Noah’s Arc: Which Team Will Pick Vonleh in the NBA Draft?

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Draft is coming up soon, and once again a former Hoosier is a likely lottery pick. Here's an early look at where Noah Vonleh could end up on draft night.

While the NBA season is close to wrapping up, the NBA Draft is now less than two weeks away. While several aspects of the draft still have the potential to change from now until June 26, I figured this would be a good time to look at where former Hoosier Noah Vonleh might be taken. Vonleh definitely should be a lottery pick on draft night, and joins other power forwards such as Aaron Gordon and Julius Randle this year in entering the draft after just their freshman years. However, Randle is going to need foot surgery, and Gordon's size and offensive capabilities are still question marks, so Vonleh may be in the best place of this triumvirate at the moment.

The top three picks in this draft are almost certain at this point, and they will consist of some order of Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, and Jabari Parker. After the first three, however, the order becomes less obvious. However, every mock draft I've seen puts Vonleh in the range of being picked fourth through eighth in this draft, so let's take a look at the NBA teams in these positions and whether Vonleh fits their needs.

Fourth Pick - Orlando Magic

Most mock drafts have Australian point guard Dante Exum going to this position. If you recall, the Hoosiers recruited Exum but he chose to enter the draft instead of coming to college in the states. Exum would give the Magic a potentially nasty backcourt, combined with Victor Oladipo. However, ESPN Insider Chad Ford's most recent mock has Vonleh going fourth to Orlando, giving them their second Hoosier in the past two drafts and turning the Amway Center into Assembly Hall South. The Magic currently are weak at the forward position, and need someone to complement big man Nicola Vucevic in their lineup, so Vonleh could fill that void on a young, rebuilding team. Despite the lack of forwards on the lineup, I still think the Magic go with Exum, especially since their coach, Jacque Vaughn, was a former point guard for Kansas, so he may be looking for someone to tutor at the position.

Fifth Pick - Utah Jazz

The Jazz would be an intriguing landing spot for Vonleh, but also seems unlikely barring a drastic trade. The Jazz already have 6-10 power forward Derrick Favors, who just has come off a season averaging 13.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. However, the Jazz are in full-on rebuilding mode, with a new coach in Quin Snyder, who you probably remember from his days coaching Missouri. Thus, the Jazz could be willing to trade Favors for other assets if they do draft Vonleh, and he is currently projected to go here in the latest mock for DraftExpress.

Sixth Pick - Boston Celtics

Going to Brad Stevens and the Celtics could be a New England homecoming for Vonleh, who grew up in Haverhill, Massachusetts and attended the New Hampton School in New Hampshire. However, according to SB Nation's CelticsBlog, Aaron Gordon seems like the most talked about name for the Celtics' pick here. I think the direction of this pick depends on whether Boston tries another blockbuster trade this offseason. If the Celtics decide they want to trade Rajon Rondo, then they may go with a point guard like Marcus Smart at this pick. They may also try to make a play for Kevin Love. If neither happens though, Vonleh remains in play for Boston, who like most teams on this list are completely in rebuild mode.

Seventh Pick - Los Angeles Lakers

Seeing the Lakers draft as high as seventh still feels weird to me, yet here they are. The Lakers have tied a lot of their cap space for the next two years up with Kobe Bryant, but other than Kobe, there are lots of holes to fill, and NBADraft.net has him going here in its mock draft. With Vonleh, the Lakers could get their power forward of the future, and give him a chance to both develop during the final few years of Kobe's career and learn alongside big man Pau Gasol. However, the Lakers are coachless right now, so their pick could depend on whether they hire a coach in the next couple weeks or not.

Eighth Pick - Sacramento Kings

I've said from the moment that Vonleh declared for the draft that that the Kings would be the perfect fit for him. Sacramento has their center in DeMarcus Cousins and a small forward in Rudy Gay, so Vonleh could squeeze in right between them at the power forward spot. Vonleh's offensive versatility could also help Gay, who is often criticized for taking too many shots despite averaging 20 points per game. However, this potentially perfect scenario may never materialize for the Kings. The mercurial Cousins has often been the subject of trade rumors during his time in Sactown, and Gay has yet to decide whether he'll pick up his player option for next season or test the free agent waters. Also, the Kings brass may want a point guard to replace Isaiah Thomaswho is a restricted free agent.

Other options for Vonleh exist after the eighth pick. Going to the newly rechristened Charlotte Hornets at the ninth pick would allow him to team up with Cody Zeller. And with the tenth pick, he could join a young and rebuilding roster on the Sixers, who also have the third pick this year. But let us know in the poll: All other things being equal, where do you think Vonleh ends up?

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