The NBA season only ended a little over a week ago, but it’s time to tune into the NBA draft on Thursday. This will be a very unpredictable draft this year with no real guarantee players in the prospect pool. What Cleveland and Minnesota decide to do with allow the rest of the dominoes to fall.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving. The point guard out of the Duke is the best player in the draft even though he only played half a season for the Blue Devils. The Cavs are searching for a new identity, and Irving will help them find their way. Irving might never become a top-five point guard, but he has the tools that will allow him to be in the constant discussion of the top-ten.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Williams. If you are following the rumor mill the past week and a half, there is a good likelihood that the Timberwolves trade this pick because the Twolves are looking for veteran help. But, if they decide to keep Williams, it could end up being a great pick. Starting Williams and having Beasley come off the bench will allow Minnesota to have no lag of scoring.
3. Utah Jazz: Brandon Knight. Knight might be the best player from this draft class in a couple of years. But, he will need time to adjust and produce in the NBA. Luckily, the Jazz have Devin Harris to help him along with the growing pains. Utah is looking for a point guard for the future, and they might have found him with Knight.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jan Vesely. Yes, the Cavs have two of the top fours picks in the draft. Cleveland is looking to switch it up a bit with their team and a risk might be the best option. Vesely is a small forward with a lot of size. He doesn’t have a lot of interior presence, but his size and athleticism allow him to become a solid NBA player. Also, he has the defensive mindset that most European prospects don’t have.
5. Toronto Raptors: Enes Kanter. If Kanter falls here to Toronto, they have no choice but to take him. Kanter is a very talented center that is still very unknown around the league. He was not allowed to play for Kentucky this season, so scouts and general managers must base their decision on two games. He has the post skills necessary to be a center in the league along with overall size and strength.
(The rest of the mock is after the jump.)
6. Washington Wizards: Kawhi Leonard. The man from San Diego State has the body of a perfect NBA player. His hands are enormous and his game translates great to the next level. The worrisome thing with Leonard is that his shot needs to be worked on for him to have a successful career, but that is something that’s easier to fix than other things.
7. Sacramento Kings: Kemba Walker. This might not become the best pick in the eyes of other teams and general managers because it’ll make it a team with three players that require to touch the ball a lot. But, Walker is a need pick for the Kings at point guard. It allows Tyreke Evans to move back to shooting guard and become more effective. Sacramento will be a team that can score in bunches with this pick.
8. Detroit Pistons: Bismack Byombo. Here’s an athlete that has only played basketball for a few years but continues to get better each and every year. Byombo is not a scoring threat by any means, but he can dominate on defense with the best of them. The Pistons have needs all over the place, so the man from Congo could end up being the one to slide in the draft. He could be the new Ben Wallace for Detroit.
9. Charlotte Bobcats: Marcus Morris. Michael Jordan hasn’t had the best of luck so far in the NBA draft when it comes to selecting players. So, MJ needs to find someone that is a safe pick, and Morris is exactly that. The ‘better’ twin has interior presence that allows him to be extremely efficient with the ball. He might be a bit undersized as a power forward, but he is NBA ready.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Jonas Valanciunas. The Bucks were rumored on Tuesday to Jonas. He is a player that will have to sit out a year and play back overseas before he plays in the NBA. The Bucks can afford to do that because of their logjam at the position of power forward. Any rookie that gets drafted for the Bucks won’t see significant playing time right away, so locking one up overseas could be the perfect option for general manager John Hammond and Milwaukee.
11. Golden State: Klay Thompson. Thompson is a kid that has been rising on draft boards as the best pure shooter in the draft. He is a big shooting guard that can shoot the daylights out of the basketball. Golden State will most likely trade away Monta Ellis, so adding another scoring with Thompson could be a perfect match.
12. Utah Jazz: Chris Singleton. If you are looking for defense and your name isn’t as crazy as Bismack, it’s Chris Singleton. The second coming of Ron Artest to many is a perfect fit for Utah to come off the bench. AK-47 will be heading to free agency, which leaves a gapping hole at defensive stopper. Utah should have a successful draft if they can find two players that can contribute and push them back into the playoffs.
13. Phoenix Suns: Tristan Thompson. The Suns are in a weird position where they don’t know if they are a rebuilding team or not. Either way, Thompson can gel in right away to be effective for Phoenix. On most draft boards, he is rated in the top ten because of his quickness and rebounding skills. His jump shot needs some work, but he will have time as the Suns already have two quality young big guys in Marcin Gortat and Robin Lopez.
14. Houston Rockets: Jimmer Fredette. There’s not a team out there besides the Denver Nuggets that have more qualities pieces without one star than the Rockets. Houston is loaded with talent at every position, so expect them to take the best player left on the board. If it’s Jimmer, the Rockets would be more than happy to take him in as a point guard. Aaron Brooks is heading into free agency, so point guard is a real concern for the team.
15. Indiana Pacers: Markieff Morris. The Pacers really don’t need anyone of their team, they just need time to get better. Morris might be the better all-around twin and would be a great addition for Indiana. He is taller than his brother and is a excellent finisher at the rim. He won’t start for Indiana but power forward is the one area where they need help.
16. Philadelphia 76ers: Kenneth Faried. This could be a reach pick for Philly, but Faried has an asset that most players still on the board don’t have, and that is rebounding. Rebounding is a skill that isn’t easy to learn as other attributes. Rebounding is also something that Philadelphia can improve upon, as they should be set at other positions.
17. New York Knicks: Alec Burks. When the Knicks are on the clock, Madison Square Garden goes absolutely crazy. They either love or hate the pick that the front office selects. With Burks, Knicks fans should be rejoicing. If Burks does fall this far in the draft, Knicks cannot hesitate to draft him. The slasher that he is would fit perfectly in New York’s system of offense.
18. Washington Wizards: Donatas Motiejunas. The Wizards are the second team now to use their second pick in the draft. It’s expected that the Wizards take an international player with one of their picks, so with Leonard picked at six, Motiejunas is a fit at 18. He’s a player that was as high as three on draft boards in March, but continues to fall. The Wizards can store Motiejunas overseas for a year or two and eventually have a quality selection with the Lithuanian.
19. Charlotte Bobcats: Marshon Brooks. Brooks is a guy where it’s totally unknown where in the draft he’ll end up. There has been outrageous claims that he is similar to Kobe Bryant. Although Kobe was the 13th pick when he was drafted, he had upside that Brooks doesn’t because of explosiveness. Brooks should end up being a quality guard in the league.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves: Tyler Honeycutt. It’s very unknown what David Kahn will do with this pick because everything depends on what happens with the second pick in the draft. Honeycutt is a nice project pick for the Twolves because he is still raw but has solid potential. He needs to add some weight to be effective at the next level, but the team that drafts him will probably be patient with him regardless.
21. Portland Trailblazers: Jordan Hamilton. Hamilton could’ve gone the pick before, but if he does slide this far, Portland should snatch him up. Although the Blazers are stacked at the sg/sf position, another one won’t hurt. Hamilton is a legit scorer unless most of the other Blazer players. He can fit in nicely in the rotation.
22. Denver Nuggets: Tobias Harris. The Nuggets are the one team in the draft that don’t need another player. But, the one position where they seem rather thin in power forward. Harris only spent one year at Tennessee and was an All-American in high school. Harris could be higher in future drafts, but he decided to come out this year, hurting his stock a lot.
23. Houston Rockets: Nikola Vucevic. The center out of USC is one of the few college players in this draft with the necessary height to be a center in the league. He has a very nice shot and above-average post skills. His overall athleticism and quickness aren’t that great and should be a player that could fall on draft day.
24. Oklahoma City: Jeremy Tyler. This very well could be a reach pick with Tyler because not much is known of the player. He didn’t go to college, but instead played overseas in Tokyo for a year. The Thunder need another big guy to work behind the dynamic duo that start for the team. He’s not ready to make an inpact immediately on the team, but Oklahoma City isn’t looking for that. The potential alone could make him drafted late in the first round.
25. Boston Celtics: Trey Thompkins. The Celtics are getting old very fast. They lost two of their centers already in the offseason (Shaq retired and Nenad Kristic signed a deal overseas) and their other center is Jermaine O’Neal. So, drafting a kid like Thompkins is a need pick with a high ceiling. Thompkins isn’t a perfect athlete, but he has post skills and the jump shot to make it at the next level.
26. Dallas Mavericks: Justin Harper. After winning the NBA title, the Mavericks look to be invincible. But, don’t make that fool you because Dallas is an old team. Even the youngest JJ Barea is 27 years old. A rookie will allow that team to look a slighty bit younger, and Harper is a pick to help in the interior. With Peja and other forwards going into free agency, Harper is a player that is NBA ready.
27. New Jersey: Davis Bertans. Bertans is another international prospect that seems to all around this year’s draft. He is too tall to play small forward but has the tool set to be that type of player. His shot is one of the best in the entire draft. Of course, he is a project pick because Bertans is still very young.
28. Chicago Bulls: Norris Cole. The Bulls just need to add some depth to the team and having two of the final three picks in the first round will do just that. With the first one, backup point guard is a need. Cole isn’t a flashy player but he can solidify a backup role to Derrick Rose. He is very well-rounded and doesn’t have a real weakness to his game.
29. San Antonio Spurs: Nikola Mirotic. As was said about Bertans, Mirotic is also up there in terms of pure shooting ability. The Spurs are known for drafting international prospects, so Mirotic isn’t a real shock here at 29. He may just end up being a filler off of the bench, but he can score in bunches when needed. Instant offense is something San Antonio needs to add.
30. Chicago Bulls: Kyle Singler. A third Duke Blue Devil on the Bulls might make the team from likeable to hateable. Singler is another perfect fit for Chicago because they need another guy to come off the bench for Loul Deng. The big small forward Singler is a right pick because he knows how to win and he has great adaptability.