As the NBA Finals continue towards a conclusion, the NBA Draft is serving as the next big event on the upcoming calender. Here at the Waiver Wire, Vinny Ginardi and Greg Kaplan have decided to break out a mock draft of their owns.
This year’s draft will be broken up into three separate posts. The first one, seen here, will be the preview of the NBA Lottery (the first 14 picks in the draft for non-playoff teams). Next, we will break out the remainder of the first round predictions. Then, we will follow that up with potential hidden gems in the second round, without giving you a team-by-team selection for the 30 remaining picks.
Without further adieu, the New Orleans Hornets are now on the clock…
The Pick: Anthony Davis, C, Kentucky
GK: It’s the worst-kept secret in sports today. Right now, there isn’t a skill that doesn’t translate to instant success and eventual NBA stardom for Davis. He blocks shots, rebounds, scores inside and out, controls the ball and is already more marketable than any player on the Hornets roster.
There is still an outside chance Davis is selected to represent Team USA at the London Olympics this summer. No other player in this draft is slated to do more than scrimmage against Team USA in a tune-up game. Yeah, he’s the logical #1 pick. Let’s just move on.
The Pick: Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
VG: What don’t the Bobcats need? To me this is really a toss up between Kidd-Gilchrist and Thomas Robinson, though some think that Bradley Beal might even go this high.
I’m going with Robinson though because he has a much more defined offensive game. He might be a bit undersized for a big man, but he has the offensive skill set and the physicality to be successful in the NBA.
The Pick: Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
GK: I feel like the Wizards are going to be the first team to trade down to lower in the lottery. To me, it’s clear the best player on the board at this point is Kidd-Gilchrist. However, the Wizards spent two first-round picks last year on forwards with Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton.
Beal fills an immediate hole for the Wizards. He’s a dynamic scoring two-guard that would immediately slot into the starting rotation flanked by John Wall, Nene, Vesely and Singleton. That’s a young core with a promising future, no?
The Pick: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky
VG: Here, the Cavs will have to go with the player who is best on the board (as long as it’s not a point guard). Cleveland is actually in a pretty good spot with the fourth pick as long as they don’t try to do anything too cute.
In Kidd-Gilchrist the Cavs will be getting a player who is likely to become one of the league’s better perimeter defenders. His offensive skills aren’t perfect, but he is a great athlete who will complement Kyrie Irving’s up-tempo pace.
The Pick: Andre Drummond, C, UConn
GK: I really, really didn’t want to make this pick for the Kings. The last thing they need is another mercurial talent playing a pivotal role in the team’s future success.
As the team is currently constructed, they have a bright future at the point Isaiah Thomas, Tyreke Evans may should find more success playing off the ball, DeMarcus Cousins plays like a franchise player (when he wants to) and Marcus Thornton played very well in a starting role last year.
They need a center to partner with Cousins up front and grab the dirty boards. Drummond could be, in a few years, one of the premier shot-blocking, board-grabbing forces in the NBA. For the Kings’ sake, I hope he is.
The Pick: Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
VG: Well, that trade sure worked out well for the Blazers.
With current forwards Nic Batum and J.J. Hickson as restricted free agents, the Blazers find a great player in Barnes that should be able to make an immediate impact. Barnes is a long small forward (7’ 11” wingspan), and has good offensive and defensive skills.
If the Blazers take Barnes, they could have a 2-3-4 line up of Wes Matthews, Barnes, and Lamarcus Aldridge, with their 11th overall pick and free agency still to come into play (they could have the money to spend). That’s not bad for a team that overhauled the roster just a few months ago.
The Pick: Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State
GK: First of all, the Warriors got incredibly lucky to even retain this pick. This pick was actually traded twice by the Warriors, once to the Nets, then again to the Jazz, but it was Top 7-protected.
The Warriors have already moved on from the Monta Ellis era, and need a true point guard to play alongside Steph Curry in the backcourt. Lillard has been shooting up draft boards since the college basketball season ended after averaging 24.5 points, 4.0 assists and shooting 46.7% from the field.
Unlike Ellis, who was only a dynamic scorer, Lillard can open up his teammates for easy looks while controlling the ball and driving to the rim. He should be able to get easy kick-out looks from 3 for Curry, which is exactly what the Warriors need to build a successful team long-term.
Not bad for a kid from Weber State, right?
The Pick: Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse
VG: I know DeMar DeRozan averaged more than 16 points per game last season, but his numbers outside of scoring don’t impress and really he is long enough where Toronto can play him at small forward if needed.
In Waiters, the Raptors could be getting best scorer in the draft. He is a little undersized for the shooting guard position (6’4”) but he knows how to get to the rim and put the ball in the hoop. He’s not quite as athletic, but his size and his ability to score reminds me of Dwyane Wade.
The Pick: Jeremy Lamb, SG, UConn
GK: The Pistons are in a bad place right now as a franchise. They don’t seem to have much direction moving forward, which is the kiss of death in NBA circles.
Yes, the Pistons have both Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon already on their roster. However, Stuckey is at the peak of his NBA potential and Gordon is best used off the bench as a sixth-man, irrational-confidence-guy.
Lamb would truly be the first pure scorer on the Pistons roster that has the potential to mature into a legit NBA All-Star. He has the ability to hit a shot from anywhere on the court and can drive to the rim at will. Furthermore, since there are veteran pieces already on the roster, he won’t be forced into a position where it will be up to him to save the franchise immediately, which often hampers the development of young prospects.
If coached the right way and put into the right system, Lamb becomes the go-to guy for the Pistons on the offensive end of the floor. Not to mention, he plays a strong defense, too. He’s an all-around fit for Detroit, and they’re probably lucky to find a talent at his level this late in the lottery.
The Pick: Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina
VG: For a minute, I toyed with the idea of the Hornets taking John Henson and thought about how many blocks Henson and Anthony Davis could combine for each game. But really, that’s not a practical pick.
If the Hornets are able to hold onto Eric Gordon (a restricted free agent) then they could be a decent team as soon as next year. They add Davis with the first overall pick and should probably look to trade Emeka Okafor, who despite an iffy contract, could bring back something decent in return. They are lacking at the point guard position which is why I think they go Marshall here. Marshall has good size for a point guard (6’4”) and has been documented as someone who has a great feel for the game. He may not fit the athletic mold of today’s current point guards (Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, etc.), but he should be a solid starter.
The Pick: Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina
GK: This is a position Portland never thought they’d have to draft in the lottery after taking Greg Oden #1. The rest, well, is history.
The Blazers have already selected Harrison Barnes earlier, and they have to be upset that both Lillard and Marshall are off the board before they select again at #11. Arguably, the next best point guard on the board (Marquis Teague) is not viewed as a lottery pick, so either the Blazers trade down, or they address a need up front to pair with LaMarcus Aldridge.
Zeller is a nibble-footed big man that will grab boards and make the easy putbacks. He’s not as dynamic offensively at other players at his position, but he’s better than your league-average center. He won’t take looks away from the team’s scorers (Mathews, Aldridge), while providing the tools to guard the likes of other centers and take pressure off Aldridge on the defensive end. Its a good pick, albeit not flashy.
The Pick: John Henson, PF, North Carolina
VG: I thought about going with Meyers Leonard here, but the Bucks are transitioning to more of an up-tempo team with a backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.
In Henson, the Bucks would get an athletic shot blocker that wouldn’t slow down the offense. He definitely needs to bulk up a little (6’11”, 220 pounds), but he still should be successful as a power forward in the NBA. He doesn’t have a great offensive game, but the Bucks already have two great scorers in Jennings and Ellis.
The Pick: Terrence Jones, SG/SF, Kentucky
GK: Marcin Gortat was the Suns’ leading scorer last year, averaging 15.4 points per game. Yeah, that’s not exactly a winning formula, especially in the Western Conference.
Jones would infuse an immediate influx of offensive abilities this team will need in the post-Nash era (even if it doesn’t start next season). Jones shot 50% at Kentucky, largely being overshadowed by the likes of the fantastic freshmen Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist.
On any other team, Jones would’ve been the star averaging near 19 points each night. Instead, he served the role as veteran leader (yup, as a sophomore) on an eventual National Champion. That type of leadership building and understanding of his role will translate well at the next level. Should he continue to develop his game offensively, the Suns will have a themselves a strong foundation to build on moving forward.
The Pick: Austin Rivers, SG, Duke
VG: Man, this draft is deep. Realistically, I see a team possibly trading up to get Rivers a bit earlier than this, but if he falls to 14, the Rockets have themselves a steal.
Rivers is one of the best offensive players in the draft. He has unlimited range, can get to the rim whenever he wants, and has good ball-handling skills. He did take bad shots from time to time, but his shot selection should improve with experience. The Rockets already have a proven shooting guard in Kevin Martin, but when is that guy not involved in trade talks?