The NBA Draft is almost here and although I am in the minority in Baltimore I am pumped up to see the next crop of prospects enter the ranks of the NBA.
For Maryland fans I will say that I believe Jordan Williams made a major mistake by leaving this season as I do not think his game is anywhere near mature enough to be a contributor at the NBA level. With that said I have a feeling like Greivis last year a team will take Jordan late in the first round.
Admittedly this draft is a little underwhelming with the top-2 draft eligible prospects, Harrison Barnes and Jared Sullinger, choosing to remain in college but there are some interesting prospects and a shrewd General Manager should be able to find a prospect to help his team.
I have decided to do a mock draft for the 14 lottery picks and here we go:
1. Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving, Point Guard, Duke, 6-2, 175lbs.
After LeBron took his talents to South Beach everyone saw the reason why, the Cavaliers had assembled an abysmal team around him. Years of signing fringe “stars” to big contracts and trading for over the hill “name” players caught up with the Cavaliers and now they are in a complete rebuild. I believe they will start this process with the best point guard prospect in the draft and a player that will become a leader in the locker room from day one.
Excellent ball handler that has the ability to get open for a jumper or all the way to the rim at will, once at the rim Irving is a ferocious finisher
Irving plays under control and has a complete set of all around fundamentals.
Superb court vision especially in the open court on the fast break; Irving also does a nice job of getting the ball to the open man without being overly turnover prone.
A lock down defender with great lateral quickness, quick hands, and a knack for jumping the passing lanes and creating offense from his defense.
A confident leader without being cocky or self-serving; Irving is a natural born leader that will take control of a locker room from Day One.
• Need to improve his outside shot to become a complete offensive player (but this is a critique of 98% of NBA perimeter prospects).
• Can become a bit of a shoot first point guard; needs to consistently find that happy medium between getting his teammates involved and getting off his own shot.
2. Timberwolves – Derrick Williams, Small Forward/Power Forward, Arizona, 6-8, 248lbs.
This pick would certainly necessitate a trade of fellow #2 overall pick Michael Beasley but the T-Wolves could be onto something by adding Williams to a backcourt of Kevin Love and Wesley Johnson.
Strong finisher at the rim that finishes with explosion and power; should rack up a ton of ‘and 1’s’ at the next level.
Excellent shooter for his size; should be be a threat from beyond the arc (57% last season).
Supreme athlete that runs the floor well and gets himself into good position quickly off the break.
High IQ player that knows where he should be on the court at all times and moves well without the ball using screens and natural quickness to get open.
Clutch player that shows up when the lights are brightest.
• A bit undersized for a natural power forward at 6’8”.
• Some ball security issues; he turns the ball over too much for a post player.
3. Jazz – Enes Kanter, Power Forward/Center, Turkey, 6-11, 260lbs.
Brandon Knight is probably the right pick here but I think the Jazz have their eyes on picking up a different point guard with their second lottery pick. With that in mind I have them taking the best pure big man in the draft in Enes Kanter.
A physical big man that loves to use his immense body to make room in the paint to grab rebounds and get an inordinate amount of put back baskets.
Has great touch around the basket with a nice repertoire of post moves; does a nice job of backing down defenders with his size.
Has a decent mid-range game and his face-up game is a bit underrated; he should be able to keep defenders honest with his shot although a majority of his points are going to come in the paint.
An excellent finisher that uses his power to fight through fouls to create a lot of ‘and 1’ opportunities’; Kanter is also a solid free throw shooter which will help him add 4-6 points to his total every night.
• Is still a bit raw on the offensive end but with good coaching the sky is the limit when it comes to refining his post moves.
• Ball security can be a bit shaky in the post; smaller players with quick hands have shown a propensity to swipe the ball away.
• Not particularly explosive therefore he is not an imposing defender and he isn’t going to be a big time shot blocker but he should be a serviceable defender that improves as he matures.
4. Cavaliers – Jonas Valanciunas, Center, Lithuania, 6-11, 240lbs.
Cleveland is actively shopping this pick but I am not mocking trades and with Kanter off the board I think the Cav’s go with Jonas Valanciunas. Combining Kyrie Irving with JJ Hickson and Valanciunas would be a good beginning to what could be a long rebuilding process in Cleveland.
Great size with a long wing span; room to add weight onto his frame.
Excellent athleticism and explosion; if combined with a good point guard he could be an unstoppable alley-oop finisher.
An excellent rebounder on both ends of the floor; his rebounding should translate immediately to the NBA game.
Good finisher that runs the floor well and should get easy points in an up-tempo offense.
High energy player that gives everything he’s got on the floor; his activity leads to a lot of second chance points and tip-ins.
• He has shown a propensity to get into foul trouble due to his high energy play; he hacks at opposing players leading to early trips to the bench.
• Could get overpowered by bigger NBA post players; although throughout his young career he has shown no fear and attempts to bang in the paint with opposing big men.
• His footwork is raw and will need a lot of polish before his offensive game catches up with his defense.
• He will need to develop a better mid-range shot to bring opposing centers out of the paint to guard his jumper.
• Will probably need to stay in Europe for one more year because of his contract; if not for this he may have been the #1 overall pick.
5. Toronto – Brandon Knight, Point Guard, Kentucky, 6-3, 177lbs.
Bryan Colangelo & company will be officially jumping for joy if the hyper-talented Brandon Knight falls into their lap with the 5th pick. Knight would be a great fit for the Raptors and would more than likely be their starting point guard from Day One.
Didn’t start out lighting Lexington on fire but grew into an elite college point guard as his freshman year continued. This showed he takes coaching well and has a lot of room for growth as he matures as a basketball player.
Great motor; he is quick and extremely agile which aided him in his ability to penetrate into the paint at will.
Excellent finisher around the rim, unafraid to take contact and get to the free throw line.
A good shooter with an excellent mid-range game and a smooth stroke from beyond the arc.
The best defensive point guard in this year’s draft; a tenacious defender that swarms his man with quick hands and outstanding lateral movement.
• Knight isn’t as fast baseline to baseline as previous Calipari point guards (D. Rose and John Wall).
• Some scouts question his basketball IQ.
• High volume shooter that can tend to forget about his four teammates on the court and attempt to take over a game single handedly.
6. Washington – Kawhi Leonard, Small Forward, San Diego State, 6-7, 227lbs.
The Wizards are in a tough spot here as Kanter and Valanciunas are both off the board. I think they really could use an elite shooting guard but I think they go with the best wing player on the board.
An excellent rebounder with HUGE hands; Leonard averaged 10.6 rebounds per game including an outstanding 3.1 offensive boards during his sophomore season. He also has the ability to take a defensive rebound and lead the fast break.
A tremendous finisher at the rim especially when he gets out in the open court.
Leonard also has excellent ball handling skills that he combines with nice court vision which makes him a dangerous facilitator at the Small Forward spot.
An amazing athlete that can guard multiple positions on the floor and is an absolute tenacious defender no matter what position he is guarding.
• Leonard will need to improve his overall shot to become a complete offensive player at the next level.
• Forces his game at time; especially in his penetration leading to unnecessary turnovers and offensive fouls.
7. Sacramento – Kemba Walker, Point Guard, UConn, 6-1, 184lbs.
The thinking with this pick is that the Kings will move Tyreke Evans to the small forward and allow him to become more of a scorer. The Kings desperately NEED a leader in their locker room and there is no better leader in this draft that Kemba Walker, who led his team to an NCAA Championship this past season. Late rumors have started to pop up that the Spurs have offered the Kings Tony Parker in return for this pick and that may be a wonderful fit as Parker is a proven winner that will bring a veteran presence and great leadership to the locker room.
Elite scorer at the Point Guard position.
Outstanding athlete with elite quickness and explosiveness; probably the fastest player in the draft baseline to baseline.
Great ballhandler with a devastating crossover that allows him to get open at will; also adept at getting to the rack where he converts an inordinate amount of “traditional” three point plays.
Very nice shooting touch with a mature mid-range game and an improving outside stroke.
Above average court vision with a knack for getting his teammates the ball in a position to score.
Solid defender with great lateral quickness and quick hands that give opponents fits.
• Undersized for an NBA point guard at a generous 6’1”.
• Questionable shot selection; sometime will fire up a deep three early in the shot clock without allowing his team to get into their offensive set.
• Needs to continue developing his outside shot.
• Is more of a combo guard than a natural distributor of the basketball; reminds me a little of Russell Westbrook in his offensive mentality.
8. Pistons – Alec Burks, Shooting Guard, 6-6, 191lbs.
The Pistons are high on Bismack Biyombo but with the impending free agency of Tayshaun Prince and the Pistons lack of offensive punch I think they go with a player with more offensive upside.
Late blooming prospect that has shown he is just tapping his full potential.
As athletic as any prospect in this draft; Burks is exceptionally explosive and is an unparalleled finisher around the basket, particularly in transition.
Goes to the hole hard; relishes contact around the basket and is an excellent free throw shooter (82.5%) which combined with his attacking style of offense should add 5-7 points a night to his scoring total.
Good rebounder for a shooting guard; follows his own shot well and crashes the offensive and defensive boards with reckless abandon.
A long, quick athlete which helps project him to a solid on ball defender.
• Can try and do everything on his own at times; forces the action especially in crunch time.
• Needs to improve his shooting ability, without improvement he could become very predictable and easy for good NBA defenders to stop.
• Needs to be a more willing defender; he posses the length and quickness needed to be a good defender but looks disinterested on that side of the ball at times.
9. Bobcats – Jan Vesely, Small Forward, Czech Republic, 6-11, 240lbs.
Michael Jordan has proven throughout his tenure with the Wizards and the Bobcats he has no idea what he is doing when it comes to draft picks. This season I think he makes the right pick with Jan Vesely, a foreign player with huge upside.
Super athletic wing player that runs the floor as well as any big man, a combination that makes him unstoppable in the open court.
Outstanding finisher at the rim that draws free throws at an amazing rate.
Good slasher that uses screens well to get open.
Great range that extends well beyond the three point arc.
Uses tremendous leaping ability to contest every shot put up and to get easy tip-in baskets on the offensive boards.
• Struggles to create his own shot off the dribble; will need to play with a good distributor to become an offensive force.
• Will need to gain more confidence in his jumper because right now he depends too much on pure athleticism.
• Needs to add some bulk to his thin, lean frame; has a tendency to get pushed around by opposing big men in the post.
10. Bucks – Bismack Biyambo, Power Forward, Congo, 6-9, 240lbs.
Defensive minded head coach Scott Skiles will be having wet dreams about pairing the “Ben Wallace clone” Biyambo in the paint with current Center Andrew Bogut.
Quite simply an elite defender with the potential to be a defensive player of the year candidate for the next decade.
An elite shot blocker with great timing, explosive leaping ability, quick second hop, and a ridiculous wingspan.
Excellent rebounder on both ends of the floor.
Great upper and lower body strength; should be able to physically battle other NBA post players from Day One.
• No offensive game to speak of; has no jump shot and virtually no post moves which make him a completely one dimensional player.
• Horrendous free throw shooter that gets to the line A LOT but converts well under 50% of his attempts.
• May be a few years old than he claims (18).
11. Warriors – Marcus Morris, Power Forward, 6-9, 230lbs.
New coach Mark Jackson is going to preach defense and fundamentals to the Warriors for the first time in well……..forever and Marcus Morris presents the perfect combination of both left on the board.
Good size and strength with ideal dimensions for an NBA Power Forward but the skill set to play Small Forward.
Runs the floor well and a strong finisher in transition.
Strong player that gets good position on the blocks to post up and keeps defenses honest with a solid mid-range jumper.
Great teammate and a high character guy that will fit in well in any NBA locker room.
• What you see is what you get; there isn’t nearly as much upside with Morris as there is with most other lottery picks.
• Not an elite rebounder for a Power Forward.
• Doesn’t have the range to hit shots consistently from outside the arc.
12. Jazz – Jimmer Fredette, Point Guard, BYU, 6-3, 196lbs.
After taking Enes Kanter with the 3rd pick Utah gets their point guard with the 12th pick and he is a popular player in the Utah area. Fredette should not only contribute on the court but at the box office where he will be a crowd favorite from Day One.
First and foremost, Fredette is an elite scorer that has ability to drop 40 on a nightly basis.
Crafty and intelligent player with scoring instincts that are unparalleled in this year’s draft.
Does a great job of using screens, curls, and fadeaways to get his shot off, even when double teamed.
A good finisher at the rack but not in a typical fashion; he uses layups, tear drops, and scoop shots rather than thunderous dunks but is just as effective as a high flyer.
Unlimited range on his jump shot; has the ability to hit from just inside half court if left unguarded.
Underrated ball handling and court vision, should be able to be a decent facilitator while still putting up big scoring numbers.
Well put together with a strong upper body and a quiet toughness that helps him withstand contact when driving the lane.
Great emotional leader on the court that loves playing on the road and relishes being a “wanted man” on the court by both his opponents and opposing fans.
• Not a great defender and could have trouble defending good NBA point guards due to a lack of lateral quickness and athleticism.
• At 6’2” he has trouble when defended with longer athletes; Kawhi Leonard gave Fredette fits in their two meeting last season.
• In college he was given a green light to shoot at will, at the next level he will be forced to control his game and gets his shots in the flow of an offense.
13. Suns – Tristan Thompson, Power Forward, 6-8, 233lbs.
The Suns are a wildcard here because they could go a plethora of different ways with this pick; I think Alec Burks or Jimmer Fredette are their targets but if both are gone I think they go with Thompson a Power Forward with a ton of upside.
A great combination of length and size; at just 20 years of age he should be able to fill out his frame and become a prototypical Power Forward.
Outstanding athlete with tremendous bounce; great timing on his jump which led to Thompson being one of the best shot blockers in the nation without being a foul machine.
A very good rebounder on both ends of the floor with the ball handling skills to start the break and turn a missed shot into immediate offense.
Fiery player that gives it everything he has on the court and will not be out hustled to rebounds or loose balls.
• Thompson is still a developing offensive player that needs to continue to work hard on his jump shot to be a difference maker on the offensive end of the court.
• Not an overly explosive athlete on the offensive end of the floor; he is not a dominate finisher around the rim.
• A horrendous free throw shooter (48%); this is going to make him a liability in the waning minutes of an NBA game.
• Is probably going to be a pure Power Forward; I don’t think his offensive skills are going to allow him to drop down and play the wing offensively.
• Could have used another year in college to develop his offensive game; with another year of seasoning he could have been a Top-3 pick next year.
14. Rockets – Klay Thompson, Washington State, 6-7, 202lbs.
The Rockets could probably use a big man as I think Yao’s career is just about over but I also think they could use a sharp shooting wing as well. With Klay Thompson on the board I think they go with the best pure shooter in this year’s draft.
Without question the best pure shooter in the draft; he has shown the ability to consistently hit contested jumpers.
Above average offensive skill set with the ability to get open off screens and well as using his dribble; he also will attack the basket and use his athleticism to penetrate into the teeth of the defense.
A solid ball handler with decent court vision; he could fill play Point Guard, Shooting Guard, and Small Forward at the next level.
An outstanding free throw shooter.
A solid defender with good length and good lateral speed
Has been the focal point of Washington State’s offense for three seasons so he should relish the opportunity to be a go-to guy in the NBA.
Will need to add bulk to his frame to be a durable NBA player for the next decade; his frame is thin and wiry at this point in his career.
He looks like he could settle to be a one-dimensional player in the NBA if he can’t find the ability to get to the basket against bigger, stronger wings.
He can be streaky on the offensive end.
Needs to keep his emotions in check as he has shown to be overemotional on the court at times.