I did this a few years ago. It was fun, but a ton of work. And it was fun to look back on. I held Earl Clark in incredibly high regard, and it was nice to see him look like he was about to validate me briefly this year.
The way I do it is I run to fake mocks. One is what I'm guessing the teams would do. The second is what I would do if I were running the team. It's very possible there is a mistake in there (using two lists means I may forget that a player is still available on one board, and I miss him), so feel free to let me know, cause I'll fix it. The other thing this excercise does is expose flaws in logic, like I experienced in this one with OKC, where I reached on Giannais Atekenbote's potential too early, only to imagine he'd fall to their second pick later. But that's part of the excercise. There's a lot here, and I'll try to remember to come back and clean up the fonts later so it's easier to read, because right now I'm copying and pasting from word.
1) Orlando Magic
What I think will happen: Ben McLemore – I really like McLemore as a prospect. He’s got prototype size and athleticism, along with at least as pure a stroke as Bradley Beal had last year coming in. What he lacks in recent SG prospects is the ball handling and vision that would allow him to act as a pseudo PG, but with defenses becoming more strong side dominant, and offenses getting more PnR oriented, an athletic hard working kid with a great stroke is probably a better fit than a guy who excels more when he’s got the rock all the time. I feel McLemore has a very high floor. He’s gonna defend, he’s gonna knock down shots, he’s gonna run the floor. And his size and athleticism very well may allow him to move up to SF in trendy small ball line ups. The ball handling issues may affect his upside, but I’m comfortable I’m not getting a bust at all, and at worst, he falls somewhere between the best of Jason Richardson, and very very good parts of Ray Allen’s career, circa the beginning in Boston.
And I feel like Orlando can claim that they’re front line is worthy of keeping as is with the young pieces in Vucevic, Tobi Harris, and still Nicholson hanging around. It’s a little awkward considering it seems the only long term contract they’ve got is Aaron Afflalo, but oh well.
What I would do: Nerlens Noel
I’m getting more and more the sense that Noel is a gamble. In spite of this not being a great draft, there’s not a bad crop of bigs in terms of depth in this draft. And it’s not like Noel, with his extremely limited post game, is a sure thing to develop. It’s not as if he couldn’t wind up being Larry Sanders, or a sane version of Javale McGee.
So why, you’d have to ask, if I think so highly of McLemore, and so little of Noel (which isn’t the case, there’s more to my opinion than one paragragh), would I take him first. Well, this isn’t a great draft, and while McLemore may fit pretty well, as would Trey Burke for that matter, I play the long game here if I’m Orlando. You get to take the highest upside guy in this draft, an elitely athletic big, who’s got a decent floor, because at worst you know he can be a 20 minute a night rim protector if everything goes horribly wrong even, and he’s kind of a good fit next to you’re bully front line guys in Vucevic and Harris. It gives you a nice set of skills out of your bigs. Athletic runner defender, big body with some face up, undersized mismatch tweener who can go SF, and even a PnPop guy in Nicholson who can stretch the floor some even.
And the long game … well you’ve already assembled a team that took home the worst record in the NBA last year. Now everyone gets better presumably through the draft, and you get a guy who was raw even before he missed the first 2 months of the season. Next year’s draft looks far more promising, and you could be in line for back to back first picks, and look to the following year when you’ve had a chance to work Noel, and maybe find another piece.
2) Charlotte Bobcats
What I think will happen: Nerlens Noel – I hate trying to figure out what I think this team will do, because it’s just been so bad of late. MKG limits their ability to take Otto Porter. Trey Burk would put major questions into the Kemba Walker decision. Even Noel limits what your development of Biyombo, but who are we kidding with that. Noel has the most pedigree, the national HS player of the year, an elite specimen, and that is what this team would likely do if he fell here.
What I would do: Anthony Bennett – So it may seem strange that I’d pass on McLemore here. I do love the kid. But as I stated before, I love his floor more than his ceiling. Pairning MKG with McLemore now means both of your wings are limited in a ball skill. MKG as a shooter and McLemore as a creator. Both guys would require someone to create for them to a degree. This team needs someone to get buckets, and I feel like Bennett is a getting buckets kinda dude. He’s a walking mismatch. A load on the block, can beat bigger guys off the bounce. Can shoot it well enough to make guys come at him. I reserve judgement until finding out more about the injury, and there’s some serious risk surrounding a PF who’s going to have some defensive limitations (but that’s why you pair him with Biyombo).
I could make a good case for McLemore: Our identity is going to be elite defense on the wings.
Or I could make a case for Burke: We need a guy to run this team, and it’s not Kemba Walker.
Personally, I wouldn’t take Noel. This team needs someone to make buckets, and even at his best, Noel was never a bucket maker.
3) Cleveland Cavaliers:
What I think will happen: Otto Porter - So the way this works in my head, is that in this scenario, McLemore and Noel are gone. You could make a case for Bennett, but I think Tristan Thompson played well enough last year to keep as your PF moving forward, although you could make a case that with a PG like Irving, going small at center and PF would TT and Bennett would be interesting. I am a Syracuse fan and have a fondness for Dion Waiters, but in spite of his showing flashes last year, I don’t love the matchup with Kyrie. He’s just too ball dominant a dude. But there aren’t any options here I like at that spot. (For what it’s worth, I see Waiters having a long and successful career in Cleveland coming off the bench and being the impetus of that team while Kyrie is out). I think the Cavs would have a really tough decision should McLemore fall to them here. Waiters just made first team all rookie, and you’re already replacing him? But McLemore’s jumper would fit ideally next to Irving, but I doubt they’ll have to fret over that decision. Olidipo you could argue is similar in his non-ball neediness at that position, but I don’t trust the jumper enough to think he’s that much of an upgrade over Waiters, who’s a similar athlete, and in time could be similar to Oladipo defensively.
So for both the What I think, and the What I would do, I take Otto Porter. He’s an excellent fit. A guy worthy of going this high, who really does his best work with the ball quickly. You might wish he was a bit better shooter, but there’s a foundation there for sure. A premium passer who makes quick and smart decisions, he can be a hazard when he gets the ball from Irving on a pick and roll, because he can make secondary decisions, unlike pure PnPop or PnDive type players. He’ll probably be a plus defender, and a menace at the high post. And he’ll be able to be trusted enough with the ball you can run Irving off of him at times to get Kyrie a chance to move without the ball. There’s some Jeff Green comps here, which is fair, but I’d also say he reminds me of the very best moments of Boris Diaw in Pheonix, before he got too fat.
4) Phoenix Suns:
What I think will happen: Bennett - So here I have McleMore, Noel, and Porter gone. Leaving as real options, Buke, Oladipo, and Bennett. I think this team goes Bennett. Christ if it fell this way I’d hope the go Bennett. For much the same thinking I have Charlotte taking him at 2 in my What I would do, this team is just a mess. It’s hard to believe there are three teams worse than this. They need buckets. I still feel Oladipo is a fine player, but doesn’t have a shot to be a centerpiece, he just doesn’t have the ball skills. Burke is a real option, but Dragic is the only thing on the roster worth anything. I feel like Bennett could be the best with the ball scoring option in this draft at the end of the day, and that’s at least somewhere this team can start, with him and Dragic.
What I would do: McLemore - In this iteration, Noel, Bennett, and Porter are gone, meaning McLemore would have fallen. Frankly if I were the Suns, I’da preferred Bennett to Mclemore, but one can’t look a gift horse in the mouth too long. Other options would still be Burke as I discussed, and Oladipo is just a notch below McLemore, and his presence would eliminate Victor as an option in my mind. I’d be alright with Dragic looking weakside to McLemore coming off of screens. I’d wish at four with this roster I got a guy I could count on to break down the defense and get into the paint more, and McLemore has the body that maybe someday he will, but like I said, at four, I wish I could get a guy I could “count on” to do those things, and I don’t think that’s a guarantee with Ben.
5) New Orleans Pelicans:
What I think will happen: Trey Burke - So same four off the board in both layouts now. Noel, McLemore, Bennett, and Porter. New Orleans is starting to put something together here. Davis showed flashes are star power last year, and Ryan Anderson is a great fit, and both are tied up for a long time at good numbers. Eric Gordon is you’re SG, like it or not. At that price, he’s gonna be hard to dump, and there’s still hope he can fulfill his potential. You could go Olidipo and try to move Gordon, or just count on Gordon getting hurt, as usual, I think you could start considering Shabazz Muhammad here, as a guy who can get Buckets on his own from the SF spot, seeing as the PF can’t create, only space, and the Center is still someone who excels feeding off of others. But it seems like this is a spot where the tier ends. And as much as a great story as Grevies Vasques was last year, he’s not the long term answer at PG for this young team. Burke gives them a really nice size combo with Gordon. Both guys are similar in their versatility, both in size and ability to play both on and off the ball, and they could be a mess to defend. As with Porter, this would also be my What I would do selection, although I’d think long and hard about Shabazz, a player who frankly I’m not that fond of, but I think would fit well here with what they’re building. And I wouldn’t be shocked if ownership leaned that way either, because they probably have more of a connection with Vasquez than I do, so maybe they’d be less inclined toward Burk than me even, but that would be a tough call.
6) Sacramento Kings:
What I think will happen: Olidipo - Another team that is just an unmitigated mess. The only position on here where they’d be hard pressed to upgrade at this point would be Boogie Cousins at center. They’ve got a ton of shoot first wings and mid level PFs. Unfortonately the general perception at this point would be that there aren’t any PFs worth taking that would be a huge upgrade except maybe Zeller. A PG would be great, although I know they like Isiah Thomas, a bigger one that allowed him to be a change of pace would be super. They’d probably prematurely ejaculate should Burke somehow fall. You could maybe argue for Micheal Carter Williams, but you’ve already got Tyreke Evans as the second most talented guy on the roster, who can’t shoot and needs the ball. I think this team goes Olidipo. He’s the safest pick. He’ll defend like hell and work his ass off, and maybe he can rub off culturally on this group. He doesn’t need the ball to be successful. He can catch and shoot and space the floor and defend like hell.
What I would do: Dennis Schroeder - Here’s where I through a monkey wrench into this whole thing. If I’m running Sacramento, first I’m hoping I just got the job and didn’t put myself in this position, because it’s not pretty, but secondly, I’m saying **** it and blowing the thing up. I’m willing to keep working on Boogie Cousins, because bigs of that quality are exceptionally hard to find. And there’s no other bigs worth talking about in this draft with that sort of upside. I’m taking Dennis Schroeder. If he stays in Germany another year, super. We’ve got money problems anyway, I don’t have to pay for him for a year, and he can keep improving on someone else’s dime, while I let some of these contracts I have melt away another year (they don’t even have a any good expirers coming up other than Tyreke). Now you could argue MCW is a better prospect at this position (and I am a Syracuse fan), but I like Schroeder’s fit better. He’s a better athlete from what I’ve seen, which is limited, but he’s got more aggression. He’s an end changing PG. Has great length to make up for the size gap with MCW. He appears to be a premium defender in the making. And while his jumper doesn’t look great, he’s shooting 40% on the season from 3 overseas, while MCW jumper is a legitimate problem. He’s enough of an end changer that you could maybe convince Tyreke and Boogie to run with him, and then you may have a foundation. If not, you can feel more comfortable letting Tyreke walk in at season’s end than you would had you selected say Olidipo, who doesn’t have much in the way of ball skills, or someone like Cody Zeller. As for Isiah Thomas, you now have a really cheap backup on the books for a couple years that you may be able to move for a first rounder to a team on the fringe of contention, and that becomes an asset.
7) Detroit Pistons:
What I think will happen: CJ McCollum - Detroit has gotta be pretty pleased with the way things have gone of late drafting in this range. Drummond, Monroe, and Brandon Knight all look like Building blocks. Leaving the wings as the spots to fill, and even there young Kyle Singler looked like an asset last year. With the way I think the board will fall, most of the value is being projected as bigs here. Zeller, Alex Len, Rudy Gobert, Mason Plumlee, Kelly Olynek, all are projected in this range. I just can’t see the Pistons going in that direction. I think they go CJ McCollum, and hope they get another version of Steph Curry. The guy is undoubtedly a premium shooter. And his ball handling is bordering on PG level. He obviously lacks some physical traits, but I’m guessing they’d hope Brandon Knight could cover some of that up defensively, while CJ can work both as a weakside shooter, and as a primary ball handler off of Knight. He also works well off of Monroe as a shooter and cutter, and as an extra facilitator for Drummond, who’ll probably need to be fed his whole career to a degree.
What I would do: Shabazz Muhammad - I feel like I may need to stop writing this, because the more I do, the more I talk myself into Muhammad. All of the media snowballing about the guy being a me first player, I sort of believe it. And on top of that, I was a little underwhelmed by Shabazz physically at times when I saw him last year. But at some point talent wins out. Weather he’s an elite athlete at the next level or not is perhaps up for debate, but I know he’s at least above average, and I could hope for more depending upon how I felt about his conditioning after finally getting cleared to play. His bully stlye mid range game at SF is a nice pairing next to Monroe who can really facilitate from the 4. They can run something of an inverted game. I’d like him to be a better passer to work with Drummond more, but we’re picking seven now in a warty draft as it is. He reminds me a little of Adrian Dantley, which may appeal to some old time Detroitites.
8) Washington Wizards:
What I think will happen Alex Len - The Bullets really started looking good last year, and when you consider primary minutes out of what appears to be a finally developing Wall, Beal, Nene and Okafor up front, and then a combo of Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza up front, that’s not a bad line up. The back court is set. And Nene is making too much money for him to go too far anywhere. Okafor is probably this year and then bought out though, and an upgrade at SF would be nice. Here’s a spot where Muhammad might fit. But I think the Wiz take advantage of all the size in this draft and go big here. Another local fit, Alex Len comes from Maryland, and can be a legit post presence down the road. I don’t know how great a fit he is next to Nene. Neither are real defenders, and neither is a floor spacer. But now you’d have two low post threats in a league where a lot of teams have none, and maybe you start envisioning yourself as Memphis Grizz East. Zeller may be the safer pick, and he probably moved himself up some boards this week by testing great physically, so perhaps they go that way, especially with Len already having foot issues (nothing like a big with bad feet), but for now I’ll guess the local ties, extra size, and truer post game, are enough to get Len off the board first.
What I would do: Cody Zeller - In this version, Muhammad is gone, I took him last pick. But Olidipo is still falling down the board hard. McCollum is still around too. But CJ needs the ball too much for a team with this much talent in its backcourt already, and he just doesn’t have the physical chops to slide down to the three, nor does Beal really, who’s already a little undersized. Olidipo would be considered a steal at this point I’m guessing, but he too doesn’t really have the size to slide down to the three, and he’s not a good enough prospect to supplant Beal. I’d consider Gober as a draft and stash kinda deal, but this team got burnt by Vesley not long ago going foreign, and they’re really on the cusp of being too good to afford stashing a developmental player. I’d go Zeller, who lacks upside, but he’s the best running big man in this draft. He’s not a post player, but he’ll get from rim to rim faster than anyone his size, and with Wall and Beal pushing tempo, I see him as a real asset. Sure he doesn’t have the upside of Len as a post threat, but this team could use a win, not more waiting. If Len were a surer thing, and not saddled with health issues already, then maybe, but as it sits, I’d take Zeller.
9) Minesota Timberwolves:
What I think will happen: Rudy Gobert - This team has some real money issues to figure out. Love has his opt out in a couple years. And they’ve gotta decide what Pecovic is worth after next season. That could put them in a position to go big. PG is all set. And their probably isn’t a SF worth putting in the way of Derrick Williams at this point, even Muhammad, particularly considering Andrei Kirelenko could play well for you at either forward spot next year. SG is ugly, but there’s not a lot here at this point to use. This team has a pretty good record going overseas, and I could see them going Gobert here. If he stays, great. I wann see Love next to Peco next season anyway to decide what they’re each worth. This really is to provide insurance for Peco. In a year when someone offers him more than the Wolves are willing to pay, considering they’ve got a max deal for Love coming right behind it probably, and Rudy lurking too, you’ve got a big now who’s been in your system a year you can develop. You could do the same with Len, who I have gone, or Zeller too. But both those guys lack what I’m sure they’d be hoping to get defensively next to Love. Although Zeller’s running would prove interesting next to Rudy.
What I would do: Olidipo - Well here I’ve got two really nice options. Both Olidipo and McCullum are still on the board. And both fit a need perfectly. If I were running the Wolves, frankly I’d be wishing one were gone so I didn’t have to think about it. Rudy is a very good defender, but not physical. Olidipo would cover that, while McCullum would create some issues on that end. Olidipo could run with Rudy, and space the floor and cut hard with so many good passers out there with him. But McCullum’s shooting and creativity would add a crazy dimension to this team. They’d be so much fun to watch. Shooters and passing and ball handling all over the place. I’d just be worried there’s wouldn’t be enough ball to go around to optimize everyone considering what I’d be giving up defensively, so ultimately I’d play it safe and take Olidipo.
10) Portland Trailblazers:
What I think will happen: Shabazz Muhammad - This is a tough spot for Portland. The draft is deep on bigs, but Lamarcus Aldridge is a franchise face for them at PF, and they just used a first rounder last year on Meyers Leonard, who’s at least as good a prospect as all the depth floating around big man wise at this point. Taking a shot at Schroeder or MCW makes no sense with Damien Lillard on board. That leaves them with the wing spots. The only one left is Muhammad in this version. It could be worse. It’s not impossible all of them are gone at this point, and they’re seriously considering depth up front vs. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. They just gave a good sum of money to Nick Batum, and they have three more years of Wes Mathews left too. Both players I like, but neither guys who can score with Shabazz. He can fit in a rotation with those guys pretty well and add a dimension to that team that it lacks at the moment in the half court.
What I would do: CJ McCullum - In this version, the last man standing wing wise is McCullum. Boy this would look good next to Lillard. A second banana who could spread the floor, and handle it enough to let Lillard run off some screens himself at times. Now it may be the worst defensive backcourt in the league, but with Batum and Wes to rotate in, who are both good defenders, you could make a rotation start to work.
11) Philadelphia 76ers:
What I think will happen: Zeller - This is a tough one to predict, because so much is dependent on what becomes of Andrew Bynum. PG we know they’re happy with, seeing as they gave Jrue Holiday a bunch of money, so at least happy enough not to be looking MCW or Schroeder here. Thad Young is tied up for three years, they took Arnett Moultrie who did nothing I saw last year, and Hawes is around still up front. Wing wise I’m sure they still don’t know what they have in Evan Turner. Basically they could go anywhere. To me the best bet for them would be Zeller at this point. The only wing that would make any sense would be Pope. And his shooting would be a nice match with Holiday. But Zeller protects them with Bynum some, and gives them the freedom and leverage to decide what type of a deal if any they really want to do with him. If they took Pope and Bynum walked, you just added a luxury piece in a shooter to a horrible roster. Zeller still runs the floor great for a big, and his athleticism (which measured nearly worth calling off the charts) would pair up well both running with Jrue, and next to Hawes, and if need be, he actually fits at PF next to Bynum, which most of the other bigs don’t.
What I would do: Mason Plumlee (with a few exceptions depending on what I know about Bynum) - The way this version played out, I don’t have the luxury of Zeller being here, who I feel fits great because he works with or without Bynum coming back. All the wings worthy of this spot are gone unless you really like Pope (Although I’m giving big thought to Sergey Karesev, who I’d definitely take here if I can get a Bynum deal done before the draft). As it stands, I’d probably take a lesser version of Zeller in Mason Plumlee. He’s another top notch athlete for a big, although he didn’t record as well Zeller, and he’s rawer in the half court, and he’s older. If I know full well Bynum is walking, I probably go Len, as he’s the best genuine post player.
12) Oklahoma City Thunder:
What I think will happen: Gorgoi Deng - This should be a fun pick. Adding a late lotto pick to a title contending team, but instead it’s just depressing. This just isn’t a good enough draft to produce a difference maker to a roster like this at this point. And frankly even if they won the lotto, I’m not sure they’d find someone as valuable as The Beard. At this point there isn’t even anyone as good a prospect as Jeremy Lamb was last year. And on top of that, there’s not a lot of great fits. OKC will probably look at this depth among bigs as a way to help reinforce themselves against the bully tactics they faced from Memphis this year. Perkins is all but useless on the offensive end of the court, and isn’t great on the other end at this point. Ibaka’s a good helpside defender, but he can’t hold up against post players. Collison is a very good bench asset, but he’s a bench asset. I’ve got Len, Gobert, and Zeller all gone already. That leaves you choosing from Plumlee, Kelly Olynek, Gorgoi Deng, Steven Adams, or Jeff Withey. Honestly against the Grizz Hasheem Thabeet may be as good a post defender as any of them. I suppose you could look defensive wing help like Pope, Archie Goodwin, Jamal Franklin, Glenn Rice, or Allen Crabbe, but most of those guys are limited on one side or the other, or have some other glaring wart. Put it this way, I’m not sure any of those guys are a better option at SG next year than Jeremy Lamb. I also think they saw enough good from Reggie Jackson to not feel like chasing a PG to backup Russ, although MCW has the size to play next to him, and could run PnR like Harden, but Christ can he not shoot. This is also a team that has done a good job rolling it’s assets, and taking a foreigner it knows it can stash, and potentially trade down the road, is also an option, with Karasev and Giannis Adetokunbo being the two biggest upside guys. At the end of the day I think they go Deng because he’s the best defender of the bigs, and he’s actually shown some offensive ability to pass and knock down the jumper from the elbow.
What I would do: Giannis Adetokunbo - Well, I wouldn’t have traded James Harden to start, but again, this is the hand I’ve been dealt. I think at this point, I’d really swing for the fences and take Adetokunbo. From what I’ve read, it seems realistic that he’ll spend two years overseas seasoning. I actually like Karasev better as a prospect, but there’s less upside there. Giannis is a freak of a physical specimen. 6-9 with a 7-4 wingspan, and giant hands, and he has some perimeter skills, an instinct for playmaking, along with potential to be a defensive menace. If I’m OKC, I’m looking for this kid to blow up overseas to the point where I can trade him and move into the first round of a better draft for a more direct need. I don’t believe any of the available bigs help enough for a team of this quality, although Deng would be my choice among them for the reasons I cited above, so I’d take one big swing here.
13) Dallas Mavericks:
What I think will happen: Plumlee - There are a lot of players who can help the Mavs here actually. They could go big with any of the guys available. Or they could chase a PG. I think they’ll go big to form a rotation with Dirk and Brand. As it’s played out, I think they’d be choosing between Plumlee and Olynek. And I think the notion of putting Plumlee’s athleticism next to Dirk would win out.
What I would do: Michael Carter-Williams - This is another spot where I think I’d take a bigger risk. You’re going to war up front next year with Dirk, Brand, and Marion anyway. Hopefully Mayo comes back to play SG. Right now you’re starting Darren Collison, who’s really a waterbug, change of pace type PG. I’d take MCW here. You can do a number of things with him. With Dirk being a threat outside, you can post him. You can use his size defensively to let him play some off the ball next to Collison. Frankly, I’m not sure he’s a PG in the truest sense of the word (again, I’m an Orange fan who’s seen tons of this guy, several times in person). He’s not terribly comfortable bringing the ball up against pressure. But he’s great in the middle of the break. And he’s a great playmaker off the bounce, with or without a screen, so running PnPop with Dirk could be an asset next year. Even Mayo’s multiple skills could play well with him because he wouldn’t always have the pressure of bringing up the ball with Mayo out there with him, and he could play off the ball some too. Coming off a screen, catching without having given up his bounce, and getting a screener coming at him to play a two man game, using his height to spot shooters across the court … that’s where he’s best, which isn’t necessarily Point Guarding, but in a PnR league, this guy should be an asset. And if Dirk teaches him how to shoot, you might have the best player in this draft.
14) Utah Jazz:
What I think will happen: MCW - This team now belongs to the frontline of Kanter and Favors, along with Gordon Haywood on the wing. I actually expect them to bring back one of their two FA bigs, probably Millsap because he’s got a little more versatility. They could use another wing, but they’d be better served by a PG at this point. I don’t see a team this young going into the season starting Mo Williams at the point as being a good idea. In this iteration, all of MCW, Dennis Schroeder, and Shane Larkin are available. With all three on the board, Larkin is probably too much of a reach, although he may be the best fit for them, because he’s the most reliable with the ball and the best shooter of the three. This team has a decent history with foreign born players. The drafted Kirelenko once upon a time, and had success with a few other guys. They also have a history of valueing jumpshooting, to the point where MCW may seem like not their type of player. But I’d expect them to follow the value of the board at this point and go with MCW.
What I would do: Sergei Karasev – Along with Schroeder, this is the other international player that I’ve fallen hard for. Starting with the Hoops Summit game, then doing as much research as possible on him. The guy is a coaches sun. And by all accounts, he’s a premium shooter. What strikes me are two things. At 19, he’s already a physically impressive SF, particularly for an international player. He’s not a plus athlete, but he’s strong and well put together, and isn’t gonna be pushed around. Secondly, he seems to have incredible instincts. A great passer who can use his shooting to get defenders close enough to create passing angles and lanes. He and Heywood would be a nice oversized wing duo who can shoot, which is a nice foundation in front of their big rotation. You may want one of them to be a better defender, but neither is gonna be bad. If Schroeder were still here, I’d take him, and I genuinely considered Larkin, who’s shooting I feel would make him a good fit on this team, with his size being mitigated some by the extra size all over the rest of the court.
15) Milwaukee Bucks:
What I think will happen: Pope - I’ve gotta imagine both Ellis and Jennings are back next year. Jennings’ qualifier is too good a deal for the team. Ellis’ player option is too good a deal for him. Although being an expirer, he could make for trade bait as the season goes on. I’d think a better team will step up and steal Reddick away though. So help on the perimeter makes sense. They’ve got a type going with the long defensive minded bigs like Larry Sanders, Jon Hensen, Epke Udoh, and even Ilyesova, who’s gonna have to play more SF next year. I see them choosing between an offensive big, or a wing like Pope who could free them up to move Ellis. I think they’ll go Pope and try to move Ellis as an expirer who can help a fringe contentder next year. There are people who’d call him a steal at this point.
What I would do: Alex Len - Personally I’d go big here. LARRY SANDERS!!! is a defensive specialist. I saw enough of Henson at UNC to not be thrilled with his offensive future, and Udoh falls somewhere in between at best. There are good deals on decent shooting decent defending wing players all the time in this league, which is what I see as Pope’s ceiling. The bigs left on this end at this point are pretty much everyone less Zeller and Plumlee. I’d lean toward Len. He’s still the best genuine post presence. Gobert could be interesting, but he does a lot of the same things they already do.
16) Boston Celtics:
What I think will happen: Schroeder - For a 7th place finisher, there’s not a lot this team can do at 16 to really change their fortunes (I’m a Celtic fan for disclosure). Unless there’s some trades or retirements, it will be Rondo, Bradley, Pierce, Green, Garnett next year, with Bass, Courtney Lee, the corpse of Jet Terry, and Jared Sullinger getting some run off the bench. One of the bigs would be intrigueing, but they just whiffed on Fab Melo last year, and may still not see any of these guys as a step above him at this point (although I’d disagree). All the wings of consequence, meaning able to crack that deep rotation, are gone. So I’m gambling on a few things I’ve read saying that Schroeder could wind up here. It’s about where his general value is. And seeing as Danny Ainge has had a hard on for Rondo for years, it makes some sense. You can stash him for a year while Rondo comes back and reestablishes his value, then move Rondo while he’s still got a year on a friendly contract number and bring Schroeder over. Personally I’d love this pick, which means they’ll probably take Jeff Withey.
What I would do: Rudy Gobert - Well, unfortunately I’m too smart to have had Schroeder fall to here for me. Pope is still haning around, along with the usual collection of bigs. Pope wouldn’t be bad value, but really for Boston, he shouldn’t play over Bradley or Lee, and won’t over Jet. Hell, I’d be willing to keep trying to rescue Terrence Williams. As much as I hate to crap on the Fab Melo project so soon, Gobert is just too good a physical specimen to pass up at this point. At least he’s as good a project as Melo, and you could theoretically get someone else to train him before starting his contract clock. Very exciting stuff.
17) Atlanta Hawks:
What I think will happen: Kelly Olynek - Back to Back picks are always interesting, because it seems like you can really take a gamble on one. Like the Celtics last year when they bought that Fab Melo scratch off ticket. But the way this draft has fallen has not been good for Atlanta here, because all the quality players left are bigs, which means your back to back picks are either going to include duplication, or a reach. The good news is that this team has been gutted. So it can afford to reach, because it’s gonna find a player it can use at pretty much any position. The only players of consequence they really have under contract for next season are the excellent Al Horford, the still developing Jeff Teague, for one more year, a 6th man style streak scorer undersized SG in Louis Williams coming off knee surgery, and a usable rotation quality shooting SG in John Jenkins. With Pachulia coming off and perhaps Josh Smith, I see them going big and moving Horford to PF full time. There’s just too much value at that position here. Olynek is just too much a step ahead of Withey or Adams at this point for me to think they’d go another way. He’s got some legit offensive game, and moves well defensively. I really think he’s a teir tipper for bigs. He’s the last one left among this group. He may be better than Deng, or maybe not, but after him the rest won’t.
What I would do: Deng - Because I was more inclined to gamble it seems on the couple of foreigners earlier, I have an extra choice among the bigs now. I prefer Deng’s defensive presence to Olynek. And I feel good about what Deng does offensively.
18) Atlanta Hawks:
What I think will happen: Sergei Karasev – (*Actually, he’d switch these picks, because if you’re gonna stash a guy, you’d want it to be the one making more, albeit just a hair more) After taking the big first, I imagine Danny Ferry gambles on a perimeter guy now. I think his choice would be Larkin to push Teague in his contract year, or go foreign with Karasev or Adetokunbo, knowing he could stash him and still have a rookie on the roster. Coming out of the SA front office, I could see him going foreign and stashing. He knows that value. Like I said, Karasev has some known qualities, like he can shoot, he’s got legit size, and his instincts are good. If he never develops athletically, at least you still have some known qualities. Adetokunbo is much more upside, as discussed above. But I think Ferry would go with the surer Karasev.
What I would do: Dario Saric - Well, I still have Pope here, he’d be by far the highest rated player on the general concensus board, and he’s a local guy. But he’s too similar to Jenkins. I’ve got three guys on my roster beyond this year, I can’t duplicate one with my two first round picks, especially if the guy isn’t a notable upgrade. I like Glen Rice, but I’m not sure he’s big enough to provide full time SF duties, same with Jamaal Franklin, who’d bring a nice defensive identity to the short roster. Larkin I also understand. I like the idea of stashing at this point too. So I think I’d take Dario Saric. A sort of old fashioned “he’s a 6-10 PG in Europe” kind of prospect. At 6-10, he really is a perimeter SF who can hopefully become a mismatch inside some. Creative vision and ball handling, but streaky shooter at best. You’re hoping for Ersen Ilyasova down the road.
19) Cleveland Cavaliers:
What I think will happen: Glen Rice Jr. – This would be an interesting case. Rice basically rescuing his reputation after being asked to leave Georgia Tech by playing in the D’League. We know he’s a got real physical assets, and he can shoot. He had a great season in the DLeague, and he could provide something similar to what Waiters does at the other wing spot. I already have the Cavs going with a bigger more traditional SF in Porter earlier in the lotto, so this would give them some flexibility to go big or small, and depth at SG too. If there were better bigs available at this point, like Deng or Olynek, I could see them going that way. I could even envision them chasing Adams’ potential. I don’t see Withey as something they’d want, but maybe.
What I would do: Pope – I still have Pope hanging around on this board, and he’s just too good a value at this point. With a PG like this, you have to value shooting. I talked earlier about not loving the Waiters fit as a starter, I could actually see Pope starting next to Irving, while Waiters became the primary offense off the bench, with a shooting minded PG like Boobie Gibson just there to spread the floor.
20) Chicago Bulls:
What I think will happen: Jamaal Franklin - Pickens are getting pretty thin at this point if you’re the Bulls, but the good news is that if you went through the season, and post season, they just did, you’re not afraid of depth. There’s no one available that’s cracking the Rose, Butler, Deng, Boozer, Noah starters, or the Heinich, Taj Gibson bench duo, and probably no PG worth trying to develop drastically more valuable than Marques Teague, and that’s the roster. Any vets they sign will be better than what’s here too. But there is one player that looks like a Chicago Bulls player to me. Jamaal Franklin is a very limited shooter, and I’m not crazy about him handling the ball, but if you put him next to Rose he’ll run with him for sure, and I can guarantee you he will go out and defend and compete at a level Tom Thibadeu will be happy with. He’s not too unlike what Jimmy Butler the draftee was. Deng is in his last season, and with Butler’s development, and the presence of Franklin, the Bulls may be more comfortable letting him go down the line.
What I would do: Olynek - Again, I get to make an extra choice here. I can go Rice or Franklin. And I also have Olynek who’d realistically be the last player left from the tier above. My gut would say take Olynek. He moves well enough that I feel like he could be taught up by Thibs to defend in his ultra help scheme. And offensively he does a lot of the ball friendly things Noah does. But he just doesn’t seem tough enough to fit in there, which may not be fair just because he’s thin and white and has long hair and wears a headband and went to Gonzaga. Choosing between Franklin and Rice, I think I’d take Rice feeling like the extra shooting will help, and Thibs and Rose can keep him in line and the defensive culture will bring him up toward Franklin since they’re similar athletes. **** it … with that roster moving forward and Olynek as a prospect, I’m taking him and making Thibs work out the toughness issues. The guy works for me. It just makes more sense. There’s no depth behind Booze, Noah, Taj. I know they were depleted, but they had Nazr ****ing Mohammad playing significant minutes in the postseason.
21) Utah Jazz:
What I think will happen: Allen Crabbe - I guessed them going with MCW earlier, which puts Larkin on the back burner here, unless they hired Khaaaannnnnn!!!! after he left Minnie, and they’re gonna just keep taking PGs. But with PG taken, they have a few other ways to go. It’s nice to have a couple young bigs, but you need more than two, even if you do bring back one of the two FA bigs. But there’s not a lot left here, unless you want another project in Adams, or you have an affinity for Withey, which they may at this point. I think they’ll look for more shooting instead, especially if they took MCW earlier. One of the reasons I think Pope will fall (on both my guess board and my “what I would do” board is because I think there are a couple guys close in quality later. Both Allen Crabbe of Cal and Reggie Bullock of UNC. Crabbe’s a little quicker, and probably a little better pure shooter. Bullock is a little bigger, and probably has a little more pop in his body around the hoop. Archie Goodwin is still out there and pretty highly regarded, but his body of work is muddled. I think they’ll go Crabbe with Hayward already more of a SF. He’s at least as good a prospect as John Jenkins was when Atlanta took him last year. A really good shooter.
What I would do: Larkin – In this version, I went with Karasev as possibly a stash, but he may come over. Part of the reason for that was because I liked the idea of having those shooters around later to choose from, or Larkin, who feels like a great fit. Sure he’s small, but he’s tough, and he’s shown he’s got some genuine leadership attributes, whatever that means. He can shoot it, and he measures out as a super athlete, to make up for the size issue some. So do you like my Karaslev/Larkin haul better, or MCW / Crabbe take? I think it’s close.
22) Brooklyn Nets:
What I think will happen: Bullock - They’re certainly not gonna do anything to help themselves at PG, SG, or C at this stage. But Reggie Evans is a great guy to have on the team, and not someone I’d want to see in an alley, but he doesn’t belong starting on a playoff team. And Gerald Wallace was a guy who relied on his athleticism way too long ago on a Kings team that featured a roster of mostly players who aren’t in the league anymore, which is an indication of how much mileage he’s got. They need shooting. They had Keith Bogans, who I think played with Nazr Mohammad in college, Jerry Stackhouse, who was on NBA TV two years ago, and Mirza Tellatubby all trying to space the floor for them at one time or another last year. I’ve already talked about shooters available here. Tony Mitchell comes to mind as a replacement for Evans, he’s got the physical chops. I’m just not sure his offensive credentials can be used next to Lopez, and what you need next to Brook is a defender / rebounder type, and that might not be in Mitchell’s head. I also like Livio Jean-Charles as a garbage man type of PF who seems like he could run with this team, but not need to get in Lopez’ way. And CJ Leslie as a guy who could maybe take time from both of the Nets’ dud starters for a time at a while, and maybe stretch the floor as a PF for Lopez a little. Neither of them help on the defense rebounding front though. Perhaps that’s not an option at this stage. In the end I think they go with Bullock happily. The extra size compared to Crabbe make his spot at SF a little easier next to JJ.
What I would do: Rice - I don’t disagree with my own imaginery thinking up there. This team could use more shooting. But I still have Rice on this side. I feel like Rice has more physical upside, so I’d go here.
23) Indiana Pacers:
What I think will happen: Kenny Khaji - The first team we’ve seen that’s still playing, which is a pretty good sign that they’re pretty good. And most of their lineup is set for next year, with depth behind it. Hibbert and Mahimi with Hansbourough and Miles Plumlee. Stevensen and George with Gerald Green, and hopefully a healthy Danny Granger to make the rotation really tough. George Hill at PG, but not much behind it, but backup PGs can be gotten. The really valuable piece they could lose is David West. And frankly at his age, it may be nice to find him some help even if you do re-sign him. We covered the better PFs before. Mitchell is almost all physical potential. Jean-Charles is limited upside. And Leslie is the combo guy. During the combine we’ve seen Kenny Khaji move up based on how he’s measured and timed. And he’s a legit face up four and can do some of the stretching things West does. Problem is he’s 25. However this late in the first round, and for a team this good, I’m not sure that’s a negative. If you believe the guy can play, you take him. We’ve seen the Pacers surprise before, although this isn’t the exact same regime. Last year Miles Plumlee was a surprise. I’m gonna guess an off the board shocker and say they go with Khaji. They’re good enough to draft and stash, but they could do that second round if they want too.
What I would do: Tony Mitchell - Generally I feel like this section is the more gamble oriented side, but in this case I’m guessing the team will gamble, and I’d play closer to the board and go with Mitchell. A physical 6-9 with a big wingspan and some ball skills. Why it hasn’t translated, who knows, but this team is physical, and Mitchell fits that mold, weather West is with them or not next year. I’d also consider Isiah Canon as a change of pace for that backup PG spot behind Hill.
24) New York Knicks:
What I think will happen: Jeff Withey - God this roster is horrid for a second seed. Everyone on the roster is a one way player, or useless. If Crabbe or Bullock were still here I think they’d play to their philosophy and just grab another shooter and make the pieces fit later, but the shooters are gone. The highest rated players are Saric here, and left on the both boards would be Withey, who’s slipped in no small part because I don’t like him, and I suppose they Knicks could view him as a passable defensive option when Chandler is out. The place would not be happy, but it would actually make some sense in terms of fit and value. They could maybe argue Saric is another Galinari, which would just be a lie because of the shooting, but an oversized stretch three wouldn’t hurt if you’re gonna play Melo at the four for the foreseeable future. They could also just take a flier on the physical skills of Steven Adams. I don’t see Tony Mitchell as someone they’d want, because he’s a pure four, and they seem committed to playing Carmelo there.
What I would do: Withey - In addition to what I’ve pointed out above, I also still have Franklin, as a real first round graded guy on my board, but with the way this team is built around shooting spread around Carmelo, I just don’t see Franklin fitting. I’d probably go Withey too and hope he could challenge shots for ten minutes a night. He will not be a popular choice. I still have Bullock hanging around, and would have to give serious thought about that.
25) Los Angeles Clippers:
What I think will happen: Archie Goodwin - Obviously what matters here is Chris Paul’s future, but for the purposes of this, it has no impact at all, mainly because there’s nothing that could be done here to help or hurt that status. Even they have to be starting to realize that Jordan may not be an ideal fit. And they can use help on both wings. I’m guessing they’d dip back into that Kentucky pedigree that landed them Eric Bledsoe and tag Archie Goodwin here. This would be considered a slip for him by most people. I’m not crazy about him. He’s kinda got some PG in him, not as good a shooter as advertised, and physically he’s fast and aggressive, but not the level of athlete as was sold on. Poythress woulda gone higher had he come out.
What I would do: Jamaal Frankin – I’m not crazy about this fit. Paul doesn’t seem to want to play at an accelerated pace all the time. But he would like Franklin’s toughness and energy and willingness to guard. Franklin could be the type who can guard all three perimeter spots, and give Paul a break on the ball, while allowing him to gamble in the passing lanes even more, which he likes to do. Paul would probably not appreciate being doubled off the guy since he can’t shoot, but he’s an active cutter and could still make that work. He’s a really good value here. Most of the other options are PFs, which seems pretty well sewn up here, but CJ Leslie’s combo stretch play at his size could work next to Blake.
26) Minnesota Timberwolves.:
What I think will happen: Tim Hardaway Jr. - I guessed they’d go in the lottery with Gobert as a stash big with most of the legit wings gone except for Mohammad, who’s way too much of a ball stopper for a team like them to take him. They’d be looking SG here for sure, but there’s not a ton of help. It’s not entirely their fault. No one else was there. Things did not fall well for them. The wings are all gone. I’ll guess they’ll go for another with a reach, and take Tim Hardaway Jr. Hardaway looked good physically at the combine, and there seems to be a groundswell of logic that he should get credit for accepting a reduced role on a team loaded with pro prospects, not unlike last year’s Kentucky crop, that saw Doron Lamb get held in high regard for people believing he could do more than he showed. If I didn’t think they’d get killed for stashing two players in one draft, I’da guessed they’dve gone Saric, or even stabbed at Alex Abrines, who’s a foreign SG who seems tobe be getting really good press of late as a young draft and stash kid.
What I would do: CJ Leslie - The board fell better for me the GM up top, and I got Olidipo to fill my wing spot for the next 4 years. So now I can feel free to grab a development big here to prepare for the Vucevic Love decisions to come. I could go Adams and hope he can replace Vucevic and I can let him walk to max out Love. But Love may walk regardless of money. My choice is CJ Leslie. I can go small with Love at Center and Leslie at PF and really open the floor with two bigs who can shoot it and handle it a little.
27) Denver Nuggets:
What I think will happen: Saric – At this point, Saric is just way too much the best prospect left to leave behind. The Nuggets are really good, and there just isn’t a ton available that’s gonna help them. They can stash Saric and hope he resolves issues they run into moving forward, either on his own, or as a trade chip. Pretty much the entire team is under contract for next year, unless Iggy thinks he can get better than 16M next year, and really he’s not being replaced here anyway.
What I would do: Jean-Charles - For the same reasons I say above, I’d love to stash someone with this pick if I’m running Denver. But apparently I like that idea more than I figure they do in real life, because I’ve taken most of those guys. So now I’m choosing between Jean-Charles and Mohammadeau Jaiteh. I saw both of these guys play in the Hoops Summit game. Jean-Charles may have the best game he’ll ever play, but he still looked like a junk player, which has it’s own value. Jaiteh has the advantage of being enormous, but he’s more raw. I think Jean-Charles’ motor and end to end ability would probably make him the preference.
28) San Antonio Spurs:
What I think will happen: Tony Mitchell - Slim pickens for a team this good, which is sort of the point. But Manu is probably done, so there will be some minutes available for the right fit. But we’ve already seen a reach at a wing spot on Hardaway. Tony Mitchell is still around and has legit first round skills. He’s a Texas guy too. But it’s possible he’s lack of a good head may turn Pop off. Still I’ll make him my guess. They’d be an athletic big front line with Mitchell and Leonard flanking Duncan.
What I would do: Bullock – I still have Bullock floating around in my version of reality. I’m sure Pop would like him. This was a team that focused on the three last year, and he can do that, and coming out of UNC, Pop can trust that he’s got a good foundation, not unlike getting Danny Green off the scrap heap and turning him into a gem. Now he’s not gonna bring the creativity of Manu off the bench, but hey … I’m picking 28th here!
29) Oklahoma City Thunder:
What I think will happen: Giannis Adetokunbo - This coulda gone to Denver, or a few other spots where a stash made sense. I guessed they’d go Deng up earlier, then decided I’da taken this kid up there myself, which means I’da screwed up, seeing as it’s very possible he coulda slipped down here for me. Now they’re looking and Deng and him, while I’m looking at him and crap.
What I would do: Mohommadau Jiatei – The best big body left on the board. As I’ve said before, you’d be hard pressed to stash two players in one first round. Especially for a team that looked so vulnerable once Westbrook went down. But what other options do I have. I’m getting no more value out of Steven Adams here, and him I have to pay and use up his service clock. One mistake cannot be resolved by just adding a body later. I screwed the Thunder in my scenario.
30) Pheonix Suns:
What I think will happen: Mohommadau Jiatei - As it fell Jiatei is a very good body to stash for a team this bad. I guessed they’d take Bennett up above, so you could argue they should look wing, but there just isn’t a ton to help them. You could go Adams here, who’s at least as good a body, and you’d get to keep him, but I don’t know why you’d want to.
What I would do: Steven Adams - I had McLemore falling to them at four in my iteration. They need help almost everywhere. But with the way it fell, I’d go Adams here because again, he’s just a really good body at this point. Honestly even if I had a stash player like Jiatei available, I’d still lean toward Adams at this point because unlike the guessing scenario, I’m not looking to keep the space clear for Bennett, and I’d also feel a little closer. Dragic and McLemore could do some things if you can keep rotating Bigs in there to get the ball for them off the glass.
Who do you think is the better prospect. Burke or Schroeder?
I think Schroeder and Burke are really close as prospects, as evidence by my having them so close in my version.
If anything I'd say Burke's size and playing at the highest level puts him just a tick ahead.
What's good Thorpe? Haven't spoken to you in a while.
I actually like Withey for the Knicks. He does everyone that Knicks fans want Tyson Chandler to do with the bonus of understanding when/where to move offensively so he isn't clogging up things for Carmelo Anthony or Amar'e Stoudemire.