7. Sacramento Kings – Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV (6’8, 16.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.2 bpg)
The Kings moved fast with their coaching search, making a wise hire in Golden State assistant Mike Malone. Ther marching orders for new GM Pete D’Alessandro from new owner Vivek Ranadive seem clear: DeMarcus Cousins isn’t being traded. There have been reports of his availability, but it looks like the Kings want to rebuild with Cousins instead of without him.
The Kings have gone through several power forwards (Patrick Patterson, Chuck Hayes, Jason Thompson, Thomas Robinson) in trying to find one to pair with Cousins. In selecting Bennett, that trend would likely stop. Cousins and Bennett would form one of the better young offensive duos in the league. Bennett is a talented offensive prospect with the ability to score inside or out and is a quality rebounder as well.
With that in mind, Sacramento still needs a lot of pieces. The Kings are in an easy position here where they can sit back and take one of the top seven prospects. There is a drop-off in talent thereafter.
8. Detroit Pistons – C.J. McCollum, PG/SG, Lehigh (6’3, 23.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 51.6% 3pt)
With the frontcourt set in Detroit, GM Joe Dumars really needs to settle on his backcourt. While Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight are already there, adding someone like McCollum would be a great choice.
McCollum reminds some of Mo Williams. While not the ideal fit considering he doesn’t have a prototypical shooting guard frame, he brings the immediate shooting and scoring the Pistons need. If not for the injury that caused him to miss most of the season, McCollum’s name could be talked about much higher.
The Pistons need more shooting to spread the court for their bigs, and McCollum can play either guard spot. With Detroit getting close to turning the corner, adding McCollum would help lead the Pistons back to the playoffs.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves – Shabazz Muhammad, SG, UCLA (6’6, 17.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 0.8 apg)
A pick that is very much available via trade, the Wolves are trying to make a concerted effort to improve and make the playoffs. With Kevin Love’s uncertain future in the back of their minds, Minnesota will entertain offers, but if left to pick would consider Muhammad.
When on the court, Muhammad has shown he is a talented scorer and was solid for much of his freshman season. Unfortunately, he never dominated his opponents but has the skills and physique to do so.
Muhammad would add to an already impressive core and give the Wolves needed scoring punch in the backcourt. While he has good bulk and a long wingspan, Muhammad still seems undersized to be a full-time NBA small forward.
10. Portland Trail Blazers – Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh (7’0, 7.2 ppg, 6.3 ppg, 2.0 bpg)
Portland is another team looking to package its pick in hopes of getting a player who can contribute now. GM Neil Olshey is open to moving the pick, preferably for a big man who can provide the defense and rebounding the Blazers need. They will let J.J. Hickson walk as a free agent.
Like the Wolves, the Blazers are looking to take the next step and show LaMarcus Aldridge that they are on the rise. Drafting Damian Lillard was a large step in that direction last year.
While Adams may not put up big numbers, he would provide Portland with the defense and rebounding it is looking for. Adams interviewed well at the combine, shot the ball well and showed some skills that weren’t on display at Pittsburgh throughout the season.
While Adams still has a lot of developing to do, some scouts believe he may be ready to contribute at a higher level than originally anticipated as a rookie. Even with Adams being a good fit, the Blazers don’t seem to be infatuated with any player with this pick.
11. Philadelphia 76ers – Cody Zeller, C, Indiana (7’0, 16.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.3 bpg)
New GM Sam Hinkie will have his work cut out for him, including figuring out what to do with Andrew Bynum, who didn’t appear in a single game this season. Hinkie must decide who can help the Sixers get back to the playoffs after a huge step back to the lottery this season.
Every year on draft night, there is a highly talented big that falls into the late lottery; this year, it looks to be Zeller. Despite better-than-expected athletic testing at the combine, there are still concerns with Zeller’s position, short arms and whether his game will translate at the next level.
With that said, his offensive game is advanced for his age, and big men with his polish and touch are hard to find. Zeller also begins working out for clubs this week and will be able to showcase his NBA 3-point range.
Zeller is a good fit for the Sixers regardless of whether or not they keep Bynum. He could play a role similar to that of Pau Gasol when Bynum was in Los Angeles, or he could fit in well with a team without Bynum that likes to get out in transition.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (From Toronto) – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia (6’5, 18.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.8 apg)
The Thunder are in a unique position as title contenders selecting in the lottery. OKC missed James Harden this season and could look to find someone to replicate his role, since Kevin Martin is a free agent.
Caldwell-Pope is a talented scorer with great length. Scouts are high on him, and there is a chance he climbs higher into the lottery. One thing Caldwell-Pope does well is create, which most of the Thunder’s current bench does not.
If McCollum makes it this far, the Thunder will take him. He would provide them with scoring and creativity off the bench they have lacked since Harden left.
13. Dallas Mavericks – Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse (6’6, 11.9 ppg, 7.3 apg, 4.9 rpg)
In what is set to be a very interesting offseason for owner Mark Cuban, the draft presents the Mavericks with several different options, including trading the pick, which helps Dallas get further under the cap and make a huge splash in free agency.
If Dallas keeps the pick, it sounds like it is down to Carter-Williams or Sergey Karasev, whom the Mavs could stash overseas for a season and keep off their cap.
If they do stay put, Carter-Williams presents the best option. Without Jason Kidd last season, there was a hole at point guard that ended up being filled by journeyman Mike James. Carter-Williams gives the Mavs similar versatility to Kidd in his ability to guard multiple perimeter positions as well as being a quality facilitator and passer.
14. Utah Jazz – Dennis Schroeder, PG, New Yorker Phantoms-Germany (6’1″, 8.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.3 apg)
With Mo Williams set to hit free agency and the Jazz playing most of the season with Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley, point guard is at the top of the list for Utah this offseason. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are headed for free agency as well, but Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors are good enough up front for the Jazz to focus on the backcourt in the draft.
Schroeder is the explosive playmaker the Jazz have been lacking since Deron Williams left. He is still developing and will likely have some rough patches early on. But Schroeder’s physical skill set, unique talents and ceiling make him worth the pick.
With the league becoming more guard-oriented, having a player who can challenge and also defend opposing point guards is very important. If Schroeder gets past Utah, he won’t fall much farther.