In this mock, I won’t bother making realistic predictions. Instead, I’ll just chart what NBA GMs SHOULD do (not necessarily what they will do). I’ll include trades I think teams should make. As always, David Kahn is a bucket of tools.
1. CLE (via LAC)—Derrick Williams, SF/PF Arizona: I think the Cavs need Irving more than they do Williams. The rumored three-team deal between the Cavs, Wolves and Pistons hit a snag, and Cleveland can no longer bank on the Pistons tossing in their #8 pick to Minny for nothing but cap relief. But here’s what they do know: A. David Kahn (owner of the #2 pick) does not want Williams, and can’t afford to draft an 11th point guard in Irving. B. Utah doesn’t necessarily need Irving either, but would probably draft him if he fell to them. C. There’s probably an easy deal to be made between Cleveland and Utah for the Cavs to swap the #4 and the #3. If Cleveland wants to force Kahn’s hand (which should be easy…Kanter is the only prospect he wants of the top three), taking Williams is the best option for #1 overall.
2. MIN—Enes Kanter, PF/C International: Okay, I don’t think the Timberwolves should really draft Kanter. But in this scenario they have no choice. After having just signed Rubio days ago, Luke Ridnour last summer, and having drafted Jonny Flynn two summers ago, drafting Kyrie Irving (without an appropriate trade partner for one or all of the aforementioned guys) would be an absolute PR nightmare. Williams is gone. Nobody wants to trade with Kahn because he’s asking for too much. So what he should do in this case is draft the prospect he really wants: Kanter.
3. CLE (via UTAH)—Kyrie Irving, PG Duke: Knowing that with Kanter gone they actually like Brandon Knight as much as they do Irving (pure speculation) the Jazz swap picks with Cleveland and get back two 2011 second rounders. Works out great for the Cavs, who end up with the top two players in this draft without having to take back an atrocious contract from Detroit. Maybe they’ll have to throw in a future first rounder too, but for an Irving/Williams draft, I doubt they’ll care.
4. UTAH (via CLE)—Brandon Knight, PG/SG Kentucky: See Cleveland explanation. Kanter/Jimmer is an option, but if Utah really wants Knight they ought to exploit Cleveland’s desire to pair Irving with Williams and trade the #3 for the #4 in exchange for as many picks as Cleveland is willing to give back.
5. HOU (via TOR)—Jonas Valanciunas, C International: For a while there it was rumored that Valanciunas might pull out of this draft. So far he hasn’t, and the Rockets would be a match made in heaven. How do they pull it off? The #14, #23 and #38 might be enough. Toronto probably really wants Irving, but after him there’s a pretty big talent dropoff at their biggest position of need (PG). But since they suck so bad, it might be a good idea for them to just accumulate picks. Meanwhile, the Rockets are probably deep enough to let Valanciunas develop and adjust for a while before taking over as the team’s next big international starting center. If he’s as good as they say, it’s a good move for Houston.
6. POR (via WAS)—Kemba Walker, PG UCONN: I have always penciled in Jan Vesely for this spot. But remember, this is what teams should do, not what they’re most likely to do. Portland wants Walker. If they really like them, they could send Marcus Camby (will most likely retire and become an instant cap savings if he’s traded) and Rudy Fernandez along with their first rounder (#21) to Washington for the #6 and take Walker. The Wiz, who probably want to dump Andray Blatche, could try to include him on the deal as well. Walker cancelled his workout with the Kings. I doubt the Wizards want him. That may mean the Blazers are targeting the #6 or Toronto has already made a promise to him at the #5.
7. SAC—Alec Burks, SG Colorado: The Kings would really like Brandon Knight. Barring a trade up, he won’t be available but Burks could accomplish for them the same thing (a two-guard upgrade who can share PG responsibilities with Udrih and Evans). Burks is young yet, and may be able to contribute at the 1-3 positions with his rare versatility. To me, he’s a can’t miss as a fit in Sac-to.
8. DET—Bismack Biyombo, PF/C International: Detroit is in the unenviable position of sucking, yet having a ton of abominable contracts. Their job this draft and off-season should be to acquire as many cheap, high-upside picks as they can. Biyombo fits the bill. Between him, Jerebko and Monroe, the Detroit front-line has plenty of potential. When they’re finally able to jettison Charlie V, Hamilton and/or Gordon via trades or the proposed amnesty clause, the Pistons will finally be in the position to rebuild the right way.
9. CHA—Kahwi Leonard, SF San Diego State: It’s not always a great idea to trade up. The Bobcats’ smartest move here is to just let the best available player fall to them. With all the movement inside the top 6, Leonard gets lost in the shuffle and Charlotte benefits. Leonard is the cheap, rookie version of Gerald Wallace (but he can shoot). Wallace was popular and successful in Charlotte, so Leonard makes sense.
10. MIL—Marcus Morris, SF/PF Kansas: The Bucks supposedly like Morris and Burks, and will hope for either of them to fall to #10. Morris is a good value here, so taking him is probably the best decision, with Burks gone. They also may like Marshon Brooks enough to target him, but this is too high.
11. GSW—Jan Vesely, SF International: Vesely could have gone as high as #5, and there are quite a few teams that like him in the lottery. He fits the Warriors’ style, assuming they keep running and gunning under new leadership. Even if they don’t, he’s got too much potential, especially on defense, for them to pass him up here. Given the luxury of taking him or Chris Singleton, who they are also rumored to covet, they go with the higher upside.
12. UTAH—Jimmer Fredette, PG/SG Brigham Young: I know it seems illogical for the Jazz to take Brandon Knight and Jimmer Fredette, but even though their skill sets and limitations kind of mirror each other, all indications are that the Jazz love both, and when you think you can draft two special players in a weak draft, you ought to do it. I don’t necessarily agree that this makes sense from a strategic standpoint, but it’s what the Jazz should do because Fredette will immediately appeal to about 50% of the Jazz fans (the casual ones) while Knight should immediately appeal to the other 50%. Losing Deron Williams was a box office blow. These two can help erase it.
13. PHO—Tristan Thompson, PF Texas: With Jimmer gone the Suns address one of their other needs, which is acquiring a standard-sized PF who can play interior defense and rebound. Thompson is light, but his leaping ability and nose for the offensive glass help make up for it.
14. TOR (via HOU)—Darius Morris, PG Michigan: Morris is being mocked anywhere from here to the early second. But he’s the only pure PG available in this range, and Toronto would be smart to snatch him up to replace the overpaid Jose Calderon (who they can start shopping now or near the deadline).
15. WAS (via IND)—Chris Singelton, SF/PF Florida State: Washington traded back earlier from #6 to #21. Now they get the guy they may have been targeting at #6 anyway by trading up with Indiana. The #18 and #34 for Indiana’s #15 would be fair, and would land the Wizards the player they covet in Singleton. Indiana may be smart to just draft him here, but if given an offer like this from Washington, they shouldn’t turn it down.
16. PHI—Markieff Morris, PF/C Kansas: Philly needs beef, and in each of my last two mocks they had to settle for Kenneth Faried. Morris is bigger and fits their needs more specifically.
17. NJN (via NYK)—Donatas Motiejunas, PF International: Motiejunas was at one point a fringe top-10 guy whose stock may have taken a hit recently with his inability to participate in pre-draft workouts. In this scenario the Nets trade up, giving up the #27 and the #36. The Knicks need to save money as they prepare to save up for next summer, and this move helps them by a million or so bucks.
18. IND (via WAS)—Josh Selby, PG/SG Kansas: Selby’s workouts have put him solidly in the first round. The Pacers need help at backup PG, and given their inability to draw big-name free agents or ever draft inside the top-5, they need to take some gambles in order to get exponentially better. Selby is a high-risk, high-reward guy who could be a star at some point in his career. There are very few players who could be truly special available in this draft, and the Pacers land one here.
19. CHA (via NOR)—Kenneth Faried, PF Morehead State: With all the true centers and big PFs gone, Charlotte takes Faried to help with their rebounding and interior defense. Between Leonard and Faried they net two high energy guys who should endear themselves to fans immediately.
20. MIN (via MEM)—Klay Thompson, SG Washington State: Kahn lucks into a great value at a position of need here with Thompson, who’s one of the best-shooting pure 2-guards in this draft.
21. WAS (via POR)—Tobias Harris, SF/PF Tennessee: Washington takes another tweener here. Singelton can help them right away, and Harris has a ton of remaining potential.
22. DEN—Jordan Hamilton, SG/SF Texas: Hamilton has good size and could help replace Wilson Chandler if he departs via free agency.
23. TOR (via HOU)—Nikola Vucevic, C USC: There are very few pure centers in this draft, and Vucevic’s workouts have boosted him firmly into the first round. He’s bigger, longer and more athletic than anyone thought, and with the #14 and #23 picks the Raptors are able to address the two most important positions in PG and C.
24. OKC—Marshon Brooks, SG Providence: A lot of people are high on Brooks, and he’s even been mentioned as a possible top-10 selection. Knowing that, the Thunder get a nice value here, as Brooks can help add some more scoring to the OKC’s biggest position of need.
25. BOS—Tyler Honeycutt, SG/SF UCLA: The Celtics are pretty thin at the wing, and Honeycutt is NBA-ready and versatile. Plus he can play a little defense.
26. DAL—Davis Bertans, SG International: Bertans is a more well-rounded version of Peja Stojakovic without such a reliable jumper. Still, he’d fit in nicely with the rest of Dallas’s internationally-focused roster.
27. NYK (via NJN)—Reggie Jackson, PG Boston College: Jackson’s measureables have teams salivating and the Knicks will be looking for depth at the PG position as they wait for their opportunity to go after either Chris Paul or Deron Williams next summer.
28. IND (via CHI)—Jeremy Tyler, PF International: The Bulls have two late firsts and have been rumored to be shopping at least one of them. With no shot at an elite 2-guard falling to them, they take the cost-saving route here and take back cash, the newly acquired #34 pick and maybe even Brandon Rush for the #28. Tyler, like Selby, is another freakishly-athletic high-risk, high-reward guy who could someday be special.
29. SAS—Nikola Mirotic, SF/PF International: The Spurs have some needs, and will have trouble getting back to that #1 seed next year considering their age issues. But Mirotic has a ton of potential, and is the type of player the Spurs like to stash away for a couple seasons and bring over to infuse some star power. If he keeps on improving at the rate he is, watch out in a few seasons.
30. CHI—Shelvin Mack, PG/SG Butler: Assuming the aforementioned trade with Indiana nets Brandon Rush, the Bulls won’t be as desperate for a 2-guard, but could use a combo type who can provide minutes off the bench at both backcourt spots. If Mack proves he’s an NBA-level ball-handler, he could fit the bill, as we all know what type of shooter he can be.
31. MIA (via MIN)—Chandler Parsons, SF Florida: The Heat are rumored to love Parsons, and I don’t blame them. They need some interior defense, but athleticism and ball handling from the wing position, during those rare occasions when LeBron and Wade are on the bench, could help.
32. UTAH (via CLE)—Kyle Singler, SF Duke: In the earlier trade that netted both Jimmer and Brandon Knight, the Jazz got back two 2011 second rounders. Singler, the first, will be a hit in Utah, as he provides fundamentals and underrated court presence. He should be a solid rotational player for years to come.
33. DET (via TOR)—Nolan Smith, PG Duke: Smith showed he can play PG throughout his career at Duke, especially this season, and the Pistons might need one if Rodney Stuckey departs.
34. CHI (via IND)—JaJuan Johnson, PF Purdue: Mack and Johnson, two guys with Indiana ties, wind up in Chicago in this scenario. I can’t see Johnson slipping any farther.
35. SAC—Justin Harper, SF/PF Richmond: Harper can stretch the floor, which will help open up things for Evans and Burks.
36. NYK (via NJN)—John Leur, PF/C Wisconsin: Leur’s a blue-collar guy, which is kind of anti-NY, but he fills a need. The Knicks will want some cheap, big bodies to help take some of the stress off of Amare.
37. LAC (via DET)—Malcolm Lee, PG/SG UCLA: The hometown Lee, from combo guard-U, should be immediately useful in LA, where the guard rotation is a little undersized, to say the least. Lee’s got good handles for a two, and good height for a one.
38. TOR (via HOU)—Trey Thompkins, PF Georgia Tech: A legit big body, Thompkins is probably a steal here.
39. CHA—Norris Cole, PG Cleveland State: There’s a bit of uncertainty at the PG spot in Charlotte, and Cole is NBA-ready, if not a little underwhelming, pedigree-wise.
40. MIL—David Lighty, SG Ohio State: Call it nostalgic, but Bucks fans might enjoy a second round Ohio State 2-guard known for his one-dimensional game and shooting stroke…
41. LAL (via GSW)—Iman Shumpert, PG/SG Georgia Tech: Shumpert’s combine numbers have him rocketing up draft boards, but I doubt he sneaks into the first round. But I don’t see him slipping past LA, who could use cheap backcourt help.
42. IND—Keith Benson, C Oakland: Someone could reach on Benson, but if they don’t, expect a team like Indiana to take advantage of his rare timing and shot blocking abilities.
43. GSW (via PHO)—Jordan Williams, PF Maryland: Not a prototypical runner/gunner type, but maybe with a new coach Golden State gets more into halfcourt sets. If so, Williams is a perfect fit. Really the reason they draft him here is because he’s a fringe first rounder and he could not only make the team but contribute very soon.
44. CHI (via UTAH)—Lucas Noguiera, C International: I’m not even confident Noguiera should stay in the draft, but if he does he could luck into a situation where a contender takes him hoping he’ll develop into something special.
45. NOR (via PHI)—Cory Joseph, PG Texas: Joseph very well could be something special. He showed flashes in his one college season. The Chris Paul era is coming to an end very soon, it looks like.
46. LAL (via NYK)—Jimmy Butler, SF/PF Marquette: Butler’s a nice value here. He’s a good defender and good teammate, who should help a contending team out in some capacity.
47. LAC (via HOU)—Greg Smith, PF/C Fresno State: The Clips look for the next DeAndre Jordan, in case Jordan leaves via free agency. Chris Kaman’s time in Clipper-land is almost up, so the extra body won’t hurt either way.
48. ATL—Jereme Richmond, SF Illinois: Few second rounders have as much potential as Richmond. The Hawks are looking to get cheaper and more exciting.
49. MEM—Ben Hansbrough, PG Notre Dame: Mike Conley needs a smart, safe backup. Hansbrough fits the bill.
50. PHI (via NOR)—Malcolm Thomas, SF/PF San Diego State: Thomas is kind of a poor man’s Thad Young. Young may be out, so Thomas could be in.
51. POR—Michael Dunigan, C International: Portland elected to go after Walker earlier, so they address their other need here with a projet center.
52. DEN—Charles Jenkins, PG/SG Hofstra: I love Jenkins’ size and versatility. Some team will too, and whoever does will get a good deal this late.
53. ORL—Robin Benzing, SF International: Not much size left. O-town goes Benzing, who can play PF in a pinch if he makes the team.
54. UTAH (via CLE)—E’Twaun Moore, SG Purdue: Another undersized guard for Utah, but the pickins are slim. Moore’s a hard worker.
55. BOS—Andrew Groudelock, PG College of Charleston: Groudelock will be drafted. He’ll have a shot to make a team with his three point shooting.
56. LAL—Jamie Skeen, PF VCU: A poor man’s Antawn Jamison, Skeen is a stretch-4 only, but could be useful in the right system.
57. DAL—Rick Jackson, PF Syracuse: More beef inside for a Dallas team that may lose Tyson Chandler to free agency.
58. LAL (via MIA)—Travis Leslie, SG Georgia: BPA, ’nuff said. The Lakers are a difficult squad for second rounders to make, but Leslie could be a gem.
59. SAS—Joffrey Lovergne, PF International: Token random Frenchie for the Spurs.
60. SAC (via CHI)—Isaiah Thomas, PG Washington: Mr. Irrelevant is Thomas, and he should make someone’s team.