Even though the New York Knicks don’t have a selection in the first round (thanks Isaiah) of June’s NBA Draft, it’s not too early to take a look at where the top college stars will land.
Who knows, maybe Glen Grunwald can find a way to get back into the first round to improve the 2013 team. This draft is very deep and loaded with talent.
In my latest mock draft, I focus in on the guys that have the chance to move up draft boards with a good showing at the NBA’s pre-draft combine, scheduled to be held in Chicago the first week of June.
Let’s take a look at who will land where.
1. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Davis is a no-brainer at No. 1 no matter who wins the lottery and claims the No. 1 pick.
His shot-blocking skills and outstanding length can lead to Davis making a big impact in the NBA as a rookie.
2. Washington Wizards: Thomas Robinson, Kansas
I’ve had Robinson bouncing between No. 2 and No. 5 pretty consistently, but a strong showing in Chicago could lock him in at No. 2.
His size may be an issue at only 6’9”, but Robinson is an outstanding athlete with a nonstop motor.
Robinson can play way above the rim but has also developed a complete offensive package as he can score with his back to the basket or facing the rim. He’s come a long way from a guy that was viewed as just a dunker.
He’s also a relentless rebounder who crashes the glass at both ends of the floor.
In terms of production, Robinson averaged 17.9 points and 11.9 rebounds per game and recorded 29 double-doubles on the season. There may be guys in the draft with more upside, but Robinson is NBA-ready right now.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bradley Beal, Florida
There are plenty of options here for Cavs as they could elect for size, but it’s hard to pass on an athlete like Beal here.
Cleveland needs some scoring punch, and Beal is a guy that not only averaged 14.8 points per game at Florida, but has outstanding range on his jumper. Paired with Kyrie Irving, Cleveland could have a scary good young backcourt for the future.
4. New Orleans Hornets: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
The Hornets need a leader for the future and can’t go wrong with MKG here.
He’s an outstanding athlete who excels on the defensive end of the floor. Kidd-Gilchrist is a high character guy who the Hornets can build around.
5. Sacramento Kings: Andre Drummond, Connecticut
No team in the NBA allowed more points than the Kings, and adding a big man to pair with DeMarcus Cousins is a must.
Drummond may not be NBA-ready but has as much upside as anyone in this draft class. He’s got a good feel for the game and pulled down 7.7 boards while blocking 2.9 shots per game, so he should be able to help defensively right off the bat.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (via New Jersey Nets): Damian Lillard, Weber State
Lillard is the top guard on the board right now and could solidify that with a strong showing in Chicago.
He’s a guy with very good size, speed and strength. While he showed the ability to be an explosive scorer, averaging 24.5 points per game, Lillard is also a good setup man, averaging nearly a two to one assist-to-turnover ratio.
Lillard only averaged four assists per game at Weber State, but he was asked to score a lot. The pre-draft combine gives him the opportunity to show NBA teams that he’s more than capable of running an NBA offense.
The Blazers need a point guard for the future, and it will be difficult to pass on Lillard here.
7. Golden State Warriors: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
When the lottery is all said and done, if Golden State gets to keep this pick (must be in top seven), then adding some production from the wing is a must.
Barnes is almost the perfect fit, as he has the talent to become a No. 1 scoring option in the NBA, coming off a season where he averaged 17.7 points per game at North Carolina.
8. Toronto Raptors: Austin Rivers, Duke
The Raptors also need production from the wing, but passing on Rivers may be difficult to do.
He’s a guy I’ve had consistently towards the end of the lottery, but Rivers is the perfect example of a guy that can rise up draft boards with a good showing in Chicago.
Rivers averaged 15.5 points per game at Duke, which would help Toronto, but first he must show that he has a consistent jumper and can play without the ball.
He also must show he can use his teammates better and won’t rely on isolation so much.
If he shows that, with his talent and upside, I have no doubt that Rivers can sneak into the Top 10.
9. Detroit Pistons: Perry Jones III, Baylor
Jones has all the skills in the world. I often say he runs like a deer and can jump through the gym, which is true.
But he must show the ability to produce consistently like his skill set says he should.
He didn’t at Baylor, averaging only 13.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
With a good combine his stock should soar once again, and Detroit won’t be able to pass on him here. A big man would be ideal, but the biggest goal for the Pistons is to get more athletic, and they will accomplish that with Jones, who can play either the three or the four.
10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota Timberwolves): Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
Adding Kidd-Gilchrist and Marshall in the Top 10 would be a huge win for the Hornets.
In Marshall they get their point guard for the future and the best pure floor general in the draft. The North Carolina product makes passing look effortless, averaging 9.8 assists on the season. He also is a top-notch decision maker, posting a 3.48 assist-to-turnover ratio.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
Zeller may never be an All-Star, but he will be productive. Zeller improved all four seasons at North Carolina and finished his career by averaging 16.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game while shooting .555 from the floor.
The Blazers need a big man for the future and Zeller is a good center prospect with outstanding fundamentals.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
The Bucks need a big man who can be productive for years, and Sullinger is a very good fit here.
He averaged 17.3 points and 9.7 rebounds during his career at Ohio State and has a better post-game right now than anyone in the draft.
13. Phoenix Suns: Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
Lamb has the skill set to become a top scoring option with time, and the Suns could use some backcourt production.
He led UConn in scoring at 17.7 points per game and has a very good first step. Lamb’s mid-range game can be a real weapon, but he also can extend his game behind the arc, shooting 34 percent from three-point range on the season.
14. Houston Rockets: Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
Moultrie can force a team in the Top 10 to take him with a dominant performance in Chicago.
Even if not, he’s a very good fit for Houston at No. 14.
Moultrie has the size to play the four or the five but has the athletic ability of a guard. He’s an outstanding rebounder, pulling down 10.6 boards per game, but he’s also a fantastic scorer (16.4 PPG) from both the inside or outside, shooting 55 percent from the floor and 44 percent from behind the arc.
He’s almost too intriguing for a team not to take a gamble on.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: John Henson, North Carolina
Henson will help improve the Sixers interior defense and could turn into a steal this late.
He’s extremely athletic, and while his offensive game is a little raw Henson can make an immediate impact as a rebounder (10.1 PPG) and shot-blocker (2.9 BPG)
16. Houston Rockets (via New York Knicks): Terrence Ross, Washington
Ross could make a quick rise up the board if he has a good showing in the Windy City.
Right now he’s overshadowed by the likes of Beal, Rivers and Lamb, but Ross is a pure scorer (16.8 PPG) who can help an NBA team immediately.
He can score from the outside, shooting 37 percent from behind the arc, as easily as he can put the ball on the deck and get to the rim.
While he can become a volume scorer, Ross is also a good rebounding guard (6.5 RPG) and solid defender for his size (6’6”).
He has a ton of upside but is a safe pick to make as well. It wouldn’t surprise me if he climbs into the lottery.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Meyers Leonard, Illinois
Dallas needs to get younger, more athletic and bigger.
Leonard solves all of that, and while he won’t be an instant star he can be productive. Leonard put up good numbers at Illinois this season, averaging 13.6 points, grabbing 8.2 boards, blocking 1.9 shots and shooting 58 percent from the floor.
He has the skills; it just may take some time to develop them fully.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah Jazz): Terrence Jones, Kentucky
The Wolves ideally would like a player such as Ross to fall to them as they could use a legitimate two-guard, but with him off the board it’s hard to pass on an athlete such as Jones.
He has lottery-type talent and can rebound and score in traffic and averaged 12.5 points and 7.2 rebounds last season.
Those numbers may have been even more impressive had Kentucky not been the unselfish team that it was.
He’s a guy that can score from everywhere, shooting 50 percent from the floor and even 33 percent from behind the arc. Jones is a talented player and would be a good fit on any roster.
19. Orlando Magic: Moe Harkless, St. Johns
The Magic is close to starting over and Harkless is a talent that should be rising up draft boards before June’s draft.
He’s got some developing to do, but Harkless is a guy with scoring potential who averaged 15.3 points per game as a freshman at St. Johns. He’s a very good slasher but needs to work on his perimeter shot, as he was only 20 percent from behind the arc last season.
Harkless is also a very talented defender and rebounder (8.6 RPG).
Orlando is going to be looking for a guy with a ton of upside, and they can’t really go wrong withHarkless this late.
20. Denver Nuggets: Dion Waiters, Syracuse
Denver doesn’t need much in terms of immediate impact so adding a combo-guard such as Waiters makes sense in terms of depth.
He’s lightning quick and excels at getting into the paint. Waiters would fit in nicely in George Karl’s up-tempo offense.
21. Boston Celtics: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
Nicholson could become one of the steals of the draft and could cement himself as a first-round pick by taking care of business in Chicago.
Boston needs young big bodies for the future, and the St. Bonaventure product has a good bit of upside and could be a very good fit in Boston.
Nicholson did everything well in college, averaging 18.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG and 2.0 BPG. He also shot 57 percent from the floor and 43 percent from behind the arc during his senior season.
He has the chance to become a very productive NBA player.
22. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): Royce White, Iowa State
This pre-draft camp is also important for a guy like White, who has the skills to become a very good NBA player, but there are some issues with an anxiety disorder which includes a fear of flying.
Yet if he has a good camp, teams will be forced to draft White simply based on his talents.
He’s 6’9” but has the playmaking skills and athleticism of a guard.
Even though he averaged 13.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, White also averaged 5.1 assists on the season, which not only led the Iowa State team, but also was fifth in the entire Big 12 Conference.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Doron Lamb, Kentucky
Atlanta needs some additional scoring punch, and adding a guy with the talents of Lamb could go a long way to fixing that problem.
Lamb shot 47 percent from behind the arc and averaged 13.9 points per game for Kentucky. When he’s going well, Lamb can be a lethal scorer. He’s a near perfect fit for the Hawks.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Jeffrey Taylor, Vanderbilt
The Cavs get even more athletic with Taylor, a guy that has the ability to become a very good perimeter defender.
He also has a nice offensive package. Taylor averaged 16.1 points per game, but is even more of a prospect now that he developed a perimeter shot, shooting 42 percent from behind the arc on the season.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Tony Wroten, Washington
Wroten is very talented but needs time to develop.
Memphis has the luxury of being able to take its time with him.
He’s lightning quick and has an exceptional change of direction. Wroten could be a good scorer right now, after averaging 16.0 points per game, but he has some holes in his game.
He has no perimeter shot right now, shooting only 16 percent from behind the arc. He also tends to force things trying to make the spectacular play instead of simply taking what the defense gives him.
Turnovers are also a problem, as he averaged 3.8 miscues per game as a freshman, compared to only 3.7 assists.
Wroten’s ceiling is very high, and he can use Chicago’s camp to show NBA teams that he has the ability to improve in those areas of his game.
26. Indiana Pacers: Marquis Teague, Kentucky
Indiana can nab its point guard for the future with Teague, who is similar to Wroten in that he has a ton of upside.
Teague has good size and excellent athleticism for the point guard position to go along with blazing speed and the ability to play in any style of offense.
He averaged 13.4 points, 4.9 assists and 3.0 rebounds throughout March, cutting his turnovers down to 2.5 per game in the process, which was a problem for him for most of the regular season.
27. Miami Heat: Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
Ezeli averaged 10.0 PPG, 2.0 BPG and shot 60 percent from the floor for Vanderbilt this season. He could turn into the productive post presence that Miami needs.
He may have to be brought along slowly, but he’s very talented and could become a decent NBA center.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Quincy Miller, Baylor
Miller has a ton of skill and despite maybe not being NBA-ready just yet, he’s a prospect that has first round talent.
He’s a scorer and while he was a bit inconsistent coming off a torn ACL his senior season in high school, Miller’s upside is very high.
The Thunder doesn’t need much right now except depth, so it can afford to gamble on Miller and reap the benefits later on.
29. Chicago Bulls: John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
Chicago needs scoring options to go alongside Derrick Rose, and adding a guy like Jenkins makes sense for down the road. He’s the best pure shooter in the college game and has a very quick release to go along with unlimited range, shooting 44 percent from behind the arc on the season.
You can never have too much shooting and down the road; he could turn into the replacement for Richard Hamilton.
30. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio Spurs): Fab Melo, Syracuse
Melo is raw offensively, but the talent is there as Melo has a pretty soft touch around the rim, shooting 57 percent on the season.
Needing a big guy for so long, the Warriors can take a gamble on Melo’s upside. At the minimum, he should be able to help Golden State on the defensive end this season, blocking 2.9 shots per game last season for Syracuse.