NBA Mock Draft: The Lottery

With the conclusion of the NBA Draft Lottery, there’s two possible directions to take this article; reaction to David Kahn’s comments that the “thing is rigged”, or get a head start on the Mock Draft season.  We chose the latter, simply because spending time reacting to David Kahn would inevitably leave us livid at the fact that he is still the head of a professional basketball organization.  Just thinking about it gets us fired up.  So, here’s our take on how the lottery portion of the draft will shake out.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (from LAC) –

PG – Kyrie Irving – Duke (Consensus)

He’s the consensus number 1 pick, and the Cavs need all the talent they can get.  No doubt this is where they go with the 1st overall selection.  As Wolves fans, we’ll be praying that the Cavs fall in love with Derrick Williams enough to let Irving fall to Minnesota.  We don’t see it happening though. With all the great point guards in the NBA today, you absolutely cannot pass up the chance to land one.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves –

SF – Derrick Williams – Arizona (AS)

In typical Wolves fashion, they finally land a Top 2 pick in a draft where the unquestioned #2 prospect plays the only position that the Wolves are already set at (power forward).

If I’m David Kahn (thank God I’m not), I’m trying to deal this pick to some team that’s willing to overpay for Williams.  I’d try to get a legit veteran or a first round pick in next year’s draft, which many analysts are saying is much deeper at the top than this year’s.  If he can’t make the trade, you almost have to take Williams here and sort out what to do with the log jam at SF and PF later.

As a 3/4 ‘tweener’ Williams isn’t a very good fit for the Wolves.  With Kevin Love entrenched at the 4-spot, Williams would have to learn to be an NBA small forward, but who knows if he has the quickness and can develop the ball handling skills necessary to be a full-time 3?  However, Michael Beasley has not proven enough for the Wolves to say that they are set at the SF spot.

Enes Kanter, Bismack Biyombo and Alec Burks are some other names that might fit the Wolves better.  Kanter in particular, is very intriguing for the Wolves, but it would be hard to pass on a talent like Williams.

C – Enes Kanter – Kentucky (CM)

Although I think Williams is undoubtedly going to be the best player available at #2, I still believe the Wolves try to fill a need.  Our need at point guard is well-documented, but if Irving isn’t there, we’ve got to fill the hole at the center position.  No offense to Darko, but I’d rather not have him in the lineup than have another ‘tweener’ potential superstar at the forward position.

Kanter, who turns 19 tomorrow (May 20th) could end up being the steal of this draft, even at 2 or 3.  Those who have seen Kanter play, either professionally in Turkey, or at various camps in the USA, say that he is going to be a tremendous NBA talent.  According to many scouts,  he’s very comparable to Al Horford.  He’s got great size (6’11” 261lbs) and has no problem playing with contact, which allows him to dominate the glass.  But it’s Kanter’s post play and ability to knock down mid-range jump shots that is his biggest NBA asset. The Wolves could really use a Center that shuts down the paint defensively, and also has enough post-game and touch to be viable on the offensive end.

3. Utah Jazz (from NJ) –

PG – Brandon Knight – Kentucky (Consensus)

Utah is in a similar spot as the Wolves.  Guys like Kanter, Vesely and Valanciunas might be better prospects than Knight, but the Jazz have a log jam in the front court with Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors, Paul Milsap, CJ Miles, Andre Kirilenko, and others.  Knight would give them a point guard with size and scoring ability to help take pressure off their bigs.  (AS)

The Jazz just traded away their franchise point guard, and although they got Devin Harris back in return, I still think they’ll take Knight with the third pick.  Raja Bell is nearing the end of his career, and is no longer a 30-40 minute-a-night guy, so starting Knight at point and moving Harris to the two may give the Jazz enough spark to get them back to the playoffs.  They could actually have a pretty impressive line-up (PG-Knight, SG-Harris, SF-Kirilenko, PF-Paul Millsap, C-Al Jefferson) with Derrick Favors coming off the bench.

NOTE: Kirilenko is a free agent following this season.  If he’s gone and the Jazz pick up their team option on C.J. Miles, he’ll most likely jump into the starting rotation at SF. (CM)

4. Cleveland Cavaliers –

C – Enes Kanter – Kentucky (AS)

LeBron takes his talents to South Beach, and the Cavs have to suffer through a terrible 2010-2011 season, but are rewarded with two great building blocks in Irving and Kanter. The Turkish big man has great size and strength and is incredibly skilled and polished.

SF- Derrick Williams – Arizona (CM)

If the Wolves or Cavaliers don’t choose Williams 1st or 2nd, he’ll most likely fall past Utah to the Cavaliers at 4.  If he’s there, Dan Gilbert may as well send a bottle of Champagne to LeBron (for getting them this pick) and the Clippers (for their winning Lottery pick), because they will have stole this draft and returned themselves to relevance in less than 1 year.

5. Toronto Raptors –

PG – Kemba Walker – Connecticut (AS)

Vesely or Valanciunas might be better fits for the Raptors, but Toronto will fall for the star power and appeal of Kemba.  Valanciunas is probably the perfect fit for them, but if he isn’t committed to coming to the NBA right away, the Raptors will pass on him.  Walker is a born leader, something Toronto needs as well.  He will give them a face of the franchise and will team with DeRozan to form a very talented backcourt.

PF – Jan Vesely – Czech Republic (CM)

The Raptors desperately need help at PF after losing Chris Bosh this past offseason, Reggie Evans and Amir Johnson simply can’t be relied upon to replace Bosh’s production night-in and night-out.  Many mock’s I’ve seen think Kemba Walker could come off the board here, but the Raptors have some good young guards already on their team (Bayless, Barbosa, DeRozan, and Weems), along with veteran presence from Jose Calderon.  So, although I wouldn’t have a problem with them picking Walker here, I still believe Vesely is the way to go.  He can play either forward position, and his and Bargnani’s ability to knock down open jumpers could really help spread the floor for explosive athletes like DeRozan and Weems to get to the rack.

6. Washington Wizards –

PF – Jan Vesely – Czech Republic (AS)

Washington could use Vesely’s length at the 3 or 4.  Scouts have compared him to Andre Kirilenko, and the Wizards would be ecstatic if he could provide that sort of production for them.

SF – Kawhi Leonard – San Diego State (CM)

The Wizards could really use some help defensively, especially from the SF position.  Their guards, John Wall, Nick Young, and Jordan Crawford all proved they could score the basketball effectively last season.  And their bigs, JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche showed flashes of coming up big defensively.  Their gaping problem is at the SF position, Rashard Lewis isn’t the same player he was with Orlando (and how could he be, there’s no Dwight to rebound his misses until he gets hot), and Josh Howard hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Plus Howard will be a free agent at the end of the season, and if the Wizards can replace him with Leonard through the draft, there’s no reason to take on his durability issues again.

7. Sacramento Kings –

SF – Kawhi Leonard – San Diego State (AS)

The Kings would love Knight or Walker to fall to them here so they can shift Tyreke Evans to the 2 guard, but no such luck in this mock.  Leonard would replace Donte Green and Omri Casspi at the SF position and would instantly help improve the Kings’ 25th ranked defense.

PG – Kemba Walker – Connecticut (CM)

If Walker falls past Toronto, he’s going to land in Sacramento.  The Kings need a true point guard, Beno Udrih is not the answer, and Tyreke is not a natural point guard.  What they need is someone that can break down the defense, run an offense, and get his own shot when the team is struggling; all things that Walker does well.

8. Detroit Pistons –

C – Jonas Valanciunas – Lithuania (AS)

If Valanciunas comes to the NBA right away, he would complement Greg Monroe very well in the Pistons’ front court.  He’s a beast around the basket, which they need.

C -Bismack Biyombo – Spain/Congo

Biyombo lacks much offensive prowess, but what he lacks offensively, he more than makes up for defensively.  He’s very comparable to Ben Wallace, and who better to mentor him than Wallace himself.  The Pistons’ most recent success came when Wallace was winning defensive player of the year awards, and Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups were scoring the basketball.  The Pistons have the potential on the offensive end in Rodney Stuckey, Will Bynum, Ben Gordon, and Greg Monroe, but Wallace isn’t the same game changer he once was.  So if they bring in Biyombo, they can let the molding process begin.

9. Charlotte Bobcats –

C – Bismack Biyombo – Spain/Congo (AS)

Charlotte ranked near the bottom of the league in rebounding last season and have a huge hole at center with nothing but Kwame Brown there.  Biyombo is most definitely a project, but has unbelievable athleticism at the position and would be able to contribute defensively until he develops.

SG – Alec Burks – Colorado (CM)

Not to give up on the Gerald Henderson project or anything, but Charlotte desperately needs more scoring from the 2-guard position.  After trading away Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson was able to move to his natural position, small forward, but it left a void at shooting guard.  Burks could end up being the best scorer in this draft; yes, I know Irving, Williams and Fredette can fill it up, but this kid has all the tools to be a true scorer. Stick him in a lineup with D.J. Augustin, Jackson, Tyrus Thomas, and Kwame Brown, give him 15-20 shots per game and watch how productive he’ll be.

10. Milwaukee Bucks –

SG – Klay Thompson – Washington State (Consensus)

The Bucks need to get scoring in this draft.  They were dead last in the NBA in scoring last season, and John Salmons was one of the most inefficient SGs in the league last year, among starters.  Thompson projects as a very good spot up shooter and would help space the floor for Brandon Jennings and the rest of the Bucks.  He is a much better fit than Alec Burks, who has a suspect jump shot.  Thompson is very comparable with sharpshooters like Mike Miller, or Kyle Korver.

11. Golden State Warriors –

PF – Tristan Thompson – Texas (AS)

Thompson is a very good rebounder and hustle player who is willing to work hard on defense.  He’s high-energy and a blue-collar guy who would fit will with the Warriors.

C – Jonas Valanciunas – Lithuania (CM)

Valanciunas could be a great fit for the Warriors run-and-gun style offense.  Scouts say he runs the floor very well, and on a team with guys like Monta Ellis, Steph Curry, and Dorell Wright, that love to push the fast-break, he could be very beneficial to the Warriors. Valanciunas also shoots free throws very well (91% in Euro League).  A huge plus for a Warriors team that struggles to get solid free throw production from their big men.

12. Utah Jazz –

SG – Alec Burks – Colorado (AS)

With Knight already set as their PG of the future, the Jazz look to find him a running mate in the back court.  Burks’ slashing style will complement Knights’ jump shooting.  Many people project Jimmer to go Utah, but I think Burks is the far superior pro prospect.

PG – Jimmer Fredette – BYU (CM)

Honestly, if he’s there, how can Utah not take the hometown boy?  I don’t need to, nor am I trying to make a joke here, but Fredette is something of a superhero in those parts.  And he could make a much need immediate impact offensively; most likely off the bench behind Harris (assuming they get Knight at 3).  If the Jazz pass on him, expect mass outrage.

13. Phoenix Suns –

PG – Jimmer Fredette – BYU (AS)

Is there a better fit for Jimmer than the high-octane, who-cares-about-defense style of the Phoenix Suns?  Much like a rookie NFL quarterback, Jimmer could spend a season being mentored by Steve Nash and would come off the bench to provide scoring for the Suns; as if they need more scoring.

PF – Donatas Motiejunas – Lithuania (CM)

Surprise, surprise; another international big man in the Lottery.  Since losing Amare Stoudemire, the Suns could really use an all-around PF/C.  They’re terrible defensively, and that’s largely due to the gaping hole that opens up whenever someone penetrates the paint.  Motiejunas has been compared to Pau Gasol and Andrei Bargnani; not that they’re defensive studs, but they are better than Channing Frye.  Scouts also say that Motiejunas has the most upside of anyone in the draft.  And with aging veterans like Steve Nash, Vince Carter, and Grant Hill, the Suns need some young legs with unlimited potential.

14. Houston Rockets –

PF – Marcus Morris – Kansas (Consensus)

Not really sure where the Rockets will go here, but the most likely outcome is them taking one of the Morris twins; most likely Marcus.  He’s undersized in terms of length, but a very solid player who could provide some versatility to the Rockets’ front line.  He’d be a nice fit at the PF spot due to the run ‘n gun style Houston likes to play.

AS – Andrew Scherber

CM – Casey Maikkula

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