1. Cleveland: Alex Len, 7-1, 255, C, Maryland
The Cleveland Cavaliers won the draft lottery for the second time in three years and seemingly won the rights to draft the long, athletic, yet damaged center out of Kentucky in Nerlens Noel. But reports out of the Cleveland camp have the Cavs drafting the 7-footer from Maryland, not Kentucky. Like Noel, Len possesses great size paired with incredible coordination and agility, which is exactly what the budding star in KyrieIrving needs in Cleveland. If the reports are true, and Cleveland is not just trying to field more offers from teams interested in moving up in the draft, Len looks to be the first name called by NBA Commissioner David Stern in this year’s draft.
2. Orlando: Nerlens Noel, 6-11, 206, C, Kentucky
Orlando was fortunate enough to win the lottery during the Dwight Howard sweepstakes in 2004, and it would be hard for them to pass up Noel despite concerns revolving around a torn ACL in his left knee. Noel is a 19-year-old 7-footer who was the consensus No. 1 player coming out of high school a year ago. Of course Noel was only able to play in 24 games for the NBA way station that is the University of Kentucky, but he performed very well in his shortened freshman season. He averaged 10 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks per game on his way to being named the SEC Freshman of the Year. If Noel can stay healthy, his career in the NBA will be a fruitful one that compares to that of former Magic big men Howard and Shaquille O’Neal.
3. Washington: Otto Porter, 6-9, 200, SF, Georgetown
Washington would have loved to add a guy like Noel or Len next to John Wall and Bradley Beal, but the type of NBA body that Porter offers is too hard to pass up. Porter is a bit raw now, but so was Kevin Durant when Durant came out of Texas. This doesn’t mean he’s the next Durant, but his size and playing style are similarly unorthodox, frequently giving the opposition matchup trouble. He’s in constant motion on offense and utilizes the same motor on defense. If Porter can add some muscle the next couple years and add the ability to impose his will on the defenders, he could end up being the best player taken in this draft.
4. Charlotte: Ben McLemore, 6-5, 190, SG, Kansas
Some have argued that Ben McLemore warrants a top selection but to me, McLemore is a tier below that and could potentially fall to Charlotte here. The athletic, smooth-shooting guard from Kansas will most likely slide right into the starting lineup in Orlando and should be expected to contribute immediately. While comparisons to Ray Allen may not be far off, McLemore’s shooting is second to none in this draft and he offers more athleticism than most at the position.However, McLemore lacks the ability to create shots for himself and has some work to do on the defense-end. That being said, the positives greatly outweigh the negatives.
5. Phoenix: Victor Oladipo, 6-4, 213, SG, Indiana
Phoenix is a place with a lot of needs, so it’s not a surprise that they draft the best player available in Victor Oladipo. The former Indiana guard is the typical late-bloomer who opened some eyes in his junior season after shooting 64 percent from inside the 3-point line and 44 percent from beyond it. Oladipo is the next-best shooting guard in the draft after McLemore. He offers similar athleticism but a scoring ability that is a tier under that of the former Jayhawk. Oladipo brings a fantastic first step, a great motor on both ends and excellent rebounding ability for a guy his size. His offensive game will surely need to improve as a shooter and ball handler, but that will certainly happen under the right coach.
6. New Orleans: Trey Burke, 6-1, 190, PG, Michigan
The recently-renamed New Orleans Pelicans take the first point guard off the board in hopes that the 6-foot-1 Burke fills the void Chris Paul left when Paul joined the Clippers. Burke’s game compares to that of Charlotte point guard Kemba Walker given his ability to lead and score. He really evolved as a floor general in his time at Michigan, and that is a key reason he is projected as high as he is in mock drafts. If his performance on the court coincides with his ability to lead, he may soon be the player in State Farm Insurance commercials playing the role of he and his mustache-wielding, insurance-selling twin.
7. Sacramento: Anthony Bennett, 6-7, 240, PF, UNLV
Sacramento is another team with needs at multiple positions and for them it will most likely come down to Bennett or a point guard like CJ McCollum or Michael Carter-Williams. Because Bennett was unable to work out because of a shoulder injury and only chose to interview with select teams, he could go as early as five and as late as nine. Like Porter, Bennett is a different type of player who has the size that will have opposing coaches scratching their heads. Bennett offers great intensity, an enormous wingspan, surprising quickness and an ability to score from inside and out.
8. Detroit: Michael Carter-Williams, 6-5, 185, PG, Syracuse (vs. LBSU: 15 pts, 10 assists in 84-53 win)
Carter-Williams is by far the best passing point guard in the draft, as he led the nation with 292 assists last year. While Carter-Williams is a gifted passer, he also offers tremendous length and an ability to handle the ball extremely well for his size. His shooting needs improvement but that should definitely improve in time. He’s an intriguing talent at the position with a high ceiling but a basement just as far if he can’t make the proper adjustments at the next level.
9. Minnesota: Shabazz Muhammad, 6-6, 225, SF, UCLA (vs. LBSU: 21pts, 6 reb in 89-70 win)
The last six months haven’t gone exactly how the former Bruin wished they had gone during his time in Westwood. If it wasn’t for the personal problems and character concerns with Muhammad, he may have heard his name called earlier in the draft. Minnesota seems to be the ideal situation for Shabazz, as he’s going somewhere with a savvy, pass-first point guard in Ricky Rubio and an all-star big in Kevin Love who successfully made the transition from UCLA to the NBA. If he isn’t taken here, don’t be surprised if he falls outside of the lottery.
10. Portland: Kelly Olynyk, 7-0, 234, C, Gonzaga
Portland drafted the Rookie of the Year last season in point guard Damian Lillard and will most likely grab a big with their first pick this year. With Steven Adams and Cody Zeller being the other options here,Olynyk offers a strong set of post moves and an outside jumper that would work well with Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge in Portland. Olynykaveraged 18 points per game in 25 minutes per game as a junior at Gonzaga. The only question with him is whether or not he can continue to develop in the NBA after facing softer competition in the West Coast Conference.
11. Philadelphia: CJ McCollum, 6-3, 197, PG/SG, Lehigh
CJ McCollum is a Stephen Curry-type scorer who could go as early as seventh in this draft, so Philadelphia would be pleasantly surprised to see him fall to here. McCollum offers prolific jump shooting and a scoring ability that had him putting up 23.9 PPG before an injury cut his season short to 12 games. This is the same player who lead Lehigh to an upset victory in the tournament over Duke a year ago. I expect good things from McCollum at the next level.
12. Oklahoma City: Cody Zeller, 7-0, 230, PF/C, Indiana
Although he wasn’t able to show great improvement this past season at Indiana, Cody Zeller offers a great deal of ability as an athletic big. The seven-footer is considered one of the most athletic players in the draft (37.5-inch vertical leap) but he does need to work on his offensive game, both in the paint and as a jump-shooter.
13. Dallas: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, 6-6, 205, SG, Georgia
Dallas would be adding the second-best shooter in this draft. The 3-pointer is KCP’s layup, and any team looking to improve it’s 3-point shooting may look to trade up to fill their need. Dallas has advertised its willingness to trade this pick the last few weeks, so don’t be surprised if there is another team using this pick on Thursday.
14. Utah: Shane Larkin, 5-11, 171, PG, Miami
Despite his size at 5-foot-11, Larkin offers his suitor a natural leader with great quickness and a craftiness factor that makes up for his size. Larkin, who is the son of MLB Hall-of-Famer Barry Larkin, played in a pick-and-roll heavy, pro-style offense at Miami, which will make the transition from NCAA to NBA a rather smooth one.
15. Milwaukee: Giannis Adetokoubo, 6-9, 205, SF, Greece
The 18-year-old small forward out of Athens, Greece offers great athletic ability and an incredible 7-foot-1 wingspan.Adetokoubo hasn’t been playing against the toughest competition this past season, but the potential for something special is definitely there.
16. Boston: Steven Adams, 7-0, 255, C, Pittsburgh
With Doc Rivers off to Los Angeles and other players most likely to follow, Steven Adams seems to be a great fit for Boston with his great size and athleticism. The Celtics have their point guard of the future in Rajon Rondo, and Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge would love to add a center to play alongside Rondo in the coming years.
17. Atlanta: Dennis Schroeder, 6-2, 168, PG, International
The 18-year-old point guard out of Germany could be the fastest player in the draft with the ball in his hands. Schroeder has been able to pair that speed up with a strong, yet still developing pass-game and scoring ability that should certainly carry over to the next level.
18. Atlanta: Mason Plumlee, 6-11, 238, C, Duke
Mason Plumlee is one of few seniors projected to go in the first round. He is a hard-nosed player who does a lot of things well, just nothing great. Plumlee will bring a consistent energy on both ends for the team that decides to draft him.
19. Cleveland: Reggie Bullock, 6-7, 200, SF/SG, North Carolina (vs.LBSU: 9 pts in 78-63 win)
Reggie Bullock offers good size for an NBA shooting guard (6-foot-7) to go along with an NBA-ready stroke from three (44-percent shooting on 5.8 attempts per game).
20. Chicago: Gorgui Dieng, 6-11, 230, C, Louisville
Gorgui Dieng offers a great deal of size (7-foot-3 wingspan) but is still very raw offensively. His bread and butter is his ability to defend the rim, but the question with him is whether or not he can polish his game enough to stick around in the NBA.
21. Utah: Sergey Karasev, 6-7, 197, SF, Russia
The 19-year-old prospect out of Russia is considered by most to be the best player coming out of Europe. Karasev led his league in scoring this past year with just ver 16 PPG. The lefty offers a smooth stroke and great fundamentals, but his below-average athleticism is what causes him to fall this late in the first round.
22. Brooklyn: Rudy Gobert, 7-2, 238, C, France
Gobert is another big that offers incredible size (7-foot-9 wingspan) and great potential given the skills he currently has as a big. Brooklyn would be able to use Gobert as a backup behind center Brook Lopez, who has struggled to stay healthy in the past.
23. Indiana: Allen Crabbe, 6-6, 197, SG, California
Crabbe is a solid athlete who brings an excellent jumper given his effortless mechanics. Any team looking for a shot to their three-point game would love to take Crabbe late in the first round.
24. New York: Tony Mitchell, 6-9, 236, PF, North Texas
Mitchell is an incredible athlete with an intriguing skill-set as a combo forward. He runs the court extremely well and has shown the ability to defend multiple positions.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Ricky Ledo, 6-6, 197, SG, Providence
Ledo is a shooting guard prospect that offers more handles than most at his position. His advanced set of ball handling skills allow him to make separation for his shot when others his age still have a ways to go in that area.
26. Minnesota: Lucas Nogueria, 7-0, 220, C, Brazil
Nogueria is another big who will be drafted in the first round because of his size and potential. He has drawn comparisons to Marcus Cambygiven his tall but skinny build and will most likely join the team that drafts him a few years from now.
27. Denver: Tim Hardaway Jr., 6-6, 200, SG, Michigan
Hardaway is a player who wouldn’t be projected to go in the first round if it wasn’t for his noticeable improvement from beyond the three. He’ll offer any team that drafts him good work ethic and strong ability as an athlete.
28. San Antonio: Isaiah Cannon, 6-0, 190, PG, Murray State
Cannon is a smaller point guard that is fast but stronger than he looks. Cannon is a player who likes to drive and will consistently absorb contact to draw fouls and get to the free throw line. Cannon is also a productive shooter from three as he shot 42 percent last season for Murray State.
29. Oklahoma City: Tony Snell, 6-7, 198, SF, New Mexico
Snell is a player that has been called back to multiple teams for a second workout. The forward from Riverside, Calif. has an easygoing style of play with a smooth stroke and high release point, making him hard to defend. He is also sneaky explosive and deserves to be drafted higher than he is placed here.
30. Phoenix: Jamaal Franklin, 6-5, 191, SG/SF, San Diego State
Franklin was a bright spot for San Diego State this past season as a jack-of-all-trades forward for the Aztecs. Franklin averaged over 16 PPG and 9 RPG this past season but his role in the NBA will definitely change given his size. Franklin is a great athlete who projects to be slated at the shooting guard position at the next level.
31. Cleveland: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
32. Oklahoma City: Nate Wolters, PG, South Dakota State
33. Cleveland: Erick Green, PG, Virginia Tech
34. Houston: Mike Muskala, C, Bucknell
35. Philadelphia: Jackie Carmichael, PF, Illinois State
36. Sacramento: Pierre Jackson, PG, Baylor (vs. LBSU: 11 pts, 6 assists in 112-66 win)
37. Detroit: Livio Jean-Charles, SF, France
38. Washington: Colton Iverson, C, Colorado State
39. Portland: James Ennis, SF, Long Beach State
At this time last year, Ennis wasn’t projected anywhere near the first round and was excluded from most mock drafts entirely. But a strong senior year in which Ennis led Long Beach in scoring (16.5 PPG), rebounding (6.7 RPG) and steals (57 total). A season that garnered the attention of NBA scouts was validated after impressing those same scouts again and more at the Portsmouth Invitational. Portland is one of 16 teams that have worked out the LBSU senior and if he’s still available here, don’t be surprised if they use this pick on him. Ennis would be the first player to be drafted out of LBSU since Andrew Betts was selected in 1998.
40. Portland: Erik Murphy, PF, Florida
41. Memphis: Lorenzo Brown, SG, N.C. State
42. Philadelphia: Glen Rice Jr., SF, Rio Grande Valley
43. Milwaukee: CJ Leslie, SF, N.C. State
44. Dallas: Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky
45. Portland: Ray McCallum, PG, Detroit
46. Utah: James Southerland, PF, Syracuse (vs. LBSU: 2 pts in 89-70 win)
47. Atlanta: Trevor Mbakwe, PF, Minnesota
48. Los Angeles Lakers: DeShaun Thomas, SF, Ohio State (vs. LBSU: 18 pts in 89-55 win)
49. Chicago: Alex Abrines, SG, Spain
50. Atlanta: Carrick Felix, SG/SF, Arizona St.
51. Orlando: Kenny Kadji, PF, Miami
52. Minnesota: Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas
53. Indiana: Marko Todorovic, PF, International
54. Washington: Peyton Siva, PG, Louisville
55. Memphis: Dewayne Dedmon, C, USC (vs. LBSU: 8 pts, 10 reb in 62-44 win)
56. Detroit: Solomon Hill, SF, Arizona (15 pts, 6 reb in 94-72 win)
57. Phoenix: Phil Pressey, PG, Missouri
58. San Antonio: Nemanja Dedovic, PG, International
59. Minnesota: Rodney Williams, SF, Minnesota
60. Memphis: B.J. Young, SG, Arkansas