Last night, the NBA held its annual pinging and ponging to determine the draft spots of the upcoming NBA Draft, which will be held on June 27 at the Barclays Center. And it’s safe to say that if the Cleveland Cavaliers avoid the NBA Draft Lottery next year, one of 14 teams will be adopting Nick Gilbert. It is known.
As most hoops “experts” are wont to do soon after the lottery, this is my initial mock draft (just the lottery teams). However, please understand that “experts” are like Jon Snow and really know nothing. Here’s the proof, and while I did relatively well in predicting the 2012 NBA Draft, there are a plethora of factors going against draft prognosticators. Maybe we should have Nick Gilbert standing next to us whenever we write these up.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
Noel has been the favorite to go first in this draft for months now. He’s also injured and likely to miss significant time this upcoming season. What does that say about this draft class? Noel could be a default “Never Nervous Pervis” Ellison type of pick where it’s like, “Hey, he’s tall, long, can defend, has potential, and has a cool nickname/haircut.” And like Ellison, Noel will likely miss a good portion of his rookie year. But, let’s look at the positives for Noel — super athletic and quick, can block and steal the ball at a high level and should be fun to watch on a break. However, because of his offensive deficiencies, Noel won’t be a true franchise player although there’s a great possibility 20 years from now that he does Geico commercials wagging his finger.
2. Orlando Magic: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
Yes, this could be a stretch, I’ll admit that. But, I’m looking at team need here and drafting the reigning Player of the Year isn’t a bad thing. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Magic try to trade down with the next four teams already having their point guard position on lock. Burke would inherit the position currently held by Jameer Nelson, who has a year left on his contract with a team option the following year. Burke has high-grade intangibles and leadership ability, can hit the J, create for others and would be an excellent young player to add to the Magic core.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
Big fan of Porter! He’s fundamentally very sound and can do a lot of things well. Porter would fit right in with John Wall and Bradley Beal because he doesn’t need to shoot the rock to be effective and can facilitate the offense. Porter has an excellent mid-range game, coming off screens and utilizing ball fakes with one or two dribbles to create space. He’s one of the more NBA-ready players in this draft and could fit in just about any system.
4. Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
If there’s any team that might bite on a potential Magic trade-down, it could be Charlotte, who got shafted out of the top three spots after being shafted out of the top pick in last year’s draft. The team would be ecstatic to get McLemore, who could still go higher based on his skill set and ridiculous athleticism. He can rain Js and bring the thunder when attacking the rim. McLemore has the potential to end up being the best player of this draft and a true franchise player.
5. Phoenix Suns: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
The Suns could go with Anthony Bennett here, but I’m going on a hunch that they’d rather shore up their backcourt and add an athletic defensive stopper in Oladipo. He improved his shooting last season and Goran Dragic will love to pass to a super athlete with non-stop motor charging the rim and finishing, something the team currently lacks. Oladipo also has the ability to board because he’s always active and could be a fan favorite.