The countdown to the NBA draft is now inside of two weeks. Workouts are taking place at gyms all around the NBA. Promises are being made, trades are being discussed. Some players are seeing their stock rise, others are falling.
This going to be a very deep draft, especially at the big man positions, which is quite a contrast to last year when it was more or less a point guard-dominated draft.
So as we count down the days until June 28 when the big night unfolds at the Prudential Center in Newark, here’s a look at my Top 5 players at each position.
Joe Kotoch will be checking in tomorrow with Mock Draft 3.0 — this one going through both the first and second rounds. For Mock 2.0, click here.
1. Damian Lillard, 6-2, Weber State — Lillard is widely regarded as the top point guard prospect available in this draft. He is an explosive penetrator who can get to the rim and can score in bunches, having scored 40+ in two games. Yet we never saw him against elite competition in the heat of the NCAA Tournament, so question marks remain.
2. Kendall Marshall, 6-4, North Carolina — A potential lottery pick, Marshall’s most optimistic comparison is Andre Miller. North Carolina coach Roy Williams told DraftExpress.com Marshall is the “best passer I’ve ever coached in 24 years.” Still, he must improve as a shooter and on the defensive end.
3. Marquis Teague, 6-2, Kentucky –Teague’s stock rose as Kentucky made its run to the NCAA championship, and he benefitted from playing for coach John Calipari and his one-and-done system. He’s a quick guard who can push the pace, but must still work to improve his outside shot and must mature as a person.
4. Tyshawn Taylor, 6-3, Kansas — Projected to go late in the first round, the Hoboken, N.J., native is a strong, explosive guard who led his team to the NCAA championship game. He has had to answer questions during interviews with NBA clubs about his suspensions and off-court troubles at Kansas, but insists he’s matured and has grown as a person.
5. Tony Wroten, 6-6, Washington — Also projected to go late in the first round, Wroten is a long, athletic guard with a 6-9 wingspan who faces questions about whether he’s a true point or a combo guard. Washington coach Lorenzo Romar told DraftExpress.com he compares to Tyreke Evans because of his size, athleticism and ability to score.
1. Bradley Beal, 6-5, Florida — Beal is widely considered the best two guard available in the draft and should go somewhere in the Top 5. He has been compared to Ray Allen because of his ability to knock down shots, and is also a strong defender and rebounder. Still, he struggled shooting-wise for much of the season before shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc during the NCAA Tournament.
2. Dion Waiters, 6-4, Syracuse –– Waiters is projected as a shooting guard, but could also play some point in the NBA. He was instant offense off the bench for a Syracuse team that was ranked No. 1 for much of the season before falling in the Elite Eight. A strong, physical guard who can get to the rim, he is also a tough customer who had to overcome immaturity issues to fit into Jim Boeheim’s deep guard rotation.
3. Austin Rivers, 6-5, Duke — Projected as a late lottery selection, Rivers has the potential to be a better NBA player than he was in college. Duke assistant Chris Collins compared him to Monta Ellis and Jamal Crawford. He has quickness to get into the lane, can create his own shot and comes from strong bloodlines as the son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
4. Jeremy Lamb, 6-5, UConn — Lamb emerged as UConn’s go-to guy after spending his freshman season as Kemba Walker’s sidekick on the Huskies’ NCAA championship team. He is a long, athletic wing who has a feathery touch, is good coming off screens and excels in transition.
5. Terrence Ross, 6-7, Washington — Projected as mid- to late-first-round pick, Ross compares to Nick Young and J.R. Smith, Romar said. He has a smooth touch from outside and went 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.
1. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 6-7, Kentucky — The New Jersey native could go as high as No. 2 in the draft behind teammate Anthony Davis. He is already a tremendous defensive player, can finish in transition and excels at taking the ball to the hole. The question mark is his outside shot, and if that ever develops, look out. He’s also a great kid and a teammate who should be a bright spot for whoever picks him.
2. Harrison Barnes, 6-8, North Carolina — At 6-8 with a 6-11 wingspan, Barnes has great size for a wing player. He was a first-team All-American coming out of high school but didn’t quite live up to the hype in college. Still, he is a strong, powerful athlete who showed his leaping ability at the NBA Combine in Chicago and has made some big shots in his career. Should go in the top six or seven picks.
3. Moe Harkless, 6-8, St. John’s — After being named the Big East Rookie of the Year, Harkless opted to come out after his freshman year. He has been compared to Paul George, Trevor Ariza and Rudy Gay. Harkless has a natural frame for an NBA small forward and can score and rebound in bunches. Needs to work on his outside shot and continue to get stronger.
4. Quincy Miller, 6-9, Baylor –– Like Harkless, he is only 19. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year, Miller helped Baylor get to the Elite 8. He is still recovering from ACL surgery, but is very tough from 15 feet in and in the high post. His range extends to the 3-point line. Projects to go mid- to late-first round.
5. Royce White, 6-8, Iowa State — White is listed here as a small forward but basically played point guard and power forward at Iowa State. He led the team in all five major categories. He can play a variety of positions and should be fascinating to watch in the NBA.
1. Anthony Davis, 6-10, Kentucky— What more is left to be said about the future No. 1 pick out of Kentucky? Davis has been compared to Bill Russell because of his ability to alter and change shots and dominate the paint area. A strong passer and shooter, Davis has the potential to anchor the New Orleans Hornets franchise for the next 10-15 years and could be a Hall of Famer.
2. Thomas Robinson, 6-9, Kansas — The potential No. 2 overall pick, Robinson is motivated to prove he deserves to be No. 1 and in fact got into a battle with Davis over that issue. The Big 12 Player of the Year, he has great length, athleticism and motor, but must continue to work on his shot and his post moves going forward.
3. Jared Sullinger, 6-9, Ohio State — Questions remain about his athleticism and how much he can elevate, but Sullinger still figures to go somewhere in the high lottery after testing well enough at the combine. A strong, physical player with good post moves, he is handful in the paint — in part because of his large derriere — and can also play on the perimeter, having shot 52 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep.
4. John Henson, 6-10, North Carolina –– A projected lottery pick, Henson may turn out to be one of those guys who has a better NBA career than a college career. He averaged 2.9 blocks last season and could be a defensive presence on the interior but still must develop his offensive game and his woeful free throw shooting (51 percent).
5. Terrence Jones, 6-9, Kentucky — Questions linger about his demeanor and body language on the floor and whether he takes plays off. But there’s no denying his talent and ability to stretch the floor with his outside shot. A combo forward who can defend multiple positions, he needs to be in the right situation in order to maximize his success in the NBA.
1. Andre Drummond, 7-0, UConn — Based purely on potential, Drummond figures to be one of the top five to seven players taken. He is an athletic freak with great hands and great feet, but questions linger about his drive and desire to play the game. His free throw form is a disaster and he has a lot of work to do on his post game. He could get an NBA GM fired — or make one look like a genius.
2. Tyler Zeller, 7-0, North Carolina — Zeller is a safe pick at the center spot and figures to go somewhere midway through the first round. A four-year player at Carolina, he is an experienced player who hit the mid-range shot and excel in the pick-and-pop game. He has a nice jump hook and some nice post moves. He probably won’t be a star, but he won’t get you fired, either.
3. Meyers Leonard, 7-1, Illinois — Leonard impressed NBA decision-makers at the combine and could go somewhere in the late lottery. A long, agile big man with great feet, Leonard told DraftExpress.com he has drawn comparisons to Joakim Noah and Tyson Chandler. He must still improve his post and face-up games and work on his mental toughness.
4. Fab Melo, 7-0, Syracuse — Melo failed to finish up the season at Syracuse because of academic issues, but is fascinating to NBA decision-makes because of his size and ability to defend and alter shots. He altered his body after his freshman season, losing weight and coming in much better shape. If he can continue to remain in good shape and learn the complexities of the NBA game, he could help a team in the low post.
5. Festus Ezeli, 6-11, Vanderbilt— Projected to go early in the second round, Ezeli is an athletic shot-blocker who was limited last season due to an NCAA suspension related to a secondary violation and a knee injury. Still, he’s an intriguing prospect for NBA execs.