The Next Tier
Embiid's foot injury might have made Australian teenage point guard Dante Exum a bit of money. Before that injury, Embiid, Wiggins and Jabari Parker were going to be the Top 3 picks. Now Embiid is likely to slide and that means Exum could climb as high as No. 3. He is the wild card of the Draft at just 19 years old and playing against inferior competition Down Under. Reports on all workouts were terrific and he looks like an athletic freak. Exum, at 6-foot-6 and perhaps not done growing, can play both guard spots, which is a big thing in today's NBA. But in reality he's a point guard.
One sportsbook lists Exum's 'over/under' Draft position at 3.5, with the under a -140 favorite on NBA odds. While Wiggins and Parker are locks to go 1-2, Exum could end up in Philadelphia at No. 3. The question is whether the Sixers believe Exum can play in a backcourt with the 2013-14 NBA Rookie of the Year, point guard Michael Carter-Williams. There's also talk the Sixers love Exum and will take him and trade MCW for another lottery pick -- perhaps to the Lakers for No. 7. Exum will not get past Orlando at No. 4, which would have its backcourt of the future with Exum and Victor Oladipo.
The next best player on the Draft board is likely Indiana forward Noah Vonleh, and his 'over/under' Draft spot is 5, with the under a -165 favorite. The 76ers are likely going to take either Exum or Vonleh, who played one season at Indiana. Vonleh has massive hands and was a good 3-point shooter at 6-foot-10. He's not the best of athletes but plays very hard. Orlando is expected to pick whichever of those two that the 76ers don't if Embiid's medical report doesn't look good.
Back when the 2013-14 college basketball season began, Kentucky forward Julius Randle and Arizona forward Aaron Gordon were considered about on par with Wiggins and Parker as the nation's top freshmen. Randle certainly did nothing to hurt his stock at UK as he was a double-double machine. However, NBA teams think he's a tweener for their league at 6-foot-9, 250 pounds. Too big and slow for small forward and not quite physical enough for power forward. There are also reports he has a foot injury that might need surgery. He broke it his senior year in high school and had a pin inserted in it that might need to be re-fixed. That could cause him to slide a bit.
Gordon has been compared to Blake Griffin. They physically look a bit alike and Gordon is an explosive dunker and rebounder and should be a great defender. One problem: he can't shoot a lick. Gordon has no range outside the paint and hit just 42.2 percent of his free throws. Many NBA teams think they can teach shooting. There is a prop on which player gets drafted first: Gordon at -160 or Randle at +120. Most mock drafts have Gordon going either No. 5 to Utah or No. 6 to Boston, although Embiid's potential slide could affect that. You don't really see Randle's name before No. 7 to the Lakers.
Finally, there are two intriguing seniors in the Draft: Creighton forward Doug McDermott and Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier. McDermott is a points machine who led the nation in scoring this past season, while Napier was the Final Four MOP in leading the Huskies to a surprising national title. McDermott is given an 'over/under' of 9.5 (both -120) for his Draft position, while Napier is 23.5, with 'under' a -200 favorite.
Dougie McBuckets isn't a future scrub like Adam Morrison, he's a legit NBA scorer who can contribute from Day 1. The Charlotte Hornets badly need scoring so he will not drop past them at No. 9. McDermott could go No. 8 to Sacramento. Napier is obviously tricky. Some teams love him, but others are scared off by how small he is. That said, he reportedly will be in the green room for the Draft. Napier wouldn't accept that if he was going to be sitting in there deep into the first round.
NBA free picks: Exum 'under' 3.5, Vonleh 'under' 5, Gordon at -160 against Randle, McDermott 'under' 9.5 and Napier 'under' 23.5. Perhaps I'm an optimist with all these 'unders', but they do look like tempting NBA Draft picks.