster is full of them. Danny Ainge adds another high ceiling glue guy in the hopes of landing a max player or using them as future trade assets.

kelly oubre

17. Milwaukee Bucks, Frank Kaminsky as drafted by Fendo

Frank the Tank or whatever they’re calling this mass of American-born Diaw-styled basketball goodness is the perfect fit in the rapidly developing cerebral nerve center of these Milwaukee Bucks. Coach Jason Kidd and GM John Hammond are high fiving in the Bucks war room as visions of Kaminsky occupying high posts and running weird pick & rolls with Giannis and Jabari and Khris dance in their heads. The League Pass darlings of 2015 look poised to carry the momentum forward in ways the Suns only wish they could’ve done the year before.

kaminsky

18. Houston Rockets, Jerian Grant as drafted by Hamilton

Houston rolled into the WCF with Jason Terry’s corpse starting at PG. There are few nights off in the NBA and even fewer at PG in the West. Whether the Rockets bring Jet back (they shouldn’t bother) they need younger legs behind Pat Beverley (assuming they retain his services). Jerian Grant’s the answer at #18. He’s got good size (6’4, 200), can shoot it, and played in an up-tempo offense at Notre Dame. That size coupled with defensive quickness gives him a shot to contribute in his first year. That’s what a team like Houston needs. As the son of former NBAer Harvey Grant and brother of Sixer SF Jerami, he knows what life in the league is all about. That matters too.

jerian grant

19. Washington Wizards, Montrezl Harrell as drafted by Bug

The Wiz have their backcourt locked down for the foreseeable future, but their frontline is a little long in the tooth. Nene, Gortat, and Humpries are all in their 30s now, and Nene will soon be a free agent. Washington came roaring out of the gates early in the season, but they hit a wall and one has to think that old legs was a factor. Although a bit undersized, Harrell is one of the strongest and most athletic players in this draft. He should provide some toughness on the frontline and bring a ton of energy to a team that seemed to fade down the stretch last season. Montrezl has an improving jumper and will need to continue improving in that area to make a name for himself, but there is always a spot in the league for an athletic big man that plays his ass off every night.

montrezl

20. Toronto Raptors, Sam Dekker as drafted by Bug

Masai Ujiri and crew were pleasantly surprised to have Sam Dekker fall in their laps at #20. Coming off of an electric tournament run, Dekker had scouts buzzing and being a lottery pick seemed to be a lock. The Raptors are in need of more production from both forward spots and Dekker is the top player left on their board. He gives the Raps some versatility with the ability to play both forward spots and even provide some mismatches at the four like he did at Wisconsin. Enough about Sam though…is anyone else rooting for his girlfriend to be in the green room with him?

dekker

21. Dallas Mavs, RJ Hunter as drafted by Hamilton

The Mavs (or Macs as the autocorrect on my phone prefers to call them) need a starting PG. They won’t find one here, but will be in the mix for every free agent like they are each summer. What they can find here is some shooting on the wing. Despite an odd release on his shot, at 6’5” RJ Hunter should be able to get clean looks and spread the floor when placed with the right (star) players – players Mark Cuban is certain to throw big money at in a post-Dirk world. Dallas will find itself in transition soon and having a specialist like Hunter under rookie contract during a retool makes sense from where I sit.

RJ Hunter

22. Chicago Bulls, Christian Wood as drafted by Bug

The Bulls hired Fred Hoiberg as their new coach to help open up the offense a bit and to unleash the Bulls deep talent. Unless a trade goes down, the Bulls don’t have many spots open in the rotation. There isn’t anyone left at this point in the draft that will contribute right away, so the Bulls decide to go with a developmental pick and take Christian Wood out of UNLV. Wood is high-energy forward that can run the floor like a gazelle. He also puts his length to good use on the defensive end where he averaged 2.6 blocks per game in his sophomore season for the Rebels. Wood has good mechanics on his jumper (73% FT) which has many GMs believing he can develop into a solid stretch four in the pros. The Bulls have the luxury of letting Wood develop his rail thin 6-10, 215 frame while he learns from watching Pau and Noah for his first couple years. He enrolled at UNLV at only 17-years of age, so Christian is one of the younger players in the draft at 19. Wood himself likens his game and skill set to Giannis Antekounmpo, and the Bulls are happy to allow him the opportunity to meet that potential.

christian wood

23. Portland Trailblazers, Justin Anderson as drafted by Hamilton

Portland has the worst luck when it comes to injuries. Or maybe they’re cursed. Who can tell for sure? You’re well aware of the injuries so it’d be a waste of my precious time to list them. If you’ve noticed a theme in my picks, it’s because there is one for the most part – wing players who can shoot. A basketball team can never have too many guys who can shoot from the outside. That’s never been truer than it is in today’s NBA. Portland has gotten squat from its bench in the last couple years which makes their injury situation impossible to mitigate. In Justin Anderson Portland gets everything it wants: a young athletic shooter capable on both ends who also missed games due to injury. A perfect fit indeed.

justin anderson

24. Cleveland Cavaliers, Rashad Vaughn as drafted by Fendo

Everything floating in LeBron’s powerful orbit screams NOW NOW NOW. But David Griffin (with the approval of D. Gilbert) has to at least acknowledge that a future exists, that tomorrow is right around the corner and what was NOW has become then. With that layman’s barstool philosophy driving him forward, he recognizes the need for someone who can be cultivated, developed, groomed into a legit pro. “Aim high, Griffin” is what he says as a stares intently into his own eyes in the mirror, sure to remind himself that, “You brought LeBron James back and now you’re drafting the next Bradley Beal. You’re the toast of Cleveland, Mr. Griffin.” Is it still a lie if it’s the truth in your reality?

rashad vaughn

25. Memphis Grizzlies, Tyus Jones as drafted by Maahs

With some of the top wing players already gone, the Grizzlies select the best player on their board in Tyus Jones. Injuries to Mike Conley are mounting each year, and the Grizz could use depth at PG beyond the 1-2 punch that is Nick Calathes and Beno Udrih. What Jones lacks in size or athleticism he makes up with poise, leadership and clutch shooting. Joining a franchise that values “playing the right way” over wingspans (drink) and athleticism, Jones will do just fine.

tyus jones

26. San Antonio Spurs, Kevon Looney as drafted by Maahs

With no viable Euro options on the board, the Spurs are forced to select a stateside player in the first round for the second consecutive year. A classic stretch four, with the ability to play some SF, Looney works hard on the glass and is a good decision maker on offense. Smart player, hard worker, good shooter…GO SPURS.

kevon looney

27. Los Angeles Lakers, Terry Rozier as drafted by Fendo

The Lakers have long treated the draft the way frivolous people treat lightly used, but still valuable goods — easily discardable. Meanwhile, thrifty NBA teams are using the draft the way savvy shoppers use garage sales and coupons. But these Lakers have been embarrassed into figuring out the new world of fiscal politics. But it’s weird because Kobe’s the last holdover to the good old days when the sex appeal of LA and the purple and gold was enough to finangle Pau Gasols and Chris Pauls (never forget). With a nod to their frivoulous past as Jerry Buss speaks sweet whispers into the thick El Segundo air, Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss are inexplicably compelled to hand over the keys to #27 to the Mamba who promptly picks the kid most frequently labeled “fearless” in this draft: Terry Rozier. Never one to shy away from self-congratulations, Kobe makes his pick, then proceeds to tweet out a string of hardcore hashtags #ThisisNOW #LetitFly #CompetitionisEverything #LittleMamba #DwightisSoft #MambaMambaMambaMambaMamba…

terry rozier

28. Boston Celtics, Guillermo “Willy” Hernangomez as drafted by Hamilton

Boston went with wing player in KU swingman Kelly Oubre earlier in this round. For this pick they’re going big and Euro. Guillermo Hernangomez might never come over to the NBA. If he does, he’ll be big and strong and Spanish. With multiple picks in the next two drafts Boston doesn’t have much risk in this pick and may be able to move his rights as part of a trade in the future. That, my friends, is value right there.

guillermo

29. Brooklyn Nets, Delon Wright as drafted by Bug

Still reeling from the KG/Paul Pierce trade that backfired, the beleaguered Nets are stuck in the shadows of luxury tax hell. Deron and Joe Johnson appear to be a shell of their former selves and the team depth is gutted from the over-inflated salaries of their fading stars. Based on Paul Pierce’s interview back in April, the Nets need an influx of players that give a damn. The best guard on Billy King’s (yes, he still has a GM job somehow) board is Delon Wright out of Utah. Delon is the younger brother of NBA veteran, Dorrell Wright, so he has an idea of what it takes to make it in the league. He was the engine behind the Utes surprising Sweet 16 run this past season. He has great size for a PG at 6-5, and he uses his length to cause havoc on the defensive end (2.1 spg). If Delon can get some more consistency with his outside jumper, he could end up being one of the steals in this draft.

delon wright

30. Golden State Warriors, George de Paula as drafted by special guest Jacob Greenberg

Unsurprisingly, the Warriors aren’t super attached to the 30th pick — what with winning the NBA championship and all — and most reports suggest that they’d happily give this pick away in a David Lee-centric trade in order to obtain some salary cap relief. But the Warriors have had some luck at #30 in recent years (Festus Ezeli went 30th in 2012), and other championship teams have found value at the end of the first round. If they do keep the pick, they may go with George de Paula, a 6’6” point guard out of Brazil. The last combo guard the Dubs drafted didn’t work out — rest in power, Nemanja Nedovic — and the Warriors already are pretty loaded at the guard spot. That said, the Warriors aren’t exactly thirsting for depth at the moment; he could go to the Santa Cruz Warriors to develop, or he could be stashed overseas until needed. And if Barbosa sticks around another year, those two could become the focal point of a potentially entertaining (and marketable) Brazilian cohort. But again, I’ll be very surprised if the Warriors have this pick (and David Lee; godspeed you loaf of Wonder Bread) by the end of the day on Thursday.

george de paula

2014 Dancing with Noah Unauthorized, Uncensored, Unprofessional Mock Draft

The current state of the mock draft is as much masturbatory as it exists for the voyeuristic. Mock drafting is as fun for mocker as the audience as we’ve witnessed with the NFL and the spawn of well-coiffed humans like Mel Kiper, but it’s also a participatory sport as the emergence of Fantasy Sports has revealed. For the 2014 NBA Draft, the mock laid out below covers the top-30 picks in the draft assuming no trades are made. Staying true to the tradition that mocks are a great way to pass the time, I brought along some old friends you don’t know and a newer friend you may know. The format is easy to follow and you can skip around or read straight through, but don’t miss the numerous gems sprinkled across this oddly fun, but probably not functional, mock draft.

The draftees were myself, Ian Levy of Hickory-High, Robert Hamill of the NBA Father/Son Two v. Two tourney, Brian Foster also of Father/Son, Andrew Maahs, and Rex Tredway. We drafted in a snake fashion, 1 thru 6, then the draftee with the 6th pick had 7 and so on.

With all that administration out of the way, let’s get on with the drafting which took place over the past couple weeks over email:

1. Cleveland Cavaliers, Andrew Wiggins as drafted by Ian Levy

The night after the Draft Lottery, Dan Gilbert was visited by three ghosts. The first was the ghost of Cavalier Past. A shade with the build and hairline of Karl Malone, the ghost of Cavalier Past told a story of the rich trappings of success being suddenly ripped away. The second and third were the ghosts of Cavalier Present. One was an overweight and overmatched disappointment, the other an overconfident and unaware star of debatable brightness. They told the story of missed opportunities and of struggles private and public. After they left, Gilbert sat in his luxiourous four-poster bed, shivering with fear, awating the ghost of Cavalier Future. But as dawn broke, the final ghost never appeared. The light stretching between his bedroom blinds brought renewed confidence, wiping away the terrifying memories of the night before. Gilbert grabbed his phone and accidentally called Chris Grant, “You again? Sorry, I meant to call David,” then hung up and rang David Griffin: “Forget about those questions we talked about yesterday. Get me that Canadian kid who can jump real high.”

andrew wiggins - dwn

 

2. Milwaukee Bucks, Jabari Parker as drafted by Kris Fenrich

On the eve of the 2014 Mock Draft, no ghosts visited the new owners of the Milwaukee Bucks, just a call from GM John Hammond who, after deep thought, reflection, and a consultation with his former employer and mentor … Joe Dumars … had arrived at his 1-2 scenario. Hammond didn’t hide his disappointment that the team’s #1 option was already off the board. “We needed Wiggins!” he shrieked out loud while pacing in the team’s war room. The rest of the assorted Bucks employees looked at each other in awkward embarrassment and someone suppressed a laugh. Hammond stopped cold, realized he was making an ass of himself and recounted the sobering conversation he’d had with Dumars the night before where Joe had reeled off all the truths of Joel Embiid’s franchise-lifting ceiling: athletic fluidity, rebounding and shot blocking, underrated, but rapidly developing offensive arsenal and all against the backdrop of that troubled Larry Sanders. With darkened memories of Darko Milicic dancing a fiendish jig in his mind, Hammond made the call: Jabari Parker.

jabari parker - dwn

3. Philadelphia 76ers, Joel Embiid as drafted by Andrew Maahs

Raw big man, check. High-upside, check. Injury red flag, check. Falling in the draft, check.

With Joel Embiid falling to the Sixers, GM Sam Hinkie asks, “HAVEN’T WE SEEN THIS MOVIE BEFORE?” And despite conventional wisdom the Sixers select another high-upside big man with injury concerns in Joel Embiid. But unlike last year’s selection, Noel, Embiid is in act one, scene four of a basketball career that some are comparing to a young Akeem Olajuwon, yes that Hakeem Olajuwon. Critics will question whether the two big men can share the same stage, questions that won’t be answered in year one as Hinkie and Co. will cautiously rest both players periodically, embracing year two of “Operation Tank.” With the #10 pick and five second-round picks, the Sixers brass will have endless opportunities to surround the young nucleus, of Michael Carter Williams, Noel and Embiid, with the right pieces. One thing is clear, Embiid is the Godfather II to Noel’s Godfather, and this time the sequel is better, unbelievably better.

joel embiid - dwn

4. Orlando Magic, Marcus Smart as drafted by Brian Foster

With the Otis Smith roster purge nearly completed (Jameer Nelson is the lone holdover), young gun GM Rob Hennigan is finally ready for the Orlando Magic to start making progress towards the playoffs in a watered down Eastern Conference. With no surprises in the first 3 picks, the Magic find themselves picking from a handful of players they expected to be available. It’s no secret that Orlando needs a PG badly to make this young core of players flourish going forward. Hennigan’s mentor and good friend, Sam Presti, found himself in a similar situation 6 years ago in the 2008 draft. There was an emotional, fiery guard with disruptive defensive ability and great size who no one knew whether or not he would be a true point guard. Presti was heckled by some draft pundits for taking the leap with Russell Westbrook. I’d say Westbrook turned out ok, so Hennigan has no problems pulling the trigger here . “Irrational shot selection and sketchy shooting be damned, I’m going with my gut!!” shouts Hennigan from the Magic war room.

marcus smart - dwn

5. Utah Jazz, Dante Exum as drafted by Robert Hamill

A somewhat surprising pick by Orlando at #4 forced Utah to reevaluate its choice. Prevailing thought had Orlando taking Dante Exum, leaving GM Kevin O’Connor sure the player he wanted was top-rated PF, Juius Randle. Of the remaining players atop Utah’s board, Randle was the proven choice – that is to say he proven in a present-day NBA draft. Also under consideration, Noah Vonleh blew minds at the combine. But the word “raw” gets thrown around with him, and raw doesn’t always become filet mignon when it’s fully cooked. O’Connor also had concerns about his build. Narrow shoulders aren’t a great asset around the basket. And finally, Exum, the wildcard from down under. Wildcards are often destined for the same fate as raw players. To a gambler, a wildcard has a malleable future, capable of being shaped to fit your scenario. For O’Connor, the big question was, can he play some SG? At 6’6″ with long arms and top-10 times in all the combine speed drills, the answer appears to be yes. O’Connor may not fancy himself a gambler, but today he is. Exum’s skills should help Gordon Hayward create from the wing, and let Trey Burke play to his strength by getting open 3s. The Jazz select Dante Exum. Now, who’s going to coach this group?

dante exum - dwn

6. Boston Celtics, Julius Randle as drafted by Rex Tredway

The Sports Illustrated cover solidified the comparison.  A Midwestern farm-boy from a mid-major who can stroke the three, as soon as Dougy McBuckets grows a stache he and Larry are basically the same guy right?  I’m sure there’s a sizable portion of Celtic’s nation who thinks so.  So the pick is obvious.  With the sixth pick in the 2014 draft the Boston Celtics select:  Julius Randle.

Randle is the easy selection here for Ainge and Stevens.  He was a consensus top three pick before the season and has a body that’s NBA ready.  He showed us that he can dominate the boards during Kentucky’s tourney run, and that talent fills a need in Boston immediately.

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7. Los Angeles Lakers, Noah Vonleh as drafted by Rex Tredway

The D-League Lakers were an absolute mess this year.  At this point in the off-season there still seem to be more questions than answers.  Who’s going to be the Head Coach?  How much gas will Kobe have in the tank when he comes back?  Is Gasol out the door now or later?  Not even a call to Miss Cleo can get you all of those answers.  Question marks aside, I see the Lakers taking Noah Vonleh in this spot.  He’s not the combine freak that Aaron Gordon is, but he’ll be a better rebounder in year one and more importantly he has the ability to hit the mid-range jumper on a pick-and-pop.

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8. Sacramento Kings, Zach LaVine as drafted by Robert Hamill

If the Kings are indeed willing to trade for Kevin Love without any assurance he will sign an extension, they should take the most gifted player available and not give consideration to the current roster. A team that has tried stockpiling assets, the Kings are what we’ve come expect from an organization that has employed 6 coaches over the past 8 seasons. Aside from DeMarcus Cousins, all current Kings are expendable. At #8, the player that will either excite fans at Sleep Train Arena, or get the attention of the Love-selling T’Wolves, is UCLA freshman SG Zach LaVine. LaVine is compared favorably (and unfavorably) to Russ Westbrook. Fearless in transition; explosive athleticism; questionable judgment. But he’s different too. Legit SG size; effortless range from deep with a smooth, balanced release; not much of a creator for others. Like Westbrook he’s a late bloomer – a kid that wasn’t even in the top-50 of any recruiting service 2 years ago. He looks like a young guy who is still figuring out how to use all of his genetic gifts. The Kings now set their sights on Kevin Love and dream of an outcome that delivers Love while holding onto LaVine … because they know there’s a decent chance he becomes one of the top three players in this draft.

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9. Charlotte Hornets, James Young as drafted by Brian Foster

Charlotte retired the Bobcats name respectably with a trip to the playoffs in their final season before becoming the Hornets once more. In a rare stroke of luck for the Michael Jordan Front Office Circus, the Hornets picked up the Pistons lottery pick that was only top-8 protected as the result of a Corey Maggette for Ben Gordon swap two years ago (you heard right, Joe Dumars somehow made the Ben Gordon signing even worse by giving away the 9th pick in this year’s draft just to dump his salary).  With that being said, let’s go into the mind of Michael Jordan for this pick to see how his previous personnel blunders influence the Hornets for the 2014 draft: Rich Cho: “Doug McDermott?” MJ: “Oh no, I’m not falling for the high scoring, sweet shooting white guy again. Fuck. That.” Cho: “Aaron Gordon?” MJ: “Hell no, he reminds me of that bitch ass Tyrus Thomas who just runs and jumps around with no real basketball skills.” Cho: “Gary Harris?” MJ: “Too little, I would post him up after shoot arounds all day. Ask Gerald. No, for real, get his ass on speaker phone.” Cho: “…” MJ: “Fine, don’t call him. Who’s that guy that kid from Kentucky that dunked on the African dude in the NCAA title game?” Cho: “I give up…Rod (Higgins), call the pick in already.”

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10. Philadelphia 76ers, Gary Harris as drafted by Andrew Maahs

Measuring in at a meager 6’2.5″ without shoes, SG Gary Harris found himself singing “I wish I was taller,” after the NBA combine concluded on May 15th. Despite his disappointing measurements, the Sixers pulled out the “rabbit in a hat with a bat” and drafted the combo guard. Arguably one of the best on ball defenders in the draft, Harris provides the Sixers another defensive asset for their young roster. The length of Michael Carter Williams will help neutralize Harris’ lack of size on the defensive end, and his ability to play both guard spots gives the Sixers some versatility, depth and playmaking they desperately need.

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11. Denver Nuggets, Aaron Gordon as drafted by Kris Fenrich

Sometimes choice can be overwhelming and when you’re a mediocre team with needs across the board, having too many options can be like getting lost in the labyrinthine menu at Cheesecake Factory. Do I want the herb crusted filet of salmon (Aaron Gordon) or the grilled shrimp and bacon club (Dario Saric) or maybe the buffalo blasts (Nik Stauskas)? My God, man, why are we talking about Cheesecake Factory’s oversaturated fatty menu when my cholesterol is already too high and there’s plenty of leafy green options (Doug McDermott) out there just waiting to be devoured and deliver me the sustenance necessary to make strong, clear headed decisions? Screw the salad, we’re already here and what’s life if it’s not indulging in what you really want instead of what you need? Redundancy be damned, potential Shawn Marion clone (minus cockeyed jumper and insecurities) Aaron Gordon is the choice. Now if you don’t mind, I have platter of salmon and mashed potatoes drowning in a lake of lemon butter waiting for me.

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12. Orlando Magic, Nik Stauskas as drafted by Ian Levy

With this pick the Orlando Magic have turned their back court into Voltron. Stauskas, Smart, Oladipo, Afflalo, E’Twaun Moore (in a pinch) can assemble themselves into a super robot, with each limb capable of spacing the floor, running a pick-and-roll, and taking a tough defensive assignment. Now they just have to figure out who gets to hold the giant sword.

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13. Minnesota Timberwolves, Doug McDermott as drafted by Ian Levy

Timberwolves gonna Timberwolf.

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14. Phoenix Suns, Dario Saric as drafted by Kris Fenrich

With three picks in the first round and a 48-win team that’s celebrating the departure of Emeka Okafor and his nearly $15-million deal, the Suns are the envy of the lottery. Maybe not, but as such, they’re in a good mood and pleased to take 6’10” Croatian point forward/future Toni Kukoc/slender Boris Diaw, whom they call Dario Saric. While preferring Saric to join ASAP, the Suns are willing to wait until 2015 if that’s what it takes. Also, there’s hope in the front office that his splotchy mustache thing will have either filled in or fallen out by then.

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15. Atlanta Hawks, Rodney Hood as drafted by Andrew Maahs

When DeMarre Carroll and D-League vet, Cartier Martin are the only true Small Forwards on your roster you could use more than little help at that position. Rodney Hood fills an immediate need and fits well into the 3-point happy Hawks offensive system. Atlanta will be heavily chasing restricted free agent Gordon Hayward this offseason and Hood should be a decent consolation prize should they fail to land Hayward.

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16. Chicago Bulls, Kyle Anderson as drafted by Brian Foster

With the uncertainty of Derrick Rose‘s knees and the departure of Luol Deng, the Bulls weaknesses were on full display in the playoffs against a young Wizards team. They lacked depth on the wings, and didn’t have anyone who can create for others like Rose. The Bulls address both needs with one player: Point forward, Kyle Anderson, out of UCLA.

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17. Boston Celtics, Elfrid Payton as drafted by Robert Hamill

Only one piece of the contending Celtics teams remains. Danny Ainge has long desired to trade Rajon Rondo, and very well may have last year had the moody PG not been rehabbing a torn ACL. In the last year of his deal, and still considered a top PG, a market for Rondo certainly exists. Or perhaps they ride out the last year of Rondo and do a sign and trade in the summer of ’15. Regardless, the time to move on is approaching. Elfrid Payton brings some Rondo-like ability to the table – speed and quickness, vision, energetic defense (his 2.6 spg is tops amongst this draft class). Also like Rondo, his shot is disjointed and ineffective. At 6’4 he’s tall, young (played his freshman season at 17), eager to improve, and he’s the Celtics pick at #17.

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18. Phoenix Suns, TJ Warren as drafted by Rex Tredway and rationalized by Kris Fenrich

Sure, the Suns might crave shooting threes like the NCAA craves hypocrisy, but coach Jeff Hornacek’s no dummy and wants to expand his offensive portfolio with the theme of diversification. And no one in this draft diversifies a three-heavy offense like NC State small forward, TJ Warren. I have no clue how or where Warren learned to play basketball, but with an array of two-point moves that already qualifies as mature, one wonders if he spent his childhood studying the likes of Alex English, Adrian Dantley, Kiki Vandeweghe, Mark Aguirre, Rolando Blackman, Kelly Tripucka, Bernard King …. you get the picture, Warren’s a throwback to the days before the three ball was crowned king and sat on a throne 23’9″ from the hoop. But God help us if the young man ever develops that part of his game.

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19. Chicago Bulls, PJ Hairston as drafted by Rex Tredway and rationalized by Kris Fenrich

Chicago’s identity is crafted by two men: Sheriff Tom Thibodeau and Deputy Joakim Noah. With those two steel-willed men guiding the franchise, Thibs convinces the front office that the red flags (and wailing sirens and weed/gun/speeding infractions) that accompany wing-player PJ Hairston aren’t enough to deter the Bulls from snagging the big-bodied UNC reject. In Hairston, Thibs sees a bearded ball of unformed clay ready to be sculpted into a tooth and nail defender with a jumper good enough to catch feeds from Noah and a healthy Derrick Rose.

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20. Toronto Raptors, Tyler Ennis as drafted by Robert Hamill

20 years ago the Raptors probably would have avoided taking a Canadian kid. The expectations on a local product for the new franchise could have been heavy. But it’s 2014 and the Raptors are just another franchise trying for consecutive playoff berths. With Kyle Lowry‘s future at the club up in the air, the Raptors need to add a PG. Masai Ujiri didn’t expect Ennis to be here at #20, and when he was, the call was easy. Will Ennis be a starting caliber PG for a perennial playoff team? Who knows – it’s hard to ever know for sure. But he’s the obvious choice for Toronto. He comes from a winning culture and has shown the ability to play well in big moments.

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21. Oklahoma City Thunder, Adreian Payne as drafted by Brian Foster

Fresh off of their Western Conference Finals loss to the Spurs, GM Sam Presti realizes that it’s time to recruit some reinforcements on the front line. The injury to Serge Ibaka in the playoffs magnified the Thunder’s lack of front court depth. Steven Adams is a good, young prospect, but after that it gets ugly in a hurry. Nick Collison is near the end of the road of his NBA career, and I wouldn’t pick Kendrick Perkins to play on my team in a pickup game at the Y. Watching Kevin Durant get pushed around filling in at the 4 made this decision easy for Presti. Adreian Payne out of Michigan State is his man. Payne checks in at 6’10”, 240 with a Stretch Armstrong-like 7-4 wingspan. His ability to mix it up inside and stretch the floor with range out to 3 will definitely be a welcome addition to this young OKC core.

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22. Memphis Grizzlies, Cleanthony Early as drafted by Andrew Maahs

The small forward position of the Grizzlies is a collection of has beens and never have beens. With Tayshaun Prince washed up and Mike Miller a situational player, the Grizzlies are in desperate need of a playmaker at that position. After a strong performance at the combine and in the NCAA tournament, against Kentucky, the 23 year-old, Cleanthony Early is ready to make the leap from the mid-major level to the NBA. If he manages to beat owner Robert Pera in his weekly one-on-one games, Early may find himself in Dave Joerger’s starting lineup. That’s if Joerger still coaching this team by the end of the week.

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23. Utah Jazz, KJ Daniels as drafted by Kris Fenrich

While some in the organization believe the Jazz should’ve drafted another white hope in Doug McDermott at #5, good sense and a pro-Australian-faction won out. But by taking Exum at #5 and losing a handful of aging, calcifying players to free agency, the Jazz are getting younger while their current crop of kids (Hayward, Kanter, Favors) gain crucial on the job experience. A couple of Euro imports may be the best players available, but the Jazz need help now and that means taking the gaudy athleticism of Clemson’s, K.J. McDaniels. At 6’6”, Daniels uses his quick leaping ability to be a plus rebounder and shot blocker for his position. Jazz marketers are already planning campaigns with working titles as “McDaniels’ Den of Dazzling Dunks” or “KJ: More Athletic than RJ and less arthritic than Marvin.”

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24. Charlotte Hornets, Glenn Robinson III as drafted by Ian Levy

The New Orleans Hornets are in desperate need of some spacing from the small forward position and Robinson is just what the doctor ordered. Long and athletic, oh, the marvelous, glorious basketball DNA. Also, they can now give up on Austin Rivers and not keep their Nepotism Rating high. #AdvancedStats

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25. Houston Rockets, Mitch “Money” McGary as drafted by Ian Levy

The Rockets are still missing something. You can call it chutzpah, intensity, aggression, passion, physicality, giving a flying fuck, reckless abandon, the willingness to mix it up, cojones, muscles for miles. Whatever your chosen euphemism, McGary has it and the Rockets don’t. Now they can trade Asik, plug McGary in for 25 minutes a night as Dwight Howard‘s back slowly disintegrates and let the man go get frothy.

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26. Miami Heat, Shabazz Napier as drafted by Kris Fenrich

Let’s be real, Mario Chalmers is exhausted from years of being the Miami whipping boy. Between the Heat cap jockeying and the availability of Napier, it’s time for Mario to take his title talents elsewhere and for Shabazz to sidle into the Norris Cole role (sans high top) as Cole becomes a not-so-annoying Chalmers. At the end of the day, we’re all just filling someone else’s shoes.

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27. Phoenix Suns, Kristaps Porzingis as drafted by Andrew Maahs

After selecting Dario Saric, with the #14 pick, the Suns double dip and select another skilled 7-footer in Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis is a few years away from being an NBA caliber player, as was evident by his 6.7 PPG and 2.7 RBG in Spain’s ACB League. With three first round picks, the Suns are counting on one of their European selections to stay overseas, giving them roster felxibilty for free agents and/or Kevin Love.

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28. Los Angeles Clippers, Jerami Grant as drafted by Brian Foster

Since the beginning of the Chris Paul Era in Clipperland, they’ve had a revolving door of over the hill and journeymen small forwards (Ryan Gomes, Caron Butler, Matt Barnes, Jared Dudley, Grant Hill). With the Sterling saga in the rear view mirror, the Clippers are looking to turn the page by drafting some young legs to inject some energy into this mostly veteran core. In comes Jerami Grant from Syracuse. Grant is a slasher with protypical SF size (6-8 215) that likes to use his exceptional athleticism to get to the rim and put pressure on the defense. You can check out the kid’s dunk highlights on YouTube to get an idea of how well Grant will fit in with his new team. Welcome to Lob City.

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29. Oklahoma City Thunder, Clint Capela as drafted by Robert Hamill

Unless you agree with Scott Brooks‘ comments following Game 6 of the WCF, OKC finds itself coming up short of expectations for the 2nd straight year (injuries or not). While the team needs to retool, and maybe hire a new coach, the pick at #29 doesn’t exactly lend itself to that effort. Sam Presti should regret giving Kendrick Perkins the deal he did, and it seems highly unlikely the scary big man will return once it expires in 2015. Clint Capela makes a great draft-and-stash pick and seems like a move Presti’s mentors in San Antonio would make. He’s only 20 and needs a lot of seasoning, but he’s big, strong and could be a nice piece alongside Serge Ibaka in a couple years.

clint capela

30. San Antonio Spurs, CJ Wilcox as drafted by Kris Fenrich

Coach Gregg Popovich might claim to hate the three, but he knows where his bread’s buttered and there aren’t many better shooters in this draft than 23-year-old CJ Wilcox from UW. At 23 and having played behind bigger, brighter names and talents, Wilcox is humble and hungry. He brings a quick release and above average athleticism to a team that can never go deep enough. At training camp, his targets will be set on the minutes of Marco Bellinelli and his creepy neck beard.

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