I’m not going to waste any time here. There’s a lot of speculation and not a lot of answers when it comes to tonight’s NBA Draft. We are less than an hour from the picks starting to come in and still, people don’t know who will go first to Cleveland… that is, if Cleveland doesn’t trade the pick.
So much uncertainty and rumors makes doing a mock draft almost useless. Yet, why miss a chance to serve up my annual embarrassment? Here’s The Sports Download’s annual NBA Mock Draft.
#1 – CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: NERLENS NOEL, C, FR., KENTUCKY
We’ve heard anyone from Alex Len, to Ben McLemore, to Trey Burke, to Victor Oladipo being selected first tonight in Brooklyn. Noel has long been the favorite to go first since June of last year. Odd to think the number one pick in the draft only brings one elite skill (shot blocking) to the table, yet, that’s the case with this year’s crop. Noel’s ability to run with Kyrie Irving and the Cavs offense makes him the pick.
#2 – ORLANDO MAGIC: BEN McLEMORE, SG, FR., KANSAS
If Noel falls from the top spot, expect him to be headed to Orlando. But I think because the Magic need a scorer, McLemore is the better fit, while Oladipo is also rumored to be targeted here (more on that later).
#3 – WASHINGTON WIZARDS: OTTO PORTER, SF, SO., GEORGETOWN
The Wizards need a 3. Porter is the best 3 in this draft (not necessarily a good thing). He’s been at this spot in every mock I’ve seen and I’m not going against the grain.
#4 – CHARLOTE BOBCATS: VICTOR OLADIPO, SG, JR., INDIANA
If I’m making the first pick in this draft, Oladipo is my selection. Not only do I think he can be the best player in this class, but I think he is ready to make an instant impact on the NBA right now. He’s a gamer, a winner, a workhorse… A dream player to coach. Someone who can change the attitude and culture of a franchise. Him, Kemba, and MKG can lead a much needed culture change in Charlotte.
#5 – PHOENIX SUNS: CJ McCOLLUM, SG/PG, SR., LEHIGH
Phoenix needs offense. CJ’s got it. If McLemore/Oladipo falls, they’ll go here, but don’t be dismissing McCollum. A high Basketball IQ guy. Someone who knows his game tremendously well. Embraces the big moment. And for those of you who are still dismissive of how players from smaller schools can succeed in the NBA… Take a look at recent examples like Weber St’s Damien Lillard and Davidson’s Stephen Curry.
#6 – NEW ORLEANS PELICANS (awesome name): TREY BURKE, PG, SO., MICHIGAN
The Austin Rivers experience failed. Big time. Burke has question marks about his size and strength, but alongside Oladipo, has probably the best work ethic and determination to be great in this draft.
#7 – SACRAMENTO KINGS: ALEX LEN, C, SO., MARYLAND
The knock on Len at UM was that he didn’t play with guards that could run an offense to show his skill set. Well… neither does Sacramento. But when a guy rumored to be the #1 pick falls to #7, the Kings can take him here, especially with it looking more and more likely that DeMarcus Cousins will be leaving soon.
#8 – DETROIT PISTONS: MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS, PG, SO., SYRACUSE
With the Pistons talking about moving Brandon Knight to the 2, MCW can come in and run the offense while accounting for his height in the backcourt (6’6”) to help with the smaller Knight. A better ball handler who can feed developing bigs in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
#9 – MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: KENTAVIOUS CALDWELL-POPE, SG, SO., GEORGIA
While we never heard much about KCP because he was in the bottom of the SEC, this guy reminds me of another SG who was quiet pre-draft, yet held a great deal of potential… Paul George. I’m not saying Caldwell-Pope can lead the T’Wolves to the conference finals in three years, but I’m saying he could be someone we look back on years later and think… “How didn’t he go higher?”
#10 – PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS: ANTHONY BENNETT, PF, FR., UNLV
Bennett has a tremendous set shot and as much offensive potential of anyone in this draft. But a tweener size (6’7”, 239 lbs) and zero commitment to defense worry me like crazy. With LaMarcus Aldridge on the trade block, this could be the pick for the Blazers, though.
#11 – PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: CODY ZELLER, PF-C, SO., INDIANA
Pre-season, Zeller was a top three, even maybe the top pick in this draft. Yet after his game was picked apart last season by offenses and critics, he has fallen off on draft boards. Philly would like to grab him, with so much uncertainty in their frontcourt surrounding Andrew Bynum’s free agency.
#12 – OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: KELLY OLYNYK, C, JR., GONZAGA
OKC wants to trade up for Oladipo (but to be fair, who doesn’t right now). If they stay here, they will probably look big and Olynyk fits their roster build better than a Steven Adams, in my opinion.
#13 – DALLAS MAVERICKS: DENNIS SCHROEDER, PG, GERMANY
The 19 year old German has many GMs intrigued and is high on boards across the league. Dallas, in need of a PG after a rough season from Darren Collison, could go here with this move, but are also trying to work out deals as well to move around.
#14 – UTAH JAZZ: SHANE LARKIN, PG, SO., THE U
I interned with a local news station in ACC country last year, hence, watched a lot of ACC hoops, including the conference tournament in person. Shane Larkin, despite his size, has athleticism for days and is never afraid of the moment. Another gamer. I could see him easily starting for the Jazz as he’s been rising up mock draft all week… that is… if he’s still there at 14.
With the end of the lottery, I’m just going to list my picks now. Little reason to give reasons why players will go where when I’m just flat out guessing here.
#15 – MILWAUKEE BUCKS: SERGEY KARASEV, SF, RUSSIA
#16 – BOSTON CELTICS: STEVEN ADAMS, C, SO., PITTSBURGH
#17 – ATLANTA HAWKS: MASON PLUMLEE, PF-C, SR., DUKE
#18 – ATLANTA HAWKS: GIANNIS ADETOKUMBO, SF, GREECE
#19 – CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: REGGIE BULLOCK, SF, JR., NORTH CAROLINA
#20 – CHICAGO BULLS: TIM HARDAWAY, JR., SF, JR., MICHIGAN
#21 – UTAH JAZZ: SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD, SF, FR., UCLA
#22 – BROOKLYN NETS: GORGUI DENG, C, SR., LOUISVILLE
#23 – INDIANA PACERS: ISAIAH CANNON, PG, SR., MURRAY ST.
#24 – NEW YORK KNICKS: JAMAAL FRANKLIN, SG, JR., SAN DIEGO ST
#25 – LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: TONY MITCHELL, PF, SO., NORTH TEXAS
#26 – MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: JEFF WITHEY, C, SR., KANSAS
#27 – DENVER NUGGETS: ALLEN CRABBE, SG, JR, CALIFORNIA
#28 – SAN ANTONIO SPURS: MIKE MUSCALA, PF-C, SR., BUCKNELL
#29 – OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: ERICK GREEN, SG, SR., VIRGINIA TECH
#30 – PHOENIX SUNS: TONY SNELL, SF, JR., NEW MEXICO