While NBA fans eagerly await the outcome of the finals match up between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat, the other 28 franchises around the league have been busy at work preparing for the upcoming NBA draft. As usual, uncertainty is the name of the game, thus making draft predictions that much more difficult. Aside from bonafide #1 pick Anthony Davis, the rest of the field is still a mixture of speculation with the #2 pick and on still a mystery. This article will try to unravel some possible scenarios, and along the way make some pretty bold predictions.
- New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis - Needs: Franchise player - There probably is not a franchise in the league with greater feelings of hope. After the Wednesday dumping of Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, the Hornets made a bold statement on their future plans. There really is no doubt who the Hornets will take in this upcoming draft, as there hasn’t been a big man talent of this calibre since Dwight Howard in 2004. Expect them to take Davis, it’s almost a guarantee.
- Charlotte Bobcats – Andre Drummond – Needs: Franchise player - The Bobcats are in really bad shape. Winning 7 games out of 66 must have been bad on the fans, but not winning the draft lottery must have felt worse. Michael Jordan’s Bobcats must look for a way to turn this franchise around, and drafting the only guy in the draft with more potential than Davis could be the answer. Drummond is far from a sure-thing however, and the Bobcats will need to be sure that they have the personnel in place to coach a player that has tremendous talent, but hasn’t been able to utilize it to its fullest. Questions regarding Drummond’s drive for success further these troubles.
- Washington Wizards – Bradley Beal – Needs: Wing scorer - It’s almost time to come out of the dark Wizards fans. With John Wall and Nene manning two crucial positions, the Wizards will see the post season as a definite possibility. Acquiring Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor already makes this team a clear playoff squad but drafting an Eric Gordon-esque scoring guard out of Florida will give them potential to even go deeper. This year may not be the year that fans have been waiting for, but Randy Wittman and co. have definitely taken a step forward.
- Cleveland Cavaliers – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist - Needs: All-round wing man - In my opinion, MKG is a lock to land with the Cavaliers if he is available at #4. The Cavs need a wingman, and Kidd-Gilchrist is someone who at worst should be a solid contributor at the get-go. Had they not taken Tristan Thompson in last season’s draft, Thomas Robinson would be a definite possibility.
- Sacramento Kings – Harrison Barnes - News of Tyreke Evans possibly on the trading block makes this pick a little tougher to guess. If the rumours are true it would seem that the Kings have DeMarcus Cousins penciled in as their franchise player, and Harrison Barnes would be a perfect complimentary second/third option. He can shoot the ball, he can rebound and he looks to be a solid defender in the league. Barnes will probably never be a star, but he will be solid.
- Portland – Meyers Leonard - Needs: Point Guard, Center, Wings - This is a bold prediction and it could very well be wrong, but I’m going to make it anyways. With Thomas Robinson, Damian Lillard and Jeremy Lamb still on the board, any of those guys would be attractive to the Blazers. In my opinion however, Leonard is someone who will be a solid contributor for years to come, and at 7-1 he will be a perfect complimentary player to LaMarcus Aldridge. Sure, there are higher upside picks at this point but everyone knows how badly the Blazers have been burned by potential.
- Golden State Warriors – Terrence Ross - Needs: Good uptempo forward - The Warriors have 4 of 5 starter positions locked up. To keep with their usual uptempo offense, the Warriors will be slightly disappointed in not being able to nab Barnes or MKG, but Ross will be a great third prize filled with athleticism and potential. He has a solid jumpshot too, something Dorrell Wright was supposed to consistently provide but could not.
- Toronto Raptors – Jeremy Lamb - Needs: All-round wingman - The Raptors will need a wing player in this draft. With Thomas Robinson still on the board, Bryan Colangelo will definitely want to pull the trigger, but with Andrea Bargnani, Jonas Valunciunas and Ed Davis, the Raptors would have zero room for him. Jeremy Lamb is no pushover however, as he will be a player that will be able to score right from the start. Lamb has a great jumpshot, and is probably the second best scoring wing in this draft behind Bradley Beal. His long 6’11 wingspan will do him wonders and the Raptors will have no choice but to take him at #8.
- Detroit Pistons – Thomas Robinson - Needs: Youth at the wing - One draft strategy is to take the best player available. In any other sport I would agree but with basketball, there are only 5 positions and 12 roster spots. To add to that, there is no minor league development system like there is in baseball and hockey, so generally I feel that drafting by need is the smarter approach. In this case however, the Pistons will take Robinson simply because of the talent.
- New Orleans Hornets – Kendall Marshall – Needs: Franchise player, Youth, Point guard - They will have already satisfied the franchise player need with Anthony Davis and youth is a given in a draft. Having said that, the Hornets will be the first team to take a point guard in a bad point guard draft and despite what others think, I predict they take Kendall Marshall. With Lillard and Rivers still on the board, some will question this pick but the Hornets do not need another scoring guard. Jarrett Jack and to a much greater extent Eric Gordon already satisfy that need. Marshall is a true floor general and could be a poor man’s Chris Paul.
- Portland Trail Blazers – Damian Lillard – Needs: Point guard, Center, Wings - Portland will be ecstatic to still have Lillard on the board. They’ll take him at #11 and have a shoot first point guard that they will look to mould into an all round leader. Lillard is a prolific scorer and if he can develop point guard skills, he will be absolutely dangerous on the court.
- Milwaukee Bucks – Jared Sullinger - Needs: Big man, Small forward - The Bucks will select Jared Sullinger despite his lack of athleticism, struggles against bigger players and more. In my opinion, Sullinger will be a solid talent in the league despite everything that has been said of him. His choice to remain in college last year despite a guaranteed top 3 draft position will probably always be on his mind, but Sullinger has been a guy that has always produced and just knows what to do on the court. He already possesses NBA strength and rebounding, and at worse will be a solid workhorse for the Bucks.
- Phoenix Suns – Perry Jones – Needs: Everything - The Suns have long been propelled by Steve Nash but it looks as if he will finally leave Phoenix this year to pursue a championship ring somewhere else. What remains of Phoenix is dreadfully bad, and don’t be surprised if they end up along the lines of the Bobcats of this year. Perry Jones is probably the last remaining player not taken in this draft that has perennial all-star potential. A team like Phoenix must look at nothing but potential in making this pick.
- Houston Rockets – John Henson - Needs: Power forward, Small forward - Kevin McHale loves his big men. I’m sure he would have loved Jared Sullinger, but Henson is a great defensive shot blocker that will make the Rockets post defence exceptional in the years to come. He looks like a young Samuel Dalembert, and the Rockets were much better defensively because of Dalembert in the past season. Once Henson bulks up, he will average 2 bpg regularly with solid rebounding numbers.
NBA fans around the world will eagerly await the draft on June 28 as the chance of potentially adding a game changing player is always in the minds of viewers. As such, it is highly difficult to predict what will happen and everyone will have different interpretations of what could possibly occur.
I’m eager to hear what you guys think. Leave a comment below with your predictions.