The NBA Draft doesn’t always work out the way teams would like. Sure, the No. 1 team is able to find the player that best fits its needs, and very often the rest of the top lottery teams get what they need out of the draft, too, but other times, organizations are forced to pigeonhole “best talent available” type of players onto rosters that really needed help in other areas.
Ideally, every team would get exactly what they need, so today we look at the perfect fits both for this year’s top draft prospects and for the teams that are most likely to have the opportunity to draft them. It’s possible some of these players might not fall as far as these teams need them to, but if the world were a perfect place, these top five prospects would find homes with these five organizations:
Andrew Wiggins, Philadelphia 76ers – The truth is that the 76ers need long-term help pretty much everywhere other than point guard and center, but more than anything they need somebody who can score the ball consistently and defend the wing position. Wiggins, the best two-way swingman in the draft, fits both needs really nicely. Michael Carter-Williams would love to have that kind of running mate, and the two of them would generate a really exciting transition game. Since both are so long and athletic, Wiggins’ arrival would really make for a much-improved offense. Defensively, Wiggins is also better than Jabari Parker, which is another reason Philly would be wiser to select him, even though Parker is the more accomplished scorer.
Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks – Like Philadelphia, the Bucks are in need of pretty much everything, but in a draft where they can’t afford to miss on their draft pick, taking the surest thing in the class in Jabari Parker would be the most intelligent move. Milwaukee had hoped that O.J. Mayo would be their go-to wing scorer, but that obviously hasn’t panned out. Parker would be a much sturdier option in that role, despite his relative pro inexperience. He could play either the three or four alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, as those two would serve as the team’s nucleus moving forward. No matter who they draft, there will still be work to do in future drafts, but Parker is the kind of can’t-miss building block they need to keep moving in the right direction.
Joel Embiid, Boston Celtics – While Embiid is generally considered a top-three draft pick and the Celtics are statistically likely to fall out of the top three selections, that doesn’t mean that Embiid wouldn’t be a perfect fit in Boston. More than anything else, the Celtics need a more traditional big man, and there’s no better one than Embiid in this draft. While Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk both had solid seasons for Boston last year, it has become clear that neither is particularly likely to be an All-Star. Embiid has the potential to be a dominant protector of the rim, which neither Olynyk nor Sullinger is now or ever will be, and Embiid is also big enough to score over tall, long defenders and can certainly rebound the ball as well as anyone in this draft class. The back issues are a concern, but the Celtics couldn’t hope for a better fit in this draft than Embiid.
Dante Exum, Orlando Magic – Everybody knows that Jameer Nelson is not the long-term solution for the rebuilding Magic at the point guard position, but Dante Exum is someone that certainly could be. Like Orlando’s Victor Oladipo, Exum can actually play both guard positions, so pairing those two together would give Jacque Vaughn a couple of versatile backcourt weapons that should work very well together. These two players are extremely hard workers, major competitors and extremely athletic, and pairing them would give the team a really exciting backcourt to work with for the better part of the next decade.
Julius Randle, L.A. Lakers – Like a lot of teams picking in the lottery, the Lakers are a mess, with holes at a lot of positions. A point guard like Exum or Marcus Smart would make a lot of sense for them, too, but Randle fills a major need in what was a pretty sad frontcourt rotation this past year. He may be a little undersized, but there have been players that have done more with less, and his mix of strength and athleticism should make him a really good NBA power forward. The guy can score—a major need for the Lakers—and he’s one of this class’s best rebounders. The best thing about Randle, at least as far as the Lakers are concerned, is that there’s a reasonable chance that he’ll be available at pick No. 6, which is where L.A. will select if they don’t move into the top three.
While it’s unlikely that the draft order will allow for all of these players to end up where they’d probably see the most success, it’s still fun to pick out the best fits for these top prospects. Teams like Utah and Sacramento will be in the mix for these players, too, but whatever happens there are plenty of top talents gearing up to play their first pro ball. They probably won’t care where they end up as long as the NBA logo is on their jersey.
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