Thursday, June 23rd, at 7:00 p.m. EST, the NBA Draft will begin on ESPN. A potential lockout looms large over the NBA, and this years draft class doesn’t quite jump out on paper. Kyrie Irving, and all 11 games played at Duke are projected as the number one pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but Arizona’s Derrick Williams may be more appealing to the Cavs. The rest of the draft has college guys with excellent college résumé, such as senior Kyle Singler of Duke, and interesting projects like the 18-year-old Bismack Biyombo of France. It truly is a wait and see draft with plenty of doubters; but this draft has huge potential for sleepers.
Cleveland has the first and fourth pick, so they’ll be looking to rebuild, plus a few teams are trying to get the #2 pick from Minnesota, such as the Lakers, Pacers and Suns. Do I think it will happen? Possibly. I tried it out. Names like Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Kevin Love, Marcin Gortat and Roy Hibbert have been mentioned. Trades, I can’t predict too well, but I will try my best.
#1 overall, Cleveland Cavaliers
PG, Kyrie Irving, Duke, Freshman
As my partner in crime, fellow Home Field Advantage write Steve Sabato said, Irving seems to have risen to the top because there really is no one else–the Cam Newton effect. Irving does have a great skill set, and he showcased them in his freshman season–the 11 games he played in. Irving was hurt and made a comeback in the NCAA tournament, but wasn’t full strength. Most thought he’d return because of the injury, but he declared for the draft. He’s not Cleveland’s next LeBron, but he could be a spark for the wayward Cavs. Has the skills, good size (6’4″), definitely talented.
#2 overall, Phoenix Suns (from Minnesota for Marcin Gortat, Pick #13)
PF, Derrick Williams, Arizona, Sophomore
6’9″ Williams exploded this year, especially in the tournament, where he lead the team to an Elite 8 appearance. Williams is hyper athletic and can create his own shot. Phoenix will have a threat to add to Steve Nash’s targets, making him a little happier for the final year of his contract. Suns supposedly covet Williams, Minnesota has been shopping this pick; Steve Nash won’t be moved.
#3 overall, Utah Jazz
C, Enes Kanter, Turkey
Kanter was slated to play his freshman year at Kentucky but eligibility issues held him out for the year. Kanter has huge hype surrounding him, but not a lot of American experience. Small chance he will be a dominant center (6’11”), he is skilled and could add a new type of center to the League, or disappear in a few years, never know with these centers.
#4 overall, Cleveland Cavaliers
SF, Kahwi Leonard, San Diego St., Sophomore
San Diego St. was a surprise (not quite a surprise, but under the radar), and Leonard (6’7″) was a leader. His shooting ability is a question but is a potential good wing player, good offensive skills, good defender and easily coached, as he showed a lot of improvement his 2 years at San Diego St. Could compliment Irving well.
#5 overall, Toronto Raptors
PG, Brandon Knight, Kentucky, Freshman
Knight will captain the Raptor offense from day one, and allow DeMar DeRozan room to roam. Knight (6’4″) can create shots for Bargnani and Amir Johnson, plus he adds his excellent scoring. Passing is a plus, but can score. Could be one of the league’s top guards in a few years.
#6 overall, Washington Wizards
SF, Jan Vesely, Czech Republic
Vesely is a big slasher (6’11”), and John Wall will love big Jan cutting across the paint. Vesely has size and a good frame, but is a project. With good coaching, Vesely could become a specialized weapon in DC
#7 overall, Sacramento Kings
PG, Kemba Walker, UCONN, Junior
This is possibly a little early, possibly a little late; but Kemba is a baller. Tyreke Evans could be SG, with DeMarcus Cousins at C–scary young, talented team. There would be no shortage of scoring in Sacramento, and with so many options, Kemba (6’1″) would have so many opportunities to learn to pass effectively.
#8 overall, Detroit Pistons
PF, Tristan Thompson, Texas, Freshman
Detroit could use an NBA ready prospect and at this point, Thompson (6’9″) is the best available for that criteria. The lengthy lefty will have time to develop with Charlie Villanueva and is a good defender, can come off the bench and make a difference.
#9 overall, Charlotte Bobcats
PF, Marcus Morris, Kansas, Junior
Charlotte will most likely look for a sure thing, Marcus would be it in the project heavy draft. Their front court is lacking (Kwame Brown, DeSanga Diop) and Marcus Morris can create his own shots, talented offensive post (6’9″) and can learn more. Will potentially get a lot of minutes early.
#10 overall, Milwaukee Bucks
SG, Klay Thompson, Washington St., Junior
The Bucks could take a big man to help Bogut, but SG is also a need, someone to play alongside Brandon Jennings. He’s NBA ready and has a good shot (6’7″). Impressed scouts with his shooting ability, and athleticism. Could develop into a starter at some point.
#11 overall, Golden State
C, Donatas Motiejunas, Lithuania
Golden State is in a bit of project rebuild mode, with new coach Mark Jackson, Monta Ellis rumored to be on his way out via trade, but building around rising talent Stephen Curry. Motiejunas (7’0″) is rumored to stay an extra year in Europe, and could sign in a year and provide a big body to take Andris Biedrins’ spot. Young talent to stash away, Warriors usually go their own way in draft.
#12 overall, Utah Jazz
PG, Jimmer Fredette, BYU, Senior
Jimmer (6’3″) is a star in Utah and the state would love the Jazz even more if they took Jimmer (that’s a lot, they have good fans). Jimmer is a high risk, high reward, he could have a JJ Redick type career, or Jimmer college style translated to NBA. Can score anywhere, driving to the paint or from 3. Otherwise, they’re going with a project.
#13 overall, Minnesota Timberwolves
SF, Chris Singleton, Florida St., Junior
Minnesota is getting athletic, and Singleton (6’9″) may be the best athlete in the draft, with a huge wingspan. The Wolves need a 3-4 wing type, and Singleton could fill the role. Flynn, Beasley and Love with developing Singleton will be a talented lineup.
#14 overall, Houston Rockets
SG, Alec Burks, Colorado, Sophomore
Houston needs a PG to develop for the future but there are none at 14, so the best available would be Burks (6’6″). If Yao were for sure out, there aren’t a lot of centers available either, and the best option would be the big SG with good passing ability, a slasher, and a good on ball defender.
#15 overall, Indiana Pacers
C, Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania
I see Valanciunas dropping to 15 because he isn’t ready on the defensive end for the NBA, but Indiana will be fine with that because they have Hibbert and with Valanciunas (7’0″), they can develop him, or use him as trade bait. His offense is almost there, but he’s not an entire package yet.
#16 overall, Philadelphia 76ers
PF, Bismack Biyombo, Spain
Biyombo has the scouts abuzz, and he is considered to be one of the most intriguing prospects. Only 18 years old (6’9″), he needs some coaching, but he’s got the talent. Extremely long and an athletic freak, he will need time–and lots of it to learn. Philly loves athletes and Biyombo will be too compelling not to take at 16.
#17 overall, New York Knicks
PG, Iman Shumpert, Georgia Tech, Junior
The Knicks will go position of need, so PF and SF are taken care of. Billups is aging, but still effective, and bringing in a new PG will give them options in the backcourt. Shumpert can jump out of the building and distributes well. He’s a fast break kind of guard, something D’Antoni will love.
#18 overall, Washington Wizards
C, Nikola Vucevic, USC, Junior
The Wiz go big again with the 7 foot center from USC. Vucevic provides some depth and is closer to being ready than some of the other big men. He’s a big body, and has the potential to be a versatile contributor. He needs coaching, and time, high risk, high reward.
#19 overall, Charlotte Bobcats
PF, Tobias Harris, Tennessee, Freshman
Charlotte took Marcus Morris with their first pick, a PF, and Harris is listed as a PF, but is undersized (6’8″) and has the skill set to play SF. Gerald Wallace was traded midseason, and Harris compares, best case, to a Gerald Wallace. He’s a scorer and can rebound, not always in position, defense needs work.
#20 overall, Minnesota Timberwolves
SG, Marshon Brooks, Providence, Senior
Minnesota got a SF option earlier, now Brooks is a big SG who can score (6’5″). He’s a 6th man type, creates his own shots, but needs to pass more. With the rising Timberwolves, there could possible be an environment with a lot of options, forcing Brooks to pass more. Look for big scoring numbers from him when he gets a shot to play.
#21 overall, Portland Trailblazers
PF, Kenneth Faried, Morehead St., Senior
The Blazers need froncourt depth. Greg Oden is chilling somewhere with Sasquatch, Pryzbilla is gone, Marcus Camby is old, and LaMarus Aldridge is the guy. Gerald Wallace helps with rebounds, but Faried would come of the bench and simply do work on the boards. Undersized PF (6’8″), Faried will bang the boards with anyone, be tough and is probably the best rebounder in the draft. His poor offensive skill set can improve over time, but it doesn’t quite need to as Portland has some scorers available. Being from Portland, the pick will either contribute for years, or be gone after 4 seasons.
#22 overall, Denver Nuggets
SF, Jordan Hamilton, Texas, Sophomore
So Carmelo is gone, and Hamilton isn’t the same player. The Nuggets also have good forwards such as, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, so this is a depth choice, and best available. Hamilton (6’9″) slid a little in my draft, but could go earlier. Good scorer, and can rebound from the wing spot. Defense needs work.
#23 overall, Houston Rockets
SF, Nikola Mirotic, Serbia
Scola is getting up there in age, but still productive. Mirotic (6’10”) could stay in Spain like Scola did and develop some more, giving Houston more firepower in the years to come. Offensive game is very good, defense and strength must be improved.
#24 overall, Oklahoma City Thunder
PG, Reggie Jackson, Boston College, Junior
Russell Westbrook is staying, I’m not suggesting anything. OKC has good depth, but PG could use a long defender just in case. Jackson will be a good role player as he has a developed 3-point shot. He’s a SG stuck in a PG’s body (6’3″)–athletic and hard-working so it could work out.
#25 overall, Boston Celtics
PF, Justin Harper, Richmond, Senior
Harper improved by leaps and bounds each year playing for the Spiders, a good sign in a prospect. Good height (6’10”) and a great shooter for that height. Floats around and can create shots, if his defense and strength can improve, he will be a real steal, lot of potential.
#26 overall, Dallas Mavericks
PF, Markieff Morris, Kansas, Junior
Twin brother went earlier, and always overshadowed Markieff. Dallas can’t repeat with that front court depth, adding Morris (6’10”) will help. He’s bigger and stronger than his brother, but lacks the offensive talent–his rebounding is coveted though.
#27 overall, New Jersey Nets
SF, Davis Bertans, Latvia
The Nets will need veterans to help them now, so possible they’ll draft for the future. Bertans (6’10”) isn’t ready yet, they can stow him over in Europe and let him grow. His shot has been compared to Dirk Nowitzki’s by scouts, good ball handler, but rebounding and defense are lacking though.
#28 overall, Chicago Bulls
PG, Norris Cole, Cleveland St., Senior
The Bulls don’t need much, PG depth wouldn’t hurt. Cole (6’2″) would come off the bench and distribute next to, or in place of Derrick Rose for depth. Cole is a good role player who does everything well, but nothing outstanding.
#29 overall, San Antonio Spurs
SF, Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA, Sophomore
Spurs are an excellent defensive team, and Honeycutt has a lot of potential on D. Could potentially defend the 2, 3, or 4 position. The Spurs’ depth has depleted, Honeycutt (6’8″) can provide off the bench and defend a scorer.
#30 overall, Chicago Bulls
SF, Kyler Singler, Duke, Senior
Singler had an outstanding career at Duke, and is a winner at the college and high school level. Known scorer, good teammate by distributing well for his size (6’9″), can get in there and rebound but not against the biggest bodies. Defense needs help a he isn’t very athletic (just take a gander at him). Can contribute coming off the bench in key situations, and he’s from Oregon.
Now this mock draft will probably get 3, maybe 4 picks correct. There will be trades and I’m no NBA hardcore. I’ve watched a lot of them in college and did my studying. My ability to predict outcomes haven’t started well here at Home Field Advantage (Heat in 7 games, and a Vanderbilt-Virginia College World Series). I’m confident in my evaluations but I’ll leave it up to the NBA franchises. Watch for a strong Euro showing, as well as long, athletic, project types. Got some help from a friend, and credit is due, Cal Keizur; I didn’t listen to you much. Also, one team will make a bonehead pick, just wait for it.
Michael Schwartz is a staff writer for Home Field Advantage