8. Toronto Raptors – SG Terrence Ross, Washington
The selection of Ross was the first pick that got Twitter buzzing last night, as most mock drafts had him being selected outside of the lottery and behind Jeremy Lamb and Austin Rivers. The pick was also interesting in that it creates a redundancy with SG DeMar DeRozan, who could conceivably be moved to SF in what may signify the white flag on his 3-point shooting aspirations. As for Ross, he is a solid 3-point shooter (2.1 3PM, 37.1%) that contributes on the glass (6.4 rpg) and on defense (1.3 steals, 0.9 blocks). He plays solid man-to-man defense despite his average length and athleticism, with the only other huge knock being his sub-par basketball IQ. The Raptors clearly liked what they saw in him taking him this early, but the presence of DeRozan, James Johnson, and a handful of other potential time-sucks at the shooting guard position cap his upside. Unless we get great preseason reports, Ross is a late-round flier at best.
Losers: DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson
9. Detroit Pistons – C Andre Drummond, UCONN
The whipping boy of the lottery, Drummond started high on draft boards and ultimately fell to the Pistons, who can’t be blamed for taking a chance on the high-risk, high-upside poster boy. Though the situation lines up well for Drummond – the Pistons would like to move Greg Monroe to a more natural power forward position, and the roster isn’t oozing with big man talent – he’ll be on his own development schedule and Joe Dumars wasted no time in letting media know that on Thursday. The red flags for Drummond were increasing concerns about his motor and attitude, which create bust potential for a guy with an extremely raw offensive game. He shoots just 29.5% from the foul line and struggled in pre-draft workouts. A project, owners can only look at him as a late-round, late-blooming source of blocks (2.7) and boards (7.6) best fit for 14-16 team leagues.
Losers: Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell, Jonas Jerebko
10. New Orleans Hornets – SG Austin Rivers, Duke
Rivers brought a lot of star power into the 10-slot of the draft, and is a lethal scorer that struggles when the ball isn’t in his hands. And though he falls into a great situation in New Orleans, a team that struggled to field healthy bodies last season let alone impact basketball players, there are a lot of problems with Rivers’ fantasy game. Namely, all he does is score and hit threes. His shooting numbers leave a lot to be desired, too, with a 43 percent mark from the field and an ugly 65.8 percent from the line on a decent clip of 5.4 freebies per game. Whether he comes off the bench behind injury prone Eric Gordon or gets slotted into a small lineup next to him, Rivers is a solid bet for 30+ minutes per game a month or two into the season. I just think there’s more bark than bite here and I probably won’t bite except as a last round flier pick, assuming the reports out of New Orleans are golden.
Losers: Greivis Vasquez, Marco Belinelli
11. Portland Trailblazers – C Meyers Leonard, Illinois
Leonard and Tyler Zeller will be linked throughout their careers as the upside guy vs. the safe play, respectively, and the Blazers chose to go for the gusto in taking the raw but athletic Illini big man. Amazingly inconsistent, it would be a surprise if the Blazers exposed him to heavy minutes before the All Star break unless the light bulb turns on in unimaginable ways this summer. That said, the Blazers have little to no depth in their frontcourt, so taking a flier on Leonard might make sense if you’re shallow at center or hunting big man stats in a stash.
Losers: J.J. Hickson
12. Houston Rockets – SG Jeremy Lamb, UCONN
Right now, Lamb is hands off in standard formats due to the presence of Kevin Martin and Courtney Lee, but Martin has been in trade rumors all summer and the Rockets appear to be rebuilding. Fantasy-wise, there’s a lot to like about his shooting (47.8/33.6/81.0) and scoring (17.7 ppg). While he doesn’t completely fall off the map in terms of peripheral stats (4.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.6 blocks), and he has untapped potential on defense and across the board – he exhibits red flags in terms of effort, consistency, being a good teammate, and he needs to beef up his 185-pound frame. It’s hard to imagine Kevin McHale and Daryl Morey selecting Lamb without some sense of how to corral all of that, but we’d be remiss not to remember how McHale likes to bench little problems like those. We’ll be more than happy to give Lamb a late round rating if/when guys like Martin and Kyle Lowry are ushered out, but until those issues are resolved there are probably better ways to spend that pick.
Losers: Kevin Martin, Kyle Lowry, Courtney Lee
13. Phoenix Suns – PG Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
At this point, you’re either a Kendall Marshall guy or you’re not. There’s no doubt about his ability to see the game and dish the rock, and with Steve Nash entertaining serious offers everywhere the writing may already be on the wall. But there are serious questions about Marshall’s ability to succeed at the NBA level due to his non-existent offense (3-point shooting aside) – and what may be more glaring is his inability to play on-ball defense at such a young age. Luckily owners will likely know Nash and Aaron Brooks’ status well before draft day, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Suns give the heady PG the rock if Nash goes elsewhere. A late round value if that is the case, he’ll have some upside too if he can make like Ricky Rubio and silence the doubters.
Losers: Aaron Brooks
The Best of the Rest
PF Royce White, Rockets: Taken with the 16th pick, White was the not-so-secret sleeper that could end up making noise in both fantasy and reality. A point forward that averaged 13.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.9 blocks for Iowa State, he draws comparisons to Boris Diaw before Diaw locked himself in a room with Pizza the Hut. Yes, there are trouble areas, though the ones involving his off-the-court issues appear overblown. The real worries for fantasy owners are his foul shooting (49.8%), turnovers (3.8), defense, lack of a jumper, and log-jam of power forwards on the roster. The only silver lining is that Marcus Camby is the only notable center on the roster, and White would fit nicely in a small lineup. Owners should wait to see some of the clutter clear out, but White should be on radars, for sure.
PF Terrence Jones, Rockets: A mixture of Zach Randolph and Derrick Williams, the intriguing blend of power and versatility also comes with big-time question marks about his motor and attitude. Similarly to Royce White, he could struggle to tread fantasy water in a crowded field of PFs, but his upside is tremendous with solid peripherals (0.4 3PM, 32.7% 3PT, 1.3 steals, 1.8 blocks). He can score from all over the court (12.3 ppg in a crowded Kentucky offense) and he rebounds (7.2) well, too. The recommendation is the same for Jones as it is for White – be ready to move if Houston clears space for their new talent.
Losers: Chandler Parsons, Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris, Jon Leuer
C Tyler Zeller, Cavaliers: Getting no respect, Zeller fell to No. 17 over concerns about his upside, or lack thereof. He joins a Cavs squad with legitimate (albeit injury-laden) talent in Anderson Varejao and a glaring question mark in Tristan Thompson. Zeller arrives on the scene with the ability to contribute right away, and projecting a 20-minute role right off the bat is a safe play. Likely to see his minutes increase as the season goes along, Zeller is a slightly risky No. 2 big man for your fantasy squad. Though his overall upside as a player is limited, along with his general upside in fantasy leagues, if he pans out he could be looking at double-double like numbers with average numbers of steals (0.9), blocks (1.5), and good shooting numbers (55.3 FG%, 80.8 FT%).
Losers: Tristan Thompson, Samardo Samuels, Semih Erden