Mock drafts are a tricky beast. It's hard to gauge who has what information, what the smokescreens are, and what actual organizations are thinking. Often, it's difficult for the mock draft creator -- myself included -- to separate their feelings about the prospect's potential (i.e. their "big board stock") from their mock reports. However, it's definitely useful to see what people who have actual sources in the NBA are saying about the Cavs' potential draft prospects.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated released his 2.0 mock on Wednesday.
Mannix is a well-respected insider who has good sources throughout the league. He's one of the few people who doesn't allow his opinions of players to creep into the process. Here's what he said about the Cavaliers' selection:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers -- Joel Embiid, C, Kansas freshman, 7-foot-0, 250 pounds
Cleveland isn't tipping its hand, but league sources continue to believe that the decision is down to Embiid and Andrew Wiggins. Embiid alleviated some concerns about his back during a workout for teams last month, when executives in attendance came away impressed with his superior athleticism and two-way potential. New Cavs general manager David Griffin has the luxury of being able to draft a player who needs time to develop like the 20-year-old Embiid, who started playing at age 16.
First and foremost, Mannix believes that they've narrowed down their decision, which is important. Given that Parker isn't a great fit with the Cavaliers, that's not particularly a surprise. It's also interesting that teams apparently have and some concerns alleviated through his workout. Basically, what it seems like it comes down to is going to be the health check. Embiid is working out for the Cavs and will most likely receive a medical exam. If he passes and there are no chronic red flags, then I would think that he's the pick.
Matt Moore of CBSSports.com
Matt did a 60 player mock draft, which is often a fool's errand so I commend him for the effort. He also has the Cavs taking Embiid after having them selecting Wiggins in his first go-around:
Joel Embiid, C, Kansas: There are a lot of ways this could go wrong, but you just can't have your first act as GM be to pass up Joel Embiid. He's too much of everything good. (Previous: 2)
And this brings up the point of being scared to pass on Embiid. While I was writing my "should the Cavs trade this pick for Marc Gasol" post earlier this week, I emailed Moore to see what his thoughts were. Basically, he echoed what he says here. To paraphrase him, while the odds of Embiid ever being better than Gasol is right now probably aren't great, you can't pass on him either just because of what happens if you do pass on him and he becomes great.
Embiid's peak talent is clearly Hall-of-Fame level. Throughout NBA history, you can probably count on one hand the amount of guys that were 7'1 who move as fluidly and gracefully as he does. Gasol is probably a top-15 player in the NBA at this point in time, but there is "not zero percent" chance that Embiid becomes a top 15 player of all time. That's why Embiid is most likely the first overall pick if his health checks out, despite probably being the farthest away from contributing meaningful minutes.
Here are the results of and links to some other, older mock drafts that haven't been updated this week:
Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress: Wiggins
Chad Ford of ESPN: Wiggins
Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com: Jabari Parker
Jeff Goodman of ESPN: Embiid
Tyler Lashbrook of SBNation: Wiggins
There's a rather big split on who the Cavaliers will take with the pick. My money is still on Embiid if all checks out well medically, but that's a pretty big caveat to have at this point.