The Lakers went 2-3 in their five games this past week. The lows were low and the highs were high as they suffered a franchise-record 48 point loss to the Clippers, but overcame a Kevin Durant triple-double for a big win against the Thunder. As it stands, the Lakers are projected to select fourth.
1. Milwaukee Bucks (12-50): Jabari Parker (Duke) – The past two games were pretty standard fare for Parker. He might have been the lone bright spot in the Blue Devils’ loss to Wake Forest and he led his team with 30 points in a big win against the Tar Heels, avenging an earlier loss at Chapel Hill. He has strung together six straight double doubles and finishes ACC play second in scoring (19.2 ppg) and first in rebounding (9.0 rpg).
2. Philadelphia 76ers (15-47): Andrew Wiggins (Kansas) – Wiggins finally had the game scouts have been waiting for all season. And although his Jayhawks came up short, Wiggins put the team on his back just to keep them in contention for the duration of the contest. He finished the game with a downright ridiculous 41 points on 18 shot attempts and rounded out the rest of his line with eight boards, two dimes, five steals, and four blocks.
3. Orlando Magic (19-45): Joel Embiid (Kansas) – Embiid sat out two games this week with a minor injury this past week. Tarik Black was tremendous filling in for him against the Red Raiders, but Embiid’s presence was sorely missed in a loss to the Mountaineers as Kansas allowed a middling Big 12 team to drop 92 points on them. Embiid bottoms out as a rim protector and offers some serious upside with his immense natural low post ability.
4. Los Angeles Lakers (22-42): Dante Exum (Australia) – Just a few days ago, former coach Fran Fraschilla compared Exum to a young Michael Jordan. While he certainly has the tools to be a great player, the traits that really separate players like Jordan and Kobe Bryant are their fearlessness and work ethic. It remains to be seen if Exum is wired like that, but he is a self-proclaimed fan of Bryant and has signed on with Bryant’s agent Rob Pelinka. If he is drafted by the Lakers and can learn from and emulate Bryant’s preparation, he will offer as much upside as anyone in the draft at the game’s most important position.
5. Sacramento Kings (22-41): Julius Randle (Kentucky) – Despite starting the season with three consecutive twenty point games, Randle has scored twenty in just one of his last fifteen games. As the hype surrounding the Harrison twins, James Young, and Kentucky’s other perimeter players has died down, Randle has increasingly seen double teams on the low block. He has not adapted to them well, but he will learn from experience and is a big time upgrade over Jason Thompson.
6. Utah Jazz (22-41): Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State) – Smart enjoyed two strong games this past week and even showed a bit of a shooting stroke, notching four triples in an overtime loss to Iowa State. He continues to be a pesky on-ball defender and has averaged 4.4 steals a game since returning from his three game suspension. He should fit in well and be able to share time on the court with Trey Burke.
7. Boston Celtics (22-41): Noah Vonleh (Indiana) – Even in limited minutes, Vonleh continues to clean the glass. However, he has been extremely tentative at times and is a largely inconsistent offensive player. In a nailbiter against Michigan, he attempted just five shots all game with four of them from beyond the arc. As a guy with legitimate NBA size, Vonleh does not project as a stretch four and will have to get down into the low post to show scouts what he has to offer at the next level.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (24-40): Rodney Hood (Duke) – The more I watch Hood dominate in a college uniform, the more I’m convinced that he will be a great NBA wing. His offense looks effortless and at times, he seems like the best mid range shooter in the college game. Luol Deng already seems to be on his way out and Dan Gilbert can hope that another Duke player in Hood will keep Kyrie Irving around.
9. Denver Nuggets from New York Knicks (24-40): Gary Harris (Michigan State) – Harris played just 23 minutes in the past week, but was very efficient from the field on decreased volume. His overall field goal and three point shooting have fallen off from his strong freshman campaign and scouts will want to see those numbers trend upward in the tournament. The Nuggets can really use a true shooting guard as they currently start combo guard Randy Foye.
10. Charlotte Bobcats from Detroit Pistons (24-39): Dario Saric (Croatia) – GMs seem to be increasingly agreeing that Saric is an elite talent. But, they do acknowledge that he lacks NBA-caliber athleticism. Like other European players, there are also question marks as to when he will actually suit up for an NBA squad and that can be a factor for teams that want to compete now. The Bobcats can use a secondary ball handler and shot creator to take some pressure off of Kemba Walker.
11. Philadelphia 76ers from New Orleans Pelicans (26-37): Aaron Gordon (Arizona) – Gordon possesses some serious athleticism, but he has shown very little ability to score from the perimeter. GMs will expect him to play both forward spots as a pro, so he will need to improve his jump shooting to carve out a role in the league. In spite of a strong scoring game in a loss to Oregon, he missed all four of his three point attempts and is shooting just 28.6 percent from beyond the arc this season.
12. Orlando Magic from Denver Nuggets (27-35): Tyler Ennis (Syracuse) – The Orangemen have been free falling since suffering their first loss of the season. They have dropped four of their last six, but it’s hard to blame Ennis for their struggles despite the results. The Orangemen split their two games this past week and Ennis did his part, averaging 17 points and 5.5 assists in them. Victor Oladipo is enjoying a solid rookie season, but the Magic need a point guard as Oladipo has shown that he is more of a two.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves (31-31): Nik Stauskas (Michigan) – It was another week in the office for Stauskas as he continued to show off his elite shot, hitting on 8 of 13 three point attempts in two games. Modern analytics continues to favor the three point shot and a shooter of Stauskas’ caliber is an asset to any team.
14. Phoenix Suns (36-26): Doug McDermott (Creighton) – McDermott makes his debut in my lottery in a week where he cracked the 3,000 point scoring mark and set a new career high of 45 points (on 17-25 shooting no less). There just isn’t hole in McDermott’s scoring repertoire at the college level and his shooting percentages are something out of a videogame.
15. Atlanta Hawks (26-35): Clint Capela (Switzerland) – Capela has caught the eye of scouts because of his NBA size and raw defensive potential. He is still very much a prospect though, as he has a long way to go offensively.
16. Chicago Bulls from Charlotte Bobcats (29-34): T.J. Warren (NC State) – Warren has soared up since my last mock draft due to the incredible week he had. He posted back to back 40 point games against Pittsburgh and Boston College, and shot an absurd 16-22 and 14-23 from the field in the two games. He leads the ACC in scoring by a full five points and his 52.8 percent field goal is good for seventh in the conference. Even if Derrick Rose comes back at full health, the Bulls can really use another scorer like Warren.
17. Boston Celtics from Brooklyn Nets (31-30): Montrezl Harrell (Louisville) – Harrell and the Cardinals enjoyed a solid week, knocking off two top 25 teams in SMU and UConn. He posted big numbers in both games and his high motor was on full display. Too much of his offensive game is made up of what can best be described as “bully ball”, but he is a decent mid range shooter who is only getting better.
18. Phoenix Suns from Washington Wizards (33-29): Jerami Grant (Syracuse) – Helping Syracuse right the ship, Grant chipped in 16 points and 8 rebounds in their win over Florida State. The development of his perimeter offense is key to his draft position, but he is as athletic as any player in the draft and has the makings of a two-way player in the league.
19. Chicago Bulls (35-28): Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky) – Cauley-Stein had an atrocious week, logging just seven points and eight boards total in two games. Fortunately for him, he remains in this draft position because GMs are more intrigued by his potential than any actual on-court production. Cauley-Stein should seriously consider staying for another year and would be wise to remember how declaring for the draft too early has affected the career trajectory of another Kentucky Wildcat in Daniel Orton.
20.Toronto Raptors (35-26): K.J. McDaniels (Clemson) – A superior athlete with a nice all-around game, McDaniels will fit right in with the NBA’s high-flying wings. He is a bit of a tasmanian devil on the defensive end, wreaking havoc to the tune of 1.2 steals and 2.8 blocks per game. He needs to bulk up some and improve his long-range shooting..
21. Memphis Grizzlies (36-26): James Young (Kentucky) – Most talent evaluators continue to be inexplicably high on Young. They remain convinced that he has star potential, but he has struggled in his freshman season and in the past week. His field goal percentage has dipped below 40 percent for the season and his three point shooting sits at just 33.7 percent, a putrid number for a shooter with his reputation.
22. Dallas Mavericks (38-26): Kyle Anderson (UCLA) – Though UCLA split their two games in the past week, Anderson maintained his strong play and was named a finalist for the Wooden Award. He reminds me a lot of Lamar Odom offensively and I fully expect him to be capable of running a second unit offense. Monta Ellis can’t consistently create shots for his teammates, so Anderson is a good choice as a facilitator for when the offense is struggling.
23. Utah Jazz from Golden State Warriors (40-24): Glenn Robinson III (Michigan) – Robinson doesn’t have eye-popping statistics on the season, but he absolutely passes the eye test. He is a smooth player who picks his moments to generate his offense. For a Jazz team that just needs to accumulate talent, Robinson is a player to consider.
24. Charlotte Bobcats from Portland Trailblazers (42-21): Zach LaVine (UCLA) – LaVine had a horrible outing against Washington State, playing just 26 minutes due to foul trouble and finishing the game scoreless with eight missed field goals. He abruptly appeared on scouts’ radars early in the season with strong performances, but has scored in double digits in just three of his last 12 contests. At this point, GMs will be drafting him solely based on his enticing athleticism and potential.
25. Los Angeles Clippers (44-20): Adreian Payne (Michigan State) – The Spartans suffered a tough defeat to the Ohio State Buckeyes, but Payne showed up with another big game. He ended the game 9-19 from the field, but more importantly, 3-6 from long-range. Payne is increasingly looking like a promising stretch four, but he has been difficult to evaluate as he prefers to play down low at the college level.
26. Houston Rockets (44-19): P.J. Hairston (Texas Legends, NBA D-League) – Hairston’s D-League statistics have come back down to earth a little bit in the past week and he’s now at a mortal 45 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from three. He looks every bit the part of an NBA off-guard though and a team will probably take a flyer on him in the late first round. He should be able to contribute immediately to a contending Rockets team.
27. Miami Heat (43-17): Russ Smith (Louisville) – Smith showed a little bit of everything in the past week. The dichotomy between the two games he played is incredible as he shot the ball fifteen times in one game and just twice in the other. Either way, the results were good as Smith recorded a career high 13 assists in the Cardinals’ win over UConn. He will have to overcome size concerns at the next level, but we’ve seen Isaiah Thomas do it, and If Smith is able to conduct an offense like this for stretches, his NBA career looks far more promising.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder (46-17): C.J. Wilcox (Washington) – Historically, even players drafted at the tail end of the first round don’t stay in the league for very long. Wilcox is already 23 years of age, which may turn some teams off to him, but he is one of the better bets to stay in the league as he possesses a key NBA trait in his proven and reliable shooting.
29. Phoenix Suns from Indiana Pacers (46-17): Semaj Christon (Xavier) – The Musketeers went 0-2 in the past week and Christon unquestionably struggled against Villanova. He hit just one of his last seven shots in the game and finished 7-22 from the field. He still sits at a robust 48.3 percent from the field and he has great size for the point guard position.
30. San Antonio Spurs (46-16): Wayne Selden, Jr. (Kansas) – Selden didn’t have a great week, struggling against both Texas Tech and West Virginia. It is a little disappointing that he isn’t looking for his own offense a little more with Joel Embiid sidelined and I feel that his unselfishness may be causing him to be more tentative than he should be.
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