When the Philadelphia 76ers allow Milwaukee to drop 130 points in a game, you know that draft season is the main thing on the team’s mind.
Let the tanking commence as we make our way toward one of the most promising draft classes in NBA history. Here’s how the lottery is looking:
1. Milwaukee Bucks - Andrew Wiggins - SG/SF, Kansas
He’s lost some steam after being the early favorite for the first overall pick, but if Milwaukee ends up in the top spot, it’s hard to imagine them going any other way.
Joel Embiid is a remarkable talent, but with the promising John Henson up front and the money committed to Larry Sanders — who the Bucks still consider to be an asset — drafting a swingman who can put points on the board while doing a long list of other things like Wiggins is the more practical and exciting pick.
He’s an explosive do-it-all wing with NBA superstar written all over him and pairing him on the wing with Giannis Antetokounmpo could be great.
2. Philadelphia 76ers - Joel Embiid - C, Kansas
Philly’s top two young pieces right now are Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams. While a swingman like Wiggins or Jabari Parker would be a perfect fit to give the team a potential top-notch winger, the prospects of pairing Noel and Embiid may be too good to pass up.
Noel is in the game for his defense as his offensive game is incredibly under-developed. Embiid has tons of potential on both ends and would give Carter-Williams a great safety net down in the post.
3. Orlando Magic - Jabari Parker - F, Duke
If this is how the draft turns out, the 76ers and the Bucks going with Wiggins and Embiid first and second, respectively, then it would be hard to imagine the Magic — or anyone really— passing on the greatly talented Parker at No. 3.
Shattering numerous freshman records at Duke, Parker is an elite scorer from anywhere on the court, as well as a strong rebounder and natural leader — a great addition to any NBA franchise.
4. Boston Celtics - Julius Randle - F, Kentucky
Boston’s first-round pick will have a lot to do with Rajon Rondo. If the Celtics clean house and trade him for young talent or draft picks, then point guards like Marcus Smart or Dante Exum are potential targets. But with Rondo still a member of the team, Randle and Noah Vonleh are the top options, assuming a draft spot outside the top 3.
Randle is a tough, physical scorer who could excel as either a small forward or power forward in the league.
5. Los Angeles Lakers - Dante Exum - G, Australia
Outside of the big three, Exum may have the most potential in the draft. At 6-foot-6, Exum is accustomed to playing the point guard position and with his combination of size and speed, he could be a goldmine in a league that’s beginning to favor bigger, more physical guards with quick first steps.
And right now, the Lakers are in desperate need of a young talent with a high ceiling.
6. Sacramento Kings - Zach LaVine - F, UCLA
The Kings have plenty of scoring with DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas, and if Rudy Gay is brought back, they’ll have even more. What is lacking is a talented and versatile glue player to help keep the scorers in check and LaVine could most definitely be that guy.
With a skill set similar to that of Portland’s Nicolas Batum, LaVine has all the tools to be a reliable, do-it-all small forward in the NBA, and exactly the type of talent the Kings desperately need.
7. Utah Jazz - Gary Harris - SG, Michigan State
As with Boston and Rondo, this pick could have a lot to do with how the Jazz deal with Gordon Hayward. They’re all set at point guard with Trey Burke, and both Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter have a lot of potential in the frontcourt. However, an outside shooter is still lacking.
Harris has a great stroke as well as an impressive all-around offensive arsenal and tough on-ball defensive game. As the best pure shooting guard in this year’s draft, Harris would be a great fit next to Burke to create a U-M/MSU backcourt for the Jazz.
8. Denver Nuggets - Noah Vonleh - PF/C, Indiana
The Kenneth Faried trade rumors cooled off as the deadline came and went, but there’s no doubt the Nuggets are in need of more consistent frontcourt play and Vonleh could be the answer.
He’s a smart, agile big man listed around 6-foot-10, and he should be able to excel on both ends of the court in the NBA — something that can’t be said about any of Denver’s current power forwards or centers.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers - Aaron Gordon - F, Arizona
Undoubtedly one of the most talented players in the draft, Gordon could be a great complement to Kyrie Irving in Cleveland.
His best position in the NBA is up for question, as he doesn’t have ideal size to play power forward or the refined outside shooting or ball-handling to play small forward. But his explosiveness at the rim and all-around skill set provides him with a great deal of potential.
10. Charlotte Bobcats - Marcus Smart - PG, Oklahoma State
Smart’s deserving a draft spot higher than 10, but if the draft ends up turning up this way, either Smart or Exum could end up falling to 10th or lower because so many teams in this range already have promising, young point guards (Kings: Thomas, Jazz: Burke, Nuggets: Ty Lawson, Cavaliers: Irving).
Smart is the best American point guard in this upcoming draft without question. He’s a top-notch scorer who is also great at finding open teammates and pressuring opposing guards on the defensive end. Plus, most important, he plays the game with a lot of passion and should be a great leader at the next level.
11. Philadelphia 76ers - James Young - SG/SF, Kentucky
A lefty shooter with a great outside touch, Young would be a remarkable second selection for Philly (a pick they acquired from New Orleans through the Jrue Holiday trade last season).
If they were to draft Wiggins or Parker with pick No. 1, then a big man might be more likely with this selection, but Embiid and Young in one draft is quite a package.
12. Orlando Magic - Tyler Ennis - PG, Syracuse
With Orlando’s second selection, which will be the lesser of the two first round picks between Denver and New York (currently New York’s), the Magic could be looking for their next point guard behind Jameer Nelson, if they decide Victor Oladipo is truly best suited as a shooting guard (which he clearly is).
Ennis has shown great leadership and all-around expertise in his first year at Syracuse and should be one of the top NBA point guards in the 2014 draft class.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves - Doug McDermott - F, Creighton
The Timberwolves need a defensive-minded big man more than anything, but other than Embiid and Vonleh, that’s not readily available at this point in the draft, and Kentucky’s Willie Caulie-Stein would be a bit of a stretch.
McDermott could help give Ricky Rubio another great offensive weapon to dish the ball off to, and as one of the most NBA-ready players in this upcoming draft, he could help the team make a playoff push right from the start.
14. Memphis Grizzlies - Wayne Seldon, Jr. - SG/SF, Kansas
As the third Jayhawk of the board, the multi-talented Seldon would give the Grizzlies a much-needed scoring option from the wing.
Mike Conley has had to take on too big of a scoring role in the absence of Rudy Gay so now the team needs to look to add another offensive weapon to vary their attack and the explosive Seldon could be an NBA star.