The New York Knicks have the No. 17 pick in the draft, finding themselves in a rare position: outside the lottery. New York can go a number of ways with their pick, and we will discuss some of their options a little later on.
For now, here is my latest mock draft.
Irving to the Cavaliers is approaching "lock" status, and for good reason.
Not only would Irving be a good fit with the Cavs, but he, along with whoever they take with the No. 4 overall pick, would bring a sense of excitement back to the city of Cleveland. After losing LeBron James last summer, the city and fan base are in need of a new star.
But is Irving really that good? Most experts consider him to be the best prospect in this draft, but that isn't really saying all that much. On paper, this is one of the most underwhelming drafts in recent memory. Irving flashed his skills while at Duke, but only did so in a handful of games due to injury.
Still, he seems to be worthy of the overall pick, and the Cavaliers would be addressing a major need by taking him. Baron Davis is a nice veteran to have on the roster, but he isn't the long-term solution at the point guard position for the Cavs. Irving has elite quickness, is a very good shooter and an excellent passer. He has all the tools needed to be a franchise point guard.
The 'Wolves are in a very tough spot here, which is probably one of the reasons why Minnesota general manager David Kahn was upset following the draft lottery.
The last thing they need is another forward, so they would have loved to have the No. 1 pick to draft Kyrie Irving, but things just didn't fall their way.
With the likes of Wesley Johnson, Michael Beasley, Kevin Love and Anthony Randolph already on the roster, where exactly is Williams going to play? That remains to be seen, but expect Minnesota to be active on the trade front, perhaps choosing to move down in the draft.
Based on his talent alone, I still have Williams going to the 'Wolves here, but it just isn't a great fit.
For the life of me, I still can't understand why so many people have the Jazz taking Enes Kanter No. 3 overall.
Kanter may very well end up becoming the best player from this draft—he has that kind of talent. But he is about the last thing the Jazz need right now.
With Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, Al Jefferson and even Mehmet Okur, Utah doesn't need another power forward and/or center. They have holes at both the small forward and shooting guard positions, and they could also use another point guard since Devin Harris doesn't seem to be the long-term solution there.
Assuming Derrick Williams doesn't fall to them, I think they go with the next best pure-point guard in the draft behind Kyrie Irving.
Kanter remains a bit of a mystery because he didn't play a game last year with Kentucky after being ruled ineligible by the NCAA, so no matter what he does in pre-draft workouts, he will be a bit of a risk.
But he was a standout player at the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit and doesn't appear as rusty as some people may have thought after missing so much time. At 6'10" and 255 pounds, Kanter has an NBA-ready body that can handle the physical play he will see in the league.
The Cavs already have J.J. Hickson at power forward, but might consider taking Kanter and shifting him to center. He is a bit undersized, but he does have the body for it.
This seems a bit high for Singleton, and it just might be.
But Toronto is already developing big men such as Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani and Ed Davis, and they also have a very good shooting guard in DeMar DeRozan. Jose Calderon is still under contract for two more years, and Jerryd Bayless has also shown some promise in the past at point guard.
The Raptors need a wing player, and Singleton is the best defensive player in this draft. He can lock down almost anyone and is also developing his offensive game, so he won't be a liability on that end of the floor.
A 6'10" power forward, Valanciunas is a very skilled offensive player who flourishes around the rim and also possesses a number of post moves. He is regarded by most as the best European player in this draft, although he will likely need a few years to fully develop.
Valanciunas isn't an explosive athlete and would benefit by adding more muscle, but he is already an above-average defender who can crash the boards and block shots.
The Wizards seem ready to build around John Wall and Jordan Crawford at the guard positions, and now will be looking to build a solid front line as well. The offensive-minded Valanciunas and the defensive-minded JaVale McGee would create a very formidable frontcourt in Washington.
It has become apparent that the Kings need a point guard, as Tyreke Evans seems to be more of a shooting guard.
I think Brandon Knight would have been a better fit in Sacramento, but he likely won't be around when the Kings select. Walker, who was brilliant last season at Connecticut, is still more of a shoot-first point guard.
That is also Evans' style, and I'm not sure how well these two would play together.
Biyombo has gone from a virtual unknown to a potential top-10 pick in just a matter of months, and for good reason.
He is a freak athletically, standing at 6'9" and 243 pounds, while also having a 9'3" reach and a 7'7" wingspan. Biyombo is excellent defensively, but needs some major work on the offensive end of the floor. He would be a perfect complement to Greg Monroe, who is a more skilled offensive player.
Biyombo is another player we know very little about, making him another risk in this draft. But with the talent pool being what it is, a number of teams are going to need to take risks if they want to improve their team in the future.
The Pistons will have a tough time passing up Biyombo and all his physical capabilities.
The Bobcats are a team with a number of question marks throughout their roster.
They have a very promising point guard in D.J. Augustin who they can build around, but don't really have much else. Stephen Jackson might have played his last game already with the Bobcats, and they appear headed toward a full-blown youth movement.
Thompson is a player with excellent upside. At 6'9", he is very long and is an excellent athlete. His skills on the defensive end of the floor are already very good, and he is one of the best rebounders and shot-blockers in the draft. He continues to improve offensively, but still needs more work on that aspect of his game.
Charlotte needs a big here, and I think Thompson is the pick.
Leonard seems like a perfect fit for Scott Skiles and the Milwaukee Bucks.
He is a tough, physical player who never stops competing on the boards and will compete defensively. Leonard is a bit undersized and still doesn't seem to have a natural position at the next level, but that could soon change.
Leonard has reportedly been working hard on his outside game, adding both consistency to his jump shot and range from the outside. If that continues, he has a chance to be an excellent NBA small forward.
On the other hand, the Bucks are already a very good defensive team and may want to add more of an offensive weapon. If so, they could target Alec Burks at this spot. Burks is an elite slasher who can score in a variety of ways.
Vesely is an athletic big man who excels in transition and can really run the floor. His style of play would be perfect for the system the Warriors run, and he makes a ton of sense at this point in the draft.
However, he does need to add some strength and work on his moves in the paint. Still, his combination of size, athleticism and shooting ability is extremely rare.
Burks is a lethal scorer as a shooting guard, which would be a welcome addition in Utah.
Although he struggles from beyond-the-arc and his jump shot is a bit inconsistent, Burks is still able to get to the rim at will and can finish. He is a polished, pure scorer, which is exactly what the Jazz need.
Fredette is an absolute sharpshooter and an all-around dynamic offensive player.
He may need some time to adjust to the speed of the game at the next level, as well as being guarded by superior athletes, but his ability to shoot the ball will make him a hot commodity.
At the draft combine, Fredette was measured at just under 6'0", which is another area of concern. He doesn't seem to be quick enough or athletic enough to overcome that height disadvantage.
Jimmer also plays no defense, meaning Phoenix would be a perfect fit.
The Rockets could use a power forward here, but I don't really see any that would fit in well with them.
Marcus Morris projects more as a small forward at the next level, and Kenneth Faried's size may scare the Rockets away as well.
As a result, I think Hamilton is the pick, mostly by default. He is a big-time scorer with great range, but also a volume shooter who needs to work on his shot selection. There is no doubt though that he can be a major asset in the NBA.
Plus, he would also remain in Texas.
Marcus would be a steal this late in the first round.
He is more polished on the offensive end of the floor compared to his twin brother Markieff, but he can still get it done defensively as well. He is a very good defender and rebounder, and his athleticism will allow him to defend multiple positions.
The Pacers are in need of a defensive-minded power forward, so it will be interesting to see which Morris brother they would take if both of them are available at this spot. Should Marcus be off the board already, they would love to get their hands on Markieff or even Kenneth Faried instead.
One of the draft's few seven-footers, Motiejunas would be the power forward/center the 76ers need, but there are some major questions as to how effective a post player he can become.
He is a very good scorer who can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim, something that is rare for someone his size.
At just 220 pounds though, the 21-year-old really needs to work on his body before he can contribute in the NBA. He can also look disinterested when it comes to rebounding the basketball at times.
Still, Motiejunas has major upside and would be a good fit in Philadelphia.
I mean, did anyone else watch the Knicks get eaten alive in the paint this year? The team started players such as Ronny Turiaf, Timofey Mozgov, Jared Jeffries and Shelden Williams at center during both the regular season and the playoffs.
Although this draft seems to lack any dominant bigs, there is still some value to be found. Yes, the team might need a point guard of the future, but is Selby or Jenkins really the answer? Selby was terrible during his one year at Kansas, while Jenkins, although talented and mature, didn't exactly play against the best competition at Hofstra.
I understand the argument for a point guard, but not these players, or any other players at the position in this draft, for that matter. Besides, if the Knicks are able to land Chris Paul next summer, he would obviously become their point guard of the future.
What the Knicks need is an athletic big man who can defend the rim, block shots and crash the glass.
Markieff Morris would be perfect for this team.
Not only can he do all those things, but he is also a very skilled offensive player as well. While not a true center, at 6'10", Markieff would be a great addition to the Knicks' frontcourt.
Many people don't like the idea of Washington selecting Thompson, but I think it makes perfect sense.
The Wizards need a player with the ability to shoot and stretch the floor, and Thompson is one of the best shooters in this draft.
Depending on if the team re-signs Nick Young—who is a restricted free agent—and the role they envision for Jordan Crawford, Thompson could actually start right away for the Wizards.
Jackson is another point guard who the Knicks may be interested in at No. 17 if they indeed decide to use their pick on a guard rather than a big man.
As I mentioned before, D.J. Augustin is really the only building block the Bobcats have, but Jackson is probably too good to pass up here if he falls to Charlotte.
At 6'3", Jackson also has a 7'0" wingspan, which is a remarkable for a point guard. He is a very quick guard who can really shoot the ball and get to the rim also.
Jackson is a very complete player, and his versatility may allow the Bobcats to play both him and Augustin at the same time.
The 'Wolves could do a number of things with their No. 2 overall pick, but either way, they are going to need to fill another hole with this pick: shooting guard.
Jenkins, who actually can play both guard positions, is an excellent scorer. He has a good amount of range on his jump shot, but can also take the ball to the rim. He also has very good upper-body strength, which he will need at the next level.
Jenkins is a mature prospect, and although a bit of a reach, would be a good pick by Minnesota.
Morris, a 6'4" point guard, has excellent size for his position and also has a good amount of athleticism.
He improved dramatically this past season at Michigan, although it remains to be seen if he is ready for the jump from college to the pros.
He could have been a top-10 pick had a returned to school for one more year of seasoning, but he decided to declare this year instead. Morris is another player who needs to work on his shot in order to keep opposing defenses honest, especially since he doesn't have explosiveness and quickness to routinely get to the basket.
Andre Miller has a team option for next season with the Blazers, and it remains to be seen whether the team will exercise that option. Natural point guards with the size that Morris has are rare. He might need some extended time to develop, but his ceiling is high. and the skills are there.
Although a player like Nolan Smith would be the safer pick, Morris has more potential.
Harper is a big man who can space the floor with his ability to shoot the three ball.
With a number of questions surrounding Denver's big men, most notably free agents Kenyon Martin and Nene, the Nuggets will be forced to use this pick on someone who can provide depth along the frontline.
Every time I see Harper play, it's really hard to not think of Channing Frye; their games are very similar.
Having passed on a big man earlier in the draft, the Rockets will look to add one here with their second pick in the first round.
Although a bit undersized, Faried is a gifted defensive player and was the best rebounder in the country last season at Morehead State. He is a beast on the interior, can block shots and has a seemingly endless motor.
He is still very raw offensively, and he needs a lot of work on both his shot and his post moves. But because of his defense alone, he will be able to make an impact right away for Houston.
Harris is a classic example of a player who does a number of things well, but not one thing great.
He is a versatile player who can shoot well from anywhere on the floor and is also an excellent passer. At 6'8", Harris would be an excellent role-player at the small forward position for the Thunder.
Oklahoma City is a team with very few needs at this point, so it would make sense for them to select a versatile player who is comfortable in a number of roles. Harris would be perfect for them.
When the Boston Celtics traded away Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder, not only did they trade an intricate part of their team, but they created a gaping hole in the middle of their roster as well. Boston was unable to find a consistent answer at the center position the rest of the year.
At 6'10" and 260 pounds, Williams is a big body who is also an excellent rebounder. He needs to improve his footwork and mobility, but his offensive potential is there.
Trey Thompkins is another player Boston could be interested in.
The Mavericks need to start preparing for life without Jason Kidd.
Although JJ Barea has been excellent for them, I don't think Dallas views him as the long-term solution at point guard.
Selby was brutal while at Kansas a year ago, and I'm not entirely sure why so many people are high on him. But sometimes, kids who struggle in college are much better in the pros.
Selby won't fall out of the first round; someone will take a chance on him, and I think it will be Dallas.
The Nets have a great point guard in Deron Williams, a young center in Brook Lopez and some other solid pieces.
But Travis Outlaw was a big disappointment a year ago, and the Nets need a wing player who can help carry the scoring load.
Bertans might be a bit of a work in progress, but the potential is there. He is a tremendous three-point shooter, and once he adds some strength, he could be a force in the paint as well.
Honeycutt is a versatile player who can play both guard and forward, and would be a good value pick for the Bulls here.
He isn't an elite scorer, but Honeycutt gets after it defensively, uses his length to disrupt shots and is an excellent passer for someone who is 6'8".
Think point-forward with Honeycutt.
The Spurs are another team that needs to add some younger, more athletic talent to their roster, and adding Leslie would be doing just that.
Leslie is an explosive leaper and a highlight-reel player. He gets to the rim with ease and can finish around the basket, but needs to improve his jump shot in order to take his game to the next level. Still, he is a very promising player.
Lucas Nogueira is another option here, but the Spurs are in a little different position than usual.
In recent years, they could afford to take chances on players who still needed seasoning overseas because they had enough to compete for a title already on their roster. San Antonio no longer has that luxury, and they need player who can contribute right away.
Brooks is a natural shooting guard and was also one of the best scorers in college basketball this past season at Providence.
The Bulls have long needed a shooting guard, and Brooks seems to be a good fit here.