Mock 5.0: Draft-day edition
Here's the latest first-round forecast for Thursday night's draft. Check back here for updates as the day unfolds.
We still feel pretty good about this pick. OK, we feel great about this pick. Davis becomes the new franchise centerpiece, then waits to see who's joining him with New Orleans' 10th pick.
Robinson is considered more solid than sensational, and the Bobcats could go with him because they simply can't afford to get this pick wrong. Sources said Charlotte is seriously considering North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes, too. But the smart money is on a trade. The Bobcats talked earlier in the week with Cleveland about swapping No. 4 for No. 2, with Charlotte surely pushing for as many assets as possible to go with it (the Cavs have the 24th, 33rd and 34th picks). Houston (Nos. 12, 16 and 18) and Portland (Nos. 6 and 11) were trying to land the No. 2 pick as well, according to sources.
Full disclosure: This mock draft might already be off the rails. Though most executives see Charlotte's taking Robinson if it keeps the pick, a source close to the Wizards said they were fielding an increased number of trade calls for their pick in recent days and that the most targeted prospect was the one who isn't supposed to be here in this scenario: Robinson. And after sending the early message that it wanted to keep its pick, Washington was -- and likely still is -- listening. But that may not be an indication that Robinson will be around at No. 3 as much as it could be a reflection of the situation between the Bobcats and Cavaliers. If the Cavs acquire the second pick, they are expected to choose Beal, and Robinson would then be available. In the absence of that, the Wizards could give former No. 1 pick John Wall a big-time backcourt mate in Beal. But to complicate things even more, a front-office source with a top 10 team was told by the Wizards that they're likely taking Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with this pick.
If the Cavs hold on to their pick, they could opt for the tough, defensive-minded wing player who is known as a coach's dream. Kidd-Gilchrist's jump shot needs work, but his motor, leadership and slashing ability are all part of what's seen as a winning package. We'll see if this latest buzz about Kidd-Gilchrist's being in the lead here holds up, as it's very different from what I was hearing at the beginning of this process, when Barnes was believed to be the target.
It's also worth noting that Cleveland held a workout for Washington shooting guard Terrence Ross on Wednesday. Ross is expected to be a late-lottery or mid-first-round pick, so this could be a sign that Cleveland is considering moving back. Given Houston's aggressive attempt to use its picks to get into the top 10 as part of its potential push for Dwight Howard, it makes you wonder if the Cavs might be considering swapping picks with the Rockets and possibly taking Ross in the teens.
With the obligatory "things can change" caveat attached, I'm told that the Kings are likely to keep their pick despite
There should be an asterisk next to Barnes' name here, because sources said the Kings are very interested in adding a big man to complement center DeMarcus Cousins. For now, I'm thinking they'd either take Barnes here or move back if they decide go big (possibly to No. 7, as they have had recent talks with Golden State about a swap). If it's Barnes, that means the Kings got comfortable with the idea of him as their small forward of the future despite the fact that he refused to work out in Sacramento (as did Robinson, Kidd-Gilchrist and Beal).
If the Kings go big, one possible target is North Carolina power forward John Henson, a two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year. But Henson isn't believed to be in play until Detroit's No. 9 pick, so there could be a chance to obtain another asset if Sacramento traded down.
Weber State point guard Damian Lillard is an unlikely dark horse because of the team's glut of guards. Also, I've been assured that it's possible that the Kings would pass on Kidd-Gilchrist if he remained available.
Lillard would address a big need at point guard, where Raymond Felton had a disappointing year and is now a free agent. But several teams I spoke with early this week were starting to believe that Duke's Austin Rivers could be the guy here. His ability to play both guard positions is seen as a major plus.
It's no secret that the Warriors have some differences of opinion, with ownership said to be pushing for a big man and the front-office folks more inclined to add a wing player. But one of the known advocates for Waiters, consultant Jerry West, sure seemed to dispel the idea that Golden State will be taking UConn center Andre Drummond. During and after a local television appearance on Wednesday, West openly discussed the team's need for a player who can contribute now, according to the
Barnes is a possibility as well. Golden State would also love to move up and grab Kidd-Gilchrist or Robinson, though that seems unlikely now.
The Raptors could use a point guard, but Lillard's off the board and Rivers gives them someone who can play both positions while supplying much-needed scoring punch. Toronto made major strides defensively under Dwane Casey last season, but the focus is on offense now and Rivers can certainly provide that.
The Pistons were pegged earlier to pick Henson, with the thinking being that they want a dominant defensive presence to pair with emerging center Greg Monroe. But with Drummond sliding, they opt for the big man whose ceiling is much higher than Henson's.
After trading center Emeka Okafor to Washington last week, the Hornets could look to finish off their frontcourt with this pick. A Davis-Leonard pairing would have tremendous potential, and New Orleans may go this direction because the other appealing options -- including UConn shooting guard Jeremy Lamb and Washington shooting guard Terrence Ross -- don't fill the point guard need that will have to be taken care of at another time.
Leonard may have been the pick over Zeller here, but the Blazers take the big man who is expected to be a productive, if not spectacular, pro.
With shooting guard Kevin Martin entering the final season of his deal and being made available in trades, and shooting guard Courtney Lee about to enter restricted free agency, the Rockets get lucky by landing Lamb here. He won't produce like Martin or Lee right away, but he could help at the position in a far more economical way while playing on his rookie contract.
The Suns could wind up getting one of the best shooting guards here. Ross has phenomenal range, size and top-tier athleticism (37½-inch vertical jump). He averaged 16.4 points and shot 45.7 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three-point range as a sophomore.
Having just landed center Samuel Dalembert in a trade with Houston, the Bucks pair him with a shot-blocking specialist in Henson who covers serious ground on the defensive end.
The Sixers don't have any big men locked up beyond next season except reserve center Nikola Vucevic, a rookie last season. Jones could evolve into a long-term frontcourt solution who could play power forward and possibly some small forward (opinions vary there). Jones is a good passer, defender and rebounder who averaged 12.3 points (on 50 percent shooting from the field and 32.7 percent on three-pointers), 7.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals last season for the national champion Wildcats.
These Rockets picks ring hollow because of all of their trade discussions, but Moultrie is a quality pickup nonetheless. Moultrie, who averaged 16.4 points (on 54.9 percent shooting) and 10.5 rebounds last season, told reporters at the combine that he expected to be taken anywhere from No. 7 to No. 17. Phoenix (No. 13) had him in for a second workout this week.
Sources confirmed an ESPN.com report that there are concerns about one of Jones' knees after a recent MRI. But some teams are far less worried than others. Jones made a surprise second visit to Houston on Wednesday but did not work out, and a source said the intent of the trip was for the Rockets' doctors to gather more information about his situation.
If Jones puts in the work, he could become quite a player with his unique blend of athleticism, size and skill. Jones wants to play a significant amount of small forward in the NBA, and he has the ball-handling skills to do it. His ability to defend that position will be in doubt, though.
The Rockets acquired this pick from Minnesota for small forward Chase Budinger on Tuesday. Harkless, the Big East Rookie of the Year, has been on the rise in recent weeks.
It would have seemed inconceivable just days ago that White would be taken before Ohio State power forward Jared Sullinger, but it is a possibility now. While Sullinger's back and hamstring issues have been scaring teams away, White seems to have done a nice job of addressing concerns about him. He has been candid about his anxiety disorder, which sometimes causes a severe fear of flying, and many teams are now homing in on how effective he could be as a point-forward type.
What's more, White pulled out of all of his workouts recently and is believed to have been given a promise. Sources with Denver (No. 20) and Boston (No. 21) said it wasn't their team that promised to draft him, and a source close to the Hawks (No. 23) pointed out that Rick Sund (who is being replaced as general manager by Danny Ferry but who was still in charge when the alleged promise was issued) is known as the type of executive who never gives out promises. I have no knowledge that Orlando has done so, and it would have been tough to pull off considering GM Rob Hennigan was hired just one day before the alleged promise was given. Nonetheless, White would be a good fit in what is likely to become the post-Howard era.
Meanwhile, on the Dwight Howard front, a source close to the situation said there's a collective yawn on Orlando's side regarding all the chatter about Houston's push to acquire the big man. It doesn't sound like Howard will be dealt Thursday night, or anytime soon, especially considering the Rockets' inability to land top 10 picks so far.
The Nuggets have been intrigued by Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague, but they'd have to seriously consider Marshall if he dropped this far. With Andre Miller set to become a free agent on Sunday, Denver could land the pass-first point guard who would work well in coach George Karl's selfless system.
Nicholson may not fall this far, but he'd be a good get here. He can be a force both inside and outside, having averaged 18.5 points (while adding a three-point shot), 8.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in leading St. Bonaventure to the Atlantic 10 championship and its first NCAA tournament appearance in 12 years. Memphis shooting guard Will Barton is a strong possibility, too.
The Celtics could benefit from Sullinger's slide, and the potential reward would outweigh the risk at this point as Boston tries to upgrade its frontcourt. Sullinger was not one of the NBA's 14 invites to the green room.
The Hawks like Barton, who not only can score but also fill up a box score. The Conference USA Player of the Year averaged 18 points (on 50.9 percent shooting from the field and 34.6 percent from three-point range), 8.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals last season.
The Cavs could use a defensive-minded big man like Melo, whose size and presence in the paint will be NBA-ready on Day One.
Teague could be a phenomenal fit behind point guard Mike Conley. There's clearly an appetite for help at the position considering the outside-the-box signing of Gilbert Arenas midway through the season. Washington point guard Tony Wroten could go here as well.
It should surprise no one that the Pacers see value in Green's game, as he's just the sort of productive and unspectacular player that they've been homing in on in recent years. Green worked out for Indiana for a second time this week and is clearly high on Indiana's list. He averaged 16.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists as a senior, including 17.7 points, 13.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists in three NCAA tournament games.
The Heat could always use another big man, and Plumlee certainly qualifies. Add in the athleticism and the untapped potential from being a role player at Duke, and Miami could stumble onto a nice player. Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli would also come in handy for the Heat.
Taylor would give the Thunder another potential defensive stopper to go with shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha and get small forward Kevin Durant more backup help. He can score, too. Most of his offense came from attacking the rim in his first three seasons at Vanderbilt, but he started developing three-point range as a junior and made it a weapon as a senior when he shot 42.3 percent from beyond the arc while averaging 16.1 points.
With point guard and 2010-11 MVP Derrick Rose sidelined after tearing his ACL in the playoffs, and with shooting guard Richard Hamilton showing his age (34) during an injury-filled season, the Bulls could use another scorer in their backcourt. There's no way of telling just yet whether Fournier can be the penetrating, playmaking perimeter threat in the NBA that he has been while playing in France, but he's worth gambling on here.
The talent is easily worth taking here, even with the red flags about Wroten's decision making and lack of shooting range. He puts serious pressure on defenses and could be a potent option for coach Mark Jackson coming in behind Curry and Thompson.