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With the 2014 NBA draft just days away (Thursday, 5 p.m. on ESPN), six Deseret News writers and contributors did their best in trying to simulate how the draft will go down.

We divided up the NBA's six divisions among the six writers. We drafted over the course of three days using email. Here's how it went down and why. Did we make the right picks? Let us know in the comments section.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, you're on the clock.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers
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Andrew Wiggins, F, Kansas

Last week's stunning news of Joel Embiid's broken bone in his foot and resulting surgery has thrown a huge monkey wrench into the NBA Draft.

It looks like the Cavs have been scared off so they will have their choice between two of the most hyped prospects since LeBron James — Jabari Parker and Wiggins. Luckily for them, either choice will benefit their team in a big way.

While Parker is the more NBA-ready player right now and more polished on the offensive side of the ball, Wiggins is by far the better defender, and that combined with his athleticism, gives him the greatest potential.

If Wiggins does live up to his full potential then his jersey may just be hanging in the rafters of the Quicken Loans Arena when his career is over.

— Mitch Kunzler & Aaron Morton


2. Milwaukee Bucks
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Jabari Parker, SF, Duke

Sorry, Jazz fans.

Landing Parker would be ideal for the Bucks. He's a sure thing, good-character guy the Bucks are looking for. He would slide right into Milwaukee's starting lineup. He comes from an athletic family, which knows what it takes to succeed at this level — his father, Sonny played in the NBA.

Did we mention he grew up less than two hours away in Chicago?

If the Cavs don't take Parker first and if the Bucks are scared off by Embiid's injury concerns, Parker would be a no-brainer.

— Aaron Morton


3. Philadelphia Sixers
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Noah Vonleh, F, Indiana

Now that there's a major red flag flying over Embiid, perhaps no team is feeling worse about its draft situation than Philadelphia. Multiple reports have the 76ers vying for Wiggins, but chances are Wiggins will be off the board before the third pick. I originally had Parker here, but he's likely gone now too. So where do the Sixers go with this pick? They could easily package a deal to trade up to the first pick. If so, they'll take Wiggins.

If that situation doesn't happen, the Sixers will have to settle for something else. Vonleh could be the guy slated to move up if teams aren't willing to take the Embiid risk. He's long and has good size. He's athletic and can crash the boards well. More importantly, he fits with the athletic ability that the Sixers are building and is a better defender than many of the other 6-foot-9 options in this draft.

While some draft pundits have Embiid or Dante Exum going here, keep in mind the Sixers have last year's Embiid, Narlens Noel, on their roster already. Would Philadelphia draft a center that wouldn't play back-to-back years? Possibly, but unlikely. Exum is a good, athletic guard, but Philly could use its 10th pick on a better shooter.

— Carter Williams (No relation to Michael Carter-Williams)




4. Orlando Magic
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Dante Exum, PG, Australia

Could the Magic swipe up Embiid just before the Jazz would have a shot at him? Absolutely. He would make a nice compliment to Orlando big man Nikola Vucevic.

But there are indications the Magic may go point guard with the fourth pick, leaving them with the options of Exum or Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart. Orlando may look to team Exum with last year's second overall pick, Victor Oladipo. Oladipo had a solid rookie campaign, averaging 13.8 points, 4.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game, but the Magic could move Oladipo over to his more natural position, shooting guard, by picking Exum and joining the forces in their backcourt.

Exum is a wild card in the draft, coming from Australia and having less exposure to NBA scouts in live-game action. Even so, the Magic go with the safer bet here, picking up a man to run the offense over a player whose foot injury hurt his draft stock.

— Brandon Judd

5. Utah Jazz
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Joel Embiid, C, Kansas

How quickly things can change in the NBA. One week ago, Embiid was largely viewed as the most likely No. 1 pick in the draft. Now his foot injury casts a shadow on not only his status Thursday evening, but also his future career.

This case is the epitome of a high risk, high reward possibility. Embiid could have the highest potential of any draft prospect. His mixture of size, agility and basketball instincts make him incredibly tantalizing for lottery teams needing an injection of talent and hope. While he has not been playing long, he made consistently strong progress during his time at Kansas. To put it in perspective, the most common comp that scouts have been using is the great Hakeem Olajuwon.

The risk is clear. His foot injury, coupled with his back issues the past four months, conjure up images of Sam Bowie and Greg Oden. There have also been others who underwent the same surgery as Embiid and went on to have productive, successful careers.

The Jazz are looking for star power. While it may prove difficult to trade up to a top-three slot, having someone of Embiid’s caliber slip to the fifth pick is a risk that might be worth taking.

— David J. Smith




6. Boston Celtics
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Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona

Sticking with Gordon here with the sixth pick. When I originally made this pick, Gordon was rated behind Julius Randle on many boards, but now Gordon's stock has risen a bit more, while Randle has dealt with some question marks.

Gordon has shown great athletic ability in workouts over the past couple of weeks and could use that to jump ahead of the pack. He’s got versatility and size and was pretty good defensively at Arizona too. Gordon would be an explosive addition to Boston’s post, which got decent production from rookie Kelly Olynyk this past season.

— Carter Williams

7. Los Angeles Lakers
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Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky

The Lakers need some serious help in the frontcourt, particularly if Pau Gasol decides to leave Los Angeles once he becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Julius Randle is the best big man on the board. He’s already got NBA size at 6-9, 250 pounds, and he’s a rebounding machine, averaging 10.4 boards per game at Kentucky.

The Lakers desperately need a solid rebounder after finishing No. 25 in the NBA last season. While Randle has some work to do on defense, he’s a player who can contribute right away in the Lakers’ area of greatest need, and with a little seasoning could become an All Star. What’s not to like?

— Lafe Peavler

8. Sacramento Kings
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Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State

The Kings still have a ways to go before they can contend in the West, but they can come one step closer by picking up Marcus Smart. Yes, Sacramento has Isaiah Thomas at point guard, but Thomas doesn’t have the upside that Smart does, plus there’s no guarantee Thomas will stick around after he becomes a restricted free agent at the end of June.

Smart has great basketball smarts (pun intended), solid size and a driven determination to win. Smart needs to work on his jump shot, but he’s great at cutting to the basket. He’s a solid pick and brings Sacramento at least one step closer to relevancy.

— Lafe Peavler

9. Charlotte Hornets
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Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton

McDermott's ability to score is Jimmer-like, and he appears to have a better all-around game than the former BYU star. ESPN's Jay Bilas compared him to Jazzman Gordon Hayward, citing his high basketball IQ. The question is, will the 6-foot-6 wing player McDermott be able to become a starter in the NBA, or is he destined to be a reserve/specialist?

Charlotte needs scoring help along the perimeter, and scoring help period, which is more than enough reason to pick up McDermott here. During his four-year college career at Creighton, he shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range every season, including 44.5 percent his senior season.

— Brandon Judd

10. Philadelphia Sixers
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Zach LaVine, SG, UCLA

If the Sixers find a way to get Wiggins or settle with Exum, they won't take a guard with this pick. As I previously said, whoever the 76ers take with the third pick will determine the 10th pick. More likely than not, Philadelphia will draft a forward and a guard with its two top 10 picks.

The only reason Philly would take a forward over Exum with the third pick is to land a guy like LaVine with the 10th pick. Though both are extremely athletic guards, LaVine is a better shooter than Exum, especially from beyond the arc. His unreal, almost mythical, athletic ability also makes him an intriguing prospect.

— Carter Williams

11. Denver Nuggets
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Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan

Nik Stauskas is easily one of the best scorers and shooters in the nation. A deadly perimeter threat, he connected on 44.2 percent from downtown. Stauskas’ versatile offensive moves and aggressiveness also yielded nearly six free throws per outing. His sheer marksmanship make him a very wanted commodity in the middle to late lottery.

While his athletic abilities and prowess on the defensive end are somewhat pedestrian, Stauskas possesses great size for a shooting guard. Thanks to underrated ball handling and passing skills, he can move over to the point guard position if needed.

Although the Nuggets have a fair amount of backcourt firepower with Ty Lawson, Randy Foye and Evan Fournier, Stauskas is the easy pick here. He would add tremendously to talent level in the Mile High City and could go on to become the most potent shooter in this draft class.

— David J. Smith

12. Orlando Magic
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Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State

Payne's pro ceiling may not be as high as some of the other players expected to be taken earlier in the draft, but the 6-foot-10 power forward looks ready to make an impact as a rookie with his two-way abilities. He's a physical presence on the defensive end, and the stretch four hit 42 percent of his 3-point attempts last season.

Orlando is building for the future, and Payne can help it do that while also giving the Magic a solid interior option right now. He can help Magic center Nik Vucevic with interior defense and not be a liability on the other end.

— Brandon Judd

13. Minnesota Timberwolves
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Rodney Hood, F, Duke

Rodney Hood has a lot of things going for him. He is something a lot of teams can use — a shooter. Hood has great range, connecting on 42 percent from long distance (on five attempts per game) and has a solid repertoire of offensive moves. On top of that, the fact that he is left-handed creates another wrinkle for his defender.

At 6-foot-9, Hood has great size for his position but is only an average defender. He also needs to work harder on the boards. Hood did show very good improvement overall from his freshman to sophomore seasons, which bodes well for his professional development.

The Minnesota Timberwolves, with or without Kevin Love, need an influx of talent if they are ever to earn a postseason berth. Hood represents the best player available at No. 13 and could add some much-needed shooting to their lineup.

— David J. Smith

14. Phoenix Suns
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TJ Warren, F, N.C. State

The Suns need somebody who can bring some scoring to the frontcourt, and TJ Warren is their man. He scored 24.9 points per game for N.C. State last season, and he makes an amazing 58 percent of his shots from inside the 3-point arc. His outside shot needs some help (26.7 percent from beyond the arc), and he needs to work on his passing and defense.

That said, Warren fills a need at power forward, and his explosive scoring potential should be exciting for any Suns fan.

— Lafe Peavler

15. Atlanta Hawks
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James Young, G/F, Kentucky

The 6-foot-6 swingman Young displayed high and lows during his one season at Kentucky. He averaged 14.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, good numbers considering the dearth of talent on the Wildcats' team, but Young's shooting percentage, 40 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3-point range, left plenty to be desired.

At only 18 years old right now, Young is raw but brimming with potential. He also fits into the Hawks' desires to have a versatile wing, as he can rise up and hit jumpers over defenders and has displayed better-than-average defensive abilities. If he can improve his shot selection, he could be a long-term asset for Atlanta at shooting guard/small forward.

— Brandon Judd

16. Chicago Bulls
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Gary Harris, G, Michigan State

It’s not very likely that Harris will fall as far as the 16th pick, but if he does, the Chicago Bulls will be thrilled to take him. Harris is arguably the best on-ball defender in the entire draft class, and this ability alone will help him thrive under the defensive-minded Tom Thibodeau, and among fellow Chicago players.

Chicago has regularly been among the best defensive teams in the NBA in recent years, and Harris will only improve an already stout squad. His tenacity and ability to stay in front of his man will be a great complement to the defensive energy of Joakim Noah (Defensive Player of the Year), Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose.

Harris also has the ability to score the ball, a skill that he demonstrated regularly in college. Despite playing alongside Adreian Payne, Harris still managed to put up 16.7 points per game this past season. Harris has the ability to shoot from the outside and is a tremendous rim-attacker at the guard position. He would have great success as a member of the Chicago Bulls.

— Mitch Kunzler

17. Boston Celtics
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Dario Saric, SF, Croatia

A big reason Saric could fall here to Boston at No. 17 is report from overseas that Saric, arguably the best European prospect, can't come to the NBA for two years. Saric has tremendous size for a guy who can fit in the post or the wing interchangeably, which is why he’s valuable to a rebuilding Celtics team. If the Celtics decide to beef up their paint with two forwards with their sixth and 17th pick, which is definitely possible, they’ll make it difficult for the rest of the Atlantic division in the paint. That’s even more powerful if they still have a strong point guard in Rajon Rondo bringing the ball up the court. Although all this talk of Rondo and Kevin Love meeting up in Boston might make you wonder what Boston has up its sleeve.

Saric is about as NBA ready as you’ll find in a foreign prospect. In addition to his range as a forward, he reads the game well and has a high basketball IQ. He’s talented enough to make an impact right away.

— Carter Williams

18. Phoenix Suns
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Clint Capela, F, Switzerland

Admittedly, Clint Capela is a raw prospect. He needs to add some bulk to his 6-11, 222-pound frame, and he has a lot of work to do on his basketball I.Q. That said, Capela has the potential to become something special for the Suns. He has great hands for a player of his size, he runs the floor well, and is a great shot blocker.

Capela probably won’t win rookie of the year with his current shortcomings, but with some hard work and good coaching he can be a solid contributor for years to come. Out of all the players at this point in the draft, Capela has the greatest upside.

— Lafe Peavler

19. Chicago Bulls
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P.J. Hairston, G/F, North Carolina/D-League

The Chicago Bulls were the worst team in the NBA this past season in points per game, and were the fourth worst in 3-point field goals made per game, Overall, scoring wasn’t a strength of theirs, especially from beyond the arc.

The Bulls tried to bring some sort of 3-point threat to their team by signing sharpshooter Jimmer Fredette. Fredette’s lack of size and defensive ability were likely the leading reasons why he saw very little playing time. That’s where P.J. Hairston comes in.

Hairston is a great 3-point shooter. He shot nearly 40 percent from downtown during his final year at North Carolina and is a tremendous scorer. Hairston has an NBA-ready body, standing at 6-foot-5 and weighing 230 pounds, which would certainly help Chicago score more effectively.

After being dismissed by North Carolina due to an NCAA rule violation, Hairston played in the NBA D-League, where he played 26 games for the Texas Legends. During his time with the Legends, Hairston averaged 21.8 points per game, making 73 3-pointers and establishing himself as a great overall scorer.

Hairston’s ability to shoot the three and attack the rim, combined with his size and strength, would make him a phenomenal addition to the Bulls' roster. While he is an average defender, Hairston’s commitment to defense has been questioned at times. Perhaps Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau may be exactly what he needs to get over the hump and become an elite defender in the NBA.

— Mitch Kunzler

20. Toronto Raptors
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Cleanthony Early, F, Wichita State

Toronto’s draft pick will likely indicate how confident general manager Masai Ujiri is at re-signing point guards Kyle Lowry and Greivis Vasquez, who both contributed largely to the Raptors’ division-winning rise to power last season. While Toronto lost in seven in the opening round of the playoffs, there is a lot to love with Toronto’s future — especially with the cast around center Jonas Valanciunas and DeMar DeRozan. Ujiri is notorious at picking athletic guys no matter what size or school they went to (think Kenneth Faried). Early fits that mold and would add to what the Raptors have with Valanciunas and Amir Johnson by spreading out the paint.

Early is certainly athletic and is quick. He’s also a pretty solid shooter and has the ability to be a scorer or a valuable contributor in the NBA. He’s versatile as he can go on the wing and in the paint. His vertical abilities help him overcome his 6-foot-7 height.

If Lowry and Vasquez are set on leaving, Toronto could go after Canadian Tyler Ennis or athletic small school guard Elfrid Payton with this pick, if they are available.

— Carter Williams

21. Oklahoma City Thunder
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K.J. McDaniels, SG, Clemson

K.J. McDaniels could be one of this draft’s biggest sleepers. He is simply an athletic talent whose explosive jumping abilities make him a tantalizing threat on both ends of the court. McDaniels thrives on running the floor and has a penchant for finishing inside.

A tweener of sorts, he does not have ideal size for a small forward, and his ball handling does not fully lend to the shooting guard position. McDaniel’s potential as a lockdown defender could be a calling card at the next level. In addition to his elite athleticism, he has great instincts defensively — evidenced by his 2.8 BPG, a skill set that often translates well from college to the pros.

Oklahoma City needs to add some bench depth and could be a low risk, somewhat high reward pick with a late first-round pick.

— David J. Smith

22. Memphis Grizzlies
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Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse

The Grizzlies really need to find some help to back up Mike Conley, and with Ennis still on the board it was a no brainer to take him. Ennis is as good a leader as you will find in the college game. He can run a team with poise and confidence and is always looking to get his teammates involved. Ennis isn't afraid of the big moment and is more than willing to take and make big shots.

Ennis can also be paired with Conley in spurts because he has enough length to guard some smaller two's while creating matchup problems on the offensive end. Even though he isn't the quickest guard in the draft, Ennis should be able to get to where he needs to on the floor because of his strength and body control to get himself easy shots in the paint and create space for players like Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph to flourish.

— Jay Yeomans


23. Utah Jazz
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Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA

Kyle Anderson is one of this draft’s most interesting and somewhat perplexing players. With an impressive stat line of 14.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg and 6.5 apg, he was a triple-double threat on the college level. A true point forward, Anderson brings incredible court vision and deft passing to the table. His unselfish play could bolster any team’s roster, and he tries to constantly involve his teammates.

With a lanky frame and size, Anderson was versatile enough to play three positions for the Bruins. Anderson is a very good rebounder. He most likely will encounter struggles defensively as his quickness and athleticism are lacking. While he made promising strides last season, Anderson will have to prove he can consistently stick the jumper at the next level.

Anderson would be a welcome addition to the Utah Jazz second unit and seems to be a solid choice this late in the draft. His strengths makes him an intriguing prospect for a team that has traditionally loved having a cadre of players who help facilitate its offense.

— David J. Smith


24. Charlotte Hornets
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C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington

Wilcox, who prepped at Pleasant Grove High, is being projected to go anywhere from late in the first round of the NBA draft to middle of the second round. He is one of the top pure shooters in this draft class; Wilcox is good coming off screens and is among the best 3-point shooters available. At 23, though, he is one of the oldest players in this year's draft.

The Hornets' shooting needs were addressed with the selection of McDermott at No. 9, but Charlotte was 23rd in the league in scoring (96.9 points per game) and 3-point shooting (35.1 percent) this season. The Hornets need all the shooting help they can get, and Utah native Wilcox has proven to be a decent on-ball defender. He could create space for Charlotte point guard Kemba Walker and eventually create a nice backcourt tandem with the former UConn star.

— Brandon Judd

25. Houston Rockets
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Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette

The one place that the Rockets really struggled in during the 2013-14 season was at guarding some of the league's more elite guards. Payton would solve that problem right away because of his length and athleticism. He is a great on-ball defender who has extremely quick hands as shown by his 2.3 steals a night in 2013-14.

He is also quite the impressive offensive player as well. Although he needs a great deal of work on his outside game, Payton does have the ability to get to the rim and finish. That should open up more space for Dwight Howard to catch lobs and hit the offensive glass. When he gets into the paint, Payton has also shown the ability to find the open man when the double-team comes, which should open up plenty of clean looks for the Rockets' group of expert shooters.

— Jay Yeomans

26. Miami Heat
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Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut

Napier may be an older (23) and smaller (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) prospect than many others this year, but he was the master pulling the strings behind UConn's offense. He can create his own shot, and he averaged 18 points per game in 2013-14 while dishing out 4.9 assists. Plus, he led the Huskies to a national title his senior season, which could leave a lasting impression with NBA teams.

The Heat have Mario Chalmers at point guard, but he will be a free agent this offseason. Drafting Napier would give Miami some insurance whether or not Chalmers stays. Regardless, Napier has shown he is more than capable of running an offense.

— Brandon Judd

27. Phoenix Suns
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Jerami Grant, F, Syracuse

Jerami Grant has solid size, athleticism and defensive skills to be a good small forward for the Suns. His one glaring weakness, and the one that everyone seems to want to talk about, is his ability to shoot.

Grant knows that this is an issue, and with the right coach and a lot of practice he’ll get there. His decision-making could use some help as well. Like Capela, Grant is a prospect who is going to need some polishing to reach his full potential. That said, he has enough potential to make this pick worthwhile if the Suns decide not to trade their third pick of the first round to somebody else.

— Lafe Peavler

28. Los Angeles Clippers
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Semaj Christon, PG, Xavier

The Clippers don’t have a pressing need at point guard with Chris Paul on the team, and this is a bit of a reach. That said, Semaj Christon is a diamond in the rough and given time could pay the Clippers some serious dividends.

He’s a good player on both offense and defense, and with a bit more work on his shot, he has the potential to be a great overall contributor. Semaj probably won’t be a starting point guard anytime soon, but given some experience and hard work he could be a nice long-term addition to the Clippers.

— Lafe Peavler

29. Oklahoma City Thunder
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Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia-Herzegovina

The Thunder don't necessarily need another center after drafting Steven Adams with the 12th overall pick in the 2013 draft, but the combination of size and strength that Nurkic provides makes him far too good to pass up at this point in the draft. Nurkic is a more skilled offensive player than the centers that the Thunder have on their roster and would make it nearly impossible to double off on Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.

Nurkic is an impressive offensive player with a very effective back to the basket game. He is big enough to get deep position on the block and can finish around the rim. He isn't just a guy you can foul when he gets good position either because he shot a good percentage from the free-throw line. Thanks in large part to his size, Nurkic is also a very good rebounder on both ends of the floor.

— Jay Yeomans

30. San Antonio Spurs
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Jarnell Stokes, F, Tennessee

With Tim Duncan nearing the end of his illustrious and championship-filled career, the Spurs will soon be in need of another power forward. If Stokes is still on the board when the 30th pick rolls around, he would be a great choice for San Antonio. Stokes is one of the best rebounders in this draft and a load to handle on the block. The best part of his game just may be his ability to hit the offensive glass and give his team second chance opportunities.

In 2013-14, Stokes grabbed 4.2 offensive rebounds a game. The other part that is so intriguing about Stokes is that he played at a very high level against the best competition. In his lone matchup against Randle and the vaunted Kentucky frontline, Stokes had one of his best games of the season with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor to go along with 15 rebounds. Stokes also showed out in a huge way in the Volunteers run in the NCAA tournament.

In fact, Stokes had his best scoring game of the season in a second-round win against Massachusetts when he totaled 26 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor and 12-of-13 from the free-throw line. He also added 14 rebounds, two assists and a steal to help Tennessee advance. On the season, Stokes averaged 15.1 points on 53.1 percent shooting from the floor, 10.6 rebounds and two assists in 37 games.

— Jay Yeomans


Who made the smartest pick?


Team Selection
1. Cavs — Andrew Wiggins
2. Bucks — Jabari Parker
3. 76ers — Noah Vonleh
4. Magic — Dante Exum
5. Jazz — Joel Embiid
6. Celtics — Aaron Gordon
7. Lakers — Julius Randle
8. Kings — Marcus Smart
9. Hornets — Doug McDermott
10. 76ers — Zach LaVine
11. Nuggets — Nik Stauskas
12. Magic — Adreian Payne
13. T-wolves — Rodney Hood
14. Suns — TJ Warren
15. Hawks — James Young
16. Bulls — Gary Harris
17. Celtics — Dario Saric
18. Suns — Clint Capella
19. Bulls — P.J. Hairston
20. Raptors — Cleanthony Early
21. Thunder — K.J. McDaniels
22. Grizzlies — Tyler Ennis
23. Jazz — Kyle Anderson
24. Hornets — C.J. Wilcox
25. Rockets — Elfrid Payton
26. Heat — Shabazz Napier
27. Suns — Jerami Grant
28. Clippers — Semaj Christian
29. Thunder — Jusuf Nurkic
30. Spurs — Jarnell Stokes