With the draft mere days away, NBA teams have spent most of the past few weeks working out individual prospects and finalizing their draft boards. Here’s an updated look at how the first round could shake out come June 23:
1. Cleveland – Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke
According to several reports, Cleveland is still undecided on what to do with the No. 1 pick. The smart money says that they’ll go with Irving, which will result in the eventual unloading of current starting point guard Baron Davis. Irving is by far the most talented PG in the draft, and should anchor the Cavs’ backcourt for years to come.
2. Minnesota – Derrick Williams, F, Arizona
Williams won’t get past Minnesota at No. 2. Whether or not he actually says with the Timberwolves is another matter altogether. Minnesota has been actively shopping the pick, but won’t be disappointed if they wind up keeping the 6’9” Williams, a fantastic player who can play both forward positions.
3. Utah – Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky
Knight’s recent workout with Utah did nothing to dissuade the Jazz from taking him with the third overall pick. While it may take some time for him to grow into the point guard position, he’ll give them fantastic scoring punch in the backcourt as soon as he steps foot in Salt Lake City.
4. Cleveland – Enes Kanter, C, Turkey
The 19-year-old Kanter is tough, physical, and the perfect complement to J.J. Hickson in the Cleveland frontcourt. Despite being ruled ineligible this past season at Kentucky, Kanter has shown enough in pre-draft workouts and at last year’s Nike Hoop Summit (34 points, 13 rebounds) to merit a top-4 selection.
5. Toronto – Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania
Anything but an international player at this point would be an absolute surprise. So expect Toronto to continue their recent trend of drafting foreign players by selecting Valanciunas, a 6-11 center who will need to bulk up in order to adequately battle NBA bigs.
6. Washington – Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State
Fact: The Wizards need a rebounder (among other things). Fact: Kawhi Leonard is a fantastic rebounder for his position (he averaged 10.6 rebounds last season at San Diego State). The match makes almost too much sense for the Wizards, who will also shore up their hole at the starting small forward position by drafting the 6’7” Leonard, who will excel on the break with PG John Wall.
7. Sacramento – Kemba Walker, PG, Connecticut
In recent days, it’s been hinted that BYU’s Jimmer Fredette could go at this spot, but he and Tyreke Evans don’t appear to be a perfect (or even semi-perfect) match. Walker, a 6’1” point guard, has a game that seems to be a better fit with Evans, though he’ll have to develop his playmaking skills since the offense won’t flow through him as it did at UConn.
8. Detroit – Bismack Biyombo, PF, Congo
His recent European workout confirmed what most knew about Biyombo: his offensive game is a work in progress. Still, he’s so outstanding on the defensive end that it would be hard for Detroit to pass him up at the No. 8 slot. An athletic, 6’9” player with a wingspan longer than most centers, Biyombo will be a rebounding and defensive force as soon as he puts on an NBA uniform.
9. Charlotte – Tristan Thompson, PF, Texas
Tristan Thompson has made a serious move up many teams’ draft boards recently, so look for Charlotte to prevent him from slipping out of the top 10. Simply put, he’s really good at a lot of things, but doesn’t excel at any one aspect yet. That said, he’s only 20 years old, and will be a problem in the league when paired with the right coaching staff.
10. Milwaukee – Klay Thompson, SG, Washington State
After his disastrous shooting at the pre-draft combine, Klay Thompson has been lighting it up during his individual team workouts leading up to the draft. The Bucks have been looking for a shooter ever since Michael Redd tore both his ACL and MCL back in 2009, so Thompson is their likely choice at No. 10.
11. Golden State – Marcus Morris, PF, Kansas
Defense and rebounding are the two main areas of need for the Warriors, and Marcus Morris can provide both of them. Of course, they’ll have to convince Morris to play the PF, despite the fact that he wants to be considered as a 3. No matter where he winds up, Morris has very good range and a high basketball IQ – two traits that will get him into new coach Mark Jackson’s rotation sooner rather than later.
12. Utah – Chris Singleton, F, Florida State
The 6’9”, 230-pound Singleton is another player who has boosted his draft stock significantly over the past several weeks. His ability to guard multiple positions is exactly what the Jazz need, considering the fact that free agent Andrei Kirilenko won’t likely return to the team next season.
13. Phoenix – Alec Burks, SG, Colorado
Being drafted by the Suns with the No. 13 pick could be the best thing that ever happened to Burks, who should get a ton of good looks while sharing a backcourt with Steve Nash. In Phoenix’s seven-seconds-or-less offense, the 19-year-old Burks is one of the draft’s potential breakout stars.
14. Houston – Jan Vesely, SF, Czech Republic
Vesely is nearly 7 feet tall, but he’s primarily a small forward, a position that the Houston Rockets have to address during this offseason. He’ll be an immediate upgrade over current forward Chase Budinger, and should excel with PG Kyle Lowry getting him the ball on the wing.
15. Indiana – Jimmer Fredette, PG, BYU
If Fredette is on the board midway through the first round, expect the Indiana Pacers to scoop him up. Fredette averaged nearly 29 points a game last season for BYU, and will be a much-needed shot in the arm to a Pacers’ offense that scored less than 100 points a game last year.
16. Philadelphia – Markieff Morris, PF, Kansas
Morris is strong, plays a ton of defense and is a rebounding machine. Expect Sixers’ fans to fall in love with him about 6.3 seconds after he’s drafted. Morris also happens to be a pretty decent shooter from 15-20 feet, much like current reserve center Marreese Speights. It probably doesn’t hurt that Morris is a Philly native as well, having played his high school ball at Penn Charter.
17. New York – Josh Selby, PG, Kansas
Selby attacks the cup with reckless abandon – a skill that many recent Knicks’ point guards have been blessed with (Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, et al.). Perhaps even more impressive is Selby’s athleticism (he recorded a 42-inch vertical at the recent draft combine) which is sure to bring the Madison Square Garden crowd to its feet more than a few times next season.
18. Washington – Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Lithuania
After drafting Leonard earlier, Motiejunas makes the most sense for the Wizards with their second first-round pick. At 7 feet tall (with an above-average jumper for his size), he could be an intriguing option for the Wizards, especially if they choose to deal PF Audray Blatche during the offseason.
19. Charlotte – Jordan Hamilton, SF, Texas
The 6-9, 229-pound is potentially a steal for Michael Jordan’s Bobcats at the 19th pick. He’s a large small forward who is a very good shooter – his addition would cause matchup problems for opponents as very few teams could effectively guard Hamilton and the 6’8” Stephen Jackson simultaneously.
20. Minnesota – Marshon Brooks, SG, Providence
Regardless of what happens with the No. 2 pick, Brooks would be a solid option for the Timberwolves at No. 20. His shooting and playmaking ability would be a terrific addition to the Minnesota backcourt, which looks to be totally revamped with the recent addition of Ricky Rubio.
21. Portland – Darius Morris, PG, Michigan
If the rumors are to be believed, Andre Miller won’t be long for Portland. Enter Darius Morris, who was an accomplished lead guard for the University of Michigan. He needs some work on his shooting stroke, but Portland has enough scorers to allow Morris to develop his offensive game at a reasonable pace.
22. Denver – Kenneth Faried, PF, Morehead State
Faried measures out a 6’6” without sneakers, but no one in the history of Division I men’s’ basketball grabbed more rebounds than he did during his four-year stint at Morehead State. There are a ton of question marks with the health and free-agent status of the Denver frontcourt (Kenyon Martin and Nene, specifically), so Faried could find himself starting early in his rookie year.
23. Houston – Tobias Harris, PF, Tennessee
The 6’8” Harris is shorted than the previously selected Vesely, but he’s the banger the Rockets are likely to draft at 23. He’s not the fastest or tallest player, but he always seems to be in the right position on both ends of the floor. Harris doesn’t even turn 19 until next month, so he’ll have plenty of time to develop into a physical, NBA-quality power forward.
24. Oklahoma City – Nikola Mirotic, SF, Montenegro
The Oklahoma City Thunder don’t necessarily need a player that will contribute right away, so Nikola Mirotic is just the type of player they’ll look at drafting at 24. He’s a 6-10 small forward with a ton of potential, but don’t expect to see him in the NBA until his deal is up two seasons from now.
25. Boston – Reggie Jackson, PG, Boston College
Reggie Jackson is a very solid lead guard with a very good jumper – something that current Boston PG Rajon Rondo currently doesn’t possess. While Jackson is by no means a replacement for the Celtics’ all-star, he’s the perfect type of player to give Rondo (who is routinely one of the league leaders in minutes played) some much needed rest during the season.
26. Dallas – Davis Bertans, SF, Latvia
Not especially fast or strong, the 6’10” Bertans is an exceptional shooter with NBA-range, despite the fact that he’s only 18 years old. Fresh off of a title, Dallas already has a core of talent that can compete at a high level (even without injured SF Caron Butler), so Bertans appears to be the perfect long-term project for the Mavericks.
27. New Jersey – Tyler Honeycutt, SG/SF, UCLA
An athletic backcourt or wing player seems to be the move for the Nets at No. 27, and Honeycutt could very well be their man. Regardless of who drafts him, the versatile Honeycutt has to bulk up as soon as he can – he simply won’t be able to compete in the NBA unless he adds some muscle mass to his 6’8”, 188-pound frame.
28. Chicago – Charles Jenkins, SG, Hofstra
One way or another, Chicago will address the shooting guard position this offseason. They could easily fill the void with Jenkins, a very good shooter who can open up the floor for Derrick Rose and Luol Deng to slash to the basket. Jenkins is the perfect physical complement to Rose, and the two of them could once again lead the Bulls to 60-plus wins next season.
29. San Antonio – Jordan Williams, PF, Maryland
Williams has been all over the draft board during the past few weeks, but it’s not unreasonable for him to find a home at the end of the first round with the San Antonio Spurs. Tim Duncan won’t be anchoring the San Antonio front line forever, and the 20-year-old Williams, who many consider to be an undeveloped talent, couldn’t ask for a better mentor.
30. Chicago – Jeremy Tyler, C, International
If Tyler could have entered the NBA directly out of high school, he could have easily been a top-15 pick. Two up-and-down seasons overseas have warmed many on Tyler, but he remains a physical presence who appears to have a plethora of untapped potential. He’s a long, athletic big who would fit nicely into the Bulls’ rotation, provided he can effectively make the transition back to the American game.