The NBA Draft happens this Thursday, June 28th, and the only thing we know for sure is that Anthony Davis will be the first overall pick. After that, we’ll just have to watch it unfold. Several teams have two picks in the first round — Hornets, Cavaliers, Blazers, Rockets, Celtics and Warriors — so don’t be surprised if some trading or purchasing of picks go down. That said, here are my final guesses with the current order of selection. To see my initial mock draft, check it here.
1. New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky
Nothing changes at the top with Davis going first overall. This has been a done deal for several months and if/when the Hornets re-sign Eric Gordon, add the 10th pick and tons of cap space when Rashard Lewis is let go in some manner, look out for the Hornets in a couple of years. I imagine they’d also save their cap space for the loaded 2013 free agency class and really go after it in the next couple of seasons.
2. Charlotte Bobcats – Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
This may be too high for Barnes, but it seems he killed it during his workout with the Bobcats. Also, there is the obvious Carolina connection regarding proximity and it being Michael Jordan’s alma mater. I considered Thomas Robinson here, but the team already has Tyrus Thomas locked in for the next few years, B.J. Mullens for next season, as well as Bismack Biyombo on a rookie contract — it’s going to be crowded at the four and five. I also considered Bradley Beal, but Gerald Henderson has done relatively well at the two. So, while my thought process has to do with positional need — Corey Maggette isn’t the future or the answer at the three — I’m pretty sure the Bobcats sincerely feel that Barnes is the best player available. Of course, Jordan doesn’t really have a great track record when it comes to talent assessment. Ideally, the rumored Bobcats/Cavaliers swap of the second and fourth picks goes down and the Cavs take Beal with Barnes still available at four for the Bobcats, with them also receiving an extra pick somewhere at some point. Seems like a solid risk to take since the Wizards, who pick next, wouldn’t need a small forward.
3. Washington Wizards – Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
With the recent acquisition of Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, plus the big man overload with Nene, Trevor Booker, Jan Vesely, Andray Blatche (amnesty candidate) and Kevin Seraphin, I don’t see the Wizards taking a big or a small forward. So, we go with Beal, who most rate as the best shooting guard in the draft to be solid backcourt mate with John Wall. Beal should create space with his ability to knock down shots from the perimeter and make life a little easier for Wall and anyone in the post. He’ll also finish strong on the break and is a very good overall defender.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky
I think Kidd-Gilchrist would be too tempting to pass up here, although you can say the same for Robinson. However, the Cavs are weaker at the wing than the four or five spots. Plus, in a draft deepest at the power forward position and having a pick later (24th overall) where a four will be available, small forward seems like the spot to go for, relative to the talent still available. Kidd-Gilchrist will bring toughness, leadership, a high motor and a very good skill set to any team that drafts him, and all of those are qualities any team would want. He’s obviously not LeBron James, but Kidd-Gilchrist has the potential to be an excellent small forward in this league.
5. Sacramento Kings – Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
Imagine how nasty a frontcourt of DeMarcus Cousins and Robinson could be in a couple of years. Heck, it could even be this year, especially since both players will play with emotion (anger being the main one) because DMC is who he is and Robinson will feel slighted by being drafted so low. Playing with passion can be good and bad as we’ve seen with Cousins producing big, but also him being a meltdown waiting to happen. Robinson should be a bit more even-keeled with a chip on his shoulder, a lá Paul Pierce when he was drafted 10th in 1998. The Kings have enough wings and the selection of Robinson gives them more frontcourt depth and size that they need.
6. Portland Trail Blazers – Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State
I’m going to stick with Lillard here for the Blazers as I had in my first mock draft. Yes, Andre Drummond is still around, but despite having as much promise as Anthony Davis, Drummond is looked at with some red flags, particularly a question on whether he loves the game enough to succeed and fulfill his potential. The Blazers have already had two noteworthy big men busts in Greg Oden and Sam Bowie and I doubt they want that third strike. Besides, with Raymond Felton likely gone, Lillard makes a ton of sense. He’s rated by most as the top point guard in the draft and he can do a lot of things on the court to make life easier for LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, the two core players for the Blazers.
7. Golden State Warriors – Andre Drummond, PF/C, Connecticut
It’s been rumored that the Warriors want to move this pick for an established player or more assets down the line, but with Drummond dropping in their laps, I’d expect the Warriors to take the gamble on him if they keep the pick. Sure they just traded for Andrew Bogut, but how reliable is his durability? His track record in the NBA thus far stinks in regards to his health, so Drummond would be a great fallback option should he produce to any substantial level relative to his vast potential. If all works out, the Ws would have a very solid rotation of Bogut, Drummond, and David Lee at the four and five spots.
8. Toronto Raptors – Austin Rivers, SG, Duke
Rivers has moved up draft boards after strong workouts during the draft process. The Raptors are rumored to be huge fans of his ability, as well as comfort in playing in the NBA, thanks to being around the league setting his whole life. He’s had a certain swag about him since high school, which seemed to be dampened a bit while playing at Duke, so I don’t think we got to see the full Austin Rivers experience. He should be able to shine with the Raptors, albeit off the bench to spell DeMar DeRozan. That being said, Rivers has enough talent to earn more time on the hardwood and could even see some minutes at the point guard position or even straight-up usurp DeRozan.
9. Detroit Pistons – John Henson, PF/C, North Carolina
I’m a big fan of Henson’s and think he can eventually turn out to be one of the better picks of this draft. He should make an immediate impact defensively, grabbing rebounds and blocking shots. Playing alongside Greg Monroe should give the Pistons a great duo at the four and five spots. And since Henson doesn’t necessarily need the ball on offense, he won’t infringe on Monroe’s shots. Nonetheless, Henson improved his offense during his time with the Tar Heels and could eventually be a post threat on that end. This season though, expect Monroe to be the offensive big with Henson being the defensive big that the Pistons truly need.
10. New Orleans Hornets – Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse
Waiters probably makes the biggest leap in terms of where he started in most mock drafts to where he is now. In fact, he may even be taken as early as the Golden State pick. In any case, the Hornets will certainly look to build up the talent base and despite Gordon (presumably) filling in the two spot, Waiters’ skill set for a guard is so good that he’ll be comfortable playing the lead guard position. Seeing both EJ and Waiters on the court together is a distinct possibility if the Hornets go this route. Players like Tyler Zeller and Meyers Leonard are also possible.
11. Portland Trail Blazers – Tyler Zeller, PF/C, North Carolina
Keeping this pick from my initial mock draft and yet again it’s another Blazer pick that holds. Again, this pick makes sense in that Zeller will be an excellent complementary player to Aldridge that will get his offensively from running the floor and getting the garbage points. Zeller is one of the quickest bigs in this draft and could end up finishing a lot of Lillard dimes. Defensively, Zeller has potential, but it’s the all-around game and low-risk for a draft prospect that makes him attractive to teams.
12. Milwaukee Bucks – Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois
Goodbye, Bogut. Hello, Leonard. No longer having a true big man in the middle, Leonard seems to make an excellent fit, especially since he’s athletic enough to hang with Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings on the break. Like they’d ever pass the ball. In all seriousness, Leonard is packed with potential to be really good all-around — playing in the post, hitting the mid-range jumper, running the floor and finishing on the break, defending the rim and helping out teammates on defense. This would be a solid pick for the Bucks and a seemingly great fit for both player and team.
13. Phoenix Suns – Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina
Terrence Ross is a possibility here, but with so much “Steve Nash is leaving” news, I’m playing it safe and going with the best passing point guard of the draft in Marshall. He has excellent size for the point guard position and is one of those natural leader types with a ridiculously high basketball IQ. Marshall rarely turns the ball over and has great court vision. Yeah, he sounds kind of like a taller Nash, but there’s one major difference: Marshall can actually play some semblance of defense and stick his man.
14. Houston Rockets – Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut
If Lamb came out after his freshman year, when he had a noteworthy NCAA tourney run and helped the Huskies win the national title, he would have definitely gone much higher than this. However, he stayed another year, and coming out into such a deep draft doesn’t help. In fact, some downgrade his ability after not having as big a season at UConn as many hoped. But everything is basically the same, from the physical tools to the skill set. He’s probably going to go down as the best long-range shooter of this draft and whoever runs the point for the Rockets (Kyle Lowry is a trade option and Goran Dragic is a free agent) will be happy to kick out to Lamb, who will also create space down low. Kevin Martin seems like he’s on his way out soon enough, so Lamb will get enough burn to do his thing from the outside.
15. Philadelphia 76ers – Arnett Moultrie, PF/C, Mississippi State
Moultrie has moved up a bit since draft workouts and could be a really good player for his NBA team. I have him pegged with Philly, although I was also thinking about Terrence Jones. However, Jones just seems like another Thaddeus Young type of player and with Spencer Hawes becoming a free agent and Elton Brand being an amnesty candidate, I went big with Moultrie. He has the ability to go inside and score from outside, while still boarding on both sides of the court. What I think Sixers fans will appreciate is his non-stop motor. He can do some excellent things there if given the chance.
16. Houston Rockets – Terrence Jones, SF/PF, Kentucky
The question regarding Jones is whether he’s a three or a four. He has the ability to play both, but does he have enough of a skill set to succeed at both? He’s almost like Josh Smith in this regard, and like Smith, I think Jones will eventually produce more at the four. Jones plays well with his back to the basket, and is able to get to the rim because of his quickness and explosion. If he had a consistent jumper, he’d do well on the wing. However, considering his strength and length, he’d best be used at the power forward position.
17. Dallas Mavericks – Terrence Ross, SG, Washington
The Mavericks are in reconfigure mode and need to get younger. What they eventually do for the future depends on what happens with their pursuit of Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. It’s kind of a long shot for them to get both players, but this is the NBA, where amazing happens. Regardless, Ross would be a nice shot in the arm at the two guard position as he is very athletic and can hit from the outside. He’s kind of like a combination of probable departing two guards, Vince Carter and Jason Terry, who the team will let go of if they need the cap space for the aforementioned superstars. Either way, Ross should end up being a good rotation contributor at the least.
18. Houston Rockets – Moe Harkless, SF, St. John’s
This pick was recently traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Rockets for Chase Budinger and Lior Eliyahu, in hopes of trading for Dwight Howard. So, we’ll go best player available as this point and it’s Harkless who has been moving up in teams’ eyes. He might even go higher. He has excellent physical attributes — wingspan, agility, quick first step — and athleticism. Harkless can rebound very well from the three position and is kind of a tweener like Terrence Jones, but would be best played at the small forward position. The only real problem Harkless has is his inability to hit the three-point shot on a consistent basis. Lots of upside here.
19. Orlando Magic – Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky
The Magic are up in the air right now … about everything. They recently hired a new GM (Rob Hennigan) and he’s basically been cleaning house regarding staff, and soon enough, players. Jameer Nelson is rumored to be opting out, and since the Magic will probably want to lower their salary, the team would probably let Nelson go. This would open the door for Teague, should the Magic draft him. He’s an excellent ball handler that can get anywhere on the court and helped lead the Kentucky Wildcats to a title. Teague will need to work on his jumper, but he has the potential to grow into a very good NBA point guard.
20. Denver Nuggets – Perry Jones, SF/PF, Baylor
Here he is. Both Jones and Drummond are looked at as the biggest risks in the draft, but also have the ability to be high reward players. At 20, it seems as safe a time to pick Jones and the huge potential that he has. Being coached by George Karl will certainly help maximize Jones’ size, length, quickness and athleticism. Jones is still very raw as there isn’t one thing that he can do very well, but he has all the tools to achieve excellence. He played out of position at the four and five spots his sophomore season at Baylor when he should have been playing at small forward, which may explain his dip in production. Jones should come off the bench for Coach Karl and flourish in that role.
21. Boston Celtics – Royce White, PF, Iowa State
White allegedly has a promise from the Celtics to take him with either this or the next pick. He has a big body, yet is nimble and athletic. As he is a big with handle and vision, White can be compared to a more in-shape Boris Diaw. More specifically, a Diaw in his prime with the Suns. The red flags are obviously his conditioning and that famous anxiety disorder that makes him dread getting on planes. Fortunately, White aced his interviews and the disorder isn’t considered as dire as it was once being made out to be. If Kevin Garnett returns and doesn’t retire, White would obviously benefit from learning from one of the best ever.
22. Boston Celtics – Quincy Miller, SF, Baylor
See how young the Celtics front line can get? And for two players that may retire too? I won’t say excellent timing because I’d just be jumping ahead of myself with any talk of retirement, but if both Garnett and Paul Pierce did come back, they’d be handing off to two young players that could be very good. Miller, like his Baylor teammate Perry Jones, has excellent size for a small forward, as well as a ridiculous wingspan. He moves very fluidly and can handle the rock, which allows him to stop and pop off the dribble. Miller did have ACL surgery about a year ago, so that’s something to consider, but despite that, the potential is there.
23. Atlanta Hawks – Fab Melo, C, Syracuse
I’m sticking with this selection from my initial mock draft because it still makes the most sense. The Hawks would ideally want to move Al Horford to his more natural power forward position and Melo could be the key to making that happen. He’s a legit center, body and size-wise, but will need to work on his conditioning to play effectively at the next level. Melo should make an impact with his ability to block shots and take up space on the block. Offensively, he could develop a really good hook shot with his size and wingspan, but he’ll need to work on that and his offense overall because he’s raw right now. However, Melo should make for a solid rotation player to begin with and turn into a significant contributor once he learns and gets in better shape.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers – Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State
Now, here’s this guy. Sullinger was a lottery talent before doctors sent up a red flag about his back, which has him tumbling down a lot of mock drafts, although probably not as low as I have him. Given the choice, would the Cavaliers pass on the Ohio State All-American to draft someone else? Obviously, I don’t make the decisions, but I would think not because the risk of taking a lottery player at 24 seems like a good gamble. And good PR. That aside, Sullinger is a very strong player that can score in the post and rebound. At the very least, he could be an excellent rotation player between the four and occasionally the five spot with Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson. If his back holds up, of course.
25. Memphis Grizzlies – Will Barton, SG, Memphis
Here’s another hometown pick of sorts. O.J. Mayo is a free agent and may end up on another team, so Barton could instantly fill his spot. He’s an excellent scorer that can get to the rim and finish strong on the break, but also has a very good outside game. Barton is also an excellent rebounder and can start breaks himself, even possessing enough court vision to pass the rock for the finish. Defensively, with his quickness and length, he can be very good at the NBA level and has the ability to guard both guards and the small forward position. Best of all for the Grizz, he’ll come cheaper than Mayo.
26. Indiana Pacers – Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure
Nicholson is possibly the best player available at this point, but also fits in very well for the Pacers. David West is likely to leave after next season when his contract expires, and Nicholson could be the one to inherit the spot, if not Tyler Hansbrough who would be eligible for a qualifying offer at the time. Nicholson is an inside/outside scoring threat with a high basketball IQ and is a rarity in today’s NBA, a four-year senior. Nicholson would come into a great situation if drafted by the Pacers — a young, winning team on the cusp that will have some PT ready for him to produce and grow.
27. Miami Heat – Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt
A center is about the only thing the Heat need, considering their current talent at the other positions. Ezeli would provide a strong and big body able to block shots from the get-go. He’d basically be another Joel Anthony, except younger. Unfortunately, there aren’t many offensive type of centers in the draft, save Leonard, but like the old saying goes, “You can’t teach size.”
28. Oklahoma City Thunder – Draymond Green, PF, Michigan State
Green is a very good player and could fit right in with the Thunder. He’s versatile offensively and makes the right decisions. Green can drain the three, pass the rock, hit the mid-range jumper, score from the post and rebound. He’s one of those motor guys that puts in constant effort. He could end up being a significant player off the bench for the Thunder and possibly end up replacing Kendrick Perkins or Serge Ibaka. There’s also a possibility Green moves up to a team like the Pacers or Heat with the previous two picks.
29. Chicago Bulls – Evan Fournier, SG/SF, France
Fournier can do something not many Bulls outside of Derrick Rose could do — create his own shot. The lack of another player that can do that seemed to be the main roadblock for the Bulls when Rose was healthy, but Fournier can score in many ways, as well as find his teammates for the easy shot. He is constantly moving on offense, making his man work hard. At only 19 years old, he could end up being a great backcourt mate for Rose, who actually may miss a significant chunk, if not all, of next season.
30. Golden State Warriors – Khris Middleton, SG/SF, Texas A&M
With the big in the fold with Drummond, the Warriors will probably look to add depth to the wing position. Middleton should fit the bill, as he has the ability to play both the shooting guard and small forward positions. He has a nice mid-range game with the ability to hit the three, and is an unselfish player that can find his teammates effectively and seems coachable. He’d make an excellent complementary player for the Warriors who already have their scorers set in Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut and Klay Thompson.
Agree? Disagree? Where would you make your selection changes? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter by hitting me up @dv140.