Monday, June 25, 2012

Anthony Davis Wins Draft Lottery, Wolves Get Harkless

EDIT Just to note that the draft is coming this Thursday night. If I did this over again I would say Sullinger, Austin Rivers and Perry Jones are rated too high and Jeremy Lamb and Dion Waiters too low. The big mystery is the #6 pick; there's nobody in this draft worthy of coming after Davis, Robinson, Kidd-Gilchrist, Beal and Drummond. Barnes could still go that high, so could J. Lamb or Lillard. #6 will determine how the next 10 dominoes fall.

Terrence Ross is not gonna fall to #18. He's the best wing-type in the 2nd 10 and he is the guy the Wolves should want, but her won't be there. Harkless is the poor man's version thereof. I still think he'll be the guy unless David Kahn gets cute and makes a deal. If somebody wants Michael Beasley, Wes Johnson, Darko Milicic and/or Martell Webster and is actually willing to give up something of value for any combination of them, of course, you should make that trade. But it ain't gonna happen. So the Wolves need and will need on Thursday the best perimeter scorer available in the draft at than time.


There are always winners and losers in the NBA draft lottery. The worst team has the most chances to land the #1 pick but almost never does. So this year Charlotte is the big loser in the draft lottery. The winner? The New Orleans Hornets and Anthony Davis.

Oh, and the NBA, who owns the Hornets. There was lots of sour-grapes conspiracy talk after the announcement was made. And while nobody really believes that the lottery was fixed, nobody would let the appearance of a fix go by unnoticed.

All of that aside, the Hornets are winners because they get the #1 pick and will get to pick Anthony Davis. Davis is a winner because he won't have to play for the most dysfunctional franchise in any major sports league, the Charlotte Hornets.

So now a mock draft can be offered.

1. New Orleans--Anthony Davis for reasons expressed in my May 29 post re. the draft lottery.

2. Charlotte--The Bobs clearly need size but the biggest of the top 5 or 6 candidates, Andre Drummond of Connecticut, is just a little too risky at #2. So Thomas Robinson, 6-9 forward from Kansas, is the choice.

3. Washington--The Wiz also need inside help but Drummond is still too much of a risk. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is just 6-7 but plays big for his size and, more to the point, comes to play. He's merely the best available athlete and that's what Washington really needs.

4. Cleveland--The Cavs need some scoring and that, at this point in the draft, can only mean Harrison Barnes or Bradley Beal, and I like Beal. Check out my May 29 post for more on that.

5. Sacramento--The Kings could use some size and toughness to help out DeMarcus Cousins inside. On the other hand, they're said to like Harrison Barnes. I can't say whether that's true or not. But I can say that if Andre Drummond slips all the way to #5, the intersection of that with the Kings' need for size will make  Drummond a no-brainer. And if the Kings can get away with the Cousins pick a year ago, they're not gonna be too worried about Drummond being a head case.

6. Portland--The Blazers have the #6 and #11 picks. so they can go for the best available athlete here and fill a need at #11. But who is the best available? Harrison Barnes (6-8, small forward, North Carolina) if you go by the consensus. But there are those who prefer Austin Rivers among perimeter players, and who prefer Perry Jones and those who like Jared Sullinger on the inside. And Portland isn't desperate to go inside or outside here, so this is a tough pick to predict. Jones is the best talent of the group, but lacks the motor that's needed to excel at this level. Sullinger's stock has fallen since the 2011 draft, too. So I'll say Barnes goes here.

7. Golden State--The Warriors would seem to need everything, but perhaps size and/or a point guard most of all. A "1" is a stretch at #7 so Jared Sullinger and P. Jones would seem to be the best bets. And, do you prefer a 6-7 tough guy (Sullinger, Ohio State, post-power forward) or a 6-11 guy who's a little bit soft (Jones)? Jones has more up (and down) side But Sullinger seems to be more highly motivated. Sullinger.

8. Toronto--The Raps mostly need help at the "1" and it just so happens there's a couple options in Damian Lillard of Weber State and Kendall Marshall, North Carolina. On the other hand, a couple of 2-guards are probably safer picks. Those would be Austin Rivers (6-4, shooting guard, North Carolina) and Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut. Odds are that one of the four will be an NBA superstar, it's just that nobody knows which, and all four have their downsides. On upside I'd pick Lillard, but the safest of the four is probably Rivers.

9. Detroit--The Pistons just need the guy with the most upside, and at #9 that seems destined to be Perry Jones (6-11, power forward, Baylor). Last year at this time he was rated more like #2-3 but opted out of the draft. On talent alone, he's still #2-3, but another year has only heightened concerns that he doesn't play hard. Still, at #9 you can't pass on that potential and the Pistons can even be patient in grooming the big guy.

10. New Orleans--After going big with pick #1, the Hornets look outside with #10 and some great talent remains, principally Jeremy Lamb (6-5, shooting guard, Connecticut). He's got more upside than Rivers but his disappearing act in the NCAA tournament is probably costing him about to drop about 5 picks. But with their 2nd 1st round pick, the Hornets can afford a little git of a gamble and the fact is that everybody is a gamble at this point.

11. Portland--The Blazers join N'Awlins in picking for a 2nd time in the 1st round and the likelihood is that Portland can get a long-term upgrade at the point in either Damian Lillard or Kendall Marshall. Marshall is the safer pick, Lillard has more upside. With a 2nd 1st round pick, go for upside.

12. Milwaukee--After trading away Andrew Bogut, the Bucks have to be looking for size. And picking #12 they could have their pick of Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Meyers Leonard and Arnett Moultrie. Zeller (6-11, North Carolina) would seem to be the best of those options.

13. Phoenix--With Steve Nash rumored to be on the way out, Kendall Marshall (6-4, point guard, North Carolina) would be in the proverbial right time at the right place. Not that filling Nash's shoes is going to be easy for anyone. But the Suns cannot pass Marshall up at #13.

14 and 16. Houston--The Rockets need everything and anything, so why not pick 2? At #14 Terrence Ross (6-6, wing, Washington) is the obvious choice, the next best on the perimeter. He might not be better than a couple-three bigs who also remain available, but at #16, no matter what Philly does at #15, one of them will still remain whereas the perimeter pickings could be slim at #16.

Then at #16, the Rockets will take whichever of the following bigs the 76ers do not: John Henson (6-10, North Carolina), Arnett Moultrie or Meyers Leonard.

15. Philly--The improving 76ers will be looking for that one guy who can move them to the next level. At #15? Good luck with that. But Arnett Moultrie (6-10, Mississippi State) can be the heir apparent to replace Elton Brand at the big forward spot. John Henson is the safer pick, but Moultrie's got more upside.

17. Dallas--It's hard to say which of their veterans the long-in-the-tooth Mavs need to replace the most but, still, I'll say it--Vince Carter at the 2. Doron Lamb, 6-5, Kentucky shooting guard is the answer to that particular prayer.

18. Minnesota--The Wolves would have loved Ross or Lamb given their need for a natural perimeter scorer, not some power forward shoe-horned into the roll. But it is not to be. So the next best bets to fill that need are Big East rivals Moe Harkless (6-8, small forward) of St. John's and Dion Waiters of Syracuse. Or Minnesota seriously could move this pick for a veteran with less downside. But if you gotta pick, pick Harkless.

19. Orlando--If Dwight Howard is going to slink out of town, then Meyers Leonard (7-1, Illinois) slinks in.

20. Denver--Dion Waiters, 6-4, shooting guard, Syracuse.

21 and 22. Boston--Like the Mavs, Boston needs to start replacing its aging superstars though, granted, that's hard to do at #21 and #22. Well, not so fast. Terrence Jones (6-9, power forward, Kentucky) has top 10 talent but with the Wildcats' ridiculous collection of ballplayers last year, he never had to asset himself. He could be the steal of the draft at #21.

At #22 the Celtics will play a balancing act, going outside to Jones' inside. Tony Wroten (6-5, point guard, Washington) is the pick.

23. Atlanta--Royce White (6-8, small forward, Iowa State) is the obvious pick.

24. Cleveland--Another team with 2 1st round picks, Cleveland probably went outside at #4 and looks to go inside here. Unfortunately, inside talent is not what will be available here unless you consider Fab Melo to be NBA-caliber talent. I don't. So the Cavs move the pick and somebody else gets Andrew Nicholson (6-9, power forward, St. Bonaventure.)

25. Memphis--Marquis Teague and John Jenkins are your options. It says here: Jenkins (6-4, shooting  guard, Vanderbilt).

26. Indiana--Looking for guard play and Marquis Teague (6-2, point guard, Kentucky) is the only game in town at #26.

27. Miami--Doesn't need a 2 or a 3 but can upgrade everything else even at #27. Festus Ezeli (7-0, post, Vanderbilt) is a big body who does all the stuff that Chris Bosh doesn't do.

28. Oklahoma City--Quincy Miller (6-9, small forward, Baylor) is the proverbial best available.

29. Chicago--Jeffrey Taylor (6-6, small forward, Vanderbilt) is likewise the best available at #29.

30. Golden State--Having already gone big in the 1st round, the Warriors would like to go small but there's no there there. Next best is Evan Fournier, a 6-6 small forward and a Frenchman.

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