1st Round Mock: Version Two

June 13th, 2014 | by Clint Johnson
Expect Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker to be top three picks, says SCH's Clint Johnson. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Expect Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker to be top three picks, says SCH’s Clint Johnson. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Before the mock, a thought on how to address prospects.  It comes from San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s1, but it’s a principle I believe in wholeheartedly.  This quote probably explains better than anything else my perspective on drafting and how I hope the Jazz operate leading up to June 26th.

“As time evolves and you get older in the business, you figure out what’s really important, and you don’t waste time trying to make people what they’re not going to be,” Pop said. “You’ve just got to figure out who people are and what they can give you and take advantage of their positives. A lot of people talk about they’re going to draft this guy or that guy, and in time he’s going to really be something.”

The 2014 Coach of the Year continued: “It’s usually with big guys. You look around, and you say, how many big guys, these 7-foot guys, have really gotten better five years later? You look at Hakeem (Olajuwon), and Hakeem was Hakeem when Hakeem started to play in the league. He didn’t become Hakeem; he already was. So you learn that you can’t make everything the way you think you might. You can’t make somebody great, so you don’t waste your time. You make a trade. You get rid of somebody. You make sure you’re bringing people in who fit in all the areas you want. Competitiveness and team play, that kind of thing.”

I believe in teaching, but I believe you teach someone to be a better, more fully realized version of themselves.  You can’t make them someone else.

It’s an important question when it comes to the draft: do you draft a player for who they are or who you think you can make them?

Now to the mock!

#1: Cavaliers–Joel Embiid, C

Unless his back is red flagged (unlikely given the limited workouts he’ll risk), Embiid will go first because of his class-topping upside.  The Cavs need a defensive anchor, and having young stars at PG and C leaves plenty of room for number six to come home.

#2: Bucks–Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF

Jabari Parker makes a lot of sense if the team is looking to win now, but I still think defense and upside will win out on draft night given the Bucks new ownership.

#3: 76ers–Jabari Parker, SF/PF

The Sixers will be crestfallen if Embiid goes first yet Wiggins still doesn’t fall to them, but they won’t hesitate to take the polished scorer to compensate for offensive liabilities in Michael Carter-Williams (shooting) and Nerlens Noel (everything).

#4: Magic–Dante Exum, PG/SG

I think the Magic truly love Smart and would take him if Orlando fans would accept the known product over the tantalizing Australian youngster–but they won’t and that combined with Exum’s better prospects as a shooter will induce management to take the riskier player.

#5: Jazz–Marcus Smart, PG/SG

Quin Snyder is a coach who loves and depends on ball handlers who can score as well as distribute to make his offense flow, and Smart’s defensive aptitude and leadership will be welcome additions to Trey Burke in the backcourt.

#6: Celtics–Noah Vonleh, PF/C

Consistent word from Boston is Danny Ainge loves Aaron Gordon, which makes me think Vonleh is the guy, as Ainge is known for being transparent as duct tape.

#7: Lakers–Julius Randle, PF

Randle will be in play starting with the Jazz at five, but concerns about Randle’s surgically repaired foot healing improperly and requiring summer surgery will keep him on the board until the Lakers take him as a piece for their push to rise from the ashes next season.

#8: Kings–Doug McDermott, SF/PF

McDermott has produced some sterling workouts, the Kings want to surround DeMarcus Cousins with as many shooters as possible, and Dougie McBuckets can contribute immediately for a win-now team, which all suggest the reigning NCAA Player of the Year becomes a King.

#9: Hornets–Nik Stauskas, SG

The once-again Hornets have already built a great defensive culture that employs Al Jefferson to better ends than the Jazz ever did, and Stauskas’ ability to stretch the floor will give Big Al more room to do his thing.

#10: 76ers–Aaron Gordon, SF/PF

The Sixers may have wanted Wiggins in place of Parker, but the polished Duke scorer makes it easier for them to pick the best remaining talent in two ways: Parker will play at a high level immediately where Gordon will take some time, and Parker can carry an offense while Gordon will need to be carried offensively, at least initially.

#11: Nuggets–Gary Harris, SG

The Nuggets are in a tough spot given their roster full of good but not great players and downward trend in the loaded west, which I think will induce them to try to make a big trade for a star, and Harris will be a solid asset while bolstering their weak off-guard position.

#12: Magic–Dario Saric, SF/PF

Saric isn’t doing a single workout, which means he isn’t making the jump to the NBA this season, and it only makes sense to draft him if you’re a team like Orlando, who already has a franchise prospect in this draft and are willing to wait a few seasons to add Saric.

#13: Timberwolves–Zach LaVine, PG/SG

This is high for LaVine in my opinion, but I’m assuming Minnesota knows deep down that Kevin Love is already gone so they’ll swing for the fences in the hopes the uber-athlete LaVine eventually fills the superstar void in their roster and gives Wolves  fans hope in the meantime.

#14: Suns–Rodney Hood, SF

I don’t think the Suns have written off Alex Len, so Hood makes a lot of sense stretching the floor as Phoenix’s two-guard tandem drives the offense and Len develops.

#15: Hawks–Kristaps Porzingis, PF/C

Without an available player who is a clear immediate upgrade on their current roster, I expect Danny Ferry to take another play from his Spurs handbook and stash the young big overseas in the hopes he provides lottery quality talent in a few seasons.

#16: Bulls–Tyler Ennis, PG

No team knows the importance of a backup point guard as well as Chicago, and they’ll be pleased to land one with the upside of Ennis.

#17: Celtics–James Young, SG/SF

Young is a risk/reward pick, but combined with Vonleh will provide Danny Ainge with more ammunition to pull off a franchise-altering trade, which requires talent, and talent Young has.

#18: Suns–Clint Capela, PF/C

After getting a contributing role player at a position of need earlier, the Suns have the latitude to take Capela, leave him overseas for a few seasons, and hope he becomes a major talent.

#19: Bulls–Adreian Payne, PF

So long as the Bulls have Rose and Noah on contract, they will try to win now, and Payne can contribute to that effort immediately.

#20: Raptors–Elfrid Payton, PG

Kyle Lowry’s future is uncertain, and Payton would be fine security in case the Raptors lose their best player from last season.

#21: Thunder–P. J. Hairston, SG

Incredibly, the still-young Thunder are starting to feel their contender clock ticking, and Hairston can offer immediate scoring and shooting support for next season’s title run.

#22: Grizzlies–Jusuf Nurkic, C

In a great value pick, the Grizzlies draft a replacement for Marc Gasol who possesses a similarly diverse game.

#23: Jazz–Kyle Anderson, SF

The Jazz hired a coach with diverse experience who stressed the importance of adaptation in competition, and such a coach can make the unique (outside the Spurs secret finals weapon, Boris Diaw) skill set of Anderson a nice value pick here.

#24: Hornets–T.J. Warren, SF/PF

The Hornets played Josh McRoberts thirty minutes a game last season, and Warren will offer them some insurance of floor spacing if McRoberts moves elsewhere in free agency.

#25: Rockets–Jerami Grant, SF

The Rockets have let Chandler Parsons become a restricted free agent in a calculated move to keep him, but Grant would be a nice defensive specialist coming off the bench for a team that really needs long, active help defenders.

#26: Heat–Shabazz Napier, PG

I expect the Heat are sick and tired of watching point guard play put them on the edge (or likely over) of losing titles to the Spurs, and Napier would bring championship mettle to a team always under the greatest of expectations and stress.

#27: Suns–K. J. McDaniels, SF/PF

The Suns go to the wing once more, this time taking a player with the defensive acumen to compensate for the possible loss of fan favorite P. J. Tucker.

#28: Clippers–Jordan Clarkson, PG/SG

Darren Collison has backed up the league’s best point guard so well he may well opt out of his contract in the search of more money, so having Clarkson to fill the gap would make sense for a team determined to win now.

#29: Thunder–Cleanthony Early, SF/PF

In another attempt to provide more weaponry beyond their big three, OKC  may look to add depth and length at the wing in the form of the 23-year-old Early.

#30: Spurs–Jordan Adams, SG

Adams offers a number of assets both offensive and defensively, but only in a strong team context that emphasizes his skills, which is what the Spurs do better than anyone.

Clint Johnson

Clint Johnson

Clint Johnson is a professional author, writing educator, and editor. He teaches writing at Salt Lake Community College. A frequent presenter at both writing and educational conferences, he writes about the Jazz as a break from his other writing work.

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  1. LKA says:

    If Randle does have surgery I think he drops and Fakers do not take him. Nurkik just signed a four year deal overseas. Who in their right mind would take him that high. NBA really needs to make a rule that if these euros put in for the draft they have to report within two years to their NBA team .I hear Snyder has worked with Tomic and their might be a slim chance for him to come over. I do think Smart is the BPA at the five spot. His build, size and attitude will fit in nice. And I do not think his shove of a fan this last season will come into play. I would also like Anderson at 23rd pick. If now him Wilcox..

    • / says:

      I love that mentality of Pop. In essence he’s putting the responsibility on the player to develop for himself and the team…theres no waiting for someone to come good on potential. Every team has the potential to win, not every team makes it happen. Pop’s teams have no time to wait for a player to come good. His team’s are about winning now. If you aren’t producing you aren’t going to get minutes. That goes for his stars as well as his role players.

      How many times do we see sides continuously get the chance to pick at the top end of the draft year after year and those same teams don’t progress much? Yet the Spurs can pick a middle of the draft type of player and make him do a job, a job thats very effective and productive. Yes they got lucky with Tim Duncan at number one…but so often they pick in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s and yet those players play productively. At that level we shouldn’t be looking for the potential sleeper that every other team missed, we should be looking for a player with a skillset that can be utilized in the offense or defensive plays of the team. Give the player a role (utilizing the skills he brings to the basketball floor) that has no room for misunderstanding and see what he can do with it. I’ve always thought that KOC drafted way too many BIgs that supposedly might grow into something better, and too few never lived up to that supposed potential. How many times could we have drafted someone to do a job like the Spurs did over the years, instead of banking on potential that never materialized.

      At the same time I don’t always like going after the supposed Best player available, I want the best player available thats a good fit for the team we have. Some may argue that Smart is the best player thats going to be available at the 5, but I tend to think his role in the NBA isn’t certain, is he a SG, is he a PG? If he’s a PG, I tend to think his ceiling is about as high as Burke. At this stage I don’t see either yet as a great PG in the future, very good yes, very good might be good enough if you get the other pieces around them, but if you have them in the same team, and they end up playing the same position are you stunting the growth of them both if they can’t work together and take minutes from one another? Maybe a player such as Aaron Gordon who has a talent for defense that few players want to put the effort in, and who can also play a couple of positions on the floor depending on the opposition player match up has the versality to play big minutes without taking too many from other core players in the team would fall into the best player available and best fit category.

      • Clint Johnson says:

        Good thoughts. As for Smart being between positions, there is some truth to that. But here is how I consider the situation. Smart is long and strong enough to guard twos, so that works, and Burke’s shooting should compensate some for Smart’s relative struggles in that area. The tandem would be as good or better than average rebounding as a backcourt, and better than almost all backcourts passing. The only real downsides, to me, are height (but not length, which is more important) and the potential of inducing Alec Burks to want to move to another team for a chance to start.

    • Mewko says:

      I like what you said about Euro players. If they declare, then they have to play. It’s not fair that they get to compete for Rookie of the year a few years after they’re drafted. That goes for injured players too. Nerlens Noel and Blake Griffin. They worked out with their team, and got paid, so that was their rookie year.

  2. Paul Johnson says:

    I’m still puzzled what people see in Kyle Anderson. To me he seems like the “old maid” player of the draft that noone should want to be stuck with. I would not pick him any sooner than late in the 2nd round. At No. 23, I think the Jazz have a lot of much better players to choose from. I’m not sure how a player who is “slow-of-foot” fits into the Jazz system–in today’s NBA, he sounds to me like a player who will only be a fringe player, regardless of his ball-handling, rebounding, shooting and basketball IQ. However, he might do quite well playing in Europe.

    • Brent says:

      I remember a time when Jeff Hornacek was absolutely schooling Latrell Spreewell. The Warriors had to call a timeout. As the players walked to their respective benches, Spreewell watch Hornacek limp to the bench on a bad knee. Sprewell couldn’t believe he was getting beat by a shorter, white guy who couldn’t even walk straight.

      Proves that athleticism does not automatically beat basketball IQ.

    • Clint Johnson says:

      Just watch Boris Diaw’s impact on the finals. Anderson is a player who, honestly, would probably be atypical enough stylistically that 20 – 25 teams in the league couldn’t or wouldn’t use him to beneficial effect. But really creative and flexible teams could use him to make themselves incredibly difficult to match up against. For example, consider a lineup of Marcus Smart, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Kyle Anderson, and Derrick Favors against a team going small. You’d realistically have four players who could be considered hybrid point guards on the floor at once. Or in certain matchups it might make sense to play Trey Burke, Kyle Anderson, Marvin Williams, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert. That team would be incredibly long. Depending on the matchup, Anderson can realistically play four positions in the NBA. But he has to be drafted by a team that will utilize him creatively, because a single static role simply won’t work in the NBA.

  3. / says:

    I think there is a lot of players in this draft that people are falling in love with that later people will be scratching their heads wondering why. Too many players that seem to have good potential in the college game, that just won’t translate that skillset to the NBA game. That said…slow of foot isn’t necessarily a career killer. plenty of players have had it in the past and have used a high basketball IQ and ball handling to their advantage in the past and will do so again in the future. But it takes the right type of inner confidence and playing environment to make it work.

    • Clint Johnson says:

      Some players I’m not sold on personally are Exum, Vonleh, Saric, and LaVine. Considered where their stock is and where they’re likely to be selected, I think all of them have bust potential. They each might be very good, All-Star good even, but there’s a reason I included that quote from Popovich.

  4. Brent says:

    Marcus Smart – The Ron Artest of Point Guards. Crazy Defense, Crazy shot selection, Crazy fights.

  5. LKA says:

    One thing about it. You and I can give opinions. What we say or care about does not really matter. The draft will go by what the Jazz brass want.. I think we had more than a fair draft last year. I expect the same this year. The surprises will start early..

    • Clint Johnson says:

      You mean the Cavs will outsmart the league once again by drafting Anthony Bennett first overall for the second straight year? It’s brilliant! No one will see it coming!

  6. Mewko says:

    I would compare Aaron Gordon to Kawhi Leonard. We saw him play in college, and he’s very athletic and good at grabbing loose balls. Tenacious on the defensive side, but can’t shoot on offense.
    I don’t consider Leonard a star. But if he did get the spotlight more (without Duncan, Parker, or Ginobli) than he would be that Andre Igudala/borderline allstar.
    The Spurs fixed Kawhi Leonard’s shot, which helped him tremendously.

    • Clint Johnson says:

      A lot of people agree with you on the comparison. I’m skeptical. I simply don’t accept the narrative that Kawhi’s shot was broken in college. It isn’t supported by facts. He shot 73% from the line as a freshman and 76% as a sophomore. Gordon shot 42%. Also, Aaron Gordon is two inches taller than Leonard and weighs as much as Leonard right now, at 18. He will get bigger. I like Gordon as a prospect, but anyone who drafts him thinking he’ll be the next Kawhi Leonard will, I believe, be disappointed.

  7. @jeffersoniandoc says:

    Apparently when a Jazz fan asked Smart on Twitter if he was coming to SLC for a workout soon, he responded “no. They’re not interested in me.” The tweet was deleted soon afterward, but it says either the Jazz aren’t interested in Smart, or Smart isn’t interested in the Jazz (and the Jazz won’t force it when there are other good options). Either way, it seems very unlikely now that Smart ends up in Utah. My guess is the Jazz pick whoever is left on the board between Exum (top choice at 5) or Vonleh if Exum is gone. Thoughts on light of this new tweet drama?

    • Brent says:

      Jazz have drafted guys that they haven’t worked out before. There’s more than enough game film to know what Marcus Smart can and can’t do. There’s plenty of coaches to interview about him as well.

      • Clint Johnson says:

        I agree. I’m not sure what to make of the Smart tweet, but my best guess is he really wants to be a point guard and he suspects that of all the teams who might draft him, the team most likely to play him at the two is the Jazz. I don’t think he would refuse to play for the team if drafted, and I don’t think the Jazz will be dissuaded from taking him if he’s their guy come pick five on draft night.

  8. @jeffersoniandoc says:

    Also, you made a comment that Burke’s shooting skills could compensate for Smart’s relative lack thereof. Burke was a terrible shooter last year (38%fg, yikes). He could get better, but so could Smart. And Burke isn’t getting bigger or faster. Burke has a way to go before making me a believer. He has not shown the capability of being a good shooter in this league yet.

    • Brent says:

      I think Trey will shoot better. Coming out of college he was a good shooter. However, he broke his finger on his shooting hand, which at the end of the season he said it still bothered him because it hadn’t had a chance to fully heal. He also played on one of the worst offensive teams that had Gordon Hayward as a number 1 option. Trey’s real value is as a facilitator. He doesn’t turn the ball over, he makes good plays for others. Look at how the team did without him.
      No, he’s not getting bigger but with some help from P3 he might get faster. His defensive liabilities are hard to judge at this point. He played on the worst defensive team in the league last year. If you put Marcus Smart on the Jazz last year, he would look bad too, just like Derrick Favors did. Favors defensive rating last year was 107 points per 100 possessions. Al Jefferson’s defensive rating last year was 100 points per 100 possessions. Obviously Favors is a better individual defender than Al Jefferson but Al Jefferson played on the better defensive team.

    • Clint Johnson says:

      I’m inclined to agree with Brent. While you’re certainly right Burke hasn’t proven himself as a good shooter in the NBA yet, I do believe he IS a good shooter. That is a skill he has, and we can see it: 80% from the FT line as a sophomore in college and 90% in the pros; 38% from three as a sophomore with a really high usage rate; 40% on his corner threes last season. Poor shooters cannot produce those numbers in such sample sizes. He has the skill, it’s a question of effectively applying it.

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