An NBA draft is an extremely hard thing to predict. Most people do not have insiders information and are just doing it as they see it. Here are my predictions.
*Draft order based on current standings
1. Charlotte Bobcats – Nerlens Noel 6’11″ Kentucky PF/C
The Charlotte Bobcats are in a terrible situation. They are one of the worst teams in basketball history and do not even look like improving at the moment, but that could all change. The addition of Nerlens Noel would be a long term solution to this problem and despite the fact that he is out for at least the first half of next season, he will be a great long term addition, look at Blake Griffin for the Clippers as an example of how this can work. With many of the prospects stock sliding during March Madness, it seems Noel’s injury could be a blessing in disguise. A Bobcats team with a cornerstone of Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Nerlens Noel looks like one that could challenge in the future.
2. Orlando Magic – Ben McLemore 6’5″ Kansas SG
Ben McLemore is arguably the safest pick in this whole draft. He has been outstanding all year for the Kansas Jayhawks, averaging 15.9 points per game and 5.2 rebounds. Even though the Magic already have Arron Afflalo at the 2 Guard position, McLemore would be a nice upgrade. Drafting the efficient McLemore would allow the Magic to use Afflalo as an impact player off the bench, a position he played brilliantly with the Denver Nuggets. McLemore has long been projected to be a top 3 pick, even number 1, but his disappointing performance against Michigan did hurt his stock. Tends to go missing in the clutch, but could well be the best prospect of this draft.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers – Otto Porter 6’8″ Georgetown SF
The Cleveland Cavaliers need a small forward. Otto Porter is the best small forward in this draft. The two are a nice match. Porter has been lighting it up this year for Georgetown and is the most well-rounded prospect in this draft. The small forward averages 16.2 PPG and 7.1 RPG, whilst also being one of the best defenders in this class. He has shot 48% from the field for Georgetown this year and is a high impact player. Could develop into one of the best rebounding small forwards in the game. With Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Otto Porter, the Cavs should be primed for a playoff push not only next year, but in years to come.
4. Phoenix Suns – Marcus Smart 6’4″ Oklahoma State PG/SG
Phoenix is a team with no identity and no direction. With Goran Dragic the only player that does not need serious upgrading, selecting the best available player seems like the best option for the Suns. Marcus Smart is an athletic combo guard who is a good decision maker and a natural leader. He is a brilliant defender for a guard, one of the best in this class. Although naturally he is a point guard, he has all the fundamentals of a shooting guard and with improved shooting, could become a great combo guard.
5. Detroit Pistons – Victor Oladipo 6’5″ Indiana SG/SF
Victor Oladipo is an outstanding athlete and a great defender. He is a beautiful finisher at the rim and can slash most defences, can hold the best offences and can hit an open jump shot. He is still raw with his outside game and his jump shot doesn’t always fall, but for the high-energy leadership he provides, Detroit would be stupid not to take him. Oladipo would be a great upgrade from Rodney Stuckey.
6. New Orleans Hornets – Trey Burke 6’0″ Michigan PG
Trey Burke may just be the best player in this draft. He has the best assist to turnovers percentage in the nation and can hit a jumper with ease. He is one of the best facilitators in the nation, but can also step up and go himself when necessary. Burke has a smooth release and an easy shot, allowing him to be cool in the clutch, as evident against Kansas in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen where Trey hit a clutch three to tie the game and send it into overtime. A solid defender and also a good dasher, if he were a little taller, he would be a much bigger prospect. Despite New Orleans already having Greivis Vasquez, Burke would be a much better long term point guard for the improving Hornets.
7. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Toronto) - Cody Zeller 6’11″ Indiana PF/C
Cody Zeller has seen his draft stock fall recently, with Syracuse’s defence completely smothering Zeller’s effectiveness. But the upside of Zeller is what OKC will be looking at and it is better than the other centre options remaining (Len, Olynyk, Plumlee). He is very good in the post, can run the floor well for a big man and can find his way to a layup with ease. Needs to improve his rebounding, but brings back memories of a young Brook Lopez. Will get solid minutes behind Kendrick Perkins and could develop into a nice piece for the Thunder.
8. Sacramento Kings - Michael Carter-Williams 6’6″ Syracuse PG
Michael Carter-Williams has been brilliant throughout the Big Dance, leading the Syracuse Orange to the Final Four. He is a true point-guard with the size and vision to make it in the big league. He handles ball very well, defends like a pro and gets to the rim nicely. Would be a good addition to a Sacramento team lacking leadership and direction. The inclusion of Carter-Williams would allow the Kings to bring Isaiah Thomas off the bench as an impact player or spot-up shooter, a position that would suit him nicely.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves - Anthony Bennett 6’7″ UNLV SF/PF
Anthony Bennett was projected to be a top-5 pick before the NCAA Tournament, but with UNLV’s early exit, his stock has fallen. He has a nice inside game, complemented by a smooth outside game. Bennett is a solid rebounder for his size and has nice range with his 3-Point shot. He plays Power Forward, but is only Small Forward size. We have seen this go horribly wrong before, I’m looking at you Michael Beasley, and this is why some of the higher teams will avoid Bennett. The Timberwolves already have solid starters in all positions, so they can afford to take a risk on the high-reward Bennett.
10. Washington Wizards - Shabazz Muhammed 6’6′ UCLA SF
Shabazz Muhammed is an intriguing prospect. Once viewed as the top prospect of this draft, his stock has fallen drastically. In UCLA’s first match of the NCAA tournament, Shabazz did score 20 points, but hit just 6 from 18 from the field, including 0 from 6 from beyond the arc! Muhammed is a volume scorer who will go missing some days and will score 30 others. He already has an NBA ready build and will never not play hard. Concerns about his rebounding, defending and passing have caused his stock to slip, but he could still form a great scoring wing combination at Washington with Bradley Beal. If Muhammed is on the board when the Wizards are selecting, they’ll have no hesitation in taking him.
11. Philadelphia 76ers – CJ McCollum 6’3″ Lehigh PG/SG
CJ McCollum is an energetic shooting guard who can take the reins of the Point if need be. He is a little undersized for a 2-Guard, but his nice rebounding makes up for that. He is the purest scorer in this class, using his basketball IQ to create open shots and to get himself to the basket. Does need to improve from beyond the arc, but that will come in time. The 76ers could use some life off the bench, and CJ McCollum can provide them with that.
12. Portland Trail Blazers - Alex Len 7’1″ Maryland C
Alex Len’s stock has risen throughout the season, to the point where he could be a top 10 draft pick. But if he is not, and he is still available when Portland are selecting, they should have no trouble selecting the Maryland Centre. Len is an old fashioned centre, one that can score points in the paint fluently, as well as rebounding and blocking shots regularly. With Portland’s troubles at the Centre position, Alex Len seems like a nice selection. With Damian Lillard there to distribute to him, Len would be able to contribute handy points as well as solid defence.
13. Dallas Mavericks – Kelly Olynyk 7’0″ Gonzaga PF/C
The Dallas Mavericks need a new centre. With Chris Kaman’s one year deal expiring, the next best centre they have is Bernard James. Olynyk is an athletic player who can score in the paint well. He is a good rebounder and a solid defender who can also hit a jump shot and run the floor. Olynyk may not be the interior presence that is needed of a centre, so may end up being a long term stretch Power Forward, but Dallas should be willing to take that risk.
14. Phoenix Suns (from LA Lakers) - Mason Plumlee 6’11″ Duke PF/C
If the Los Angeles Lakers finish the year in 9th, their selection will be conveyed to the Phoenix Suns. After already selecting Marcus Smart earlier in the draft, the Suns will try to select a big man to partner Marcin Gortat down low. Mason Plumlee is a solid Power Forward who can score in the paint and grab rebounds at will. One of the best players in this draft in the post, he can score freely over both shoulders from this position. Plumlee also excels at grabbing offensive rebounds and has an NBA ready body. The Suns will hope to start him in his first year.
These players could find their way into the Lottery, if one of these teams particularly has their eye on them.
Isaiah Austin 7’0″ Baylor PF/C
Austin is an intriguing prospect. He is a 7 footer who is more comfortable on the perimeter than in the post. He can still take rebounds, but his position at the highest level is unclear. Needs to develop a Post Game if he is to be a successful stretch 4. One of the most interesting prospects in recent years who needs to add bulk before being an NBA starter.
Glenn Robinson III 6’6″ Michigan SF
GR3 is one of the brightest prospects in this draft, he can run the floor, hit a three and can hit a conjested shot. He is explosive and has a brilliant basketball IQ. Robinson III is still very raw, but is the sort of player a team such as the Blazers or the Mavericks would take a punt on.
James Michael McAdoo 6’9″ North Carolina SF/PF
McAdoo was projected to be a top 5 prospect heading into the 2012-13 collegiate season, McAdoo’s stock has dropped significantly. He is a talent though, he can defend both forward positions, can rebound nicely and is a solid scorer. Concerns still remain over his ability to create his own shot and get others involved, but McAdoo would be a steal for any of the non-lottery bound teams.
Well, there you have it, this is our Mock Draft,
Yours in Basketball,