The outlook for this year’s NBA Draft class is pretty bleak and the picture did not get any better when Oklahoma State freshman point guard Marcus Smart decided Wednesday to stay in school for at least one more year.
Smart was considered to be a lottery lock with some believing he had an outside shot at being the No. 1 overall choice.
While Smart will stay in school, we are still waiting the decisions of a few others including Canadian Kelly Olynyk. They have until Apr. 28 to make that call.
There could be as many as three Canadians selected in the first round between Olynyk, Anthony Bennett and Myck Kabongo.
With that in mind, we present you with our first look at how the NBA draft could shake out on June 27 although the final order will not be determined until the NBA holds the draft lottery on May 21.
It is a weak draft so it is definitely worth the risk to draft Noel, whose season was ended in early-February by a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The Kentucky centre, who displays the best box top since Kid of Kid n’ Play fame, could be a nice defensive stopper down the lane once he gets back on the floor. It would still be a risky pick for any team that selects No. 1.
The Magic will continue the process of rebuilding at this year’s draft. They can take the best talent available here but would be best served by not drafting a point guard as long as Jameer Nelson is around.
Bennett appeared to be the second coming of Larry Johnson for much of the season although questions will abound after a recent admission that he suffers from asthma. Still, he has the body to play in the NBA from Day 1 and although he is undersized to play down low, he has the physique to make up for it. The Cavaliers always seem to surprise on draft day so we’ll see how this one ends up.
Now that Steve Nash has moved on to greener pastures, the Suns can finally jump all the way into rebuilding mode rather than trying to remain competitive while retooling. Porter would be a solid addition as he has displayed a nice stroke from long range paired with the ability to battle down low.
5. New Orleans Hornets — Victor Oladipo, 6’5″, 215 lbs, SG/SF, Indiana, Jr.
Some believe Oladipo will go as high as fourth overall but he may not have the size or the shooting ability to be a top-notch pro. What he does have is outstanding athletic ability paired with a will to play tough defence.
6. Sacramento Kings — Trey Burke, 6’0″, 190 lbs, PG, Michigan, So.
Obviously Burke had a solid season at Michigan this year after winning the Naismsith Award. He can score and takes care of the ball with a low assist-to-turnover ratio but questions persist about his size at the next level. Seems like a natural fit for the Kings, who may have gone down this path before with Jimmer Freddette.
7. Washington Wizards — Michael Carter-Williams, 6’6″, 185 lbs, PG, Syracuse, So.
During the first few rounds of the NCAA tournament, Carter-Williams seemed to score at will but during the Final Four, Michigan figured out how to slow him down. He will have to work on his passing and shooting once he gets to the next level but you can’t teach size or speed and MCW has both in spades.
I am curious how much damage a recent L.A. Times article paired with an early exit from the NCAA tournament will affect Muhammad’s draft stock. He was considered to be a top-five pick as recently as a few weeks ago but has slowly taken a tumble down the draft boards after people learned a little more about his father and that his actual age was 20 and not 19. Muhammad is a tad undersized and isn’t a great athlete but he has a great understanding on how to play the game.
Last year, Zeller would have been in consideration to go in the top five in the draft and a year later his stock has fallen as scouts got a chance to see him play more. He is a smart player with nice touch who lacks the length and explosiveness to be among the game’s elite.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder (From Toronto) — Alex Len, 7’1″, 250 lbs, C, Maryland, So.
Obviously this will be a depth pick for the Thunder but the lack of contributions from Kendrick Perkins when he is on the floor really hurt this team. Len could help fill that role as he is a good athlete for his size and has a decent touch around the rim. He will need to add more weight once he gets to the pros but he could be a nice role player for OKC.
11. Philadelphia 76ers — Kelly Olynyk, 7’0″, 240 lbs, PF/C, Gonzaga, Jr.
Not much difference between Olynyk and Zeller truth be told. Neither will spend much time above the rim although Zeller is a little more athletic while Olymyk has more range on his jump shot.
The Mavericks are looking to reload rather than rebuild so it would make sense for them to add a more polished player like McCollum. Unfortunately, McCollum’s senior season came to an end in January when he suffered a broken foot but scouts should still have an idea of what they are getting. A smallish guard that can get to the hole and score at will.
A couple of weeks ago Dario Saric said he wasn’t entering the draft but he has changed his mind and made his name available. He currently plays point guard in the Croatian League so he might be a nice prospect for a team willing to wait for him to develop.
He is known as the Greek Freak as this Nigerian-born prospect has the skills to play on the perimiter. The Celtics, Nuggets, Rockets, Raptors and Nuggets have all made the trip across the pond in order to get a closer eye at the 6-foot-9 point guard who possesses a 7-foot-3 wingspan.
16. Boston Celtics — Shane Larkin, 5’11″, 162 lbs, PG, Miami, Fr.
This Miami product will provide an insurance policy in case Rajon Rondo is slow to return from injury next season. Larkin proved to be a strong leader for a Miami team that came out of nowhere to win the ACC regular-season and tournament titles. Questions will remain about his size until he proves doubters wrong.
17. Cleveland Cavaliers (from LA Lakers) — Steven Adams, 7’0″, 250 lbs, C, Pittsburgh
With a couple of picks in the first round, the Cavaliers can continue to stockpile cheap young talent. Adams will give them another young, athletic big body to add to the mix.
The Pacers shocked most people by selecting Miles Plumlee in the first round of last year’s draft and he has only appeared in 13 games this season. Mason seems to have a little more few more tools in his chest than his older brother and could develop in to a solid rotation player but I still have my doubts. That said, he will be a first round pick by someone looking for depth.
19. Chicago Bulls — Tim Hardaway Jr., 6’6″, 190 lbs, SG, Michigan, Jr.
Hardaway has the size and strength to be a good pro but may lack the range and the first step to be a top-notch pro.
20. Atlanta Hawks (From Houston) — Jeff Withey, 7’0″, 235, lbs, C, Kansas, Sr.
The Hawks need to add a big body as an insurance policy in case Josh Smith decides to fly the coop. Kansas product Jeff Withey may not be the second coming of Smith but he might allow Al Horford to see more minutes at power forward.
21. Utah Jazz (From Golden State) — Doug McDermott, 6’7″, 225, lbs, SF, Creighton, Jr.
McDermott hasn’t made a decision whether to enter the draft just yet. He plays for his father at Creighton so he may still return for his senior year although it makes sense for him to go now as he probably can’t do anything but hurt his draft stock next season. Well… other than graduate.
It’ll will be interesting to see who takes a chance on Archie Goodwin come draft night. While he has the ability to get to the rim, Goodwin can also shoot his team out of the game as well but he is just 18 years old.
23. Indiana Pacers — Gorgui Dieng, 6’10″, 245 lbs, C, Louisville, Jr.
With Pacers big men David West and Tyler Hansbrough set to become free agents this summer, they may need to go big with this pick unless they believe Miles Plumlee is a rotation player. Dieng is not the most polished offensive player but his length and athletic ability make him a terror in the paint on his own end.
24. New York Knicks — Jamaal Franklin 6’5″, 205 lbs, SG/SF, San Diego St., Jr.
The Knicks really don’t have many holes on a veteran roster although they will lose J.R. Smith this summer as he is due for a big pay raise. Adding a sharpshooter like Franklin would make perfect sense to help spread the floor.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (From Memphis) — Allen Crabbe 6-6 210 SG California
As always seems to be the case, Minnesota has a pair of first-round picks. Allan Crabbe is a decent shooter who could add some depth along the wing for a team that was decimated by injuries last season.
26. LA Clippers — Lucas Nogueira, 7’0″, 220 lbs, PF/C, Brazil
The slate will be pretty clean for the Clippers as they don’t have a lot of players tied up to long-term contracts. They could go in any direction here although adding another big body like Nogueira wouldn’t be the worst idea.
27. Denver Nuggets — Tony Mitchell, 6’8″, 235 lbs, SF/PF, North Texas, So.
The Nuggets could use a little muscle along their front line. Mitchell is a bit of a raw tweener but he can shoot and run the floor which is key in George Karl’s system.
28. San Antonio Spurs — Erick Green, 6’3″, 185 lbs., PG, Virginia Tech, Sr.
The Spurs have depth at every position so they could use this pick to draft an older prospect like Green or a European to stash overseas. They do have Canadian Cory Joseph around already but seem hesitant to give him steady minutes.
With a pair of picks the Thunder can add some good, cheap, young talent to their roster. Kabongo had a tough year at Texas as the NCAA forced him to miss a good part of the season. He is a pure point guard with excellent leadership qualities but is not much of a scorer.
As stated earlier, the Suns are in full rebuild mode and can take the best available player at this point. Austin will need to work on his game and fill out his thin frame but has the athleticism to succeed at the NBA level. By the time he develops, the Suns may be ready to contend again.