The Cavaliers surprised everyone last year when they took Anthony Bennett first overall, but didn’t pull any fast ones this year, picking Andrew Wiggins with the top selection. Wiggins’ upside is through the roof and he happens to fit nice with Cleveland’s young roster. He will immediately fill Cleveland’s gaping hole at small forward to compliment Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.
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Milwaukee needed a star to put a face on its rebuild, and Jabari Parker is that star. He’s a versatile scorer with a refined offensive game. He can play either forward position, and his silky style figures to compliment Giannis Antetokounmpo’s raw athleticism. The current plan is to play both together in a modern NBA frontcourt that should be very tough to stop.
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This is the second draft in a row that Philadelphia has come away with an injured big man after trading for Nerlens Noel last year. Embiid suffered a stress fracture in his foot and will miss at least 4-6 month. The good thing is that both big guys had the highest upside in their respective drafts; Embiid surely would have gone No. 1 without health concerns.
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Orlando made the first surprising move of the draft, nabbing Gordon with the fourth pick. Gordon is a high character guy with elite athleticism, but plays the same position as many of Orlando’s prospects. The upside is there and Gordon will still play immediately on Orlando’s young roster, but he has to learn how to shoot the ball.
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The Australian mystery man fell into Utah’s lap after most observers assumed Orlando would snatch him up with the fourth pick. He’s an instant upgrade over Trey Burke at point, but there’s also a chance the two form a modern, two point guard backcourt. There is, however, some risk involved with drafting Exum, who has been out of sight, out of mind in Australia this season. He could wind up the best player from this draft in five years, or he could become a punchline.
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The former Oklahoma State Cowboy is a gritty combo guard who can work alongside either Rajon Rondo or Avery Bradley. A backcourt of Rondo and Smart will terrorize NBA backcourts for years to come, if Boston chooses to hang onto its incumbent point guard. If not, Smart can handle the reins as Boston’s point guard of the future.
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This is a perfect pick for the Lakers, who will inevitably look to compete in the Western Conference next year. Randle has an NBA-ready body: he crushes opponents on the glass and he can bully his way for buckets inside. With his size and skill set, he’s already right behind Parker for early odds as Rookie of the Year.
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Stauskas isn’t nearly the athlete Ben McLemore, Sacramento’s first round selection last year, is, but he’s a fantastic shooter and he can create offense off the dribble. The Kings are desperate for floor spacers and Stauskas will help in that regard immediately. The question is how this selection affects McLemore’s future with the Kings.
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Vonleh projects as a perfect fit next to Al Jefferson because he’s a stretch big man with the ability to block shots and rebound the ball. He has a ways to go on both ends of the floor, but he’s a good ball handler and rebounder with a huge, 7’4 wingspan. He would have been a reach in the top five, but at No. 9, he’s great value.
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The Magic came into the draft needing a point guard and found him in Payton, a long, rangy lead guard from Louisiana-Lafayette. With him and Victor Oladipo, Orlando now has its backcourt of the future, though there are questions about how the two will work offensively. Payton is a bad shooter right now and Oladipo will have to prove that he can spread the floor as an off guard.
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McDermott couldn’t have found a better home than Chicago. The Bulls needed long range shooting, something the former Creighton forward can immediately provide, and they have the defense to hide him on the other end. But Chicago gave up picks 16, 19 and a 2015 second-rounder to get McDermott when they very well could have selected Michigan State’ Gary Harris, another shooter who can also defend, with either pick.
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Saric will stay in Europe for the next two years, but that’s perfectly fine with Philadelphia, a team well aware it’s in this rebuild for the long haul. After taking Embiid at No. 3, then trading for Saric, the Sixers drafted two lottery players who won’t make an impact on the floor next season. But that’s OK with Philadelphia’s timeline.
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Minnesota needed a player who can play immediately and aid Kevin Love in reaching the playoffs. Instead, they picked a guy who might spend more time in the D-League than the NBA. The potential is there -- LaVine is a fantastic athlete and rangy shooter -- and if the Timberwolves enter Full Rebuild Mode, he’s a good start. But he isn’t going to make an immediate impact.
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Warren is one of the best scorers in the draft and will thrive in Phoenix’s up-and-down system. He isn’t a great long range shooter, but he is relentless and crafty inside the arc. Warren can get buckets in the halfcourt and he’s a terror in transition. He should find playing time soon even on the Suns’ deep roster.
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The Hawks picked up a prototypical stretch power forward in Payne. He’s long, athletic and a good long range shooter. The former Michigan State Spartan will fit nicely in coach Mike Budenholzer’s motion offense and will find time immediately spelling both Al Horford and Paul Millsap. If he were 21 instead of 23, he would have been a top 10 pick.
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Nurkic is a huge center prospect who bruises opponents on the boards and can finish around the rim. He fouls and turns the ball over ton, so he might not be ready to play immediately, but he’s the second-best center prospect in the draft. The Nuggets will be happy grabbing him at 16.
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Boston needed a young shooter and picked one up in Young, a potential lottery talent. The former Kentucky Wildcat has great size for a wing prospect and he has the potential to be a big-time scorer. His moments came in spurts at UK, but when he was on, he was terrific. Plus, he’s only 18-years-old, meaning he has much more room to grow.
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If Ennis were going to thrive anywhere, it would be in Phoenix, where he’ll be surrounded by a slew of scorers and shooters. Ennis excels in setting up his teammates and he will have plenty of opportunities to do that in Phoenix’s fast offense. He will serve as a back up to Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, two guys who are both capable of sliding to shooting guard.
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Denver had a very successful draft day. It traded the No. 11 pick to Chicago and came away with Nurkic, a high-upside center prospect. Then, it found a very good, two-way guard in Harris. The former Michigan State Spartan is a three-point shooter who can defend either guard spot. He should have gone much higher than No. 19.
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The Thunder probably could have waited to grab McGary, the former Michigan Wolverine who was essentially forced to the draft due to NCAA penalties, with their second first-round pick. But he’s a mobile big man, a good rebounder and a nifty passer for his size. The hope is that he’ll develop into OKC’s new Nick Collison.
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Memphis needed a wing scorer and Adams was one of the best available at this point in the draft. The former Bruin is a nifty scorer around the rim and works very well off the ball. He’s not the best athlete, but he has a good wingspan (6’10) and he recorded the most steals (3.5) per 40 minutes in Draft Express’ top 100.
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Hood could have ended up in the back end of the lottery, but slid all the way to the Jazz at No. 23. He is a very good three-point shooter, a capable defender and should find playing time soon in Utah’s wing rotation. The Jazz have to be pleased the former Duke Blue Devil fell into their laps here.
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The Heat -- OK, LeBron James specifically -- coveted Napier’s well-rounded offensive game and made the move to jump up two spots to grab him. They were also able to keep Norris Cole in the process. Cole is the only point guard under contract and will be ahead of Napier on the depth chart, but Napier is a capable scorer who will help spread the floor for whatever roster the team assembles.
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Capela won’t help the Rockets immediately and that’s totally the point, because it means he won’t take up much-needed salary cap space. Houston will stash the Swiss big man in Europe for a few years before bringing him to the States. He’s a big, long athlete and the Rockets won’t have to pay him right away. Perfect.
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The Hornets needed shooting and got it with Hairston. He’s a stocky guard with long arms and good athleticism, and he will find time in Charlotte’s backcourt rotation very soon. With his professional experience last season in the D-League, there’s an argument that he’s one of the most NBA-ready guys in the draft.
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After grabbing Warren, then Ennis, the Suns finished a solid first round by scooping up Bogdanovic, a well-rounded 21-year-old wing prospect from Serbia. Phoenix can keep Bogdanovic in Europe for another year or bring him and his NBA-ready game over immediately. Plus, the Suns added the best name in the draft. That counts for something, right?
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The Clippers didn’t really need another shooting guard, but selected one anyway. Wilcox is a good long-range shooter and projects as a solid defender, but he’s very similar to Reggie Bullock, L.A.’s late first-round pick last season. Picking up an additional big man here would have made more sense.
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In their second pick of the night, the Oklahoma City Thunder picked another guy who they may have been able to trade down to acquire. Huestis has great size and length for a small forward and he loves to play defense, but he isn’t much of a threat on offense. He’s also a similar prospect to Andre Roberson, who the Thunder selected at No. 26 last season.
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If any team can make the most of Anderson’s unique strengths, it’s the Spurs. Anderson is a creative passer and playmaker, but he’s very, very slow. If San Antonio can turn Boris Diaw into a NBA Finals starter, then it can do wonders for Anderson.
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