Every year I do a last minute mock before the real draft, so I can see how my own talent evaluation system (codename: eyeballs) stacks up.
This year, I've decided to put the guys in tiers, because that's the way I see this draft, and I got into the habit of tiering players back in the days when I played video games (Storm/Sent/Cable ftw). I also usually include a couple trades, based on what I think teams should do, and a little blurb if there's something interesting around the team.
Let's get to it!
Tier 1: Potential superstars?
1. Andrew Wiggins - Orlando Magic (from Cleveland)
Rumors have the Cavs potentially trading the #1 overall pick to Orlando for the #4, #12, and Afflalo. If that deal is on the table, the Cavs have to do it. The drop from #1 to #4 is not that significant, IMO, and Afflalo is a good player at a position of need for the Cavs. For Orlando, Afflalo is expendable with Oladipo developing, and they get piece #3 to put with 'Dipo and Vucevic.
2. Jabari Parker - Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee isn't going to be retaining any prime free agents, so they need to draft people who can contribute in a year, not in 3 years. Parker's floor seems to be All-Star caliber SF. The SF the Bucks drafted last year has grown 3 inches and put on almost 30 pounds, and may be moving to PF, so this shouldn't create a logjam.
3. Noah Vonleh - Philadelphia Sixers
Drafting an injured project center two years in a row is just too much for Philly, so they pass on Embiid. Vonleh's upside is potentially higher than anyone else's in this draft. The Sixers need some (decent) veterans on their team badly, but you just don't trade out of this tier in the draft.
4. Joel Embiid - Cleveland Cavaliers (from Orlando)
Cleveland still gets a god-tier player after trading down, and perhaps the player they wanted all along. Cleveland needs to face facts - LeBron isn't coming back (maybe when he's 38), and Kyrie is leaving just as soon as he possibly can.
Tier 2: Someday All-Stars?
5. Marcus Smart - Utah Jazz
The Jazz need an identity. Smart gives them that, despite duplicating the position of last year's pick, Trey Burke. With the success of several two-PG lineups this last year, and the knowledge that the Jazz desperately wanted him last year, Jazz management make the Smart choice. If only they had a stretch forward to give those guards some room to operate...
6. Julius Randle - Boston Celtics
Danny Ainge continues to collect assets he hopes to use to trade for
Kevin Love a star. Exum might eventually be a better pick, but Randle is low-risk, and will almost certainly be a commodity later, while Exum could flame out and end up as nothing.
7. Dante Exum - L.A. Lakers
LA usually hates draft picks, but when they actually use them, they tend to pick high risk/reward players and internationals. Exum is both, and a gift to LA if he falls this far.
Tier 3: Probable Rotation Players
8. Doug McDermott - Detroit Pistons (from Sacramento)
Sacramento has been openly shopping this pick, and wants their ideal trade partner take back some middling contracts for middling players and get a good veteran in return. Rumors link them to the Pistons in exchange for Josh Smith, and it makes sense, as PF is Sac's position of need.
The Pistons new GM/HC, Stan Van Gundy, was known in his prior stop for putting a ton of shooters on the court (Reddick, Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis). Out goes the non-shooting Smith. In comes premo shooter Dougie McBuckets, and SVG probably takes back sniper Jason Terry in the trade as well.
9. Nik Stauskas - Charlotte HornCats
Word on the streets is the BobNets are looking for a shooter. After striking out on trading for Afflalo, they have McDermott and Stauskas at the top of their list. Aaron Gordon is the BPA at this point, but like most small market teams, the Hornets don't want to make themselves into a farm team by drafting a project player and developing them, only to watch them leave in year 7.
10. Aaron Gordon - Philadelphia Sixers
The Sixers don't really need a PF at this point, but really, the Sixers need anybody talented. Gordon is BPA, and Vonleh may play some center. Philadelphia can be fast, young, athletic, and exciting. If you can't be a winning team, at least be fun to watch.
11. Jusuf Nurkic - Denver Nuggets
Does anybody have a clue what the Nuggets are doing? They have a horrible (and injury-prone) core of Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, and JaVale McGee surrounded by a bunch of pretty good and somewhat expensive roleplayers, and led by a coach who doesn't appear to be sure what system he's trying to run. They need to find the plan, and then tear it up and start over. End rant.
Nurkic is a bulldozer at 6'10" and 280lbs, and he's only 19 years old. He's a strong pick and roll finisher, and has a shot that isn't broken, though it's not efficient at this time. His upside is probably Nikola Pekovic, and that's pretty good for a team that wanted to run a post game, despite not having a single player proficient in the post. At the very least, he represents a commitment to playing some kind of system. Oh, and he just got a green room invite for the draft.
Tier 4: Roleplayers, Longshots, and Guys Staying in Europe
12. Gary Harris - Cleveland Cavaliers (from Orlando)
Cleveland needs a SG who can actually shoot the ball, and plays adequate defense. That's pretty much what Harris draft profile says.
13. Adriean Payne - Minnesota Timberwolves
The TWolves are trading K-Love. They're just going to wait til July to do so. That leaves the position of stretch 4 open. Payne has some red flags, but with that size and skillset, the TWolves will roll the dice on him.
14. Dario Saric - Phoenix Suns
The Suns have too many picks to develop, and don't really need someone to contribute right away. Saric is more of an asset than a player, but he's a better asset than the Suns hoped for. Taken at #14 because the Celtics will take him at #17 if they don't do it here.
15. Rodney Hood - Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks wing rotation looks pretty thin after Kyle Korver. The Hawks also don't seem to like to draft projects, so they pass on Payton and LaVine.
16. Elfrid Payton - Chicago Bulls
"No, this pick doesn't mean we're moving on from Derrick Rose. Why would you ask that?" -Gar Forman
17. Zach LaVine - Boston Celtics
Danny Ainge continues to accumulate raw talent and assets, to trade for veterans later.
18. Clint Capela - Phoenix Suns
McDonough adds to his own talent portfolio, without messing up the chemistry going on in Phoenix this past year.
19. PJ Hairston - Chicago Bulls
D-League performance has to count for something, right? Right?
20. Shabazz Napier - Toronto Raptors
Can they keep Kyle Lowry in free agency? Do they want to? Can they keep anyone in free agency? They need a PG.
21. Kyle Anderson - OKC Thunder
Kyle Anderson is the anti-Russell Westbrook. I'm pretty sure that putting them in a backcourt together will either destroy the world or create a utopia.
22. Jerami Grant - Memphis Grizzlies
A long kid with high upside on defense and a limited shot. Sounds pretty Memphis-y.
23. Walter Tavares - Utah Jazz
Mark Eaton 2.0. Ok, more like Mark Eaton 0.9.
24. Cleanthony Early - Charlotte Hornets
Early is ready to play a supporting role for someone. Why not Charlotte?
25. James Young - Houston Rockets
Something has gone wrong. I'm near the end of my draft, and Daryl Morey hasn't made any trades. Anyway, Houston loves them some shooters, and that's pretty much all Young does.
26. Tyler Ennis - Miami Heat
"Mario Chalmers, you are replaceable." -Everyone
27. Jarnell Stokes - Phoenix Suns
Stokes has a fat bottom that he puts to good use in the post and on the offensive glass. He's a little short to be an NBA power forward, but he has the length, drive, and weight to compete at the next level.
28. CJ Wilcox - LA Clippers
Wilcox is an accomplished catch-and-shoot guy at the college level, and he has NBA length (if not height). The Clips get a 3-and-D guy at #28 who can actually help them now.
29. Damien Inglis - OKC Thunder
French prospects have been successfully converting to NBA pros at a higher rate than their European brethren.
30. Bogdan Bogdanovic - SA Spurs
Winning NBA championships, and drafting foreign players with the 30th pick in the draft. That's what the Spurs do.
If you've read this far, then I thank you, and ask you to seek help for your masochistic tendencies. Also, I'd like to wish a very happy fake birthday to Scott Howard! I prefer the apple jolly ranchers, but I do not trust you not to lick them all before you mail them, or kidnap my dog, so I will not give you my address.