The NBA Draft is less than 24 hours from now and the Bucks and Rockets have traded picks, while talk around the web is that Dion Waiters may be going at No. 4 to Cleveland. Here’s an updated look (Final Version 4) at who might go where in the first round.
Mock Draft Version 4 - The Final Countdown
1. New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis PF Kentucky
Davis has been hanging out with Hornets coach Monty Williams and this pick seems iron clad. If Davis isn’t taken at No. 1, it might be the upset of the year in sports.
2. Charlotte Bobcats – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist SF Kentucky
I was very tempted to give into peer pressure and finally bump Kansas PF Thomas Robinson up to the Bobcats, dropping Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out of the No. 2 spot. But when I look at what Charlotte has at small forward (not much – especially after trading Corey Maggette for Ben Gordon) and Bismack Biyombo at PF, I keep going back to MKG ending up in Charlotte. Maybe I’m wrong, but my hope is that everyone else is barking up the wrong tree here with them taking Robinson. Reggie Williams is not the answer for Charlotte at SF, and if they keep this pick and skip on Robinson, Kidd-Gilchrist should be the guy. And he could also end up being the best player in this draft.
3. Washington Wizards – Bradley Beal SG Florida (Version 2: Harrison Barnes SF North Carolina)
Now that the Wizards went out and moved Rashard Lewis to get Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor, things have changed a bit. Ariza can start at small forward and Bradley Beal’s stock has only gotten better with time. I’m giving into the Beal hype and putting him in Washington. And if it happens, Jordan Crawford could see a bit of a squeeze play put on his playing time.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers – Thomas Robinson PF Kansas (Version 2: Bradley Beal SG Florida)
The hot rumor late on Wednesday night is that the Cavaliers are taking Syracuse SG Dion Waiters, but I’m just not feeling it. If Robinson is still available here, and Beal and MKG are off the board, Robinson will simply be too good to pass up. He’ll have to fight for playing time with Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson, but the Cavs would at least have plenty of quality bigs to put on the floor every night. But with Anthony Parker’s retirement announcement, they also need a SG, and Waiters or Jeremy Lamb could get the call. The Cavs would still rather have a wing player at No. 4, but taking Waiters or Lamb still feels like a reach. But if Waiters does go at No. 4, it will send shock waves throughout the draft.
5. Sacramento Kings – Harrison Barnes SF North Carolina (Version 2: Thomas Robinson PF Kansas)
The Kings should simply be looking for the best player available here and it could easily be Barnes. He would play behind Tyreke Evans, but should fit in nicely with the Kings. He’s refused to work out for Sacramento, but would potentially offer some immediate help there. But he’ll have to slip by the Cavs in order to be available for the Kings. If they don’t take Barnes, look for the Kings to make a reach for UConn center Andre Drummond at No. 5.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (via Brooklyn Nets) – Damian Lillard PG Weber State
Lillard considers himself the best point guard in the draft and shot it very well at the Combine. His name is still most associated with the Trail Blazers, who will likely be in need of a point guard if and when Raymond Felton is sent packing. Lillard has also said all the right things in regards to going to Portland, and it appears we may have a love connection brewing here. For now, I’m saying the Blazers pull the trigger on him at No. 6.
7. Golden State Warriors – Andre Drummond C UConn (Version 2: Perry Jones PF Baylor)
The Warriors are theoretically set at PG (Stephen Curry), SG (Klay Thompson), SF (Dorell Wright) and PF (David Lee), and C (Andrew Bogut), but also seem hell bent on making a trade before the draft. The guys they’re targeting are rumored to include Andre Iguodala, Luol Deng, Nicolas Batum, Rudy Gay, Josh Smith and Danny Granger, but landing one of them isn’t going to be easy. They could use some depth at PG and C given Stephen Curry’s and Andrew Bogut’s injury histories, but it appears they really want another option at forward besides Wright and Brandon Rush, as well. But getting some insurance for Bogut seems like the way to go here, and Drummond could be a solid NBA center once he gets a year or two of development under his belt. It is worth noting that Jerry West said on Wednesday that they’re not interested in taking a project, which Drummond clearly is, but it could also be a smoke screen. And if Drummond goes to the Kings at No. 5, Harrison Barnes looks like the pick here.
8. Toronto Raptors – Dion Waiters SG Syracuse (Version 3: Jeremy Lamb SG UConn)
I had Jeremy Lamb going here in Version 3, and previously had the Raptors taking Waiters. After all the Waiters stuff blew up on Twitter around 1 AM Thursday morning, I felt compelled to bump Waiters back up to the Raptors. He could easily be taken by the Cavs at No. 4, or the Kings at No. 5, but he makes more sense to me in Toronto. They could still pass on Waiters for high-scoring SG Lamb, and if they do, it wouldn’t be surprising to see DeMar DeRozan eventually move to small forward, sending defensive specialist James Johnson to the bench.
9. Detroit Pistons – Perry Jones PF Baylor (Version 2: Jeremy Lamb SG UConn)
The Pistons have Ben Gordon and Rodney Stuckey to play SG, and appear to be targeting a big man here. Jones should be a solid NBA power forward and should be ready to offer some immediate help to the Pistons. I still wouldn’t be surprised to see them take a shooting guard with this pick, but they appear to be focused on getting a big here.
10. New Orleans Hornets (from Timberwolves via Clippers) – Austin Rivers SG Duke (Version 2: Andre Drummond C UConn)
The Hornets see Rivers as a potential combo-guard, and while Jarrett Jack was solid at the point last season, they could use more options to run the offense. Rivers should be a relatively safe pick here, and I get the sense the Hornets want him. And on a side note, don’t be too surprised if the Hornets don’t make a serious run at PG Chris Paul after next season, as he still has numerous ties and reasons to return to New Orleans, if the price is right, but the Clippers are also going to do everything they can to keep Paul from bailing.
11. Portland Trail Blazers – Meyers Leonard C Illinois (Version 2: Austin Rivers SG Duke)
If the Blazers get a PG Damian Lillard with the No. 6 pick, getting a center or shooting guard should happen at No. 11, if they don’t trade the pick. No. 11 seems a little too soon for UNC C Tyler Zeller, and Leonard is big enough and talented enough to warrant being picked here. Zeller and Mississippi State’s C Arnett Moultrie are also going to get a look from Portland here, along with shooting guards Jeremy Lamb or Dion Waiters (if available).
12. Houston Rockets (from Milwaukee Bucks) – Tyler Zeller C North Carolina (Version 2: Meyers Leonard C Illinois)
The Bucks traded this pick and several players for No. 14 and Samuel Dalembert on Wednesday, leaving the Rockets in need of a center to help fill in when Marcus Camby is injured – which should be often. Therefore, I’m leaving Zeller here, as he would be a good fit for the Rockets. Arnett Moultrie will also get a close look from the Rockets here, but if PF Perry Jones is still available, he could be the pick after the Rockets worked him out again on Wednesday.
13. Phoenix Suns – Kendall Marshall PG North Carolina (Version 2: Jared Sullinger PF Ohio State)
Steve Nash is not getting any younger and is an unrestricted free agent, meaning the Suns need to be looking for a point guard. Marshall should be a good one and this looks like a nice spot for the Suns to snag him. If they don’t go with a PG, taking a PF like Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, Kentucky’s Terrence Jones or Carolina’s John Henson would make sense.
14. Milwaukee Bucks (from Houston Rockets) – Jared Sullinger PF Ohio State (Version 2: Tyler Zeller C North Carolina)
The Bucks picked up center Samuel Dalembert from the Rockets on Wednesday, and while he’ll clearly start at center for Milwaukee, they could still use an offensive-minded power forward. Therefore, I’m going to leave Sullinger at No. 14, to the Bucks - back problems and all.
15. Philadelphia 76ers – John Henson PF North Carolina
Elton Brand is getting older and the Sixers could use a defensive banger to replace him. Henson should be just that. If they don’t go with Henson here, Terrence Jones would be another solid option.