The Draft Lottery was going as planned until the Cavaliers showed up at No. 4, which was the first clue that the Hornets might be pimping the Bobcats for the No. 1 pick. And while Anthony Davis would have fit beautifully in Charlotte, the Hornets will find a spot for him in New Orleans, while the rest of the world cracks jokes (and real rhetoric) about conspiracy theories. In any case, here’s an early look at how the lottery might shake down in the NBA Draft, which takes place on June 28.
1. New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis PF Kentucky
Emeka Okafor, Chris Kaman and Carl Landry aren’t guaranteed back in New Orleans, while Gustavo Ayon and Jason Smith are effective, but aren’t household names. Regardless of who comes back and who leaves, go ahead and pencil Davis in as the starting PF for the Hornets, beginning on opening night.
2. Charlotte Bobcats – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist SF Kentucky
The Bobcats will eventually get over losing out on Davis and then take the next best player in the draft. And that is MKG, who should be a perfect replacement for Corey Maggette, Reggie Williams, or whoever else they were planning on using at SF next season. And the reality of the situation is that MKG could actually end up being the best player in this draft.
3. Washington Wizards – Harrison Barnes SF North Carolina
I don’t know that Barnes is worthy of the No. 3 pick in this draft, nor am I sure he’ll go that high. But the biggest hole the Wizards seem to have is at small forward, and Barnes is probably the best one in this draft.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers - Brad Beal SG Florida
The Cavs and those goofy glasses the brass wore at the lottery were really giving off No. 1 pick vibes, but it wasn’t in the cards. They’ll settle for the fourth pick, where SG Brad Beal is expected to be a popular target. The kid can shoot and score like nobody’s business, Anthony Parker may not be back, and Manny Harris isn’t necessarily the answer. The only question is, will the Wiz take Beal at No. 3?
5. Sacramento Kings – Thomas Robinson PF Kansas
The Kings have quality at nearly every position and will simply take the best player available. Whether Mrs. Maloof and the Kings brass will decide that player is Robinson remains to be seen, but it would be surprising to see him drop much farther than No. 5.
6. Portland Trailblazers (via Brooklyn Nets) – Jeremy Lamb SG UConn
The Nets actually finished a little too strong and lost out on this pick, and will send it to Portland, who has needs at nearly every position. Lamb is a great prospect (despite concerns about his “motor”) and given the loss of Brandon Roy, and the inconsistency of Wesley Matthews and Jamal Crawford last year, Lamb seems like a logical choice here.
7. Golden State Warriors – Andre Drummond C UConn
The Warriors are theoretically set at PG (Stephen Curry), SG (Klay Thompson), SF (Dorell Wright) and PF (David Lee), and C (Andrew Bogut). But given the injury history of both Curry and Bogut, grabbing a PG or C seems to make sense. And Drummond should be the best player on the board if he’s still there at No. 7.
8. Toronto Raptors – Dion Waiters SG Syracuse
My original Raptors take indicated they’d take another big man, despite having plenty of them around, but I’ve changed my mind, thanks to the Raptors’ faithful and a second look. They’ve got Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas is expected to arrive in Toronto this season, which should take care of their starting PF and C. I’m still not sold on Amir Johnson and Ed Davis being anything more than backup big men, and I don’t think the Raptors are either, but taking a wing player does make sense. And Waiters (or Lamb) will likely be the best one available. Neither would get a major role right off the bat as long as DeMar DeRozan has a say, but with the offensively challenged James Johnson as the other wing, a SG could get some decent run at SF for the Raptors next year.
9. Detroit Pistons – Perry Jones PF Baylor
Jones could go earlier than this, but the Pistons could use another big man and Jones is a sleeper in my book. He’s a power forward that plays more like a guard, but assuming he can learn the NBA game and channel his energy positively, he could make a dent in his rookie season. But with Jonas Jerebko, Jason Maxiell and Charlie Villanueva around, don’t expect Jones, or any other rookie PF in Detroit, to get many votes for Rookie of the Year.
10. New Orleans Hornets – Damian Lillard PG Weber State
The Hornets still haven’t really recovered from losing Chris Paul, although Jarrett Jack did a nice job of playing point guard last season. They could still use a true point guard though, and Lillard fits the bill.
11. Portland Trailblazers – Tyler Zeller C North Carolina
The Blazers have been cursed at the center position for years (and years), and therefore still have a need at the position. Zeller should be a quality NBA center, but guys like Illinois’ Meyers Leonard and Mississippi State’s Arnett Moultrie could sneak their way in front of Zeller with good workouts.
12. Milwaukee Bucks – Terrence Jones PF Kentucky
The Bucks are set at guard with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, and will therefore be looking for forwards or a center. Jones is a quality big man, but don’t expect much from his rookie year if he lands in Milwaukee, as they have plenty of mediocre big men already on the roster.
13. Phoenix Suns – Jared Sullinger PF Ohio State
Channing Frye left something to be desired this season and the Suns still have Markieff Morris ready to take a big step next season. Their true need is at small forward, and Sullinger might be able to play both forward positions in the NBA, although he’s clearly more suited for PF. Sullinger will likely be the best player available when the Suns pick.
14. Houston Rockets – C Meyers Leonard Illinois
Marcus Camby wants to come back to the Rockets, while Samuel Dalembert will also be back. The Rockets are still trying to replace Yao Ming, and Kevin McHale is not a big Dalembert fan. And with Camby’s constant injury concerns, Leonard looks like a logical choice here.
There you have it. Look for a full mock draft on Thursday night, covering all 30 first-round picks.