NBA Mock Draft Version 1.0 [Picks 1-15]

The order of the June 28th NBA Draft has been determined, and it’s finally time to get our mock drafts going. As we get closer to the actual draft, and more news about the player workouts are released, more updated versions of the mock draft will be available.

Obviously, the big winner is the New Orleans Hornets, who will end up with Anthony Davis, but let’s not forget about the Warriors and Blazers, both securing their spots in the lottery. The Charlotte Bobcats wound up with the No. 2 pick, even with a 25% chance at the top pick. The only major surprise from the lottery was the Brooklyn Nets losing their pick to Portland. Not only does it prevent them from ‘instantly’ improving their roster, but it also hurts their chances at packaging the pick in a deal for Dwight Howard.

This year’s draft has plenty of talent, so let’s take a look at how things could go down …

1. New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky. We all know Davis is going to be the first pick. And I couldn’t be happier for Coach Monty Williams. He’s a phenomenal coach who’s finally going to have some talent to work with.  As he showed all throughout his freshman season at Kentucky, Anthony Davis knows how to make a difference without scoring a single point. His offensive game needs some work, but with Jarrett Jack (or hopefully Damian Lillard) running the point, and a somewhat-deep front court, Monty is going to have some nice pieces to mold. Davis is an exceptional weakside shot blocker, ala Marcus Camby, and I’m hearing that he has the offensive potential of a Kevin Garnett. Regardless of the comparisons, the future is looking brighter for New Orleans.

2. Charlotte Bobcats – Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas. A lot of other mock drafts have Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Bradley Beal at the No. 2 pick, but I’d have to go with Thomas Robinson. Robinson brings strength/toughness to the paint, and even some scoring ability down low. Although Beal or MKG might be more “NBA-ready” right now, they would be redundant on a roster that already has guys like Kemba Walker, DJ Augustine, and Corey Maggette. Robinson is coming off a break-out season, where he averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds for Kansas. I’ve even read a few articles suggesting that if Robinson were a few inches taller (he’s 6’8), he could challenge Davis for the top pick. I’m noticing multiple mock drafts have him going #4 Cleveland, but my contention still stands: Charlotte needs a presence down low, and Robinson provides that on both ends of the floor.

3. Washington Wizards – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky. MKG is going to make an impact … immediately. He has the ability and mental aptitude to be an elite defender, and he’s no joke on the offensive side either. Not only does he provide defense to team lacking exactly that, but he’ll be fantastic running the break with John Wall. The kid has the length and athleticism to impact every facet of the game, and will provide leadership even as a rookie. You can’t teach ambition (you can try, but it comes from within), and MKG has that so called ‘NBA-ready’ attitude.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers -Bradley Beal, SG, Florida.The Cavs already have a franchise player at the PG spot in Kyrie Irving, and adding a player like Beal solidifies their back-court as one of the best in the league.  Beal could be the missing piece to making that backcourt one of the best in the NBA. He has a very smooth, easy to watch game, and everyone seems to agree that he has the right attitude. Beal is great shooter with plenty of range, who also has the ability to create off the dribble.   I question his size (although his long arms make up for being undersized), but in today’s league, athleticism and speed are much more important than size.  He’s a weapon at both ends of the floor, and would be a great fit with Kyrie Irving.

5. Sacramento Kings – Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina. At first, I wanted to put Andre Drummond at this spot, but what the Kings need least is a Center. Sacramento is in dire need of a SF, and Harrison Barnes would give the team some insurance in case they try to move Tyreke Evans at some point too. Barnes is a great shooter, someone who has the ability to hit spot-up jumpers and also create his own shot. He struggles at times with ball handling, but with Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Thornton drawing some attention, Barnes should be able to get the looks he wants.

6. Portland Trail Blazers – Andre Drummond, C, UCONN. This might be the riskiest pick in the lottery. Great size and length, with solid offensive potential. Scouts have questioned his maturity and mobility, but I think playing alongside LeMarcus Aldridge will help some of those qualms. The Blazers also have another pick at the No. 11 spot, so I see no issue with this high-risk, high-reward pick here. Portland has a history of picking Centers who don’t quite pan out, but that history shouldn’t and won’t affect this pick.

7. Golden State Warriors – Perry Jones III , SF, Baylor. Quite the enigma. He’s 6’10, can handle, pass, and shoot the rock, but his passive play and wirey body-type raise some questions. It’s tough to pass up on a Forward with this type of skill, and the Bay Area is extremely supportive of its players, no matter what the outcome of the game is. He’ll get to play alongside Curry and Bogut, so there won’t be too much pressure, and putting him at the 3 spot will give the Warriors a good amount of size/length in their front-court. He has the potential to be a Lamar Odom type player, and unless Barnes is available at the No. 7 spot, Warriors should gamble on Jones.

8. Toronto Raptors – Jeremy Lamb, SG, UCONN. Raptors need to get better at D as soon as possible, and Lamb provides crazy length for the team to work with. With the right coaching, he’ll be a solid defender, coupled with a smooth game on the other end. Lamb averaged 17.7 points and 4.9 rebounds as a UConn sophomore this past season. Toronto could move DeRozan to the 3 spot, and play Lamb at the 2. Lamb has a nice touch from the 15-18 ft range, and that’s a rarity in the NBA today. There’s really nothing Lamb needs to improve on skill-wise, but he need to focus on getting stronger. He and DeMar on the wings can be a nice look, and with regards to his assertiveness, it won’t be much of an issue with Bargnani and DeMar having the green light before Lamb does. Getting Lamb’s combination of length and ball-skills at the 2 spot makes finding the right small forward that much easier to find. Batum maybe?

9. Detroit Pistons – John Henson, PF, North Carolina. Henson has knack for rebounding and shot-blocking, mostly because of his enviable wingspan, but he definitely needs to bulk up if he wants to play down low. As a junior, Henson averaged 13.7 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. He was a two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Playing alongside Greg Monroe, Henson won’t have to worry about scoring at all and can focus on using his athleticism to block shots and rebound.

10. New Orleans Hornets – Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State. No other way to describe this fit other than ‘perfect’. Lillard was the second-leading scorer in the nation last year, and he’s easily the best PG in this year’s draft. Pick & Roll all day with Davis, with Eric Gordon out there on the wing for the kick-out. Monty Williams has the option of starting Lillard or Jack, but I’d definitely go with Lillard, and bring Jack off the bench to solidify the second unit.

11. Portland Trail Blazers – Austin Rivers, G, Duke. The Blazers need a wing scorer, and Rivers provides just that. He’s a fearless scorer, though he sometimes takes ill-advised shots, but he has the potential to be a very effective combo guard. He’s an uptempo player who loves to push the rock, and the thing I like most about his game, he wants the ball in his hands with the game on the line. He’ll give them the boost they’ve lacked in the back-court the past couple years.

12. Milwaukee Bucks- Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State. Not many players enter the NBA with an advanced post game like Sullinger’s.  Sure, he falls short when it comes to athleticism, but that shouldn’t discount the impact he’ll have on the team that drafts him. Milwaukee has plenty of perimeter play with Monta and Jennings, and although Sullinger isn’t much of a defensive force, he’ll provide steady offense in the post for a team that needs exactly that. He seems to pass out of a double team well enough to create some inside-out action too. And can knock down the mid range jumper. Solid pick for the Bucks.

13. Phoenix Suns – Terrence Jones, F, Kentucky. Ideally, Phoenix wants Austin Rivers at this pick, but I’m not sure he’ll still be available. Jones is a 6’9″ 245 lb. power forward with an NBA ready body and  skill set. His offensive game lacks polish, but he’ll instantly be an above-average defender at the position. Hehas great mobility for his size, and will be able to split time between the 3 and the 4 depending on matchups. He runs the floor well to get easy transition baskets and has good ball handling skills for a big, both of which Phoenix needs. Markieff Morris plays the same position as Jones, and the decision to make this pick might come down to that: do they want a redundancy at the position? They’re different players, but do play the same position on the floor. I’d take a chance on Jones, play him at the 3, and use his athleticism at that spot to create mismatches. Let’s just hope he continues to work on his game, and doesn’t turn into another Earl Clark for the Suns.

14. Houston Rockets – Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois. Leonard would be a good fit for the Rockets who have an abundance of power forwards, but almost nothing at center. Leonard averaged 13.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks during his sophomore year. It’s the same old story … he has a lot of athleticism and potential,  but might get pushed around a little down low. He’ll be of some help protecting the rim and adding some low-post defense, but I worry he’ll end up being a non-factor like an Aaron Gray. Regardless, Houston has no other choice but to take a chance on his size and athleticism at this pick.

15. Philadelphia 76ers – Tyler Zeller, PF/C, North Carolina. Philly needs to upgrade from Hawes, and Zeller does that from the outset. At 7’0 250 pounds, Zeller has a solid size for an NBA center prospect. He’s not going to be an all-star caliber player, but he’s a safe bet—a good rebounder and above-average inside scorer who will contribute as a rookie. I also like his mobility at that size. UNC ran an uptempo offense, so we should see a smooth transition to this Philly team for Zeller. He can score off the pick and pop, or down low in the post, giving Doug Collins more options than he had with Hawes.

Check back tomorrow for picks 16-30.