1. Cleveland Cavaliers- C Nerlens Noel (Kentucky)
Nerlens Noel is the consensus #1 pick right now in a weak draft class. He’s coming off a torn ACL, but he’s expected to make a full recovery and be ready by Christmas. As long as it’s not an issue long term, the torn ACL could actually be a blessing in disguise for the Cavaliers because it’ll increase their chances of having another high pick in 2014 in a stronger draft and adding yet another talented young player to the mix. They’ll have to make a trade to fit Noel in their front court or they could trade Noel to someone like Orlando, but at the end of the day, I expect him to be the first player off the board. Other options include Otto Porter and Alex Len, who the Cavaliers are reportedly interested in. They’d trade down with someone like Orlando in that case and Noel would still go #1.
2. Orlando Magic- SG Ben McLemore (Kansas)
The best scenario for the Magic here would be if the Cavaliers passed on Nerlens Noel for free and allowed the Magic to grab him. More likely than not, they’ll have to make some sort of trade to make things work with their roster or reach for need and take someone like Anthony Bennett or Trey Burke. One option is dealing this pick and another player, like Moe Harkless, to Cleveland for the top pick and Nerlens Noel. Harkless would will a big need for the Cavaliers at small forward and allow them to take Otto Porter or Alex Len if either of those two are in fact the player they are interested in at 1. Another option would be to trade Arron Afflalo to the Clippers for Eric Bledsoe, who fills their point guard need and allows them to take the best available here, which is either Ben McElmore or possibly Victor Oladipo. Much is up in the air, but for now I’m giving them the best available.
3. Washington Wizards- SF Otto Porter (Georgetown)
Jan Vesely almost had more fouls this season than points so it’s safe to say the former 6th overall pick is a bust just 2 years after being drafted. Chris Singleton, a first round pick in that same draft, hasn’t been much better. The Wizards start again and add another high upside small forward early in the draft. He’d add to a young core of Bradley Beal and John Wall in Washington. Of all the top-3 picks, this one looks closest to a lock should he still be available. Porter fits perfectly in Washington and his agent reportedly feels he’s a top-3 lock.
4. Charlotte Bobcats- PF Anthony Bennett (UNLV)
The Bobcats don’t have a lot of talent overall, but what talent they do have is concentrated on the wings, with Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist being their top-3 players. They have a huge need inside, however. Anthony Bennett and Alex Len are the top-two bigs available, but Bennett is more NBA ready and fills a bigger need at power forward than at center. Byron Mullens does a decent job at center, but Bismack Biyombo is completely lost offensively as a starting power forward. Bennett would allow him to move into a more natural role as a reserve center behind Mullens.
5. Phoenix Suns- SG Victor Oladipo (Indiana)
The Suns badly need wing help, especially shooting guard help so they can move Jared Dudley back to his more natural small forward spot. The Suns went after Eric Gordon last off-season, but he ended up re-signing with the Hornets/Pelicans. Oladipo has drawn some comparisons to Gordon because they both went to Indiana and he’d instantly upgrade what was one of the worst offenses in the league last year.
6. New Orleans Pelicans- C Alex Len (Maryland)
The Hornets/Pelicans have talented young players in Greivis Vasquez, Anthony Davis, and Eric Gordon, as well as Ryan Anderson, so Len is really the only player among the best available who would fill a starting need long term. He’s also one of the highest rated available and could go higher than this.. He’s raw, but the 7-1 center has tons of potential and could eventually be an upgrade over Robin Lopez at center and give them another talented young player.
7. Sacramento Kings- C Cody Zeller (Indiana)
I’ve seen a lot of people mock guards here, which is understandable considering 5 of the 10 players invited to the draft’s green room are guards. However, with Isaiah Thomas, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, and John Salmons under contract for next year, the need really isn’t there. It’s not a perfect situation and a true distributor like Trey Burke could help considering Thomas lead the team with just 4.0 assists per game (the Kings as a team were 25th in assists), but their need in the frontcourt is bigger. Last year’s first round pick Thomas Robinson is already gone and DeMarcus Cousins could follow him eventually. The Kings have worked out both Zeller and Rudy Gobert and could make a surprise pick here. Zeller is the favorite of those two because he was the one who received a green room invite.
8. Detroit Pistons- PG Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse)
Michael Carter-Williams over Trey Burke might seem like a bit of a surprise, but MCW’s length and defensive ability is what wins this for him, in addition to his ability to distribute. The Pistons could easily play him and combo guards Brandon Knight/Rodney Stuckey at the same time and not lose anything defensively because MCW can effectively guard shooting guards. His shooting ability might need a lot of work to say the least, but he’d make more sense paired with Knight/Stuckey than Burke would if they choose to go that route. They could also take more of a true shooting guard like Shabazz Muhammad or CJ McCollum, but neither of them gives them what MCW does defensively and as a distributor.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves- SG CJ McCollum (Lehigh)
The Timberwolves have needed a true shooting guard for seemingly forever. McCollum at 6-3 is too short to be considered a true shooting guard, but he’d give them a wing scoring option that they just don’t have right now. The Timberwolves frequently started two point guards last year with Luke Ridnour and Ricky Rubio because they simply didn’t have a capable shooting guard. However small he may be, McCollum has a shooting guard’s skill set, especially offensively, where they struggled last year.
10. Portland Trail Blazers- PG Trey Burke (Michigan)
The Trail Blazers have a very solid starting five, but got nothing from their bench last year. LaMarcus Aldridge, JJ Hickson, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews, and Damian Lillard started every single game they played in last year, with all averaging at least 29.0 minutes per game and scoring double figures, but their lack of depth was why they missed the playoffs. No one off their bench had more than 5.5 points per game, 3.7 rebounds per game, 2.8 assists per game, or 17.5 minutes per game. JJ Hickson is their only starter who is not under contract next year, but they have Meyers Leonard, their first round pick last year, to fill in if he leaves. The Trail Blazers can just take the best available player here to add to their bench and they end Trey Burke’s fall here. As good a tournament as he had for Michigan, he’ll still be seen as more Kemba Walker than Kyrie Irving.
11. Philadelphia 76ers- SG Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA)
Muhammad definitely has NBA ready scoring ability, but his problems defensively and as a distributor, and maturity concerns are expected to drop him out of the top-10. He was not one of the 10 players invited to the draft’s green room and while someone could make a surprise jump into the top-10 not from that list, it probably wouldn’t be a guard like Muhammad with 5 guards invited to the draft. However, he makes sense here for the 76ers, who were one of the worst scoring teams in the NBA and with Nick Young being a free agent, they are really thin on the wings behind Evan Turner and an aging Jason Richardson.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder- C Rudy Gobert (France)
The Thunder shoot for the fences with this pick, acquired from the Rockets (from Toronto) for James Harden. Kendrick Perkins is becoming more and more a waste of minutes and will probably be amnestied at some point. Gobert is a high upside foreign center that could give them another young blue chipper for the future, something they suddenly are in need of.
13. Dallas Mavericks- PG Dennis Schroeder (Germany)
The Mavericks are trying to deal this pick to save cap space for a run at Chris Paul and/or Dwight Howard. One rumored deal would send Shawn Marion and his 9 million dollar salary to the Cavaliers along with this pick for the 19th pick, which, between the difference in rookie salaries and Marion’s salary would save them about 10 million dollars next season. If they can’t make a move, taking someone they can stash overseas like Schroeder makes a lot of sense.
14. Utah Jazz- SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia)
The Jazz don’t have any point guards under contract next season, but they reportedly won’t reach for one at 14 if one doesn’t fall because they feel that finding a rookie starting point guard at 14 is too optimistic. Instead, they’ll focus on the position in free agency. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope makes more sense for them as a shooting guard. Randy Foye is a free agent. Gordon Hayward is a natural small forward. And Alec Burks really hasn’t panned out yet. KCP is arguably the best available player and could be a top-10 sleeper for a team like Detroit, Minnesota, or Portland.
15. Milwaukee Bucks- SF Sergey Karasav (Russia)
The Bucks gave up on Tobias Harris too early and it came back to bite them. Karasav can replace him as they still have a huge hole at small forward. Karasav is a bit of a long term project, but he has a ton of upside and could give them a forward for the future with Ersan Ilyasova and an upgrade over Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
16. Boston Celtics- C Steven Adams (Pittsburgh)
Kevin Garnett won’t be around forever and the Celtics obviously have interest in adding a young shot blocker after attempting to acquire DeAndre Jordan from the Clippers. Adams is raw, but he has that kind of upside and with him and Fab Melo it increases their chances of having one breakout as an impact player. Despite using two first round picks on big men last year, the front court is still a bigger need for the Celtics than they backcourt, where they have plenty of depth, at least with the roster as it currently stands.
17. Atlanta Hawks- C Gorgui Dieng (Louisville)
Al Horford is a bit undersized for a center and is a more natural power forward, but they don’t really have another option right now. With Josh Smith likely gone, Horford can focus more on power forward, assuming they can find a center. Gorgui Dieng certainly has that kind of upside and the Hawks have shown interest in him.
18. Atlanta Hawks- SG Jamaal Franklin (San Diego State)
The Hawks didn’t really replace Joe Johnson so they take a shooting guard with the pick acquired in that deal. Devin Harris should really not be a starting shooting guard. Franklin is a rising prospect who could end up in the lottery. He could be a starter for this team.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers- SF Giannis Adetokundo (Greece)
The Cavaliers took a big man at #1 because Nerlens Noel is the consensus #1 pick, but small forward might be a bigger need for them. The inefficient Alonzo Gee started all 82 games for them there last year. They take a flier on a high upside small forward at this point.
20. Chicago Bulls- SG Tim Hardaway Jr. (Michigan)
This season made it painfully obvious that the Bulls can’t just rely on Derrick Rose as their only source of offense. They desperately need an upgrade over the Richard Hamilton/Marco Belinelli combination at shooting guard.
21. Utah Jazz- PG Shane Larkin (Miami)
As I mentioned earlier, all of the Jazz’ point guards are free agents this off-season. They won’t reach for point guards and they will focus on the position in free agency, but Larkin is too good to pass on at this point.
22. Brooklyn Nets- PF Kelly Olynyk (Gonzaga)
The Nets’ biggest need in their starting lineup is at power forward, where Kris Humphries and Reggie Evans split starts. Humphries is a free agent and Evans is very challenged offensively. They could take someone like Olynyk at 22.
23. Indiana Pacers- SG Reggie Bullock (North Carolina)
The Pacers really lacked a scoring swingman off the bench. Danny Granger should be back from injury next season, but they’ll probably trade him this off-season as they no longer need him with Paul George breaking out. He’s too good and too expensive to be a bench player. Bullock can play both shooting guard behind Lance Stephenson and small forward behind George.
24. New York Knicks- SG Allen Crabbe (California)
Crabbe is arguably the best available at this point and gives them an insurance option in case JR Smith leaves as a free agent this off-season. They’re reportedly interested in adding a bench scorer and a swingman at 24.
25. Los Angeles Clippers- PF Mason Plumlee (Duke)
The Clippers just take the best available player here and add another big man to their front court. They don’t really have a good center behind DeAndre Jordan and Plumlee can play both center and power forward.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves- C Jeff Withey (Kansas)
With their second pick in the first round, the Timberwolves go inside after going outside with their first pick. Center could be a long term need as Nikola Pekovic will be a restricted free agent this off-season and it’s unlikely they’ll be able to keep him, Kevin Love, and Ricky Rubio long term.
27. Denver Nuggets- C Lucas Nogueira (Brazil)
Center is the Nuggets’ biggest need and however raw he may be, Noguiera is arguably the best available player at this juncture. The Kosta Koufos/Javale McGee combo is pretty weak. They’ll have to wait on Nogueira, but he could be worth it.
28. San Antonio Spurs- SG Alex Abrines (Spain)
Alex Abrines made the surprising decision to stay in the draft and not withdraw. He’ll probably stay in Spain regardless, but it’s possible he was given a 1st round promise by some team. That team could easily be the Spurs, who love their foreign born players and taking fliers on them late in the 1st round. Manu Ginobili won’t be around forever and Abrines could take his spot in the rotation and then some if he pans out.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder- SG Tony Snell (New Mexico)
The downgrade from James Harden to Kevin Martin as their primary bench scorer was noticeable and it could get even worse if Martin leaves via free agency. They have Jeremy Lamb, but he hasn’t shown anything yet so they could add another young wing scorer.
30. Phoenix Suns- PF Tony Mitchell (North Texas)
After going outside with their first pick, the Suns add to their front court with a combo forward in Tony Mitchell. He’s arguably the best available and is probably too good to fall outside of the 1st round.