Chad Ford Mock Draft 8.0
Top three spots solidifying, but plenty of movement across the board
T-minus nine days and counting until the NBA draft and things are getting serious.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have had Joel Embiid in for workouts with Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins set to come in this week. The Milwaukee Bucks have all three in this week too, and the Philadelphia 76ers will be getting Wiggins and Dante Exum in.
Until that process finishes -- which includes more physicals, more psych testing and more interviews -- the draft boards are still in flux.
However, we are getting closer and closer toward getting a view of who will go at the top.
But for now, here's our best stab, after talking to numerous NBA team sources, about how the draft might play out on June 26.
Remember that our Mock Draft is not a ranking of who we think the top players are. Instead, it's a reporting tool to convey our latest intel from NBA scouts and GMs on what each team might do in the draft. Here we go:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Analysis: Joel Embiid's workout and interview in Cleveland last week was a major success, according to sources close to the Cavs. Embiid did a full workout there in front of the Cavs front office and owner Dan Gilbert. Multiple sources said that the team was blown away with the workout. Embiid even ended one session by launching and nailing a series of threes. Directly after the workout, two different sources told me that Embiid was the strong favorite to be drafted by the Cavs. Even Gilbert was on board.
However, there have been conflicting reports coming out of Cleveland about the physical. One report stated the Cavs found multiple red flags with his physical. That's been strongly disputed by the sources I have, but getting accurate information this time of year is especially challenging. I don't see the incentive for the Cavs to leak that the physical was bad. It lessens the value of the No. 1 pick, especially considering that they are still looking at multiple trade options. The only way leaking it makes much sense is if they are thinking of swapping picks with the Sixers and want Embiid to fall to them there.
Regardless, the team also gets Andrew Wiggins (on Wednesday) and Jabari Parker (on Friday) in this week. Right now, I continue to believe Embiid is moving closer and closer to being the No. 1 pick, but if the physical was a bad, a great trade offer comes in or if Wiggins or Parker blows the Cavs away in workouts, things could obviously change.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
Analysis: The Bucks have been very busy. Last week, GM John Hammond and assistant GM David Morway flew to California and did private workouts with Parker and Andrew Wiggins and dinner with Joel Embiid. Then they flew back to Milwaukee and had Dante Exum work out on Saturday. Parker then came into Milwaukee for a physical on Monday and his first full workout today. Embiid and Wiggins are scheduled for workouts in Milwaukee later this week. The Bucks are the only team to get all four players in for workouts.
The truth is the Bucks like all four players and can see all of them as fits. Embiid especially intrigues, but the Bucks, like everyone else, are still waiting to get the physical. If Embiid is gone or if the physical is a problem, I believe Parker has the slight lead over Exum and Wiggins. Not only is Parker the most NBA-ready of the prospects, but the team was impressed with his maturity and desire to play in Milwaukee. But this one is still very much up in the air. The Bucks would really like a point guard and think Exum would be a perfect partner for Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Wiggins' athleticism just dazzled them in Santa Barbara. I'm not sure how the Bucks go wrong here. They're going to have a very tough choice.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Wiggins, SG, Kansas
Analysis: Wiggins has been the target all year for the Sixers. He finally traveled to Philly on Monday for his first workout. The Sixers have been actively trying to trade up to make sure they land him, and a swap of No. 1 for No. 3 and Thaddeus Young isn't totally out of the question I'm told -- as long as the Cavs have some reasonable belief that the Bucks would pass on Joel Embiid at No. 2.
However, the deal might not be necessary, as I think the most likely scenario right now is that Wiggins falls to three. If Wiggins somehow goes ahead of them, Jabari Parker is the obvious fit, but I keep hearing that Dante Exum, especially after his workout in Philly on Monday, is a real possibility right now. The team believes he can fit nicely in the backcourt with Michael Carter-Williams.
4. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, PG, Australia
Analysis: Unless one of the top 3 -- Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins -- falls to them at No. 3, I think this one is down to Noah Vonleh and Exum. We had Vonleh here last week after he worked out for the team and was very impressive. Several sources who have worked out Vonleh the past week have disputed the rumor that he was out of shape (he certainly didn't look that way to me in New York a few weeks ago). But even if he was, he has so many things going for him at his size that he's an attractive option for the Magic, who could use an athletic rim protector and shooter to pair with Nikola Vucevic on their front line.
However, the more I dig, the more I believe this is Exum's spot to lose. They need a point guard and have been intrigued all year. He comes in to work out on Tuesday. If he wows them in the workout, the Magic feel he's just too good to pass here and will try to solve their power forward issues later in the draft or via free agency or trade.
Marcus Smart was the other player who had drawn interest, but I get the feeling out of Orlando that his workouts there (he's had two now) weren't particularly strong and may have knocked him out of contention at No. 4.
5. Utah Jazz: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
Analysis: This one comes down to Dante Exum-Noah Vonleh and Aaron Gordon from what I can gather and I think it will be hard for the Jazz to pass on either Exum or Vonleh if they are on the board.
While the Jazz drafted Trey Burke last year, they believe Exum has a higher ceiling (and I think they are right). And the Burke pick isn't a waste. Exum can also play some two when Burke is on the floor.
Vonleh gives them a stretch four that adds a different wrinkle to their frontline. There are enough minutes for Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Vonleh to all get significant minutes, and with Kanter heading toward restricted free agency next summer, this gives them so insurance as well.
Gordon is another possibility. He had a great workout there and the team loves his energy and athleticism. But I don't get the impression that he's ahead of Exum or Vonleh. Marcus Smart has gotten a number of mentions here by other commentators, but I don't think the Jazz have been as high on him as others and he's not even working out in Utah.
6. Boston Celtics: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
Analysis: The Celtics were very busy last week and had workouts with Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, Gary Harris, Nik Stauksas and Doug McDermott; essentially everyone they would consider with the No. 6 pick.
I still believe that Vonleh, Gordon and Smart are the heavy favorites there if Boston keeps the pick, with Gordon being the choice right now given the way we have the draft board playing out.
But I continue to get strong signals that the Celtics are trying hard to use picks 6 and 17 along with future No. 1s and young players such as Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynk to persuade the Minnesota Timberwolves to trade them Kevin Love. One source close to the Wolves said that while Flip Saunders does not want to trade Love, he realizes the team likely will lose him this summer and the package the Celtics are offering is probably the best he's going to get. Given the strength of the draft, picks 6, 13 and 17 could land them three young starters to rebuild their roster quickly.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
Analysis: We've had Julius Randle here for the past few mocks, but issues with his foot that were detected at the NBA Combine may lead to his stock sliding a bit. It depends on who you talk to. Several teams I spoke with weren't concerned, at all, with the injury, saying it was a minor procedure to fix and that of all the players that have had Jones fractures in the past, none have had lingering issues with it in the league. However, other teams have said that it concerns them enough that they'd pass in the mid-lottery. At this time of the year, it's hard to know who to believe.
Given Randle's potential foot issues, Smart becomes a strong possibility here. He goes back in for a workout this week against Elfrid Payton. The Lakers had both players in once already, but they didn't work out against each other. Smart worked out against Tyler Ennis, and Payton worked out against Zach LaVine. The Lakers loved both Smart and Payton, and want to see them head-to-head. It will be the third time the two gone at it (they worked out in Sacramento and Boston together). Both of those other workouts were super competitive between the two, I'm told.
8. Sacramento Kings: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana Lafayette
Analysis: The Kings continue to be active in trying to trade the pick, with multiple sources saying that a trade is more likely than the Kings drafting where they are. But until a deal materializes, we have to take a look at what they are doing. Point guard seems to be a main area of focus, and both Marcus Smart and Payton are in the mix here. If the Lakers or Celtics grab Smart and Julius Randle falls, I think they could shock everyone and take Payton over a player like Randle. Two months ago, having Payton this high seemed nuts, but he's been one of just two or three guys that have gotten rave reviews in every workout they've done. His size, toughness, defense and leadership abilities would all be welcome in Sacramento.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Doug McDermott, F, Creighton
Analysis: McDermott's workout in Charlotte last week against T.J. Warren wasn't a huge hit. While McDermott shot the ball well, he struggled in the competitive portions of the drill when he had to guard Warren one-on-one. After seeing Warren destroy everyone a few weeks ago in Thousand Oaks, I have a good idea of what the Hornets saw there. However, the Hornets desperately need spot-up shooting. That's McDermott's strength. They aren't going to be asking him to break people down one-on-one. Gary Harris and Nik Stauskas will be in the mix as well as Randle if he's still on the board, but I continue to think McDermott gets his name called here.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans Pelicans): Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
Analysis: If the Sixers go with a wing early, then I think they go big here if they can. There are also scenarios where Randle could slide, now that he has a foot issue. Landing Randle would be a huge coup for the team if they believe his foot won't be a long-term issue. He would be the perfect complement to Nerlens Noel on the front line and give them a big man who can run the floor and command a double-team in the paint. A combo of Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle would be a formidable young core going forward.
Dario Saric is also real possibility here. His agent told ESPN.com on Monday that Saric had decided to keep his name in the draft. The Sixers were big fans of Saric last year and his play this year should help cement his status as a lottery pick. He would be a great fit for Philly .
11. Denver Nuggets (via New York Knicks): Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Analysis: The Nuggets continue to discuss moving this pick to the Chicago Bulls. If the Bulls get this pick, they'll grab either Harris or Nik Stauskas here. They've also had several other discussions with teams about deals and seemed poised to move this pick. Harris, Stauskas and James Young seem to be focal points, as does Tyler Ennis. Right now I'd give the edge to Harris.
12. Orlando Magic (via Denver Nuggets): Dario Saric, F, Croatia
This pick is highly contextual on what the Magic do at No. 4. If they go with Dante Exum, then they'll likely look at another big, and Saric is the one guy left on the board who really makes some sense for them. His playmaking ability, rebounding and versatility make him a nice fit in Orlando. Exum and Saric would give them the two best young international prospects in the draft.
But one of the reasons they are looking at a big like Noah Vonleh at 4 is because the draft is pretty weak on bigs after Vonleh-Julius Randle-Aaron Gordon are off the board. Meanwhile, there are several intriguing point guards here, the most exciting of which may be Elfrid Payton. His athleticism, quickness, defensive toughness and ability to get to the rim make him a great fix in Orlando if they pass on Exum. Tyler Ennis, Zach LaVine and Shabazz Napier would all get looks here too.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Nik Stauskas, G, Michigan
Analysis: The Wolves, as we discussed, are talking trade now with a number of teams. With Kevin Love threatening to leave next year, they have to do something. We discussed the Boston Celtics scenario above. The Sacramento Kings, Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors have also been strong suitors. However, if they keep their pick, and if Stauskas is on the board here, I'm not sure how they pass. It's possible he might be. He sprained his shoulder about a week ago and had to cancel workouts last week. He worked out last week in Boston and Los Angeles, but the likelihood he goes six or seven is very slim. If Stauskas is gone, James Young, Rodney Hood and Adreian Payne are two other players getting long looks here.
14. Phoenix Suns: James Young, G/F, Kentucky
Analysis: The Suns biggest need is probably at wing. Young has the ability to play both the two and three with his 7-foot wingspan. He's one of the youngest players in the draft and projects as a potent shooter down the road. I think this is a nice value pick for the Suns if he's still here. Rodney Hood are TJ Warren are other players that will get long looks from Phoenix.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
Analysis: The Hawks have a track record, since Danny Ferry has been on board, of finding top international talent. And with a pretty gaping hole in the paint, Nurkic seems like a good fit. He's huge and is putting up great per minute numbers in the Adriatic League this year.
The Hawks' other big need is shooting, especially from the two. Zach Lavine is a real option here. While LaVine is trying to show everyone that he's a point guard and might be down the road, most teams think that, at least at the beginning of his career, he's more likely to be a two. His athleticism and shooting ability, along with terrific upside make him a very intriguing prospect.
16. Chicago Bulls (via Charlotte Hornets): Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
Analysis: As I stated last week, the Bulls have been trying to move up in the draft to get an elite shooter. Their target has been Denver, with an offer of the 16th and 19th pick for 11. If they get there, Gary Harris or Nik Stauskas will be the guy with them likely leaning toward Stauskas. Payne is another elite shooter, though he's a big man who stretches the floor a different way. The fact that he can also play some five is another huge bonus. Also don't count out Rodney Hood here. He had a series of really good workouts and it's unlikely that the Bulls will be able to get him, or a similar shooter, a few picks below.
17. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets): Zach LaVine, G, UCLA
Analysis: LaVine is a difficult prospect to project. On raw talent, he's one of the top 10 players in this draft. But as a basketball player, he still has a long ways to go. Danny Ainge hasn't been afraid to swing for the fences with players like this in the past and I think at 17, the reward outweighs the risk. The wild card here is Missouri's Jordan Clarkson, who continues to move up the draft boards with stellar workouts.
18. Phoenix Suns (via Washington Wizards): TJ Warren, SF, NC State
Analysis: With the Suns shoring up their wing, look for them to add another forward. Warren may be, next to Jabari Parker and Doug McDermott, the best scorer in this draft. He's not a great shooter, but he's got a unique ability to get to the rim. The Suns are loaded with fours who can shoot the ball, which opens up some unique space for Warren.
19. Chicago Bulls: Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn
Analysis: The Bulls get shooting with Hood and now they look to add some depth at the point guard position. We've had Tyler Ennis to the Bulls for several mocks, but I'm beginning to hear a slight preference for Napier in Chicago. Napier has more experience, and is a better shooter and defender. He lacks Ennis' size and has less upside, but for a team that wants to contend right now, Napier is a good choice.
20. Toronto Raptors: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
Analysis: The Raptors have been eyeing a point guard and will be happy if the local product Ennis falls here. Ennis is in the mix as high as the Sacramento Kings at 8. But in workouts, he has struggled to get ahead of the Marcus Smart, Elfrid Payton and Shabazz Napier. But he's a great value here.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Dallas Mavericks): Rodney Hood, G/F, Duke
Analysis: Hood could go as high as No. 13 to the Wolves and has other spots at Phoenix, Atlanta and Chicago where he could go. But I doubt he slides past the Thunder here. They can always use more shooting on the wing backcourt, and Hood has great size for his position.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee
Analysis: Stokes is a tough rebounder who can score with his back to the basket or face a little. The differences between him and Julius Randle, statistically, are small. A car accident going to his first workout has forced him to miss some workouts, but he's feeling better now. He could be a huge steal for the Grizzlies at 22.
23. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Jordan Clarkson, PG, Missouri
Analysis: If the Jazz don't get a big point guard at No. 5, it will be hard on them to pass on Clarkson here. He's been terrific in workouts and combines length, athleticism and the ability to play multiple positions on the floor.
24. Charlotte Hornets (via Portland Trailblazers): P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends
Analysis: The Bobcats also need more shooting at the shooting guard position and like Doug McDermott, Hairston is ready to go from Day One. For a team that really wasn't great shooting the ball last season from the wing, adding McDermott and Hairston is a major upgrade.
25. Houston Rockets: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
Analysis: The Rockets could use more length and athleticism at the wing position. Robinson was impressive in his workout in Houston and fits the sort of criteria they are looking for in a wing defender. Glenn Robinson III and Jerami Grant are other possibilities here.
26. Miami Heat: Kyle Anderson, F, UCLA
Analysis: After watching the way Boris Diaw carved them up in the NBA Finals, finding a Boris Diaw clone might be exactly what the Heat need. Anderson thrives with the ball in his hands, is an emerging shooter and a good rebounder. He's a poor athlete, but he helps the game flow.
27. Phoenix Suns (via Indiana Pacers): Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
Analysis: Capela's stock is all over the place. He's getting looks in the late lottery and all through the draft. He's so raw, but his length and shot-blocking abilities appeal to every team looking for a rim protector. If he's gone, other international players such as Walter Tavares or Artem Klimenko could go in his place. The Suns have three first-round picks, but I don't think there's any way they're bringing three rookies to their roster next year.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan
Analysis: The Clippers lack a lot of big bodies up front. There's virtually no real depth behind Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Had he not injured his back McGary would've been a likely lottery pick this year. If he gets healthy, he provides instant toughness and hustle in the paint.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA
Analysis: Adams may be the most unathletic guard in the draft, but he really knows how to score and could be a spark plug off the bench for OKC next season.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
Analysis: Kawhi Leonard, it's safe to assume, has the starting small forward position locked down. But Early can give them minutes. He's big, athletic and can stretch the floor.