So we're getting to the mock draft party a little late, but that's fine, because, you know, playoffs. I built this mock based on what I personally observed watching entirely too much college basketball this year, and also factored in mock drafts from more established places, like Draft Express. Also, be sure to check out SBNation's mock draft roundup. This is part 1, part 2 will follow tomorrow.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers- Nerlens Noel, C. He's big and blocks shots. He's got a developing offensive game and in 3-4 years he could be one of the best post players in the NBA. This is all assuming, of course, that he recovers from his ACL tear. He's projected to come back around Christmas, which means that the Cavaliers could potentially squeeze out one more lottery pick next season before their young core explodes. Every mock draft I've seen has the Cavs taking him here. There are some rumors out there that Cleveland could trade the #1 pick, and while I don't see that as likely, it wouldn't surprise me if they got some crazy good offers for it. If they get one good enough, they have to take it because you always take a proven NBA player (like, say, Lamarcus Aldridge) and future picks over a 19 year old who already has a bad knee, right?
2. Orlando Magic- Trey Burke, PG. Pretty much everyone else is projecting Ben McLemore (not the guy who does Thrift Shop) to go second, but I don't see it. He is super talented, but I place a lot of stock in my perception of players' attitudes. He's got a great attitude for a role player, but that is not what I want out of a number 2 pick. Also, I don't think they need another combo wing. I think Jameer Nelson is their weakest rotation link, and they'd be foolish to pass up on a super talented, highly motivated, high energy guy like Burke.
3. Washington Wizards- Otto Porter, SF. What do you do if you've already got a great young backcourt in John Wall and Bradley Beal, plus a stockpile of centres (Nene, Emeka Okafor, Booker, Seraphin) and power forwards? You draft a rangy small forward to either replace of develop behind Trevor Ariza. And that rangy small forward is Otto Porter. Great length and size at 6'8. He averaged 7.5 rebounds a game and shot 42% from three in his only year in college. Those are near perfect small forward numbers, especially once you factor in his almost 2 steals and just under 1 block per game as well. I think he spends a year splitting time with Ariza, and then faces the same situation that Kawhi Leonard faced in San Antonio...except this is Ariza's last year under contract.
4. Charlotte Bobcats- Ben McLemore, SG. I know I just blasted Ben a couple picks ago for perceived attitudinal weaknesses. But he makes sense at number 4 going to Charlotte, who already has their "franchise guy" in Kemba Walker. One of their biggest weaknesses last season was at shooting guard, and I think a young combo of Kemba/Ben/Michael Kidd-Gilchrist makes a lot of sense to build around. McLemore shot 42% from three and almost 50% overall. His scoring and ability to work as a secondary playmaker should give Kemba the help he needs in the backcourt.
5. Phoenix Suns- Victor Olidapo, SG. The Suns best player is arguably Goran Dragic. Let that sink in for a moment. The only other two players on their roster who would likely be in a playoff rotation are Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola. That means the Suns could draft pretty much anyone, and it not be a bad move. They'll be in the lottery again next year regardless of who they take. But Olidapo makes sense as a guy they can build around. He's a great scorer and he's capable both with and without the ball in his hands. He shot 60%(!) from the field, and in a limited number of attempts, 44% from 3. He should be NBA ready.
6. New Orleans Pelicans- Shabazz Muhammad, SG/SF. The two biggest roster weaknesses at the moment are at point guard (although Greivis Vasquez has been excellent) and small forward. Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson down low, Eric Gordon on one wing. I think they could draft a point guard here, but I don't see one that's not a reach at number 6. Shabazz is a little small at 6'6 to play the small forward spot, but he's the best fit/player available for the Pelicans. I wouldn't be surprised, though, to see them make a trade for a wing player they like better and some future considerations (like a Chase Budinger type)
7. Sacramento Kings- Anthony Bennett, PF. This team needs a point guard, a small forward, and either a power forward or a center to play next to Demarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans. But that's only if they want to keep either or both of them. In short, this pick is a total guess because the Kings are a catastrophe of a roster. Bennett represents the best fit available that still has lottery talent. He's only 6'8, but he rebounds well, blocks shots, and shoots efficiently. He's developed some range on his jumpshot, so he can also help spread the floor some. He's the typical "dirty work" player, but he's added a lot to his game so that he can be more than just a hustle guy.
8. Detroit Pistons-Michael Carter-Williams, PG. With Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, Detroit has one of the most promising frontcourts in the league. The late addition of Jose Calderon last season, and the continued development of all around good player Kyle Singler, likely makes them a fringe playoff team this year. They need a young point guard to develop behind Jose and they need another starting quality wing player. That said, if Shabazz Muhammad and Victor Olidapo are already off the board, the fit/talent on the wing isn't really there anymore. Which means they should (and likely will) draft for their backup PG need. Carter-Williams is an excellent prospect. He claims to have modeled his game after "Jason Kidd in his prime", and it shows. He's dynamic in transition, and leads this draft class in both steals and assists. He's an awful shooter, but shooting can be developed. After a few lousy years, Detroit is starting to rehabilitate it's image as a "go to work" team, and if MCW has the same attitude, he could be a solid but not spectacular contributor to a playoff team in a matter of two or three years. This fits Detroit's window perfectly.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves- Alex Lin, C. Set at the guard spots with Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour, and Alexey Shved, on the wing with Chase Budinger, and at power forward with Kevin Love, the only major roster question mark the Timberwolves have is Nikola Pekovic, who will be heading into restricted free agency after 2013-2014. He's definitely going to get major offers from other teams, but will Minnesota match? Enter Alex Lin. Soft hands, 7'1, big frame, high BBIQ. He's from the Ukraine and he just had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot. Minnesota requires one of two things from every player: either get hurt or be Eastern European. AND HE'S BOTH! In all seriousness, this guy could be like a taller Chris Webber, and is the perfect fit for an Adelman/Rubio offense.
10. Portland Trailblazers- Rudy Golbert, C. They've got Damian Lillard manning the point, Lamarcus Aldridge down low, and Nicolas Batum on the wing. Golbert is a super athlete with a 9'7 standing reach. He can dunk if he stands on his tip toes. Life is unfair. Right now, he's mostly limited to being a defensive player and a finisher at the rim. Which is pretty much all Portland would need from him anyway.
11. Philadelphia 76ers- Cody Zeller, PF/C. Another team with a lot of uncertainty moving forward. No head coach at the moment, no idea whether or not they are bringing back Andrew Bynum. Even if Bynum comes back, you probably aren't going to want to play him 40 minutes a night. I think Zeller is the right fit, because he could play either as Bynum's backup or for brief stints next to him as a PF. He's a legit 7', an excellent back-to-the-basket player, and has the quickness, coordination, and ball handling ability to drive past players if he faces up. He didn't shoot many jumpers in college, but the ones he did shoot were efficient and his 75% free throw shooting likely means he's capable of hitting from a variety of places inside the arc. He should be a great fit in Philly.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder- Kelly Olynyk, F/C. They've already got two of the top 10-15 players in basketball, and they somehow also have a lottery pick. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka all play a lot of minutes, so "wasting" a lottery pick on a backup for them shouldn't be a high priority. Reggie Jackson did as well as could possibly be expected filling in for Westbrook after his injury. The biggest weaknesses in their rotation are Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins. Olynyk seems like a good fit, as someone who should be able to eat Perkins minutes either immediately or after a year watching from the bench. He's got good range for a big man, is a fluid post scorer, and has the size and strength to bang inside and allow Ibaka to roam the weakside.
13. Dallas Mavericks-C.J. McCollum, PG/SG. The Mavericks were recently mentioned as a potential location for Dwight Howard, so I'll assume Mark Cuban will gamble and think he will win that sweepstakes. OJ Mayo played well as their SG while Dirk was out, then struggled when he returned. I think their biggest weakness is at the point guard spot, where they played Mike James extensively towards the end of last season. CJ McCollum is probably the best point guard left at this spot, and he plays a lot like Jason Terry. The Mavs love those type of guys. If they go another direction, though, don't be surprised if they reach for Lorenzo Brown. More on him later.
14. Utah Jazz- Dennis Schroeder, PG. The Jazz need a lot of things, but mostly they need to make decisions. Both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are free agents, as is glue guy DeMarre Carroll. Fortunately, one area the draft can make easy for them is their point guard situation. Namely, they don't have one, and Schroeder is apparently one of the hottest prospects left on the board. Excellent quickness and intelligence, he pretty much just controls the pace and does whatever he thinks the offense needs. Which in Utah's case will likely be passing the ball to Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors a lot.
15. Milwaukee Bucks- Sergey Karasev, SF. He's 6'7, can shoot, and doesn't mind taking a complementary role, even though he's one of the best prospects in Europe. He's also a good passer, which is pretty much a necessity when your teams guards are Monte Ellis and Brandon Jennings. He could fit nicely next to the two of them and Larry Sanders.
Stay tuned for part two. Discuss picks and random trades below.