7. Sacramento Kings - Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana (6’5, 13.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.1 apg)
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. The marching orders for new GM Pete D’Alessandro from new owner Vivek Ranadive seem clear: DeMarcus Cousins isn’t being traded, at least for now.
With the announcement that Sacramento has tendered Tyreke Evans, making him a restricted free agent, adding Oladipo as insurance would make sense. There are rumblings that Evans could be moved back to the point guard spot.
Adding Oladipo, who is an excellent defender and very mature, makes sense for this young Kings team that needs to grow up. With the future of Evans and Cousins unclear, adding Oladipo might be the first step in changing the culture in Sacramento.
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, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, and McCollum can play either guard spot. With Detroit getting close to turning the corner, adding McCollum could help lead the Pistons back to the playoffs.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia (6’5, 18.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.8 apg)
With Kevin Love’s uncertain future in the back of their minds, Minnesota is making a hard push to trade this pick, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them take the best available point guard on behalf of another team. If not, and Minnesota opts to keep the pick, watch for Caldwell-Pope, who has been flying up boards of late.
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. Oklahoma City is said to be very interested in landing Caldwell-Pope on draft night.
10. Portland Trail Blazers - Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse (6’6, 11.9 ppg, 7.3 apg, 4.9 rpg)
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.
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.
Portland is said to be very high on C.J. McCollum and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope but if both are gone, this pick is likely to be made for another team. Hence this placement of Carter-Williams, who with his length, athleticism, and passing ability is an intriguing point guard and teams will want to consider moving up for him since he probably won’t last past Dallas or Utah.
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 following the worst trade in NBA history.
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) – Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh (7’0, 7.2 ppg, 6.3 ppg, 2.0 bpg)
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. However, the rapid decline of Kendrick Perkins is alarming.
While Adams may not put up big numbers, he would provide the Thunder 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 Thunder would love to land Caldwell-Pope or McCollum, but both will likely be drafted before Oklahoma City is on the clock.
13. Dallas Mavericks - Sergey Karasev, SF, Triumph Moscow (6’8, 18.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.3 apg)
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, as mentioned above, 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 (if he’s available– see No. 10) or Sergey Karasev, whom the Mavs could stash overseas for a season and keep off their cap.
Sources in Cleveland say the Cavs are prepared to deal with the Mavs, taking Shawn Marion and his $9.3 million salary, in order to get up this high and land Karasev, but either way it sounds like Karasev is going here. His ultimate desination remains to be seen.
14. Utah Jazz - Dennis Schroeder, PG, New Yorker Phantoms-Germany (6’1″, 8.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.3 apg)
Al Jefferson is leaving via free agency and Paul Millsap is in line for a huge free agent contract for more dollars than Utah might be willing to pay. That could force the Jazz to consider drafting a big at 14 and going for their other major need — a point guard, with their second pick or through free agency, but Schroeder likely would not last until the Jazz pick again.
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.
Lucas Noegueria and Rudy Gobert could be choices here too if Utah gos big with its first of two No. 1 picks.