Andrew Wiggins – Cleveland Cavaliers
Prediction: 15.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.2 APG All Rookie First team
No matter who is on Cleveland’s roster next season, one thing is for sure. Wiggins will be starting alongside now max-contract owner Kyrie Irving. That has to account for something.
LeBron or not, Cleveland will be a better team next season. Wiggins will be leading that new surge. His versatility, athleticism, and defensive prowess will lead him to a successful rookie season, both statistically and in reality. These numbers are just the beginning of what is sure to be an exciting career for this young swingman.
The all rookie first team nod should be a no-brainer, as Wiggins is sure to have a huge impact on Cleveland’s improved record.
Jabari Parker – Milwaukee Bucks
Prediction: 18.2 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.2 APG, All Rookie First team
Considered the most NBA – ready player of the draft, Parker will experience great success on the Bucks. Many were surprised by how awful the Bucks were last season, especially with talent like Larry Sanders, O.J. Mayo, and Ersan Ilyasova. While none of those three panned out last year, guys like Brandon Knight, Khris Middleton, John Henson, Nate Wolters, and of course Giannis Antetokounmpo showed flashes of brilliance.
Adding the mature talent of Jabari Parker to a core of young guys, plus the addition of Jason Kidd, compounded with the chance at a rebound year for some of the disappointments of last season, the Bucks’ future looks bright.
Parker will likely take over the team from day one, leading the team in scoring right off the bat. He will also be second place in rookie of the year voting.
Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers
Prediction: Does Not Play
The pick of Embiid BEFORE his injury was revealed at number three would have been the steal of the decade. But, with Embiid likely to pull a Nerlens Noel and sit out all year to fully recover, Embiid doesn’t look nearly as attractive.
Still, skipping your rookie season due to injury doesn’t mean you won’t be successful in the league. Blake Griffin, anybody?
Embiid has HOF potential, but we won’t get a hint of that until next season.
Aaron Gordon – Orlando Magic
Prediction: 8.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG
Gordon was a stretch at number four for Orlando, but they made up for it at #10. Still, Gordon plugs nicely into the Orlando lineup, giving Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo a guy to throw lobs to.
He does worry me as a Derrick Williams type guy, who just can’t find his position and ends up not playing one at all.
Still, I expect modest numbers as a rookie from Gordon. His ceiling is quite high though, so don’t expect his career average stats to always stay below 10 PPG.
Dante Exum – Utah Jazz
Prediction: 12.8 PPG, 5.6 APG, 4.5 RPG, All rookie second team
Exum should not have slid to 5, but he did, and Utah capitalized on their fortune. The only thing holding Exum back from putting up huge numbers is the logjam at nearly every position in Utah. They have solid starters at each position, and they drafted two quality guys (Exum and Rodney Hood) to play alongside them.
Utah management has some decisions and moves to make to clear room for these two new recruits. Because of Trey Burke, Alec Burks, and others at the guard position, Exum will not put up the ROY like numbers many think he will.
His raw talent and impressive outings should squeeze him into the all rookie second team.
Marcus Smart – Boston Celtics
Prediction: 8.5 PPG, 4.o APG, 5.5 RPG, All rookie second team
Smart falls into a weird spot in Boston. He is a true point guard, but Rajon Rondo occupies that spot quite comfortably in Boston. So, that leaves Smart at the awkward shooting guard role.
Smart is much like a bulldog. He is a tough, low center-of-gravity type guy that can barrel through people. He does a little bit of everything, much like Lance Stephenson.
I expect several triple doubles and several 8-8-8 or more games. Smart will be in an interesting role that can only be determined after Rondo’s future with the team is revealed.
His huge impact on every facet of the game will lead him to an all rookie second team appearance.
Julius Randle – Los Angeles Lakers
Prediction: 14.7 PPG, 7.6 RPG, All Rookie First team
Randle comes into a great situation in LA. Kobe needs an outlet down low, and with Bynum, Howard, and Gasol all long gone, Randle has a real shot at legacy in purple and gold.
His comparison to Zach Randolph is a perfect fit, and I expect Randle to show off his Randolphesque game for the Lakers. Expect a handful of double doubles and some huge performances as Kobe’s newest and youngest sidekick.
I predict he is the second leading scorer on LA behind Kobe, and puts up enough solid outings and double doubles to earn the sole big man role on the all rookie first team.
Nik Stauskas – Sacramento Kings
Prediction: 6.7 PPG, 4.0 APG, 1.3 RPG, 40% from three
Stauskas does not fit on the Kings, and his numbers will really depend on the playing time he receives behind Ben McLemore. His three point shooting will no doubt help the Kings as they try to claw their way to the playoffs, but there were better options at number 8 for the Sacramento based franchise.
I do predict Stauskas to contribute with his passing skills too, though. He is an excellent pick and roll ball handler and the Kings may need him if Isaiah Thomas bolts for the big money that Sactown can’t give him.
Noah Vonleh – Charlotte Hornets
Prediction: 9.0 PPG, 7.9 RPG
Vonleh is a project, and with that comes low numbers to start. He will certainly get his fair amount of playing time under Steve Clifford, but how much of that he turns into production will be a mystery until game one.
With Cody Zeller also being a project, the two Hoosier products will share time at the four spot in Buzz City. His numbers won’t be flashy, but this is just the first step in a long career for Vonleh.
Elfrid Payton – Orlando Magic
Prediction: 16.3 PPG, 6.3 APG, 3.0 RPG, Rookie Of The Year, All rookie first team
Call it crazy, but Payton’s value is so high on this Orlando team. Paired with energy bunny Victor Oladipo, the Orlando backcourt will be the fastest in the league, no questions asked.
While Oladipo is a great piece, he is not a scorer like Payton. Payton can shoot, drive, kick, pass, rebound – everything you want from your point guard.
I see Payton exploding onto the scene much like Michael Carter-Williams did last season, and I expect Payton to take home the Rookie of the Year honors.
Doug McDermott – Chicago Bulls
Prediction: 11.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, all rookie second team
McDermott finds himself in a nice scenario in Chicago. While NCAA-leading scorers have been up and down the last few years (Jimmer Fredette, Damian Lillard), McDermott could easily go the Lillard route to success.
The Bulls will need to clear cap space for Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James, and McD might just be one of the guys who is lucky enough to not get cut, traded, or waived to make room for those guys. In fact, he is a nice compliment to those stars as well as Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.
McDermott should providie Chitown with a solid off the bench shooter.
Dario Saric – Philadelphia 76ers
Prediction: Will not play
Another 76er who will not suit up this season, Saric’s future remains a mystery in the NBA.
Zach LaVine – Minnesota Timberwolves
Prediction: 5.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 3.2 APG
Putting LaVine, a bench player in college, on a team and under a coach who is notorious for not playing rookies in games seems like a disaster. I doubt LaVine is able to contribute in his first year on Minnesota. I would be surprised if he saw more than 15-18 minutes a game, if that.
LaVine is unproven talent, and Minnesota needed some proven talent to try and convince Kevin Love to stay (not that anything they do will, though).
These numbers may even be too high, as former NCAA star Shabazz Muhammed, a T-Wolves draftee in 2013, put up just 3.9 PPG last year.
T. J. Warren – Phoenix Suns
Prediction: 10.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.3 APG
One of the few prospects to crack the 10 point threshold, Warren’s success will truly depend on his role in Phoenix. If the Suns snag Gordon Hayward or Luol Deng, then these numbers are likely to go down. Until then, though, we must look at it in the present.
Warren knows how to score. Former Suns small forward P.J. Tucker did not. Its that simple. Warren would infuse the lineup with some much needed offensive firepower.
Adreian Payne – Atlanta Hawks
Prediction: 6.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 35% three point shooting
This is another pick that doesn’t make sense unless Atlanta plans on dealing Paul Millsap. Payne will struggle to get time in a crowded frontcourt, and his numbers will show that.
He will be a productive player in his time on the court, as his jumpshot and pick and pop abilities will come in handy for young guard Jeff Teague.
If Payne ever does achieve a starter role, expect some scary numbers. But for now, it is hard to justify more than 6.5 points a game for the former Spartan.
Jusuf Nurkic – Denver Nuggets
Prediction: 8.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG, All rookie second team
Nurkic, if all falls right, will have a great rookie year. Sure, the Nuggets have Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee, and Timofey Mozgov, but all three of those guys have fell victim to injury/poor play the last few seasons.
Nurkic could easily slide into the starting role if injuries strike McGee and Mozgov. With that role, Nurkic would be a great two way producer.
I see Nurkic much like a Nikola Pekovic type, with a tough style of bruiser ball. If he can recreate that kind of production, the Nuggets will be plenty happy with their Chicago trade that netted them this pick.
James Young – Boston Celtics
Prediction: 12.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, all rookie second team
Perhaps a surprise pick for all rookie second team, Young just has a knack for scoring that will pay dividends for the Cs.
No matter if Rondo is on the roster or not, Young will get minutes for Boston. I expect Young to turn those minutes into opportunity and capitalize upon them. Young has the tools of a solid swingman in the association, and I expect a nice coming out party his rooke year.
Tyler Ennis – Phoenix Suns
Prediction: 4.3 PPG, 3.2 APG
If Bledsoe is retained, Ennis will likely play a Kendall Marshall (Suns version) role on the squad. If Bledsoe is not retained, Ennis could see his numbers spike in a starting role alongside Goran Dragic.
But, for now, we will assume that Phoenix stating that they will do whatever it takes to retain Bledsoe was a statement they will stand by. So, Ennis will see small minutes off the Phoenix bench and maybe, just maybe, post these numbers.
Gary Harris – Denver Nuggets
Prediction: 7.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG
Likely to see limited minutes behind Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, and Arron Afflalo, Harris is a project guy that Denver will stick in its back pocket until it is time to say goodbye to one of those three swingman.
Until then, Harris will see limited minutes, but may use his sweet shooting stroke to produce around 7 points a game.
He will definitely be a solid scorer in this league, it will just take some time for him to get his chance.
Bruno Caboclo – Toronto Raptors
Prediction: Will not play
Caboclo is an unknown prospect with unknown capabilities and some spotty video highlight coverage. Still, he is regarded as a very skilled wingman and Raptors GM Masai Ujiri sees something in him that apparently was special.
Ujiri has had a knack for seeing special things as well as being a guru of offloading bad contracts, so you gotta trust him on this one, Raptors fans.
Mitch McGary – Oklahoma City Thunder
Prediction: 4.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG
OKC is one of the few contenders that continues to build through the draft rather than free agency and trades. The Thunder continued that trend this draft with solid Michigan man Mitch McGary.
Bleacher Reports’ Daniel O’Brien compared McGary to a poor man’s David Lee. That is not too shabby for a team who has reached at least the conference finals two of the last three years.
McGary will probably see limited minutes, but he is the best candidate to replace the aging Nick Collison in the Thunder rotation, and I would not be surprised if McGary absolutely tears up the boards for the Thunder.
Jordan Adams – Memphis Grizzlies
Prediction: 5.0 PPG, 1.2 APG
Adams will see little time for Memphis, but the Grizz will use his scoring when they can.
Unfortunately, Memphis prides itself on defense, of which Adams has little knowledge of / ability. So, Adams will likely spend most of his time in awe at the shooters of Quincy Pondexter and (if brought back) Mike Miller from a view on the bench.
Rodney Hood – Utah Jazz
Prediction: 7.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG
A steal this low, Hood had lottery potential for many teams. Surprisingly passed on in the teens, Hood gives Utah a lot of insurance if they can’t retain forward Gordon Hayward from some hungry teams in free agency.
Utah is overflowing with young talent, but I have a feeling Hood will find a way to get his name known by scoring and contributing on defense.
Shabazz Napier – Miami Heat
Prediction: 8.9 PPG, 5.5 APG
Likely to be surrounded by the big three plus some talent from outside teams, Napier will have plenty of opportunity as the starting point guard of the Heat. Despite his lack of athleticism, Napier will just be surrounded by too much talent to not pick up some great numbers.
Ironically, he was the best talent on his UCONN title team. Now, he will likely be the worst, but still will have a big effect on the game.
Clint Capela – Houston Rockets
Prediction: Will not play
It is likely that Capela does not play in the NBA this season, but if he does, his effect will be minimal behind Dwight Howard in Houston.
P.J. Hairston – Charlotte Hornets
Prediction: 14.3 PPG, 2.4 APG, All Rookie First team
I believe Hairston is a top 5 scorer in this draft. I would project him to score more points if the Charlotte shooting guard position was not so jammed up.
Hairston has his questionable attributes, such as off the court behavior, but overall is a scary offensive prospect. His hometown destination of Charlotte will only fuel his fire on his trip to the top of the depth chart in Charlotte.
His all rookie first team nod will be because of his unstoppable scoring and Jamal Crawfordesque sixth man contributions.
Bogdan Bogdanovic – Phoenix Suns
Prediction: Will not play
The cooly named Serbian will not come over to Phoenix for this upcoming season.
C.J. Wilcox – Los Angeles Clippers
Prediction: 5.4 PPG, 37% Three point shooting
Perhaps to replace the now free agent Darren Collison, Wilcox will do his best to recreate the energy that Collison provided. Wilcox lacks Collison’s speed, but possesses an invaluable skill – a three point stroke. LAC will enjoy his outside shooter presence and likely see a nice return on their late first rounder.
Josh Huestis – Oklahoma City Thunder
Prediction: 2.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG
Another role player addition through the draft for the Thunder, Huestis is a solid addition. He joins a young core of Perry Jones, Jeremy Lamb, Mitch McGary, and Steven Adams, the future (and current) bench of the western conference powerhouse.
Kyle Anderson – San Antonio Spurs
Prediction: 6.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.4 APG
Anderson’s draft plummet can be credited to his lack of position, but finding a home on the Spurs, where nobody really has a position, is a great fit.
I expect coach Popovich to fall in love with this more athletic Boris Diaw type player and play him heavy minutes, where Anderson can utilize his swiss army knife skills as a scorer, passer, and rebounder.
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