Maybe that picture is a tad ridiculous but freshman center Anthony Davis is heralded as a player worth all the hype.
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis
Weight: 222 pounds
The only no-brainer in this draft. People say this kid is destined for stardom and is a sure-fire All-Star in this league. I am not as convinced as others that he is a sure-fire All-Star but he is the clear number 1 pick regardless. His ability to affect the game on the defensive end cannot go overlooked and he seems to have a better offensive game than people give him credit for. Even so, he is not known yet for his offense, but he was a 6’3 shooting guard as a Sophomore in High School then had a 7-inch growth spurt so it leads me to believe he can develop the offensive game needed to make him into the player people think he can be. Regardless of if he develops into a 20 point scorer or not, Davis’ ability to shot block and rebound with his long frame allows him to effect the game immensely even without the ball in his hands.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Thomas Robinson
Weight: 244 pounds
After the first pick, everything seems to be a little fuzzy about what will actually happen. I think the Bobcats are desperately trying to move this pick to move down a little bit, whether it be moving down to 4, allowing the Cavs to draft Bradley Beal here and the Bobcats go to 4 plus acquire an extra pick (#24 perhaps?). Or they could look to move the number 2 pick for a group of young veterans that can help carry the Bobcats out of this horrific rut. My guess is they will move down to 4 and the Cavs will select here. But since we don’t know that yet, it seems that Thomas Robinson is ahead of the pack in the minds of the Bobcats brass. Robinson is a long explosive power forward who can do a little bit of everything. He is listed at 6’9 although he may be a bit smaller than that but his length helps him make up the difference. He has what people call an ‘NBA ready body’ which, coupled with his athleticism should allow him to be an impact player right away in this league.
3. Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal
Weight: 202 pounds
If the Cavs don’t move up to #2, then the Wizards will likely select Bradley Beal here to play alongside John Wall in the backcourt. I like this pick because it takes a little bit of the pressure off of John Wall and this would complete a fairly decent starting lineup on paper. The Wizards would run out a starting line up of; John Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Nene and Emeka Okafor. Not a horrible looking lineup for a team that was a bottom feeder just a year ago. Beal is a great shooter and can create for himself. He should be an immediate fit wherever he goes and he has been likened to Ray Allen as a perimeter jump shooter, which is pretty high praise for anybody. Beal has a shot to be a really good pro.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Harrison Barnes
Weight: 228 pounds
School: North Carolina
If the Cavs don’t move up to #2 then Harrison Barnes seems to be the selection here. Barnes is the only freshman to ever be named to the Pre Season All-American team in the NCAA so you know the kid has the skill set to be a high caliber player. He never was as good as people thought he would be in his two seasons at North Carolina but to me, Barnes may end up being one of the top players to come from this draft class. Barnes has great size with a rock solid body and he can really shoot the ball. I think he will be a better pro player than he was in college and I think he could have an immediate impact. Pairing Barnes with second year point guard Kyrie Irving could be the start of a really good thing in Cleveland.
5. Sacramento Kings: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Weight: 233 pounds
MKG is thought to be the top player in this draft in terms of being able to make an impact without having to control the ball. Kidd-Gilchrist is the total package aside from his jumper that hasn’t quite come around yet. MKG could be the best on ball defender in this draft, possessing the ability to guard every position on the floow and has a motor that does not quit. I actually think that MKG could end up being a Shawn Marion type player that can contribute all of the little things to a team that are necessary to win ball games. He seemingly would fit perfect in Sacramento alongside a few guys that love to control the ball. His ability to make an impact without having to have plays called for him will be a nice complement to Demarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton. I love this pick for the Kings.
6. Portland Trailblazers: Damian Lillard
Weight: 189 pounds
School: Weber State
I know what you’re thinking…who?! But this kid is the best point guard in this draft by a long shot. I didn’t know much about Lillard so I’ve been reading up on him and watching some tape to better acquaint myself to Lillard and this kid can really play. He showed above average athleticism and a great ability to get to the rim and finish with both hands. He’s listed at 6’3 (might be a little bit shorter than that) but his wingspan is just north of 6’7, allowing him to really compete at the point guard position. He was a great scorer at Weber State averaging 24.5 points in his senior season. Aside from Kendall Marhsall there are not many good point guard options in this draft so Lillard will be a hot commodity and if he’s not chosen here by Portland then he almost certainly will not last far beyond this pick.
7. Golden State Warriors: Andre Drummond
Weight: 279 pounds
This is the player looked at to be the biggest risk at the top of this draft. Nobody knows exactly what to expect from Drummond, who is only 18 years old. He will come into the league as a big athletic center with a very raw offensive game. When I think of players with similar descriptions coming from college, my mind immediately goes to Hasheem Thabeet, another UConn big man with an overly raw offensive game. I really hope Drummond doesn’t end up like Thabeet but it seems that is the kind of player he is at this point. Drummond will be a project but could make an immediate impact on the defensive end. I really don’t like this pick for the Warriors because I think they need someone who can make a better immediate impact and not as much of a wild card. I feel that the better pick here would be Tyler Zeller or maybe even John Henson.
8. Toronto Raptors: Dion Waiters
Weight: 221 pounds
Waiters has good size and can create instant offense as well as anybody in this draft. He didn’t start at Syracuse this season but he showed that his ability to score warrants him being taken at this point in the lottery. Waiters should be a good fit in Toronto alongside Demar Derozen giving them 2 pretty good young slashing wings.
9. Detroit Pistons: John Henson
Weight: 216 pounds
School: North Carolina
I am skeptical about Henson, I’m really not sure what to expect from him. To me he seems to fit the mold of, ‘long lanky athletic power forward,’ a la Anthony Randolph or Ed Davis or Tyrus Thomas or Brandan Wright. All of those players came out of college as big upside guys because of their length and athleticism and none of them have really turned into much of a player in the NBA. Henson seems to be pretty skilled and he uses his length to block shots at an above average rate but I’m not convinced that he will be an impact player in the league. If I am a GM I am weary of players of this mold and I would look to take a player like Tyler Zeller or if he is off the board then Meyers Leonard from the University of Illinois to play center allowing Greg Monroe to play a more natural power forward position.
10. New Orleans Hornets: Austin Rivers
Weight: 203 pounds
This is one of the most intriguing players in the draft to me. People are either really high or really down on Austin Rivers. Some call him a selfish hero ball player, which is partly true, and others see him as an extremely talented playmaker. My take on Rivers is the latter, I believe he is an extremely gifted basketball player who is actually being underrated by experts going into this draft. Rivers has a lightening fast crossover and has the quickness and ability to get to the rim on virtually anybody. He isn’t the most consistent outside jump shooter but he is a streaky shooter and more importantly, he is a shot-maker. He is a pure scorer who can make plays for himself and teammates and I see Austin Rivers as being one of the better players to come out of this draft class. Also, I see Austin’s dad as being a very good influence on his NBA career. When things get rough, he has a championship head coach as his father to look to when he needs to right the ship. I think if Rivers lands in New Orleans (like is being predicted with this mock draft) that it could be a good situation for him. He will have some freedom on a relatively bad and very young basketball team to make plays and play relatively freely. Rivers paired with #1 overall pick Anthony Davis could be the start of something very solid in New Orleans and couple that with the fact that Eric Gordon may be healthy and locked up long term and the Hornets future seems to be bright.
Best Value in top-10
Harrison Barnes: I think Barnes is going to be a very very good NBA player. His combination of size and skill will make him a successful player on both sides of the ball. The fact that he lands in a great situation alongside Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson just enhances who he can be as a player. He wont be looked upon to carry the entire load as he would if he landed somewhere like Charlotte, but he can contribute heavily right away and I think he is a shoe in for the All-Rookie team.
Worst pick of top-10
John Henson: I was thinking that Drummond was the clear choice here because of his raw game but I’m going to go a different direction and say John Henson to the Pistons. I don’t think he is a good fit next to Greg Monroe and even more so I just do not think Henson will pan out in the NBA. He reminds me too much of the guys I listed earlier, which would not warrant him being chosen 9th overall, as suggested here. I really think the Pistons can do better here than choosing Henson and if they do I feel they’ll regret the choice.
Best player of 1st round outside top-10
Kendall Marshall: I think Kendall Marshall is a very good point guard prospect in this draft and is actually underrated a little bit. I think North Carolina had a real shot to win the National Championship last season if Marshall doesn’t get hurt in the tournament. He was the difference maker for that team. Marshall possesses elite vision and is an above average playmaker. He is not a good shooter yet but with work I think he can turn into a decent shooter. But to me, his ability to make plays and create for others makes him a hot commodity in a draft that is not filled with many point guard prospects at all. Depending where you can get Marshall, he may be a great value pick in the mid-to-late first round.
Biggest Risk of 1st round outside top-10
Jared Sullinger: By now, most know about the fact that Sullinger was medically red-flagged by the NBA pre-draft doctors, which really makes you wonder what the prospects are for Sullinger in this draft. This is a guy that, had he came out last year after his freshman year; he most likely would have been selected at the tail end of the top-10. This time around, his stock was already falling, sliding him near the end of the lottery, then news of the medical red-flag spread and doubts became even stronger of where Sullinger could expect to be selected. I never thought Sullinger was a solid NBA prospect due to his lack of size and athleticism but some people saw his abilities of something like that of Kevin Love, an undersized player in college with a lack of athleticism that was simply a great basketball player and finds a way to have an impact. I don’t think Sullinger is that guy. I really would not select him unless I was maybe at the very tail end of the first round. It’s possible that his skills will allow him to be a serviceable NBA player but I’m just not high on Sullinger as a pro prospect.
Best Sleeper outside of 1st round
Tyshawn Taylor: I think Taylor is vastly underrated in this draft. He is a point guard, which is rare for this class, and he is an above average athlete who has proven he can play on the big stages. Playing 4 years at a University with as high of competition as Kansas plays, prepares you for the next level better than people realize. Taylor is a playmaking point guard who is fairly long and has athleticism that allows him to finish at the rim against bigger defenders. The knock on Taylor is his inability to shoot the basketball. He is a poor shooter, there is no getting around that, but I think Taylor has the potential to be an impact player in the NBA. He reminds me a little bit of Mario Chalmers, in that they both weren’t highly touted coming out of Kansas but both played significant college roles that I think translate well to the next level.
Teams Likely to move
Houston Rockets: The Rockets now possess the 14th, 16th, and 18th overall selections in Thursday’s draft. Houston is a team full of decent NBA players that are lacking a front end top of the line player. There is no way the Rockets want to have 3 more rookies that come in and are fairly decent NBA players. They have to be looking to move up, its possible the Bobcats at 2 could have interest because the Bobcats don’t love anybody at 2 and they are in need of multiple assets. It could be that the Rockets are looking to get a bigger player, someone like Pau Gasol or Josh Smith and they intend to use a couple of the picks in a deal to lure one of those guys. Whatever the case may be, I don’t think there is any chance that the Rockets make all three of those selections and I’d be shocked if they ended up using more than 1 of them.
Charlotte Bobcats: The Bobcats aren’t in love with anybody at #2 so if they can move the pick to Cleveland for #4 and #24 then that would be beneficial for the Bobcats to do. The Cavs would get the guy they really want, Bradley Beal, while the Bobcats would end up with either Thomas Robinson, Harrison Barnes or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, although I think its between Robinson and Barnes. This would be a deal that makes sense both ways. Another option is the option I listed above, with the Bobcats swapping the #2 pick with the Rockets for a grouping of decent veterans and picks in return. Either way, I think the Bobcats want to move down from 2.
Sacramento Kings: The Kings are an interesting team because they have some talented pieces but they have no veteran leadership to bring it all together. That is why they are looking to trade the 5th pick to obtain some young veterans to help bring some leadership to Sacramento. There has also been a lot of talks of the Kings wanting to couple Tyreke Evans with the 5th pick and see what they could bring back in that case. I like the idea of moving Evans if you can get a pretty good veteran in return because Evans and Cousins just haven’t been able to really get going while playing together and I think Cousins is the better all around long term option for a franchise than Evans. I think the Kings will be okay with picking here and maybe ending up with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Damian Lillard (who blew them away with his workout) but I think the Kings would rather trade this pick and gain a useful veteran instead.