Following the shocking NBA Draft Lottery in New York City where everyone and their momma is now saying David Stern and the NBA rigged it to make sure the top prize landed in New Orleans, now we can now begin to get an idea of how the first round of the draft will play out after the top spot. After we took a stab at the first round just a few weeks ago, here is the fourth of many Dime mock drafts leading up to June 28. As usual, it’s a combination of what we think teams should do and what we think they will do.
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1. New Orleans – Anthony Davis
6-10, 220 lbs. PF
No surprise here. The Hornets will draft Anthony Davis, not only a guy who has the potential to be a franchise player but also someone who could attract Eric Gordon back to town. With those two, the No. 10 pick to add a perimeter talent and a ton of cap space thanks to their recent deal with Washington, things are suddenly looking brighter in N.O.
2. Charlotte â€“ Thomas Robinson
6-9, 240 lbs. PF
This is really where the draft begins, and as of now, there’s no clear-cut report that the Bobcats are leaning one way or another. They could be looking to trade the pick for immediate help, but if they aren’t, we’re guessing they go for one of two players: Robinson or Harrison Barnes. We’re sure they’d rather have a perimeter player who can create shots for others, and we KNOW Michael Jordan loves Barnes for two reasons (the Carolina connection, and he’s impressed everyone in workouts with his NBA readiness), but Robinson is looking like the next Al Horford. One interesting report had the Bobcats and Cavs swapping top picks with Charlotte also getting the No. 24 pick (Cleveland is reportedly high on Bradley Beal, and figures Washington will take him).
3. Washington â€“ Bradley Beal
6-5, 195 lbs. SG
We’ve gone back and forth with Beal or MKG here, but it sounds like the team is leaning towards Beal rather than Kidd-Gilchrist for obvious reasons. He is a perfect fit in that starting lineup, and could team with John Wall in the backcourt for the next decade. We believe Washington was leaning Kidd-Gilchrist’s way until that trade went down, bringing them Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor, despite Ernie Grunfeld saying recently that the trade wasn’t going to change their plans for the draft.
4. Cleveland – Harrison Barnes
6-8, 210 lbs. SF/SG
North Carolina, Soph.
Everyone knows the story by now. The Cavs had Barnes at No. 2 on their draft board last year, and still love him a season later. He fits a need, has good relations with Kyrie Irving and then there’s this: Barnes had a workout scheduled for Sacramento about a week and a half ago. He canceled, before visiting Cleveland the next day. That smells of something. They may also be moving up to No. 2 to grab Beal.
5. Sacramento – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
6-7, 210 lbs. SF
Sacramento will be throwing a war room party if MKG drops to them. He hasn’t even worked out with the Kings, and yet they don’t need him to. Out of all of the top picks, this could end up being the best fit.
6. Portland (via Brooklyn) â€“ Andre Drummond
6-11, 260 lbs. C
Andre Drummond is a risk but Portland desperately needs size in the paint. No one really knows what to make of him, but big men always develop late. Plus, there are those interesting comparisons to Amar’e Stoudemire (who also had major question marks coming into the draft). Drummond could come in handy because there’s no way Hasheem Thabeet is ready to step up to the task. Damian Lillard is also an option, but we’re guessing the Blazers don’t pass up on the UConn big man.
7. Golden State – Dion Waiters
6-4, 215 lbs. SG/PG
As you can tell, we already love Waiters. So do a lot of GMs. Some even say he has the most potential to become a superstar of anyone in the draft outside of Davis. Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports tweeted earlier that one team exec told him he believes the Raptors have promised Waiters. The response from Bryan Colangelo was a pretty weak poker face, but yet acknowledged that Waiters’ agent had told him another team made him a promise. Was it Phoenix? Golden State? All bets are off as Waiters’ stock has risen so high no one really knows where he’s going.
8. Toronto – Austin Rivers
6-4, 200 lbs. SG/PG
Rivers and his dad absolutely love Toronto, and it’s one of the few places the talented wing has agreed to workout. He would bring a lot of what the Raptors need as a playmaker and shot creator, and would fit in well with a team that could use a little jolt, and a little ego. We’ve seen Damian Lillard here as well, but Rivers is the type of kid that rises on draft boards. He may never be great, but he believes he will be and that matters to GMs looking for players who LOVE to play basketball.
9. Detroit â€“ John Henson
6-10, 210 lbs. PF
North Carolina, Jr.
This is a pick we’ve had from the beginning, and we’re not hearing anything different. For a team full of mix-matched parts, and a bunch of guards who don’t really know what they are, the Detroit brass has to go for someone with a solid base from a winning environment. And while Henson’s base is literally quite weak, he’d be a solid addition to their frontcourt.
10. New Orleans (via Minnesota) – Damian Lillard
6-2, 185 lbs. PG/SG
Weber St., Jr.
The Hornets have needs all over, and while Lillard isn’t a pure point guard, he’s a scoring machine. Coming out of this draft with two cornerstones â€“ one inside and the other outside â€“ is a great start to the summer for New Orleans.
11. Portland – Terrence Ross
6-6, 190 lbs. SF/SG
The Blazers like to fancy themselves as a playoff team, and who knows, if they get healthy, they could have a chance. One name we keep hearing associated with “rising” and “the next Paul George” is Terrence Ross. We think it’ll come down to Jeremy Lamb or Ross as they can both fill it up from the wings. Ross has been spectacular in workouts, and there are even a few sources out there who believe he’ll rise all the way to Golden State at No. 7.
12. Milwaukee â€“ Meyers Leonard
7-0, 240 lbs. C
Not only do the Bucks sorely need some help inside, but Leonard actually believes he’d be a great fit there. This is a perfect match. Jared Sullinger would’ve had a shot here… had he not refused to workout with the Bucks, as many others in the first round have.
13. Phoenix – Jeremy Lamb
6-5, 185 lbs. SG
The team desperately needs a few offensive creators on the perimeter now that Steve Nash is seriously considering leaving. Lamb has top-10 talent and as much offensive skill as anyone in the draft. Lamb won’t slide past the Suns.
14. Houston â€“ Tyler Zeller
7-0, 235 lbs. C
North Carolina, Sr.
Tyler Zeller can step in right away and have productive minutes at the center position for the Rockets, and while he’s not the strongest player in the world, Houston needs more size. Here’s where we insert the typical cliche description, “Zeller will never be an All-Star but most figure he’ll be a solid NBA big man.” Houston desperately wants to move up in the draft, but so far, they’ve had no success.
15. Philadelphia â€“ Perry Jones III
6-11, 235 lbs. PF/SF
We’ve heard everyone from Arnett Moultrie to Ross – if he slips – at this spot. Why? The 76ers are in a weird position: middle of the first round, with no glaring holes on their roster, but in need of upgrades at virtually every spot. Our guess is they swing for the fences here.
16. Houston (via New York) â€“ Kendall Marshall
6-4, 190 lbs. PG
North Carolina, Soph.
Reports are saying virtually every team with two draft picks in the first round are trying to swing a deal, and Houston is no different. They want to move these two picks for a shot at the high lottery. If not, the Rockets went with one North Carolina player at No. 14, and we’re guessing they do it again. Despite having both Goran Dragic and Kyle Lowry on their roster this past season, they might lose both over the summer (Dragic is a free agent… Lowry doesn’t like Kevin McHale). Their offense could desperately use a playmaker like Marshall.
17. Dallas â€“ Terrence Jones
6-8, 245 lbs. PF/SF
This could be considered a steep drop for Jones, but that’s what happens when there are questions about your attitude and what position you will play. When Jones is mentally involved, he’s a top-10 talent. Easily. The Mavs could throw him into Lamar Odom‘s old spot, and hope he can give them some youth and athleticism on that frontline.
18. Minnesota (via Utah) – Moe Harkless
6-8, 190 lbs. SF
St. John’s, Fr
Harkless could go anywhere from No. 10 all the way back into the mid-20s. He has potential – all the size, athletic ability and range you could want in a young prospect – but doesn’t seem to have that one thing to make him stick out. For the T’Wolves, they need any type of perimeter help, and Ricky Rubio could help turn Harkless into a big-time finisher.
19. Orlando â€“ Arnett Moultrie
6-11, 225 lbs. PF/C
Mississippi St., Jr.
We’ve had Fab Melo in this spot for weeks, and while he could rise this high, we do know this: the Magic BETTER take a frontcourt player. They are super thin underneath the rim, and even with Dwight Howard, they’ll need to upgrade those spots this offseason. Moultrie screwed himself a little bit by not participating in the draft combine, but he’s productive and has an NBA-ready body.
20. Denver – Jared Sullinger
6-9, 280 lbs. C/PF
Ohio St., Soph.
The big man’s stock fell off the map once the outcome of his physical was passed around the league. Depending on who you talk to, that back is either in need of just a little therapy or it could be the beginning of the end for Sullinger as a big-time prospect. The Nuggets could use another rugged body inside, and at No. 20, it’s worth it to take a shot.