We still don’t know the lottery draft order, so I went with the odds for the first 14 picks. Keep in mind that this is just the second of many updated mock drafts to come, so you should expect to see some changes as we get closer to draft day (and once the draft order becomes finalized). The lottery takes place on May 21, when things should become clearer once we know who will have the No. 1 pick.
1. Orlando – Nerlens Noel C Kentucky
I’d still like to think the Magic will take guard Trey Burke if they get the No. 1 pick, but at this point, Noel is the consensus first pick in this draft. I may change my mind and go back to Burke at some point, but for now, I’m going against my gut and with the tide. Noel is coming off an ACL tear, so we’ll have to see how he looks in workouts before declaring him 100 percent healthy. The Magic are stacked with competent big men and need to work on finding an eventual replacement for Jameer Nelson, which is why I think taking Burke here makes sense, but for now, Noel looks like he will be the No. 1 pick.
2. Charlotte – Ben McLemore SG Kansas
Ben Gordon is on the downside of his career, while Gerald Henderson started at shooting guard and exceeded expectations this season. The Bobcats have their biggest needs at PF and C, but McLemore might be too talented to pass up here. He might be the best two-way player in this draft, has serious shooting range, and Henderson can always start at small forward if the Cats decide to bring Michael Kidd-Gilchrist off the bench as sixth man. But if Noel is available when the Bobcats pick, it’s hard to see them passing on him.
3. Cleveland – Otto Porter SF Georgetown
The Cavs have been looking for a small forward ever since youknowwho left, and Porter looks like the best one in this draft, especially given his ability to do work on both ends of the court, along with his versatility.
4. Phoenix – Victor Oladipo SG Indiana
The Suns have all kinds of needs but shooting guard is an obvious problem, as they didn’t seem to fall in love with Jared Dudley or P.J. Tucker this season. Oladipo could end up being the best player in this draft, and possibly help point the Suns franchise in the right direction. Regardless of where he ends up, Oladipo should be an early front-runner for Rookie of the Year, depending on how he’s used.
5. New Orleans – Anthony Bennett F UNLV
The Hornets appear to be set at PG (Greivis Vasquez), SG (Eric Gordon) and PF (Anthony Davis/Ryan Anderson), but they could use a center or small forward other than Robin Lopez and Al-Farouq Aminu. If Porter is gone, Bennett makes a lot of sense here, although he’s a classic “tweener,” meaning he’s not really going to be a true small or power forward due to his 6’7” size. They could also look at Shabazz Muhammad with this pick.
6. Sacramento – Shabazz Muhammad G/F UCLA
The Kings have been looking for a small forward for a long time and John Salmons isn’t the answer. They may have to choose between Porter, Bennett or Muhammad here, but it’s starting to look like Porter may not still be on the board. Muhammad is strong and could finally provide a solid answer at small forward in Sacramento, although there are concerns about his basketball IQ and inability to dish the rock.
7. Detroit – Trey Burke G Michigan
Brandon Knight could end up being a backup NBA point guard, and Rodney Stuckey and Jose Calderon won’t be around forever. The Pistons really could use a small forward with this pick, but if Porter and Muhammad are off the board, they’ll have to take the best available player. And the biggest question with Burke is whether or not he’ll still be around after the No. 6 pick.
8. Washington – Alex Len C Maryland
The Wizards are set at the guard spots until further notice with John Wall and Bradley Beal locked up, while Emeka Okafor could be on his last legs. The Wiz also have needs at both forward spots, but do have Trevor Ariza and Trevor Booker to hold down the fort, if Nene is about to shut it down. Len is a big, athletic two-way center and looks like a fairly logical choice for the Wizards.
9. Minnesota – C.J. McCollum G Lehigh
The Timberwolves need wings and with Ricky Rubio all set to run the Wolves offense until he can’t take it anymore, McCollum would slot in nicely at shooting guard, where the Wolves are severely lacking. McCollum is a combo guard with strong offensive skills and could also adapt to become a reliable NBA point guard, where he could serve as a backup for Rubio. He looks like a great fit in Minnesota.
10. Portland – Cody Zeller F/C Indiana
Zeller’s one-dimensional game was exposed in the tournament, but he’s still slated for a lottery pick and the Blazers seem to always be looking for centers. Zeller’s probably going to be a better NBA player than what he showed in the tourney, and his ability to run the floor will work in his favor.
11. Philadelphia – Mason Plumlee C Duke
Andrew Bynum didn’t exactly work out and Spencer Hawes, despite some very nice runs this season, still may not be the long-term answer. And even if he is, adding a guy like Plumlee is going to give them some depth at C. His offensive game is developing and he’s a solid defensive presence with some athleticism.
12. Oklahoma City (via Toronto) – Gorgui Dieng C Louisville
The Thunder could use an eventual replacement for Kendrick Perkins and unlike Zeller, Dieng’s stock rose during the NCAA Tournament. Dieng looks like he’s going to be a very good defender, while his offensive skills have potential given his ability to knock down mid-range jumpers. And after watching Perkins attempt to guard Omer Asik in Round 1 of the playoffs, the Thunder would like to add centers sooner than later.
13. Dallas – Michael Carter-Williams PG Syracuse
Rick Carlisle apparently can’t stand Darren Collison, so much so that he decided to roll with Mike James in a lottery campaign. They desperately need a center, and I could see them taking Olynyk or another big man here, but they also could use a point guard. Carter-Williams is a nicely sized point guard and if he ever develops a reliable jumper, he should end up having a long career.
14. Utah – Jamaal Franklin SF San Diego State
The Jazz can always slide Gordon Hayward to shooting guard, as Randy Foye certainly doesn’t look like a long-term answer as a starting shooting guard. Franklin is a freakish athlete and led his team in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals. And he can even play defense and created more shots for himself last season. If he lands in the right situation I see him as a sleeper pick for Rookie of the Year.
15. Milwaukee – Rudy Gobert PF France
The Bucks look set with young big men like Larry Sanders and John Henson, and still have Ersan Ilyasova to start at power forward. But they could use an upgrade over Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Gobert looks like an impressive big man. He has a massive 7’9” wingspan and moves very well for a guy standing 7’2”. He should be able to clean the glass and play well enough offensively to make an immediate impact in the league.