Coming off the impressive Game 4 win last night, you would think the last thing a Celtics fan would want to talk about is the draft, right? I am not looking forward to the off season just yet as I think we have a legitimate shot to go to the Finals this year, but if Chad Ford and other so-called experts can release version after version of their mock drafts during the playoffs, then I can too!
This will be updated at least once more before the actual draft on June 28th. If you want to take a look at the first version of my mock, just click here. It was just a quick-pick version without any description as to why I mocked players where. It was also before the deadline to declare for the NBA draft, so much has changed since then. Let’s take a look at how I believe the first round will play out this year.
1. Anthony Davis – F, Kentucky
The consensus No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, Anthony Davis gives the Bobcats a dynamic player to add to their already young roster. Pairing him up with Bismack Biyombo will give them a great defensive duo in the paint, but will he be able to develop his offensive game to the point where he can be a true franchise changer? Some say he is a Tim Duncan-like prospect. I disagree with that 100%. Others say he will be better than Blake Griffin. I think that’s a good place to start a discussion.
2. Bradley Beal – G, Florida
A lot of people have mocked Michael Kidd-Gilchrist here for the Wizards, but I think the end choice is Bradley Beal. MKG’s defense is top-notch, at least at the college level, and his motor is always running on full-speed, but the Wizards could use an elite scorer to pair with John Wall. Beal is no slouch on defense, either, and can also handle the rock in a pinch.
3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – F, Kentucky
I wanted to mock Andre Drummond here, but I’ll settle on MKG for now. Outside of point guard, this team needs upgrades at every position. With that said, I believe the Cavaliers will take the best player available instead of taking a big man that will take a few years to develop.
4. Andre Drummond – C, Connecticut
The best center prospect will be heading to New Orleans. Drummond brings elite athleticism for a player his size and can be a good defensive player from the get-go. With that said, his offense is light years away from being a factor at the NBA level. He had a bit of Houdini in his only collegiate season with some disappearing acts at times.
5. Thomas Robinson – F, Kansas
If there were a point guard worth taking this high, I would put them here. Since there isn’t, Thomas Robinson is the choice to step in next to Demarcus Cousins down low. Robinson is a hard worker and relentless scorer. He lacks prototypical height, but he makes up for it with his athleticism and determination.
6. Harrison Barnes – F, North Carolina
Remember how good this team was a couple years back? They had a young core of Brandon Roy, Greg Oden and Lamarcus Aldridge and were he sexy pick to win the West. Now they are fully planted in the lottery and with two picks in the first eleven, could add some solid pieces to this roster. Harrison Barnes doesn’t fit a need as he fills he same position as Nicolas Batum, but there are no point guards or big men worth taking at this point.
The Blazers own this pick due to the deal that sent Gerald Wallace to the Nets. This pick would stay with New Jersey if it lands in the top-3. The trade also hinders my ability to use the Nets’ new logo in my mock.
7. Perry Jones – F, Baylor
Doesn’t this just seem like a pick the Warriors would make? With no legitimate center on the board, the Warriors take the player with the most upside in Perry Jones. He’s got all the physical tools, but his drive just doesn’t seem to be there. Can Mark Jackson get the most out of this kid? I was tempted to give the Warriors Moe Harkless because of the St. John’s connection, but it’s too high for him here.
8. Jeremy Lamb – G, Connecticut
Lamb was a star his freshman season as he won a national title with Kemba Walker. His sophomore season wasn’t as promising. Scouts say he doesn’t have the fire to demand the ball as a go-to guy, which is exactly what Toronto could use right now. They also need a legitimate shooting threat on the wing besides Andrea Bargnani, so Lamb gets the nod here.
9. Jared Sullinger – F, Ohio State
The Pistons could use an imposing force in the middle to allow Greg Monroe to slide over to the power forward spot, but that player is no longer on the board. Sullinger will add a scorer down low as well as an upgrade in the rebounding department. The people of Detroit will love his blue-collar game.
10. Kendall Marshall – G, North Carolina
This would cap off a great draft for the Hornets. They sorely lack a true center worth grooming and a point guard with the departure of Chris Paul. Kendall Marshall is the best pure point guard I have seen in the college ranks for a long time. His offense is close to non-existant, but his court vision is top-notch. Assuming the Hornets retain restricted free agent Eric Gordon, they would have a great young nucleus to build around.
11. Tyler Zeller – C, North Carolina
The Blazers grabbed one Tar Heel with their first pick and secure their second one here. Zeller would give them a polished big man that plays good defense and has some nifty moves in the post, especially his hook over the shoulder.
12. John Henson – F, North Carolina
With Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings on the same team, there aren’t many more shots to go around. With Henson, the Bucks get one of the best defenders in college basketball. Henson is freakishly long and alters twice as many shots as he blocks. He has a developing jumper that is pretty consistent out to about 12 feet. He would be a good defensive player off the bench next season for the Bucks.
13. Austin Rivers – G, Duke
The Suns are in disarray. Steve Nash is leaving and there is not a single player on the team worth paying money to watch. Austin Rivers brings a sort-of star quality to the Suns. Sure he didn’t live up to the hype in his one season at Duke, but who could have? Rivers’ one-on-one game will translate better at the NBA level, but if he doesn’t fix that jump shot (his elbow constantly flies way out away from his chest), his offensive game will be inconsistent at best.
14. Damian Lillard – G, Weber State
I am only mocking Lillard here because I just cannot see him falling lower than this. Doesn’t mean that the Rockets will take him, just that I see No. 14 being his floor in the draft.
15. Arnett Moultrie – F, Mississippi State
Moultrie is a big body with very good athletic ability. He’s a great scorer and can do it with his back to the basket or with the face-up game. The UTEP transfer shined in his one season at Mississippi State, even though they ended up missing the tournament. He’s got the size to play center as well.
16. Meyers Leonard – C, Illinois
The Rockets could use some youth at the center position as Marcus Camby and Samuel Dalembert aren’t getting any younger. Unfortunately, I think Leonard is at least two years away from being a contributer at this level. But, since you can’t teach height, he’ll get a look here and probably earlier.
17. Terrence Ross – G, Washington
After a disappointing postseason where the Mavs got swept by the Thunder, almost all of the roster is a free agent this coming summer. Dirk is calling for superstar help and Deron Williams is said to be 50-50 about signing in Dallas. Terrence Ross would give this team a young, dynamic scorer on the wing to play off the two stars.
18. Dion Waiters – G, Syracuse
Dion Waiters would give this team a legitimate scoring threat at the two-guard position. The Timberwolves were the talk of the NBA town early this year with the play of Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love. Rubio went down with an injury and they faded a bit at the end of the year. This is good for Minnesota as they bettered their draft position since they weren’t ready to make noise in the playoffs just yet.
19. Terrence Jones – F, Kentucky
I know, I know. I have Terrence Jones too low. I actually wanted to put him at No. 16 with the Rockets, but thought that since they drafted Marcus Morris last year that they wouldn’t take someone to replace him so soon. Jones is a gritty player but his motor runs hot and cold. He could prove to be a tough player off the bench for a notoriously soft Magic team.
20. Marquis Teague – G, Kentucky
With Andre Miller departing, the Nuggets need to add a backup point guard behind Ty Lawson. Teague would be able to grow as a player off the bench rather than being thrusted into a starting position, which he is not ready for.
21. Moe Harkless – F, St. John’s
The Celtics lack much scoring punch off of their bench besides Ray Allen. Harkless showed in his one season at St. John’s that he can fill it up, taking home Big East Freshman of the Year honors. He’s got great size and length and could turn out to be the heir to Paul Pierce’s throne.
22. Fab Melo – C, Syracuse
Fab Melo was dismissed from Syracuse due to repeated academic offenses. He’s a legit 7-feet tall and was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year. He’s a very good shot blocker and improved by leaps and bounds from his freshman season. We know he can block shots by sitting in the middle of a zone, but can he play man defense? I love and hate this pick all at the same time. It is well known that the Celtics lack much depth at the power forward and center positions: Jermaine O’Neal is gone, Chris Wilcox hopes to return, Kevin Garnett is a free agent and Brandon Bass will most likely opt out of his deal.
23. Tony Wroten Jr. – G, Washington
Tyreke Evans 2.0. Wroten Jr has great size for his position, but lacks any semblance of a respectable jump shot. The Hawks could use a combo-guard to back up both Jeff Teague and Joe Johnson. GMs seem to be scared away by Wroten’s lack of maturity.
24. Quincy Miller – F, Baylor
The Cavaliers take two small forwards? Probably not, but I just can’t envision Miller slipping much further. His ceiling is too high at this point for the Cavs to pass on. Hopefully he can fully recover from the knee injury he suffered his senior season of high school and turn out to be the high-level prospect he was touted as.
25. John Jenkins – G, Vanderbilt
The Grizzlies are locked in to big contracts with Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, so the odd man out is OJ Mayo, who has been underwhelming in his tenure in Memphis. John Jenkins can shoot the lights out and would give this team a consistent three-point threat.
26. Doron Lamb – G, Kentucky
Doron Lamb translates into a shooter off the bench at the NBA level and could fill the void of Leandro Barbosa, assuming he doesn’t re-sign with the team after this season.
27. Festus Ezeli – C, Vanderbilt
The Heat sorely lack front court depth and turn to the senior out of Vanderbilt. A great team defender, Ezeli would help the Heat defend the rim and potentially develop into a very good one-on-one post defender.
28. Evan Fournier – G, France
The Thunder’s roster is absolutely stacked with young studs and great role players. Taking the best international player in the draft to stash overseas for a couple years would be a great move for this team. Fournier is the typical European prospect: great size and polish, excellent mid range game, needs to bulk up and add strength, may not be a good defender in the NBA. He needs to extend his range out to the three-point line.
29. Will Barton – G, Memphis
The Bulls could use a scorer at the shooting guard position as insurance for Rip Hamilton’s injury history. Barton is a prolific scorer, but needs to add bulk and strength to his frame to be able to attack the rim.
30. Andrew Nicholson – F, St. Bonaventure
The Warriors round out the first round with Andrew Nicholson, who would fit in well with the up-and-down game that they play. Coming off the bench behind David Lee and Andrew Bogut, Nicholson would be helpful at the rim on both sides of the floor: he is a good shot blocker and loves to dunk everything.