For well over a decade, I've been doing mock NBA drafts, and this seems to be one of the most wide open. Right now I have the Cavaliers and Bobcats trading their two picks in the top four.. but if that doesn't happen, things can all get messed around. But that's the excitement of the draft, is it not?
New Orleans Hornets –Anthony Davis, PF (Kentucky): Done, and done. I'm not sure if he's going to be as good as everyone claims he's going to be, but he certainly looks to be the best player available in this draft.
Cleveland Cavaliers (Trade) – Bradley Beal, SG (Florida) : So this is when things get funky. The Bobcats want Thomas Robinson, but know they can probably get him at 4, because the Wizards want Bradley Beal, and then Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The Cavaliers desperately want Beal, so it makes sense for these two teams to trade. For the first time in my mockdrafting history, I'm mocktrading these two picks.
Washington Wizards –Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF (Kentucky): I love this pick for the Wizards. Huge motor, tons of talent, and a guy who can help them right away. He's the 180 degree opposite of Jan Vesely.
Charlotte Bobcats –Thomas Robinson, PF (Kansas): Michael Jordan loves to screw up his draft, but I don't think that any one of these top four guys is a bad pick at the top. Robinson is probably not going to be a huge star, but he's probably a shorter, more athletic Emeka Okafor, the first high disappointing draft pick for Charlotte. I love how things come full circle.
Sacramento Kings – Harrison Barnes, SF (UNC): Even Tar Heel fans have to admit – has there ever been a more disappointing player in Tar Heel history that Harrison Barnes? Any player can have one tough year in college (certainly Beal, or Andre Drummond, could be labeled as "disappointments") but to do it in multiple years – that's bad. But, there's no question a team in the top 10 will give him a shot. The Kings live in a constant squalor of disappointment, so this pick makes loads of sense here.
Portland Trailblazers – Andre Drummond, C (UConn): Certainly not a guy to write off after one bad year at Connecticut, Drummond has the agility, size, and skills to be the next Dwight Howard. He needs to go to a place where he doesn't have to be relied on a lot right at the start, and Lamarcus Aldridge can teach him a thing or two. This pick makes a lot of sense to me.
Golden State Warriors – Dion Waiters, SG (Syracuse): It's funny that because Dion Waiters came off the bench at Syracuse, many people see that as his ceiling in the NBA. But if he had stayed another year, he would've been a starter for the ‘Cuse, and possibly the Big East Preseason Player of the Year. He's a perfect replacement for Monta Ellis for the Warriors, and the best player at getting to the hoop in this draft. And that's what the NBA is all about.
Toronto Raptors –Damian Lillard, SG (Weber State): Lillard is used to living in college obscurity at Weber State, so now he gets sent to NBA obscurity in Toronto.
Detroit Pistons –John Henson, PF (UNC): Another disappointment at North Carolina gets taken in the lottery.
New Orleans Hornets –Austin Rivers, SG (Duke): A highly debated player. Some see Rivers as the best create-his-own-shot guy in the draft. Others see him as a selfish, small player who will be lost in the NBA. The Hornets can roll the dice here, because the upside is high.
Portland Trailblazers – Jeremy Lamb, SG (UConn): The Blazers are hoping Rivers falls to them, because they are looking for a scoring guard. Lamb is the best one available, and is another player that fits in with a team that is better than terrible. He's not an alpha-dog, he's a quiet guy who stands back and does his own thing. Think Joe Johnson – certainly worthy of a lottery pick.
Houston Rockets – Terrence Ross, SF (Washington): Who the hell knows what the Rockets are doing. They're gaining and trading assets away, reportedly in hopes of getting Dwight Howard. So if they do make these picks, they're going to take guys with upside who could be attractive to potential suitors. Ross, a point-scoring machine, certainly fits the bill here.
Phoenix Suns – Kendall Marshall, PG (UNC): Will Steve Nash stay or go? Either way, Phoenix needs a point guard for the future, and the best pure point hails from Chapel Hill.
Milwaukee Bucks – Meyers Leonard, C (Illinois): The Bucks love to draft big white guys. Meyers Leonard? Check & Check.
Philadelphia 76ers – Arnett Moultrie, PF (Mississippi State): Sixers want a big guy who can rebound – Andrew Nicholson, Tyler Zeller and Terrence Jones are options, but Moultrie is big and athletic, and Philly likes him.
Houston Rockets – Perry Jones, PF (Baylor): Rockets adding pieces, and PJIII is the best available here.
Dallas Mavericks – Terrence Jones, PF (Kentucky): Better read up on this draft to get prepared, or you'll wind up mixing up Perry Jones, Terrence Jones, and Terrence Ross. This is the guy who ran over the Louisville cheerleader, and then showed up to apologize. Now we have it cleared.
Houston Rockets – Moe Harkless, SF (St. John's): Talented guy, again with the assets for the Rockets. They're making this NBA Draft incredibly hard to forecast. But this may be the most press the Rockets get all season, so they may as well eat it up.
Orlando Magic – Tyler Zeller, PF/C (UNC): Probably the best of the four first-round Tar Heel players in college, gets taken last. There's plenty of argument over what sort of pro Zeller will be – the Warriors like him all the way up at 7.. and other mocks have him coming in the low 20s. This feels like a good spot for him here.
Denver Nuggets – Marquis Teague, PG (Kentucky): This is a need pick. The Nuggets do not have a young point, and Teague is the best player available at that position. May be a few years before he's ready to be a starter, but there's a chance he could be good.
Boston Celtics – Royce White, PF (Iowa State): A point-forward, White has been rising up draft boards, and he may not be available for the Celtics picks. Danny Ainge hasn't been hiding the fact that he likes the versatility in White, and if he's there at these picks, the C's will take him.
Boston Celtics – Andrew Nicholson, PF (St. Bonaventure): Personally put the Bonnies on his back and led them to the NCAA tournament, he's the perfect guy to learn under KG for a year and then replace him in the lineup. If KG ever retires on his own accord, which is extremely unlikely. Much more likely that he'll chain himself to his locker at the TD Garden at just stare at anyone who comes in 10 feet of him.
Atlanta Hawks – Jared Sullinger, PF (Ohio State): At some point Sullinger is going to get taken, and this will be deemed a "good pick". The one guy of the draft whose stock has fallen because of perceived injuries more than any other, Sullinger is a great pick here – he has the best big man skills of anyone in this draft. He's just got the back of my 59-year old father.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Fab Melo, C (Syracuse): Lots of risk here. In every draft there's a big man who turns out to be just a total stiff without the quickness or skills to be an NBA player. Melo could almost definitely be that guy. But the sliver of a chance that he could be a talented enough big man will entice someone to take him.
Memphis Grizzlies – Draymond Green, SF (Michigan State): The guy who can make a pretty good team better. Grizzlies have needs at point guard and front court depth, but Green can definitely help this team right away.
Indiana Pacers – Will Barton, SG (Memphis): This is usually the point of the draft where my eyes start to glaze over. This guy has been on a lot of draft boards, and will likely get taken at some point here. Yawn.
Miami Heat – Jeffrey Taylor, SG (Vanderbilt): A run of shooting guards here, the Heat could always use a shooter, and Taylor is the perfect guy to replace Mike Miller.
Oklahoma City Thunder – Doron Lamb, SG (Kentucky): That's right – five Wildcats taken in the first round, and there's a chance Darius Miller could go too. If they didn't win the national championship, it would have been the biggest disappointment since Harrison Barnes's career at UNC.
Chicago Bulls – Evan Fournier, SG (France): Thought we could go the entire draft without a foreign guy getting taken? How wrong you are. What happened to international basketball? Where are the Tskitishvili's of this draft? Did the rest of the world just quit playing? Isn't it odd than only one international player is expected to go in the first round? Am I too lazy to answer questions, and just ask them?
Golden State Warriors – Quincy Miller, SF (Baylor): This is why people are claiming this is a strong draft. While the fourth guy on this draft may not be better than Emeka Okafor, the last guy taken is good enough to go 10 picks earlier. There's plenty of talent late in this draft, which means you may see more trades than ever before.
And for the record, I do believe that Mike Scott will get taken in the mid to late second round. But I would be pleasantly surprised if Bradford Burgess heard his name Wednesday.
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