Last Saturday we previewed what the lottery could look like come June. Now we move onto the picks from the playoff teams.
I’ll continue to update my NBA Mock Draft throughout the process leading up to June 25, but for now, here’s the second half of part one. Stay tuned for part two, which will be an updated version of the lottery as the draft draws closer.
15. Hawks — Mario Hezonja (Croatia): (Pick is from the Nets, the Hawks have ability to swap picks from the Joe Johnson deal … Yikes, Brooklyn … Yikes) Hezonja is currently projected as a lottery pick, even a top-10 pick, by most people. I feel like he slides in this draft, but at 6-foot-8 with athleticism and a jump shot I’m probably wrong. I just don’t see “it” in him, but he certainly has the potential and the Hawks can afford to gamble.
16. Celtics — Montrezl Harrell (Louisville, junior): The C’s need a rim protector and making the playoffs probably cost them a shot at one in the draft (although maybe their gritty play in the postseason attracts one in free agency). If they stay put, a guy like Harrell could be the closest thing for them — he provides a lot of athleticism that they lack on their frontline. If I had to guess, I say Ainge uses his pile of future picks to move up for a guy like Cauley-Stein.
17. Bucks — Devin Booker (Kentucky, freshman): Kris Middleton is probably leaving Milwaukee after his breakout season, which leaves the Bucks with a hole at shooting guard. Booker fits their need best at this stage of the draft. Like all the Kentucky kids, he never got to shine like he would have had he been staring on his own team, so there’s always the chance he’s more special than he looks. Good gamble here.
18. Rockets — Tyus Jones (Duke, freshman): (Pick is from Pelicans) The Rockets need a point guard, the question here is size or skill? After what Jones accomplished in March, someone’s going to make a play on him despite his lack of size (although I felt the same about Shabazz Napier last season and was wrong).
19. Wizards — Bobby Portis (Arkansas, sophomore): The Wiz are obviously set in the backcourt, and it seems Otto Porter will be Paul Pierce’s replacement. That leaves us with them taking a big. Portis has good size and the potential to be a stretch-4, which everyone loves these days.
20. Raptors — Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona, sophomore): Jefferson is projected to go much later, but he’s the type of guy with a pretty high floor due to his athleticism and defensive ability. Because of that I think he goes earlier than expected. If he bulks up, he can probably defend four positions and he’s a more skilled passer than people think. The more I think about it, the better I think he’ll be as an NBA player.
21. Mavericks — Jerian Grant (Notre Dame, senior): Let’s just say Rondo didn’t quite work out, so the Mavs are in the market for a point guard. They’re still in “win now” mode, so a senior in Grant with NBA size at 6-foot-5 would be a great fit.
22. Bulls — R.J. Hunter (Georgia State, junior): One of the underdog darlings of the tournament decided to enter the draft early, and since everyone knows he can shoot from DEEP under pressure, someone will snatch him in the first-round. The Bulls love to have shooting around their core of Rose, Butler, Gasol and Noah, this guy would be ideal.
23. Blazers — Justin Anderson (Virginia, junior): Things have not gone as the Blazers planned on the perimeter when they acquired Aaron Afflalo to go alongside Wesley Matthews and Dorell Wright. The entire trio is injured. Anderson would be a very solid fit in that role if the Blazers decide to get younger with their wings.
24. Cavaliers — Cliff Alexander (Kansas, freshman): Alexander was a top prospect in high school and was expected to be a top-five pick in this draft. After a poor year at Kansas, he took a bigger hit than anyone in this draft. Some have him as a second-rounder, but I still feel someone will gamble on his potential in the first round. Who better to gamble than the Cavs, who pretty much already have everything they could ask for?
25. Grizzlies — Cameron Payne (Murray State, sophomore): Payne slides a little bit in this draft just because everyone seemingly has a point guard. After the elite ones at the top of the draft, there are better options in guys like Grant (size/experience) and Jones (potential/youth) that will be working against Payne. He should still go in the first-round, though.
26. Spurs — Norman Powell (UCLA, senior): Powell is such a Spurs pick. No, he’s not international, but a four-year player in the PAC-12 that can come in and have an immediate impact. He can likely play both guard positions in the NBA and works hard on defense. That’s all you can ask for at this stage of the draft.
27. Lakers — Christian Wood (UNLV, sophomore): (Pick is from Rockets) The Lakers pretty much need everything at this point, and likely will focus more on free agency. But they still should have a top-five pick to build around, which in my draft is Justice Winslow. Wood has high upside and great size, which makes him a good option for the Lakers, who desperately need bigs.
28. Celtics — Jarell Martin (LSU, sophomore): (Pick is from Clippers) The Celtics need aggressive bigs. Guys that can block shots and rebound are tough to find at No. 28, but Martin is the best option. Who knows what will happen with the C’s this offseason, but they will try and fill their needs best they can in the draft before they attack free agency.
29. Nets — Delon Wright (Utah, senior): (Pick is from swap with Hawks) The younger brother of the aforementioned Dorell Wright, Delon has great size and experience for a point guard. The Nets don’t have cap room or draft picks going forward, so there’s a ton of pressure to nail this pick. Whoever it is probably won’t live up to the expectations, but Wright can be a very solid PG in the league.
30. Warriors — Jordan Mickey (LSU, sophomore): Mickey has good size and athleticism, but would be joining a Warriors squad where he likely wouldn’t play. The Warriors are deep, but whoever they pick would likely be a guy who is ready to play if he needs to, rather than a guy to develop.
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