NBA Mock Draft – April 1
With the tournament winding down, let’s look at where players may wind up come draft night.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: PF Jared Sullinger, 6’9″ Ohio State-
Sullinger isn’t a surefire number one overall pick but he is without a doubt in the conversation. He’s pretty advanced for a freshman, and is a fantastic rebounder. His wide base and strength will allow him to matchup with most 4’s and 5’s even as a rookie. Lack of great athletic ability means he doesn’t fit on every team, but he should do fine in Cleveland. He is an Ohio native so, the Cavs could look to use that to help get over the loss of their last Ohio basketball star taken first overall.
*Note I know Sullinger has made comments about returning to Ohio State, but since most of those were after their tournament loss, I’m waiting for a more official announcement to take him off my board. I especially think the fact that the Cavs very well could be taking him with a top pick could give the Ohio product reason to stay in the draft.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves PG Kyrie Irving, 6’2″ Duke-
Last week I moved point guard down on the T-wolves wish list with the assumption that Ricky Rubio would be coming over to handle the point guard position. Well now after watching the way Irving played in the tournament, I’m having a hard time imagining Minnesota passes up on him. They can’t just continue to hope that Rubio will be their savior and they need to be proactive in their response. If Rubio ends up coming over, Minnesota should still be able to trade him for some serious value (which is what he wants anyways). Irving came back strong from his injury, and while Duke disappointed in the tournament, it definitely wasn’t Irving’s fault.
3. Washington Wizards- SF/PF Derrick Williams, 6’8″ Arizona
Although the Wizards aren’t set at a single position (except PG) so they could go in any direction, but I see Williams being a very good fit for them. He might be a bit of a tweener, but he has the range and athletic ability for a 3 and the strength and rebounding prowess for a 4. Williams has really developed into an excellent shooter, which allows me to believe he can definitively be a 3 at the next level. He can help the Wizards in both areas, and hopefully help pave the exit road for current PF Andray Blatche.
4. Toronto Raptors- SF Harrison Barnes, 6’7″ North Carolina
Toronto needs to get a very good young player with this pick and Barnes is the top guy on the board. While the Raptors traded for James Johnson they could use a dynamic wing player. One that has the ability to drive to the basket or hit the jumper. Barnes didn’t blow away the competition like some thought he would, but he did have a very good season regardless. He would be a good fit for a rebuilding Raptors team.
5. Sacramento Kings- PF Perry Jones, 6’10” Baylor-
The Kings don’t have one single weakness as they have young talent at every position, but of all of them their Big’s are still the least developed. On top of that Dalambert is an FA, and I don’t think any team has ever had too many Bigs. Jones should allow Cousins and Thompson play mostly at the 5, where they might be the best suited to anyways. Jones has a ton of upside and great length. I think he might get out-muscled early on, but playing next to a wide body like Cousins should help.
6. Utah Jazz (via New Jersey Nets)- PG Brandon Knight, 6’4″ Kentucky
The Jazz might have gotten Devin Harris back in the Deron Williams deal, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try to draft their future PG with this pick. Harris is good, but Knight has the potential to be special. Early on he could play the 2 alongside Harris, and when the time comes, Utah should have little trouble moving Harris in a trade. Utah might try to trade up to land Irving, but if they can’t get him Knight is a pretty good fit as well.
7. Detroit Pistons- PF Jan Vessely, 6’11” Czech Republic
Detroit needs a lot of help, but they really don’t have much in the way of big men outside of Greg Monroe. Vessely could develop into a very good 4, with the upside of a Dirk Nowitzki. He’s got good range, and a very good offensive game. He still needs to work on his defense, and right now is pretty raw, but the upside and size are legit.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via LA Clippers)- PG Kemba Walker, 6’1″ Connecticut
Walker could give the Cavs the one thing they never had during the LeBron era; a consistent threat at PG. Now Walker doesn’t have the great size, isn’t a real threat from 3, and is by no means a pass first player, but I see him as a great young PG at the next level. Walker is just player, regardless of size the kid gets the job done. And while his range can be inconsistent, he will nail the deep shot when it matters most. In addition he is an excellent penetrator and will get to the rim. He’s so quick that he will cause fits for defenses, and he has great floor vision, which will allow him to find the open man. Walker keeps getting it done in the tournament and I really see him being a top 10 pick.
9. Milwaukee Bucks-G Alec Burks, 6’6″ Colorado
The Bucks need to grab a wing player and I think Burks is the best still on the board. He is a good mid-range shooter, but excels going to the basket. He has great length on defense, and rebounds very well for a guard. He’s not an outside shooter and probably won’t ever be, but has a very good offensive profile nonetheless.
10. Charlotte Bobcats- C Enes Kanter, 6’10” Turkey
The Bobcats desperately need (everything) a center and Kanter is probably the best pure 5 in the draft. He was ruled ineligible at Kentucky so unfortunately we didn’t see him on the college level, but he has an advanced offensive game and incredible size. He is the type of guy that a top 5 team could fall in love with and grab, but I could see him sliding a little further.
11. Golden State Warriors- PF/C Donatas Motiejunas, 7’0″ Lithuania
Let’s see a big man who runs the floor, is quick to beat other bigs off the dribble, has the ability to pass the ball, and brings a mid-range game, if Motiejunas wasn’t born to be a Warrior then I don’t know who is. Golden State could use another big to go along with Lee and Udoh. Motiejunas is a bit raw still, but I love the upside and think he fits them perfectly.
12. Utah Jazz-SF Terrence Jones, 6’8″ Kentucky
Jones has a ton of upside and I really see him being a great 3 at the next level. It could take him a year, but the Jazz would do well to grab a guy with the talent and potential of Jones. Jones has both inside and outside range, and the ability to put it on the floor and take it to the basket.
13. Phoenix Suns- SF Kawhi Leonard, 6’7″ San Diego State
They Suns will likely need to replace Grant Hill this offseason, and although they already have Jared Dudley on the roster, they could use another young wing player. Leonard has a good bit of upside and looks like a very good two way player at the next level.
14. Houston Rockets- PF/C Jonas Valanciunas, 6’11” Lithuania
With Ming’s injuries and Thabeet’s inability to develop into an NBA player the Rockets are lacking a quality center. Their best options are all power forwards, and while some are pretty good ball players, none of them are real stars. Valanciunas is pretty raw but he could develop into a star center one day (he also has the ability to play the 4). His strength early on will be his rebounding and blocking ability, but he has the potential to develop a quality offensive game as well.
15. Indiana Pacers- PG Jimmer Fredette, 6’2″ BYU
Is there player that makes more sense and is a better fit for a team than Fredette and the Pacers (Fredette and the Jazz also make a lot of sense). I know people will probably knock Jimmer as the 2nd coming of J.J. Reddick, and basically just a 3-point specialist, but I think he has more upside than that. I think he is more Mark Price than Steve Kerr, and also very capable of handling the 2. His defense will be suspect against longer shooting guards, but his offensive game simply can’t be ignored.
16. New York Knicks- C Tyler Zeller, 7’0″ North Carolina
Zeller is moving up draft boards with a good tournament and consistent play. With only a handful of guys that can play center in this class, Zeller will likely be a boarderline lottery pick. He is the perfect fit for the Knicks who need a big man to play alongside Stoudimire and protect the basket. New York should be quite thrilled if Zeller is there. If he isn’t though I’d expect for them to trade back and maybe pick up another pick (i.e. cheap player to fill out the roster).
17. Philadelphia 76ers- SF Jordan Hamilton, 6’7″ Texas
The 76ers don’t necessarily need another wing player, but Hamilton is good value here and can help out at both the 2 and the 3. He is really starting to come into his own and looks to have a bright future.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis Grizzlies)- SF Tobias Harris, 6’8″ Tennessee
If the Timberwolves shore up their PG position with their earlier pick, than Harris makes a lot of sense here. Harris can play multiple positions and despite being just a freshmen has very good court presence.
19. Washington Wizards (via Atlanta Hawks)- PF Kenneth Faried, 6’8″ Morehead State
Faried is simply one of the most productive players ever in college basketball. He is an incredible rebounder, and simply owns the boards. His offensive game is basically dunks, put backs and tip-ins, but he’s highly effective at it, that it is hard to knock him down too much. He has the best work ethic and motor in this draft, but will likely fall. People will knock his offensive game (esp. his free throw shooting), his lack of great size and his competition, but the kid can play. Some may question if he is a fit for Washington as they will have already added multiple 4’s over the past 2 years and Faried compares favorably to Trevor Booker. While I understand the issues involved, I don’t see how Washington can pass up on a guy like him. If Williams can play the 3, than Booker and Faried can handle the 4 (with some help at the 5) and hopefully Kevin Seraphin can become a backup to McGee at center.
20. New Orleans Hornets- PF John Henson, 6’10” North Carolina
Carl Landry is a free agent this offseason, and if the Hornets don’t think they can retain him, then Henson makes a lot of sense here. Henson has incredible upside, but he hasn’t developed into that star player just yet. He needs to get stronger, but looks to be an excellent rebounder and inside shooter at the next level.
21. Portland Trailblazers- PF Trey Thompkins, 6’10” Georgia
Size has become an issue for Portland as it is apparent that Greg Oden will never be the answer for them. Thompkins gives the Trailblazers a big man with a ton of upside to play alongside Aldridge, and hopefully bring Portland back to serious contention going forward.
22. Denver Nuggets- SF/PF Marcus Morris, 6’8″ Kansas
The Nuggets could use some of their front court players this offseason and Marcus Morris would be a very good addition to Denver. He can help at two positions and projects to have a good offensive game, with solid defense and rebounding to go with it.
23. Phoenix Suns (via Orlando Magic)- SG Travis Leslie, 6’4″ Georgia
The Suns love athletes and they need some youth in their backcourt. Even if Vince Carter does come back Leslie should be a great role player off the bench and his eventual successor. I love Leslie’s athletic ability and shooting prowess, and he looks like a great fit for the Suns.
24. Oklahoma City Thunder- C Patrick Young, 6’9″ Florida
The Thunder have their guards and SF covered, but know they need to get bigger and stronger to win the West. Adding Kendrick Perkins and Aldrich was a start, but Nazr Mohammed their other addition this season will be a free agent, so adding another center is key. Young is a raw talent, but there were a number of times when he was on the floor that you saw the elite potential he brings. He doesn’t need to be a star right away, just give the Thunder some minutes and I think that is what he is capable of.
25. Chicago Bulls (via Miami Heat)- G Reggie Jackson, 6’3″ Boston College
While Jackson would typically be what you’d expect the Bulls to go after as he is more of a tweener, but I love his upside. He is flying up draft boards and would give the Bulls an athletic shooter on the perimeter. At the same time he could also give valuable breaks to Derrick Rose and help keep him fresh for more important games.
26. Boston Celtics-C Lucas Nogueira, 7’0″ Brazil
The Celtics made an odd move trading Kendrick Perkins this season, and while they do have some big man depth, most of them are impending free agents or guys who are on the downside of their career. Getting a young potential star like Nogueira would be a steal this late in the draft. While he looks to be a raw talent the upside and obvious size is there that should make him a 1st round pick.
27. Dallas Mavericks- PF Markieff Morris, 6’9″ Kansas
The Mavs don’t have much in the way of needs, but since they’ve added young guards of late I’m guessing they will turn their attention to adding depth for their bigs. Markieff Morris is the better inside guy amongst the twins, and should give Dallas good minutes next season.
28. New Jersey Nets (via LA Lakers)- PF JaJuan Johnson, 6’10” Purdue
The Nets traded away what many thought was their PF of the future to land Deron Williams, and now they are a bit thin at the position. Johnson doesn’t have the potential of Derrick Favors, but at the same time he might be better right now. Johnson is a fierce competitor who consistently gets the job done. I love his basketball I.Q., and think he will be a solid NBA player and at the very least will be a role player.
29. Chicago Bulls- SG Doron Lamb, 6’4″ Kentucky
The Bulls are desperate for shooting guard help which makes me believe that they will potentially double up on the position. There aren’t any great options here, but I think Lamb is the best one on the board (assuming he comes out). Lamb is incredibly athletic and looks to be a great 3-point shooter going forward. He should be a good option for Rose to kick the ball to when he penetrates.
30. San Antonio Spurs- G Nolan Smith, 6’4″ Duke
The Spurs don’t have any major need, but do need to keep adding young contributors around their top stars. The Spurs guards aren’t getting any younger, so adding a guy like Smith who can play two positions makes a lot of sense. Smith is a good shooter and a decent ball handler. He isn’t a star at the next level, but he has the basketball I.Q. to be a very good 6th man type.