Here's an update to our first NBA mock draft of the year. The latest news is that Terrence Jones
will return to Kentucky, meaning that Carolina and UK will have a majority of the high-level talent we'll see taken in the lottery a little over a year from now. They'll also be the two favorites for an NCAA title in March. The actual draft takes place on June 23, while the lottery will likely cause the Top 14 picks to change slightly.
1. Timberwolves - Kyrie Irving
He's the best point guard in the draft and while he's not as fast as Derrick Rose
or John Wall
, he's quick enough to keep defenses honest. The Wolves may skip him if Ricky Rubio
is really coming to the NBA next season, but they really don't need a big forward like Derrick Williams
, either. David Kahn seems to have a thing for drafting point guards, and could easily do so again if they land the No. 1 pick. Jonny Flynn
won't be back next season, and Irving would make sense to back up Luke Ridnour
if that's the case.
2. Cavaliers - Derrick Williams
Williams recently announced he was entering the draft and he could go No. 1, depending on who gets the pick. The Cavaliers would happily take point guard Kyrie Irving
to back up Baron Davis
next year, but if they don't have a shot at him, Williams is too good to pass up. Playing time would be an issue in Cleveland with J.J. Hickson
and a healthy Anderson Varejao
3. Raptors - Kemba Walker
He became a household name during the NCAA tournament and while his size is an issue (6-feet, 180 pounds), plenty of other small men have succeeded in today's NBA. Think Brandon Jennings
. And with Jose Calderon
always injured and Jerryd Bayless
looking more like a permanent backup point guard, Walker makes sense in Toronto.
4. Wizards – Jan Vesely
SF Czech Republic
With Josh Howard
always hurt and Rashard Lewis
on the downside of his career, the Wizards greatest need is at small forward. Vesely might be a bit of a reach this high, but the Wiz don't need much guard help and have several young bigs on the roster. Vesely makes sense in Washington and would be a nice addition to the rest of their young guns, which include John Wall
, JaVale McGee
, Andray Blatche
and Jordan Crawford
5. Kings – Brandon Knight
PG KentuckyBeno Udrih
has done a serviceable job as point guard in Sacramento and even exceeded expectations. Tyreke Evans
and Marcus Thornton
are also already in the guard stable and the Kings' real need is a small forward. But Knight is going to be a pretty good NBA point guard and Paul Westphal might enjoy having someone with a more up-tempo game running his offense. If Harrison Barnes
falls, the Kings would probably grab him, but if it doesn't happen, Knight could be their guy. The Kings will also probably give SF Jan Vesely
a close look as well, while I could also see Knight end up getting drafted by the Jazz a pick later.
6. Jazz (via Nets) – Enes Kanter
With Mehmet Okur
's lost season in the rearview mirror the Jazz could use a solid back up center. Kanter is one of the most intriguing players in the draft, especially since we really haven't had a chance to see him much. Kanter was ruled ineligible to play for Kentucky after receiving more than $30,000 from his Turkish team, although the money was used mostly for furthering his education. Therefore, we haven't seen much of Kanter over the last year as he was serving as a student assistant coach at UK. Kanter is 6-11, 265, meaning he clearly has the size to play center in the NBA.
7. Pistons – Kawhi Leonard
SF San Diego State
The Pistons are a mess and the futures of Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince
are up in the air. Leonard has had a pretty tough life thus far, but really turned heads with a great freshman year at San Diego State. He could be a tweener in the NBA, but several guys without a true position have found a home. I don't know if he'll really be a Top 10 pick, but if his workouts go well, I could see the Pistons taking a flier, as they are going to need a replacement for Rip and/or Tayshaun.
8. Cavaliers (via Clippers) – Jonas Valanciunas
The Cavs have Anderson Varejao
and J.J. Hickson
, but neither is a true center. I originally had Kanter going here, but I think he'll be gone before the Cavs pick. Valanciunas is a skinny center, built in the mold of Andris Biedrins
, but is also possibly the best one in the draft.
9. Bobcats – Bismack Biyombo
The Cats seem to be set at PG (D.J. Augustin
), SG (Gerald Henderson
), SF (Stephen Jackson
) and PF (Boris Diaw
), but they start Kwame Brown
at center. That's obviously a problem, although Kwame actually exceeded some expectations for the first time in his career in the second half of this season. If Kanter or Valanciunas are gone, this seems like the perfect spot for little known Bismack Biyombo
of the Congo. He's got points/rebounds/blocks triple-double potential and a relatively simple buyout from his professional team, clearing the way for him to play in the NBA once the lockout issues are resolved.
10. Bucks – Donatas Motiejunas
Motiejunas surprisingly pulled out of last year's draft and then tore it up in the Italian league this season. He's a great shooter, both from the floor and beyond the arc, and appears to be one of the more NBA-ready players in the draft. The Bucks have become somewhat famous for taking guys like Motiejunas and turning them into players worthy of being owned in fantasy leagues. And while it won't happen this year, he could be a solid option in a couple years.
11. Warriors – Tristan Thompson
The Warriors have both David Lee
and Ekpe Udoh
, but clearly don't need any backcourt help at this point. Small forward is probably their greatest need and it's possible they reach for a guy like Jordan Hamilton
, but Thompson is too good not to be a lottery pick. And the Warriors could certainly use another big body around, as Andris Biedrins
was MIA for most of the season.
12. Jazz – Alec Burks
Burks is a true shooting guard and would fit in very well with the Jazz. He's one of the smoothest scorers coming out of college and most importantly, can create his own shot. He could end up being taken in the Top 10, but No. 12 feels right as of now.
13. Suns – Kenneth Faried
PF Morehead State
Faried has a great nose for the ball, is one of the best rebounders in college history and will dive for loose balls without hesitation. Hustle is a word that best describes him and the Suns could use a rebounding power forward to complement the 3-point shooting of Channing Frye
14. Rockets – Jordan Hamilton
Like Alec Burks
, Hamilton is a smooth scorer and plays best when he's the main cog in a team's offense. That means it could take him a while to get going in the pros, but he might be the best pure shooter in the draft, and his quick release will be a key to his success in the pros. The Rockets have some needs at the wing and Hamilton makes sense – especially since he's already in Texas.
15. Pacers – Jimmer Fredette
The Pacers actually have a well-rounded team with solid players at most positions, with shooting guard being the most obvious need. Mike Dunleavy
hasn't been healthy, Brandon Rush
hasn't lived up to the hype, Paul George
is more forward than guard, and Dahntay Jones
was locked up like the gimp in Pulp Fiction until Frank Vogel finally unleashed him in the playoffs. Jimmer is a household name, would fit in well in the heartland and might even sell some tickets for the team that allowed Bulls fans to take over Conseco and basically give Chicago an extra home game in the first round of the playoffs. He's an amazing shooter and could easily end up as a starting shooting guard in the NBA (if he's for real).
16. Sixers – Klay Thompson
G/F Washington State
The Sixers would love to see one of the top centers take a fall to 16 so they could get a possible replacement for duds like Spencer Hawes
, Tony Battie
and Marreese Speights
, but a pick this low won't get it done – at least as of now. Andre Iguodala
always feels a step closer to a departure out of Philly and Thompson has the potential to replace him down the line, although shot selection could be an early issue for him.
17. Knicks – Marcus Morris
The Knicks could use a center, but can also slide Amare Stoudemire
there and play a real power forward. They've got one in Shelden Williams
, but it's pretty clear he should not be starting in the NBA. Morris is ready for the NBA, is going to be a nice rookie and reminds me a bit of Greg Monroe
, who was a very pleasant surprise this season. As of right now, No. 17 feels right for him, but I wouldn't be surprised if I have him in the Top 10 by Draft Day. The Knicks need a big man who can score besides Stoudemire and I think they will have a steal on their hands if they can get Morris this late.
18. Wizards (via Hawks) – Chris Singleton
SF Florida State
The Wizards are set with three young guards and a couple solid big men, but as I stated earlier, are lacking at small forward. It wouldn't surprise me to see them use both of their first-round picks on that position. And Singleton has the potential to be another Josh Smith
or Gerald Wallace
, which I'm pretty sure would make John Wall
and company happy. I think he's another potential steal for such a late pick in this draft.
19. Bobcats (via Hornets) – Nikola Mirotic
This 6-10 big man can score, rebound, block shots and steal the ball, and the Bobcats need more bigs. He's been extremely efficient in Europe and while there's a chance he won't still be on the board this late, I think Michael Jordan
would take the bait if he is.
20. Timberwolves (via Grizzlies) – Nolan Smith
Smith is a combo guard and it's still unknown whether he can be turned into a real NBA point guard given his turnover issues. But he was able to run Duke's offense when Kyrie Irving
was out and played well enough last season to be a lock for a first-round pick. The Timberwolves have a thing for point guards, and if Ricky Rubio
isn't coming to America, Smith is a guy they'll look at. The Wolves also have a bit of a hole at shooting guard, making him look like an even more logical choice with this pick.
21. Trail Blazers – Justin Harper
With all the Blazers' centers on the verge of their next knee surgery, LaMarcus Aldridge
has been playing a lot more center than they planned on. Gerald Wallace
is getting to old to play much more power forward, making Harper a good fit in Portland. While he's truly a power forward, he's one of the best shooters in this draft, if not the best, and his jumper, combined with his size and strength, are going to be NBA assets. His game also seems to suit what the Blazers need and he looks like a great fit.
22. Nuggets – Markieff Morris
The Nuggets are still looking to find a replacement for Carmelo Anthony
, although Danilo Gallinari
and Wilson Chandler
should have solid futures in Denver. Their true need is power forward, making Justin Harper
and Morris solid options. Morris is not as good as his twin brother, Marcus, just yet, but he's not too far away. He's already got NBA size (6-10, 235) and is a physical rebounder, but can also knock down an 18-footer if left open. Kenyon Martin
is (literally) on his last leg and Chris Andersen
isn't getting any younger. Morris looks like a great fit in Denver.
23. Rockets (via Magic) - Kyle Singler
We had Jeff Taylor going here, but he's decided to return to Vandy. So in his place, we're slotting Duke forward Kyle Singler in his spot. He's a borderline first-rounder at this point, due to his 'tweener status and lack of athleticism, but could easily be taken this high if workouts go well.
24. Thunder – Travis Leslie
Leslie might be the best athlete in the draft and is a dunk highlight reel waiting to happen. There are questions about his outside shooting, and while the Thunder could really use someone to hit threes, Leslie would be an excellent replacement for Jeff Green
, whom they traded to the Celtics this year. He won't see much playing time in OKC due to playing behind the guy who led the league in scoring for the second straight year, but given time to develop, could turn into a very solid (and exciting) NBA player at some point in the future.
25. Celtics – Reggie Jackson
PG Boston College
Jackson showed an improved jumper last season and would make for a nice-sized point guard at 6-3. He has shown playmaking skills and is unselfish, while also able to play off the ball. The Celtics have many needs as one of the oldest teams in the league, but getting another guard who could play both spots makes sense.
26. Mavericks – Trey Thompkins
PF GeorgiaDirk Nowitzki
isn't getting any younger and the Mavericks would be wise to get a young PF they can start grooming for the future. Thompkins had a nice season at UGA, averaging 16.4 points, 7.6 boards and 1.7 blocks per game. The knock on him is that he isn't all that athletic and didn't show much improvement last year, but he's a guy that could stick in the NBA as he learns how to play the game.
27. Nets (via Lakers) – Charles Jenkins G Hofstra
Jenkins played in mere obscurity for Hofstra over the last four years, but is a dynamic scorer and the true definition of a sleeper pick. He may not end up being taken in Round 1, but we're guessing after teams get to know him via workouts, his stock will rise.
28. Bulls (via Heat) – Josh Selby
Selby has all kinds of potential but hasn't really lived up to the hype as of yet. The Bulls are lacking at shooting guard, which is really their only glaring need. They've got time to wait, as they certainly didn't struggle with a hole at the 2 during the regular season.
29. Spurs - Tobias Harris
At 6-8, 210 he's going to be an undersized power forward, but can shoot it well enough that he might be able to play some small forward in the NBA. Gregg Popovich doesn't seem to trust DeJuan Blair
and they've got plenty of young talent in the backcourt. Richard Jefferson
will have to be replaced at some point, and Harris wouldn't be a bad place to start.
30. Bulls – JaJuan Johnson
, F/C Purdue
He was the best scorer in the Big Ten and was named the Big Ten Player of the Year. He averaged 20.5 points, 8.6 boards and 2.3 blocks per game and would learn a lot playing behind Joakim Noah
and Carlos Boozer
. He may fall into Round 2, but I bet he performs well in workouts and ends up in the first round.
Here's an update to our first NBA mock draft of the year. Harrison Barnes
is out, Tristan Thompson
is in, and I moved several players around. The actual draft takes place on June 23, while the lottery will likely cause the Top 14 picks to change slightly.