Last season before the draft, I wrote a piece on how the draft just might play out in such a way that we could actually get our hands on Burke; I theorized that because of team needs, it was highly likely that Burke would fall past the top 8 or 9 picks, and that if that happened, the Jazz HAD to jump on the opportunity. Thankfully, the draft played out in just the right way for that to happen, Burke fell past 8, and Lindsey jumped on the opportunity, trading with Minnesota to get the guy he wanted (and who just so happened to fill a position of desperate need for our team).
This year, I'll look at the needs of the top 4 teams and try drawing from whatever well I drank from last year, hoping to predict which player, if any, will fall out of the top 4 even though he's a "lock" for a top 4 pick.
First, Cleveland. These lucky bast- I mean, uh... ducks won the lottery for the THIRD TIME IN FOUR YEARS. Screw them. Whatever. They've made a deal with the devil apparently. Last season they royally screwed up their #1 pick, but I don't expect them to repeat that mistake by drafting someone like Noah Vonleh or Julius Randle #1 overall (or maybe McBuckets). So, what do the Cavaliers need? They have one of the top point guards in Kyrie Irving, and a solid backup/6th man in Jarrett Jack. Dion Waiters appears to be a serviceable starter at the 2, although they could definitely afford an upgrade. Small forward looks pretty thin for the Cavs, with Luol Deng most likely gone in free agency and Anthony Bennett already looking like a monumental bust. At the 4 and the 5 they have Thompson (expiring contract in 2015), Varajao (expiring contract, aging player) and Zeller, who will likely be their 5 for the foreseeable future. So, it appears that the biggest areas of need for Cleveland are the 3 and, to a lesser extent, the 4, depending on what happens with Tristan Thompson's contract situation. Wiggins and Parker seem like the obvious picks here, although the Cavs may target Embiid, hoping that he and Zeller can make a formidable front court for the years to come. Likely pick: Wiggins. Darkhorse pick: Embiid.
Next up, Milwaukee. At point guard they have Brandon Knight. There is definitely room for improvement here, and Milwaukee might make the first surprise pick of the draft by taking Smart. They are pretty thin at shooting guard, with only O.J. Mayo and Carlos Delfino under contract. They have the Greek Freak at small forward, and apparently this kid is oozing potential. The question is, can Giannis Antetokounmpo play the 2, and does the front office want to play him out of position to make room for Wiggins or Parker? Milwaukee has Ilyasova and Sanders on longterm contracts at the 4 and the 5, and I see little reason for them to make a panic move by bringing in another big to clog up the minutes. I guess if they wanted to have front court depth it would make sense to grab Embiid here, as the Bucks are lacking depth after Sanders and Ilyasova (Pachulia is their only quality bench big). I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Milwaukee is the team most likely to throw a wrench in the draft by picking Smart - but I don't think that's likely. Likely pick, assuming Wiggins is taken #1 overall: Parker. Darkhorse pick: Smart.
Drafting third is Philadelphia. This team is a mess. They have Michael Carter-Williams, and not much else. Thaddeus Young had an OK season, I guess, and if Nerlens Noel comes back healthy he could be an exciting player to watch next to MCW (plus, THAT HAIR, amirite?). I suppose if he ever figured out how to shoot 3-pointers, Tony Wroten would make a decent 2-guard, but 21% isn't going to cut it. Elliot Williams might turn into a quality player this offseason, but it's not likely. That's pretty much all they have right now (and some guy named Brandon Davies, who ... was Jimmer's teammate? I guess? /trolling). Their biggest area of need is the 3 and the 2, but if Wiggins and Parker go 1-2, what do they do? Go BPA and take Embiid to pair him with Noel? Do they target an offensively oriented big to pair with their (hopefully) rim protector, Noel? Likely pick, if Wiggins/Parker go 1-2: Embiid. Darkhorse pick: Randle.
And finally, drafting fourth, we have Orlando. All the rumors floating around have them either in love with Exum or Smart, depending on who you believe. Afflalo and Harkless are solid starters at the wing positions, and Oladipo is a decent combo guard. Jameer Nelson will be 33 this year, and the Magic might look to draft the PGotF on June 26th. If they don't go point guard, expect them to go after a big, as they are EXTREMELY thin at the 4 and the 5. Vucevic is really Orlando's only quality big man, and while he's a solid young player, he's struggled to stay healthy so far in his career. Likely pick: Smart (or Exum, depending on which rumors you believe). Darkhorse pick: Vonleh.
I think it's likely that at least one of Wiggins/Parker/Embiid/Smart falls out of the top 4, but predicting which one it is ... that's impossible to predict. But hey, if everyone goes with their darkhorse picks, we'll be able to choose from Wiggins, Parker, and Embiid at #5!