While this is hardly the best year for draft prospects, this is our first NBA Draft Preview and I think we did alright! Here we go!
1. Cleveland-Alex Len, C Maryland
A lot of other draft boards have the Cavaliers drafting Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel at the top spot, some think they might trade out of the first pick. If they don’t, they should take Maryland’s Alex Len. At 7-1 and 255 pounds, the sophomore has the size that the Cavaliers have been needing for a while now. He has great defensive ability,too and can be an active player without the ball. He may be a project just like Noel would have been and to me he is not the best player available in the draft,but he is the guy the Cavaliers should take first overall.
Other potential picks: Nerlens Noel,Otto Porter,Jr.
2. Orlando-Ben McLemore, SG Kansas
After finishing 20-62 this season,the Magic could honestly use the help at any position (Name one Magic player) and the guy they should draft is Ben McLemore out of Kansas. A late bloomer and undersized at 6-4 for a shooting guard,McLemore has a solid 6-7 wingspan and great leaping ability. A great weapon in the open court, McLemore plays well on transition. He would make an excellent guard for the Magic. Victor Oladipo out of Indiana could be another selection should Orlando pass on McLemore.
Other potential picks: Victor Oladipo
3. Washington- Otto Porter,Jr. SF Georgetown
The Wizards are slowly getting better,and Otto Porter could be the guy who helps a young team get better. At Georgetown,he improved his scoring by nearly seven points per game between his freshman and sophomore years (9.7 to 16.2 points per game) and has long range shooting ability. With his wingspan (7-1), Porter has the ability to contest every jump shot. He is arguably the best player in the draft and I think he would fit in the Wizards’ frontcourt very well.
Other potential picks-Nerlens Noel,Anthony Bennett
4. Charlotte- Anthony Bennett, PF UNLV
The Bobcats do need the frontcourt help and Bennett is that guy. This draft is very power forward heavy and Bennett’s draft stock has risen in recent weeks. He shines when it comes to half-court scoring efficiency and the nice thing about him is that he does a little bit of everything,something I think that will benefit Charlotte. He will definitely be an asset to Michael Jordan’s squad, he hasn’t had many great draft picks in this time with the Bobcats, but I think he will score big with Bennett.
5. Phoenix- Victor Oladipo, SG Indiana
Indiana’s Victor Oladipo is a great catch if you’re a team in need of a two guard. The Suns could certainly use a guy like Oladipo, he has a great defensive presence though not a lot of long range for a shooting guard. The hope is that this will improve at the NBA level and improvements are said to be very encouraging. I think the Suns will benefit from Oladipo’s athleticism and defensive prowess.
Other potential picks: Anthony Bennett
6. New Orleans- Shabazz Muhammad, SF UCLA
A lot of draft boards do not have Muhammad as high as I do, but the Pelicans do not a small forward and to me he is the best available at the sixth spot. The UCLA freshman was great on put backs and running off screens, but is not the best jump shooter. He played the best on the break while at UCLA. Though he did not have the best season due to being suspended for eligibility issues, he does seem to have a lot of potential left and the Pelicans can take advantage of that.
Other potential picks: Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo
7. Sacramento- Cody Zeller, C Indiana
Do the Kings need to get a center? Not necessarily, but Cody Zeller is high on my draft board and he will be more than available at the seventh spot. The super sophomore out of Indiana averaged 16.5 points per game and shot 56.2-percent per game. Zeller is great at drawing fouls to get to the line where he made 75.7-percent of his free throws. He did improve his rebounding from his freshman year and runs the floor well. He has a lot of great size and athleticism that the Kings would like to see in a new regime with Mike Malone at the helm as head coach. Malone is defensive minded and could use Zeller to back-up DeMarcus Cousins (or even replace him if his act doesn’t improve). Not many draft boards have him this high,but I am more sold on him than others. I think Zeller would be great in Sacramento if chosen here.
Other potential picks: C.J. McCollum
8. Detroit- Trey Burke, PG Michigan
The Pistons need some backcourt help and they won’t have to look any further than Ann Arbor to find it. Michigan’s Trey Burke is sensational and looks to be one of the best point guard prospects if not the best one in this year’s draft. Burke averaged 18.6 points per game in his sophomore campaign. He also had an impressive 6.6 assists per game. Burke has a great half-court game and is a terrific spot shooter. He has been compared to Portland’s Damian Lillard,and he was Rookie of the Year last year, maybe he can be the same for Detroit.
9. Minnesota- Nerlens Noel, C Kentucky
A lot of you are going to raise eyebrows as to why I have Noel going to the ninth position when on some boards he is the top player selected,or in the top five. I am not too sold on him. He had a great season for Kentucky, but I worry he might be a bust. He did hurt himself in February tearing his ACL and he may not be ready to start the season. He did lead the nation in blocks with 4.4 per game and is not the most prolific scorer, only averaging 10.5 points per game. With guys like Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio on the floor, the T-Wolves will get enough scoring from them. Noel is there to grab boards and block shots,which I think would benefit Minnesota. I doubt he slips this far in the draft,but if he does, the T-Wolves will improve with his assets he brings to the team.
Other potential picks: C.J. McCollum
10. Portland- Rudy Gobert, C France
The Trail Blazers do need a center, and Rudy Gobert from France looks to be the best prospect at pick 10 for that need. He has an exceptional 7-8 wingspan and is very mobile for a big man. Though he wasn’t the most prolific option for Cholet,his team in France, last season, the looks he did get were outstanding. Gobert is impressive on the defensive end as a pick and roll defender. Portland would definitely be a great place for Gobert with a great point guard in Damian Lillard passing to him. If not,Kelly Olynyk from Gonzaga would be their next best bet.
Other potential picks: Kelly Olynyk,C.J. McCollum
11. Philadelphia- Kelly Olynyk, F/C Gonzaga
If there is an underrated prospect at center in this draft,I think Kelly Olynyk from Gonzaga is it! What an unbelievable season he had in his junior year, averaging 18.1 points a game and was a great finisher at the rim. He is exceptionally skilled as a player in his size and that could be huge for the Sixers who need size and skill in the frontcourt. It is a big reason why they struggled this past season and should they draft him,they will not be sorry they did. This kid will be a star in this league.
Other potential picks: Cody Zeller
12. Oklahoma City- C.J. McCollum, SG Lehigh
The Thunder are in the twelfth position here and do need a legit two guard. I cannot think of anyone better to go to Oklahoma City other than C.J. McCollum. This super senior had a great last year at Lehigh,averaging 23.9 points per game. McCollum is a great shooter,connecting on half of his jump shots. He is a little undersized as a shooting guard, but what he lacks in size he makes up for in athleticism. In an offense where Kevin Martin and Thabo Sefolosha are the main guards, McCollum may be able to crack his way into the starting lineup.
Other potential picks: Kelly Olynyk,Cody Zeller, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
13. Dallas- Michael Carter-Williams, PG Syracuse
Dallas is in dire need for a point guard and Syracuse junior Michael Carter-Williams could fit what they are looking for. While his turnover rate was high and he may not be the most prolific scorer among point guards this draft, Carter-Williams does have great intangibles which is what the Mavericks will be most excited about if he is drafted by them. He has great size, one-on-one ability, and on the open floor shows great athleticism. The Mavericks may also go with Shane Larkin from Miami, but I don’t expect him to be off the board by then.
Other potential picks: Shane Larkin
14. Utah-Shane Larkin, PG Miami
Shane Larkin is absolutely talented. His sophomore season with the Hurricanes was pretty amazing. He had a shooting percentage of 60-percent and averaged 14.5 points per game. He has a great ability to find the open man on the floor and to shoot off the dribble,he also seldomly turns the ball over. He is undersized,but he is very athletic. Larkin would be a great fit for Utah who, like Dallas, could use a point guard.
15. Milwaukee- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope SG Georgia
The Bucks will probably need a shooting guard if Monta Ellis is becoming a free agent, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope from Georgia might be a solid pick-up for them. With a mean pull-up jump shot, Caldwell-Pope averaged 18.5 points per game. He has few weaknesses in his game and has a low turnover rate. I think the Bucks should pick up this stellar sophomore Bulldog.
16. Boston- Sergey Karasev, PF Russia
Not many draft boards have Karasev going this high, but the Celtics do need help at small forward. On his team in Russia, he showed that he can be a go-to scorer when it matters most. He has great shooting ability as well. There are many avenues Boston could go down with this pick,but if they are looking to fill a need with it, you might as well go with Karasev before another team decides they want him.
17. Atlanta- Mason Plumlee, PF Duke
Duke senior Mason Plumlee is excellent in the post. He averaged 17.1 points per game this past year with the Blue Devils. While he is great in the low post,his weakness is his perimeter shooting. He is however an overall good athlete and will be a great grab for the Hawks as they need help in the front court.
18. Atlanta- Giannis Adetokunbo, SF Greece
Atlanta has back-to-back picks in the first round and will need more front court help. I think Giannis Adetokunbo might be a guy the Hawks might be interested in drafting. Coming from Greece by way of Nigeria, Adetokunbo acts more of a facilatator and makes a lot of great plays out on the open floor. He does,however,lack a lot of experience as he is only 18 years old. He could be a project, he could even be a second round pick,but I think the Hawks will be more than happy to draft him here.
19. Cleveland- Reggie Bullock, SG North Carolina
Reggie Bullock has the look of a good roleplayer in this draft. This will be the Cavs’ second pick in this round. Bullock could not only play shooting guard but small forward as well. He has great ability to spread the ball around the open floor and make open shots. Cleveland could use all the talent they can get,so why not pick up Bullock on your way to the second round?
20. Chicago- Stephen Adams, C Pittsburgh
Stephen Adams has slipped on my draft board partly because many teams ahead of the Bulls are not in much need of a center. Chicago is,though,and Adams might just be the guy they get if he is available at the 20th spot. The soon-to-be 20 year old had a really up-and-down year at Pitt, while his talent is still pretty raw, he has great size and a strong frame. He wasn’t the go-to guy on the Panthers last season, averaging only 7.2 points per game, but the Bulls may be able to work with him to bring his game along to where it needs to be.
21. Utah- Tim Hardaway, Jr., SG Michigan
Michigan’s Tim Hardaway,Jr. had a pretty decent two years there and was a key role player in getting them to the National Championship Game but was up and down in his career there. In spite of his inconsistencies,he has great size and talent,not to mention he comes from a great pedigree as his dad, Tim Sr.,was a great point guard in his years in the league. The Jazz do need a two-guard and I think Hardaway can be a reliable one if he works on being a consistant player.
22. Brooklyn-Gorgui Dieng, C Louisville
The Nets need some size up front and why not go with a champion with this pick? A national champion,of course! Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng has a lot of great attributes for a center; great leaping ability, is an outstanding rebounder, can block the ball with authority. Dieng averaged 2.5 blocks per game. I think he would be great for Brooklyn,though I would not be surprised if hewas chosen before the Nets get their shot to do so.
23. Indiana- Tony Mitchell, PF North Texas
While he wasn’t the most impressive in his last year at North Texas, Tony Mitchell has a lot of great physical attributes that may make him a first round draft pick. He has a giant 7-3 wingspan, impressive for a power forward. He has the ability to block shots,rebound,and finish on the low post. Whether or not he can do it consistently is another story. Will the Pacers be willing to find that out? I think so! I’m not saying Mitchell is the piece they need to get them to the Finals,but great play from him wouldn’t hurt.
24. New York- Allen Crabbe, SG California
Allen Crabbe is definitely NBA ready. With a great size to play shooting guard standing at a perfect 6-6, Crabbe is also great in the open court,averaging 18.4 points per game while in his junior year at Cal. He is excellent beyond the three-point line. I think the Knicks like exciting talent and that holds true with Crabbe. He’d look good in blue and orange!
25. L.A. Clippers- Archie Goodwin, SG Kentucky
Though some having him go in round two, I think Kentucky’s Archie Goodwin has enough raw talent to crack the first round. While he did show some flashes of great things to come in his lone year in Lexington, he still has a lot to prove at his age and level of experience. Goodwin is very explosive around the basket. He still needs to fill out his 6-5 frame,but with some time to learn under Doc Rivers, he might do the Clippers proud in selecting him earlier than expected.
26. Minnesota-Tony Snell, SG New Mexico
Part of why New Mexico was such a success this year was Tony Snell. While he needs to add strength to his frame. He has shown to be a quick player and has tremendous leaping ability. While he wasn’t the biggest scorer on the Lobos, Snell did show that he can make the shot when he needs to as he is an outstanding perimeter shooter. He would be great for Minnesota.
27. Denver-Dennis Schroeder, PG Germany
I think the Nuggets will love Dennis Schroeder. While he wasn’t the greatest on transition, he is a great assist guy. He will create opportunities for teammates to score,which is what the Nuggets need. While he takes few shots, the ones he does take he makes and makes often,at an astounding rate of 52-percent. I think he will be a steal for Denver should they take him,though he might go earlier.
28. San Antonio- Ricky Ledo, SG Providence
Ricky Ledo has an excellent jump shot,and can even do it with a hand in his face. Ledo is one of the more balanced guards in this draft, one of the reasons why San Antonio could choose him in this draft. He is a potent scorer, has NBA range, and has shown great versatility. He has had question marks regarding his defense,but looks to have hit better strides on defense during his lone year at Providence. This player was made for the Spurs, how can they not take him?
29. Oklahoma City-Glen Rice, Jr. SF Georgia Tech
Another NBA pedigree in the first round? You betcha! Oklahoma City’s other first round pick should be Glen Rice,Jr. Coming from the D-League by way of Georgie Tech, Rice has had his fair share of off the court issues, but during the D-League Finals for Rio Grande Valley, Rice had a great series averaging 29 points per game and 11.5 rebounds. If he could do that in the minutes he plays for the Thunder, I think they will be a much better team.
30. Phoenix- Jeff Withey, C Kansas
The Suns finish our Draft Preview. I think they go with a big man and Kansas’ Jeff Withey is that guy. The super senior averaged 8.5 rebounds per game along with his 13.7 points per game. Withey has shown great athletic ability despite being undersized 7-0 frame. He finishes well around the basket and was number one in that category throughout college basketball. I think he would be a nice addition to the Suns by being a great low post player for them.
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