With the draft lottery now over and the order set, there is sure to be an influx of mock drafts from professionals and fans alike. Everybody will want to weigh in on the highly debated topic that is the NBA draft. Like most years, there is a clear-cut number one pick in Kentucky's Anthony Davis. The New Orleans Hornets won the right to select this potential franchise big man.
However, unlike most years, the rest of the order is up in the air.
Where will Davis' Kentucky teammates land? Will North Carolina have four players taken in the lottery? Who will take a gamble on high risk prospects like Andre Drummond and Perry Jones III?
Here is my take on which team should draft which prospect. Keep in mind that this is entirely my personal opinion and it is based on what I would do if I were making the picks, not what I believe each team will do.
The Hornets were the big winners of the lottery, jumping from the fourth spot to the first, which means that they will walk away with the real prize of this draft: Anthony Davis.
Davis has been the consensus number one pick for a vast majority of the year. There was a brief debate prior to the start of the college season but once Davis stepped onto the floor as a Kentucky Wildcat, all debate ceased.
Davis' defensive ability, freakish length, superb athleticism, high basketball IQ and relentless motor are just too good to pass up. He has the potential to be the best power forward in the league, be a legitimate defensive anchor and a true franchise player.
Simply put, he is far and away the best player in this draft and New Orleans would be foolish to even consider the notion of drafting any other player.
After having the worst season in NBA history, the light at the end of the tunnel for the Bobcats was supposed to be Anthony Davis. However, the ping pong balls didn't fall in their favour and instead they will be selecting second.
After the abysmal season that this year was, the Bobcats need to add some tenacity, toughness and a fiery competitor who wants nothing more than to win. That sums up Kidd-Gilchrist to a tee. He may not be the guy who you build a team around but he is the kind of player that every championship-calibre team needs. He simply does whatever it takes to win and is all about the team.
That isn't to say he doesn't have any skill and is a pure hustle player. He is an efficient slasher, tenacious defender and a good rebounder for his size. He has the ability to become a lockdown perimeter defender.
The inability to create his own offense and a very shaky jump shot will likely prevent him from ever becoming a first or possibly even second offensive option, but his contributions in all other facets of the game is so valuable that you can overlook his lack of go-to scoring ability.
There are rumblings that the Wizards were looking to deal this pick for a veteran if they didn't win the lottery and, obviously, they did not do that, so it remains to be seen if they will keep this pick come June 28th.
On the bright side, should the Wizards decide to not deal this pick they really didn't lose out from falling from second to third in the lottery. Their main target at two would likely have been Beal or Kidd-Gilchrist and they are still in position to draft Beal third.
Beal possess a picturesque jumper that will provide floor spacing that the Wizards desperately need. His knock-down shooting ability will create more driving lanes for John Wall and will also give Nene a reliable shooter to kick the ball out to should defenses decide to double him in the post.
Beal can also take some of the ball-handling pressure off of Wall. He is the best rebounding guard in the draft and has the potential to be an absolute stat stuffer with his ability to block shots and wreak havoc in the passing lanes.
He is the type of all-around shooting guard that would slide in very nicely on a team with so many holes like the Wizards have.
Cleveland grabbed their point guard and franchise player of the future in 2012 Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving with the first overall pick last year. This year, they will look to pair Irving (and 2011 fourth overall pick Tristan Thompson) with a running mate for the next decade and Drummond could very well be that guy.
Drummond is quite possibly the biggest question mark in this draft. Will he realize his sky-high potential and become the dominating force that many predicted him to be when he was in high school? Or will the enigmatic play that defined his lone season at Connecticut plague him for the rest of his career? Nobody really knows the answer to this question and it is for that reason Drummond is such a risk despite his immense physical tools.
Regardless, Drummond will, at the very least, be a shot-blocking presence in the mold of DeAndre Jordan, and those types of players will always have a place in the NBA. If he is able to translate his talent and physical tools into production on the court, the Cavs may find themselves with the best inside/outside duo in the league, an absolutely dominant center and the foundation of a championship team in place.
The Kings have a bunch of talent on their roster. The problem is that most of this talent overlaps and does not mesh well. Guards Tyreke Evans, Isiah Thomas and Marcus Thornton all need the ball in their hands to be their best. The same can be said for center DeMarcus Cousins. They are all also labelled as immature and need a strong personality to keep them in line.
Enter Thomas Robinson.
If Robinson is still on the board at five, which is far from certain, the Kings management would be jumping for joy. Other than Davis, there is not a single prospect in this draft that would be a better fit for this team. Robinson would come in and immediately be able to contribute.
His tenacious rebounding would give the Kings a formidable duo between him and Cousins. He possesses the athleticism to be able to get out in transition with the Kings' guards. He wouldn't give them the shot-blocking that they would like beside Cousins, but that is about the only complaint you could have about the fit.
Perhaps most importantly of all, he would give them the type of personality that would demand respect and ensure that guys like Cousins and Evans would be 100% focused on the game at all times. He would give them the kind of leadership they desperately need.
After Brooklyn didn't move into the top three, the Blazers find themselves with this pick after the Gerald Wallace trade at the deadline. They have a variety of different options with this pick as they have needs at PG, SG and C, and possibly SF as well with Nicolas Batum being a restricted free agent. The decision should ultimately come down to Lamb and North Carolina's Harrison Barnes. With Batum likely being given a long-term extension, it makes sense to turn to a shooting guard in Lamb.
Lamb posted the highest scoring average of any wing player in this draft. He has a silky jumper that is just as effective curling off of screens as it is pulling up off the dribble. He is effective at creating his own offense, although he does have a tendency to settle for mid-range jumpers as opposed to getting right to the rim. However, with a jumper as good as his, it is tough to fault him for playing to his strengths.
Defensively he can get bodied up and have his lack of strength exploited because of his lanky frame, although he does make effective use of his freakish length by playing passing lanes, contesting shots and closing gaps on defense.
Portland passing on Barnes would be an absolute dream for the Warriors after initiating a full-blown tank job in order to prevent the Jazz from receiving this pick. After seeing no team below them jump ahead of them during the lottery, the Warriors breathed a sigh of relief as they will be ensured of keeping this pick.
Barnes would step in and be able to contribute immediately to this Warriors team. His shooting ability will fit right in with fellow perimeter marksmen Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. It would also provide even more floor spacing for big men David Lee and Andrew Bogut. He isn't adept at creating his own offense, although he does have the ability to run pick-and-rolls and has a nice escape dribble to create separation to get his jumper off.
Defensively he has nice size and fundamentals. His lateral quickness isn't great and he will never be a lock-down defender, but he does use his body well to guide the opposition to where he wants them to go. He is a solid rebounder, although he didn't get to show it much playing alongside the stacked UNC bigs.
While he may never live up to the potential everybody initially believed he had, Barnes will be a successful pro and would give the Warriors a great boost as they look to make the jump into the playoffs next year.
The Raptors' biggest need is at the small forward spot, but with them winning a few too many games down the stretch of the regular season, losing the coin toss to the Golden State Warriors and then having no lottery luck, they simply aren't in position to draft a small forward unless somebody completely blows them away during workouts.
Despite their need for a small forward, they also have a hole at point guard with Jose Calderon entering the final year of his contract and Jerryd Bayless being a restricted free agent this summer. The team doesn't seem to view Bayless as a long-term option at the point anyways. That leaves Weber State's Damian Lillard as the most logical choice, if the team even keeps the pick which is far from certain.
Despite playing in the unheralded Big Sky Conference, Lillard was one of the best players in college basketball this season. His PER of 33.8 was the second best in all of college basketball this season. He scored 24.5 points per game which, once again, was second best in college basketball and he had a TS percentage of 64 percent. For a team who struggled to score the ball this past year, his scoring and shooting ability would be a welcome addition.
However, there are still question marks with Lillard. He didn't show much in terms of playmaking this year. Whether that was due to his team needing him to shoulder the scoring load or because he just doesn't have the instincts remains to be seen. He also played very weak competition in the Big Sky which sparks concerns whether he is truly as good as his numbers suggest or if he was a “big fish in a small pond”.
Workouts will be key for Lillard to prove that he didn't just abuse lesser competition, and also to show he is more than a scoring combo guard.
I've had this pick in two out of three of my mocks so far this year, and after hearing that the Pistons will be selecting based on need more than anything, it just reassures my feeling that John Henson will be a Piston.
His shot-blocking and defensive ability compliments Greg Monroe's more offensive-oriented game. He was one of the preemptive defensive players in the NCAA this past season. He will need to add muscle to be able to bang down low with opposing big men and there is concern that his thin frame won't be able to hold much muscle.
However, he makes up for a lack of strength with excellent length, athleticism and timing. With the Pistons having guys like Monroe, Brandon Knight, Ben Gordon and Rodney Stuckey on the roster already, they need a glue-guy defensive player and Henson fits that bill perfectly.
That isn't to say he is a lost cause offensively. He does have solid finishing ability, has developed a reliable left hook shot and this past year added a mid-range jumper to his arsenal which will help space the offense. His calling card is on the defensive end of the floor, though.
After winning the lottery with their own pick, the Hornets are in position to get Davis a point guard to grow and develop with him with the pick they acquired in the Chris Paul trade. There isn't a better option than Kendall Marshall who showed just how valuable his playmaking ability is throughout the college season with the Tar Heels.
Not only is Marshall a terrific passer, he has shown the ability to work flawlessly with his bigs in transition and pick-and-roll scenarios. These are the two areas of Davis' offensive game that are the most developed at this point. Drafting Marshall would help his transition on the offensive end of the floor tremendously.
That isn't to say that Davis would be the only one to benefit from playing with Marshall. Everybody from Emeka Okafor to Eric Gordon to Trevor Ariza would benefit. Gordon is really the only player on the roster you can rely on to consistently create his own offense and that is where Marshall becomes so valuable. He simply has the knack for putting his teammates in the best possible situations to succeed and players are more efficient playing with him.
His own offense is still a work in progress, although he showed development during the end of his season before fracturing his wrist and elbow. There are also plenty of concerns with his defense, but the guy can run an offense like few others and that alone will be invaluable to the Hornets.
After banking on Jeremy Lamb's upside earlier in the draft, the Blazers would ideally look to find a point guard running mate for him. However, that isn't realistic considering Lillard and Marshall are already off the board. They are very thin at the big man positions as well, and although ideally they would like a legitimate center to pair with LaMarcus Aldridge, there simply isn't one of those worth taking here, so they'll go with BPA and Jared Sullinger.
Sullinger is an efficient low-post scorer who uses his low center of gravity and thick frame to establish deep post position. He does struggle at times scoring over length as he is a below-the-rim player, but his high basketball IQ should be enough to compensate for the lack of lift once he gains experience. He has also added a mid-range jumper this year to effectively counter matchups where he simply can't bang down low. He is a very good rebounder as well.
Defensively he isn't great as his lack of size makes it easier for taller big men to shoot over the top of him and he doesn't have much in the way of shot-blocking ability. He does rotate fairly well, draws some charges and does a nice job of cleaning up the glass.
He isn't the ideal compliment to Aldridge defensively, but he does give them a nice high post/low post offensive duo. He is also simply put the best player available at this position and, while may never be a star, he will have carve out a nice career similar to another undersized big man like Paul Millsap.
Everybody knows the story with this talented enigma. He has all the tools you could ask for. Excellent length, explosive athleticism, solid jumper, is oozing natural talent and the like. Put him in an empty gym and you would be hard pressed to find anybody who doesn't see a player with superstar potential.
Unfortunately, basketball isn't played in an empty gym and Jones has never really managed to translate all of his athleticism and talent into extended periods of dominance. Sure, he has a game here and a game there where you are completely blown away by the things he can do on the court, but there are even more moments where you completely forget he is on the court. He disappears for games at a time and has been labelled as soft because of it.
However, there simply is no denying his talent. Put in the right situation with the right coaching staff and personnel around him and you may end up with the best player of this draft, Anthony Davis included. He is that gifted. Of course, on the flip side he could be out of the league in five years as well.
With the Bucks in the position that they are, they simply can't afford to pass up his potential. With a late lottery pick like this, you might as well swing for the fences and hope you hit a home run.
The Suns are likely losing Steve Nash this summer and would probably want to replace him. That isn't likely to happen via the draft, though, unless they reach for a point guard here. Instead, look for them to find their shooting guard of the future instead. That leaves them with a handful of options. They can choose between Duke's Austin Rivers, Washington's Terrence Ross or Syracuse's Dion Waiters. I believe Waiters is the best of that group both short-term and long-term, so he is the pick here.
Waiters has the ability to break down defenses at will. He is constantly putting pressure off the bounce and can get to the rim as well as any perimeter player in this draft. If you are looking for looking a penetrating shooting guard to slash and attack the rim, Waiters is exactly that. With the NBA being so perimeter-oriented these days, a guy like Waiters will make a living at the free-throw line.
The rest of his game isn't as refined as his slashing ability. His jumper can be inconsistent, he can be lazy on defense and he may be a tad undersized at the next level. The jumper can be fixed and he does have solid playmaking instincts as well.
With a Suns team lacking real shot-creating ability and star potential, Waiters is just too tempting to pass up here.
Houston is really in a terrible spot right now. They've stockpiled assets for the last few years hoping that they could flip those assets into a star player. They missed out on Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony and seem an unlikely destination for Deron Williams or Dwight Howard. Despite stockpiling assets, they are thin at center so taking Zeller makes sense.
Zeller may not have the upside as many of his freshman and sophomore counterparts, but what he does have is a very polished game that makes him able to contribute immediately. He can score around the rim with both hands, is a capable mid-range shooter, hits his free throws at a high percentage and has great hands that enable him to catch nearly everything thrown to him. With that said, the best part of his game is without a doubt his ability to run the floor. There isn't a big in this draft that runs the floor better than he does.
He won't solve the Rockets' treadmill problem, but he will give them a reliable player that will be able to contribute immediately.
Jones is very talented, but suffers from disinterested syndrome. On talent alone Jones would undoubtedly be a lottery pick, perhaps finding himself in the top 10. The problem is that Jones has never shown the ability to translate his immense talent into consistent production during his two years in Lexington.
With Philly being a team full of blue collar guys, taking a chance on Jones' talent and hoping Doug Collins can bring out the best in him is probably the best course of action.
Despite not being as high on Rivers as many other people and believing he should've returned to Durham for his sophomore season, his potential would be too much for a Houston team desperately in need of some start potential.
Rivers has the ability to create his own offense and many people believe he could become a very good player with his great shot-creation ability and solid long-range jumper. Despite not seeing the potential that most do in him, Houston makes sense to roll the dice on his potential given their need for an impact player, especially after going with a fairly safe pick earlier in the draft.
On talent alone, Tony Wroten Jr. is probably a top-seven pick. However, he has a completely broken jumper, plays out of control and needs to learn to run an offense better.
With Jason Kidd ageing and no other point guard option in the system, Dallas takes a chance that playing a year alongside veterans like Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, as well as under a respected coach like Rick Carlisle, will help settle him down and help him reach the gaudy potential that he has.
Simply put, Minnesota desperately needs a shooting guard and Ross is the best option available. Really not much else to say about this pick.
With Dwight Howard as good as gone, the Magic have a gaping hole they need to fill at center, assuming they don't get one back in a trade. Leonard is no Howard, but he is athletic, a shot-blocker and there are some people who think he has untapped potential that the right situation could bring out.
Denver really doesn't have any pressing needs that can be filled with a 20th overall draft pick. Maybe a big man if they decide not to pay Javale McGee, but really, they should just go BPA here and that is Harkless. He probably won't have much of an impact immediately, but the Nuggets' depth enables them to wait on him.
Boston is lacking in size and Moultrie is the best big left on the board here. By the time workouts come around he likely won't be available here as I imagine he will jump up the board, but for now he makes the most sense. If he does actually fall here, he has the potential to be a real steal.
Much like the previous pick, Boston continues to add size and bulk up front by drafting Melo. Melo is a strong defender but will likely need a year or two before being ready to contribute. Conditioning and effort level is a big concern with him, but with guys like Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers, that shouldn't be a problem in Boston.
Atlanta really needs depth. Green gives them a versatile player who can play inside, outside and as a point forward. He doesn't solve their issue of simply not being talented enough to contend with a team like Miami, but he does give them another solid piece who does a little bit of everything and give them a reliable, steady role player.
Miller has the talent of a top-10 pick, but an underwhelming freshman season and concerns with a torn ACL suffered in high school have drastically hurt his stock. With Cleveland needing a small forward and another outside shooter, he fits very well with them. Should he regain the form that made him a top recruit coming out of high school, this would be the steal of the draft.
Memphis needs a point guard to back up Mike Conley as he was forced to play major minutes down the stretch and ended up wearing down in the playoffs. Teague gives them that. Ideally, you would want a more reliable backup point, but Teague calmed down a lot towards the end of the season and is likely the BPA here as well.
Indiana really doesn't have any pressing needs here. They would probably like to add a star point, but that would be via free agency. White is very talented, but anxiety issues and tweener status hold him back. At 26 and with Indiana's depth, he is too good to pass up here.
Miami needs size and Ezeli is the best option left. Not much else to it.
Taylor gives the Thunder another athletic shooter who is a strong defender. They don't really have any other real pressing concerns, maybe a depth big but there simply aren't any of those left worth taking at this point in the draft.
With Derrick Rose likely out for the year, the Bulls would probably want somebody more than just a catch-and-shoot player, and Lamb can handle the ball a bit in addition to his strong jumper, giving him the edge over somebody like John Jenkins.
Much like Moultrie earlier, Fournier will not likely be here after workouts as he is very talented, has nice size and is still only 19 years old. Look for a contender to draft and stash him, but should he fall this far, he is simply too talented to pass up for Golden State.