So I wanted to make my original mock draft with the NBA draft only 2.5 weeks away (June 28th) and with the excitement starting to build. I am only going to do the lottery (at least for now) because I feel like those are the only selections that are really possible/probable to be able to pick and because quite frankly after the lottery my interest wanes quite a bit. This draft is really interesting though because you have the one stud in Anthony Davis and then a lot of unknowns after that with question marks. I am not going to try to predict any trades because those are even more possible to predict but if they do happen before the draft than obviously things will change and I will update this mock accordingly. But without further ado here is my first mock draft:
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, PF Kentucky
Easy pick here for the Hornets who got pretty lucky to get this selection. This kid is protected to be a star in this league, I hope he plays power forward because seeing him next to a legit NBA center will make for a lethal defensive front court. The Hornets are going to look to build around him and Eric Gordon for the future so now they should have a star in the inside and out for the next ten years if they play their cards right.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Kentucky
This choice is a little bit tougher because there is not clear-cut pick here and the Bobcats have a ton of needs. The only two positions that they have even closed to lock down for the future are PG (Kemba Walker) and PF/C (one of the two with Bismack Boyombo). Personally I think that Boyombo might turn out to be more of a backup big man in this league because he is only 6’8 and has no offensive skills but he does have a ridiculous wingspan (7’6) and is a great defender so he is really just a conundrum. The options here are MKG, Robinson, Beal, or Barnes. I think MKG, Barnes, and Beal are better fits than Robinson because it seems like the Bobcats are set on Boyombo being their future starter at one of the big man spots. Do you really want Boyombo teaming up with the also undersized Robinson? Neither are 6’9 without shoes so I can’t imagine moving forward with that small of a backcourt. I say they take MKG over Barnes because first off I think he will be better and 2nd he is a better fit for the future Bobcats. He is a defensive first guy who will team very well with the also defensive Boyombo. They will need to get offensive players around these 2 but Kemba is already one and they will certainly have a high pick again next year. I personally would take Beal over MKG if I was the Cats but most draft people have MKG 2nd overall and I think they will go with that logic as well as defense first. The Bobcats got kinda ripped off not getting the first pick and they have no cap space this year to get any better so I expect them to be the worst team in the league again next year but MKG will be a help (I would say the start but Kemba and Biyombo are the real starts even though I am not super high on either).
3. Washington Wizards: Brad Beal, SG Florida
I think this is the obvious choice for our Wizards. If Beal goes 2nd than I take MKG here but Beal fits in perfectly with Wall as his great shooting running mate. Jordan Crawford is the starter now at SG and as has been documented here many times he is not getting the job done. He is still young but he is just a jacker that is just like our past regime: he just doesn’t get it. Beal would be a big upgrade over him because he is an all around player who can shoot, rebound, and defend and actually seems to have a good head on his shoulders with solid basketball I.Q., something Wizards SG’s have been lacking around here for a while. The biggest knocks on him are that he is a little undersized and he didn’t shoot well in college. Both are true to an extent, to compare at 6’4.75 Beal is slightly smaller than James Harden (by less than an inch), the same height as DWade, and an inch taller than Gordon. All of them have longer wingspans than Beal by an inch or two (no more) but the differences are very small. He isn’t super athletic but in my opinion he has decent athleticism and both Gordon and Harden had the same knocks coming out of school. My hope and prediction as a Wizard fan is that he will be some sort of player around an Eric Gordon/James Harden type.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Harrison Barnes, SF UNC
I have Robinson above Barnes on my overall big board but the Cavs need to draft Barnes just out of pure need. This time last year the Cavs literally had nothing, they were pretty much just an empty cupboard with a couple of high picks. Luckily for them they made the most out of those picks by taking Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. Thompson (who was a surprise and much maligned 4th pick) was the biggest surprise as he had a very solid rookie season and looks like he will be the future PF for the Cavs. Due to this I think the Cavs will take Barnes over Robinson with this pick. They already have their PF of the future and don’t really have a SF (Antwan Jamison?) to speak of. Apparently the Cavs were high on Barnes last year before he decided that he didn’t want to come out. I personally am kinda ho-hum on Barnes these days, I think he could be a very solid starting small forward for somebody though so I wouldn’t mind this choice. This would put the Cavs in a really good spot though with Irving, Thompson, and Barnes to build around and a ton of cap space with these guys on their rookie deals. I really like the Cavs future if they don’t screw this pick up.
5. Sacramento Kings: Thomas Robinson, PF Kansas
This is a really perplexing pick primarily because this is a very perplexing team. They have a pretty young team with some talent because they have been in the lottery for what seems like the last 15 years but I really just don’t know what direction they are going for with this squad. They could go in some different directions here but if their original plan was too good according to plan they would have had Jason Thompson as their PF and Cousins as their center for the future. Thompson hasn’t been really good though and the Kings might want to move on. They have spent too much money on players that they thought were going to be good but really just aren’t. Over the next couple of years they have an average of 30 million a year going to the combination of John Salmons, Marcus Thornton, Chuck Hayes, and Fransisco Garcia. When you spend 30 million dollars on those it almost doesn’t matter how well you draft. I think that they are going to let Thompson sign with another team for and not match his offer and basically start anew at the PF position with an upgrade in Robinson. Now the Kings have 2 young good big men in Robinson/Cousins and a 3 guards that they still have to figure out with Fredette/Evans/Thornton. This team could be very good in a couple of years if they take Robinson and Evans/Cousins continue to progress.
6. Portland Trailblazers: Dion Waiters, SG Syracuse
Portland has a lot of options here because while they have been decent over the past few years they were mostly composed of veterans whose contracts are expiring. Right now they have 4 likely guys who could be a part of their future. Unfortunately they only play 2 positions. At SF they have Wesley Matthews who just signed a decent long-term deal and Nicholas Batum who is a restricted FA this year (possible Wiz). At PF they have the stud All-Star in LaMarcus Aldridge and the still pretty young J.J. Hickson. If I had to guess I would think they would let Batum go and make Matthews their starter at SF and obviously Aldridge is staying so they will either try to find trade value for Hickson (there is some) or just let him sign with somebody else because he is a restricted FA as well. Either way the main reason that affects this draft is because I think now they will either draft a PG, SG, or Center, since all of those are needs in the future. I have Waiters here because he was guaranteed that he would be selected by a team high enough that he decided to skip his workouts for other teams. It would have been a bad/bold move of him to skip those workouts if he was guaranteed much lower than this. I watched Waiters play a decent amount at Cuse and always thought he was a player that had that “it” factor to him. I’m not saying he is going to be the next DWade that some people are projecting, but he certainly has shot up the draft boards. For whatever reason I kinda think he might fail in the NBA, but if the Trailblazers like the kid, he definitely fits a need.
7. Golden State Warriors: Terrance Jones, SF/PF Kentucky
I am not exactly sure what the Warriors are attempting to accomplish at this point with their franchise. They overpaid David Lee and he is making LeBron type money for the next 4 years. They traded their best player in Monta Ellis (not a huge fan of him anyways) for Andrew Bogut who is solid but has been injury prone. Then they traded for Richard Jefferson who is getting paid ten million a year for the next 2 years. Now they have an average of 48 million locked up for the next couple of years on Lee, Bogut, Jefferson, and Andris Biendris (SP?). So they pretty much already have their team set for the next 2 years because they have no cap money but they don’t have nearly a good enough team to be a contender even if everybody stays healthy. They are pretty set for the future with Curry and Clay Thompson but I really don’t know there plan elsewhere. They are basically screwed for the next 2 years, they will probably be a decent team (fringe playoff) but they won’t be contenders and thats all that matters. Then in 2 years they will be left with Curry, Thompson, and an older David Lee with a middle of the road draft pick. Just baffling decisions by their front office. As for this pick however I having them taking Terrance Jones because it is their biggest position of need. They have 14 million a year invested in their starter at the PF spot in David Lee and almost 25 million a year invested in Bogut and Biendris at the center spot. Richard Jefferson is their main SF to speak of and he is old and not really that good anymore (certainly won’t live up to his contract). I am not a big Jones fan in the NBA because I think he is kind of a tweener but this team would fit him with their up and down style and they certainly have a need at SF. Overall I do think he will be more of a bust than a boom for them.
8. Toronto Raptors: Andre Drummond, Center UCONN
The Raptors suck. I really have no idea what they are going for right now. Like I have said before you either are rebuilding to become good later or you are in win now mode. Anything in between is foolish. Right now the Raptors are just treading water. They have a good player in Andrea Bargnani and a couple of promising young players in Ed Davis and Demar DeRozan (even though I am not real high on either). As of now they basically have no center with Aaron Gray manning the position last season and even is becoming a free agent this summer. Thats why I have them taking Andre Drummond. Drummond has a ton of potential and really fits a need for the Raptors unfortunately he most likely won’t be a solid contributor for a couple of years. Really the Raps need to decide what they are doing, if they are trying to rebuild you go Drummond here and pair him with Barganani, Davis, and DeRozen for the future. If you are trying to win now (bad idea I think), you might trade this pick for a veteran.
9. Detroit Pistons: Jared Sullinger, PF Ohio State
Here is another team where I am not exactly sure the direction that they are going. They have some veterans in Gordon, Prince, and Villanueva to go along with some young guys in Stuckey, Daye, Monroe, and Brandon Knight. This is another team that I think just needs to go young because with the vets they have now they have no chance of being contenders. As for this pick, the only reason position that they don’t have coverage for in the future is PF (assuming Monroe will play center, even tho I like him better at PF) and they have a couple of options here at that position with Sullinger and John Henson. I guess I like Sullinger more here just because I think Henson is too thin and will to often get bullied in the NBA but even Sully isn’t a perfect pick for them here. Personally I would see if I could package this pick and one of your vets to move up in the draft if I was the Pistons but they have seem set on going with these later lottery picks recently and I think that trend will continue.
10. New Orleans Hornets: Damian Lillard, PG Weber State
Well now the Hornets have their SG and PF for the future so they have to start building around them. They have Jarrett Jack right now but he seems like more of a backup to me so I think they need a starter for the future. If there was a good center out there that I liked I would have him go here but I am not a huge Zeller guy (at least as a starter) so I think this dude is their best fit. I don’t know much about him because he played at Weber State but if he is their top ranked point guard then they should take him.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Kendall Marshall, PG UNC
After taking Waiters with the 6th pick in the draft they still need to fill holes at PG and Center. Unforunately like I said I don’t think there are any starter quality players at either position left. Marshall is the highest ranked left on most boards but personally I just don’t think he has enough offensive ability to keep most teams honest. He’s not like Rajon Rondo who has the incredible quickness to overcome his lack of offense so I see him as a good backup PG in this league but as a starter I am not sold. But the Blazers don’t have a lot of options here, if I were them I would try to trade up and give up your 6th and 11th for a top pick so you can definitely have at least one good starter to go along with Aldridge and Matthews for the future.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Perry Jones III, SF/PF Baylor
I don’t really like the way the Bucks have constructed their team (seems to be a pattern with these lottery teams) because there team revolves around their two guards Jennings and Ellis who are both shoot first ask questions later type players. This makes it difficult for other players to be big scorers. Around them they brought in a lot of hustle type and smallish guys who would fight for the offensive rebounds off their misses, play solid, defense and not require a lot of touches. This is a decent idea in theory but the problem is that Jennings and Ellis aren’t anywhere close to good enough to lead a team into being a contender. They are too small to be the only options and really I wouldn’t like them to be on any of my teams because they are scorers who aren’t good enough to be top options for contending teams. Really the Bucks can take any position here other than the 2 guard spots so I am going with PJ3 here who has more upside than anybody in this draft other than Davis. I am actually fairly high on Jones and think he will be one of the better players in this draft. I would prefer to have him play SF over PF and have him be more of a KD type player (poor mans version right now) but the Bucks might need him to play some PF.
13. Phoenix Suns: Austin Rivers, SG Duke
As of right now the Suns have 0 PG’s or SG’s signed for next season. Obviously that could change and what Steve Nash does will make a huge difference but to say a guard is a need for this team is an understatement. I think that both the Suns and Nash should move on because this team isn’t going to compete while Nash is productive so that works against both or their goals. The problem for the Suns is that they have a lot of guys in their supposed prime (late 20′s) but none of them are really that great. They have Warrick, Gortat, Fry, Childress, and Dudley all signed for next season and some more. They are making the most money on this team right now and these are all role players. I have them taking Rivers here because he fills a need and basically just gives them young talent. I actually like Rivers and think with the right coach he could be a pretty good player in this league (possible all-star). This team needs to make some changes this off-season however though because they are stuck in the middle of being good and bad right now and that is the worst place to be in the NBA.
I’ll probably end up doing the non-lottery teams over the next few days so I will get up pretty soon but the main thing I have realized is how many dumb (for lack of a better word) GM’s there are. You have way too many teams who are caught in the middle and aren’t rebuilding but also don’t have a good enough team to compete. As I have said this is the worst thing you can do and as a Wiz fan I would know better than anyone (Remember Butler, Arenas, and Jamison for all those years? Look where that got us now.). This draft is overrated though, after Davis, Beal, and MKG I am not too sure about any of the guys. One team that I didn’t realize was starting to do well and who I kind of like now are the Cleveland Cavaliers. Obviously the whole LeBron situation happened and they were the laughing-stock of the league but now they have 2 good players to build around in Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson and if should be able to pick up Beal, MKG, or Barnes to go with them. With all that cap space they are about to have, watch out for this team in a couple of years. On the flip side the Warriors made the idiotic move of trading for Richard Jefferson and his 10 million dollars a year contract for the next 2 years so now they have no cap money to try to help a fringe playoff team that they won’t be able to blow up for a few more years. Unless something ridiculous happens I would be shocked if the Warriors were ever contenders (top 4 seed in conference) in the next 5 years.