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1) Cleveland - Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
Knee concerns aside, Noel is still the choice at #1. Limited on the offensive end, he already has the ability to be a defensive presence. While they could add more offense with some other choices here, Kyrie Irving and company will all benefit from having Noel’s athleticism in the middle.
2) Orlando – Ben McLemore, G, Kansas
Put aside rumors of McLemore’s workouts and you have an athletic, talented scorer who you can build a team around. McLemore will draw attention right away for his shooting ability, but he is also a good defender. He should be the piece the Magic rebuild around.
3) Washington – Otto Porter, F, Georgetown
The Wizards backcourt for the foreseeable future is set with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Porter will provide them with a versatile forward who can contribute immediately in a number of areas. Most important, he doesn’t need to be the star to have an impact.
4) Charlotte – Alex Len, C, Maryland
The need for a big man seems to be a constant for the Bobcats, and they will have a shot at a potential game-changer in Len. Already skilled on the offensive end, Len has the upside to develop into a NBA level player on both ends. Also, with a lack of scoring on the team all around, Len should be able to get all the touches he needs to continue to develop.
5) Phoenix – Anthony Bennett, F, UNLV
Phoenix may be saddled by Michael Beasley for the near future, and there is a logjam at the power forward position, but the talent and upside of Bennett will be too much to pass up here. His ability to play on the perimeter or post should allow the Suns some flexibility with their rotations.
6) New Orleans – Trey Burke, G, Michigan
Austin Rivers was drafted last year to potentially be the Pelicans’ point guard of the future, but realistically, he may never become the distributor that the team will need. Enter Trey Burke. Already adept at running the pick-and-roll, look for the team to see an increased number of good looks based on Burke’s abilities.
7) Sacramento – Victor Oladipo, G, Indiana
Other than the center position, Sacramento has many needs, but I have a hard time believing they pass up a defender like Oladipo, who still has room to grow on the offensive side. Oladipo’s ability to stay in front of players looking to get into the lane should also help DeMarcus Cousins stay out of foul trouble.
8) Detroit – C.J. McCollum, G, Lehigh
Brandon Knight has had a chance to show that he can be the point guard Detroit needs, but he isn’t. The frontcourt is set with the duo of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, so look for the Pistons to find the guard who can not only run the offense, but score in a variety of ways. McCollum can do that, defend, and is a natural leader.
9) Minnesota – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, G, Georgia
Minnesota expects Nikola Pekovic to re-sign with the team which shores up the frontline needs, and next on the list would be a perimeter threat. Caldwell-Pope didn’t have great shooting numbers, but he was also handling a heavy burden on a bad Georgia team. He is more than capable of knocking down shots as long as he doesn’t force them.
10) Portland – Cody Zeller, F, Indiana
Portland has gotten a lot out of LaMarcus Aldridge the past few seasons, but he needs help in the frontcourt. Meyers Leonard is still developing into the Blazers’ center of the future, but Zeller would fit right in as an athletic power forward who runs the floor, can score in a variety of ways, and is a good defender.
11) Philadelphia – Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
Adams certainly didn’t live up to his hype last season, but you can see the physical tools that may have led some people to do that. He is still pretty much a clean slate as far as being a basketball player, so Philadelphia should have a chance to mold them in to the type of big man they need.
12) Oklahoma City (from Toronto) – Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
An unfortunate injury derailed Oklahoma City’s quest to get to the NBA Finals, and there aren’t many areas of real need for the Thunder. A scoring big man could provide some versatility on offense, and Olynyk is coming off a breakout season on that end. He can knock down the mid-range jumper consistently and he runs the floor well for his size, though he has some defensive limitations.
13) Dallas – Michael Carter-Williams, G, Syracuse
While it’s still expected that Dallas will do all they can to free themselves of this pick, and eventual salary, to make sure they have all the space they need to be a contender for Dwight Howard’s services, there is little chance they would pass up Carter-Williams if they still have the pick. At 6’6, Carter has tremendous size for the point guard position to match his court vision. He’s not ready to take over a team yet, but he will be put in a position to learn all he needs.
14) Utah – Shane Larkin, G, Miami
Utah has some potentially strong young frontcourt pieces in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, but there is a big void at the point guard position. Larkin made a big jump his sophomore year at Miami, and he showed he can run a pro-style offense. He will need some work on the defensive end, but he could be Utah’s answer at the position for many years.
15) Milwaukee – Shabazz Muhammad, F, UCLA
Monta Ellis has opted out of his contract, and Milwaukee is going to need to add some scoring to compensate. Considering scoring is the only thing Muhammad does well at this point, he should find an opportunity early to make an impact here.