Chasing Down The Latest NBA News
Well, that was fun. Below is my review of every pick in the draft. As far as trades go involving picks, I’ve just listed the team that the players actually ended up with rather than the team that actually picked them. When it comes to some of the foreign players taken in the later rounds, excuse me for analyzing their names instead of their play.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving, Point Guard, Duke
I’ve been vocal about my disapproval with this pick ever since the Cavs won the lottery but even though they were reportedly undecided on the pick until the last moment, they stuck with the popular belief and drafted the Duke point guard. It’s become tiresome for me to hear draft analysts tout Irving’s feel for the game, which is the main reason they give for Irving being the number one pick. I just can’t understand how you can say a guy has a great feel for the game when he played 11 games in college, four of which came against Princeton, Miami (Ohio), Colgate and Hampton. I know he had good numbers but he played 11 games! Talk about a small sample size. I’m sure you can find an 11-game stretch that makes half the stars in the NBA look like Michael Jordan.
I don’t think Irving will be a bust because I don’t think he’ll be flat out awful in the NBA. I could see him being Mike Conley or Mo Williams but those two guys aren’t even in the top 15 point guard discussion. You can definitely be a playoff team with Irving your point guard but he’s still not going to be worth the first overall pick in a draft that came in the year right after LeBron James left town.
Another reason I was surprised the Cavs went with Irving other than the lack of proof that he was worthy of the number one overall selection: Irving likes LeBron James and attended his playoff games in Miami during the post-season. You cannot underestimate the fact that Dan Gilbert absolutely hates LeBron James and it goes far beyond a lack of respect. We all saw the letter he wrote to him after he chose the Heat and we’ve seen his tweets after LeBron’s bad games. Irving has not shied away from the fact that he’s a LeBron fan and has denied wanting to take James’ spot as the star in Cleveland. That’s the opposite frame of mind I’d want in my first overall pick if I was the Cavs. Derrick Williams, on the other hand, has been saying for weeks that he would love to fill LeBron’s spot and has never said a good thing about James.
Oh well, the Cavs chose the consensus number one and even though I completely disagree with the choice, I knew it was going to happen. Still, they have the fourth overall pick to further develop their core.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves – Derrick Williams, Small Forward, Arizona
Regardless of the copious amounts of forwards the T’Wolves, passing on Williams was impossible for Minnesota. He’s too talented and his upside is far greater than any of the other forwards Minny has outside of Kevin Love. Williams is hyper athletic, he has a refined stroke that will translate to NBA three-point range, he’s a versatile forward and can play multiple positions. His position is the only question mark for me at this point but in Minnesota you have to figure he’ll start out playing small forward with Love and Darko. That allows Wesley Johnson to move over to the shooting guard and then Minnesota will be putting out a starting five of Ricky Rubio, Johnson, Williams, Love and Darko.
Michael Beasley will have to be dealt with Williams coming into town and this is probably the most they’ll ever be able to get for him. Though generally he is still regarded as a gunner he did have a very good year last season where he refined his mid-range jumpshot, showed some one-on-one skills in crunch time and didn’t cause any problems in the lockerroom with his attitude. At this point he’s seemed to have matured a bit and his scoring can help a team at either forward spot (though he seemed to settle in at the three last season).
It’d be best for Minnesota to look to acquire a center when they shop Beasley – Miller is a nice short term fix but that position is weak for Minnesota looking down the road. If they can find themselves another center, they could take some steps towards being mediocrity next season, which is big for David Kahn. Of course, they just fired their coach, Ricky Rubio is Rajon Rondo without the ability to score the ball or the ability to defend (translation: he can pass and do nothing else) and Kevin Love is not going to sign an extension in Minnesota unless every other team in the league is over the cap so the future still isn’t all that bright, but at least they should win more than 17 games next season.
3. Utah Jazz – Enes Kanter, Center, Turkey
As much as I don’t like going with an unproven player this early in the draft, Kanter has shown enough in workouts to lead me to believe he’ll be a scoring force in the NBA. Kanter did not play in college because of a NCAA ruling that kept him out of Kentucky but his size is valuable and his offensive versatility and smarts make him a strong prospect for the Jazz. Utah drafted Kanter because of how good he has looked during workouts but workouts aren’t games and its anybody’s guess as to how well he’ll play against NBA competition but his size makes me a little more comfortable with his potential than Irving’s.
Kanter joins a strong, young frontline in Utah that consists of Derrick Favors, who was a lottery pick by the Nets last season before the Jazz acquired him in the Deron Williams trade, Al Jefferson (despite the injuries, he’s still just 26) and Paul Millsap, who filled Carlos Boozer’s shoes quite nicely last season. You have to figure one of those guys will be traded to clear some playing time – most likely Jefferson, depending on what teams offer – but that’s still a pretty darn good big man rotation and one that could easily be the best in the league down the road should Favors mature into the Tim Duncan-esque scouts thought he would be and Kanter turns out to be as good as he was in his workouts.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers – Tristan Thompson, Power Forward, Texas
The Cleveland Cavaliers had themselves a dream scenario, or at least the best you could hope for after losing a player like LeBron James. They had two picks in the top four, including the first overall pick, and even though this was considered a weak draft, there were four to five players available that could contribute at a decent level going forward. I know I’m probably in the minority when it comes to the Irving pick but to go with Thompson over Jonas Valanciunas, even with the buyout issues? That’s crazy.
Thompson did one thing pretty well in college: he drew fouls. He got to the line over seven times a game in his lone year at Texas, a pretty good mark for a big man in the Big 12. Of course, its not so good when you factor in Thompson’s 48% free throw shooting. So the one thing Thompson is good at plays into his biggest weaknesses. Sure, he can block shots and defend well but that’s not enough to make up for the abysmal free throw shooting or complete lack of an offensive game. Aside from finishing strong at the rim on putbacks or rolls, Thompson didn’t show a post-game as a Freshman and was inconsistent with his jumper. Thompson also rarely passed the ball and wasn’t a great rebounder. He was just a freshman so his potential to be a good defender and develop something on offense would be enough to make him a late lottery pick but to go with him at four over someone like Valanciunas, who many believe was one of the three most talented players in the draft, is just an awful move.
Looking back, the Cavs look even worse for not choosing the Knight/Williams combo with the 1/4 picks because now they have to settle for Irving and Thompson. I had high hopes for Cleveland when they received two top four picks but I can’t say that I’m impressed with the two players they got at the top of this draft.
5. Toronto Raptors – Jonas Valanciunas, Center, Lithuania
The Raptors are a team that needs help now and even though that Valanciunas’ buyout will keep him overseas for at least a year, he is too good to have dropped past this pick. Valanciunas projects to be the perfect complement for Andrea Bargnani, whom the Raptors seem committed to over long haul. Like Bargnani, Valanciunas is a seven footer from outside the United States but that’s where the similarities end. Valanciunas has a refined post-up game, is an energetic and tough defender and will rebound at a good rate in Toronto, making him the anti-Bargnani in many ways.
Valanciunas’ time overseas will not only allow him the chance to expand his game before coming into the NBA but it will also allow the Raptors some time to see what Ed Davis turns into over the next couple of seasons. Davis could mature to the point where he could fetch a quality wing player, he may end up fitting right in as the third big man behind Bargnani and Valanciunas or he may turn out to be an all-star (a longshot but he is talented), making Valanciunas the trade chip. Either way, it seems like the Raptors got themselves a great player at the five spot and his future in the NBA looks bright once his buyout is solved.
6. Washington Wizards – Jan Vesely, Forward, Czech Republic
One of the very few lottery selections I thought should have been made was done by the Wizards, who had an excellent night overall. Vesely is not the typical European forward that shoots the ball extremely well or a finesse post player – he plays an American-style game with Kevin Durant’s measurements and athleticism (but minus the offense, at least right now). Vesely can jump out of the gym and is an exciting player to watch in transition, making his addition to the Wizards even more intriguing. A John Wall-JaVale McGee-Vesely fastbreak is sure to produce more than a few highlights next season.
Vesely is six-foot-11 and his mobility on the perimeter make him seem like an Andre Kirilenko/swiss army knife type defensive weapon that can guard every position on the floor. Like Kirilenko, he’s a limited offensive player but he’s got some time to improve his offensive game and the Wizards could use an impact defender at the small forward spot even if he’s not an impact scorer in his first few years in the league. Almost all prospects that the Wizards were considering at six raved about playing with John Wall and Vesely was no exception. His defensive impact will be immediate for the Wizards and until he finds his niche offensively his alley-oop connections with Wall on the break will be entertaining enough.
7. Charlotte Bobcats – Bismack Biyombo, Center, Congo
The Bobcats coveted Biyombo and thanks to a three-team deal with the Bucks and Kings they were able to move up in front of the Detroit Pistons by getting Sacramento’s first round pick. The Pistons were also high on Biyombo and probably would have taken him at eight, one spot ahead of Charlotte’s own draft spot. Instead, Biyombo will take his defensive prowess to Charlotte, a team that has been committed to defense over the past few seasons.
As much as Michael Jordan likes Kwame Brown, Biyombo will be a fantastic middle man for the Bobcats over the next few season. I’ve said before that I think that he will seriously challenge Dwight Howard for Defensive Player of the Year in a couple of seasons and I think he’ll also acquire at least one or two offensive abilities as he works with an NBA staff. For now, though, he’s one of the league’s brightest defensive stars and will make a living swatting shots for the Bobcats.
8. Detroit Pistons – Brandon Knight, Point Guard, Kentucky
Knight fell much farther down the board than expected and the youngster was visibly frustrated about it. When he walked across the stage to shake hands with David Stern, he didn’t crack a smile, and he was very terse during his interview with ESPN afterwards. This only helps my case in the Knight over Irving argument because there’s no doubt Knight will have a chip on his shoulder after this. That whole idea is overused but in this case, it was very clear that Knight was pissed about teams that passed on him. I can understand frustration from slipping in the draft but when your name is called, that’s normally a time to celebrate, but Knight wasn’t happy at all and I think that will light a fire under him during the off-season, especially since people constantly doubt his ability to play point guard.
Detroit selecting Knight is a pretty sure sign that Rodney Stuckey will not be brought back next season and Knight will have a good chance to start next season. Will Bynum is a good player but he’s been more useful as a bench combo guard for Detroit recently, making Knight the easy choice for the starting point guard spot. Knight will get a chance to lead the Pistons as they attempt to rebuild around himself, Austin Daye and Greg Monroe.
9. Charlotte Bobcats – Kemba Walker, Guard, Connecticut
I thought Walker and the Bobcats were a match when I did my little mock draft and it ended up happening that way. The Bobcats are in desperate need of players that can score the basketball and Walker scores in his sleep. I’m not sure if he’ll be as dominate as he was in college at the NBA level but there’s no question that he can score. He’s got a solid mid-range jumper and can get to the basket despite his smaller frame. Walker plays like he is well above his actual height and his confidence is a big reason he was so successful at UConn. Walker and D.J. Augustin is a very very very small backcourt but the Bobcats could use Walker as their bench sparkplug in the form of a Jason Terry.
10. Sacramento Kings – Jimmer Fredette, Guard, BYU
Fredette didn’t end up going to any of the teams I wanted to see him play on but he should find a role with the Kings. It will be interesting to see how a backcourt rotation of Fredette, Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans works out because they are all score first, score second, score third type players but Fredette has a chance to be the most efficient of the three, that is unless Tyreke has rediscovered the jumpshot he had in high school, and he’s slated to be their starting point guard at this point. Defense is a question with Fredette but its becoming increasingly obvious that you can get away with a poor defender at the guard spot by mixing up your coverages (ala Dallas).
11. Golden State Warriors – Klay Thompson, Shooting Guard, Washington State
Thompson is an interesting choice for the Warriors. He’s not the kind of two-guard that hogs the ball, so saying that picking Thompson is a sign Golden State will move Ellis is short-sighted because he is the kind of player that can play alongside Ellis and will probably thrive off the bench for his first few years in the league. He’s not the kind of player you draft to replace Ellis and he’s not someone that has been talked about as a potential start. Adding a shooter as good as Thompson is not a bad move in any way but it does not really fit in with the defensive sermon that Mark Jackson has been preaching. It was probably dumb to think that the Warriors would make a serious change defensively because a coach said they were going to put more focus on that end and the Warriors will likely end up being the same fast-paced, offense-first team next season. And if that’s the case, Thompson is a solid pick because of the lack of front court help available at this point.
12. Utah Jazz – Alec Burks, Shooting Guard, Colorado
I thought the Jazz should go with Burks in my mock draft and they ended up choosing the six-foot-six scoring guard. With Kanter completing their talented frontline the biggest need for the Jazz was getting someone who can score from the shooting guard position. I’m sure that Jazz fans would prefer Jimmer here but Burks is a guy that can get to the basket off the dribble, has a great handle and draws fouls at a good rate. His jumpshot will need some work but right now he’s a driver that’s very successful at getting into the lane and the Jazz have been looking for that quality in a player at shooting guard for a long time.
13. Phoenix Suns – Markieff Morris, Forward, Kansas
The Suns have a thin frontline for years but they’ve started taking steps in the right direction of late when it comes to bulking up inside. Trading for Marcin Gortat gave them a legit center, Robin Lopez has improved even if his numbers aren’t great and now they’ve added the younger Morris twin to the bunch. The Suns have now drafted two twins in the past three years and Morris gives them a stretch four that can rebound well and is a big body defensively. I’m not sure if you would call Channing Frye a stretch big man because there are few things that he does that earn the “big man” tag but Morris is certainly a big man. He’s going to be a tough rebounder and a strong defender for Phoenix and his ability to stretch the defense will play into their offensive style.
14. Houston Rockets – Marcus Morris, Forward, Kansas
It was pretty funny to see the twins go back-to-back especially after Marcus said he would send his brother flowers now that they’ll be playing for different teams for the first time in their lives. Morris may not end up a Rocket at the beginning of next season depending on how he plays out position wise (he’s in limbo between the two forward spots) but like his brother he can stretch the floor and he’s a tough player that will play hard. He’s not as good of a defender to my eye and that’s one of the reasons he’s undecided on a position going forward.
15. San Antonio Spurs – Kawhi Leonard, Small Forward, San Diego State
Leonard fell a lot further down the board than I thought he would after the Raptors went with Valanciunas but the Spurs clearly saw his defensive potential and traded George Hill to get him from the Pacers. Because Hill has been such a Popavich favorite over the past few years this was a surprising trade but I think it has a little more to do with their infatuation with Gary Neal, who was one of the best shooters in the league last season, than their infatuation with Leonard. Because they couldn’t find a trade for Tony Parker their best option to get Neal more playing time was to trade Hill and they ended up getting a very good intangibles player that will fit in well in San Antonio. In fact, I think he stands a good chance to start at small forward over Richard Jefferson next season given Jefferson’s horrible play last year.
16. Philadelphia 76ers - Nikola Vucevic, Center, USC
Vucevic was the tallest player in this year’s draft and the 76ers were one of the teams in desperate need of size coming into the draft. Their lack of a center was hidden by the fact that they made the playoffs and weren’t destroyed by the Heat but they certainly have a big hole at the center position. In case your forgot, Spencer Hawes was their starting center last year. Needless to say, Vucevic, being one of the few centers in this draft, will fill a need and he has shown some polish in the lowpost on offense. Defensively, he’s no BISMACK but he’s a mobile guy that will block some shots and will do a better job protecting the rim than Hawes.
17. New York Knicks – Iman Shumpert, Guard, Georgia Tech
New York fans reactions to draft picks are often negative and incorrect but when they boo’ed the Knicks’ selection of Shumpert last night they were perfectly within their rights. Shumpert has a reputation as a solid defender, he’s athletic and he played a little point guard at Georgia Tech (though I don’t think that will translate to the NBA). But he’s also got a reputation for being a bit too cocky and if the Knicks passed on two superior wing players to pick him: dynamic scorer MarShon Brooks and…
18. Washington Wizards – Chris Singleton, Small Forward, Florida State
The most puzzling thing about the Knicks taking Shumpert because they liked his defense was that Chris Singleton, the best defender in the draft, was available. Singleton is a Wizard, instead, and now Washington has acquired themselves two excellent, athletic defenders in this draft and I’m starting to like the way that team is coming together. They have dynamic scorers in Wall, Nick Young (assuming he re-signs), Jordan Crawford (always loved his game) and even Andray Blatche on good nights and they have athletic freaks that can defend in Vesely, Singleton and McGee (though he’s really just a highlight shotblocker at this point) and they have a few role players that make the difference between the eighth seed and the 10th seed over the course of a season with Maurice Evans and Trevor Booker. Singleton is going to look good running the break with Wall as well and he’s another defensive stud that will help improve the league’s 23rd worst defense going forward.
19. Milwaukee Bucks – Tobias Harris, Forward, Tennessee
Milwaukee has been looking for a wing scorer to pair with Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut for the next few years and their attempts to make John Salmons and Corey Maggette that guy failed – they traded both of them yesterday. Aside from the fact that they acquired Stephen Jackson in those deals, they still need a young scorer and Harris figures to be that guy. He’s a smart kid, he can play the two, the three or the four and he’s a pretty good ball-handler for a six-foot-eight kid.
20. Houston Rockets – Donatas Motiejunas, Power Forward, Lithuania
Motiejunas is compared to Dirk and Andrea Bargnani because of his ability to shoot the ball from outside. Like Dirk and Bargnani he’s seven feet tall and he has range on his jumpshot. The Rockets do a great job of stockpiling talent and that’s what they’ve done with this pick. Luis Scola has a firm grasp on the power forward position for now but Houston’s current starting center is six-foot-six Chuck Hayes. Hayes is a good player but obviously he’s tremendously undersized. Here’s the situation for the rest of their big men: Hasheem Thabeet (awful, still young, but awful), Brad Miller (traded to Minnesota to get this pick and Jonny Flynn), Yao Ming (not looking good for the gentle giant), Jordan Hill (a raw athlete with little skills outside of hustle at this point), and Patrick Patterson (a skilled big man that I think can carry a second unit). Motiejunas seems to be more talented than any of those guys right now and he’s got a bright future ahead of him if he can bulk up to play center.
21. Portland Trail Blazers – Nolan Smith, Point Guard, Duke
The Blazers surprised a lot of people when they drafted Smith here because most believed he would go in the middle of the second round. Smith can score and he’s a little bit like Kemba Walker in that he can create his own shot. He’s not as quick as Kemba but he can shoot the three ball at a decent clip and he’s a bit taller. Smith is not a true point guard but he’s someone that can come in off the bench and put points on the board.
22. Denver Nuggets – Kenneth Faried, Power Forward, Morehead State
Faried is one of the most likable players in the draft simply because he has an undying passion to rebound the basketball, giving him one elite skill that will keep him in the NBA for a while. The Nuggets could use a hustle player like Faried and I think he’ll be a favorite of George Karl immediately because of his work ethic. Faried may struggle offensively but he’s just so energetic on the glass that he will get some burn with the Nuggets.
23. Chicago Bulls – Nikola Mirotic, Small Forward, Serbia
Mirotic is a project pick but the Bulls are team that can afford to wait until he is done developing and he projects to be exactly what they need down the line. The Bulls need scoring and because there were no scorers available when they picked, they went with a scorer that’s a few years away from playing in the NBA but also one with lottery talent that will relish the time he has oversees to develop into a star. If he fulfills his potential he’ll be a terrific scorer both in the paint and on the perimeter than can replace Carlos Boozer in the starting line-up. If he ends up being more of a small forward the Bulls can still trot out a line-up of Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Mirotic, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah. That’s a pretty darn good unit.
24. Oklahoma City – Reggie Jackson, Point Guard, Boston College
There were rumors before the draft that the Thunder were looking to move Eric Maynor to move into the lottery and the fact that they drafted Jackson makes me wonder about Maynor’s future in OKC. Or do they think that Jackson has the potential to be a starter at point in the NBA (some scouts agree) and think the rift between Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant is real? I’m not sure right not but it is interesting to see the Thunder go with Jackson, their fourth point guard, when they could have added Jordan Hamilton, a small forward that has a sweet stroke and would finally give Durant a back-up.
25. New Jersey Nets – Marshon Brooks, Shooting Guard, Providence
The Nets netted themselves quite the player in Marshon Brooks when they moved up two spots to take him. Brooks is a flat out scorer that has shown some similarities to Kobe Bryant. He’s not a great athlete but he can shoot, he can get to the basket and he’s extremely confident. The Nets haven’t had a good wing scorer since Vince Carter was in town and Brooks figures to be a star in this league because of his ability to score points.
26. Denver Nuggets – Jordan Hamilton, Small Forward, Texas
Hamilton was one of the best shooters in this draft so it was a bit surprising to see him fall all the way to 26. The Nuggets will need a scorer to replace J.R. Smith assuming Denver doesn’t resign him this summer and if Hamilton ends up being more of a two guard than a small forward, this will work out well for the Nuggets, who love to get scorers/shooters when they can. If he’s a small forward, it’s hard to imagine him getting a ton of minutes ahead of Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari.
27. Boston Celtics – JaJuan Johnson, Power Forward, Purdue
Johnson is an explosive leaper at the power forward position that figures to help the Celtics’ exposed second unit, especially with Glen Davis likely to go elsewhere. Johnson didn’t shoot a great percentage as a senior but he did pull down close to nine rebounds a game while blocking two shots a night as well. Additionally, he’s got range on his jumpshot and even experimented from the college three-point range with marginal success. “Soft” is a word a lot of folks use to describe him which means Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O’Neal will have to fight to see who mentors him.
28. Miami Heat – Norris Cole, Point Guard, Cleveland State
Cole was an excellent pick for the Heat that they took with the Bulls’ pick (ironic because I really thought Cole would be good for Chicago). Cole is a very versatile point guard that did everything for his team last season. At a bigger program this kid would probably be a top 10 pick but instead the Heat snuck into the end of the first round and snagged him. Cole is a do-it-all player that can score, pass, rebound (for a point guard) and defend. Being that Miami’s biggest weaknesses were point guard and center, getting Cole was a fantastic pick. Cole is better than Mario Chalmers right now and even though Chalmers will likely start, Cole is lurking and he’s superior to Chalmers in almost every facet of the game. Cole also had the best individual game of the season when he dropped 41 points on 11-of-22 shooting (five-of-10 from three), grabbed 20 rebounds and dished out nine assists.
29. San Antonio Spurs – Cory Joseph, Point Guard, Texas
This pick didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Joseph did not show one elite skill in college and the Spurs opened up a spot at back-up point guard for Gary Neal when they traded George Hill. I’m not sure what kind of role Joseph will play with the Spurs and until that’s determined I’m very confused by this move.
30. Chicago Bulls – Jimmy Butler, Small Forward, Marquette
Butler’s story is an inspirational one and you have to figure the work ethic that got him from homeless to the hardwood with mesh well with the Bulls collective hard-working attitude. Butler is a great defensive player, a versatile athlete and someone that will score without having plays drawn up for him. I know the Bulls need a scorer that can have plays drawn up for him but that player wasn’t available so they added a hard-worker that made himself an NBA player despite a horrible situation in his personal life.
31. New Jersey Nets - Bojan Bogdanovic, Small Forward, Bosnia
We’re at that time with the foreign players. Here’s the template going forward. NBA Skill: Scorer. Staying Overseas?: Yes. Name: The intriguing thing to me about Bojan Bogdanovic is that he has several smaller names hidden inside of his actual name. Bo, Jan, Dan, Vic. Its hard for me to believe that his nickname in the NBA won’t be BoBo and that Nets fans won’t be coo coo for BoBo puffs.
32. Orlando Magic – Justin Harper, Power Forward, Richmond
After pulling off one of the worst contract swaps of all-time when the Magic dealt Rashard Lewis for Gilbert Arenas, the Magic have drafted a player that compares to Lewis. Harper was tagged as the best shooting big man in the draft and he certainly has the potential to score the ball from the outside for Orlando. The Magic lacked that outside game that made them special when they went to the Finals in 2009 and their team three-point percentage dropped from 3rd best in 09/10 to 10th best in 10/11.
33. Detroit Pistons – Kyle Singler, Small Forward, Duke
I’ve never been high on Singler because he’s got a shooter’s body but can shoot. He’s not a strong guy, he’s not a quick guy and he’s not someone that’s going to get to the basket all that often against NBA defenses. Singler did shoot 39% from three back in 09/10 but that number regressed to 32% last year and he took a backseat to Nolan Smith for most of the season when he projected to be a much higher pick after last season. If he can regain his stroke this isn’t a bad find but he reminds me a lot of Andy Rautins from last year who played five games for the Knicks as a rookie.
34. Washington Wizards – Shelvin Mack, Point Guard, Butler
The Wizards capped of their excellent draft night with Shelvin Mack. If there was any glaring hole on their roster after they picked up two excellent defensive minded forwards it would be getting a back-up point guard for John Wall and Mack will fill that role to a tee. Mack is Kemba Walker-like, a winner with an aggressive attitude. He went to back to back Final Fours as the team leader at Butler and he hit big shots for them as well. Mack is a perfect fit for the Wizards because he adds scoring punch, he’s a tough defender and he’s a great leader and leaders on the second unit is a quality coveted around the league.
35. Sacramento Kings – Tyler Honeycutt, Small Forward, UCLA
Honeycutt projects to be a lockdown defender and a point forward for the Kings. Its entirely possible that Honeycutt will be Sacramento’s best passer next season with all of their guards being shot-first guys. Honeycutt can’t score like LeBron but he is a great athlete, a great defender and he has the potential to be a great passer as well so long as the Kings let him handle the ball a fair amount. Look for Honeycutt to take a lot of Donte Greene’s minutes this season after Greene failed to prove himself last season.
36. New Jersey Nets – Jordan Williams, Center, Maryland
Williams is undersized but he’s going to rebound like mad and that’s the appeal with the 36th pick in the draft. You can’t really point out another outstanding strength for Williams but he’s got a decent touch around the rim and can score down low because he uses his physical strength to back down his man, allowing him to get close to the rim. He’s not a great athlete, though, and he’s not a great passer either, which will cause problems for him in the NBA when he gets stuck against more athletic players that don’t give in to his strength. However, if he can add a mid-range jumper he can be a poor man’s Kris Humphries sans Kardashian.
37. Los Angeles Clippers - Trey Thompkins, Power Forward, Georgia
For whatever reason I think every player from Georgia is an underachiever/full of himself/lazy/not committed to their respective sport. Actually, that reason is Matthew Stafford. Unfortunately Thompkins provides fodder for my stereotype as conditioning issues prevented him from being a lottery pick. He’s one of the better scoring big men in this draft but he has to get into better shape and refine his tendency to forego his inside game in favor of lazy jumpers.
38. Houston Rockets – Chandler Parsons, Small Forward, Florida
If you’re like me the second you heard Parsons was going to the Rockets you jumped for joy knowing he will be on the same team as Chase Budinger at least until he’s not on the same team as Chase Budinger, which could be before the season begins because the Rockets already have three small forwards on the roster (Marcus Morris, Budinger, Terrence Williams). But until then I hope Parsons, who is a smart player with passing skills, and Budinger play a game of volleyball against each other at some point this summer.
39. Golden State Warriors – Jeremy Tyler, Power Forward, High School Junior
According to the United States of America Department of Education, I am a smarter man than Jeremy Tyler, who did not complete high school so that he could go Brandon Jennings on the world even though he didn’t prove much of anything overseas. Had Tyler just completed his senior campaign and played one year in college there’s a good chance he would have been a lottery pick in the future but instead he’s a project that has not matured fully as a person. That will need to change and he’ll need to get into better shape before he can find a spot in the NBA.
40. Milwaukee Bucks – Jon Leuer, Power Forward, Wisconsin – I’ll admit that I thought Leuer was the red-headed guy from Wisconsin prior to him getting picked but be actually reminds me a bit of Brook Lopez. He likes to shoot from the perimeter, he’s smart and he’s a pretty bad rebounder for a seven footer. The difference with Leuer is that he has fewer lost post moves but has the ability to step out a few feet further on his jumper. He hit a good number of three’s from college range and if he can adjust to NBA range he’ll be a solid, hometown pick for the Bucks that complements Andrew Bogut’s game.
41. Los Angeles Lakers – Darius Morris, Point Guard, Michigan
A lot of scouts belief that Morris could end up being the steal of the draft at 41 because of his size and natural passing abilities. Miller sees the floor very well and has a little showtime in him when it comes to making his passes look pretty. Morris is six-foot-five and his size gives him great defensive potential. With Mike Brown in town Morris may be able to step up his game as a defender and with Shannon Brown likely leaving town, there will be a spot open for a bigger guard and though Morris has a shaky outside shot, his playmaking and defensive abilities may be enough to warrant a roster spot.
42. San Antonio Spurs – Davis Bertans, Small Forward, Latvia
NBA Skill: Outside shot. Staying Overseas?: Yes. Name: In case you didn’t know, Bertans’ name is synonymous with housewives and he is an expert in square footage and gardening.
43. Minnesota Timberwolves – Malcolm Lee, Shooting Guard, UCLA
Lee is a terrific defender, extremely athletic and can really attack the basket. In a perfect world he turns into the shooting guard version of Russell Westbrook if Russell Westbrook wasn’t really a shooting guard. In an imperfect world, he’s a fantastic defender that scores in transition and rebounds at an above average rate for a shooting guard.
44. Golden State Warriors – Charles Jenkins, Point Guard, Hofstra
Jenkins is a very good scorer that can play either guard positions and projects to be a pretty good scorer at the NBA level. He could be Monta Ellis or he could be Stephen Curry or he could back up both since he can play either guard position. Being Monta Ellis could be a pretty good gig for Jenkins in the event that actual Monta Ellis is traded.
45. New York Knicks – Josh Harrellson, Center, Kentucky
Harrellson is a hard-worker that turned himself into an important player for the Wildcats last season. A lot of people are down on this pick but Harrellson is six-foot-10 and the Knicks need all the size they can get. He may not be a great offensive player but I’m sure what adding a great offensive player at the center spot would do for the Knicks seeing as he’d never get the ball. Harrellson on the other hand will work hard on the glass and will be fine with scoring on putbacks. Additionally, Harrellson made Jared Sullinger work very hard on the NCAA Tournament when Kentucky took down Ohio State and he’s an active defender.
46. Los Angeles Lakers - Andrew Goudelock, Guard, College of Charleston
After taking a bigger guard with great passing skills and a questionable shot five picks earlier the Lakers went with a smaller guard that’s not a true point but was one of the best shooters in the draft with Goudelock. Goudelock, who was also drafted by the Harlem Globetrotters, though I’m pretty sure the Globetrotters were the only team in said draft, won the college three-point shootout last season, is the top scorer in the history of the CoC, made the 11th most three’s in NCAA-D1 history and would give the Lakers a much needed outside shot should he make the team. That’s not a certainty at this point because he’s not a true point but if Derrick Caracter doesn’t return – likely because of his off-the-court incidents – Goudelock may stick around the Lakers even if he’s not active the entire year.
47. Los Angeles Clippers – Travis Leslie, Guard, Georgia
Travis Leslie will add to the copious amounts of impressive dunkers in Clipperland but he’s a suspect shooter and his only way of scoring the ball at this point is getting to the basket which is a lot harder to do in the NBA. He’s also a pretty disinterested defender most of the time.
48. Atlanta Hawks – Keith Benson, Center, Oakland
Benson is an athletic forward with long arms but isn’t a banger and prefers to play the game 18-feet from the basket. He’s really a power forward and he played out of position on college. He’ll have trouble defending other centers in the NBA so a position change is preferred. But if the Hawks drafted him thinking they got a center to play alongside Al Horford they drafted the wrong guy. Benson plays a similar game to Horford and wouldn’t provide the tough inside force they need. He’s (probably) better than Josh Powell so he may stick but he’ll struggle to get any significant time on this team.
49. Memphis Grizzlies – Josh Selby, Guard, Kansas
Almost every connected NBA person believes Selby is a lottery talent but medical issues with his knee, a suspension as a freshman that cost him a chunk of his season and the lack of a position at Kansas really hurt him in this draft. Selby can be great or he be Willie Warren. He can be a light’s out shooter or he could be J.R. Smith. Selby is a mystery right now but to get him at 49, considering his upside, is a steal for the Grizzlies, who have turned into one of the best run teams in the league of late.
50. Philadelphia 76ers – Lavoy Allen, Power Forward, Temple
Allen was a good rebounder and defender in college and those are two things the Sixers value but he’s got work to do offensively. If Allen sticks it will be based on his energy but the Sixers need size so they may be desperate to keep Allen.
51. Portland Trail Blazers – Jon Diebler, Shooting Guard, Ohio State
Diebler can shoot and when he’s open his shots will go in. Diebler’s entire college career was based on that fact and apparently he made enough shots without doing anything else to convince the Blazers that he could make shots in the NBA. I think he can but he may have a little Andy Rautins in him as well.
52. Detroit Pistons – Vernon Macklin, Power Forward, Florida
Macklin is a very tough low post player that has a solid array of post moves. He improved steadily during his college career at Florida and so long as he can work on his focus, he’ll be a great pick-up for the Pistons because he is a big body defensively, can run the floor with Brandon Knight and can score in a pinch.
53. Orlando Magic – DeAndre Liggins, Small Forward, Kentucky
Liggins doesn’t have a whole lot of offense in his game other than finishing on the break thanks to his tremendous athleticism but he sure can defend. His six-foot-seven frame make him a very long defender and the Magic may have found themselves a defensive stopper if Liggins can showcase at least one offensive ability that makes him a viable candidate for a roster spot.
54. Cleveland Cavaliers - Milan Macvan, Power Forward, Serbia
NBA Skill: Strength. Staying Overseas?: Yes. Name: I’m a big fan of alliteration with names and Milan Macvan delivers. He also has the unique combination of a MacIntosh computer and a transportation device for families, normally driven by soccer moms. I believe the Macvan will be Apple’s big seller in 2029.
55. Boston Celtics – E’Twaun Moore, Shooting Guard, Purdue
The Celtics need a shooting guard and Moore plays that position. He also went to the same school as Boston’s first round pick JaJuan Johnson making the Moore/Johnson tandem the second pair of collegiate teammates to get drafted by the same NBA team this year (Thompkins/Leslie from Georgia being the other). Moore is a shooter and he shot above 40% from three in two of his four collegiate seasons so he may find a spot in Boston.
56. Denver Nuggets - Chukwudiebere Maduabum, Power Forward, Nigeria
NBA Skill: Name. Staying Overseas?: Name. Name: Chukwudiebere Maduabum. Read that name again. And again. And again. Now try to say it without laughing or messing up. You can’t. I thought BISMACK Biyombo had best name locked away coming into this draft but Chukwudiebere Maduabum, or Chu Chu as he was affectionately known in the D-League, stole the show.
57. Minnesota Timberwolves - Targuy Ngombo, Small Forward, Serbia
NBA Skill: Athletic scorer. Staying Overseas?: Yes. Name: I like the combination of his gender (guy), his favorite food (gumbo) and his vice (tar pits).
58. Los Angeles Lakers - Ater Majok, Power Forward, Austraila
NBA Skill: Unknown Staying Overseas?: Yes. Name: Ater Major is not a long name but it kind of sounds like “alter my jock” so there’s that.
59. San Antonio Spurs – Adam Hanga, Shooting Guard, Hungary
NBA Skill: Athletic. Staying Overseas?: Yes. Name: Hanga and Hungary kind of sound the same. Not really but kinda.
60. Sacramento Kings – Isaiah Thomas, Point Guard, Washington
For all of the talk about Kahn being obsessed with point guards, take a look at this group of score-first ball hogs that the Kings have assembled: Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette, Marcus Thornton, Pooh Jeter and Isaiah Thomas. Thomas is quick and he had some Kemba-like moments last season but he’s small and his scoring efficiency will be an issue at this level.
My thoughts on the NBA players that were moved around yesterday will be up tomorrow.