16. Boston Celtics – Gorgui Dieng C Louisville
The Celtics need a center, as evidenced by the fact Kevin Garnett spent most of his time in the middle this season. Dieng’s stock rose during the NCAA Tournament and he should be a very good NBA defender, which will make him a hit with whoever might become the next coach of the team, along with the Celtics faithful. And his offensive skills have potential given his ability to knock down the mid-range jumper, and he looks like a nice fit in Boston.
17. Atlanta Hawks – Jamaal Franklin SF San Diego State
The Hawks have needed a solid big man, well, pretty much forever. They also need a shooting guard, but finding a true center should also be a top priority. The Hawks have the luxury of back-to-back picks, and they’ve both changed since the last version. I’ve got them taking Franklin with the first of their two picks, which would provide some relief at shooting guard, as Atlanta didn’t view Lou Williams as a starter last season, even when he was healthy. Franklin is a freakish athlete and led his college team in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals. And he can even play defense and created more shots for himself last season. Franklin might be the most underrated player in this draft.
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston) – Rudy Gobert C France
The Hawks have needed a center since Dikembe Mutombo patrolled the paint for them back in Mookie Blaylock’s heyday. 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. And if he has a good camp, it’s possible he could be thrown into the fire sooner than later for new Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer. However, that doesn’t mean I’d take him in a fantasy draft this fall. I had Gobert in the lottery in a previous version, but his stock appears to be falling a bit, and Mason Plumlee is also a real possibility here.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Lakers) – Sergey Karasev SF Moscow
The Cavs may be looking for a small forward here if they take Noel (or trade the No. 1 pick), as that is easily their biggest need, and Karasev would likely be one of the best small forwards left on the board at this stage. He’s only 19 and has plenty of upside, along with a competent offensive game and high basketball IQ. Defense and a lack of athleticism are the biggest concerns with Karasev, but not enough that he won’t be taken in the first round.
20. Chicago Bulls – Tony Mitchell F North Texas
The Bulls are pretty set across the board but Luol Deng isn’t getting any younger, while Jimmy Butler can play both wing positions. They’ll likely be looking for the best player available, and both Mitchell and Giannis Adetokunbo could in play here. I flip flopped Mitchell and Adetokunbo in this version, as I think the Bulls may be more intrigued with Mitchell’s freakish athleticism. He’s another ‘tweener, but I doubt the Bulls would have a problem slotting him at small forward behind Deng (if they don’t trade him) and turning Mitchell loose. He’s another player I consider underrated in this draft and is one of my favorites.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State) – Giannis Adetokunbo SF Greece
He needs to have the ball in his hands to be effective and will likely need some time to adapt to the NBA game, but he’s a great ball handler and a stellar athlete. The Jazz have plenty of big men and really need a point guard more than anything else, but the good ones will probably be gone.
22. Brooklyn Nets – Mason Plumlee C Duke
The Nets clearly need wing players, as Gerald Wallace fell off a cliff this season, Joe Johnson and his feet aren’t getting any younger, and MarShon Brooks still hasn’t been able to rise to prominence. That means Reggie Bullock, Allen Crabbe and others are in play here, but I could also see them taking the best available big man as Brook Lopez insurance. Whether the answer will be Plumlee remains up for debate, but he would at least give them a feasible backup at center. His offensive game is still developing, but he’s a solid defensive presence with some athleticism, and could fill a need for Jason Kidd in Brooklyn.
23. Indiana Pacers – Reggie Bullock SF North Carolina
The Pacers don’t really need a small forward with Paul George and Danny Granger around, but Granger’s knee is a big concern going forward, and given the fantastic season and playoff run they had this season, taking the best player available makes sense. Bullock hasn’t really been allowed to fully explore his offensive game, spending much of his time as a spot-up shooter instead of being allowed to create his own shot for the Heels. He is perfectly sized for an NBA wing position and my guess is his stock will rise in workouts. Bullock is talented and could serve a nice bench player for the already deep Pacers next season.
24. New York Knicks – Kelly Olynyk C Gonzaga
The Knicks’ greatest need is probably power forward, as Amare Stoudemire’s legs are on their last…legs. And while Jason Kidd is now coaching the Nets and Raymond Felton is entering the twilight of his career, they may try to hang onto Pablo Prigioni, who could end up in Europe or with another NBA team next season. The bottom line is that there won’t be many viable point guards left on the board this late. Enter Olynyk, who took one of the biggest tumbles in this version. Olynyk appears to be a decent offensive player, averaging nearly 18 points per game at Gonzaga last season. The Knicks need healthy big men under the age of 40 that can score, making Olynyk look like a nearly perfect fit this late.
25. L.A. Clippers – Allen Crabbe SG California
The Clippers have a need at shooting guard, with Willie Green getting a lot of starts, Jamal Crawford embracing the role of sixth man and Chauncey Billups a shell of his former self. Crabbe is a shot maker, likes to run off screens and has a solid offensive game, which should work well with the Clippers’ offense, regardless of who might be coaching the team next season.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Memphis) – Glen Rice Jr. SF Rio Grande (D-League)
Rice got kicked off of Georgia Tech’s team last season, but says he was in the wrong place/wrong time, each time he got into trouble. He’s already got serious D-League experience, where he averaged 25 points per game while leading his team to the championship, which is huge. He also performed very well at the combine, which put him on the radar as a potential first-round pick. And it’s no secret the Wolves need wings – badly.
27. Denver Nuggets (via Memphis) – Ricky Ledo SG Providence
Andre Iguodala and Evan Fournier were both quality shooting guards last season, but the Nuggets are also pretty stocked at most other positions (whenever Danilo Gallinari happens to be healthy). And with Iguodala entering the twilight of his career (and possibly leaving via free agency), taking a wing prospect here makes sense for the Nuggets, although they could also look at a center, like Lucas Nogueira, with this pick. Ledo, who was in Version 1 but then fell out of 2 & 3, has a solid offensive game and he could end up becoming a volume scorer in the NBA. There are questions about his basketball IQ, body language and background (he’s transferred schools many times), but the talent in definitely there. I am a fan and think he could end up being one of the steals of this draft, although he’s still a bit of an unknown based on the fact he didn’t play in a single college game due to the aforementioned transfers, as well as academic issues. And in case you missed it, George Karl will not be coaching the Nuggets next season, and they not yet named a replacement.
28. San Antonio Spurs – Lucas Nogueira C Brazil
The Spurs have plenty of big men, including grandpa Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter and ACL-less DeJuan Blair, but could still use some depth and upside in the paint. The Spurs love drafting foreign players and Nogueira is a freakish athlete with raw offensive skills. Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard give them one of the best sets of guards and wings in the league, so taking a big man makes sense. And this might finally be the year Nogueira gets drafted in the first round and shows up next season as a rookie.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Jeff Withey C Kansas
The Thunder need to find a replacement for the aging knees of center Kendrick Perkins sooner than later, and Withey, whose stock has been spiraling downward, is a deceptively adequate athlete and a former volleyball player. Strength is a concern, but he’s a good shot blocker and knows what to do with the ball when he gets it down low. If he can bulk up, he could end up being a very good NBA center one day. In short, he’d be a solid potential backup and replacement for the underachieving Perkins.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Cavs, Heat) - Archie Goodwin SG Kentucky
The Suns weren’t happy with their shooting guards (or most of their other players) this season, as Wes Johnson, Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown were underwhelming. Maybe they’ll try to correct that problem by taking a shooting guard late in the draft, and Goodwin should be available. He could end up going as early as 20 or slip into the second round, but given the fact the Bulls don’t have a glaring need, Goodwin could end up being a draft-day sleeper. He’ll have to work on creating his own shot, and shooting it well when he gets it, but he’s got plenty of potential.