The Finals are over, the lock out shortened season has ended. We have crowned a new king of the league. So the long offseason awaits us. Oh, wait, the season starts Thursday with the NBA Draft. I could sit here and argue that the NBA has a bigger impact on teams than the wilder, more popular NFL draft, but seeing that America lives and breathes the pigskin and I want you to continue reading, I won’t go there.
I do want to discuss what I think the lottery teams, should and will do if they want some success. I have looked at many mock draft boards, not just the one on the World Wide Sensationalism Leader’s website. I spoke with Ed Isaacson and got his opinions on some players. Ed runs the website NBADraftBlog.com. I started following him on Twitter a few months ago and I really respect his opinion. I disagree with him on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, (FYI, I’m from Kentucky and went to UK), but I love his opinions. His website gives real analysis, not regurgitated opinions from the “experts.”
Ed is very high on Harrison Barnes. I don’t want to be. I’ve been trying to find every flaw I can in his game. There is nothing I want to see more than Kentucky players going 1-2 in the draft. I want to rip Barnes. I can’t, though. Ed is not so hot on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. I’m a homer, I love everything Kidd-Gilchrist brings to the table. I will acknowledge his shooting flaw. However, I will stand by him at number two. Sorry Ed, we will see in five years–let’s wager a beer at the Summer League 2017.
We both, however, are not big on Dion Waiters. The guy couldn’t start for two years at a program without a real bona fide star. He didn’t impress me from what I saw of him at Syracuse in his second season.
So let’s jump right into the thick of things. This may not be how things all play out. I certainly expect a trade or four, but this is how I would script it:
New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky.
I have seen every one of his games, plus two practices. His skill set is unbelievable. He averaged 4.8 blocks per game to go along with 1.5 steals. He shoots 71% from the line. He has a 7’6 wingspan. I could go on and on, but it’s a no brainer.
Charlotte Bobcats: Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina.
I want to bash him for his tournament performance, but look at his body of work. The negatives are that he can’t create his own shot. It’s true. I personally don’t see a post game that will transfer to the next level. He has trouble defending a quick, athletic small forward. Having said all that, I think the Tar Heel connection will win out, but because of this, he’s a safe pick. His skill set is only going to improve and he is a smart kid. At the worst, Charlotte has a solid NBA player. Remember, not all guys who are drafted are going to be stars. They get hyped and compared to the elite players, but not every class is loaded with talent
Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal, SG, Florida:
The Wizards led the NBA as the Bone Head All-Star team. I love John Wall, but he made some dumb decisions last year. Beal is a very good player. He’s also the Anti-Wizard–he’s smart. A very cerebral player while at UF. I watched him play several times against Kentucky and living on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, we are in the thick of SEC country, so I saw them play many times. I am very impressed with Beal. He has a smooth shooting stroke, lethal in spot up situations. The only knock on him is that he doesn’t go to the rim with ease. He will help in more ways than just on the court with this team.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas.
I’m not a big of a fan of his. I know his game is still improving and he just finally got to start and look what he did. I saw him play twice against Kentucky and Anthony Davis really didn’t seem to be affected dramatically by him. However, Davis did a number to him. He’s athletic enough and has a motor that doesn’t stop. That athleticism that he has gotten used to getting by with won’t cut it at the next level. My two biggest knocks are 1) He doesn’t have post moves. He’s going to be living there, he needs to know how to play there, and 2) He does nothing to alter shots. He seems too worried about validating himself. Dude, if you are that good, we will all see. Stop telling us.
Sacramento Kings: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky.
A total beast. Plays with his heart and his motor at 100% all the time. Literally, he is everything you want in a basketball player when it comes to the intangibles. I could go on and on about him. I’m going to have to criticize him. His shooting HAS to improve. He can drive to the rim, but ask him to pull up or hit a fade away jumper and you are in trouble. His shooting also seems mechanical, which worries me quite a bit. I’m rooting hard for him. He will put in the time, he will put in the work. He is a champion and I think he will end up being a very good NBA player. He will never get complacent. Any team in the NBA would love to have a guy like him. I’m rooting for him.
Portland Trail Blazers: Andre Drummond, C, UConn.
Do the Blazers really want to draft a center? Really? If they bypass Drummond for Kendall Marshall or Damian Lillard, I would not blame them one bit. The franchise is snake bitten when it comes to big men. I think they will try their hand with Drummond, though. He’s a bit dicey. He has talent, but he’s very young and his work ethic and weight issues are a huge question mark for him. Bigger still would be the fact that he has ZERO moves in the post season. Let’s not forget that he only gets to the line 2.6 times a game and is a wretched 29% (yes, that is not a typo) from the line. I could easily see him ballooning once he is on in the league. Portland desperately needs a big man, so I think they take him. Fingers crossed, Rose City.
Golden State Warriors: Damian Lillard PG, Weber State-
The guy can score all night long. I like how he can attack the rim and create his own shot, as well. I LOVE how he goes to the line eight times per contest. Love that. However, he’s a combo guard, of which I am not the biggest fan. I want to see him against some elite talent. He played his college ball against guys who will be watching NBA games in their future.
Toronto Raptors: Jeremy Lamb, SG, UConn-
Jeremy Lamb can shoot from anywhere. He’s what you want in your two guard. Explosive, quick, laterally, as well as north and south. I really like his game. What I don’t like about him is that he drives to the left the majority of the time. NBA teams are not going to let him do that. He’s going to have to learn to go right. He is going to need to go to the rim more than just 3.6 times per game, as well.
Detroit Pistons: Terrence Ross, SF, Washington-
Big Ross fan. I love how the moment is never too big for him. He is never engulfed and swallowed by the bright lights on the big stage. He relishes it. He runs so well in transition. I would love to see the backcourt of Brandon Knight and Terrence Ross. He is the most underrated player, if you can call him that in this draft.
Dallas Mavericks(via New Orleans Hornets) Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina-
Yes I put in a trade. This is a perfect fit. Dallas has scorers, and it’s alright because Marshall scores about as often as Tim Tebow. He won’t scare anyone with his shooting, either. He will be able to be left and have help on a double team, which is a negative, but he makes up for it with so much more. He’s a natural leader. He is a true floor general who makes all the right plays. Look at UNC’s play with him out during the tournament. That helped his stock so much. With Jason Kidd now irrelevant as a starting point guard, they gamble on Marshall as Deron Williams’ insurance.
Portland Trail Blazers: Austin Rivers, SG, Duke-
Not a fan. Although he is a great scorer, he has so many negatives that I wouldn’t touch him. Portland will, though. My issue with Rivers is he is ball dependant, which means he must have the ball in order to be effective, which means that you must tailor your offense for him. Is he worth that? Not for a guy who has a 2.1 to 2.3 assist to turnover ratio, who has no interest in defending.
Milwaukee Bucks: Myers Leonard, C, Illinios-
Leonard may have jumped higher than anyone in just one season. Has some good post moves and runs the court well. The Bucks need to find a replacement for Andrew Bogut, who they traded away to the Warriors. That may just be Leonard.
Phoenix Suns: Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse-
Not very big on a guy who does nothing well. I’m very anxious to see how he plays in a man-to-man system of defense. He’s been atop the famous Orange Zone D and really has never played any man. This could be interesting. Not a fan and wouldn’t draft him.
Houston Rockets: Perry Jones III, PF, Baylor-
The guy has as much talent as Anthony Davis. I kid you not. He can do it all. Freak of nature. Scouts have been drooling over him for years. However, there is a reason he is down here and not competing with Davis for the top pick, that thing in your chest that beats and the thing in your head that makes decisions. The most fitting suit for him at the draft would be the one made famous by the villian from the Batman comics–the Riddler. It’s adorned with question marks.