It is nearly upon us, my friends: Draft day (cue foreboding music)! Not only is it significant for NBA decision-makers, but also us prognosticators and mockers of the draft to occasionally jump in the air and say, “AH HA!”
Below, recorded for posterity, future bragging rights and voluntarily proclamations of “I told you” is my final mock draft, trades after Wednesday morning notwithstanding.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving, 6-foot-2 PG, Duke
All indications have the Cavs taking Irving, although there has been some thought of going with Derrick Williams instead. However, that would be a risk since the Cavs would have to hope that Brandon Knight falls to their fourth pick, which isn’t likely since the Utah Jazz have been associated with Knight for a while. Look for Irving to become the heir apparent to Baron Davis, in all likelihood sooner rather than later.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves – Derrick Williams, 6-foot-9 PF, Arizona
If the Timberwolves keep this pick, and not trade it as has been gaining traction lately, the T-Wolves will select Williams, the best big man in the draft. There’s some duplication with Michael Beasley on the team, but Williams is too talented to pass up with the second pick. There’s a chance that Enes Kanter also gets chosen, but the ideal situation for Minny is to trade the pick for a veteran, or to go lower in the draft while acquiring another pick down the line. Oh, also ideally is that the Cavs don’t take Williams first overall putting the T-Wolves in a position to select another point guard. Kaaaaaahn!
3. Utah Jazz – Brandon Knight, 6-foot-3 PG, Kentucky
Knight and the Jazz have been in the same sentence for a while now, and any thought of Kanter being the pick has to be a smokescreen with the presence of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Knight just makes sense considering that incumbent point guard, Devin Harris, is as brittle as Elijah Price. And I understand the turnover issue is, well, an issue, but I have a gut feeling that Knight will eventually be considered better than Irving a few years down the line.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers – Enes Kanter, 6-foot-11 PF, Turkey
Kanter is arguably the best international prospect in the draft and would provide some help up front for the Cavs, a team who needs help everywhere. However, balanced selections in the backcourt and frontcourt will help the Cavs get back to where they should be … mediocrity. Kidding. Well, sort of. But hey, Cavs fans, at least LeBron James didn’t win a title yet!
5. Toronto Raptors – Kemba Walker, 6-foot-1 PG, Connecticut
Just about everyone has Walker going to the Raptors, so this selection would make me a conformist. However, things could change at the top of the draft should new coach Dwayne Casey focus on interior defense and possibly take Bismack Biyombo or even Kawhi Leonard. I’m sticking with Walker though because he can play defense and was more of a defensive/pass-first point guard his first two seasons at UConn, but then exploded this past season and became a scorer. If Walker is passed on here, he shouldn’t get past the Sacramento Kings at seven.
6. Washington Wizards – Jan Vesely, 6-foot-11 SF/PF, Czech Republic
I’ve had Vesely picked by the Wizards before the NBA Draft Lottery went down, as well as in my previous mock draft. He just fits and he’ll provide some excitement in the capital alongside John Wall and JaVale McGee. If Jordan Crawford continues to develop, this could be an up-and-coming team with the quickness.
7. Sacramento Kings – Kawhi Leonard, 6-foot-7 SF, San Diego State
Ideally, the Kings would probably want a point guard here, but with the top three of Irving, Knight, and Walker gone, do they “settle” for someone like Jimmer Fredette? It’s possible, but I’ll go with Best Player Available and choose Leonard. He’s a do-it-all type with great physical ability and, with Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton, will give the Kings some solid wing players that can get to the basket.
8. Detroit Pistons – Bismack Biyombo, 6-foot-9 PF/C, Congo
Biyombo is listed at 18 years old, but if he’s a few years older, does it really matter at this point? Biyombo is a physical beast on defense and should provide boards, blocks and straight talk with all of the groupies. “Hi, I’m Bismack. Tonight we’ll have relations and you will leave afterwards. Well, after you make me a sandwich. Are you OK with this?” Biyombo has no offensive finesse, scoring mostly on guaranteed dunks, which is appropriate considering the previous sentences.
9. Charlotte Bobcats – Marcus Morris, 6-foot-9 PF, Kansas
Marcus is the more versatile of the Morris brothers and if you ask him, he’ll tell you he’s the most complete player in the draft, let alone the Morris bunk beds. It’s true that he can do a lot of things on the basketball court and you have to like the swagger, but he basically put a target on his back with his statement of excellence. Fortunately, his skills will also make him a target of a lottery team. The Bobcats seem like a nice fit because, if anything, Michael Jordan will want to destroy Marcus during practice. That’s just how he rolls.
10. Milwaukee Bucks – Klay Thompson, 6-foot-7 SG/SF, Washington State
Thompson has jumped up big time on draft boards in the last couple of weeks, showing a maturity that many questioned due to his arrest for marijuana possession. Thompson’s ability to shoot from anywhere on the court, and his admittance of his mistake and how he’s rectifying it all, makes him attractive to the Bucks. Expect him to become a favorite of Brandon Jennings off the pass and Andrew Bogut for creating space in the post.
11. Golden State Warriors – Alec Burks, 6-foot-6 SG, Colorado
Burks was considered the top two guard in the draft until Thompson’s late ascent, but falling one place makes no difference for Burks. He’ll be in the rotation for sure, but may find himself fighting for the starting shooting guard position should Monta Ellis be traded. Burks complements Stephen Curry well as Burks can get to the rim, but also find the open man. Losing Ellis would assuredly hurt (especially with the fanbase), but Burks is a very nice consolation.
12. Utah Jazz – Jonas Valanciunas, 6-foot-11 C, Lithuania
As mentioned previously with the Jazz’s third pick, the team has Jefferson and Millsap at the four and five positions. Valanciunas won’t be eligible to play in the NBA until the 2012-13 season, so this makes a nice stash pick for the Jazz. He’ll either make a nice trade chip as Luis Scola was for the Spurs (although they probably regret that trade) or will eventually fill in for one of the aforementioned current Jazz frontcourt duo.
13. Phoenix Suns – Jimmer Fredette, 6-foot-2 PG, BYU
Fredette has been a polarizing draft prospect as he’s been mentioned going to teams all over, and even outside, the lottery. Most Jazz fans want him with the previous pick, but with Knight on board (for this mock anyway), it doesn’t make a ton of sense. Fredette could fall a bit from here, but being Nash’s eventual replacement could work out for both the team and the Jimmer. He’ll surely be a fan favorite, especially if he goes on one of his hot shooting streaks where he can make the net snap from anywhere.
14. Houston Rockets – Chris Singleton, 6-foot-9 SF, Florida State
Singleton is probably the best defender in the draft right now. Biyombo could eventually claim the title of best defender, but Singleton is polished and should contribute immediately as a rotation player. The Rockets don’t have much in the way of defensive talent on the roster unless you count Hasheem Thabeet, but he hasn’t counted since seeing all those zeroes in his contract.
15. Indiana Pacers – Markieff Morris, 6-foot-10 PF, Kansas
Markieff isn’t as complete as his brother Marcus, but he’s probably the more intense and defensive-minded of the two. The Pacers will take it and like it. He should provide toughness in the post and his perimeter shot shouldn’t be slept on either. Morris will be a nice pick-and-pop option for the Pacers.
16. Philadelphia 76ers – Tristan Thompson, 6-foot-9 PF, Texas
Thompson could go higher in the draft, but if he did, it wouldn’t be by much. Thompson has a lot of fans, but I’m not particularly enthralled because he’s basically one-dimensional on offense, as he is only able to work in the post. Forget any form of a consistent jumper. Will Thompson be able to deal with the stronger players in the NBA? Diversify his scoring repertoire? There’s certainly potential, but not enough to keep him in the lottery. He could turn out to be a gift for the Sixers, but let’s revisit this in a few years.
17. New York Knicks – Nikola Vucevic, 7-foot PF/C, USC
If the Knicks are smart they’ll go big with this pick. There’s some noise to go with Josh Selby, but that’s just Carmelo Anthony talking. And, as we all know, the Knicks don’t bow down to the whim of Melo. Hmm … maybe I should change this pick to Selby now. In all seriousness, everyone and their mother knows that the Knicks need size and Vucevic fills in nicely in this way. He has a versatile offensive game, comfortable both in the post and face-up game, but lacks athleticism. Vucevic won’t be a factor defensively, but his height, wingspan, offensive polish and playing for a couple of former NBA coaches makes him for a solid choice for the Knicks. Even if he isn’t Josh Selby.
18. Washington Wizards – Donatas Motiejunas, 7-foot PF/C, Italy
Motiejunas is basically the second coming of Andrea Bargnani and depending on your point of view, that’s not a bad thing. What is a bad thing is Motiejunas’ lack of strength, focus and toughness. Offensively, he could be great for pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops with Wall, but until he gets stronger and picks up the intensity, he won’t be more than the typical European big man with a sweet J.
19. Charlotte Bobcats – Marshon Brooks, 6-foot-5 SG, Providence
Brooks is a talented scorer and finished second behind Fredette in points per game last season. Since the Bobcats went big with their first pick, going for backcourt help makes sense. As much as Gerald Henderson came on nicely post All-Star break last season, Brooks may be more talented and at the very least will make a fine addition off the bench providing instant offense. However, it seems like a waste since I feel Brooks could end up being one of the better picks of this draft.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves – Jordan Hamilton, 6-foot-8 SF, Texas
Hamilton meets the T-Wolves prerequisite of no more point guards and could provide some punch for Minny. He’ll likely come off the bench unless Beasley is traded, and even then it will depend on who the team would get back from such a trade. At this point, it’s about Best Player Available and the T-Wolves won’t need anymore power forwards, which the next several selections will be.
21. Portland Trail Blazers – Davis Bertans, 6-foot-10 SF, Latvia
There is absolutely no pressure on Bertans in regards to the comparison with Dirk Nowitzki. None. So, I’m lying and so is the reality that Bertans will be the next Nowitzki. Shooting ability to the three-point line? Check. European? Check. Everything thing else? Nope. On the Blazers, Bertans will have the luxury to wait his turn and work on his game since the team is loaded right now.
22. Denver Nuggets – Tobias Harris, 6-foot-8 SF/PF, Tennessee
Harris has a solid game and can score from both inside and outside, but will need to work on both aspects in order to make a significant impact in the NBA. Luckily for the Nuggets, Harris is a hard worker and possesses a high basketball IQ. He should be an effective contributor off the bench.
23. Houston Rockets – Kenneth Faried, 6-foot-8 PF, Morehead State
Faried is arguably the best rebounder in the draft and owns a non-stop motor. He can make a difference almost immediately since he’ll hustle for boards and blocks to no end. The addition of Singleton and Faried would change the look of the Rockets defense, and as we all know, defense wins championships. It won’t be anytime soon necessarily, but getting this duo is a good step.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder – Kyle Singler, 6-foot-9 SF/PF, Duke
Singler may not be liked by a lot of people, when you consider he killed college teams all over the nation, but his addition to the Thunder would make his teammates and the team’s fans ecstatic. He’d be another perimeter threat that also possesses the basketball smarts to contribute in other phases of the game. Like antagonizing players to punch him in the face. Sorry, self-admitted Tar Heels fan here.
25. Boston Celtics – Tyler Honeycutt, 6-foot-8 SF, UCLA
Was tempted to go with a four here, but decided that Honeycutt’s talent and upside was too much to pass up this late in the draft. He could eventually replace Paul Pierce, which is pretty much sacrilegious to say at this point in time, but everyone needs to face it — the Celtics are getting old.
26. Dallas Mavericks – Nikola Mirotic, 6-foot-10 PF, Montenegro
Mirotic won’t be available to play in the NBA for a few seasons thanks to his contract with his Euro team, but the Mavs are able to wait since it doesn’t look like Dirk is ready to retire any time soon. Mirotic has top 10 talent, but will definitely fall in the draft because of the aforementioned overseas commitment. The Mavs will benefit.
27. New Jersey Nets – Justin Harper, 6-foot-9 PF, Richmond
The Nets need a three more than anything, but with Harper’s ability to shoot from the perimeter at a good rate and ability to put the ball on the deck, the team should go the four route. Besides, there’s no guarantee of re-signing free agent Kris Humphries, although as a Nets fan I hope he gives a discount since he’ll have a lot of Kardashian money to spend. Plus, we all know that if you date/marry a Kardashian your team wins titles. I’m sure there’s something scientific out there to prove it.
28. Chicago Bulls – Iman Shumpert, 6-foot-5 PG/SG, Georgia Tech
Shumpert had great measurables at the Draft Combine and is one of the most athletic players in the draft, but I just can’t think that teams in the mid-first round can overlook his tunnel vision and inability to get teammates involved. The Bulls can afford to take a chance with Shumpert and hope he becomes that second scorer who can create his own shot.
29. San Antonio Spurs – JaJuan Johnson, 6-foot-10 PF/C, Purdue
Johnson is an athletic big man that also had impressive measurables at the Draft Combine. He should finish on breaks, cram alley-oops like no one’s business and be an excellent shot-blocker on help defense. He lacks bulk, however, and is somewhat of a tweener. But if anyone can help Johnson maximize his potential in the NBA, it’s Gregg Popovich. It also doesn’t hurt to have Tim Duncan there to give you advice on post moves and mid-range bank shots.
30. Chicago Bulls – Chandler Parsons, 6-foot-10 SF, Florida
Parsons is a tall small forward with an excellent outside shot who works hard. He uses screens effectively, can create for others and can board. Parsons is one of those players that doesn’t need the rock all the time to be effective, but when he does have it, he can do a few things with it and get the ball in the hoop.
Enjoy the NBA Draft, all! I’ll be back with the ubiquitous draft grades the day after. Also follow me on Twitter because I come up with 140 characters of genius every single time. In fact I’m projected to be the next Chris Douglas-Roberts in most mocks.