The Draft Lottery took place on Tuesday night and the Cleveland Cavaliers snuck into the No. 1 position, the Charlotte Bobcats (soon to be Hornets) got bumped down to No. 4, and the Washington Wizards made a big leap up to the No. 3 pick. Here’s our latest Mock Draft along with the order we’ll see them picking on June 27th in the NBA Draft.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Nerlens Noel C Kentucky
The Magic didn’t get the No. 1 pick, but that shouldn’t hurt Noel’s chances of going No. 1. In fact, it might help his cause. The Cavs are set at point guard and power forward, but have questions almost everywhere else. Tyler Zeller looks like a nice backup center, while Anderson Varejao’s days are numbered in Cleveland, and simply can’t stay healthy. Noel is coming off an ACL tear and likely won’t be available until December (at best), but that’s not enough of a reason for the Cavs to pass on him here. However, there is also a decent chance they’ll try to trade this pick, if they can make the right deal.
2. Orlando Magic – Ben McLemore SG Kansas
The Magic’s bad luck continued with the news they failed to land the No. 1 pick, but No. 2’s not bad. The hype machine on McLemore is in overdrive and he’s the consensus No. 2 pick in this draft, although I won’t be surprised if they take a point guard here, in the form of Michigan’s Trey Burke. Jameer Nelson won’t be around too much longer and Burke appears to be undervalued, in my opinion. The arrival of McLemore could mean fewer minutes for guys like Arron Afflalo and Tobias Harris, but if the Magic are set on taking the best player available, McLemore looks like the pick here. He might be the best two-way player in this draft, has serious shooting range, and I can’t think of many NBA teams who would pass that up.
3. Washington Wizards – Otto Porter SF Georgetown
I may be higher on Porter than most other industry folks, but this looks like a perfect match, especially with Porter already grounded in D.C. The Wiz are set at the guard spots with John Wall and Bradley Beal, and have plenty of big men to plug and play. However, Trevor Ariza hasn’t proven to be a reliable starter and Martell Webster is battling free agency, injury and age. Porter looks like the best small forward in this draft, can get it done on both ends of the court, and is very versatile. And with a core of Wall, Beal and Porter, the future would be looking very bright in Washington, at least until you get into the paint.
4. Charlotte Bobcats – Anthony Bennett F UNLV
The Bobcats (Hornets in 2014-15) appear to be set at PG (Kemba Walker), SG (Gerald Henderson) and SF (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist), while power forward is a big problem with Byron Mullens, Josh McRoberts and Tyrus Thomas all failing to consistently contribute. 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. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see them plug Bennett in at power forward and let him compete for Rookie of the Year. They could also use an offensive-minded center with Bismack Biyombo around, which mean Alex Len is also in play. Bennett's right arm is in a sling after shoulder surgery, so he's not going to be able to do much before the season starts and is not scheduled to attend Summer League, but I doubt it will hurt his stock too much, if at all.
5. Phoenix Suns – 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.
6. New Orleans Pelicans – Alex Len C Maryland
Len is a big, athletic two-way center but is also injured, coming off ankle surgery. However, it does sound like there’s a good chance he’ll be ready for the start of the season. The Hornets have Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson at power forward, while Greivis Vasquez has the inside track for another season at point guard, and Eric Gordon is the starting shooting guard as long as he’s healthy. They could easily be looking for another SG option here, and would also welcome a replacement for Robin Lopez at center, or a small forward other than Al-Farouq Aminu. If any of the previously mentioned players are still on the board at No. 6, I could see the Pelicans taking Porter, Bennett or Oladipo here. But if they’re all gone, Len makes a lot of sense.
7. Sacramento Kings – Shabazz Muhammad G/F UCLA
The Kings didn’t get as good of a pick as they were hoping for, but fans are just happy to still have a team. They’ve been looking for a small forward for a long time and John Salmons isn’t the answer. They would probably love to see Porter available here, but my guess is he’ll be long gone. 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.
8. Detroit Pistons – 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. 7 pick. The fact he played for Michigan and looked outstanding in the NCAA tournament will not be lost on Joe Dumars, at least in theory.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves – 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 Trail Blazers – 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. His standing vertical leap of 35.5 inches was particularly impressive at the combine, and only helped his stock. In short, no player standing 6’9” over the last 10 years has been able to get up as high as Zeller did last week.