It's kind of silly to put forward a mock lottery at this juncture because, well, we don't know where teams are picking nor do we know which players will declare for the draft but NCAA tourney time always gets me thinking about the draft so I thought I'd throw together a first stab at how the NBA drafts first 14 picks might shake out.
1. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Davis - Anthony Davis is the consensus overall #1 pick but if there's one team that he probably hopes doesn't win the lottery, it's Charlotte. The Bobcats haven't been around long but they're making a real push to be the worst franchise in the league. Beyond that, the team is a wreck personnel-wise and not a great fit for Davis right now. Because Bismack Biyombo is fairly useless offensively at this point, the Bobs might expect more offense from Davis, something he's not quite ready to deliver at this stage of his development. Also, Kemba Walker seems like he may take over the PG duties and he's more of a shoot-first kind of player than someone who'll set up Davis for easy looks like he's been getting at UK. Regardless, if the #1 pick goes to Charlotte, then so by the grace of Michael Jordan shall go Anthony Davis.
2. New Orleans Hornets: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist - Kidd-Gilchrist seems like exactly the kind of player that you'd want to add to a young, rebuilding squad. He seems to be a good leader, thinks defense first, and is aggressive but not selfish on offense. Basically, if Ron Artest was sane, he might be MGK, and a sane Ron Artest is a very dangerous weapon and a great piece to build around.
3. *Atlanta Hawks: Cody Zeller - I'm not saying that this is what the Hawks and Wizards should do but when you look at the GMs in charge of Atlanta and Washington, it makes the trade of Rashard Lewis, Jordan Crawford and the #3 pick for Joe Johnson seem like a sure thing. Ernie Grunfeld and the Wizards can't seem to ever get enough of trading young for old, expensive and on the brink of being washed up while Rick Sund is the man who helped the Sonics lose Seattle (and then vice versa), thanks to what I can only imagine is a height fetish that led him to draft Robert Swift, Saer Sene, Johan Petro amongst other underwhelming bigs. (Well, Swift might have been good had it not been for injuries but still...)
Also, the fact of the matter is that the WIzards can't keep losing while the Hawks can't keep staying a middling playoff team any longer. So Grunfeld hopes that Johnson can team with John Wall and Nene to get the Wizards back to the playoffs, while Sund adds a true center so Al Horford can move to his desired power forward spot and it also clears three years, 68 million off of the Hawks' future payroll (just in time to make a run at hometown hero Dwight Howard.)
4. *Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond - I don't blame Kings fans for hating what I'm about to type. A) I'm a fan of Tyreke Evans and B) if I had to put my money on anyone being a bust in this draft, I'd wager on Drummond. But there are also two reasons why a trade of Tyreke Evans for #4 pick Andre Drummond should happen for the Kings: A) the Kings have quite simply been a better team when Evans and his ball-dominating ways are on the sidelines and B) if anyone is going to teach Drummond how to use his freakish physical tools, it's Sacramento's newly hired big man coach Clifford Ray, who helped mentor Dwight Howard and turned Kendrick Perkins into a legit starter. The bottom line is that the team isn't going anywhere with Evans so if they are going to roll the dice on someone, it's just as good for it to be Drummond, who could form a dominant frontcourt with DeMarcus Cousins, as it would be with 'Reke.
As for the Blazers (who, between the time this pick is made and the trade is announced will probably be shitting themselves seeing as they just got out of the Oden Experience and have fellow big man bust Hasheem Thabeet on their roster), it's a risky move but Evans is a special talent and fills a need. I also think he and fellow Memphis alum Elliott Williams could mesh into a pretty good, young backcourt.
5.Toronto Raptors: Harrison Barnes - Harrison Barnes is a perfect fit for a team that's currently build upon the shakiest of foundations (the problematic DeRozan, Davis, & Bargnani and the absentee Valanciunas). And one way or another, Barnes will be the next Vince Carter, either as a super talented scorer or a guy who lacks killer instinct and never makes the most of his potential. Even if it is the latter, Barnes's shooting alone should come in handy up north.
6. *Atlanta Hawks: Bradley Beal - After dispensing with Joe Johnson, the Hawks' next move is to placate Josh Smith's trade demand and ship him and the #20 pick to Detroit for Ben Gordon and #6 draft pick Bradley Beal. Gordon should help replace the bench scoring punch that the Hawks lost when Jamal Crawford flew the coop and the Eric Gordon-esque Beal should settle in as the shooting guard of the future in ATL.
As for the Pistons, Smith should be a nice complement to Greg Monroe in the frontcourt and he gives them an exciting player that could energize the fan base. Yes, drafting a kid like Thomas Robinson is a decent option but I think Robinson might fall a bit if he doesn't measure out to be as tall as 6'8 and I also think Joe Dumars won't want to wait on another youngster; he needs to get the Pistons moving in the right direction if he wants to hold onto his job.
7.*Boston Celtics: Thomas Robinson - The Celtics rebuild their frontcourt in one fell swoop by offering Rajon Rondo for a re-signed Jason Thompson and #7 Thomas Robinson. Ideally, Doc and Danny and The Truth can talk KG into giving it one more run; with KG back and the promising Robinson on the horizon, the Celtics could become more intriguing to free agent PG Deron Williams.
As for the Sacramento, it's a win-win as Rondo is arguably the best point guard in franchise history, is a known commodity who will help draw in fans, and should help make the rest of the young Kings better. (Note: I'm sure many people will say this isn't great value for Rajon and you're probably right. I've always undervalued him in trades but I'm not sure how great his value is right now. I think a young, improving big man and a lotto pick (be it Thompson and #6 or Gortat and #13 is probably want Danny Ainge is looking at when it comes to offers for Rajon.)
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Austin Rivers - Rivers has been falling in most mock drafts but he fills a need for the Cavs and I still think that he could fulfill his potential. And there aren't many duos out there who could help Austin Rivers reach said potential like Kyrie Irving and Byron Scott. Having a great young PG like Irving running the show will make it easier for Rivers to fall in line with the offense and, if he doesn't, Byron Scott will always be there with a stern reminder of where Rivers needs to be.
9. Utah Jazz: James McAdoo - The last thing the Jazz really need is another big man but this is too early for either Kendall Marshall or Damian Lillard (both of whom might fall to their later lotto pick) so rather than reach for need, the Jazz draft a kid who might be a top 3 pick next year if he stays in school.
10. Portland Trailblazers: Jared Sullinger - A couple of years ago, the Blazers made a play for Paul Millsap to team with LaMarcus Aldridge so I don't think they'll be scared away should Sullinger measure up a little shorter than he's currently listed. The Blazers head into the future with an intriguing core of Sullinger, Aldridge, Nic Batum, Wes Matthews/Williams, and Tyreke Evans.
11. Milwaukee Bucks: Meyers Leonard - Perry Jones is a consideration but I don't see any way that he doesn't immediately take residence in Scott Skiles's doghouse. Tyler Zeller is not a consideration here because I don't see the Bucks investing in a big man with an injury history. Leonard, however, seems like a good fit. His skills work well with the pick-and-roll which I could see him running all day with both Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis and he should be a solid defensive big man, making Scott Skiles happy. He might not be ready from day 1 but my guess is that he should be able to contribute around the time casual Bucks fans figure out that his name isn't Leonard Meyers.
12. New Orleans Hornets: Perry Jones - It might make more sense for the Hornets to grab a point guard here but there's something about a Kidd-Gilchrist/Jones forward tandem that I find too intriguing to pass up.
13. Phoenix Suns:: Damian Lillard - Jon Henson might be the top prospect on the board but, seriously, how many more skinny big men do the Suns need? With Steve Nash probably on the way out, the choice seems to be between Lillard and Marshall and I think that Phoenix needs Lillard's scoring prowess more than Marshall distribution skills.
14. Utah Jazz: Kendall Marshall The McAdoo gamble pays off for the Jazz as they nab the point guard they probably would have drafted at 9 here five picks later. Marshall seems like the perfect fit for this Jazz team which is overloaded with young talent and just needs a quality, pure point guard to run the show.
So there you have it. I'm sure I'll wake up tomorrow and wonder what they hell I was thinking about with some of these picks and moves (I'm already not sure if Evans is a great fit for Portland) but for now, this is what I've got.
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