Our 1st stab at the NBA mock draft was earlier this month, before the NCAA Tournament. With players declaring for the draft en masse this week, it seems like a great time for another mock. We did the last mock one day after Michael Kidd-Gilchrist said he was staying in school. It was funny to leave him out then, but now that it’s clear he’s got to be a top three pick, he’s in the mix. Order was based on NBA records going into Wednesday’s games.
1. Charlotte – Anthony Davis, F/C, Kentucky.
2. Washington – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, G/F, Kentucky. How about an All-UK backcourt of Wall and MKG? Wonder if that’d be enough to lure Calipari to the NBA. Cal’s leaving after he gets a title, right?
3. New Orleans – Brad Beal, SG, Florida. Frugal franchise with no owner (yet) will be dumping Chris Kaman and isn’t sure about re-signing Eric Gordon. But how much money could they save by completely passing on Gordon for Beal? The media/fans would rip the CP3 trade, but perhaps the Hornets could “spend” wisely in free agency.
4. Portland (via New Jersey) – Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut. Raw, but athletic. Surely we’ll hear gripes about how Portland should pass on a big man and take a scorer (see Oden/Durant in 2007). There isn’t a PG to take here, and I like the Matthews/Batum combo. Drummond would be an ideal wingman inside for Aldridge.
5. Toronto – Thomas Robinson, F, Kansas. How’s this for a frontline next year: Bargnani and Robinson at forward, and 2011 No. 5 pick Jonas Valančiūnas - who is playing well overseas – starting at center.
6. Sacramento – Cody Zeller, F, Indiana. Unchanged. I put him this high and ya’ll scoffed. Now Chad Ford has him going 6th. Zeller’s got less than two weeks to make a decision.
7. Detroit – Royce White, F, Iowa State. Too high? The Pistons are weak on the wing, have some talent in backcourt, and a decent PF/C combo. Detroit could go small with a Knight-Gordon-Stuckey trio (Knight defending SFs would be funny, though) and a White/Monroe frontline. At least they’d be exciting.
9. Utah (via Golden State) – Harrison Barnes, SG, UNC. Won’t be a popular pick, but the 2nd worst shooting 3-point shooting team in the NBA needs a 3-point shooter. I have not been a Barnes fan all season, but I don’t think he’ll be an NBA bust. Think the kid from Iowa will quietly thrive in Utah away from the pressure of Tobacco Road.
10. Milwaukee – Terrence Jones, SF, Kentucky. When he’s locked in – see the NCAA tourney – he’s dynamite. Scott Skiles is the perfect coach for Jones. Offensively, the Bucks would be significantly better then they are right now.
11. Portland - Kendall Marshall, PG, UNC. Still unclear if he’s coming out. But I think he’ll be as good – if not better – of a pro than Portland’s current PG from UNC, Raymond Felton.
12. New Orleans (via Minnesota) – Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State. He’s a good interior scorer, which they sorely lack right now.
13. Utah – Damian Lillard, PG, Weber St. Heir apparent to Devin Harris. Previously had him as the top PG, but Marshall’s end to the season – plus how bad UNC was without him – puts Lillard second.
14. Phoenix – Jeremy Lamb, SG, UConn. Coming into the season he seemed like a Top 5 lock. Had a strong season, the skills are there and I’m a huge fan, but questions about his relaxed attitude will continue to dog him.
15. Houston (via New York) – Tyler Zeller, C, UNC. The center they’ve been trying to find since Yao’s health failed him?
16. New Jersey – John Henson, PF, UNC. Toughest team to peg in the draft with Deron and Dwight up in the air … I’ll just go with best-on-board. If they land Howard and Williams, they probably wouldn’t be able to pay Kris Humphries, who is making some money this year, and Henson makes sense.
17. Boston – Moe Harkless, SF, St. John’s. The Red Storm were awful, so you may not have seen him, but this kid can do it all. He’s just an athlete now, but he went for 30-13 against Duke. If develops a 3-point shot, he’s got star potential.
18. Denver – Perry Jones, F, Baylor. Going to a team with a good coach is the only place for the up-and-down Jones. He’ll probably be selected higher because of his “upside,” but this season, I’ve see very little of that upside.
19. Atlanta – Tony Wroten, PG, Washington. The word on the street is that the Hawks love Wroten, but he might want to stay in school another year to improve his game and leap up into the lottery.
20. Philadelphia – Dion Waiters, G, Syracuse. Tough Philly kid seems like a Doug Collins-type player. The 76ers would love a low-post scorer, but there isn’t one to be had here. And if they blow up the team to land a scoring big man – ie, trading Iguodala and Williams – Waiters can play immediately.
21. Houston – Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi St. Tough spot for the Rockets. Do they try again to unload Scola? Do they re-sign Dragic? Do they pick up the option on Dalembert? Given those lingering questions, I’m going with a best-on-board pick. Moultrie is a long, walking double-double.
22. Indiana – Mason Plumlee, F/C, Duke. Pacers take the local kid who adds some shot-blocking off the bench backing up Roy Hibbert.
23. Memphis – Terrence Ross, SF, Washington. With the Grizzlies paying Gay, Gasol & Randolph, they can’t afford to pay Allen and Mayo, so Ross is taken as their replacement. He might be better, too. In 2013.
24. Boston (via LA Clippers) – Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois. Not as enamored with him as everyone else. How do you know he won’t be Cole Aldrich? That being said, the Celtics need a center and I’ll take Leonard’s offense over Fab Melo’s, and Leonard’s “potential upside” over Ezeli’s.
25. Orlando – Trey Burke, PG, Michigan. Next year will probably be Jameer Nelson’s last with the Magic, so why not have him groom Burke for a season?
26. Cleveland (via LA Lakers) – Fab Melo, C, Syracuse. If Tristian Thompson is your power forward of the future, how about a shot-blocking center to hang next to him?
27. Golden State (via San Antonio) – Andrew Nicholson, F, St. Bonaventure. I say this every year, but I really like the Warriors’ roster. Nicholson can play both forward positions, make 3-pointers, and should help give David Lee (37 minutes a game) some rest.
28. Miami – Draymond Green, F, Michigan St. It just seems like a Miami Heat thing to do. Get one of the smartest players in the draft who does a little bit of everything. Maybe he’ll have a Shane Battier-type career in the NBA.
29. Oklahoma City – Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt. With Nazr Muhammad coming off the books and Cole Aldrich not really a viable backup, the Thunder grab a vastly underrated post player who only goes below Leonard/Melo because he stayed in college four years and you won’t hear his name and “potential” in the same sentence.
30. Chicago - Jeffrey Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt. Could he play some shooting guard? Perhaps. It’s the only pressing need on the Bulls.