"Cleveland Cavaliers (from Los Angeles Clippers)
1 Kyrie Irving, PG
19 years old; 6-3, 190
While Irving has yet to be officially told he will be the pick here, there is an understanding around the NBA that this is an inevitable conclusion, which the Cavs don’t deny. Irving is the perfect building block to help transition the team into its post-Lebron era. He has an ideal combination of physical tools, scoring ability, play-making skills, defensive fundamentals and intangibles.
2 Minnesota Timberwolves
Derrick Williams, PF
20 years old; 6-9, 250
After having Derrick Williams locked in this spot for the past six weeks, signs emerged Wednesday that we might see a different player being picked by Minnesota. Multiple NBA teams who spoke with the Timberwolves on Wednesday were informed they were leaning toward picking Enes Kanter at No. 2, which was later confirmed by Minnesota itself.
Still, some NBA people think this may be a smoke screen, a desperate ploy to get one of Kanter’s suitors – possibly Washington or Cleveland – to make a trade offer. Others get the sense that this is indeed what Minnesota feels is the best move, adding a strong, physical, inside presence to its frontcourt, despite the the possible defensive shortcomings. Either way, it doesn’t look like Kanter is dropping past Utah at No. 3, at worst.
3 Utah Jazz (from New Jersey Nets)
Enes Kanter, C
19 years old; 6-11, 260
Utah appears to have plenty of options to improve its guard situation later in the draft, via trades or in free agency, but won’t have as many opportunities to acquire a big man of Kanter’s stature. It appears that Kanter has moved ahead of Brandon Knight on Utah’s board at the moment, but considering how tight-lipped the front office is, it’s tough to know for sure. What’s certain is that Knight’s camp has not received any assurances they will be picked here, while Utah has quietly expressed some concerns to fellow NBA teams about Knight’s readiness to man the position full time.
The dark horse pick here is Jonas Valanciunas, a player Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor has traveled to scout and interview personally multiple times in Lithuania.
4 Cleveland Cavaliers
Jonas Valanciunas, C
19 years old; 6-11, 240
Lietuvos Rytas, International
With his buyout issues yet to be fully resolved (nothing has officially been signed), Valanciunas flew into Cleveland for a secret meeting on Tuesday. He conducted a thorough medical examination, interviewed with the team’s front office and went through light drills, showing off his skill level, which looked better than advertised. With Kanter off the board, and Cleveland seemingly more comfortable with picking Valanciunas (despite having to wait a year for his services), the chances of him taking a significant drop on draft night appear to be much smaller.
Numerous NBA teams, such as San Antonio for example, are waiting to pounce if he slips past Washington at No. 6, knowing they’d have a rare opportunity to secure a franchise-caliber center.
If Valanciunas’ buyout is not resolved in time and Kanter is off the board, the Cavs could throw a curve ball at the draft by selecting Tristan Thompson here.
5 Toronto Raptors
Brandon Knight, PG
19 years old; 6-3, 180
Brandon Knight has been Toronto’s top option for most of the draft process, and this would be viewed as a positive development for the Raptors’ front office. Bismack Biyombo crashed to the top of their big board with an outstanding workout in New York this week, and appeared poised to be picked here, until Utah changed that plan by taking Kanter.
6 Washington Wizards
Jan Vesely SF
21 years old; 6-11, 240
KK Partizan Belgrade (Serbia)
Vesely appears to have received assurances from the Wizards that he’s indeed the pick, according to reports from NBA teams who have spoken with his camp. With the team’s other top options, Valanciunas and Kanter, off the board, this makes plenty of sense, even if Kawhi Leonard did draw some looks here as well.
If Valanciunas somehow slips past Utah, Cleveland and Toronto, the Wizards’ front office is high on his services. Still, it would be difficult for owner Ted Leonsis to sign off on having to wait on Valanciunas for another season, which is an edge for Vesely.
7 Sacramento Kings
Jimmer Fredette PG
22 years old; 6-2, 195
This may be the toughest team to call in the lottery, as it still appears that this pick could go many different directions. If it were up to the front office and coaching staff, the team would trade the pick, preferably for Tony Parker (and possibly Richard Jefferson) as as Yahoo! Sports reportede team feels its biggest needs are at point guard and small forward, and would far prefer adding the services of a veteran over an unpolished rookie.
Unfortunately Parker (and Jefferson) are both signed to significant long-term deals, which is a tough sell for an ownership group that is losing a lot of money every year.
Should the Kings keep this pick, the team will decide between Jimmer Fredette, Kawhi Leonard, and to a lesser extent, Klay Thompson and Kemba Walker. Thompson emerged on the team’s board with an outstanding showing in a private workout this past weekend, where he outperformed Alec Burks.
Fredette would be the choice that makes the most sense from a marketing perspective, which is an important consideration for a team trying to build a new arena and debating whether to stay in Sacramento.
8 Detroit Pistons
Bismack Biyombo, PF/C
18 years old; 6-9, 240 lbs
Baloncesto Fuenlabrada, International
Biyombo appears to be the clear-cut favorite in Detroit at the moment, after an outstanding workout on Tuesday against Tristan Thompson and Markieff Morris, where he showed significantly better offensive ability than he was thought to possess.
Biyombo’s strong ascension up NBA teams’ draft boards has not gone unnoticed by the league office, causing NBA officials to extend him a last-minute invitation to the green room, said multiple sources close to the situation. Teams that were looking to select the “unknown” Biyombo did not want to give the appearance of reaching so badly for his services that they would have to fetch him out of the crowd to shake David Stern’s hand, which is why a last-minute push was made to bring him in. Unfortunately, his family will not be able to arrive in time from the Congo.
9 Charlotte Bobcats
Chris Singleton, SF
21 years old; 6-9, 230
Florida State, junior
While many thought the Bobcats would relish the opportunity to select sophomore Kawhi Leonard if Sacramento elected to pass on him, it’s actually Singleton that is the top wing player on their board, particularly if Bismack Biyombo is already taken. Singleton would fill a significant hole for the team at the small forward position and would likely be its best defender from Day One. Kemba Walker will also get strong looks from Michael Jordan’s group.
10 Milwaukee Bucks
Klay Thompson, SG/SF
21 years old; 6-7, 205
Washington State, junior
Milwaukee is perhaps the most active team in trade discussions in the top 10, and there’s a strong possibility it will not be making this pick on draft night. Houston is offering Courtney Lee and the No. 23 pick, San Antonio is offering George Hill, and other teams are expected to make a strong push depending on what prospects fall to this spot. Jonas Valanciunas, Kemba Walker and Klay Thompson are likely to be the players that draw the best trade offers.
Should the team keep the pick, or even if someone trades up, look for Thompson to be selected here.
11 Golden State Warriors
Marcus Morris, PF
21 years old; 6-9, 230
The Warriors would likely be mildly disappointed in this outcome. They’d love to see Jonas Valanciunas fall to them, and are willing to wait on him. They also very much covet the services of Chris Singleton and Klay Thompson, who both fill positional needs.
Marcus Morris, while not their top option, is also in the mix here, and would give them some added toughness and inside-outside scoring that could serve their frontcourt rotation well.
Kemba Walker could be a dark horse pick here, if he falls this far. He doesn’t fill a need, but is the best player available and could be a major asset on the trading block.
12 Utah Jazz
Kemba Walker, PG
21 years old; 6-1, 185
This would be a disastrous fall for a player who was one of the faces of college basketball last season, one that would surely be scrutinized heavily both during the broadcast (you can already hear Dick Vitale) and well into the future by fans and media. Walker did everything possible to set himself up to be drafted high: leading his team to a Big East and NCAA championship, measuring out better than expected, and proving to be one of the most charismatic interviews amongst all prospects. But he seemingly still couldn’t quite do enough to convince NBA teams.
If things indeed played out this way (he’s also an option at Nos. 7, 9 and possibly 11), Walker would be viewed by many as the steal of the draft, a player who would likely start from Day One, picked on the fringe of the lottery. He garnered some consideration at No. 3, but ultimately fell because of reasons out of his control.
13 Phoenix Suns
Tristan Thompson, PF
20 years old; 6-9, 230
After drawing strong consideration as early as No. 4, and finishing second in Detroit at No. 8, this appears to be Tristan Thompson’s floor. He’s impressed mightily in every workout, both on the court, but especially off it, where his maturity and outgoing personality have really struck a chord with decision makers. The fact that his coaches at Texas are singing his praises – calling him one of their favorite players ever – doesn’t hurt. Phoenix needs an upgrade at power forward, which makes this a good fit for both parties.
14 Houston Rockets
Kawhi Leonard, SF
19 years old; 6-7, 225
San Diego State, sophomore
This would be a fairly disappointing fall for Leonard, who had strong supporters in front offices drafting much higher than this (Toronto at No. 5, Washington at 6 and Sacramento at 7). Ultimately, positional needs and team preferences could drop him down to the end of the lottery, where the Rockets would be ecstatic to land him.
15 Indiana Pacers
Marshon Brooks SG
22 years old; 6-5, 195
No player has moved up the boards as fast or as high as Providence’s Marshon Brooks over the past six weeks. Indiana has been doggedly shopping the likes of Brandon Rush and Dahntay Jones for quite some time, indicating their dissatisfaction with their wing options.
The Pacers are also heavily involved in numerous trade scenarios and could be active on draft night depending on how things pan out. They seem to be urgent to improve as much as possible in advance of next season, clearly looking to transition to win-now mode.
16 Philadelphia 76ers
Nikola Vucevic PF/C
20 years old; 7-0, 260
Doug Collins and 76ers brass have made no secret they’d like to improve their frontcourt as much as possible on draft night, and have reportedly narrowed in on USC’s Nikola Vucevic as their primary target. The Montenegro native would offer many of the same things as current starting center Spencer Hawes, but has a better body and is a little tougher around the rim.
17 New York Knicks
Markieff Morris, PF
21 years old; 6-10, 240
This would be a bit of a slide for Markieff Morris, but one that he would be willing to live with once he sees where he ends up. The Knicks are looking for size, athleticism, shot-blocking and toughness, and Morris offers all of those things. He also comes with the benefit of being able to run the floor and shoot 3-pointers in Mike D’Antoni’s system, which makes him an ideal fit next to Amar’e Stoudemire.
18 Washington Wizards (from Atlanta Hawks)
Donatas Motiejunas PF/C
20 years old; 7-0, 215
Benetton Treviso, International
Washington is not married to this pick, according to reports, and could elect to trade it for a future first, a young prospect and/or cash if the right offer comes along.
Motiejunas was projected as a top-10 pick not too long ago, but the emergence of other prospects, coupled with a growing concern regarding his deficiencies as a defender, rebounder and all-around competitor, have dropped his stock.
This would probably be the lowest Motiejunas drops, and while not really filling much of a need, this could end up being a significant coup for the Wizards, or any other team that nabs him here. The Lithuanian is a highly skilled and agile 7-footer with great potential as a mismatch scorer in the NBA. He is coming off a solid season playing at a high level in Europe.
19 Charlotte Bobcats (from New Orleans Hornets)
Alec Burks, SG
19 years old; 6-6, 195
This would be a dramatic slide for Alec Burks, largely because of other guard and wing prospects such as Marshon Brooks, Jimmer Fredette and Chris Singleton making significant leaps up the board. Charlotte would likely snatch him up in a heartbeat and could end up giving him significant playing time considering how depleted the Bobcats’ backcourt is. The son of their top executive, Rod Higgins, was Colorado’s second-leading scorer after Burks this season, meaning the team should know everything there is to know about Burks.
That is, if the team will be drafting here at all. This pick is reportedly available.
20 Minnesota Timberwolves (from Memphis Grizzlies)
Jordan Hamilton SF
20 years old; 6-8, 230
This would be a disappointing drop for Hamilton, who was projected as a lottery pick for most of the year. Questionable intel seems to be limiting his stock, and he hasn’t performed well enough in private workouts to overcome these concerns. This pick may be made for someone else, as the Timberwolves have let it be known that it’s available for the right price.
21 Portland Trail Blazers
Kenneth Faried PF
21 years old; 6-8, 225
Morehead State, senior
The Trail Blazers feel like they’ve added enough young prospects to their roster over the past two seasons and would like to find someone at this spot who can contribute right away. At this point in the draft, they aren’t going to find a prospect better than Kenneth Faried.
The team has been looking for a tough and active power forward who can bring energy off the bench. Faried could be exactly what the Blazers need.
22 Denver Nuggets
Tobias Harris SF/PF
18 years old; 6-8, 225
Harris could be drafted much higher than this spot on Thursday, and almost certainly would be had he stayed in school for another year or two. The Nuggets’ front office can afford to be patient developing a project in the event he slides.
23 Houston Rockets (from Orlando Magic)
Iman Shumpert, PG/SG
20 years old; 6-6, 220
Georgia Tech, junior
Shumpert’s draft range appears huge at the moment, starting with Phoenix at No. 13 and moving all the way to the end of the first round, where his hometown team of Chicago likes his defensive potential and athleticism. The Rockets don’t have a glaring need for a player at his position but could be drawn to his upside, seeing as how no other prospect really jumps out at this stage of the draft.
24 Oklahoma City Thunder
23 years old; 6-9, 225
Oklahoma City’s only real need at the moment is for a combo forward in the Jeff Green mold. While this can be addressed in free agency, drafting a polished and experienced senior like Kyle Singler makes plenty of sense. He can space the floor at both the 3 and 4 positions, will compete defensively and on the glass, and won’t need a great deal of schooling to make the transition to the pros.
25 Boston Celtics
Tyler Honeycutt SF
20 years old; 6-8, 190
With a number of talented wing prospects on the board here, this would be a good opportunity for Boston to nab a player it thinks can help down the road when Paul Pierce and Ray Allen start winding down their careers. Honeycutt isn’t ready to see major playing time in the NBA, but has considerable upside and would be well served being around Boston’s Big Three.
26 Dallas Mavericks
Davis Bertans SF
18 years old; 6-10, 210
Union Olimpija Ljubljana, International
Fresh off winning an NBA championship, the Dallas Mavericks are in position to pick a player who may be a couple of years away from contributing. Small forward could become a position of need, and having a talented prospect like Bertans developing overseas on a Euroleague team makes sense considering that roster spots are at a premium for the Mavs.
Bertans is said to have a promise at No. 29 from San Antonio, but that won’t stop Dallas from taking him if they like him.
27 New Jersey Nets (from Los Angeles Lakers)
Chandler Parsons SF
22 years old; 6-10, 220
Parsons has seen his stock rise significantly over the past few weeks thanks to some impressive workouts. Standing 6-10, he’s one of the most polished and versatile players in the draft, capable of playing as many as three positions. The Nets are fairly weak at small forward and could use another ball-handler capable of passing and making shots from the perimeter.
28 Chicago Bulls (from Miami Heat)
Justin Harper, PF
21 years old; 6-9, 230
While shooting guard may be the biggest need on this roster, the options here don’t appear attractive. Picking up a floor-spacing power forward like Harper makes sense as none of Chicago’s big men are dangerous from the perimeter.
29 San Antonio Spurs
Nikola Mirotic PF
20 years old; 6-10, 210
Real Madrid, International
Mirotic surprisingly elected to keep his name in the draft after telling everyone for months that he would withdraw. Having recently signed a lucrative extension with Real Madrid until 2015, the Montenegrin native is years away from stepping foot on an NBA court. Nevertheless, he’s a lottery-caliber talent who harbors NBA aspirations, which could make him a significant asset in two or three years.
The Spurs are the type of franchise that is willing and able to be patient with a prospect like Mirotic. And they’re also savvy, aggressive and knowledgeable enough with these international situations to know how to get a deal done.
30 Chicago Bulls
Travis Leslie SG/SF
21 years old; 6-4, 205
The Bulls are telling interested teams they’re unlikely to keep both of their first-round selections, which means this pick could be in someone else’s hands on draft night. They are looking at packaging both picks and moving up, or possibly selling one for cash if the offer is right.
Shooting guard is the biggest position of need on this roster, and while Leslie doesn’t appear to be an ideal fit alongside Derrick Rose and behind Ronnie Brewer, his athleticism could intrigue the Bulls enough to take a chance on him."