I’ve gone back and forth between Wiggins and Parker here. Sure, Parker can come in as a sure thing, and Cleveland might be tempted by a sure thing after Anthony Bennett. And one insider told me Wiggins has the biggest bust potential in this draft. But that’s only because our expectations are so high for Wiggins that 15 points a game for 10 years would be a bust. He has the highest ceiling in this draft. Should be a no-brainer, especially if rumors that Parker doesn’t want to play in Cleveland are true.
Getty ImagesJamie Squire
Bucks: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
First, he wants to play here, near his hometown of Chicago. Second, he’s a sure thing. He’s the best scorer in this draft, with the best offensive IQ, according to scouts, not to mention a good kid off the court and a killer on it. The biggest – only? – issue with Parker is whether he can stay trim enough to play defense against NBA small forwards.
Getty ImagesStreeter Lecka
76ers: Dante Exum, PG, Australia
That Joel Embiid injury turned the easiest draft-night job – take the only one left of the top three talents – into the hardest for Philly GM Sam Hinkie. Does he take a flier on Embiid, perhaps giving the Sixers a formidable post defense along with power forward Nerlens Noel? Does he take Indiana's Noah Vonleh? It would be hard to pass up Exum’s workout-wowing talents despite the fact that an international talent evaluator told me he’s been hiding in Australia and has avoided elite competition. Will Exum fit with Michael Carter-Williams, or will there be a trade?
Getty ImagesMichael Dodge
Magic: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
Forget the infamous shove. There are other things that concern scouts about Smart: the streaky shooting, the sloppy ballhandling, the question of whether he can be a true point guard. But if Exum is gone, why wouldn’t the Magic take the guy they had their heart set on at No. 2 a year ago if Smart had come to the NBA after his freshman year? Advanced stats aficionados love Smart, and his intangibles – leadership abilities, competitive fire – are off the charts
Getty ImagesJamie Squire
Jazz: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
Remember, no trades in this mock draft, so the chance of the Jazz getting Jabari Parker in a deal isn’t in play here. Vonleh is the least talked about elite talent in this draft. Buzz around him really started picking up at May’s Combine. He’s an NBA body with all the power forward skills: shot blocking, running the floor, scoring inside, rebounding, shooting threes. He could be a star.
Getty ImagesMichael Hickey
Celtics: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
An insider tells me the Celtics have massive interest in Nik Stauskas, but there’s also a feeling that this is too high for Stauskas – so don’t be surprised if Boston trades down a few picks, gets a second-rounder and still gets its man. Still, I like the Gordon fit here. He’s a freak athlete and a Brad Stevens-type player, someone who won’t score 25 a game but who will do all the little things.
Getty ImagesJeff Gross
Lakers: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
The past week has been filled with shoot-from-the-hip guesses on where the injured Embiid, formerly the consensus No. 1, will go. Best insight I’ve heard, from an NBA insider: To take this risk-reward, you must be a comfortable general manager with both a track record and a trusting owner. That leaves exactly two GMs in the top 10: Danny Ainge and the Celtics and Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers. I like the Lakers. They need a high-ceiling guy who can be a star as Kobe approaches the inevitable end. A good gamble.
Getty ImagesJamie Squire
Kings: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
A good source told me there’s interest from the Kings in taking Creighton’s Doug McDermott. This would be a terrible fit for McDermott: a team-oriented scorer going to a team with supposed locker room problems (the source says DeMarcus Cousins is developing a reputation as a bad teammate) and volume shooters (Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas). Pairing the NBA-bodied Randle with Cousins, however, would create some nightmares for opponents.
I love this fit. Sources tell me McDermott does, too – anything but the disaster that would be Sacramento. Charlotte’s young, athletic team is one outside shooter from being really damn good, and McDermott can come into the league tomorrow and be one of the NBA’s top three-point shooters. One talent evaluator told me McDermott is the safest bet in a draft that doesn’t have many sure things. The only question is whether he lasts this long.
Getty ImagesEric Francis
76ers (from New Orleans): Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
The Sixers were the NBA’s worst at three-point percentage last season and second-worst in overall field-goal percentage, effective field-goal percentage and free-throw percentage. How about adding the best pure shooter not named McDermott left on the board? The big question is whether the Celtics maneuver to get Stauskas, perhaps swapping picks with the Hornets. A source says that’s a distinct possibility.
Getty ImagesGregory Shamus
Nuggets: James Young, SF, Kentucky
Honestly, the Nuggets could go a million ways with this pick. I originally had Dario Saric, the Croatian point forward, going here, but then he signed a three-year deal in Turkey, making that unlikely. Maybe the Nuggets trade this pick. But Young, an explosive driver and excellent shooter, would fit here. He has a lot of upside. One coach who has known Young since eighth grade told me he could become a poor man’s Ray Allen.
Getty ImagesAndy Lyons
Magic (from New York via Denver): Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
Some fascinating possibilities here. Like the Sixers, Bulls, Suns and Hornets – the other teams with multiple first-rounders – the Magic could go a number of ways. Could Orlando go with a point guard – perhaps Elfrid Payton? – if the Magic buy the Embiid lottery ticket at four? Assuming the Magic take either Exum or Smart at four, I like Payne, a 6-foot-10 guy who can play in the paint and shoot the three. A Big Ten coach told me Payne could be a version of LaMarcus Aldridge.
A friend told me I had “criminally underrated” Payton when I had him at 21st in my previous mock draft. He was right. Payton is one of the few true point guards in this draft, and he can take over for Ricky Rubio – maybe sooner instead of later. He’s one of the best perimeter defenders on the board. Ryan Blake, senior director of NBA scouting operations, told me Payton could be the mid-major player who really makes his mark on this draft, like Damian Lillard a couple years ago. He’s trending upward.
Getty ImagesMichael Chang
Suns: Zach LaVine, PG, UCLA
Here’s what one NBA scout told me about LaVine: “The word potential might have been invented for him. He’s got tremendous potential, but he’s not got a great feel, and he doesn’t understand how to play the game yet.” The type of guy you’re not sure you want but you can’t pass up. The bleachers at the NBA Draft Combine were abuzz with talk about LaVine, a one-and-done player who didn’t start at UCLA but flashed moments of brilliance in his 24 minutes per game. He’s a project with huge upside.
Getty ImagesJeff Gross
Hawks: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
After signing a three-year deal with a team in Turkey days before the draft, Saric – who had been a likely lottery pick – is all over the place in mock drafts now. It’ll take a team that won’t need him for a couple years to make the investment. (Like the Phoenix Suns, with their three first-rounders.) One international scouting expert told me the 6-10 Saric could fill a similar point forward position that Hedo Turkoglu filled with the Magic team that went to the NBA Finals. How can the Hawks pass on that?
AFP/Getty ImagesANDREJ ISAKOVIC
Bulls (from Charlotte): Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Will a two-way wing like Harris last this long? Even if some consider him a tweener in the NBA, and even if he often underwhelmed on offense in college -- he should have made more than 35.2 percent of his threes last season -- he can flat-out defend the perimeter. Having a stopper like Harris – especially one who is dynamic on offense as well – is always useful in the NBA. Especially on a team coached by Tom Thibodeau.
Five years from now, we’ll say Napier should have been drafted higher. Said one college source whose team played UConn, “Someone will draft him and look like a genius.” He can shoot, pass, rebound and defend. One NBA insider told me Napier will be a star because he can play in space. “His ability to change direction and to step off his guy – in the space he creates, he’s allowing himself some comfort to survey the court. … He (passes) to the right guy at the right time.” Danny Ainge didn’t travel to UConn this year to scout DeAndre Daniels.
Getty ImagesRonald Martinez
Suns (from Washington): T. J. Warren, SF, N.C. State
Who needs defense? The Suns like to score. So does Warren. A match made in heaven.
Getty ImagesJoel Auerbach
Bulls: Rodney Hood, SG/SF, Duke
Hood could go much higher; my previous mock draft had him headed to the Timberwolves at 13. Hood is a great scorer inside and out. He took his redshirt season after transferring to Duke and improved his game exponentially. He’s worked out for nearly a dozen teams, so there’s interest all over. When I spoke with him, I was struck by his maturity. How he handled his redshirt season speaks volumes for how he’ll handle inevitable bumps in the NBA road.
Getty ImagesStreeter Lecka
Raptors: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
Two general managers told FOX Sports 1 that a team would reach too high for the young point guard. He could go higher, but even here could be too early. With Kyle Lowry possibly leaving as a free agent, the unflappable Canadian – one of the best game managers in this draft – would make sense. In his one-and-done season at Syracuse, Ennis played with the maturity of a senior (3.2 assist-to-turnover ratio.) Another year at Syracuse would have helped Ennis’ development.
I've heard rumblings that McGary's stock is suddenly on the rise, and that the Thunder are very interested. McGary would have been a lottery pick if he’d come out a year ago. Then he had an injury-shortened sophomore season. At this point in the draft, he’d be a solid gamble for anyone. And he’s definitely a gamble: A Big Ten coach raved to me about his size, motor and work ethic but worried about that troublesome back.
Getty ImagesJoe Robbins
Grizzlies: Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
Early is one of my favorite sleepers in this draft and a perfect fit for a Memphis team that needs offense but won’t sacrifice defense. He’s an NBA-ready, versatile, both-ends small forward. The only flaw scouts see in his game is a subpar lateral quickness. His out-of-this-world performance against Kentucky in the NCAA tournament was not an anomaly. The 23-year-old has that NBA look.
Getty ImagesPeter Aiken
Jazz (from Golden State): C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington
The Jazz were one of the NBA’s worst three-point-shooting teams last year. Wilcox, one of the best distance shooters in this draft, would help with that.
Charlotte Hornets: P.J. Hairston, SG, North Carolina
I loved what I saw from Hairston at the Draft Combine. He looked the part. He shoots the lights out. He can defend. A source said teams have voiced concerns about character issues, which is the only reason he’d last this long. If the Hornets get two shooters in first round in McDermott and Hairston, watch out.
USA TODAY SportsBob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Rockets: Kyle Anderson, PF, UCLA
"Slo Mo" may be the biggest question mark in this draft. At 6-9, he’s without a real position in the NBA. A coach who has watched Anderson’s development since high school told me he needs a creative coach to succeed. “He’d be a great Don Nelson player,” the coach said. “He’d play him at point, wing, on the baseline. He’s not a point guard. He can’t guard a point guard.” He's still intriguing.
Getty ImagesStephen Dunn
Heat: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
The Heat’s hole at point guard was exposed in the Finals, but I can’t imagine Napier or Payton lasting anywhere near this late, and I’m not a believer in Jordan Clarkson, who is shooting up some draft boards. The gaping hole in the Miami paint, however, could be filled by this big – some would say too big – center with skills. One international scouting expert told me he has the potential to be another Nikola Pekovic – and that he’s much more versatile than Pek was at age 19. Will Nurkic last this late?
EB via Getty ImagesPanagiotis Moschandreou
Suns (from Indiana): K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
Not many college players are capable of the type of lockdown defense that the long, athletic McDaniels is. Said one NBA scout: “He didn’t test off the charts, but he has basketball athleticism. He moves to the ball quickly. He’s just a humble, hard-nosed guy.” This is assuming the Suns don’t parlay their three mid-to-late first-rounders into a higher, franchise player-type pick.
Getty ImagesTyler Smith
Clippers: Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee
Stokes is a man-child, an NBA body along the lines of Jared Sullinger who can bang in the paint. Having him on the court with DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin would be terrifying. A source told me Stokes has impressed teams in workouts.
Getty ImagesGrant Halverson
Thunder: Patric Young, PF, Florida
Cleanthony Early would be a fascinating pick if he lasts this long. But I like the idea of Young, who is built like a tight end, getting some minutes alongside Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams. Could he play a Udonis Haslem role in the NBA? That’s what one college coach suggested, though he’d need to develop a reliable jump shot first.
Getty ImagesRonald Martinez
Spurs: Dwight Powell, PF, Stanford
He’s not a poor man’s Tim Duncan; he’s a destitute man’s Tim Duncan. But he’s still somewhere on that versatile-big-man spectrum. Here’s what one college coach with NBA experience told me: “He’s one of those guys who’ll be around the league for 10 years. Good size and skill. Maybe he’ll never be a starter, but a 6-10 guy with skill is hard to find.” Follow Reid Forgrave on Twitter @reidforgrave or email him at ReidForgrave@gmail.com.