Greetings from Brazil, the land of caipirinhas, Neymar, tiny bananas, and enough cheeks to fill every Lil’ Wayne video ever made ten times over.
While I’ve been here to experience and survive the World Cup, both of which have been accomplished thus far, my mind has never been far from Los Angeles and Staples Center. The first part of my trip, which began the night the Kings won the Stanley Cup, was heavily dominated by Instagram photos of the Cup’s adventures. The second half, however, has been filled with a ton of reading and thinking about the Lakers lottery pick and the 2014 NBA draft in general.
The draft is on Thursday and you can bet money that I will somehow find it on TV, even if I have to steal Anderson Varejao’s wig, pose as David Luiz and sneak into Nene’s beach house. I’m not 100% sure how I’m going to deal with this situation, but you better believe I will.
Anyways, I thought that the best way to cover the draft from Brazil was to reach deep into my own mind for another set of questions that I will then attempt to answer. Are we ready? Ok, time to turn put down the choppes and caipirinhas and get started on the NBA draft mailbag.
WHO WILL BE THE NUMBER ONE PICK AND WHICH TEAM WILL PICK?
Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA Today
Right now, I’m leaning towards Jabari Parker being going to the Cavaliers. However, don’t be surprised if Andrew Wiggins ends up being the No. 1 pick and that pick is made by the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers have long coveted Wiggins and tanked the heck out of their season to get him. Without Joel Embiid’s injury he would’ve fallen to them at three.
Now the 76ers, who have the 3rd and 10th picks, have an interesting decision to make. Do they offer Cleveland the 3rd and 10th picks? Would they include Thaddeus Young in a deal?
If you’re Cleveland and you know you can’t get Kevin Love by dangling the first pick, do you jump at the chance to acquire another lottery pick? Do you just stick with Jabari and move on?
Or, how about this: Cleveland loved Joel Embiid. Why not trade down to four or five, take back Arron Afflalo or Derrick Favors, plus a pick, and draft Embiid later? Your owner wants to win now. Afflalo and Favors would immediately make the team better. Plus, you’re getting the guy you wanted all along. Orlando and Utah are scared that Parker, Wiggins and Dante Exum will go 1-2-3 and they’re gonna be left out in the cold, especially Orlando. Cleveland has to explore these trades right?
I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen. My best guess is Parker to Cleveland. It would be an excellent pick.
TOP 10 PROSPECTS POWER RANKINGS…..GO!
Parker, Wiggins, Embiid, Exum (totally guessing), Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, Dougie McBuckets, Noah Vonleh. In that order.
WHAT HAPPENS TO JOEL EMBIID? WOULD YOU TOUCH HIM IF YOU WERE THE LAKERS? WHAT IS HE IN 10 YEARS?
Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
I’m not nearly as concerned as everyone else seems to be about Embiid. First off, I’ve seen a lot of college basketball over the years and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a big man who possessed his vision and footwork. The fact that he was a college freshman with four years of basketball experience was somewhat dumbfounding. To be quite frank, I would’ve taken him first overall, too.
However, a 7-footer with foot and back issues is a big deal and I would be scared to take him if I had the first pick. The Cavs are smart not to take him at one. However, if they believe he’s going to recover, why not trade down to four and pick up a piece like Afflalo in the process?
Anyways, I think Embiid is going to be a stud. He may not have the longest career, but I think he’s going to be a multiple time All-Star and play on a championship team. I think he’s that good.
If Embiid fell to the Lakers at No. 7, I wouldn’t even think twice about drafting him. But, the Lakers, as always, are in win now mode. This means there is a negative percent chance of Embiid ending up on the Lakers. They’re not going to wait two years to figure out if this kid is going to pan out.
WHAT DOES YOUR MOCK LOTTERY LOOK LIKE?
1. CLE – Jabari Parker
2. MIL – Andrew Wiggins
3. PHI – Dante Exum
4. BOS – Joel Embiid (trade pick 17 to move up)
5. UTAH – Noah Vonleh
6. ORL – Marcus Smart
7. LAL – Julius Randle
8. SAC – Elfrid Payton
9. CHA – Aaron Gordon
10. PHI – Zach LaVine
11. DEN – Nik Stauskas
12. ORL – Doug McDermott
13. MIN – Gary Harris
14. PHX – Adreian Payne
PLAYER COMP TIME!!!! GIVE ME A PLAYER COMPARISON FOR EACH OF THE TOP NINE PLAYERS ON YOUR BOARD.
Jabari Parker – 86.5% of Carmelo Anthony.
Andrew Wiggins – Tracy McGrady in Orlando. Worse offensively, but better defensively.
Joel Embiid – Before the injury concerns I would have said Hakeem Olajuwon light, but I think that’s an exaggeration unfair to both Hakeem and Embiid. He’s got vision out of the post like Shaq, but a build more like Mutumbo. He’s not a true offensive threat but he can get it done on that end. I’ve heard a bigger Serge Ibaka too, which is pretty good. Ibaka is a much better shooter though. He’s a mix of everything.
Dante Exum – When I heard one person mention his comp is Kobe Bryant, I almost cried. Anyways, I think he’s going to end up being more like what Shaun Livingston was supposed to be for the Clippers.
Julius Randle – A blend of Chris Bosh and Zach Randolph. Not just saying that because he’s a lefty.
Marcus Smart – Tyreke Evans with a winning attitude and a Kobe mindset. Don’t discount how good Evans would be if he played with Smart’s intensity.
Aaron Gordon – He’s not Blake Griffin. Let’s get that out of the way. He’s Shawn Marion, except more athletic, will be better defensively, but won’t shoot as well.
Elfrid Payton – Didn’t see him play other than on YouTube. He’s got skills and he drew the most fouls in the NCAA per game last year. Sounds a lot like James Harden but at the PG position. Have heard Gary Payton. Now that would be a steal.
Doug McDermott – MCBUCKETS!!!!!! He’s going to be what Adam Morrison and Jimmer were supposed to be. A championship caliber team will one day yearn for Doug to come in and shoot for them in big situations.
Vonleh – Who knows?!
HAVE YOU EVER SEEN NOAH VONLEH PLAY BASKETBALL?
No. Do I have to? If he ends up on the Lakers I will not be happy. I don’t even care if he’s good or not. If you can’t play big minutes and separate yourself at Indiana, I don’t know what you’re gonna do at the NBA level. But who knows?
SHOULD THE LAKERS TRADE THE 7TH PICK? IF SO WHO WOULD YOU ACCEPT IN A TRADE? WHAT’S THE FLOOR?
I think the Lakers are going to end up keeping the seventh pick, but it seems like there’s an awful lot of trade rumors swirling around this slot. Obviously, the Lakers want to win now and trading the seventh pick would likely net them quality starters who could immediately contribute to the 2014-15 team.
The Lakers front office must not be rash when it comes to this pick. Sure, the Lakers could grab Thad Young and Michael Carter-Williams in exchange for Steve Nash and the pick. Is that a bad trade? No, not by any stretch. MCW is a fine PG, but he’s already 23 years old and at the height of his value. He’s not that good. Young is a solid SF in the NBA and may be above average, but do the Lakers really want to lose a potential stud draft pick for two decent starters on a team that just lost 26 straight games last season?
No, I think the only way the Lakers trade the pick is if they get a star in return. Klay Thompson is probably the floor here, mostly because he seems to be available. To be honest, I don’t even know if I would do a deal for Thompson. He’s a fantastic SG but that’s the only position the Lakers are probably solid at, pending Kobe’s health.
So I guess what I’m really saying is that the Lakers better not trade this pick.
AT THE END OF THE DAY, WHO SHOULD THE LAKERS TAKE AT NO. 7?
Credit: Chris Steppig, NCAA Photos/Pool via USA TODAY Sports
I’ve been riding with Randle for a while. I see no reason to change now. The Lakers are only looking at five players: Randle, Gordon, Vonleh, Smart and Payton. If Embiid or Exum fell to seven then they’d have to reevaluate, but for right now they’re focused on those five.
The Lakers have desperately needed a PG for the past four years and Smart or Payton would represent a massive upgrade. However, in my mind you always pick the best player on the board, especially when your roster is as thin as the Lakers’.
Randle is a double-double machine waiting to happen. He’s perfectly suited to play the 4 in the NBA. His athleticism and ability to drive the lane are unique. Also, he can shoot from 20+ feet. He’s like a mix between Chris Bosh and Zach Randolph. While I don’t know if he’ll be as good as either of those two players, I think he has a good shot to get there.
I would take Randle if he’s there at No. 7 and would be very happy about it.
WHO WILL WIN ROOKIE OF THE YEAR?
Jabari Parker. There’s no doubt in my mind about this question. Parker is the most NBA-ready prospect and I have this feeling he’s a sure thing. He may not ever turn into an MVP, but he’s a born scorer who’s going to average 20 points a game out of the gate.
It really depends on what team drafts him, but I truly believe that Parker is the star of this draft. I’ve been saying it for months now. I wanted the Lakers to do anything in their power to get him. I think the NBA game, especially with his size and range, is built for him.
Look, he’s never going to be a lockdown defender. He’s like Carmelo Anthony. He’s going to shoot from all over the floor, hit 45-47% and average 25 points a game for his career. He’s a perennial All-Star in the making. I think the Cavs would be crazy to pass on him, but it’s hard to discount the upside that Wiggins possesses.
Anyways, Parker for ROY!
IN TEN YEARS FROM NOW HOW WILL WE REMEMBER THIS DRAFT?
I think we’ll remember this draft as one of the most hyped in NBA history, and also as one of the better drafts of the last two decades. Is it going to be 1996 or 2003? No. But it will produce a number of All-Stars and some all-NBA teamers, but probably not an MVP.
My guess is that there are a couple of Hall of Fame caliber players in this draft, but that’s not saying much considering that Mitch Richmond is now in the Hall.
Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
DO THEY BROADCAST THE NBA DRAFT IN BRAZIL?
ARE YOU EVEN LOOKING FOR THAT INFORMATION?
Nope, got distracted by a bikini. Sorry world, enjoy the draft. SCANDAL FOR RANDLE!
Ok, that’s it. Thanks.