The deadline to withdraw for the NBA draft has now passed. The biggest name to exit was Dario Saric, the Croatian forward who was rumored to be a possible lottery pick. Aside from a few names pulling out, the draft is now set.
According to sources, the Cleveland Cavaliers – if the draft were held today – would select Alex Len with the top pick. The Cavs believe he is the best fit longterm alongside Kyrie Irving.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has impressed multiple teams during workouts and now is primed to be selected in the back end of the lottery. One team with a first round pick believes that Oklahoma City will pull the trigger on Caldwell-Pope.
On the trade front there are at least three lottery picks that are very available. Minnesota, Portland, and Dallas continue to reach out to teams to discuss potential deals as their respective draft picks are available to the highest bidder.
A few risers this week are Ricky Ledo, Jamaal Franklin, Glen Rice Jr., and Myck Kabongo, all of whom have been impressive during workouts and could hear their names called during the first round on draft night.
Without further ado, here is Mock Draft 5.0.1:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Alex Len, C, Maryland (7’1, 11.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.1 bpg)
Sources continue to insist that if the draft were held today and Cleveland makes this pick that Len would edge out Ben McLemore, Anthony Bennett and Nerlens Noel. The Cavs apparently feel that Len’s ability on both ends of the court better mix with budding star Kyrie Irving and would give the team the dynamic combo it needs to push for the playoffs.
As reports continue to surface about McLemore and Noel and their circles, the Cavs seem more inclined to take Len, who still has room to develop. Len is a long and lengthy defender who can block shots and rebound, though not at the impactful level of a healthy Noel.
Len’s signature right now is his developed offensive game in the post and facing the basket. With Irving and Len, Cleveland could have a really impressive pick-and-pop game. A big day is Thursday, with Noel visiting the Cavs.
2. Orlando Magic – Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana (6’5, 13.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.1 apg)
Sources say Orlando is very interested in Eric Bledsoe and is prepared to deal Arron Afflalo to the Clippers to get him. GM Rob Hennigan has been aggressive in acquiring assets and has assembled a good core of young players.
With a potential hole at shooting guard to fill, the Magic have their choice of Ben McLemore and Oladipo. Both guards represent better value and have higher ceilings than Trey Burke. The current preference is Oladipo, who projects as a better defender and is a better athlete than McLemore.
Although McLemore has been as high as No. 1 in our mocks, Oladipo looks to be making a push. Considering Hennigan came from Oklahoma City, going with a player that has a high upside, high character and is very long and athletic makes the most sense. While Oladipo has continually risen up NBA draft boards, McLemore has started to slip a bit, and that could see him fall more than initially anticipated.
3. Washington Wizards – Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown (6’8, 16.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.7 apg)
The Wizards might be the biggest winners from the lottery by vaulting into the top three. Washington has built a strong backcourt with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Now it must find a big man or small forward to complement them.
Just up the road at Georgetown, Porter enjoyed a breakout season and could give the Wizards a dynamic and lethal scoring trio. If there was a clear-cut big man to take here, Washington would.
Playing for the Wizards will allow Porter to utilize his skill set on both ends and not have to put the team on his back like at Georgetown. Porter excels in multiple areas and would fit in well with a team that has two primary ballhandlers because of his ability to play off the ball and effect the game in other areas.
His ceiling may not be as high as UNLV’s Anthony Bennett, but Porter projects as a much safer pick. Washington might be enticed by Nerlens Noel here but with his rehabilitation spilling into the regular season, the Wizards might pass.
4. Charlotte Bobcats – Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky (6’10, 10.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 4.4 bpg)
It’s safe to say that the Bobcats would be pleasantly surprised if McLemore and Noel slipped to them on draft night. While McLemore would make sense here, Noel has the most upside of any player. If healthy, he gives the Bobcats one of the longest and most athletic frontcourts in the league.
The Bobcats are a franchise that can afford to take Noel and not rush him back to the court as they are likely to be cellar-dwellers again next season.
It’s not too late for Noel to rise up the board again, but his stock is slipping with persistent questions about his knee, weight and inner circle.
5. Phoenix Suns – Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas (6’5, 15.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 42% 3pt)
Checking around the league, McLemore is slipping due to his unclear agent situation. Most teams don’t seem concerned by the Rodney Blackstock reports. Whatever the concerns, they shouldn’t cause McLemore to fall too far. When a player with his combination of talent, athleticism and shooting is available, they go high.
McLemore does have his flaws, but this would be a great start for the new front office. While Anthony Bennett would be tempting here, finding a running mate and shooter to pair with Goran Dragic could be the main focus. Pairing McLemore and Dragic in the backcourt could be just what the Suns need to boost their offensive production.
6. New Orleans Pelicans – Trey Burke, PG, Michigan (6’0, 18.6 ppg, 6.7 apg, 3.2 rpg)
No chance New Orleans passes on Burke. Austin Rivers showed he is not a point guard, and if given the chance to take Burke – who had an outside shot at the top pick – the Pelicans will rush the stage on draft night. With Rivers and Eric Gordon, the Pelicans are deep at shooting guard and can even entertain trade offers for Gordon, who is signed to a massive extension.
The Pelicans took their centerpiece last year in Anthony Davis. Now New Orleans must surround him with talent. Burke is one of the quickest guards in the draft and can get by most defenders. With as much success as rookie point men have had the last few seasons (see Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving), the Pelicans look to get theirs.