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NBA mock draft 4.0
The Cavaliers orchestrated an elaborate process to evaluate the optimal way of utilizing their lottery picks. That included discussions about selecting either Derrick Williams or Enes Kanter first overall, in hopes of seeing either Kyrie Irving or Brandon Knight drop to them at four. When it was all said and done, though, the Cavaliers did not have enough confidence in David Kahn passing on Irving at No. 2 to be confident they wouldn’t end up looking silly on draft night. That brings them back to where we all initially started, with Irving at No. 1, which they surely won’t regret down the road.
2 Minnesota Timberwolves
Derrick Williams, PF
20 years old; 6-9, 250
Williams has yet to receive anything in the way of a guarantee he’ll be picked here. We’re not even sure whether it will actually be Minnesota making the selection, but it’s a reasonable assumption. With the Timberwolves asking for "the moon" for this pick, one NBA executive said, it’s been difficult for them to find realistic trade options. That could change once they’re actually on the clock, but for now it looks like Williams will be joining Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio in a Timberwolves jersey.
Utah’s front office has been extremely tight-lipped throughout the process, but most NBA execs think Knight is the odds-on favorite here, while his camp appears to feel the same way. The Jazz have a number of trade options available to them revolving around this pick, along with their other lottery pick (No. 12) and Devin Harris, so we could certainly see some movement that alters things here.
4 Cleveland Cavaliers
Enes Kanter C
19 years old; 6-11, 260
Jonas Valanciunas’ contract buyout is close to being resolved according to sources in his camp – a signature is the only thing missing at this point. Unfortunately for him, his team has refused to compromise on its insistence for keeping him in Lithuania until 2012, as we first reported two weeks ago.
This makes Kanter a much more attractive option at No. 4, as Cleveland would like to see improvement as soon as possible, even if that means taking the less talented long-term prospect.
The team continues to explore numerous trade scenarios as well. The Cavs still hold a $14.5 million trade exception that gives them significant ability to maneuver on draft night. Don’t be surprised to see the team acquire another pick or a young asset, as they are one of the most aggressive players on the market at the moment.
5 Toronto Raptors
Kemba Walker, PG
21 years old; 6-3, 185
Matching up with Josh Harrellson, Joe Trapani, Talor Battle, Malcolm Delaney and Travele Jones, Bismack Biyombo had an excellent workout for the Raptors in New York City, where he showed a significantly better offensive arsenal than he had last week in Treviso, according to multiple sources who were present to see him dunk on opponents repeatedly.
Nevertheless, Biyombo is still one of many options Bryan Colangelo has here, with the preferred one being improving the Raptors’ backcourt situation. If Brandon Knight is indeed off the board, Kemba Walker appears to be the favorite here, although the team has yet to make any final decisions.
6 Washington Wizards
Jan Vesely SF
21 years old; 6-11, 240
KK Partizan Belgrade (Serbia)
Vesely had an average workout in New Jersey on Sunday in front of Wizards brass. He was coming right off the plane after having his flight delayed from Europe. This was a tough situation from his perspective, as he’s not considered an overly skilled prospect. Nevertheless, he measured out well (6-11 barefoot) and was able to show the athleticism that makes him such a coveted prospect. The Wizards are reportedly still high on his talents, especially if Enes Kanter is off the board. He would make an excellent running partner for John Wall.
7 Sacramento Kings
Jimmer Fredette PG
22 years old; 6-2, 195
The Kings are looking for help at both point guard and small forward, but aren’t in love with anyone in this draft, as they’d much rather find immediate help in the form of a veteran. This pick could be available, with the front office and coaching staff under fire to improve the team as much as possible.
Fredette could be a good compromise for that reason. He’s one of the most polished players in the draft, and also complements the Kings’ existing roster offensively.
8 Detroit Pistons
Jonas Valanciunas, C
19 years old; 6-11, 240
Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuania)
Valanciunas’ inability to play in the NBA next season will hurt him in the draft short-term, likely knocking him out of the top five. Long term, this could be a huge boon both to him and whichever team that drafts him, affording him another year to prepare himself physically for the rigors of the NBA. He will also avoid having to sit out an extended period while waiting for the lockout to be resolved.
Joe Dumars will need his new owner to sign off on this move first, though, as it will be tough to see a great deal of improvement next year without the benefit of a lottery pick on the roster.
9 Charlotte Bobcats
Kawhi Leonard SF
19 years old; 6-7, 225
San Diego State, Sophomore
Leonard is getting strong consideration from most of the teams drafting immediately ahead of the Bobcats, primarily Toronto, Washington and Sacramento. If he did fall to here, he’d fill an immediate hole in the roster, and would likely move directly into the team’s starting lineup.
It will be interesting to see what adding a new and different line of thinking in recently hired general manager Rich Cho will do for the Bobcats’ long-term plans. The team has a number of bad contracts on its roster. If the Bobcats are willing to sacrifice this pick, it could help improve their cap situation.
10 Milwaukee Bucks
Marcus Morris PF
21 years old; 6-9, 230
The Bucks don’t seem to be in love with anyone in the draft where they’re picking, and have reportedly been one of the most active teams on the trade market over the past week or so. They seem to be willing to use this pick to help improve their salary-cap situation in advance of the new labor agreement, namely by ridding themselves of the contract of Corey Maggette.
If they do keep this pick, look for them to try and find some additional scoring alongside Andrew Bogut, preferably someone who could play both inside and out. Drafting Morris would add toughness to the roster, and he could contribute right away.
11 Golden State Warriors
Klay Thompson SG/SF
21 years old; 6-7, 205
Washington State, junior
The Warriors already liked Klay Thompson quite a bit, even before he came into their facility and proceeded to shoot well in a private workout. That’s put him back in the lead here going into the homestretch. The team is also exploring the possibility of acquiring an additional pick later in the draft.
12 Utah Jazz
Chris Singleton SF
21 years old; 6-9, 230
Florida State, Junior
Singleton has been moving up draft boards lately thanks to some impressive workouts. He reportedly has huge fans in Utah’s front office. With Andrei Kirilenko entering free agency and unlikely to return, Singleton would fill a need immediately at small forward. He has the added benefit of being able to defend multiple positions, which will help Gordon Hayward get on the floor more easily.
13 Phoenix Suns
Tristan Thompson, PF
20 years old; 6-9, 230
This appears to be Tristan Thompson’s floor. He’s impressed mightily in every workout, both on the court, but especially off it, where his maturity and outgoing personality have really struck a chord with decision makers. The fact that his coaches at Texas are singing his praises – calling him one of their favorite players ever – surely doesn’t hurt. Phoenix needs an upgrade at power forward, which makes this a good fit for both parties.
14 Houston Rockets
Bismack Biyombo PF/C
18 years old; 6-9, 240
Baloncesto Fuenlabrada (Spain)
Biyombo has one of the widest draft ranges of any prospect, starting at No. 5 and continuing all the way to New York at No. 17, where his services might be needed the most. While Daryl Morey and co. don’t appear to be all that excited with anyone in this draft – they’re heavily exploring moving this pick in exchange for a 2012 first, sources said – Biyombo could change their tune if he fell this far.
15 Indiana Pacers
Marshon Brooks SG
22 years old; 6-5, 195
No player has moved up the boards as fast or as high as Providence’s Marshon Brooks over the past six weeks. Indiana has been doggedly shopping the likes of Brandon Rush and Dahntay Jones for quite some time now, indicating their dissatisfaction with their wing options.
The Pacers are also heavily involved in numerous trade scenarios and could be active on draft night depending on how things pan out. They seem to have quite a bit of urgency to improve as much as possible in advance of next season, clearly looking to transition to win-now mode.
16 Philadelphia 76ers
Nikola Vucevic PF/C
20 years old; 7-0, 260
Doug Collins and 76ers brass have made no secret that they’d like to improve their frontcourt as much as possible on draft night, and have reportedly narrowed in on USC’s Nikola Vucevic as their primary target. The Montenegro native would offer many of the same things as current starting center Spencer Hawes, but has a better body and is a little tougher around the rim.
17 New York Knicks
Markieff Morris, PF
21 years old; 6-10, 240
This would be a bit of a slide for Markieff Morris, but one that he would be willing to live with once he sees where he ends up. The Knicks are looking for size, athleticism, shot-blocking and toughness, and Morris offers all of those things. He also comes with the benefit of being able to run the floor and shoot 3-pointers in Mike D’Antoni’s system, which makes him an ideal fit next to Amar’e Stoudemire.
Washington is not married to this pick, according to reports, and could elect to trade it for a future first, a young prospect and/or cash if the right offer comes along.
Motiejunas was projected as a top-10 pick not too long ago, but the emergence of other prospects, coupled with a growing concern regarding his deficiencies as a defender, rebounder and all-around competitor, have dropped his stock.
This would probably be the lowest Motiejunas drops, and while not really filling much of a need, this could end up being a significant coup for the Wizards, or any other team that nabs him here. The Lithuanian is a highly skilled and agile 7-footer with great potential as a mismatch scorer in the NBA. He is coming off a solid season playing at a high level in Europe.
This would be a dramatic slide for Alec Burks, largely because of other guard and wing prospects such as Marshon Brooks, Jimmer Fredette and Chris Singleton making significant leaps up the board. Charlotte would likely snatch him up in a heartbeat and could end up giving him significant playing time considering how depleted their backcourt is. The son of their top executive, Rod Higgins, was Colorado’s second-leading scorer after Burks this season, meaning the team should know everything there is to know about him.
That is, if the team will be drafting here at all. This pick is reportedly available.
This would be a disappointing drop for Hamilton, who was projected as a lottery pick for most of the year. Questionable intel seems to be limiting his stock, and he hasn’t performed well enough in private workouts to overcome these concerns. This pick may be made for someone else, as the Timberwolves have let it be known that it’s available for the right price.
21 Portland Trailblazers
Kenneth Faried PF
21 years old; 6-8, 225
Morehead State, senior
The Trail Blazers feel like they’ve added enough young prospects to their roster over the past two seasons and would like to find someone at this spot who can contribute right away. At this point in the draft, they aren’t going to find a prospect better than Kenneth Faried.
The team has been looking for a tough and active power forward who can bring energy off the bench. Faried could be exactly what the Blazers need.
22 Denver Nuggets
Tobias Harris SF/PF
18 years old; 6-8, 225
Harris could be drafted much higher than this spot on Thursday, and almost certainly would be had he stayed in school for another year or two. The Nuggets’ front office can afford to be patient developing a project in the event he slides.
Shumpert’s draft range appears to be absolutely huge at the moment, starting with Phoenix at No. 13 and moving all the way to the end of the first round, where his hometown team of Chicago likes his defensive potential and athleticism. The Rockets don’t have a glaring need for a player at his position but could be drawn to his upside, seeing as how no other prospect really jumps out at this stage of the draft.
24 Oklahoma City Thunder
23 years old; 6-9, 225
Oklahoma City’s only real need at the moment is for a combo forward in the Jeff Green mold. While this can be addressed in free agency, drafting a polished and experienced senior like Kyle Singler makes plenty of sense. He can space the floor at both the 3 and 4 positions, will compete defensively and on the glass, and won’t need a great deal of schooling to make the transition to the pros.
25 Boston Celtics
Tyler Honeycutt SF
20 years old; 6-8, 190
With a number of talented wing prospects on the board here, this would be a good opportunity for Boston to nab a player it thinks can help down the road when Paul Pierce and Ray Allen start winding down their careers. Honeycutt isn’t ready to see major playing time in the NBA, but has considerable upside and would be well served being around Boston’s Big Three.
26 Dallas Mavericks
Davis Bertans SF
18 years old; 6-10, 210
Union Olimpija Ljubljana, International
Fresh off winning an NBA championship, the Dallas Mavericks are in position to pick a player who may be a couple of years away from contributing. Small forward could become a position of need, and having a talented prospect like Bertans developing overseas on a Euroleague team makes sense considering that roster spots are at a premium for the Mavs.
Bertans is rumored to have a promise at No. 29 from San Antonio, but that won’t stop Dallas from taking him if they like him.
Parsons has seen his stock rise significantly over the past few weeks thanks to some impressive workouts. Standing 6-10, he’s one of the most polished and versatile players in the draft, capable of playing as many as three positions. The Nets are fairly weak at small forward and could use another ball-handler capable of passing and making shots from the perimeter.
While shooting guard may be the biggest need on this roster, the options here don’t appear attractive. Picking up a floor-spacing power forward like Harper makes sense as none of Chicago’s big men are dangerous from the perimeter.
29 San Antonio Spurs
Nikola Mirotic PF
20 years old; 6-10, 210
Real Madrid, International
Mirotic surprisingly elected to keep his name in the draft after telling everyone for months that he would withdraw. Having recently signed a lucrative extension with Real Madrid until 2015, the Montenegrin native is years away from stepping foot on an NBA court. Nevertheless, he’s a lottery=caliber talent who harbors NBA aspirations, which could make him a significant asset in two or three years.
The Spurs are the type of franchise that is willing and able to be patient with a prospect like Mirotic. And they’re also savvy, aggressive and knowledgeable enough with these international situations to know how to get a deal done.
30 Chicago Bulls
Travis Leslie SG/SF
21 years old; 6-4, 205
The Bulls are telling interested teams they’re unlikely to keep both of their first-round selections, which means this pick could be in someone else’s hands on draft night. They are looking at packaging both picks and moving up, or possibly selling one for cash if the offer is right.
Shooting guard is the biggest position of need on this roster, and while Leslie doesn’t appear to be an ideal fit alongside Derrick Rose and behind Ronnie Brewer, his athleticism could intrigue the Bulls enough to take a chance on him.
In a wide open draft like this, there are plenty of players who could hear their name called at this stage. They include Reggie Jackson, Jimmy Butler, Josh Selby, Charles Jenkins, Darius Morris, Nolan Smith, Jeremy Tyler, Malcolm Lee, JaJuan Johnson, Norris Cole and Shelvin Mack.
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