Two screws, one foot, zero predictability.
The top of the NBA draft looked like a sure thing to forecast a week ago (always a dangerous statement), the first few picks a simple lock until Joel Embiid unexpectedly underwent surgery for a stress fracture in his right foot.
Welcome back, draft chaos.
Embiid could sit out a long swath of next season and the Cleveland Cavaliers could start his tumble from the first overall pick to…where exactly?
Thursday’s NBA draft will obviously reveal answers to many story lines.
What will the Philadelphia 76ers, losers of 26 consecutive games last season, do with two top-10 picks? And Orlando with two of the top 12 picks?
Will the Boston Celtics get back to respectability before their long-time Lakers rivals? Both teams were lousy last season but the Celtics are kicking off a five-year run with 10 possible first-round picks.
That the Lakers have a first-rounder, period, is big news after seven straight years of trading or selling it.
Here’s one attempt at sorting out all the draft-day questions.
NBA MOCK DRAFT:
1. Cleveland: Jabari Parker, Duke, small forward, 6-8, 235.
Might lose his job before ever taking the Cavaliers’ court if you-know-who ends up leaving Miami for Cleveland.
2. Milwaukee: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, small forward, 6-8, 200.
Lesson to college players: Even if you score four points in your final game, millions upon millions can still be yours.
3. Philadelphia: Joel Embiid, Kansas, center, 7-0, 240.
The 76ers might lose 26 consecutive games again if they take the injured Embiid with an eye toward 2015-16.
4. Orlando: Dante Exum, Australia, point guard. 6-6, 196.
5. Utah: Noah Vonleh, Indiana, power forward, 6-10, 247.
The largest wingspan and biggest hands of anybody at the draft combine turned him from average scorer (11.3 points last season) to meteoric riser.
6. Boston: Julius Randle, Kentucky, power forward, 6-9, 250.
Embiid a big possibility here if the 76ers don’t take him. Randle is a very nice consolation prize.
7. Lakers: Aaron Gordon, Arizona, power forward, 6-9, 220.
The Lakers would gladly take Embiid, Exum, Vonleh or Randle here. If only they hadn’t won those last two regular-season games.
8. Sacramento: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, point guard, 6-3, 227.
9. Charlotte: Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette, point guard, 6-4, 185.
Lighting-quick insurance in case Kemba Walker can’t find his shooting touch (39% last season).
10. Philadelphia: Nik Stauskas, Michigan, shooting guard, 6-7, 207.
Three-point ace also showed good ball-handling skills in workouts.
11. Denver: Gary Harris, Michigan State shooting guard, 6-5, 205.
12. Orlando: Dario Saric, Croatia, small forward/power forward, 6-10, 230.
Saric showed good scoring ability overseas, should be the first European player drafted.
13. Minnesota: Doug McDermott, Creighton, small forward, 6-8, 218.
Shooting and scoring come naturally. Defense? Not as natural.
14. Phoenix: Adreian Payne, power forward, Michigan State, 6-10, 239.
The Suns have an incredible backcourt. Their front court? Well, you know. Payne helps in a hurry and can score down low.
15. Atlanta: Rodney Hood, Duke, small forward, 6-9, 208.
Not as touted as his Duke teammate but averaged only three points less than Parker and was more effective from three-point range (42%).
16. Chicago: Tyler Ennis, Syracuse, point guard, 6-3, 182.
An obvious just-in-case pick if Derrick Rose is slow to return from his latest knee injury.
17. Boston: Shabazz Napier, Connecticut, point guard, 6-1, 175.
Another just-in-case pick: Small in stature but will be asked to deliver in a big way if Rajon Rondo gets traded.
Strange route to get here: Averaged 21.8 points in the D-League after being suspended before his sophomore season at North Carolina.
19. Chicago: Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia, center, 6-11, 275.
Final just-in-case pick: If Carlos Boozer is waived or traded, Nurkic could be an eventual replacement.
20. Toronto: K.J. McDaniels, Clemson, small forward. 6-6, 196.
Does a little bit of everything for a team that needs it if Kyle Lowry bolts in free agency.
21. Oklahoma City: James Young, Kentucky, small forward, 6-7, 213.
Another player who does a little bit of everything, something the depth-deprived Thunder badly need.
22. Memphis: Zach LaVine, UCLA, point guard, 6-6, 181.
Has a stunning vertical leap but needs to develop in a position change after playing mostly shooting guard in college.
23. Utah: Jerami Grant, Syracuse, small forward, 6-8, 214.
Unique combination at small forward: Solid rebounder with a not-so-solid outside shot.
24. Charlotte: Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee, power forward, 6-9, 263.
25. Houston: T.J. Warren, North Carolina State, small forward, 6-8, 220.
His didn’t always play great defense on the way to finishing third in NCAA scoring last season (24.9 points a game).
26. Miami: Mitch McGary, Michigan, center, 6-10, 260.
Like Oklahoma City, Miami needs more depth. Quickly. McGary has solid skills if he can get over an injury-prone tag.
27. Phoenix: Clint Capela, Switzerland, power forward-center, 6-10, 215. Another opportunity for the Suns to fix their frontcourt.
28. Clippers: Jordan Clarkson, Missouri, shooting guard, 6-5, 186.
The Clippers want to trade or sell the pick but might settle on Clarkson despite an end-of-season shooting slump.
29. Oklahoma City: Cleanthony Early, Wichita State, small forward, 6-7, 209.
Another depth player for the Thunder. Kevin Durant will be happy.
30. San Antonio: Kyle Anderson, UCLA, small forward, 6-9, 230.
Two things the Spurs do every year: Contest for a championship, take a player toward the end of the draft who eventually contributes.