Since the NBA Draft Lottery happened since our last mock draft, it’s time to prognosticate with a bit more clarity. This draft is being touted as one of the lesser talented ones, but for draftniks everywhere it’s still a fun time. For fans, it’s a time filled with seeming unlimited hope … until that draft prospect averages 0.7 points, 0.3 rebounds and 0.1 assists after a month in the NBA. But, to paraphrase the late B.I.G., right now, it’s all a dream.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving, 6’2” PG, Duke
Irving is the assumed pick here and all indications are that he will be the No. 1 overall choice. However, there’s still a minuscule chance that the Cavs take Derrick Williams first and Brandon Knight with the fourth overall pick, if available. It’s a very small chance, especially when you consider Irving’s skills and athleticism, as well as the Jazz’s high interest in Knight. It would be a surprise at this point if Irving didn’t hear his name first.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves – Derrick Williams, 6’9” PF, Arizona
Williams has strong fundamentals, possesses a long wingspan, a high motor and can get to the line. He showed that he could dominate a game and is arguably the best big man in this draft. Unfortunately, Williams is basically the same as current T-Wolf Michael Beasley. Enes Kanter could go here instead, but Williams is the safe pick.
3. Utah Jazz – Brandon Knight, 6’3” PG, Kentucky
Knight has all of the physical tools you’d want in a basketball player, what makes him stand out is his obvious desire to improve his game. He is a prolific scorer but will need to work on his passing in order to be a more complete lead guard. It’s hard to doubt Knight because he’s a hard worker, physically and mentally.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers – Enes Kanter, 6’11” PF, Turkey
Kanter is the top international player in this year’s draft, possessing excellent size, a polished offensive skill set, athleticism, very good range on his jumper and high basketball IQ. The only question concerns his health and history of knee troubles. Otherwise, Kanter can make some real noise in the NBA.
5. Toronto Raptors – Jonas Valanciunas, 6’11” C, Lithuania
Valanciunas is a rival to Kanter relative to their competing against each other in Europe growing up. Valanciunas doesn’t have as much skill as Kanter, but is a legitimate center prospect that has developed nicely over the past couple of years. He’s an intense competitor that goes all out.
6. Washington Wizards – Jan Vesely, 6’11” SF/PF, Czech Republic
Vesely seems perfect for the Wizards, especially with John Wall running the point. He can bring the pain on a fastbreak, but will need to work on other skills to be a complete player. He has excellent size for a three and four, but which will be his natural NBA position?
7. Sacramento Kings – Kemba Walker, 6’1” PG, Connecticut
Walker had a spectacular run at the end of the season to lead the Huskies to an NCAA championship. He’s as clutch as they come, has excellent quickness and is able to get his shot off almost at will. Walker will allow Tyreke Evans to move to the two-guard and form a strong young backcourt.
8. Detroit Pistons – Kawhi Leonard, 6’7” SF, San Diego State
Leonard has risen from the back of the lottery in a lot of mock drafts. In fact, he may go higher than this. Leonard is a high-motor guy that can board, has great defensive instincts and physicality, set up teammates, slash to the hoop and has a vastly improved jumper, which is his biggest weakness. He’ll bring a lot of big-time energy and diversified skills.
9. Charlotte Bobcats – Marcus Morris, 6’9” PF, Kansas
Marcus has more of an offensive repertoire than his twin brother, Markieff. He can play on the inside, but also hit from the outside, showing a very polished and versatile game. Pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops could be his bread and butter in the NBA. Marcus plays hard on defense, just like Markieff, which should endear both to their coaches.
10. Milwaukee Bucks – Bismack Biyombo, 6’9” PF/C, Congo
Biyombo is a tremendous shot blocker thanks to his long wingspan and nose … err, hand, for the ball. He’s very limited offensively, but will get by on his athleticism and high motor for now. There’s some question as to his age (reported as 18-years-old), which could affect his draft position if he turns out to be in his early-to-mid 20s as some reports have speculated.
11. Golden State Warriors – Markieff Morris, 6’10” PF, Kansas
The Warriors probably would have wanted Markieff’s brother, Marcus, because of the latter’s versatility and offensive polish. However, the Warriors are in flux and scoring 120 points per night while giving up 130 seems to not be where they want to be. Markieff will bring a tough presence on the inside on both ends of the court and has improved his jumper to add a little something to his offense.
12. Utah Jazz – Alec Burks, 6’6” SG, Colorado
Burks is the top shooting guard prospect in the draft and after the Jazz select Knight with their first pick, they will have a strong backcourt for the future. While Burks will get his points, he’s not a particularly very good shooter, flourishing on the fast break but comparably struggling in the half-court offense. He has very good handle and court vision and can play the lead guard position if necessary.
13. Phoenix Suns – Jimmer Fredette, 6’2” PG, BYU
Who doesn’t have Fredette fever? At the pre-draft camp, his measurables actually showed Fredette to be more athletic than people thought. However, there’s no questioning his ability to hit just about anywhere on the floor. He’s a very strong player, but not that quick, which may cause him to struggle. But, if there’s any player (Steve Nash) and medical staff to help a player with his deficiencies, Phoenix has them.
14. Houston Rockets – Donatas Motiejunas, 7’0” PF/C, Italy
Motiejunas is another Andrea Barganani. Both are tall and highly-skilled offensively, but when it comes to rebounds and defense, not so much. Motiejunas could possibly take the place of Yao Ming, who may retire because of injuries or not be re-signed by the team. There have been some questions about Motiejunas’ commitment level to getting better as a player.
15. Indiana Pacers – Tristan Thompson, 6’9” PF, Texas
Thompson has some huge upside and can get things done defensively and on the glass, thanks to his long arms. He can fill in the minutes that could be lost with the possible departures of Josh McRoberts and Jeff Foster. He’s limited offensively, but has the tools to improve.
16. Philadelphia 76ers – Kenneth Faried, 6’8” PF, Morehead State
Faried rebounds like a beast and with his long wingspan and freakish athleticism, he’ll always be around the boards. He’s a high-motor guy that should have the crowd behind him in Philly because he’s about working hard.
17. New York Knicks – Chris Singleton, 6’9” SF, Florida State
Singleton is arguably the best defensive player in the draft, able to guard multiple positions. He could get time if the Knicks go small with Amar’e Stoudemire at the five and Singleton at the four. Yes, I’m projecting the Knicks to actually give a damn about defense.
18. Washington Wizards – Klay Thompson, 6’7” SG/SF, Washington State
Thompson will add some more punch to the Wizards offense as he can flat out shoot the ball. He’s a smart player with a solid overall game, should make an immediate impact off the bench and could end up being a steal here.
19. Charlotte Bobcats – Tyler Honeycutt, 6’8” SF, UCLA
Honeycutt has a lot of potential as a scorer. He’s athletic with a long wingspan that should serve him well. He’s thin, but has the tenacity to mess with the big boys down in the block area. Honeycutt has a nice feel for putting the ball in the basket and finding open teammates, and would establish a nice young forward combo with the Bobcats’ previous pick, Marcus Morris.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves – Jordan Hamilton, 6’8” SF, Texas
Hamilton is a versatile scorer with excellent range on his jumpshot. He’ll take some bad shots and continue to do so because some of them actually go in. Defensively, Hamilton has a lot to work on. If used correctly, he could be a solid scorer in the NBA from the get-go, and with the T-Wolves, he’ll probably get his chances.
21. Portland Trail Blazers – Davis Bertans, 6’10” SF, Latvia
Portland is loaded right now and this could be one of the better stash picks several years down the road. Bertans has drawn comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki with his excellent shooting range and height. He’s still very thin and will need to gain some muscle. That’s why he’ll stay overseas a few seasons to work on his game and mature.
22. Denver Nuggets – Tobias Harris, 6’8” SF/PF, Tennessee
Harris is the best player available and should be solid contributor off the pine from day one. He has the potential to do very well in the NBA as he can take big defenders off the dribble, is strong, consistent, smart, possesses an in-and-out game, and won’t turn 19 until July.
23. Houston Rockets – Darius Morris, 6’5” PG, Michigan
Morris has excellent size for a lead guard and outstanding court vision to go with it. He’s very good at the pick-and-roll and running the half-court offense. He isn’t outstanding athletically, but will be able to use his height as an advantage against other point guards. He’ll be a solid back-up and change of pace off the bench.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder – Nikola Vucevic, 7’0” PF/C, USC
Vucevic recently was listed as the tallest player without shoes at the Chicago draft combine and had a standing reach at 9 feet, 4.5 inches. He’s not athletic, but is solid fundamentally. He’s developing an inside-outside game and is primed to be a good contributor as a reserve. Vucevic is only 20 years old and could opt to play in Europe because of the impending lockout.
25. Boston Celtics – Jordan Williams, 6’9” PF, Maryland
Williams could provide the inside presence that was missing when Kendrick Perkins was traded, but with a better feel for offense. Williams attacks the glass and can get a lot of boards. He’s constantly moving, but will need to lose some weight to keep up with the NBA game. Can be a very good player if he turns some fat into muscle.
26. Dallas Mavericks – Kyle Singler, 6’9” SF/PF, Duke
Singler is an excellent shooter, whether it’s spotting up or going off the dribble. He can knock down the mid-range jumper consistently and has range to the three-point line. Singler is ultra-competitive with a high hoops IQ to make up for physical shortcomings athletically.
27. New Jersey Nets – Justin Harper, 6’9” PF, Richmond
Harper is one of the best shooters in the nation with range to beyond the arc. Because of his ability to hit the jumper, he is very effective in taking defenders off the dribble with fakes. Harper and Deron Williams could combine for some excellent pick-and-pop points. He possess good length and agility, but will need to add weight to be a true four on boards. Harper’s game actually complements Brook Lopez’s back-to-the-basket skill set very well.
28. Chicago Bulls – Marshon Brooks, 6’5” SG, Providence
Brooks finished as the second-highest scorer in the nation last season (24.6 PPG). He’s athletic with excellent body control at the rim, can score off the dribble or on the catch, and possesses nice range out to the three-point line. He can be that second scorer/playmaker that can create for himself that the Bulls sorely lacked this postseason.
29. San Antonio Spurs – JaJuan Johnson, 6’10” PF/C, Purdue
Johnson is a rarity in the NBA Draft — a four-year senior. He has good post moves and seemed to improve every season in college, which is a testament to his hard work. He’s slim and will need to add muscle in order to work consistently with success at the NBA level, both on offense and defense.
30. Chicago Bulls – Nolan Smith, 6’4” PG, Duke
Smith is another four-year senior and drastically improved his draft stock after taking over as the point guard for an injured Kyrie Irving. He’ll be a capable back-up for Derrick Rose and possibly play alongside him with Rose switching to the two guard. However, don’t sleep on Smith as a scorer himself.
Like or hate your team’s picks according to Dennis? Feel free to follow him on Twitter and let him know about it. Otherwise, take your stinkin’ team’s pick and be happy with it! You actually have no choice.