Patrick Hayes is not an accredited NBA Draft expert, nor does he have an advanced degree in scouting. He’s simply an enthusiastic young man with a sixth grade education and an abiding love for all NBA Draft prospects … join him for his second annual mock draft.
As always, I’m making draft predictions without the benefit of seeing any workouts, interviewing a single prospect (technically, I interviewed Draymond Green once when he was in high school though, does that count?) or having access to the wealth of scouting information that teams use to make selections. These are just my best attempts to match up team needs with players I think fit based on watching way too much college basketball last season. Second round picks are after the page break.
Here are the latest mock drafts by Chad Ford, DraftExpress, NBADraft.net, Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press and Tom Ziller of SB Nation. Coverage of the draft starts at 7 p.m. tonight on ESPN. So, no more setup needed. Let’s dig in.
1. New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis
As funny as it would be to see the Hornets take someone else considering all the hype Davis has had — and boy, if that happened wouldn’t SLAM Magazine’s cheeks be red? — there will be no surprises here. Davis is going to New Orleans to be the franchise’s and city’s latest sports savior.
2. Charlotte Bobcats – Thomas Robinson
I’m sure Michael Jordan will be intrigued by wings here. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is arguably the most competitive guy in this draft and Harrison Barnes is the forever-hyped star from Jordan’s college. But, if Rich Cho holds onto this pick, pairing the tough, solid Robinson up front with Bismack Biyombo is too good to pass up.
3. Washington Wizards - Bradley Beal
Personally, I like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist better. He’s tough, will be a phenomenal defensive player and he’d be a good fit at either the shooting guard or small forward spot in Washington. But the Wizards, like many teams, don’t have many elite perimeter shooters and that’s where Beal fits. He’ll clear driving lanes for John Wall, and that’s really important.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
The Cavs will settle for Kidd-Gilchrist, and that’s a fine consolation prize. They supposedly like Beal if he lasts this long and would also consider Harrison Barnes. With Kyrie Irving and his near 40 percent 3-point shooting, adding a shooter is less a necessity for them than it is for Washington and MKG will infuse toughness and defense on their perimeter. Cleveland has been really weak on the wings since LeBron James left and MKG is another nice addition to a roster that is slowly looking pretty solid again.
5. Sacramento Kings – John Henson
OK, hear me out on this one. Ford says the Kings have been high on Henson all year. Jason Thompson is hitting restricted free agency. The best perimeter player on the board, Harrison Barnes, would be another volume scorer on a team full of volume scorers. As last year’s Jimmer Fredette in the lottery pick showed, the Kings aren’t afraid to reach for a player they like, so if they don’t trade this pick (which seems like a possibility), it wouldn’t be a total shock if they reached to take Henson here.
6. Portland Trail Blazers – Damian Lillard
I’m a little scared of so-called consensus after last year. Brandon Knight was a ‘consensus’ pick to go to Utah at No. 3 for weeks and, even though I thought that seemed a tad high for Knight, I bought in because every respected draft outlet had him as a virtual lock there. The same thing is happening for Lillard. Like Knight, Lillard has moved up draft boards because of an overall weak crop of point guards, and reports indicate Portland wants Lillard and worry he might not be there when they pick 11th. I will reluctantly go with the experts and say Lillard comes off the board here.
From Marcus Thompson II of the San Jose Mercury News:
Jerry West, Warriors board member and consultant, has been drilling this word into the psyche of his front-office cohorts: Assets. Assets. Assets.
“We can’t afford to let assets pass us by and address need,” said Warriors general manager Bob Myers, explaining West’s philosophy.
According to Ford, West really likes Waiters. Golden State better listen to Jerry West.
8. Toronto Raptors - Andre Drummond
So close. For weeks, the almighty consensus has had the Raptors looking solely at players like Lillard, Barnes, Waiters and other wings. I don’t buy it. Sure, they are bringing last year’s lottery pick, Jonas Valanciunas, over this season. But does that mean their frontcourt is suddenly elite? Why not take Drummond and have your young twin towers combo? I hope it doesn’t happen for Detroit’s sake, but I really don’t understand why the assumption is Toronto is not interested in a big.
9. Detroit Pistons – Harrison Barnes
He doesn’t fill their most pressing need (especially now that Corey Maggette is on the roster) and he, like Knight, would cause another round of ‘RABBLE RABBLE RABBLEs’ from the advanced stats crowd, who are far from sold on him. But I think Barnes is the big name most likely to fall in this draft and I feel pretty comfortable saying that if Barnes falls and Drummond is off the board as well, Dumars would take Barnes in a heartbeat. It wouldn’t be the most popular pick, but one good thing would likely come out of it — a reduced role for Tayshaun Prince.
10. New Orleans Hornets - Kendall Marshall
This might be a slight reach for Marshall, but I think he’s underrated, he’s a pure pass-first point guard and his skillset would look awfully nice in a young lineup that will boast Davis and Eric Gordon next season.
11. Portland Trail Blazers - Meyers Leonard
I debated between Leonard and Tyler Zeller here. Leonard has more upside, Zeller would probably help Portland more right now. But with LaMarcus Aldridge already established as an All-Star up front, they can afford to gamble on a more high risk/high reward player like Leonard and hope he develops into the bruising rebounder he’s capable of being. They had similar luck with a raw former Big Ten center in Joel Przybilla, whose career didn’t really get on track until he got to Portland in his fourth year. Maybe they can have similar success with Leonard.
12. Houston Rockets - Jared Sullinger
You think Daryl Morey is scared of a cryptic medical report when a player who was once considered a possible No. 1 pick if he came out last year is available at the back of the lottery? I don’t buy the Sullinger free fall storyline. He’s a good risk at this point in the draft and Morey is the type of GM who will understand that. If Houston is picking here, I’d bet on Sullinger if he lasts this long.
13. Phoenix Suns - Austin Rivers
The Suns could possibly lose Steve Nash in free agency, and with him, any interest that people outside of Phoenix have in the team. Rivers, at the very least, is a big name that will attract attention all season as people watch to see if the hyped prep star who underperformed at Duke can turn into the NBA star many projected he would be when he was a junior in high school.
14. Milwaukee Bucks - Jeremy Lamb
I had the Bucks pegged for taking a big man until they acquired Samuel Dalembert in a trade with Houston yesterday. They could still use some depth up front, but with Dalembert, Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders, they’re OK there. Lamb, on the other hand, adds some size and defensive potential to their diminutive backcourt. Plus, versatile wing Carlos Delfino is a free agent, so Lamb offers some insurance if he leaves.
15. Philadelphia 76ers - Tyler Zeller
Philly will be ecstatic to get a late lottery-level big man here. Spencer Hawes is a free agent, Elton Brand is old and Zeller will be an immediate contributor either as a starter or reserve. He runs the floor well, finishes well and has good hands, so he’ll be a nice target for solid passers Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner.
16. Houston Rockets - Royce White
Between his John Lennon beard and calling me out on Twitter for getting his weight wrong, I might consider taking him in the top five if I had my way. But, as I said above with Sullinger, White’s upside is so great that he’d immediately become a nice young asset for Daryl Morey, who wouldn’t be scared off by White’s scary alleged red flags.
17. Dallas Mavericks – Arnett Moultrie
Moultrie was an underachiever in college who has impressed teams in workouts and has even been discussed as a longshot to sneak into the lottery after being projected in the 20s in most early mock drafts. He’s athletic, runs well, finishes well and could perhaps be a find for a Mavs team still figuring out how to adequately replace Tyson Chandler.
18. Houston Rockets - Perry Jones III
Well, let’s just give Houston the ultimate boom/bust draft. With three picks in the teens, they’d come out of this with three players who are incredibly intriguing. No one would be entirely shocked if Sullinger, Jones or White ends up being considered among the best picks in this draft someday. Also, no one would be entirely shocked if any of those guys were considered among the worst picks.
19. Orlando Magic – Moe Harkless
With a new GM taking over in Orlando, it’s hard to tell what direction the Magic will go in. Under Otis Smith and Stan Van Gundy, a tall shooter like Andrew Nicholson would be a possible fit here, but if the Magic decide to trade Dwight Howard, their collection of guys who can stand on the perimeter and knock down shots out of double-teams will not be so necessary. Harkless would help them get much more athletic at a wing position, plus he should be a very solid defensive player even if his offense takes some time to develop.
The Nuggets add another big perimeter player to throw at the many dynamic wing players in the West, plus get a player in Ross who can knock down the three, a big part of Denver’s offense. Many predict Ross as one of the draft’s sleepers. Chad Ford even had him sneaking into the lottery at one point.
21. Boston Celtics – Terrence Jones
What Boston does with these picks depends a lot on what they decide to do with their roster. Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are both free agents. If both of those guys go elsewhere, it’s likely to hasten a rebuilding project. But if one or both, particularly Garnett, returns, Boston will be loading up for one more run and probably looking for college players who can step in and fill a role immediately. Jones is a versatile combo forward who would do a bit of everything for Boston.
22. Boston Celtics – Draymond Green
Building on that point above, Green would be able to give minutes at two positions, hit perimeter shots and rebound. Plus, adding him as a high post passer would take some pressure off of Rajon Rondo to be the team’s only player who consistently looks to create shots for others. Also, I might cry tonight when Green gets drafted. #PerfectSpartan
23. Atlanta Hawks – Andrew Nicholson
The Hawks rely so heavily on Al Horford and Josh Smith up front, Nicholson would give them not only a young big man who could give competent minutes at either PF or C, he’d also add a dimension to their offense as a stretch four. He’s a solid outside shooter who could create more space for Jeff Teague and Joe Johnson when they feel like driving inside.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers – Jeff Taylor
Green is destined to go here if he’s still on the board, but assuming he’s gone, Cleveland will continue to improve the talent on its wing. Like their earlier pick, Kidd-Gilchrist, Taylor projects as a reliable defensive player. Taylor also had a fantastic season shooting the ball last season. Oh, and for the record, I really don’t want Dan Gilbert to get Draymond Green. Gilbert is #NotAPerfectSpartan.
25. Memphis Grizzlies – Will Barton
O.J. Mayo is a free agent and the Grizzlies are perennially flirting with maybe possibly trading Rudy Gay. If both guys are back, Barton, a local college star at Memphis, gets to back them up and develop. If one or the other isn’t back, he can step in and play a little bigger role immediately.
26. Indiana Pacers – Fab Melo
With Roy Hibbert, the Pacers don’t necessarily need more size, but Melo is a shot-blocker, he’s big and he’d give the Pacers another potential rim protector to put in the game when Hibbert is on the bench. With David West and Tyler Hansbrough, Indiana actually has a pretty undersized frontcourt outside of Hibbert and Melo would help beef that up.
Mike Miller and James Jones are reportedly considering retirement and Shane Battier is old. The Heat could use some young legs in a reserve role on the perimeter and Wroten is versatile enough to play either guard spot and give minutes at any perimeter position. He won’t replace any of those players as a perimeter shooter, but he has a long wingspan and could help defensively.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder – Evan Fournier
Fournier is an intriguing prospect because of his size and athleticism. He might be a reach if he were taken in the teens where he was originally projected, but he’d be good value here for a team like Oklahoma City that can give him time to develop.
I fully expect Derrick Rose to come back healthy next season, but the Bulls could benefit from attempting to lighten his workload some. Teague could actually go higher than this as teams always reach for point guards, but if he’s on the board when the Bulls pick, they’d have another athletic PG to eventually give quality minutes and allow Rose to rest more during the regular season.
30. Golden State Warriors – Festus Ezeli
I had them taking Waiters earlier despite the fact that the team owner loves size, so they’ll compromise and take a big man prospect here. Ezeli is raw and will probably need some time before he develops into a meaningful contributor, but by all accounts he’s a hard worker who has already improved a lot during his college career.
(Second round after the jump)
31. Charlotte Bobcats - Doron Lamb
Lamb is one of the more underrated players in this draft. Rich Cho will be thrilled to get him here and add an elite shooter to go along with Robinson. Neither guy will propel the Bobcats to a fast turnaround, but they’ll be much improved next season.
Miller is a potential first round pick who has slid some because of a knee injury. But a 6-foot-10 athletic wing is tough to find at any stage of the draft and Washington would drastically improve its perimeter positions with the additions of Beal and Miller.
33. Cleveland Cavaliers - Miles Plumlee
They addressed some perimeter deficiencies with their two first round picks, now it’s time to add some size. Plumlee has proven to be an elite athlete in combine workouts, he’s a good rebounder and would be a fine young big man to add to Cleveland’s solid frontcourt rotation that already includes Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson.
34. Cleveland Cavaliers - Furkan Aldemir
I would assume the Cavs don’t plan to go into next season with four rookies on the roster at once, so stashing an international player overseas for a year or two makes sense. Aldemir is big, athletic and he’s only 20, so there’s a good chance he could improve.
At 27, James is already well past the age of being a ‘prospect.’ But he should be a pretty solid reserve even if he’s not an upside pick. They have two ‘upside’ guys up front now with last year’s pick Jeremy Tyler and the first rounder I gave them, Ezeli. If those ‘upside’ guys struggle, James should be able to give immediate backup minutes.
36. Sacramento Kings – Tyshawn Taylor
The Kings are reportedly toying with the idea of trading Tyreke Evans. Taylor had an erratic career at Kansas, but he’s a phenomenal talent and a good gamble here for some point guard depth if Sacramento does indeed part ways with ‘Reke Havoc.
37. Toronto Raptors - Jae Crowder
Here’s why I think it’s a mistake for Toronto to take a perimeter player with their lottery pick: they can get a pretty good one right here. For whatever reason, people are concerned about Crowder not having a viable NBA position. Whatever. He’s incredibly productive, strong, a good shooter and he’d immediately become Toronto’s toughest perimeter player.
38. Denver Nuggets – Drew Gordon
Gordon is another player who is probably a first round talent, but some off-court stuff at UCLA before transferring and getting himself together at New Mexico probably cost him some draft position. He’ll be a good find for Denver. He can get out and run the floor and he’s also pretty solid around the basket.
39. Detroit Pistons - Kyle O’Quinn
OK stats crowd, Joe Dumars is sorry for that Barnes pick in round one. To make amends with you, he will choose O’Quinn, who is already a favorite among Pistons fans. If O’Quinn is on the board at pick 39 and Dumars doesn’t take him, I would advise treading very carefully into the Detroit Bad Boys comments tonight.
40. Portland Trail Blazers - John Jenkins
Nothing to see here. Just Portland finding great value with a lights out perimeter shooter and solid defensive player. He’ll fit nicely catching passes from LaMarcus Aldridge out of double teams and knocking down threes. Jenkins will be cheaper, more efficient and better suited to the bench shooter role that Jamal Crawford was supposed to play last season.
Portland is another team with four picks who I don’t envision having four rookies on the roster this season. If they go international here, Satoransky is 20 years-old and projects as a 6-foot-7 point guard. Not a bad gamble that he could get significantly better with another season or two overseas and become an impact player.
42. Milwaukee Bucks - Darius Miller
When all other factors are about equal, taking a John Calipari player. He knows NBA talent. Miller was a competent, intelligent rotation player at Kentucky and there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in the NBA. He’ll give quality backup minutes for the Bucks and be a solid defensive player. He’s also a great 3-point shooter.
At some point, the Hawks have to consider amnestying Marvin Williams or even Joe Johnson, right? It would be nice to have a cheap alternative to replace either one. English, a wing, shot 52 percent this season and 46 percent from three. He’d be a nice fit for now as a backup to both positions and is a good bet to improve enough to be a starter someday.
44. Detroit Pistons - Scott Machado
O’Quinn wasn’t enough to make up for the Barnes pick, DBB? Fair enough. We’ll give you your other favorite, Machado, at this spot. The Pistons need backup help at both guard spots, but drafting a pure point guard like Machado would give the team the flexibility to play both Knight and Stuckey at shooting guard more. He’d also give the Pistons their best backcourt passer since Chauncey Billups was around.
Leading scorer Lou Williams just opted out of his contract, and Jodie Meeks is not very good, so Philly could use some depth on the perimeter. Johnson played at a small college but has good size for a guard and made 43 percent of his 3-pointers.
Cunningham is one of several second round shooting guards, along with Johnson, English and Darius Johnson-Odom who I wouldn’t be shocked to out-play their more ‘upsidey’ first round counterparts. He’s big, strong and would give the Hornets a nice draft, along with first rounders Davis and Marshall.
47. Utah Jazz – Tu Holloway
This might be a tad high for Holloway, but the Jazz are pretty well set up front, the best second round wing prospects are pretty much gone by now and Utah’s point guard situation is still far from settled. I don’t know if Holloway will develop into a NBA rotation player, but I like his toughness and his ability to give awesome quotes has first round upside.
48. New York Knicks – Darius Johnson-Odom
The Knicks have significant holes in their backcourt that a second round pick isn’t going to solve, but if they take DJO, he’d at the very least pair with Iman Shumpert to give New York one of the most athletic guard tandems in the league.
Scott is a tad undersized for a power forward, but he’s a solid rebounder, he plays intelligently and within himself and he’d give an Orlando frontline that has relied on finesse players (other than Dwight Howard) in recent years a little bit of toughness.
50. Denver Nuggets - Kostas Papanikolaou
Denver’s roster is already pretty full, and with two second round picks and one first rounder, I’d bet that they won’t carry three rookies next year. Papanikolau is an energetic and improving wing who they can possibly stash overseas for a year or two and hope he develops.
51. Boston Celtics - Leon Radosevic
Again with Boston, a lot of this depends on whether they are going for one more run or letting Garnett walk in free agency. Assuming they are going to give it one more go, I can’t see them having three rookies on the roster again this season, so we’ll give them Radosevic, a project big man who might get better in Europe over the next year or two.
52. Golden State Warriors - William Buford
They’ve already taken a wing and two big men, so we’ll give them another backup swingman here, assuming they’re fine with Steph Curry/Charles Jenkins at point guard. Buford has good size for a two-three and he’s a decent perimeter shooter. He could fill a role for them if they decide to trade Dorell Wright.
53. Los Angeles Clippers – JaMychal Green
With apologies to Chris Paul, who said the Clippers were only a healthy Chauncey Billups away from a championship, the Clips have some holes to fill in the backup spots at shooting guard and in the frontcourt. We’ll give them Green, an athletic big man who might be a decent backup to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
54. Philadelphia 76ers - Kevin Jones
He’s undersized, but he’s still a solid rebounder, intelligent player and a hard worker. Philly had great success last season with a similarly under-the-radar rookie, Lavoy Allen. Jones is another overachiever, and Doug Collins has always had a spot for guys who might have physical limitations but give superior effort.
55. Dallas Mavericks – J’Covan Brown
Brown has a ways to go to prove he can be a competent point guard as his natural inclination is to score. But if Dallas brings back Jason Kidd in free agency, the raw but talented Brown will have one of the better models of point guard play in NBA history to work with and compete against every day.
56. Toronto Raptors - Ricardo Ratliff
Ratliff is undersized and most mocks have him going undrafted, but he’s fast, athletic, a solid rebounder and anyone at a high major college who shoots nearly 70 percent from the field in a large role merits serious consideration in the draft. He could be an Amir Johnson-type energy player (though not as good a shot blocker), which would allow the Raptors to trade the real Amir Johnson for backcourt help.
Hmm … which player left on the board is going to impress Deron Williams enough to sign long-term? We’ll give them Middleton, a player who was once more highly regarded as a prospect before a knee injury hampered him this season. He needs to improve as a jump shooter, but he might be a solid off-the-dribble scorer in a backup role. He’s also a solid passer for a wing.
58. Minnesota Timberwolves – Henry Sims
Sims is a bit difficult to project simply because he was a bit player most of his Georgetown career who became a solid starter as a senior. He’s big, is fundamentally sound as most Georgetown bigs are and he’s definitely worth a pick this late to see if he can develop and build on what he did last season.
Hummel has played his way into the second round conversation, remarkable considering his injury history at Purdue. The Spurs will probably look to remake their bench some, perhaps parting ways with Matt Bonner. Hummel could step into that stretch four role seamlessly.
This great profile by Vince Ellis on Acy working with Detroit Pershing coach A.W. Canada this summer sold me. He might not have a legit position, but he’s tough, athletic and the Lakers could find a spot for him on the end of their bench.