With the NBA draft combine in the past, we are edging closer and closer to draft day later this month.
The first overall pick will undoubtedly be Kyrie Irving; however, following that pick are there any other sure picks in this year’s draft?
Will Minnesota keep their second overall pick or trade it? Where will Enes Kanter end up?
Strengths: Kyrie Irving is a pure point guard with excellent court vision, athleticism and quickness. He shows a very good balance between passing and scoring. He is an excellent slashing point guard but also has a good jump shot with three-point range that will only improve as he matures. He has a very high basketball I.Q and is a good defender with the potential to become a lockdown defender as he develops.
His court vision and playmaking abilities as well as his ability to take on the scoring load when needed have drawn him comparisons to Chris Paul, whether or not he will live up to these comparisons is yet to be seen.
Weaknesses: He missed most of the last college season due to injury, but other than that, he has very few weaknesses.
How Kyrie Irving helps Cleveland:
Kyrie Irving will give the Cleveland Cavaliers a new hope. On a team with so many holes, he fills, perhaps, the most important of all, point guard.
Kyrie Irving is the type of player that a team can be built around, and that is exactly what Cleveland will try to do when they draft Kyrie Irving with the first overall pick.
The Timberwolves will opt out of trading the second overall pick and will instead take Enes Kanter, filling their void at center.
Strengths: Despite his excellent mid-range jump shot, Enes Kanter should in no way be described as a “soft European player.” Rather, Kanter is a tough and physical center/power forward who loves to bang down low with his great postgame and his plethora of post moves to beat his defender. He is also an excellent rebounder along with his good ball-handling and passing skills. Not to mention the fact that he has great length, his official draft combine measurements yielded a wingspan of 7’1.5", and his standing length was a whopping 9’1.5".
Weaknesses: The biggest knock on Kanter would have to be his lack of athleticism and leaping ability; however, he is able to make up for this in part with his high basketball I.Q. Aside from that, health could be an issue with Kanter.
How Enes Kanter helps Minnesota:
Minnesota already has Michael Beasley at the three, and although I would argue that Derrick Williams would be an upgrade over Beasley, I see Minnesota instead going with Enes Kanter at center in order to play alongside Kevin Love and take a bit of the burden off him.
Furthermore, now that Minnesota has finally signed Ricky Rubio, they will enter next season with an excellent core of young players; Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Enes Kanter and Ricky Rubio.
With Minnesota, passing on Derrick Williams for Enes Kanter the Utah Jazz will certainly not hesitate to grab him with the third overall pick. Williams will be a perfect replacement for Andrei Kirilenko who is expected to leave in free agency.
Derrick Williams can do just about everything. He is very athletic, he can shoot the mid and long-range jumper, drive to the rim, draw the contact and then beat you at the free-throw line, or he can just post you up. Williams has a good understanding of the game, showing great shot selection and maturity, and he can rebound and play good defense (which will only improve as he matures).
Weaknesses: Williams is considered by many to be a tweener and too undersized to play power forward at the NBA level. That being said, I would argue that Derrick Williams would be far more successful at the small forward position where is size would be an asset…not a weakness.
How he helps the Jazz:
With Andrei Kirilenko on his way this summer and Derrick Williams still on the board when Utah makes the third overall pick, there is no way they will pass on him. He will have an immediate impact for the Jazz, and he will likely be playing with a chip on his shoulder after falling to third overall. Expect big things from D-Will part two in Utah.
Strengths: Jan Vesely is a big athletic forward with a great jump shot and range beyond the three-point line as well as the ability to slash to the basket thanks in large part to his mix of size, athleticism and above-average ball-handling skills for a forward his size.
Weaknesses: If Vesely is to play power forward at the NBA level, he will have to get stronger and improve his post game.
How he helps the Cleveland:
With Enes Kanter gone, Jan Vesely is simply the best non-point guard on the board. His range should help stretch the defense for Kyrie Irving, and his scoring ability will make him a good second or third option on offense for the Cavaliers.
Strengths: Brandon Knight does just about everything well. He can score and pass, and he is a good defender. He can score going to the rim and shoot from medium and long range. Combine all of this with his athleticism, high basketball I.Q and the fact that he can play either guard position and you have yourself a winner.
Weaknesses: He will need to improve his consistency from behind the arc, but other than that, it is hard to go wrong with Brandon Knight.
How Brandon Knight helps the Raptors: Brandon Knight will be the answer for the Raptors at the point guard position, and he along with DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis and Jerryd Bayless will form the core of this young Raptors team moving forward.
Strengths: Kawhi Leonard is a very athletic wing player and an excellent rebounder with great leaping ability and a big body with a ton of length. His offensive game is still developing, but the size and athleticism are there for him and his offense as well as improved defense should come easily as he matures.
Weaknesses: As mentioned earlier, his offensive game has yet to fully develop.
How Kawhi Leonard helps the Wizards:
He will not have an immediate impact in the NBA, but given a year or two to develop and adjust, he should be a great fit for the Wizards.
Strengths: Kemba Walker is a scoring machine. He is also incredibly quick and is just plain explosive when he is driving to the rim. I would not necessarily call him a lockdown defender, but he still averages many steals. He showed improvement in his jump shooting, and he should continue to do so as he matures. Finally, his heart and tenacity are rivalled by few others in this year’s draft.
Weaknesses: The biggest knock on Kemba Walker would have to be that he is undersized, which may or may not hurt his chances of being successful in the NBA. Aside from that, he is more of a scorer than a passer, which also hurts him since he is far too small to play SG.
How he helps Sacramento:
Bringing in Kemba Walker will allow Sacramento to move Tyreke Evans to shooting guard, and those two players along with DeMarcus Cousins will form a great young core for the Sacramento Kings.
Strengths: Jonas Valenciunas is another player who is breaking the typical mold of the European big man. He lives down low where he has a very soft touch. On the defensive end, he is a good shot-blocker and rebounder.
Weaknesses: Unlike many European big men, Valenciunas has a great inside game but must improve on his mid-range shooting; other than that, he is a great big man prospect, and if he can add strength and toughness as he matures, he will be just fine.
How Jonas Valenciunas helps Detroit:
Valanciunas should be a good fit alongside Greg Monroe and will add rebounding, shot-blocking and a big offensive presence down low to this rebuilding Pistons team.
Strengths: Bismack Biyombo is a long, athletic big man and a great defender as well as being a very good rebounder. His offense could use some work, but that will come in due time.
Weaknesses: As mentioned above, Biyombo will certainly need to improve on offense once he arrives in the NBA; that being said, he is still young, and that will likely come as he matures. Other than that, he is a tad undersized at 6’9", but he makes up for that in part with his long wingspan and big-time hops.
How Bismack Biyombo helps Charlotte:
He will give the Bobcats a tough and intimidating defender in the post with great athleticism and rebounding ability.
Strengths: Tristan Thompson's greatest assets are his long 7’2" wingspan and great athletic ability, which translate into many blocked shots and rebounds, particularly on the offensive glass. On offense, he can beat you in a variety of ways, and his offensive game is still developing.
Weaknesses: Thompson plays a pretty well-rounded game but still needs some time to develop. He must improve his perimeter game, which would allow him to move to SF, a position where he could have more success.
How Tristan Thompson helps Milwaukee:
The Bucks cannot expect to rely on Drew Gooden, so enter Tristan Thompson.
Strengths: Marcus Morris is a great scoring power forward who can beat you down low or from the perimeter. His ball-handling and basketball I.Q along with his rebounding and scoring ability allow him to play either forward position.
Weaknesses: As mentioned, he can play either forward position; however, he is a tad undersized to play the four and may not be quick enough for the three.
How Marcus Morris helps Golden State:
The Warriors need to improve their frontcourt, and although their biggest need is at center, Marcus Morris will certainly be a decent addition at the four.
Strengths: Alec Burks is a long and athletic penetrating shooting guard who can get to the rim with relative ease and finish strong with some big dunks. He has a lot of potential, and if he can improve his jump shot, he will become a very deadly scorer.
Weaknesses: As mentioned earlier, he must improve his jump shot and range. Aside from that, he could use some more strength and must learn to play better off the ball on offense.
How Alec Burks helps Utah:
They need a scorer and this is exactly what Alec Burks is. Factor in that they landed Derrick Williams third overall and you have the makings of a solid core of young players.
Strengths and Weaknesses:
By now, we should all know the story about Jimmer. He is an excellent scorer and has a very good basketball I.Q. That being said, many expect him to struggle defensively at the NBA level and be hindered by his lack of athletic ability.
How Jimmer Fredette helps the Phoenix Suns:
Steve Nash will not be around forever, and the Suns will not be making an appearance in the finals before he is gone. Therefore, why not get the most bang for your buck and get Nash to mentor Jimmer Fredette in the hopes that he can become half as good of a playmaker as Nash. Because that in combination with his scoring ability provided translates to the NBA would make Jimmer quite the dangerously point guard.
With Steve Nash as his mentor Jimmer should have no trouble adjusting to the NBA offensively, but will he be hampered by his defense?
Strengths: Chris Singleton is one of, if not, the best perimeter defender in the draft. He is long and athletic and possesses a good mid-range jumper as well as some three-point range, though he is inconsistent from beyond the arc.
Weaknesses: As mentioned above, he is a streaky shooter from long range, and he must also develop a post game in order to take advantage of his length and height.
How Chris Singleton helps Houston:
Last season, the Houston Rockets were 22nd overall in points allowed per game. Chris Singleton’s superb defensive abilities should go a long way in improving the Rocket’s overall team defense and would be the ideal player to fill the hole left by Shane Battier.
Strengths: Thompson is one of the best scorers/sharpshooters in the draft. In addition, he has good point guard instincts for a scorer.
Weaknesses: He must broaden his game and become than just a shooter.
How Klay Thompson helps Indiana:
He would eventually take some of the scoring load off Danny Granger.
Strengths: Markieff Morris is a lockdown defender in the post with great shot-blocking and rebounding and athletic ability. His offense game is coming along; he is a good finisher down low, and he is a good mid-range shooter; that being said, he still has quite a bit of room to grow on that side of the ball.
Weaknesses: Needs to improve on offense and could should work on his ball-handling.
How he helps Philidelphia:
Philidelphia is set in the backcourt and at SF (if they hold on to Andre Iguodala), but in order to make a decent run in the playoffs, they must revamp their frontcourt. Markieff Morris is a great initial step in upgrading their frontcourt and pursuing center in free agency would certainly be the next step.
Strengths: Athletic big man with the ability to score around the basket with both hands combined with a good mid-range jumper. He is also a good passer and has a high basketball I.Q.
Weaknesses: Needs to add strength and improve his consistency from long range if he plans to add that to his arsenal of offensive weapons.
How Donatas Motiejunas helps New York:
In my opinion, the Knicks need a center more than a point guard. They would be smart to stick with Chauncey Billups for one more season with Toney Douglas as his backup. Meanwhile, they can develop Motiejunas as a decent fit as the backup or as the starting center alongside Amar’e Stoudemire.
Strengths: Marshon Brooks is a very athletic slashing shooting guard. He has excellent length for a shooting guard with a wingspan of 7’1", and as you would imagine, he is a good rebounder. Finally, he is also a great shooter and ball-handler, which in combination with his great slashing ability and size makes him one heck of a scoring threat.
Weaknesses: He needs to work on his three-point shooting.
How he Helps Washington:
With Nick Young possibly leaving Marshon, Brooks is as good of a replacement as any. That being said, if Young sticks around Brooks scoring ability would be a great boost off the bench.
Strengths: Jordan Hamilton is an excellent scorer who can make good on shots from just about anywhere on the court. He is also a good rebounder who plays with toughness and grit.
Weaknesses: Needs to improve his shot selection and he is not overly athletic.
How he helps Charlotte:
Stephen Jackson will not be around forever. In the meantime, Hamilton would serves as a decent backup for Captain Jack and down the road possibly even his replacement.
Strengths: Kenneth Faried is the best rebounder in the draft. He is very long and is a great leaper, which also allows him to rack up the blocks.
Weaknesses: He is undersized for the power forward position but makes up for this in part with his length. Must add strength and work on his offensive game, which is still quite raw.
How Kenneth Faried helps Minnesota: Kenneth Faried would be an excellent role player for the Timberwolves and would give them another excellent rebounder who would allow the T-Wolves to stay competitive on the glass even when Kevin Love is on the bench.
Factor in that Minnesota also would have taken Enes Kanter with their first pick and you’ve got yourself quite a young trio of big men moving forward in Minnesota.
Strengths: Josh Selby is a shooting guard in a point guard’s body. He is athletic and is at his best when he is slashing to the rim. In addition to his slashing ability, he is also a good jump shooter and a great defender.
Weaknesses: He must improve his playmaking ability if he hopes to become a good point guard in the NBA. In addition, he must also improve his shot selection and become a more consistent jump shooter.
How he helps Portland:
Josh Selby will be a great replacement for the old, yet still quite serviceable Andre Miller.
Strengths: Tobias Harris plays a well-rounded game, can play multiple positions, has a high basketball I.Q and is an unselfish team player. His ball-handling skills and size leave him better suited to play SF in the NBA, as does his shooting ability. He will become a decent NBA role player.
Weaknesses: Undersized at the PF position in the NBA, lacks athleticism and must add strength.
How he helps Denver:
The Denver Nuggets are a very well-rounded team with no true star, rather several good but not necessarily great players. Tobias Harris would fit in nicely as a role player on this young Nuggets team.
Strengths: Reggie Jackson is a quick and athletic point guard with a 7’0" wingspan and great rebounding ability for his position. His jump shot improved quite a bit last season. He has the ability to score and set up his teammates.
Weaknesses: Although he showed improvements in his jump shooting, he still has a ways to go and must also work on his awareness and discipline on the court.
How he helps Houston:
He should beat out Goran Dragic and become Kyle Lowry’s backup next season, allowing Houston to move Dragic and possibly acquire a decent center in return, especially if Chuck Hayes leaves town this offseason.
Strengths: Nikola Mirotic plays quite the well-rounded game. He can play either forward position, but with his ball-handling and size advantage, he is an ideal fit at SF. He is a good shooter with three-point range and a solid defender.
Weaknesses: Lacks athleticism and strength, is a poor rebounder and he may take a few years to come to the NBA.
How he helps Oklahoma City:
Could prove to be a valuable role player for the Thunder as a backup to both Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka.
Strengths: Nikola Vucevic is very big. He stands at 7’0" and has a 7’5" wingspan. He has a soft touch around the basket, is a decent rebounder and has range out to the three-point line where his huge wingspan will make it extremely difficult to block him.
Weaknesses: Lacks athleticism and is a poor ball-handler; that being said, he is 7' tall…
How he helps Boston:
The Celtics need a center, and Vucevic is a legit seven-footer, and in my opinion, a steal at 25th overall.
Strengths: Davis Bertans is both a sharpshooter and a player at the SF with height advantage. He has range out to the three-point line.
Weaknesses: Needs to add strength and improve his shot selection.
How he helps:
Davis Bertans will be the second coming of Peja Stojakovich for the Mavs.
Strengths: Jeremy Tyler is big, strong and freakishly athletic. He raised quite a few eyebrows at the draft combine.
Weaknesses: Has been criticized for his choice to play overseas and skip both high school and college. That being said, he is still very athletic and has quite a bit of potential, he just needs a good coach to be patient and help him transform that potential into success.
How he helps New Jersey:
Jeremy Tyler will most likely take a while to develop; however, he could be a good young backup for Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries.
Strengths: Tyler Honeycutt has a very high basketball I.Q and really understands the game. He has great athleticism, is a lockdown defender and good shot-blocker and a very good passer.
Weaknesses: Must add strength and become more of a scorer.
How he helps:
Honeycutt’s excellent understanding of the game and defensive excellence make him a perfect fit for the Bulls...unfortunately, his average scoring ability are synonymous with the current Bulls roster as well. Nevertheless, he would be great backup for Luol Deng.
Strengths: Lucas Nogueira is a long and athletic center (7’6" wingspan) with great rebounding and shot-blocking ability.
Weaknesses: Must add strength and must vastly improve on offense.
How he helps San Antonio:
Lucas Nogueira will not have an immediate impact with the Spurs but could become a very valuable role player who can come off the bench and provide both rebounding and shot-blocking.
Strengths: Charles Jenkins is a scoring machine. He can drive to the basket and shoot from mid and long range.
Weaknesses: Lacks athleticism, a shooting guard in a point guard’s body.
How he helps Chicago:
The Bulls need scorers and this is exactly what Charles Jenkins is. He will come off the bench as a backup to Derrick Rose and whoever the Bulls get this offseason to come in and start at SG. He has the potential to be a very good sixth man in the NBA.