During most NBA draft phases, the stock of every player crystallizes enough come finals time that you have a roughly strong estimate of how things will pan out on draft night. One or two spots may flicker a bit with surprises, but generally speaking, the NBA draft is the most predictable among major sports.
The expectations have been turned on their head this year. Without a consensus top pick—or even a guarantee that the Cleveland Cavaliers will be selecting No. 1—the 2013 iteration feels almost as uncertain as it did lottery night.
There's an idea about where each team will go, but Cleveland holds the ultimate domino. One flick of the finger to trade the top pick or select someone not named Nerlens Noel, and the entire thing goes to hell in a handbasket. Considering the dearth of top-notch talent, the trickle-down effect is one of the greatest in recent memory.
For fans, that should make June 27 an absolute must-watch. Players and draft picks will be moved on draft night. Which picks and who? That remains completely up in the air. And when prognosticating the first round, it also makes the selections tentative. Everything comes couched with the acknowledgement that this draft is one big move of being fundamentally altered.
That being said, the draft is less than two weeks away. You can't wait forever for things to crystallize. With that in mind, here is our latest breakdown of the entire first round.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel (C, Kentucky)
It's become readily apparent that the Cavs are looking for a team to take this pick off their hands. Cleveland's willingness to ship out the pick was already known, but a report from Fox Sports' Sam Amico makes it seem like the team is far more than "willing" to move out of No. 1:
The problem is whether any team will be willing to surrender enough to make a trade worth the Cavs' while. There are differences of opinion among scouts about who the best player in this draft is, and even if you get a semi-consensus, there's no guaranteed All-Star. We're not talking about the Anthony Davis sweepstakes here.
So until Cleveland actually finds a fish to bite, it's staying here, as is Noel. Adorned with massive red flags due to his torn ACL and lack of offensive polish, Noel is the type of talent that could get a general manager fired from both ends of the spectrum. If he busts, an owner will wonder what you were thinking drafting this guy. If he becomes a superstar and you pass, good luck explaining that one as well.
But with the Cavs needing a long-term option to anchor their defense—Tyler Zeller isn't going to cut it—they're a team that should be willing to take that risk. The potential for a Larry Sanders-like rim protector is too great, and it should be said that Noel is not without offensive promise.
2. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore (SG, Kansas)
The Magic find themselves in an enviable position at No. 2. They avoided all the potential awkwardness of sitting down and telling Nikola Vucevic that they were taking another center, while opening up all the best-possible basketball fits on the board.
Orlando's biggest overarching need is at the point guard spot, but it's become readily apparent that teams don't view Trey Burke as a top-two pick. So Rob Hennigan's decision should come down to the best 2-guards in this draft, McLemore and Victor Oladipo. Personally, I have Oladipo higher on my board and think he'll be better long-term.
That being said, the situation in Orlando is one where McLemore makes the best basketball fit. The one (totally fair) knock on Oladipo is that he's still very much a work in progress as a shooter. The Magic already have two similarly incapable shooters in Tobias Harris and Moe Harkless. There aren't many universal truths in NBA team-building, but having perimeter shooting is one.
McLemore, even with questions about his mental makeup, provides that in spades. He's a prototypical 2-guard out of the old-school Ray Allen mold, sweet-shooting on spot-ups and high-flying on rim-rocking jams. Had McLemore fared better in the NCAA tournament or showed a willingness to work out among the best at his position, it's possible that he would have gone No. 1 overall.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter (SF, Georgetown)
Underrated throughout his career in college, Porter has quickly become an in-vogue favorite of many draft pundits. While there are few that have him atop their draft boards, you'll have a hard time finding anyone who sees an iota of bust potential in the former Georgetown standout.
I tend to agree with that assessment. An unselfish player who can fit in just about any system, Porter is one of those players who just leap out on film for doing all the right things. He's skilled enough with his handle to lead the break but smart enough to make solid cuts to the basket and be effective without possession.
Perhaps most importantly, Porter is one of the best defenders in this class. Should he add a little bulk, he would have the frame to guard 3s and 4s at the next level, something he did consistently at Georgetown with an unrelenting proficiency. The Wizards are building a playoff-worthy roster, and Porter could be that next building block.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Alex Len (C, Maryland)
The previously mentioned Amico report also notes Charlotte as a team willing to get rid of its pick, which isn't much of a surprise. The Bobcats have lost out on lottery luck each of the last two years, finishing second in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes last year and missing out on the best-possible player for their needs (McLemore) this time around.
Michael Jordan isn't going to be satisfied with losing forever. So the notion that the Bobcats would move their top pick—likely for a veteran player—makes sense. And with Oladipo, a player that many teams like, on the board in this scenario, it's very possible that Charlotte finds a taker.
But since we're not working in hypotheticals, Len would be a more-than-adequate selection here. The former Maryland center has been unable to workout for teams while recovering from ankle surgery but has nonetheless seen himself rise up draft boards a bit. There are even some rumblings that Cleveland will consider him with the top overall pick. With the Bobcats in need of an offensive-minded center to pair with Bismack Biyombo, grabbing Len here would be a lemonade-out-of-lemons situation.
5. Phoenix Suns: Victor Oladipo (SG, Indiana)
Since one of my favorite tropes of these mock drafts is relating GIFs whenever possible, allow me to introduce you to the Suns' war room should Oladipo be available with the No. 5 pick. And here's an exclusive look at Suns owner Robert Sarver's personal draft party.
In case you have a fundamental opposition against clicking on GIFs, allow me to spell it out for you: Phoenix would be 16-year-old-after-his-first-kiss happy to have Oladpio fall into its lap.
The pre-draft mood with the Suns has to be one of gloom. They look like an on-paper shoo-in to have the worst record in the NBA next season, with a roster left hollow by the end of the Steve Nash era. While bottoming out isn't necessarily a bad strategy—and I would argue that it's the right strategy considering the 2014 draft crop—fans in Phoenix aren't buying tickets to see Goran Dragic again. There has to be some semblance of hope.
Oladipo is the type of talent who could do just that. A future All-Defensive team selection at the very basement of his NBA destiny, Oladipo has the potential to be much, much more. Should he ever develop consistency with his jumper—a big if—the former Indiana standout would be the type of two-way menace that teams covet.
So, yes. There would be plenty reason to be excited for the Suns in this scenario.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Burke (PG, Michigan)
The Pelicans are in an interesting spot with this selection. On the surface, they have a flourishing young stable of young talent that could be one or two years away from competing. Davis, the No. 1 pick a year ago, started showing flashes of his future stardom down the stretch, and Eric Gordon is one of the two or three best young 2-guards in the league when healthy.
Now couple that with Ryan Anderson raining threes off the bench and Greivis Vasquez's emergence this year. Seems like things are going pretty well, right? Well, this is about the time we remember that Gordon has been an injured mess the last two years, that Vasquez is due a long-term deal in the next year-plus and that New Orleans wasted a first-round pick on Austin Rivers a year ago.
There are cracks in this rosy picture. So this pick could go in any number of directions. Sticking with Burke here comes from my personal belief that Anthony Bennett, the best player remaining, can't transition to an NBA 3.
What's more, the hate on Burke has gone too far. It's true that he's a little small and not the most overwhelming athlete in the world, but he's not 5'8". This kid has excelled at every level and has developed an elite feel for the game that translates well to the NBA game.
7. Sacramento Kings: Anthony Bennett (F, UNLV)
There may be no more interesting team to watch this year than the Kings. Under new ownership and finally with their feet firmly planted in Sacramento, changes will be innumerable this offseason.
New majority owner Vivek Ranadive has already put his stamp on the team by bringing head coach Mike Malone over from Golden State and that's just the tip of the iceberg. It's unclear what Ranadive or his next leader of basketball operations, Pete D'Alessandro, has in store for this roster, which counts malcontent DeMarcus Cousins as its franchise player.
So for now—at least until we get an initial idea of D'Alessandro's intention—let's throw Bennett here in a BPA (best player available) pick.
8. Detroit Pistons: Michael Carter-Williams (PG, Syracuse)
With Mo Cheeks installed as coach, the Pistons' offseason picture is finally starting to take shape. They'll have a bevy of cap space open this summer, at least enough to sign one max-level player and another second-tier free-agent. Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond represent a promising frontcourt duo as well, making the future look bright for the first time in a half-decade in Detroit.
That said, the backcourt is still a borderline mess. Jose Calderon helped stabilize the team after being sent to the Pistons midway through last season, but he's a free agent. And with the jury still being out on Brandon Knight's ability to play the point guard spot full-time, they may look to take a chance on Carter-Williams in this spot.
Carter-Williams' deficiencies are much the same Knight's were coming out of college—namely, there is no jumper to be found—but the former Syracuse product is already an elite-level passer. Equipped with the height of a 2-guard (6'6") and the athleticism and speed of a point, Carter-Williams is one of the most unique prospects in this draft.
At his peak, he develops into a glove-like defender of both guard spots and becomes a Rondo-like figure on the offensive end. At his valley, he's so useless on the offensive end that he becomes unusable.
Without a glaring secondary option at this spot, Joe Dumars would be smart to find out.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (G, Georgia)
There aren't many mocks that have Caldwell-Pope this high, and it's an understandable assumption. He failed to wow scouts at the draft combine, where yours truly at least expected a rapid ascent into the top 10. This is most certainly the peak of Caldwell-Pope's draft stock, and he could fall as low as No. 20 if things continue heading south.
Minnesota should give the former Georgia star serious consideration, though. The Timberwolves' backcourt of the future, Ricky Rubio and Alexey Shved, both shot under 40 percent from the field this season and were complete minuses from beyond the arc. Overall, Minnesota was the worst three-point shooting team in the league—a huge no-no for a side looking to contend for a playoff spot next year.
The very basement of Caldwell-Pope's potential is that of an unrelenting gunner who space the floor and grab rebounds from the guard spot. With the Timberwolves' salary flexibility likely being usurped by an extension for Nikola Pekovic this summer, they need to add shooting now.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Cody Zeller (PF-C, Indiana)
Portland's potential target list with this pick is all over the place. The Blazers don't necessarily need help everywhere in their starting lineup, but their bench is a sad case of Northwestern tragedy. At 18.5 points per game, they were the worst bench scoring team in the league by almost six points. The mood was so dreary whenever a sub came into the game it was almost like an episode of The Killing.
Zeller stands out as a potential target because of his versatility. Though he played almost entirely in the post in college, Zeller's shooting touch from outside has been leaving teams floored in workouts. Add that to his jarringly impressive athletic workouts at the combine—Zeller's standing vertical was the best ever by someone 6'9" or bigger—and it's easy to see what teams are seeing in him.
With J.J. Hickson likely heading elsewhere in free agency, Zeller would make a strong replacement. Shabazz Muhammad and C.J. McCollum are other possibilities with this pick should Portland want to shore up its backcourt.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: C.J. McCollum (SG, Lehigh)
One team that's hoping that the Blazers pass on shoring up their backcourt will be the Sixers, who would be overjoyed at the potential of landing someone like McCollum at No. 11. Philly has spent its entire existence since the first Allen Iverson era ended struggling to create points, including last season where its 99.5 points per 100 possessions ranked fifth-worst in the league.
Surely, some of that is attributable to Andrew Bynum missing the entire season. But too often Jrue Holiday was stuck trying to create offense for a team that didn't have the explosiveness necessary to compete on a nightly level.
McCollum should be a dangerous scorer at the next level at the very least. He's not deserving of the incessant comparisons to Damian Lillard—McCollum isn't as strong a shooter, nor is he a great passer yet—but he's a slashing 2-guard who could win a Sixth Man of the Year award someday. For a Sixers team that probably spends its nights wondering why the front office chose one year of the Nick Young experiment over bringing back Lou Williams, this would be a solid selection.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Steven Adams (C, Pittsburgh)
As someone who openly scoffed at Adams leaving Pitt after one season, allow for a mea culpa here. He's done far more to improve his game since the college season ended than he did the entire time under Jamie Dixon. What that says about Adams and Dixon is unclear, but there was such a marked improvement at the combine that it floored almost everyone.
Even so, Adams will need a team to be patient with his development. He's still just one year removed from being in New Zealand. There's no question that his game is a work in progress and that Adams probably won't be able to contribute to an NBA team his first season.
Though the Thunder continue to face mounting criticism for the James Harden trade, their foundation is solid enough to withstand one or two years of Adams' development. Like it or not, Kendrick Perkins will be usurping those minutes for the next two years, anyway.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Dario Saric (SF, Croatia)
The "will he or won't he withdraw" jig has reached Dwight Howard levels, so it's impossible to tell what will happen in the coming days. It's almost certain that he won't be coming over next season regardless of what happens, so the entire situation is a bit of a nonstarter at this point.
Should Saric keep his name in the draft, though, Dallas is a perfect fit. The Mavericks, saving cap space for their impending free-agent chase, aren't in any hurry to pay a rookie to sit on the bench. They would be more than amenable to allowing Saric to stay overseas for one or even two years, keeping the talented small forward's rights while not having to pay him a dime.
But until we know what's actually going to happen, in-depth analysis is useless at this spot.
14. Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder (PG, Germany)
On a personal projections level, I'm about 50-50 with this pick between Schroeder and Miami point guard Shane Larkin. In Larkin, the Jazz know what they would be getting. Larkin is a hard-working kid on both ends of the floor with a ton of bounce and a winning attitude.
Schroeder might be the ultimate boom-or-bust prospect in this entire draft. The German guard bust onto the scene at the Nike Hoop Summit earlier this year, flashing a jaw-dropping combination of size (6'2"), dribble-drive quickness (already elite) and athleticism (see: dribble-drive quickness).
ESPN's Chad Ford (subscription required) noted that Schroeder has struggled a bit against more physical defense in workouts, but that's to be expected at this stage. Schroeder, like Adams, is more a selection for a team with a long-term purpose than one looking for an instant contributor.
It will be interesting to see which side of the coin Utah falls under.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Shabazz Muhammad (SG-SF, UCLA)
We'll probably get an answer on how the Bucks feel about their backcourt situation with this selection. Brandon Jennings (restricted), Monta Ellis (player option) and J.J. Redick (unrestricted) have the rights to test their mettle elsewhere this offseason, and the Ellis situation has looked increasingly gloomy of late.
Should Milwaukee pull the trigger on Muhammad here, we'll know that brass isn't feeling too great about his chances. Though Muhammad's only season at UCLA could only be considered a disappointment, the narrative that it was an unrelenting failure is false.Muhammad scored 17.9 points per game, led the Bruins to a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament and flashed the creativity getting to the hoop that many saw in high school.
These things happened. But the narrative has spun too far out of control at this point for Muhammad to save his stock, so he'll probably end up being a value on draft night. Whether the Bucks are the team to take advantage is another question entirely.
16. Boston Celtics: Kelly Olynyk (C, Gonzaga)
Speaking of teams facing uncertain futures, where do we start with the Celtics? Or, more accurately, where do we stop? Until there's a solid idea of what's happening with the Doc Rivers/Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trio, it's impossible to make an accurate assessment of Boston's needs.
Should the situation be unresolved as the draft gets close, we'll look deeper. But Olynyk sticks here because he'd be an interesting pairing with Garnett should they stay, and he's also an interesting long-term prospect as a stretch-4 or evolutionary 5 at the next level.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Shane Larkin (PG, Miami)
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets): Rudy Gobert (PF, France)
Unlike Boston, there's no mistaking the Hawks' intentions this offseason. They'll be barreling hard and fast toward the top free agents on the market, with Chris Paul and Dwight Howard being chief among their targets. You know, like every other team with a hoard of cap space this summer.
In turn, how Danny Ferry handles this draft will be intriguing. Should the Hawks want to keep every last dime of space, they could sell the picks or go double draft-and-stash with players who won't come over for at least a year.
This scenario is a middle ground. Larkin's value is really strong at this point as a player who at the very worst will help anchor your bench as a seventh man. His ability to knock down shots and make up for his lack of size with athleticism makes the basement of his ability relatively low.
Gobert will probably either be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate or a quick flameout. It's hard to see an in-between scenario with a seven-footer whose standing reach almost allows him to touch the rim. The JaVale McGee comparisons were put to bed a little when Gobert's athleticism measurements disappointed, but you can't teach length.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Jamaal Franklin (SG-SF, San Diego State)
Should Cleveland be forced to stay on the clock at No. 1, it's hard to see them making this selection. There's already a prevailing belief that there are too many young players on this roster, and adding two first-rounders will do nothing but compound that belief. Even selling the pick or moving it for a future choice would be prudent options here.
In the event that the Cavs stay put at No. 19—either because they dealt the first pick or Chris Grant simply likes a value—Franklin would fit in swimmingly with Mike Brown's defensive philosophy. Most of last season saw breakdowns in Cleveland's defensive scheme merely because players didn't try hard enough.
That won't be a problem with Franklin. At San Diego State, Franklin played out of position at the 4 and somehow held his own banging down low. Whenever he's allowed up to freelance and guard players his size more at the NBA level, he could really excel as a perimeter defender.
20. Chicago Bulls: Gorgui Dieng (C, Louisville)
Remember when the Bulls had something called a Bench Mob? Well, the decries of blasphemy about general manager Gar Forman's decision to let most walk for financial reasons proved to be prudent. Chicago's cheaper version did an almost equally brilliant job as the one a season prior, and with Derrick Rose out for the season, the decision to punt the Bench Mob elsewhere makes some sense.
The one place Chicago did miss its previous bench player was at center, where Nazr Mohammed's effect paled in comparison to Omer Asik, the restricted free agent whom the Bulls allowed to go to Houston.
Enter Gorgui Dieng. While the lottery hype thankfully went the way of the dodo with the former Lousville standout, Dieng represents something of a value here for what the Bulls need. Dieng won't ever be a superstar, nor will he probably ever deserve to start, but those 15-20 minutes of defensive tenacity he'll give you every night?
Yeah, those will be worth the choice.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Mason Plumlee (F, Duke)
After taking a pretty massive risk at No. 14 with Schroeder, it would be understandable for the Jazz to go the more conservative route here. Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson are both hitting the market this offseason, and it's unclear whether either will return.
Plumlee is an instant bench replacement player who has always scratched the potential of turning into more. At Duke, it took Plumlee until his senior season to become an integral part of the Blue Devils' offense. But when he did, the 23-year-old forward became a nightly 17-10 guy with a motor that makes him usable on both ends of the floor.
Utah is planning on moving forward with the Derrick Favors-Enes Kanter frontcourt—or at least the team should be. Plumlee provides a little protection behind that duo while adding another uber-athletic player to the team's draft haul.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Allen Crabbe (SG, California)
With Jason Kidd taking over as head coach, the Nets' 2013-14 season has already taken a life of its own. The future Hall of Famer doesn't have a lick of coaching experience and will take over a roster that necessitates a win-now attitude. There can't and won't be any long-term player projects in Brooklyn, mostly because the expense of the roster leaves the team strapped for player movement.
If available, Crabbe represents the perfect target for the Nets. He's a shoot-first wing who has possibly the prettiest stroke of anyone in this draft, which will come in awfully handy for a team that struggled with spacing this past season.
Crabbe doesn't play defense, but if Kidd can coach even some requisite effort out of the kid, he'll be a contributor his rookie season.
23. Indiana Pacers: Reggie Bullock (SF, North Carolina)
No matter the status of Danny Granger's future with the Pacers, this is a team that needs bench help and fast. It became readily apparent in the Eastern Conference Finals that when Sam Young is getting extended minutes, things aren't going to go great if your starting lineup struggles to produce.
While Indiana isn't in as desperate of straits as Brooklyn to find an instant contributor, the entirety of the team's cap space will be tied up should it bring back David West. Seeing as he was the locker room leader throughout the 2012-13 season, expect West back with the Pacers.
Bullock, a hard-working kid who spent a ton of time at the 4 last season, fits in rather swimmingly with the Pacers' needs. He's an excellent rebounder for his position, shoots the lights out from beyond the arc and never once complained with an ever-changing role at UNC.
24. New York Knicks: Jeff Withey (C, Kansas)
The Knicks are in the exact same situation as their crosstown rival. They have no cap space, an aging roster and an expectation to compete with Miami for the Eastern Conference crown. That's not going to change so long as the team has a superstar in Carmelo Anthony leading the way.
One other thing that isn't changing: Kenyon Martin's age. The 35-year-old forward-center played a vital role down the stretch for New York, helping pick up the slack for an injured Tyson Chandler on the defensive end—especially in the postseason. But there's no guarantee that Martin will be back or that he'll be as effective next season.
Withey is about as close to a safe bet as you can get at No. 24. He's a bit of a stiff, and the pick would probably bring apathy or boos from the New York crowd, but Withey helps in the filling of a need for the Knicks. The former Kansas star brings it on defense every night and has enough experience to be plugged into a rotation early in his career.
25. LA Clippers: Glen Rice Jr. (SG, NBA D-League)
Rice hasn't been able to carry the momentum he put together in the D-League playoffs in workouts, so the lottery buzz he had a month or so ago has all but dissipated. While teams acknowledge that the potential for stardom exists somewhere within the son of former NBA great Glen Rice, the short sample size of excellence against inferior competition won't get the job done.
Nevertheless, he would be a borderline steal here for Los Angeles. Rice, though he's gained quite the reputation from his days at Georgia Tech, is a hard worker on the defensive end and has two-way potential should his shot ever find consistency.
The Clippers are still looking for a head coach and still wondering about their Chris Paul's status. But Rice would be a little coup for the team should those situations still be unresolved on draft night.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves: Giannis Antetokounmpo (SF, Greece)
Antetokounmpo's rise up draft boards remains both confounding and understandable. On the one hand, this is a kid playing against Y-Leaguers. There may be no player current in Greece's second division to ever even get a minute of NBA ball, so it's understandable that someone of Antetokounmpo's talents would thrive. But is that worthy of an NBA first-round pick?
I would say no. However, some team will say yes on draft night, and it's an understandable decision. Even if Antetokounmpo is two or even three years away from even sitting on an NBA bench, his potential is still arguably higher than anyone else on the board. And for a team like Minnesota, which probably won't play its first-round pick next season regardless, taking a chance on the young point-forward is an intriguing possibility.
So long as expectations are couched and the team that takes Antetokounmpo isn't using its only first-round pick, him landing here is fine.
27. Denver Nuggets: Tim Hardaway, Jr. (SG, Michigan)
So much for the Denver Nuggets' promising future. In one offseason, they've ousted the NBA's Coach of the Year and allowed the league's Executive of the Year to walk, moves that frankly make no sense. And with Andre Iguodala, the team's best player, opting out of his contract this offseason, it's not out of the question that the league's feel-good story could go descending out of the playoffs next season.
With little time to act in replacing George Karl and Masai Ujiri before draft night, his draft pick has all the certainty of a night on the town with Charlie Sheen. There's no telling what Nuggets brass will do or if they'll even make the selection.
Since we're in the business of projecting these types of things, though, Hardaway would be a strong insurance policy for Iguodala. Granting that he won't be able to totally replace Iguodala—there are few in the league who could do so, considering Iggy's unique skill set—Hardaway does bring the type of two-way tenacity that makes him attractive to teams in the back half of the first round.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Sergey Karasev (SG, Russia)
As someone who watches these things closely, it's been a bit morbidly entertaining to see all these mainstream outlets just now noticing that Manu Ginobili isn't a "superstar" anymore. The future Hall of Famer's (yes, Manu is a HOFer) descent has been a two-year problem in San Antonio, with nagging injuries and his impending mortality both closing in.
The Spurs have done a great job of developing young talent—Danny Green, man. Danny Green.—but a hole will still persist should Ginobili retire after this season. He's an irreplaceable cog in San Antonio's legacy, and even a diminished version of Manu commands respect.
No matter his status, San Antonio should start preparing for life without Texas' favorite Argentinian now.
So how about replacing him with a Russian with a semi-similar skill set? It's something the Spurs should consider if Karasev is available at No. 28, which isn't remotely a guarantee. The sweet-shooting guard has impressed scouts throughout this draft process with his polish for a 19-year-old, and his poor man's Manu craftiness getting to the basket has stuck out for me when watching film.
I like Karasev as high as No. 18 to Atlanta, so this would be a steal on my board.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Ricardo Ledo (SG, Providence)
Ledo is a player who will probably only be taken by a general manager who has supreme comfort in his job standing. The prep star missed his entire first season at Providence due to academic eligibility, practicing with the team but being unable to step on the floor. Despite not playing competitively for an entire calendar year, Ledo declared himself eligible—a mostly befuddling move.
There's no telling where Ledo winds up on draft night because of that uncertainty, but his first-rounder potential is very real. Teams are wont to fall in love with talent, especially at the end of Round 1 where the risk is rather minimal.
With Sam Presti already having taken Adams in this scenario, taking Ledo and hoping that one of them reaches their prodigious potential is an option.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat): Pierre Jackson (G, Baylor)
Let's close this Twitter-style in 140 characters: Jackson may be the size of a Twix bar, but he's one of the more prolific and skilled players in this draft. Phoenix should take him.
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