1. New Orleans – Anthony Davis, Kentucky
2. Charlotte – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
Michael Jordan punched a hole in his wall after Charlotte was summoned to the second pick (not the first, which they had the best odds for). Davis is the only player who gives a franchise a total face life. K-G is in the next tier (Davis by himself) and is a safe pick. You know what you’re getting with him – a hard worker, high effort guy, who cares about winning more than anything. The latter, the ‘Cats (Bob, not Wild) could use a lot of.
3. Washington – Bradley Beal, Florida
It was a quick but vivid dream to imagine John Wall and Davis on the same team (the hip-hop dance and the unibrow). Beal has a sweet shot, similar to how Ken Griffey Jr. had a sweet swing. Although hovering around 40 percent shooting with the Gators, Beal was second to none in high school. Beal’s a fit – allowing Wall to go from “have to be high scorer” to a little more creative and take a little less pressure off Jordan Crawford (another high scorer).
4. Cleveland – Andre Drummond, UConn
Tristan Thompson is no sure thing – not worth the fourth overall pick last year. Drummond is the workout warrior who’s going to get hot on the minds of GMs everywhere, rapidly. From what Chad Ford said of him in a shortened workout Tuesday, Drummond is a teenager in a 26-year-old’s body, moves laterally like a guard and can leap miles in the air. He might just be what the Cavaliers were hoping to find in Thompson last season.
5. Sacramento – Harrison Barnes, UNC
Travis Outlaw is grossly overpaid ($3 mill/year, 4 years left) and his contract is one the Kings would love (really, need) to get rid of. However, he’s not a contract other teams are going to want to just pick up like that. There going to have to piece the puzzle together, frame it, and sell it as a work of art, but that’s neither here nor there. Barnes, like K-G above, is a safe pick. You know you’re getting a smart, savvy, scorer.
6. Portland – Thomas Robinson, Kansas
Dido K-G and Barnes above. I really like Robinson (scouts honor); in fact, I rated him number one overall in my original – unfinished – list of top prospects. Robinson’s the guy you know will play tough all game, every game. A high energy guy. Bonus: Robinson has a great back story, which is great material for the press to eat up.
7. Golden State – Damian Lillard, Weber State
Monta Ellis is traded away, Stephen Curry’s contract is coming up in another year (may not want to stay), Charles Jenkins had a surprise season for a mid-second round pick in last year’s draft, but he’s no Lillard. The Warriors get a little Ellis look-a-like by drafting Lillard – one of the highest scorers in the college nation this season and a gifted slasher guard. Yes, he’s from Weber State, but the Warriors are used to drafting high college scorers from small colleges (Curry).
8. Toronto – Perry Jones, Baylor
Toronto’s previous first round pick, Jonas Valencjkgdusdgiuas (whatever), is reportedly close to settling his contract dispute in Europe which will allow him to play ball in the NBA. That’s all good and decent, but when you fall behind (like he did) you may miss your shot (no pun intended). Jones is an quite an enigma. He’s a guy who topped draft boards to begin this season, was listed highly in mocks last season, but didn’t have the best on-court season. His issues: disappearing in games, looking uninterested. However, multiple scouts understand that Jones has top three (roughly) talent, just not the resume to prove it. You think of guys like Klay Thompson and Kenneth Faried from last year’s draft – a lot of talent (as they proved in their rookie seasons), but so-so college resumes.
9. Detroit – Dion Waiters, Syracuse
There are a lot of solid future NBA starters in the first round of this draft, but when you talk about All-Stars and superstars two names have popped up: Davis (no surprise) and Waiters (big surprise). Waiters is a truly dynamic guard – punt, pass, kick (no… no that’s not what I mean). There aren’t a lot of Dion Waiterses in the NBA today. When you look up and down the Eastern Conference, you find two: Dwyane Wade (MIA) and Joe Johnson (ATL), but in the spot they are in the Pistons have a chance to develop a third: Waiters.
10. New Orleans – Terrence Ross, Washington
Anthony Davis: check. Now, what do you do after that? Eric Gordon is a blossoming shooting guard in the league, but New Orleans may not be able to hold onto him this offseason. Picking Davis helps, giving Gordon a potential superstar to pair with; however, Gordon will be offered a lot of money. His services are needed in a lot of places. In case the Hornets can’t resign Gordon, Ross is another solid shooting guard available in this draft. He, like Drummond above, is a workout warrior. He’s going to impress scouts more with what they see in Chicago at the combine, than his tapes at Washington.
11. Portland – Tyler Zeller, UNC
Joel Pryzbilla? No. Kurt Thomas? Old. Hasheem Thabeet? Definitely not. The Blazers have a lot invested in LaMarcus Aldridge at power forward, but not a center to hold his own in the paint by his side. By drafting Zeller, the Blazers are getting a true hard-nosed big man. Sure, Zeller’s seven feet tall. He is also a polished big man (smartly spending all four years at UNC). He polished his low post moves, developing a really effective hook shot. Zeller will have a lot of tools a consistent big man needs making the step to the NBA – moves Pryzbilla doesn’t really have, Thabeet couldn’t dream of having and Thomas had at one point his career (not the same he’s at now).
12. Milwaukee – Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
Steadily moving up draft boards everywhere, Moultrie has the type of talent you’re used to seeing in forwards drafted in the lottery. He’ll impress in workouts and work his way into the top 14 picks. The Bucks settled a need at shooting guard this season when they traded for Monta Ellis, so the shooting guard position is set for a couple more years at least. The power forward position is still a piece to the puzzle.
13. Phoenix – Jeremy Lamb, UConn
The Suns have a few problems this offseason. Steve Nash is almost definitely leaving. Michael Redd and Shannon Brown need new contracts. I could say more, you’d just get bored with it. Lamb would be the best available talent left for the Suns and he could develop into another solid shooting guard in this draft. He can score from about anywhere on the court in any way he wants to and if the Suns lose all their supposed to lose, he’ll have to.
14. Houston – Meyers Leonard, Illinois
We don’t know what’s going to happen with Marcus Camby, whose contract expires and additionally is old. The Rockets’ back-up, Samuel Dalembert, isn’t young either. Leonard is a seven-footer who needs to sit behind someone for a year or two. There’s been a lot of chatter that Leonard has an attitude problem and is not the sharpest tool in the shed. Attitude problems can go a long way in hampering a player’s career. Leonard has talent, but will have to learn how to be a professional before showing us what he can do.
15. Philadelphia – Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Turns out Sixers fans should be stoked about how well their team finished this season, on the brink of the Eastern Conference Finals to play the Miami Heat (losing to Boston in Game 7). It’s hard to imagine a team who had such a good showing in the playoffs is picking one spot from the lottery. Philly can add depth and there may not be a better place than with Sullinger, who’s eerily similar to a current Sixer, Elton Brand. Both listed a 6-foot-9, similar frames (although Sullinger is said to have one leg shorter than the other). Sullinger can learn a lot from the elder Brand.
16. Houston – Austin Rivers, Duke
I’m a fan of Kyle Lowry, so why would I suggest they replace him? I wouldn’t. We know Rivers through his dad, Doc (coach of… you know what if you don’t know where I’m going with this then go read a different article on my website. I may suggest a recent one… click). Rivers’ game is modeled closely after Kobe Bryant, but don’t let that trick you into thinking he is Kobe. He’s not, and can’t be. However, give Rivers credit for being a great scorer and wanting the ball late in the game. Discredit him for preferring to go to his right a little too much. Chad Ford said it best: Rivers wants too much to be Kobe. Then Bill Simmons added: He needs to be more like Jason Terry.
17. Dallas – Moe Harkless, St. John’s
After winning an NBA Championship last year, the Mavericks had a rough year. Everybody (and I do mean everybody) thought acquiring Lamar Odom was a great thing, especially after all of the drama that led him to Dallas. Odom was great in Los Angeles, but wasn’t much of anything in Dallas. He was added to injured reserve just so he didn’t have to play. Thus, I’m guessing he’s not going to be back in Dallas next year. Maybe he’ll let Khloe Kardashian pick a destination this time (even though Odom didn’t pick Dallas). Odom would’ve added great depth to Dallas had he adjusted normally, but now they’re looking for another guy like him. Harkless is going to get that kind of Serge Ibaka/Bismack Biyombo respect in association with Kenneth Faried. I asked Chad Ford in his draft chat Tuesday who this draft’s Faried would be. His answer: Harkless.
18. Minnesota – Fab Melo, Syracuse
Ever since drafting Wes Johnson ahead of DeMarcus Cousins a couple years ago, the Wolves have been paying for their mistake. Cousins is averaging over 18 points per game and 10 rebounds. Johnson: like… six points per game. Today, you look at Minnesota’s depth at center (where Cousins would’ve been) and it’s deep, but poor. Melo may soon be fighting his way up draft boards, especially in Minnesota where they are still looking for a long-term answer. Scouts who saw Melo workout recently said he looked more fit than he ever had. After all that went on with his academics at Syracuse, it’s time he focused solely on basketball.
19. Orlando – John Henson, UNC
Annnnnnnnnnndddddd… booooom. All faith in Orlando is gone. Dwight Howard’s booking a flight out I write this sentence… booked. The Magic have many problems, chief among them replacing Howard who has led this team in just about every way since he’s been there. They wont find another Howard with the 19th pick, nor another Shaquille O’Neal. Hint: they were first overall picks. Henson has potential. He and Terrence Jones are the top forwards left, but Henson outdoes Jones in length and athleticism. Jones would be picked on pure scoring ability, but that’s not all Howard brought to the team. Henson’s the better defensive presence (or, rather, eventually will be).
20. Denver – Terrence Jones, Kentucky
In this case, Jones will be picked purely on best available talent, not need. Kenneth Faried has solidified himself as the starting power forward in Denver and you’re not going to move him to center because he’s not a center. Neither is Jones, but this gives Denver the ability to go smaller, more athletic (kind of like Oklahoma City when Serge Ibaka/Nick Collison plays center and Kevin Durant plays power forward). They’ll have a couple forwards who run the floor really well in an offense that can be fast paced with one of the quickest little guards in the league, Ty Lawson.
21. Boston – Tony Wroten Jr., Washington
Avery Bradley came on strong at the end of this season, but Boston was in trouble when he got hurt at the end of it. Bradley’s listed as a point guard on multiple depth charts, but he’s not. He has a point guard’s frame, but is more of a scorer, shooting guard. Why make him play point guard? Wroten is a point guard with a lot of raw athletic ability; however, scouts worry about questionable leadership ability and troubles scoring. Chad Ford says Wroten can be a successful point guard if he models his game after Rajon Rondo, and what better way to do that then playing on the same team as Rondo? There isn’t a better way.
22. Boston – Will Barton, Memphis
There’s a lot to like about Barton. He had a really good season at Memphis, developing a range of shots (previously thought to be singularly a three-point shooter). He’s a thrashing two-guard and he’s young. Key: he’s young. No Boston fan will disagree that the Celtics need to get a lot younger (but they’re quickly getting older and older). Ray Allen is really pushing the end of his career, which has been especially felt in the playoffs. Paul Pierce has an ailing leg. Kevin Garnett is having a great playoffs, but keeps getting older. After this first round, the Celtics can have three talented young guards – Bradley (already on roster), Wroten and Barton.
23. Atlanta – Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
In a year, the Hawks are going to have to deal with Josh Smith, who will be a free agent and cashing in with a big contract. Will he stay in Atlanta? I don’t know. All I know is that there are a number of on-the-verge contenders who can become real title threats with Smith in the starting lineup. The Hawks, with or without Smith, aren’t contenders. Nicholson gives the Hawks an out if (and when) they lose Smith in free agency. Not only that, Nicholson is an athletic, smart power forward having stayed four years in college.
24. Cleveland – Quincy Miller, Baylor
It’s folk lore that Miller’s style of play can lull you to sleep. I don’t know if that means it lulls his competitors asleep, but if it does that a plus in drafting him. Miller has a great, smooth shot (just not as good as Beal, above). He can score when he wants to and most importantly finds the little holes in the defense to sit in and wait for the ball to come to him (kind of like a good wide receiver). When he gets to that hole, he knows what to do with the ball and how to do it.
25. Memphis – Kendall Marshall, UNC
Gilbert Arenas and O.J. Mayo are both likely on their way out of Memphis, but that doesn’t hurt the Grizzlies that much. A lot of people were buying Memphis to be a big threat in the Western Conference this year, but they didn’t quite live up to those standards. They can get closer with Marshall, who is first-and-foremost a distributor. He’s an architect out there on the floor and if not for a wrist injury keeping him out of the NCAA Tournament, the Tar Heels had as good of odds as anyone to win the title in New Orleans. He’s a pass first point guard, unlike players like Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose, but it’s not going to hurt him on the Grizzlies, who have a few good players to pass to.
26. Indiana – John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
Roy Hibbert is going to get paid bank this summer because of what he did in the playoffs. For a while there, it looked like nobody could touch him (until Miami figured out how to drive on him). Whether he gets paid most by Indiana or another team has yet to be seen and until then I’ll have to project them taking someone besides a center (Festus Ezeli). Jenkins and Doron Lamb are the two best options for a shooting guard at this pick and scouts say Jenkins will be most convincing because he works harder and shows more effort and emotion in the workouts than Lamb does.
27. Miami – Draymond Green, Michigan State
A lot of people say Mike Miller wont be back next year. Some say Chris Bosh shouldn’t be back, but I disagree with that. The Heat are looking for role players and Green is bound to be a contributing role player for years to come. He played point guard at Michigan State and was good at it, but he’s 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds. That’s not an NBA point guard. He’ll play multiple positions in the NBA. He can ball handle like a point guard, shoot like a shooting guard, be a winger, and every so often get down on the blocks. He’s a natural leader on the floor and came onto high praise this season when Tom Izzo compared him to Magic Johnson (a player Izzo never coached, only watched).
28. Oklahoma City – Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
Ezeli wasn’t healthy too often in college, but this year he had a chance to prove what he was capable of. The health issues are obvious and can’t be ignored, but neither can the fact that he’s 6-foot-11, 255 pounds and has a big ole’ wingspan. What’s happening in the playoffs is the Thunder are showing their weaknesses. Perkins and Ibaka are great defenders, but they need more depth in the paint. Nick Collison has been a hard-nosed back-up and the Thunder will hope from a lot of the same thing from Ezeli. He has to stay healthy, though.
29. Chicago – Doron Lamb, Kentucky
Derrick Rose went down often this year with injuries. He’s got a new ACL coming his way and will be working it hard at the start of next season (if he can get back on time). With all the injuries, it crossed my mind: Do the Bulls need to find a solid back-up for Rose? Is he becoming injury prone? For them, it’s a good thing C.J. Watson played so well. No back-up needed (yet). Lamb is a solid, level-headed shooting guard. He’s a safe choice because you know you’re going to get solid contributions from him. He’s a smart ball handler and can be a lethal scorer when he turns it on.
30. Golden State – Royce White, Iowa State
They’ll be in good spirits after drafting Lillard in the lottery and they’ll continue draft day with White, who had a huge NCAA Tournament (the reason he’s even considered a first rounder). The Warriors could always use the depth and especially at small forward. White showed he can make his teammates better. He’s a good passer with good vision (underrated to tell you the truth). With the playoffs fresh in my head, he reminds me a little bit of Boris Diaw of San Antonio. Diaw’s a good passer, called a second point guard by teammate Tony Parker (the first point guard). If White can be a shade of Diaw, it’ll be a successful pick.