By the time this gets published, we will be about two hours away from the NBA Draft officially kicking off and everything getting finally resolved.
This is a Draft that has been topsy turvy. With no runaway top pick, no one is even sure what the Cavaliers will do with the first pick, much less what the Magic or Wizards or Bobcats (and so on) will do from there. This has to be one of the hardest drafts to predict in recent memory.
Whether or not you want to call this a "weak" draft is up to you. Inevitably, there will be some good players that come out of this Draft, even if they are not so clear at this point.
A lot is sure to change as the Draft comes closer, but here is my best guess for what will happen in Brooklyn tonight:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel (Kentucky) -- There is a lot of noise right now of the Cavaliers taking Alex Len with the top overall pick. There is justifiably a lot of noise about Cleveland trading the pick. Noel still remains the player with the most potential to make an overarching impact in this Draft. And so, it feels like the Cavaliers will not break convention and drop a defensive anchorn onto this growing team.
2. Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo (Indiana) -- Orlando has been as secretive as anybody else in its deliberations and also appear to be entertaining several trade ideas. The Magic need just about anything, but need some youth at shooting guard as they continue to build. Oladipo still has to improve his offensive game, but he has the makeup of a NBA player. One that will have a role based on his work ethic and defense for a long time to come.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter (Georgetown) -- Porter just seems to make sense here for the Wizards. With a young backcourt in John Wall and Bradley Beal, they feel set on the wings. Except at small forward. Porter is also probably the most complete and presently ready player in this Draft. He should be able to contribute immediately and help Washington possibly return to the Playoffs next season.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Alex Len (Maryland) -- Len has been climbing draft boards lately as teams begin to realize he might very well be the best post player in this Draft. At least iwth the ball in his hands. Len has all the tools necessary to be a good player. The question will come on the defensive end with him and then with his day-to-day motor. He had a couple of strong games in his freshman year at Maryland, but plenty of puzzling ones.
5. Phoenix Suns: Anthony Bennett (UNLV) -- Bennett is not a player anyone should sleep on. The comparisons to Larry Johnson are apt not just because they went to the same school. The Canadian wonder freshman, showed a toughness to mix it up in the paint and the ability to play from the perimeter and create for himself. His issue in college was that he tended to float out to the perimeter too much. And he is too much of a tweener to be a full-time post player in the NBA.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Ben McLemore (Kansas) -- I believe McLemore is potentially the best player in this Draft. He has a ton of athleticism and already a sweet shooting stroke. Even if he does not turn out to be a "superstar" player, he will be a player who can contribute. With the Pelicans reconsidering the Eric Gordon signing from last summer, McLemore is a solid player to bring in and pair with Austin Rivers in the backcourt and Anthony Davis down low as part of the team's young core.
7. Sacramento Kings: C.J. McCollum (Lehigh) -- McCollum is largely considered to be this year's Damian Lillard and the comparison is apt. McCollum might be more of a point guard than Lillard was coming out of college. That is something Sacramento needs. Isaiah Thomas has been fantastic, but it is difficult to see him as a long-term solution at point guard. McCollum could be a perfect pair if Tyreke Evans ever figures himself out again. He certainly would be a strong scorer to help this revitalized fan base.
8. Detroit Pistons: Trey Burke (Michigan) -- If Burke ends up falling to the Pistons at No. 8, it just seems too perfect. Burke is adept at pick and roll basketball and he has a scorer's and attacker's mentality as a point guard. With the Pistons already with Brandon Knight at shooting guard and behemoths in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond down low, Burke seems likt eh perfect kind of point guard to help this team build. The fact that he would have a home crowd and comfort behind him, also helps.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia) -- Pope is still developing as an offensive player, but he is serviceable and has plenty of growth. What gets Caldwell-Pope drafted so high is his athleticism and defense. The Timberwolves have a mess in their backcourt outside of Ricky Rubio and so a pick of a defensive-minded, hard-nosed player seems like the fit. If you cannot get Victor Oladipo, this is the guy you want, I guess.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA) -- At one point, Muhammad was the top rated prospect in this year's Draft. He seemed like a can't-miss prospect with wide-ranging scoring abilities. Then he hit elgibility problems at UCLA and struggled through much of his freshman season. His stock slipped as results did not match perception. The thing is that his game may be better suited for the NBA and he could be a steal if a team shows patience with him and lets him have his chance to play.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Cody Zeller (Indiana) -- Zeller too was a top draft prospect at one point and had a mountain of expectations heaped on him that he failed to live up to at Indiana. He may neve rhave had franchise cornerstone in him, but he is still an extremely skilled player who can contribute if put in the right role. Philadelphia probably needs more of the star in Zeller, but needs his size more.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse) -- The Thunder desperately missed a point guard who could take some of the ball-handling duties off of Russell Westbrook but still be a threat to score. James Harden, in other words. Eric Maynor is growing, but Carter-Williams could be a nice counterpart. At 6-foot-7 he has the size to see over defenders. He also has the point guard skills to be that guy for this Thunder team if they keep the pick.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Steven Adams (Pittsburgh) -- If there is one thing you feel pretty safe on betting in tonight's Draft, it is that the Mavericks will find a way to move this pick. If they do not though, Adams would be a good piece to add (whether as an eventual backup to Dwight Howard or to groom as a starter). He has good size and good rebounding skills. He climbed up draft boards with strong workouts.
14. Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder (Germany) -- Schroeder burst onto the scene it seemed at the Nike World Hoops Summit in Portland where he went up against the best American high school students including Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. Schroeder came away as the most impressive, showing off his athleticism and growing skills. He is still extremely raw though and so a team will have to be patient with him as they try to tap into that potential.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Sergey Karasev (Croatia)
16. Boston Celtics: Gorgui Dieng (Louisville)
17. Atlanta Hawks: Kelly Olynyk (Gonzaga)
18. Atlanta Hawks: Giannis Adetokounbo (Greece)
19. Cleveland Cavaliers: Mason Plumlee (Duke)
20. Chicago Bulls: Rudy Gobert (France)
21. Utah Jazz: Tony Mitchell (North Texas)
22. Brooklyn Nets: Shane Larkin (Miami (Fla.))
23. Indiana Pacers: Jamaal Franklin (San Diego State)
24. New York Knicks: Glen Rice Jr. (Reno Bighorns)
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Jeff Withey (Kansas)
26. Minnesota Timberwolves: Lucas Nogueira (Brazil)
27. Denver Nuggets: Ricky Ledo (Providence)
28. San Antonio Spurs: Tim Hardaway Jr. (Michigan)
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Tony Snell (New Mexico)
30. Phoenix Suns: Reggie Bullock (North Carolina)
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