With the NBA draft only 10 days away, and with Dallas wrapping up the NBA Finals, anticipation is building in cities like Cleveland, Utah, Washington and Minnesota.
Because of the impending NBA lockout, many college players remained in school for the coming year. This has led to an inordinate amount of foreign players in this year's draft. So, aside from the normal guessing game that accompanies a mock draft, this year we have to factor in that we know basically nothing about almost half of the possible first-round draft picks.
This is going to be a piece of cake.
And to make things easier, I decided to concoct three trades that could potentially happen on draft night.
I hope you enjoy. Don't forget to sound off in the comments!
Despite Cleveland's ability to pick Derrick Williams, and then pick up a PG with the No.4 pick, I still think they stick with Irving.
He's got tons of talent, and he showed great resiliency in his comeback from injury this past year. Despite him being a Dukie, and me hating all Duke players, I am really feeling his game.
Kyrie will be very good in the NBA, very fast. He reminds me of a Delonte West-type point guard. Obviously, he has more potential than Delonte, I just mean that he is a tall, strong point guard who plays under control and rarely takes a bad shot. Also, both are fantastic one-on-one defenders.
With Minnesota working the phones like crazy to deal the pick, Cleveland panics and sends their No. 4 pick, their 2012 first-rounder (top three protected) and Antawn Jamison, for Derrick Williams.
After choosing Kyrie with the first pick, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert realizes that he can miss out on both D-Will and Enes Kanter and makes a bad deal for the No. 2 pick.
Clevelanders will be excited about the fantastic one-two punch of Irving and Williams, but will, at season's end, wish they had that 2012 first-rounder.
Jamison gets shipped to yet another moribund franchise. At this point, you have to feel bad for him. He's, by all accounts, a great guy and an awesome teammate. Sadly, Jamison stays relevant only because of his expiring contract.
Utah makes up for the loss of Andrei Kirilenko by drafting the mysterious monster. Kanter could easily go to Cleveland at No. 2, but assuming he is available, Utah has to snatch him up.
Not a team that shies away from foreigners, Enes will fit right in. With Kanter, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, Utah will have a very good frontcourt (assuming Kanter can play—he's a total wild card right now).
In a draft where Cleveland has the first two picks, Utah comes out the biggest winners. Go figure.
Cleveland can't catch a break, even when it catches a break.
David Kahn pulls a Bill Belichick, and trades down yet again, while picking up a fantastic scorer in Monta Ellis.
Big win here for Minnesota.
So to recap, for a No. 2 pick in a really weak draft, Minnesota gets:
— Monta Ellis
— Antawn Jamison's (expiring contract)
— Cleveland's 2012 first-rounder (top three protected)
— Golden State's No. 11 pick
This trade actually makes sense for Golden State as well, who would be able to start over with a backcourt of Stephen Curry and Brandon Knight. With Dorell Wright and David Lee at the three and four, Golden State is only a center away from being competitive in the West.
As for Knight, I absolutely love him. I think he might be better than Irving. He is so explosive, and he is only 19. With Mark Jackson keeping him in his place, I think Knight will eventually be considered the best player to come out of this draft.
Great trade for both sides.
I really wanted to put Kemba Walker here, but with four solid guards (Calderon, Bayless, DeRozan and possibly Barbosa), I think Toronto needs to address their frontcourt—which is pitiful.
Normally, I would put Valanciunas here, but Chad Ford says that Toronto likes Vesely more. I'm not going to challenge Ford's sources. I think Toronto is in dire need of a true center like Valanciunas but will instead remain a crummy team with a horrible frontcourt of Bargnani, Vesey and Amir Johnson.
Sorry Torontonians, it's going to be another long year.
Leonard is the obvious choice here.
Washington is set at PG and have Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee in the frontcourt. That leaves room for Kawhi to take over the SF position.
Kawhi will bring a real toughness to the Wizards, unlike Blatche and McGee's fake toughness. They both run around, screaming and pounding their chests, but they aren't winning games.
I think Leonard will bring a hard-working attitude and do wonders for the Wiz.
He and John Wall are going to be fun to watch, and if Andray and JaVale can ever get their heads on straight, Washington will have an incredibly athletic core for the future.
I think that Sacramento is stuck here. They can reach for Kemba Walker or Jimmer Fredette, or they can reach for Singleton or Tristan Thompson.
Ultimately, I think Singleton will be the choice. Why? Because of his defense.
With Samuel Dalembert on his way out of town, Sacramento is going to be an extremely weak defensive team. Singleton is one of those Andre Iguodala-types who can guard four positions and has ridiculously long arms (7'1" arm span).
With Demarcus Cousins and the underrated Jason Thompson up front and terrific scorers Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans in the backcourt, Singleton will fit perfectly right in the middle.
I'm sorry, I had to. Watch from 1:05 seconds in (WARNING: vulgar language).
Anyway, this might be the easiest pick of the draft. Almost universally chosen to go to Detroit (in every Mock Draft I've seen), Valanciunas fits a gigantic Pistons need. Although I'm pretty sure any position fills a gigantic Pistons need.
Regardless, Jonas will (eventually—he will need to be bought out or waited on) be a very good player for Detroit.
Perhaps a modern day Dikembe Mutombo, Bismack is a phenomenal shot-blocker and rebounder with exceptional range (7'7" wingspan).
Assuming their free agents leave, Charlotte is going to be very thin in their frontcourt. Bismack will be the bridge from Charlotte's pathetic past into their hopeful future.
Even if he isn't a good offensive player, Charlotte can't play Kemba and Augustine at the same time. So even though I hate to see Kemba drop this low, the Bobcats aren't going to play two guys under six feet.
The solution? Draft the kid from Congo.
One of the best scorers this draft has to offer, Burks is exactly what Milwaukee is looking for. With Michael Redd probably moving on, Alec will give the Bucks the boost they've missed from Redd these past few years.
Even though he is not a fantastic shooter, his ability to get to the rim will create open looks for Brandon Jennings, John Salmons and Carlos Delfino—all good outside shooters. Also, this will give the Bucks that third scoring option they've been dying for the last couple of seasons.
Jennings and Salmon were usually pretty reliable (although both are extremely streaky) scorers, but with Burks in the mix, "Fear the Deer" might be able to get back into the playoffs.
The perfect match.
Minnesota needs some perimeter scoring from their backcourt, and Klay is probably the most talented shooter in the draft outside of Jimmer Fredette.
So then why pick Thompson? Because he is 6'7" and can play both guard positions.
With Ricky Rubio possibly on his way and Jonny Flynn's inconsistencies, Klay will provide stability for the backcourt with his long-distance game.
Although the chances of Kemba falling this low are slim, let's take a minute and look at how unbelievably well this would work out for the Jazz.
With Kanter, Jefferson and Millsap patrolling the frontcourt, that leaves Devin Harris and Kemba Walker in the guard spots. This would immediately catapult Utah into playoff contention and would destroy any thought that this could be a rebuilding year (after the loss of Deron Williams).
Kemba and Devin are both dynamite. This could be a great duo for years.
One of the NCAA's most exciting players, Jimmer can hit a shot from just about anywhere on the floor. And considering the Suns are probably going to lose Pietrus and Grant Hill, they are going to need some scoring punch.
Jimmer is their man.
The truth is, I may just be putting him here because I can't even imagine the joy of watching a backcourt with Steve Nash and Fredette, but he would actually be a very good fit in the run n' gun, don't-play-defense style of play in Phoenix.
Teach me how to Jimmer.
Morris is one of the more boring players in the draft. Without a specific position and being a little undersized, I figured he would fit perfectly into the Rockets lineup.
He and Luis Scola can grab scrappy rebounds together, while Kevin Martin launches away.
I like the Rockets, but they really, badly need a big man, and Morris isn't the answer. I would have them choose Tristan Thompson, but I don't think he fits the mold of a Daryl Morey player.
Weak pick, maybe they will try and dangle it for a veteran.
This photo is the reason why Denver surprises everyone and trades Raymond Felton straight up for the 15th pick in the draft.
Losing out on Nene and Kenyon Martin in free agency, the Nuggets will be looking to fill the gaping hole in the middle. Thompson is their man.
The dude is touching the top of the box!
Thompson and the Birdman will form one of the best shot blocking duos in the NBA. If Denver can retain Arron Afflalo (probably their best player), they will actually be a very sneaky-good team next season.
Armed with a shooter's touch and a scorer's mentality, Hamilton is the perfect replacement for the franchise—Andre Iguodala.
Assuming Iguodala is dealt for a big man, the Sixers are going to be in need of a SF. Jordan is by far the best one remaining (except for Serbian Nikola Mirotic, but he is expected to stay overseas).
Philadelphia made a huge leap this season and look well-prepared for the future. With Meeks, Turner and Hamilton, Sixers fans can hold out hope for the future.
Jackson's freakishly long arms (7' wingspan) and unbelievable leaping ability will transform the Knicks into somewhat of a juggernaut.
Still not quite the Miami Heat, the Knicks will be able to run with anyone and score with anyone. The question is whether they can defend.
Jackson's long arms will be valuable at SG, or backup PG, and he could be the bridge from an aging Chauncey Billups. Along with Toney Douglas, Jackson will give the Knicks the ability to apply tons of pressure on the ball and cause turnovers/fast-break opportunities for Melo' and STAT.
A great complement to their earlier pick of Kawhi Leonard, Brooks can put up points in a hurry.
After this draft, Washington is going to be looking very good for the future.
With a 7'1" wingspan and a lightning-first fast step, Marshon will be a guy Washington can turn to when the offense is struggling. He can get to the rim and finish strong.
If the Wiz get Leonard and Brooks, they can consider this draft a huge success.
After Sports Illustrated put him on their cover and called him the best rebounder in the nation, Faried has managed to live up to the hype. He was very good in the NCAA tournament and will work his tail off for you.
Kenneth is a perfect replacement for the hard-working Gerald Wallace (who was traded mid-season). Even though Charlotte needs offense, at this juncture in the draft, taking a player who can grab 10 rebounds a game is rare.
With his size and scoring ability, the Wolves would have an extremely formidable frontcourt of the future. Kevin Love, Michael Beasley and Donatas Moniejunas.
Sounds good to me.
A quick, athletic guard, Selby could be a nice complement to Andre Miller off the bench for Portland.
Despite not being a great scorer, Selby does possess some range on his jump shot. As long as he plays good defense, he could thrive with the Trailblazers.
Similar to his brother, Markieff will always play tough. Whether it is on the boards, or defensively, Morris will always be giving his all.
Unfortunately, his all isn't so great.
I do think he would be a nice replacement for Kenyon Martin and a nice complement to Tristan Thompson.
After their conservative pick last time, Houston goes a little bolder.
Vucevic is the perfect low-risk/low-reward player that the Rockets love. He also could be the guy who finally fills the gigantic void left by Yao Ming.
A Serge Ibaka clone with perhaps a little bit of a better jump shot, Johnson could help the Thunder down the stretch by allowing Durant to play the three (while Johnson and Serge play the four and five).
Also, with Serge, Perkins and Johnson, the Thunder are ridiculously lanky down low.
Add in Durant? Good luck getting an open layup.
Williams will knock you out and take your lunch money. This dude is a rebounding beast.
Considering the Celtics don't have anyone who can rebound aside from KG, Williams seems like a natural fit here. If JaJuan Johnson falls to 25, he too would be a good fit.
Basically, the Celtics need a big, athletic beast who can grab boards and/or block shots.
The rich get richer.
Harris could be a great pickup for the Mavs, who were sometimes forced to play Shawn Marion extended minutes because of their lack of defense behind him in the lineup. Peja certainly isn't playing defense, and Brian Cardinal might be gone (not that he is a great backup anyway).
Harris can be that guy for Dallas. Sort of like a 2008 version of Big Baby Davis.
I don't know why he is not in the photo database.
Regardless, Jenkins would be perfect for a NJ team that is going to be searching for a Deron Williams' replacement.
A great scorer, Jenkins can help NJ transition out of the short-lived D-Will era.
Even though I think he is perpetually over rated, Honeycutt is a nice addition for the Bulls. He might not have the scoring punch that Chicago is looking for, but he will certainly play terrific defense for Coach Thibs.
And you know what they say: If you play good defense, Coach Thibs will figure out a way to get you into the game.
San Antonio has time to wait, considering their best years are way behind them.
After their embarrassing loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio and their leader (Timmy Duncan) are going to sail off into the sunset.
It was an unbelievable run, something that many basketball fans didn't appreciate. Either way, the Spurs always seem to be finding foreign talent, and Mirotic is a can't-miss prospect.
Despite some consistency problems with his jump shot, Nolan can be the guy Chicago can count on to replace D-Rose for a few minutes each half.
I actually think that Smith has a nice future in this league. He plays great defense, and he can get to the rim.
Great way to end the mock draft!
Please feel free to tell me what you think!