It’s been a couple weeks since my last mock draft, so here is Version 4. I’m guessing the next one will happen just prior to the June 27th NBA Draft. There aren’t any huge changes, although I gave in and finally moved Victor Oladipo up to the No. 2 pick, while some other players rose or fell. And Providence product Ricky Ledo is back in for this version, replacing Kentucky’s Archie Goodwin.
For more information on these players, check out Ed Isaacson’s recent columns by clicking on the links. PG – SG – SF – PF
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1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Nerlens Noel C Kentucky
No change for Noel. 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 probably numbered in Cleveland, and he 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 – Victor Oladipo SG Indiana
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 Ben McLemore has apparently been exceeded by that of Oladipo lately. Both players are good bets to have long careers and while the Magic could still take Michigan’s Trey Burke here (as point guard is the most pressing need), Oladipo or McLemore look like the pick. The arrival of Oladipo or 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, one of these two looks like the pick. If the Magic do take Burke, I’ll pay the price for overthinking and not going with my first instinct, as I initially had them taking Burke.
3. Washington Wizards – Otto Porter SF Georgetown
While I seemed to be higher on Porter than most other industry folks a month ago, I’m now hearing his agent is very confident about a Top 3 pick. Porter could be a hometown hero for the Wiz after playing at Georgetown and pairing him with John Wall and Bradley Beal should mean the Wizards will have a very good team in the near future. 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.
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 means Alex Len is also in play.
5. Phoenix Suns – Ben McLemore SG Kansas
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. My guess is they would be happy to see either McLemore or Oladipo at No. 5, and I’d be shocked if they don’t end up with one of them on draft night. 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. I had McLemore going at No. 2 in Version 3, but flip-flopped him with Oladipo as the hype train rolls on.
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 previous 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 – Michael Carter-Williams PG Syracuse
Carter-Williams took a big jump this time, although I’m still not sure the Kings really want to add another point guard to the mix. But now that the drama of where the Kings will be playing in the future is over (congratulations, Sacramento), they’ll need to figure out who the best player available at No. 7 is. While Shabazz Muhammad does fit a need at small forward, he’s probably not the best player available. Isaiah Thomas probably won’t be happy if they take a point guard here, but his job may not be in jeopardy if Carter-Williams doesn’t find a jump shot soon.
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 and Muhammad will be in play. 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, while the Magic could still shock the experts and take him at No. 2.
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.