As the NBA draft draws closer, every NBA fan is feeling something all of us has felt at some point: draft anxiety. As great as the chances are that a team will hit a home run in selecting a rookie to bring aboard, the chances are equally great that a GM will make a blunder and their selection will be a first-class bust.
For example, I remember in the 1999 NBA draft, with the New York Knicks on the clock for the 15th pick, the team selected a French center named Frederic Weis. This angered fans because the Chicago Bulls selected New York's own Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace) with the very next pick. Sure enough, he went on to become a star and Weis never appeared in an NBA game.
The team did the same thing in 2009, drafting Arizona forward Jordan Hill over stud guards like Brandon Jennings and DeMar DeRozan.
Long story short, each NBA fan should have a little bit of worry going into Thursday's draft in the event that their team's GM makes an epic draft blunder, like drafting Florida shooter Bradley Beal when the team's greatest need is at power forward.
Thus, let's go through each NBA team and pick one player they should avoid like the plague.
The primary reason that the Hawks should avoid Leonard is that their starting five is fine as it is. Al Horford is big enough at 6'10", 250 pounds to work the 5, so the only reason to really consider Leonard at all is if the team wants to move Horford to power forward and Josh Smith to small forward, both of which probably won't happen.
Now the odds of this happening are slim, as mynbadraft.com has Leonard slotted as a lottery pick. Yet, in the event that he does slip to Atlanta's spot, I just don't trust his body to hold up in the NBA. If anything, this team needs depth at small forward in case Marvin Williams becomes too disappointing to keep around.
In his senior season, Nicholson looked great averaging 18.4 points, eight rebounds and two blocks per contest. Given the Celtics' need at power forward with the impending departure of Kevin Garnett, he isn't a bad option on paper.
However, Nicholson played for St. Bonaventure of the Atlantic 10 Conference. Not to pooh-pooh the program, but it just isn't the same compared to bigger ones like Duke or North Carolina. That said, while I'm sure that the man will find a team and do well on it, the Celtics shouldn't be the one to gamble on him.
They need a top option at the position who will be able to produce right out of the gate, while Nicholson is probably a work in progress-type player.
The Nets kind of got burned with this year's draft, as they traded away their top five-protected first-round pick to the Portland Trail Blazers for Gerald Wallace, only to draw the sixth pick in the lottery. Thus, they do not have a pick until the second round when they will make the 57th overall selection.
That said, the team basically needs help at every position except for shooting guard, where Marshon Brooks starred last year. The biggest mistake GM Billy King could possibly make is take another guard, in this case William Buford of Ohio State.
Buford isn't a bad player by any means, having averaged 14.7 points for the Buckeyes last year, but offense isn't the Nets' biggest weakness. Their greatest need is a big body who could potentially fill the void left by Kris Humphries, who will probably walk in free agency.
I know the concept of Barnes continuing his career in North Carolina sounds awesome, but the Bobcats are the worst possible destination for him. Regardless of where he ends up in the NBA, the expectation will be for him to become a reliable scorer within a couple of years.
Should he end up on the 'Cats, he'll be expected to start producing immediately in a lineup that is in desperate need of both scoring and defense. Since he's an extremely streaky shooter and can't make shots consistently (at least at this point), playing for Charlotte is a recipe for disaster as his inconsistency will elicit boos from the fans and turn a dream scenario into a nightmare.
The Bulls' greatest need in this draft is creating depth, but Plumlee isn't the man they should rely on to provide it. He has decent size at 6'10", 245 pounds, but doesn't have the physicality or low post presence to succeed in the NBA. In his senior season, he averaged just 6.7 points and 7.2 rebounds.
Taking him would just set the Bulls up for disappointment and actually make them thankful for Carlos Boozer's contract.
The Cavs need help at a couple of positions, namely shooting guard and center. In the event that they choose to go down the guard road, the worst mistake they could make would be to take Rivers and immediately put him in the starting lineup.
Don't get me wrong. Rivers has a future as a scorer, but he's nowhere near ready to be a starter. If anything, I see him as the Klay Thompson of this year's draft. The talent is there, but he needs to learn that there are shots to take in front of the three-point line as well.
That means he needs to be taken by a team who is willing to give him solid minutes off the bench to start before EVENTUALLY placing him in the starting lineup. In Cleveland, he'd get thrust into the spotlight immediately and then disappoint the fans.
The Dallas Mavericks' offense is pretty simple: give the ball to Dirk Nowitzki or the team's best scorer, and let them do the rest. Given how the team is probably about to lose both Jason Kidd and Jason Terry to free agency, it would make the most sense to draft surefire guards who can step in and either get Nowitzki the ball or help him shoulder the scoring load.
Another scenario would be for the team to draft their star player's eventual successor, but Jared Sullinger is not that man. As great as he was in college, the man's red-flagged back injury is just too much of a risk for Mark Cuban to assume. On top of that, Sullinger's scoring abilities are one-dimensional as his jump shot is nowhere near what it should be.
Take him, and Dallas goes from being Big D to Big Bust.
The Nuggets' greatest need, like most teams in the latter half of the first round, is to create team depth. If they're going to look for that at the forward position, one name to stay away from is Royce White of Iowa State.
Don't get me wrong. White is talented in his own right; but in Denver, I just see him as a less dominant Kenneth Faried. If Masai Ujiri is to draft a forward, he should focus on a swingman and not a big body like White.
Jones has good size at 6'11", 235 pounds and definitely has the potential to be an Amar'e Stoudemire-type player. However, the giant stumbling block that's keeping him from becoming just that is his lack of commitment on defense. I'm not saying Stoudemire is a top defender, but he at least makes an effort when trying to get a rebound.
The way I see it, the Pistons need a forward who's going to make playing tough defense as much of a priority as scoring. Jones simply won't do that, even with Lawrence Frank as his coach. If Detroit drafts him, he'll remain in the starting lineup regardless because he's still a better option than any of the other power forwards the Pistons have.
Golden State has enough scorers just by having Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee on the team, with the biggest hole existing at small forward. That said, drafting a scoring point guard like Lillard would automatically make fans question whether or not Bob Myers is qualified to be making major roster decisions for a team that is trying hard to get back to the postseason.
The Rockets are set at both guard positions with Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin, so they should be looking to draft a power forward/center to spell both Luis Scola and Samuel Dalembert. Someone like Arnett Moultrie, to name one option.
However, Kevin Martin was injured for much of the latter half of last season, so there's always the chance that GM Daryl Morey will freak out and draft a guard in case that happens again. One guard to avoid, if you ask me, would be Jeremy Lamb of UConn.
Nothing against the guy, but Lamb's style of play is best suited to a run-and-gun offense like the one that Alvin Gentry uses in Phoenix. He'll be asked to slow down in Houston, and thus be a disaster.
Nothing against Fournier, but international prospects don't exactly have a golden track record in the NBA. There are some bright spots in guys like Dirk Nowitzki and Jose Calderon, but some don't even pan out.
That said, I take a look at Fournier and see bust all over him. He averaged 14 points per game in France last year, shooting 42.5 percent from the field. From long range, he shot just 27 percent.
Seeing as how the key to the Pacers' future success is reliability and consistency, not to mention that their greatest need is at point guard, picking Fournier is a choice that would be just plain bad.
The Clips don't pick until the second round, as they have the No. 53 overall selection. They need help at forward, so someone like Jae Crowder would be ideal if available.
What the team DOESN'T need, however, is another guard. They're pretty much set in that department with Chris Paul and Randy Foye; bringing on another shooter/scorer isn't a good idea.
That said, getting someone like Darius Johnson-Odom would be an incredible mistake. Sure, he averaged 18.5 points for the Golden Eagles last year, but scoring is all he can really do. At 6'2", he's just an undersized shooting guard and that's the last thing the Clippers need.
The Lakers have just one pick in this year's draft, the very last one. That said, it's hard to pick the worst possible player for them to draft. After scouring the prospects available, I'm going to go with Denmon.
Denmon proved to be a good scorer for the Tigers, averaging 17.6 points and 5.1 rebounds. Yet he was playing in a fast-paced offense, so unless he's drafted by Phoenix, those numbers probably won't translate to the NBA.
More importantly, at this point, the Lakers should be toughening up the frontcourt rather than searching for Kobe Bryant's successor.
There's nothing wrong with adding depth, but the Grizzlies should be looking for a solid shooting guard in the event that O.J. Mayo leaves via free agency. If they are looking to add some options at forward, Kyle O'Quinn is the last name they should consider.
The man has good size at 6'10", 240 pounds, but his game outside of the paint is limited, especially compared to incumbent Memphis power forward Zach Randolph. Chances are that O'Quinn has a decent future as a tough big man, but Memphis just isn't the right place for him to get his start.
There, he'll ride the pine and immediately be labeled as a disappointment.
Barton is primarily a scorer, and Miami's Big Three are under contract for the next four seasons. That said, they should be focusing on adding a top center and not ANOTHER shooter.
Waiters is a fine player and a great athlete, but the Bucks aren't the team for him. They're set at guard with both Monta Ellis and (free agency depending) Brandon Jennings, so bringing Waiters aboard would just give them a solid pest off the bench.
What the team really needs is help at power forward, since Ersan Ilyasova is probably going to sign with another team and the Drew Gooden experiment hasn't worked out thus far.
Unless the 6'4" Waiters has shot up about five inches without us knowing about it, GM John Hammond should shy away from him.
Minnesota's draft just underwent a major change, as they traded the 18th pick to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Chase Budinger. That leaves them with only their second-round pick, the 58th overall selection in the draft.
Seeing as how Wesley Johnson has been a general disappointment, the team should be looking for more help at small forward to help spell Budinger. That said, taking an unproven international prospect in Radosevic would be the wrong move for GM David Kahn to make.
Normally, I'd go into another rant about the track record of European big men in the NBA, but this one stat about Radosevic stands out. Last season, playing in Italy, he only averaged about 10.5 minutes per game.
And teams are considering drafting him. Why?
I think Robinson is a fine player and he's definitely going to be in the running for Rookie of the Year next season, but he shouldn't be who the Hornets (who hold the first and 10th picks) select. The team's first priority should be shoring up their defense, since Chris Kaman is probably going to leave via free agency.
That means drafting Anthony Davis, whose shot blocking could make him an overnight sensation in New Orleans. Robinson is talented in his own right, but he's a scoring power forward like Amar'e Stoudemire. He wouldn't be bad in New Orleans by any means, but he's not the man Dell Demps should be focused on.
As I mentioned in the introduction, the Knicks have a bit of a checkered past when it comes to the NBA draft, at least in recent years. That said, with the team needing bench depth and help at shooting guard, the biggest mistake GM Glen Grunwald could make would be to draft Sims.
Sims put up decent numbers his senior season, averaging 11.7 points and 6.2 rebounds, but his shot blocking isn't what it should be given his 6'10", 245-pound frame. More importantly, the Knicks have the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year in Tyson Chandler. To draft a center would be just silly.
Miller's greatest strength is his athleticism, but he isn't the right fit for Oklahoma, who are currently looking to build depth through the draft. Though the Baylor standout has the size and strength of a power forward, the Thunder already have Nick Collison coming off the bench.
On top of that, Miller's scoring isn't strong enough for him to help spell Kevin Durant. He'll get drafted somewhere, but going to OKC would give him a one-way ticket to benchwarmer status
Dwight Howard rumors are swirling, so it wouldn't surprise me at all if the Magic abandoned their needs at small forward to pursue a center in the draft. Unfortunately, by the time their turn comes at No. 19, the best center available could be Melo, who can block shots but is raw in every other department. That's a bit of a concern considering he's a seven-footer.
That being said, Orlando should be prepared to take a hit at center if Howard is indeed traded, and use the draft to find Hedo Turkoglu's replacement. If you ask me, going into rebuilding mode is a better option than banking on Melo to be a dominant big man in the same manner as Howard.
The Sixers are an odd team, with a lot of focus put on defense and team play. Their star player, Andre Iguodala, fits this system perfectly and the future looks bright for Philadelphia once they find another great player to place alongside him.
However, Iguodala's name is popping up in trade rumors again this summer, and if Philadelphia is destined to draft his replacement, Ross would be the wrong man. He's got talent, but he isn't a pest in the same way as Iguodala. He's a scorer first and in Doug Collins' system, that just won't work.
The Suns are a fast-paced scoring team and while Zeller could do well in that kind of system, chances are greater that he doesn't have the speed to keep up with it. Rather, Phoenix should be using the draft to take a reliable scorer who could potentially take over for Steve Nash as the next face of the franchise. On top of that, Phoenix already has a power forward in Markieff Morris waiting in the wings.
Zeller has a great attitude and his NBA future is bright, but a ticket to Phoenix is a recipe for disaster to start his professional career off.
The Blazers definitely need some help at center, and they'd be good to use the sixth or 10th pick to draft someone at that position. However, if one of those picks is used on John Henson, it could be a recipe for disaster.
Nothing against the young man, but Portland needs a center who can be a big body in the middle and block shots with authority. Henson has the height at 6'11" and averaged 2.9 blocks per contest last year, but he's just too skinny at 220 pounds to provide the intensity and toughness the Blazers need.
The team would be better off drafting someone like Andre Drummond.
The Kings aren't exactly the definition of great team management, so I wouldn't be surprised if they drafted Drummond (should he be available), put Jason Thompson on the bench and moved DeMarcus Cousins back to power forward. However, this move would prove to be disastrous.
The volatile Cousins would probably have a problem coexisting with another big man in Drummond, plus the Kings seemed to get the rotation right towards the end of the season by putting Cousins at center and Thompson at the 4. If you think about it, their greatest need is bench scoring.
That said, why throw a wrench into the gears in drafting Drummond?
The Spurs have the second to last pick in the entire draft. Fifty-ninth overall. Thus, whoever they take probably won't get many significant minutes. Still, they should be thinking about the future of the team in doing so.
That said, team management should shy away from Middleton, an undersized small forward. The man's jump shot is decent enough for him to provide maybe 15 minutes a game off the bench, but Kawhi Leonard is talented enough where he'll be seeing significant time next year.
If San Antonio is to take a forward with their pick, it shouldn't be Middleton, but rather someone who could actually contribute to the rotation.
As I've said many times before, Jones is my pick for sleeper of the draft. He plays tough defense, has a great NBA body and is a phenomenal dunker.
Yet, he's far from a lottery pick, and with the Raptors having the eighth overall selection, the team would be better to address its many needs with a player who is more of a sure thing than Jones.
Jones has good size at 6'8", 260 pounds and put up video game-like numbers at West Virginia last year, averaging 20.1 points and 11.1 rebounds. He was the alpha dog in the Mountaineers' system, but it's unclear as to what his exact role will be in the NBA.
The Jazz could use some help at small forward and will surely consider Jones if he's available, but his scoring and overall defense aren't strong enough for that position. He can pull down rebounds, but isn't exactly what most would call a pest. He definitely has potential to make it in the NBA, but playing in Utah could instantly turn him into a benchwarmer who only gets minutes in blowouts.
Beal proved to be a decent shooter in one year at Florida and is a definite lottery pick, but the Wizards should not be the team to take him. They have greater needs than scoring and more importantly, they already have a decent shooting guard in Jordan Crawford.
Unless Crawford is involved in a trade that has yet to go public, then the Wizards should focus on drafting someone like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Thomas Robinson, both of whom can help the team's defense.