After all the measurements, drills, athletic tests and interviews, stocks have dropped and risen at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, which may soon be viewed and regarded by the general public as something close to the NFL Draft Combine in the next few years.
While some of the top players (Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Dion Waiters, etc.) decided either not to attend or miss much of the combine, there were still a lot of impressive performances and intriguing storylines in the past two days.
All 30 first-round picks are predicted in this mock draft, along with possible trades. Let's start off with the Hornets at No. 1.
How is Davis looking more sure of being selected first when he is basically guaranteed the No. 1 pick? Well, according to Yahoo Sports! Marc Spears, Davis said he has put 15 pounds of muscle on a frame that was listed at 220 pounds this season at Kentucky, and has developed a relationship with New Orleans Head Coach Monty Williams.
Also, Davis realizes that he won't be able to play at as high a level as he wants to offensively because of his smaller body.
But he is more than a willing defender.
"It’s going to take a couple of years to develop and play the way I want to play," he said. “But I will make an immediate impact defensively. I need to make an impact defensively to help the team win. I don’t want to be offensive-minded. I’m not thinking about scoring."
It's hard to find a player as brutally honest about his prospects as Davis. But by the time he can add 30-40 pounds of muscle on his body in two years, he will be able to play center like Kevin Garnett this season, and develop an offensive repertoire that will be elite among big men.
No top overall pick has had the ability to impact the NBA game the way Davis can since LeBron James, and New Orleans could contend for a playoff berth this season because of his defensive presence with a 7' 5.5'' wingspan.
With the most NBA-ready body among swingmen in this draft and a seven-foot wingspan comparable to a rookie stud and draft steal from this past NBA season in Kawhi Leonard, Kidd-Gilchrist can defend all three perimeter positions, play some power forward when needed and be a consummate leader and professional.
An 18-year-old young man who has overcome the loss of both his uncle and father was arguably the biggest influence on a national title team who had the No.1 pick on its roster. Kidd-Gilchrist has a lot of room to grow if he can develop a consistent jump shot.
Charlotte has been rumored, according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, to want to trade this pick, but that would be the biggest mistake by this franchise since drafting Adam Morrison.
Though Kidd-Gilchrist is potentially only as good a player as Gerald Wallace, Michael Jordan knows that Wallace was an absolute beast when in Charlotte and made other players better because of his presence. If Kidd-Gilchrist isn't the pick, Jordan will never make a good draft pick for the Bobcats.
The comparisons to Ray Allen may be a little bit of a stretch for now, but Beal provides exactly what the Wizards need: Shooting. With the Washington Post's Michael Lee reporting that Washington will most likely buy out Rashard Lewis' contract and amnesty Andray Blatche if they cannot find trade suitors, the team's young frontcourt of Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker and Chris Singleton to go along with Hilario Nene at center (the team was 7-4 when he played), there is no question that the hole on this roster involves a perimeter offensive presence next to future All-Star point guard John Wall.
While Thomas Robinson's incredible ability to run pick and roll is intriguing, the Wizards need to use the money in free agency to sign a veteran wing player like Gerald Wallace, and trust the young frontcourt to play with Nene at a high level. Beal has NBA range and played against small forwards last year due to Florida's guard-heavy lineup. In small lineups, he can play with Wall and Jordan Crawford, and can defend the point guard position if Wall is as big or bigger than the other team's shooting guard.
Washington is a potential playoff team next year, so filling their greatest weakness is more important at this point.
When Barnes played with an effective point guard (Kendall Marshall) in his two years at North Carolina, he looked like a potential No. 1 pick. When he didn't, he looked completely out of place and took ill-advised shots. Fortunately for Barnes and the Cavaliers, Barnes will fit right in with Kyrie Irving.
Though Cleveland may have wanted Beal to fall to this spot, there is no question Barnes is a great consolation prize. If he stays healthy and gets on the same page as Irving, the Cavaliers will have their long-term replacement (at the small forward position) for LeBron James. His body compares to Tracy McGrady, though he does not have that same explosiveness off the dribble as the T-Mac of old. He is a hard-working, scrappy player with pretty good athleticism who plays within the system.
Because there are three other picks for Cleveland in this draft, I will wait to see how the entire mock draft looks to see about how this team looks next season.
While Sacramento's problems have always been in the back-court, they have put a lot of resources there in past draft picks like Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas. They have not, however, put consisting shooting or an ideal pick-and-roll partner for these players, all three of which can play point guard.
Robinson is the best pick-and-roll big man in this class, has a high motor, great character and high rebounding volume that compares favorably to another King, DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins can play the power forward position, but the combination of both of them in the paint would be nearly unstoppable.
In the video above, Kansas coach Bill Self compares Robinson to Utah's Paul Millsap, but he is a better prospect than Millsap due to his potential to grow and athletic ability to play and defend small forwards in the NBA. If he joins Sacramento, he can be a perfect sixth man for a team that needs to define roles for all its players.
Plus, Robinson is the best player on the board, and Sacramento has usually, if not always, gone with that approach.
Apparently, Waiters pulled out of all future workouts and interviews with teams because he received a promise from a lottery team that they would draft him, according to Pro Basketball Talk.
While early candidates have been the Toronto Raptors and Phoenix Suns, both teams have been rumored to want to add veteran players, so Waiters would have little reason to feel confident about any promise these teams make.
The Trailblazers, meanwhile, have to replace the play-making ability of Brandon Roy sooner or later, and Waiters is exactly that type of talent. Though Wesley Matthews will most likely still be the starting shooting guard, Portland only has to look to Northwest Division rival Oklahoma City to see what James Harden has done in the sixth-man role for the Thunder, and Waiters has the same type of passing, driving and pure combo-guard skills that compare to players like Harden, Roy and even Dwayne Wade.
Plus, Portland will usually take the most talented players on the draft board. ESPN's Chad Ford wrote in May that some scouts see Waiters as the draft's sleeper, while a GM said he and Anthony Davis are the only possible superstars in the draft, according to orangefizz.net.
With that in mind, Waiters is a pick that can potentially make Trailblazers fans forget about the tragedy of Brandon Roy.
Trade via NBA Draft Machine:
Philadelphia 76ers receive:
C Andris Biedrins (Two years, $9 million per year left on contract)
SF Dorell Wright (One year, $3.8 million left on contract)
No. 7 pick
Golden State Warriors receive:
SF Andre Igoudala (Two years, $13.5 million per year left on contract)
With the San Francisco Gate reporting that the Warriors are exploring trade options for a small forward like Andre Igoudala or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the 76ers likely to amnesty Elton Brand, according to Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy, this is a trade I believe works for all parties involved.
Henson will be the Serge Ibaka of this young 76ers team, while Igoudala will pair with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to finally have a pure perimeter lineup since Jason Richardson was traded by Golden State. While trading Igoudala will be tough, it will allow Philadelphia to re-sign Lou Williams to a long-term deal and give extensions to Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner in the coming years.
The Henson pick is one which may be a bit high for many people right now, but there will be NBA people who look at him as the closest thing to Anthony Davis in this draft and will want that unique type of talent on their roster. Doug Collins definitely will.
According to Sam Amico of SI.com, Lillard's performance in the combine solidified his spot, for now, as the No. 1 point guard in this draft. He shot very well and proved his ability to be a top-10 scorer in college basketball was no fluke, as his skill-set will give the Raptors a true playmaker.
However, Toronto has been rumored to want to trade this pick to try to get an established swing-man like Rudy Gay or Andre Igoudala, according to ESPN. If the pick stays in Toronto's possession, however, Jose Calderon is in the last year of his contract and Jerryd Bayless is a restricted free agent.
There are no good swingmen at this point in the draft, so Lillard is maybe the only one playmaker who can run an offense in this draft and would be a perfect choice to help continue the Raptors' rebuilding process.
Sullinger improved slightly from his freshman to sophomore season, but a deep draft class and worries about his weight concern top-10 teams. However, with Jason Maxiell having a player-option on his contract and Greg Monroe being the center of the future for Detroit, Sullinger fits the one missing position on the team's starting lineup currently.
Monroe is about as close to a point-center as there is in the NBA because of his passing skills, so Sullinger can be the banger down low to get rebounds and points at a high rate. No one has scored well from the post since Rasheed Wallace for the Pistons, so why not have two players like that who can produce?
Sullinger's presence will allow Detroit to use talented but inconsistent players like Jonas Jerebko, Charlie Villanueva, Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon as possible trade assets to build a more complete and role-defined backcourt and frontcourt. Plus, using talented players like these to get expiring contracts could make the Pistons players in a pretty good free agent class next off-season.
Trade (Via NBA Trade Machine):
Milwaukee Bucks receive:
SG Xavier Henry
No. 10 pick
New Orleans Hornets Receive:
PG Brandon Jennings
PF Jon Brockman
No. 12 Pick
According to Pro Basketball Talk, Brandon Jennings was available at the trade deadline for the right price, and a main reason was because he doesn't get along with management and doesn't see himself in Milwaukee very long. This trade is perfect for the Bucks, as it fills their biggest need for a Scott Skiles-coached team: an interior defensive presence. Plus, Henry is a pure shooting guard that allows Mike Dunleavy, assuming he comes back, to play small forward and possibly put Monta Ellis at point guard, which he has the ability to do.
Drummond has the longest wingspan of any player in the draft at 7' 6.25''. In a profile of Drummond by Alex Kennedy on hoopsworld.com, Kennedy stated that inconsistency, rawness in his offensive game and defensive awareness, and work ethic were concerns in his game, but that Drummond has lost 22 pounds since the end of Connecticut's season and that he promises to work hard.
Drummond will fall because he is as raw a big time center prospect as Andrew Bynum was when he came into the league, and because of the failure of players like Kwame Brown, Darko Milicic and Greg Oden. But this is the perfect risk for Milwaukee to take, as Jennings may not stay long in Milwaukee. Drummond can develop into the replacement for Andrew Bogut, but as a much better defender.
Sam Amico of Sports Illustrated compared Marshall to Ricky Rubio as a passing point guard with need to develop as a scorer. With Waiters taken as the scoring guard, Marshall can be the perfect pick-and-roll partner with LaMarcus Aldridge, and his 6' 4'' stature gives him great vision and ability to defend both guard positions.
A starting lineup of Marshall, Matthews, Nicolas Batum (if he re-signs), Aldridge and whoever plays center, along with an intriguing bench led by Waiters could put Portland in position to compete in a couple years with young coach Kaleb Canales still developing.
Leonard measured above seven feet at the combine and his shooting stroke is impressive for a man his size. He was more impressive at the combine, where, according to Chicago SB Nation, several teams loved his workout.
True seven-foot centers are high commodities at this point in the NBA, so any impressive workouts could move a player like Leonard anywhere from five to 10 spots in this draft. With New Orleans needing a center if Emeka Okafor doesn't come back healthy, and Drummond being a very high risk, it makes sense to trade down, get a young point guard like Brandon Jennings, and have a three-some of Jennings, Davis and Leonard to carry New Orleans into a new era with new owner Tom Benson.
If Steve Nash decides to stay in Phoenix, which I think he will, Josh Childress could likely be amnestied, which would open up the backup shooting guard spot, as Michael Redd could stay as the starter.
Rivers is a perfect combo-guard in this case, as he can come off the bench to provide a spark and ball-handling presence, along with a guy who isn't afraid to take the big shot. At 6'4'', Rivers could be an intriguing player to perhaps have Steve Nash teach point guard skills for the next two to three years, as that opportunity could be the best thing for Rivers' career.
He did play the point at Duke, although it was unorthodox for him and the way Duke used him. Coach K didn't seem to like the way the offense ran through Rivers to a fault, and his inability to move the ball at times created bad rhythm for the team.
With that being said, Rivers is a top-10 talent that Phoenix should feel fortunate about getting at this point, and should see if Nash can groom him to be the next floor general of the Suns.
Trade (Via NBA Trade Machine):
Los Angelas Lakers receive:
PF Luis Scola
PG Beno Udrih
F Tobias Harris
No. 14 pick
Houston Rockets receive:
PF/C Pau Gasol
F Jon Leuer
Milwaukee Bucks Receive:
C Samuel Dalembert
PG Kyle Lowry
The Lakers need to get younger and faster, and a new CBA provision prevents LA from getting Lamar Odom back for a calender year. A player with a lot of potential to be the next Odom is Perry Jones. He can play small forward, and be a small power forward that Odom played. Gasol has already been traded once to Houston, though unofficially thanks to David Stern, but another unsuccessful season means the Lakers will try to make a big trade again.
Scola provides nearly everything Gasol does at a much smaller price, while the addition of Jones at 6'11'' allows the Lakers to keep their length advantage while adding some much needed athleticism to compete with Oklahoma City. Jones may be considered a bit of an underachiever, but so was Odom for much of his career until he found a perfect role as the sixth man in Los Angelas. Jones would be a perfect replacement.
Zeller is a seven-footer with great passing skills. With Andris Biedrins being added through the AI trade, Zeller will not have to contribute much early on.
Being teammates with Henson for three years will allow for the two to complement each other perfectly, as Zeller will not have to be much of a defensive presence with Biedrins, Henson and Lavoy Allen blocking shots and forcing perimeter players to either pass or take jump shots.
Philadelphia needs to build itself like a normal NBA team, as playing ultimate small ball will always prevent them from getting a high seed, and will force them into exactly what they don't want to be: a jump shooting squad with no great jump shooters. The move to pick Zeller may be one of, if not the last move to make Doug Collins' dream team a reality.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey always seems to go with best player available, and Jones has a perimeter shooting game that no other big on Houston provides. Though Donatas Mojietunas, Marcus Morris and Patrick Patterson are still on the roster as power forwards, neither one screams instant starter. Jones has the ability and skill to come in and be a big role player for Houston.
Plus, all three power forwards could be used as trade bait by the Rockets to acquire more talent and future draft picks. Jones is a 6' 9'' 250-pound combo forward who can pair with Chandler Parsons as forwards who can rebound, defend and shoot the ball at a high rate. Yet again, this pick could be traded as well.
The Dallas Mavericks shouldn't start Vince Carter or Delonte West at shooting guard ever again, even if Deron Williams becomes the Mavericks' point guard. With Jason Terry aging and now a free agent, Dominique Jones is the only pure shooting guard on the roster. Enter Lamb, whose 6'11'' wingspan is both unique for his position and gives Dallas an element on their roster they never seem short on: Versatility.
Lamb is a big-time scorer who still has a lot of room to grow and is an absolute steal at this point. If Dallas wants to keep collecting assets in order to change the roster to make a final big run at an NBA championship, Lamb is the best available player and could be parlayed into a move to either get cap space or an established veteran.
The Wesley Johnson experiment at shooting guard has failed miserably. Even if Johnson can play the small forward position, somebody should take his place as the starting shooting guard.
Though the Timberwolves could play as many as three point guards for 15-plus minutes each in a game (Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea), Ross is a 6' 6'' athlete with great shooting ability and potential to grow an offensive repertoire.
His length also provides defense that will replace whatever impact Johnson made at that position without sacrificing scoring at that position any longer. WalterFootball compares him to Nick Young, and that type of comparison is valid since Minnesota could look at him and other shooting guards in free agency if Ross is not at this pick.
Moultrie could be the biggest steal in the draft if he falls this far, but he didn't participate at the combine and could either be the next Al Horford or another Kansas Morris twin who may take at least a couple years to develop.
Although Ryan Anderson improved greatly, he is not a great rebounder. Moultrie could either be the player who comes off the bench at power forward or could replace Dwight Howard at center. He would be undersized for the position, but so is Horford in Atlanta and it has allowed Atlanta to be a playoff regular.
With no GM or head coach currently, this pick could go anyway and anywhere at this point. That being said, best available player is a great approach at this point.
Just like his brother Jeff, a starting point guard for the Atlanta Hawks, Marquis has underrated perimeter shooting skills and elite speed but will need a couple years of grooming to be a starting-caliber player.
But with Ty Lawson as the franchise floor general and Andre Miller potentially coming back, Teague is in a perfect position to learn with George Karl at head coach, and in little time, Lawson and Teague could become the fastest point guard combination in the league.
With no other positions of need and a lot of tradeable assets in future picks from the Knicks and Wilson Chandler, Denver could make a big move this off-season or continue to be the deepest and arguably the next multiple future star-studded team in the league.
Wroten seemingly couldn't hit the broad side of the barn last season in Washington, shooting 16 percent from three-point range. Rajon Rondo had similar shooting struggles at Kentucky that have since dissipated in Boston.
The Celtics need to grab some young talent in this deep draft, and Wroten's 6'5'' frame and ability to play point guard are unique skills to add to the best defensive backcourt in the NBA with Rondo and Avery Bradley. He is a raw player, but if Boston plans on competing for the NBA title for at least another couple years, it should build some young assets underneath its veteran core in order to be able to compete when the Big 3 era is officially over.
Harkless is another low-risk, potential high-reward move at this point in the draft. At 6'8'', 190 pounds, Harkless has an NBA body and skills, but playing with a losing team may have deterred some scouts from looking his way. But a couple of years of tutelage from Paul "The Truth" Pierce, and Harkless will truly be ready to start as a small forward.
He is compared by WalterFootball to Paul George, who has become an absolute stud and potential future All-Star for the Indiana Pacers. This was without a lot of teaching, so imagine what Pierce can do for his career. Eastern Conference foes who are hoping to take Boston's hold of a consistent top-four seed won't be able to sleep well with that potential reality.
Yes, I know SI.com via the Associated Press has documented about White and his anxiety issues about flying, and his 270-pound frame may scare off some people who don't think a point-forward should be that size, but the Atlanta Hawks are known to take some chances and love versatile playmakers.
White is a top-20 talent who had the ability to get a triple-double every night last season at Iowa State, and his workouts will astonish a team like Atlanta that loves great athleticism and passing ability from front-court players.
Imagine the lineup potential for the Hawks on a game-to-game basis even if Josh Smith ends up being traded. White is a risk worth taking, as Jeff Teaque was taken as an unknown commodity at the No. 18 pick three years ago and he has proven to be a steal.
Though Bradley Beal is the best pure shooter in this draft, Lamb isn't far behind. Plus, he is capable of being in the starting lineup as a rookie if that ends up being Cleveland's plan with him.
With Irving and Lamb in the backcourt, shooting will not be a problem, and Barnes' presence will allow the two to both penetrate and attack the rim. With two picks early in the second round, don't be surprised if Cleveland looks to package them to make a third selection in the first round to add to a roster that needs more depth.
Memphis needs shooting, as without Shane Battier this year Rudy Gay was forced to take unnecessary jump shots versus the Clippers. While a veteran like Ray Allen or Steve Novak would be nice to add, unless that is a guarantee the Grizzlies need to see it as their biggest priority on draft weekend.
Jenkins is a pure shooter and could come off the bench for Tony Allen. Although Mike Conley hasn't yet become an elite point guard, there are no starting-caliber players available at either backcourt position at this point so shooting is the only way to go for the Grizzlies.
Roy Hibbert needs a backup center who doesn't pick up quick fouls, as Louis Amundson and Tyler Hansbrough were exposed in the series against the Miami Heat whenever he went to the bench.
Hibbert developed into a very good center with time, and could teach Melo, who has immense talent and upside, to do the same. Indiana does not need Melo to become the next Kareem, but it would be nice to not have a huge offensive drop-off from the position when Hibbert sits.
With no point guards guaranteed to contribute at the NBA level, the Pacers should take a very low-risk on a big man with a ton of potential.
With it being clear that Watson can't win a playoff series as the top point guard and Chicago spending way too much money on overvalued commodities, the Bulls might want to build the rest of their team through the draft.
Taylor is a veteran college point guard who has played in big games and has great leadership qualities. While he doesn't have anywhere near the ability of Derrick Rose, he plays within his skill set and can learn the position from a seasoned veteran. However, a point guard combination of Taylor and John Lucas could be serviceable and allow the Bulls to compete for a top-four seed in the East before Rose returns.
With a starting lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Igoudala, David Lee and Andrew Bogut, the Warriors can now add to a talented young bench that includes Charles Jenkins and Jeremy Tyler.
Elezi can block shots and defend, and was a handful for Anthony Davis in conference play in the SEC. He is the type of competitor and overachiever that Mark Jackson will love to coach. Ezeli is just another piece that could help the Warriors reach the postseason, if the Igoudala trade happens.
Jeffrey Taylor has the ability to be the next Thabo Sefolosha with his ability to defend perimeter players. WalterFootball compares him to Matt Barnes, which would be the perfect defensive-minded player to bring off the bench when Durant either goes to the bench for a few minutes, or moves to the small forward position.
Though Sefolosha can play that role for now, having another defensive stopper to groom for a couple years until Sefolosha maybe leaves in free agency could be the perfect move for Oklahoma City to make at this point. When a team constantly has the pieces to compete for a championship, it should either sell its draft picks or pick players who can be considered "starters-in-waiting."
Though Chris Bosh is a big-time shooting post player, adding another player with that skill set is needed in Miami for both depth and scoring, as Bosh's absence showed how much Miami needs to have scoring from its post players at times.
Nicholson is compared to Charlie Villanueva by Walter Football. Though Villanueva gets a bad rap for not rebounding, he was miscast as a top-10 draft pick in Toronto, paid like a starting 4 in Detroit and isn't appreciated for his unique shooting ability.
Nicholson will definitely be much more appreciated by the Heat.