NBA mock draft: Sixers nab a fierce shooter
With the NBA draft set for tonight, it's time for the final version of the CSNPhilly.com mock draft.
This year’s draft has a superstar in waiting at the top and plenty of NBA-ready talent in the 10-20 range – but it’s short on elite point guards and international players. There is just one foreign player listed below.
The big question on Philadelphia fans' minds: Who can help the Sixers take another step towards becoming a serious contender in the Eastern Conference?
1. New Orleans Hornets - Anthony Davis - 6-10/220, PF, Kentucky
Davis is hands-down the top prospect in this year's draft. The 2012 consensus College Player of the Year enters the NBA as an elite defender, shot blocker and rebounder.
Davis is the rare player who can impact a game without scoring a point, and he's just scratching the surface on the offensive end. He spent most of his youth playing on the perimeter before growing eight inches in high school, giving him outstanding ball skills and shooting touch for a post player.
He arrives at just the right time for the Hornets, who are under brand new ownership and desperately need a face of the franchise after trading Chris Paul before the start of last season.
2. Charlotte Bobcats - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist - 6-7/ 210, SF, Kentucky
Charlotte has a big decision to make, but I'm holding firm with the belief Kidd-Gilchrist will be the pick. He'll give the Bobcats a versatile athlete on the wing and a tremendous perimeter defender.
Davis received all the accolades, but Kidd-Gilchrist was the key to Kentucky's national championship. He's capable of scoring 20 points a night, but sacrificed numbers for the success of the team. That's something NBA executives notice.
Kidd-Gilchrist needs to improve his outside shooting, but count on him getting to the basket, developing into a lockdown defender and bringing maximum effort and energy every night.
3. Washington Wizards - Bradley Beal - 6-5/205, SG, Florida
The Wizards have a decision to make here: go big or set your backcourt for the next 10 years. I think they'll do the latter and select Beal, the perfect compliment to John Wall.
Beal is a silky smooth shooter who can also get to the rim. He'll have no trouble scoring from the minute he enters the NBA. He made tremendous strides during his only collegiate season at Florida, and will continue to improve at the pro level. He has All-Star written all over him.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers - Thomas Robinson - 6-9, 240, PF, Kansas
The Cavs get great value with Robinson here – he could easily go second-overall after Davis. The power forward brings it each and every night, and got the most out of his talents during a superb three-year career at Kansas.
Robinson's character and work ethic will go a long way at the pro level. He is a tad undersized, but is extremely athletic and has a nose for the ball. Robinson was a double-double machine in college, and there's no reason that shouldn't continue in the NBA.
5. Sacramento Kings - Harrison Barnes - 6-8/210, SF, North Carolina
The Kings could decide to go big here, but the instant offense that Barnes will bring is too much to pass up. Barnes has no trouble getting his own shot, and his percentages went up as a sophomore at North Carolina.
He was far too inconsistent in college however, and will need to step up his game on the defensive end. But in the NBA, it's all about putting the ball in the hole – something Barnes specializes in.
6. Portland Trail Blazers - Damian Lillard - 6-2, 190, PG, Weber State
Portland fills a big need here with Lillard, a classic shoot-first point guard who averaged 24.5 points as a junior at Weber State. He's the best point guard of a weak crop in this year's draft -- an outstanding long-range shooter and more than capable playmaker. The biggest question: can he produce against competition far better than he faced playing in the Big Sky Conference.
7. Golden State Warriors - Andre Drummond - 6-11, 270, C, Connecticut
The Warriors will roll the dice with Drummond, the ultimate boom-or-bust prospect. Drummond has all the physical tools NBA executives crave in a post player: size, athleticism, good feet and soft hands. But his work ethic – or as scouts refer to it, motor – is a giant question mark.
Drummond came to UConn hailed as the next great college big man. He proceeded to put up pedestrian numbers and, worse yet, seemed disengaged most of the time. To his credit, he's lost 20 pounds since the end of his freshman season. But will that extra weight re-surface once he starts cashing NBA paychecks? One of the many unknowns when it comes to Drummond.
8. Toronto Raptors - Dion Waiters - 6-5, 215, SG, Syracuse
Waiters is one of the best pure athletes in the draft -- able to get to the basket and a very good finisher. His mid-range game is solid, but he'll need to improve his three-point shooting. The biggest knock on Waiters is his character, something he began to address by agreeing to come off the bench last season at Syracuse. The Dwyane Wade comparison is a popular one, but Waiters is much more raw than Wade was when he entered the league.
9. Detroit Pistons - John Henson - 6-10, 220, PF, North Carolina
I consider Henson a reach here, but his upside will be too much to pass up for the Pistons. He is a great athlete and an elite shot blocker and rebounder. His jump shot is well above average for a post player. The biggest question regarding Henson has been lingering for years: his rail thin frame. He'll need to add significant bulk to withstand the grind of an 82-game season.
10. New Orleans Hornets - Austin Rivers - 6-4, 200, SG, Duke
I had Rivers going to the 76ers with the 15th pick in my first mock draft, but I no longer believe he'll be on the board at that point. I expect the Hornets to bolster their backcourt with Rivers after taking Anthony Davis with the first pick. Rivers was hot and cold in his only collegiate season at Duke. For every breathtaking drive to the basket, there was a head-scratching poor decision.
But his game is tailor-made for the NBA. He is a knock-down shooter with range well beyond the NBA three-point line, and he can get to the basket whenever he wants. As we saw in Duke's game at North Carolina, he certainly isn't afraid of the big moment. His father is Celtics head coach and former NBA point guard Doc Rivers, so the professional lifestyle won't be anything new for Austin. I wouldn't be surprised if 8-10 years from now we look back and say the Hornets got the two best players in this draft in Davis and Rivers.
11. Portland Trail Blazers - Tyler Zeller - 6-11, 240, PF, North Carolina
While he doesn't have the same upside as other big men in this draft like Anthony Davis or Andre Drummond, Zeller will satisfy whoever drafts him. Last season's ACC Player of the Year is very skilled on the low block, and can also get out and fill the lane in transition. Zeller will need to extend his shooting range in the NBA, but he'll be a solid rotation guy who should develop into a starter for the next 8-10 years.
12. Houston Rockets - Terrence Jones - 6-8, 245, SF, Kentucky
Jones is one of a handful of players in this draft -- Harrison Barnes and Perry Jones are the others -- who would have been selected higher if they chose to come out following their freshman season. As sophomore Jones often took a backseat to Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Jones has a tendency to fall in love with the outside shot rather than attacking the basket, but he is an elite athlete who will offer some much-needed scoring punch to the Rockets assuming they keep this pick.
13. Phoenix Suns - Kendall Marshall - 6-4, 200, PG, North Carolina
The time has come for the Suns to replace Steve Nash and they could do worse than Marshall, who will fall this far because of concerns over his scoring ability. Marshall silenced that criticism toward the end of last season and in the postseason at North Carolina. While questions persist over his shot-making prowess, one thing is certain – he'll be among the league's best facilitators from the moment he puts on an NBA uniform. His court vision and passing ability bring to mind Jason Kidd. Marshall's value to a team was evident following his wrist injury in the NCAA Tournament, when top-seeded and ultra-talented North Carolina failed to advance to the Final Four.
14. Milwaukee Bucks - Jeremy Lamb - 6-5, 190, SG, Connecticut
Lamb is projected to go anywhere from 10th to 15th and would be a great value pick if he falls to the Bucks here. Lamb was expected to take the torch from Kemba Walker and run with it at UConn, but things never really developed that way. He was inconsistent as a sophomore and appeared disinterested on occasion. But when he's in the right frame of mind, Lamb can take over a game with his scoring ability. In the right situation, he has the potential to develop into a very solid NBA wing player.
15. Philadelphia 76ers - Terrence Ross - 6-6, 200, SG, Washington
The popular opinion is the 76ers are in the market for a big man. That certainly makes sense given the uncertain futures of Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand and the abundance of post players available in this draft.
But I have a feeling the front office is looking for a perimeter scorer. Their second-round playoff exit against the Celtics was marred by prolonged scoring droughts that not even the 76ers' staunch defense could overcome. Long story short – they need someone that can make shots on a regular basis. Ross can do just that.
I attended his workout at PCOM two weeks ago and listened to Director of Player Personnel Courtney Witte gush about Ross' future. He's one of the two or three best shooters in this draft, and fills a need for the 76ers.
16. Houston Rockets - Moe Harkless - 6-8, 220, SF, St. John's
17. Dallas Mavericks - Meyers Leonard - 7-0, 245, C, Illinois
18. Houston Rockets - Perry Jones - 6-10, 235, PF, Baylor
19. Orlando Magic - Arnett Moultrie - 6-10, 235, PF, Mississippi St
20. Denver Nuggets - Royce White - 6-8, 250, PF, Iowa St.
21. Boston Celtics - Jared Sullinger - 6-9, 265, PF, Ohio State
22. Boston Celtics - Andrew Nicholson - 6-9, 225, PF, St. Bonaventure
23. Atlanta Hawks - Marquis Teague - 6-2, 190, PG, Kentucky
24. Cleveland Cavaliers - Jeffrey Taylor - 6-7, 230, SF, Vanderbilt
25. Memphis Grizzlies - Quincy Miller - 6-9, 210, SF, Baylor
26. Indiana Pacers - Doron Lamb - 6-4, 200, SG, Kentucky
27. Miami Heat - Fab Melo - 7-0, 255, C, Syracuse
28. Oklahoma City Thunder - Draymond Green - 6-7, 235, SF, Michigan St.
29. Chicago Bulls - John Jenkins - 6-4, 210, SG, Vanderbilt
30. Golden State Warriors - Evan Fournier - 6-6, 190, SF, France E-mail Sean Kane at firstname.lastname@example.org