The NBA Draft is always an interesting event. Sometimes there is a clear #1 pick like a Tim Duncan or a Shaquille O’Neal. We have one this year in Anthony Davis. Other times there’s a big debate on who should go #1. Oden vs. Durant, Rose vs. Beasley – both of those decisions sparked fierce debate leading up to the draft, but as years have passed there has been a very clear-cut answer. My goal with my mock is not to most accurately predict who teams will choose. I don’t have any inside information on what particular GM’s are thinking. Rather, my intention is to make the best possible decision for each team as the draft goes on. Here are my selections with analysis following:
1 – Hornets: Anthony Davis
Not much to say here. Anothony Davis will go number 1 and become the centerpiece of the New Orleans franchise.
2 – Bobcats: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Missing out on the #1 pick was pretty disheartening for the Bobcats. Davis would have anchored their frontline, but now they’re faced with a difficult decision that very well could go wrong. You’ll see a lot of varying opinions on who is the 2nd best player in the draft. Kidd-Gilchrist, Drummond, Barnes, and Beal, and Robinson are all options here. All of those guys could very well be future all-stars. They could just as easily be busts. I think the Bobcats go with Kidd-Gilchrist to form an athletic wing combination with Gerald Henderson. Barnes could also be an option here, but the Bobcats haven’t had great success drafting UNC guys (Felton, May) and I think he could struggle mightily without a strong PG and the expectation that he’s going to revive a losing team.
3 – Wizards: Bradley Beal
The Wizards are looking for the best wing player available. With Kidd-Gilchrist off the board I think they take Bradley Beal and set up an intriguing young backcourt of Beal and John Wall. The Wizards have a lot of options here though, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go in a completely different direction. Pairing Nene with either Andre Drummond or Thomas Robinson would set up a great front court. In the end, I like selecting Beal to move into the starting lineup and putting Jordan Crawford back into the instant offense role off the bench.
4 – Cavaliers: Harrison Barnes
I think the Cavs are in a great position at #4. They desperately need wing talent. Kidd-Gilchrist, Barnes, and Beal would all be great selections for them. The strategy is simply to draft whoever is left out of those three. In this scenario, Barnes is their guy. He may very well be the best pro out of those 3 so I don’t think Cleveland can go wrong.
5 – Kings: Thomas Robinson
This is an interesting scenario for the Kings. There has been news coming out of Sacramento that the Kings are not planning to re-sign Tyreke Evans. That means the Kings could be looking for a SG/SF scorer to replace Evans’ production. The other big choice in this scenario is going to be between Thomas Robinson and Andre Drummond. Which of these guys would fit best with DeMarcus Cousins. I feel like a Cousins/Drummond front court would be physically imposing, but they would be vulnerable to defending quicker power forwards. Robinson might be a better complement to Cousins that can band down low, but is also quick enough to defend quicker guys when teams go small.
6 – Blazers: Andre Drummond
I also love this position for the Blazers. They’re virtually guaranteed to get a quality player here. I think they would be happy to take one of the top wings (Kidd-Gilchrist, Barnes, Beal), but I think Drummond might be the best fit for them. There’s been a hole at center for the Blazers ever since Greg Oden went down with all of his injuries. The Blazers are just hoping that Thomas Robinson is not the guy to drop to them. He duplicates LaMarcus Aldridge (unless they believe Aldridge can be a center and defend guys like Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard).
7 – Warriors: Jeremy Lamb
The Warriors are so happy they were able to keep their pick. Now let’s see if they put it to good use. I’m really not sure what the Warriors need. Assuming Bogut is back healthy next year the frontcourt should be a lot better. Will Dorell Wright continue to regress, or will he regain his 2010-2011 form? Is Klay Thompson really the answer at SG. Because of those questions on the wings I like Jeremy Lamb for the Warriors. I think he fits as a SG or SF and could fit will with Stephen Curry because of his height and defensive ability.
8 – Raptors: Damian Lillard
The Raptors should get a big boost down low with last year’s pick Jonas Valanucius joining the team. With his addition and assuming Andrea Bargnani returns at full strength I like the Raptors frontcourt. The back court could use an upgrade. There’s a lot of speculation that Dion Waiters could go here. My question is: isn’t he almost the exact same player as DeMar DeRozan. I like Lillard as the PG of the future for Toronto and Calderon can be used as a trade chip for a small forward or more front court depth. Perry Jones could also be an option here.
9 – Pistons: Tyler Zeller
There are a lot of options here for Detroit, but I think adding a center could be their best bet. Greg Monroe is a natural power forward and Jason Maxiell simply is not a starter in the NBA. I think the options here are Tyler Zeller and Meyers Leonard. Zeller is more polished and should be able to help right away. I think he could really help the Pistons.
10 – Hornets: Perry Jones
I think it’s tempting to choose a PG here with Anthony Davis at #1. Kendall Marshall to Anthony Davis alley-oops could be a thing of beauty. However, I think the Hornets could be tempted by Perry Jones here. He has the tools to become a star, and pairing him with Davis gives the Hornets a freakishly athletic frontline. Trevor Ariza could become a trade chip along with Emeka Okafor and Jarret Jack. I expect the Hornets roster to look completely different when next season rolls around.
11. Blazers: Dion Waiters
The Blazers may also be tempted to take a point guard here. However, Damian Lillard is already off the board, and Kendall Marshall’s injury could scare teams away if he’s unable to fully workout. Dion Waiters could fit very nicely next to Nicholas Batum on the wing. Wesley Matthews could move into the instant offense role off the bench. The final piece of the puzzle for the Blazers would be finding a PG. A lineup of Drummond-Aldridge-Batum-Waiters and Matthews off the bench is a solid group.
12. Bucks: Meyers Leonard
The Bucks gave up a defensive minded center when they traded Andrew Bogut to Golden State. Meyers Leonard could step into that role and man the paint for the Bucks. The other option might be a SF if they do not resign Ersan Ilyasova.
13. Suns: Kendall Marshall
The Suns could very well lose Steve Nash this offseason. Kendall Marshall is the one guy left in the draft that has a chance to be a comparable floor general to Nash. Marshall does not have Nash’s quickness or shooting ability, but he does have great floor vision and he’s taller than Nash so he might turn out to be a better defender.
14. Rockets: John Henson
The Rockets could be a wild card in the first round. They have 2 picks, have a lot of needs, and have a reputation for using statistical analysis to identify undervalued players so their selections may not fit what everyone is thinking. With Luis Scola as a defensive liability the Rockets definitely need length and a defensive presence up front. John Henson fits that bill. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Houston’s entire roster overhauled by the start of next season. They were close to trading Kevin Martin and Luis Scola last year in the nixed Chris Paul deal. I don’t think there’s anyone on the roster that is untouchable.
I think the 76ers would love to see Jared Sullinger fall to them at #15. He could easily start next to Elton Brand or add to one of the best bench units in the league. I’m not sold on Sullinger as a pro. Is he going to be Kevin Love or Tyler Hansbrough? I’d lean towards Hansbrough as the best comparison.
16. Rockets: Terrence Ross
I think Ross has a chance to be a strong player in the NBA. He’s a defensive minded guy and his athleticism is off the charts. He might overlap skills with Courtney Lee, but as I said before the Rockets have a lot of needs so they need to acquire talent.
17. Mavericks: Arnett Moultrie
It’s going to be an interesting summer for the Mavericks. Mark Cuban decided to build his team with a lot of guys on 1 year contracts after they won the championship in 2011. That was in anticipation for Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. Will Cuban get either of these guys. It’s still possible, but the outlook doesn’t look great. Moultrie fits a need as a shot blocker and strong defensive rebounder.
18. Timberwolves: Austin Rivers
The Timberwolves are looking for a long term back court mate for Ricky Rubio. Rivers is an intriguing prospect. He creates his own shot and gets into the lane very well. However, would a Rubio/Rivers back court be too small. Would they get exploited defensively. I still like the pick for the pick for the offensive potential.
19. Magic: Moe Harkless
Harkless is not as well known as some of the other draft prospects because his team was never in the spotlight in college. The Magic may be getting a steal if his draft stock falls because of that. He’s a very talented scorer and has great athleticism. The Magic need athleticism and someone to take the scoring load off Dwight Howard. Harkless fits that bill.
20. Nuggets: Marquis Teague
The Nuggets are unlikely to resign Andre Miller in free agency, and the team was extremely successful in their two point guard sets last year with Andre Miller and Ty Lawson. Marquis Teague could slip into Miller’s role and complement Lawson.
21. Celtics: Terrence Jones
The Celtics are another team that has a lot of needs and an uncertain future. Will Garnett or Ray Allen be back next year. Is Paul Pierce still a trade candidate? There are a lot of questions for the Celtics. With that I think it’s smart to take the best player available. That happens to be Terrence Jones who can help them as a scorer and rebounder.
22. Celtics: Fab Melo
The Celtics are on the board twice in a row so I expect them to select guys that play different roles. Size is something the Celtics desperately need. Fab Melo is one of the biggest guys in the draft and has a lot of potential.
23. Hawks: Festus Ezeli
I think Jeff Teague performed well enough this past year for the Hawks to consider him the PG of the future. If the Hawks don’t feel that way then maybe Tony Wroten would be the better choice here. However, the Hawks need size and Festus Ezeli is big and an above average defender.
24. Cavaliers: Jeffrey Taylor
The Cavs got their SF of the future in Harrison Barnes. I think they’ll be looking at a SG with their second 1st round pick. I think Jeffrey Taylor is the best available and gives the Cavs a big strong defender to pair with Kyrie Irving in the backcourt.
25. Grizzlies: Tony Wroten
The Grizzlies would love to get Tony Wroten here. Gilbert Arenas was obviously not the answer for them. They may also lose O.J. Mayo to free agency. Wroten can learn to play defense from Mike Conley and provide a scoring spark off the bench.
26. Pacers: Royce White
The Pacers’ bench was their fatal flaw in the playoffs. I can’t see Leandro Barbosa coming back next year. He was the guy they relied on down the stretch to handle the scoring on the bench unit. Royce White can takeover that role. He was unstoppable scoring the basketball at Iowa State, and I think that carries over to the NBA.
27. Heat: Andrew Nicholson
The Heat need athleticism up front. Nicholson is another relatively unknown guy, but he can bang down low and might be a good complement to Chris Bosh on the Heat.
28. Thunder: Draymond Green
The Thunder really don’t have anyone that plays the backup SF position. Kevin Durant needs to rest once in a while. I think Draymond Green can do a lot of things well and would be willing to work hard and do whatever is needed of him in the NBA. Those are the kind of guys the Thunder are looking to draft.
29: Bulls: John Jenkins
The Bulls are always pegged as being interested in a SG. Rip Hamilton struggled mightily last year. John Jenkins is above average at 2 main skills: shooting and defense. That’s exactly what the Bulls need from a SG.
30: Warriors: Quincy Miller
The Warriors took Jeremy Lamb with their first pick in the 1st round. Now I see them taking a flier on a guy like Miller who was once thought of as having potential to be a top 10 pick. If Dorrel Wright continues to struggle they can develop Miller as their SF of the future.