Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker?
Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins?
Considering that the often-baffling Cleveland Cavaliers have the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft Thursday night, neither of the consensus top two players may hear his name called first.
The Cavaliers surprised everyone last year by selecting Anthony Bennett with the first pick, but going with anyone not named Wiggins or Parker this time around would top even that. Of course, there’s also the chance that Cleveland could trade the pick, with the Philadelphia 76ers believed to be in hot pursuit so that they could land Wiggins.
Parker appears to be the more NBA-ready player of the duo after spending one season at Duke, but Wiggins, who declared for the draft after his freshman season at Kansas, is thought to have the higher upside.
Center Joel Embiid, also from Kansas, was in the mix for the No. 1 spot before suffering a stress fracture in his right foot that could sideline him for most or all of next season.
The Lakers, who hold the No. 7 pick, could be hoping the 7-footer falls all the way to them, but don’t count on it. Embiid will probably be snapped up before Utah makes the fifth pick. More realistic options for the Lakers in their first foray into the first round since 2007 include power forwards Aaron Gordon of Arizona or Julius Randle of Kentucky, presuming they’re still available.
The Clippers could trade their first-round pick, No. 28 overall, as part of a package to land another wing player, a point guard or a backup power forward. If they keep it, one possibility would be to use it on Missouri shooting guard Jordan Clarkson.
Among the other story lines to watch, in addition to the usual flurry of draft-night trades, will be Philadelphia’s use of its two top-10 picks in what has long been classified as a deep draft, and whether the Miami Heat will try to move up from the No. 26 spot to make a run at getting Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier in a move intended to entice free agent LeBron James into staying in South Beach.
This will be the first draft in which new Commissioner Adam Silver presides over the first-round selections after three decades of predecessor David Stern, who was almost always booed in a draft-night tradition. New Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum takes over the thankless task of announcing the second-round picks.