15. Milwaukee Bucks – Shabazz Muhammad, SG, UCLA (6’6, 17.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 0.8 apg)
With news that Dario Saric withdrew from the draft, the Bucks are back to square one. There is no doubt Milwaukee needs help on the wing, especially with Monta Ellis opting for free agency.
With the future of Brandon Jennings unclear as well, the Bucks might opt to play it safe and take Shane Larkin, who had a spectacular season for Miami. However, it seems that Muhammad might be the choice for the Bucks.
Going for an all-or-nothing prospect like Muhammad could pay off for the Bucks, who need a jolt to the roster to advance out of the first round. There is plenty of baggage with Muhammad but he is a talented scorer and can create. Unfortunately, he never dominated his opponents but has the skills and physique to do so.
While he has good bulk and a long wingspan, Muhammad still seems undersized to be a full-time NBA small forward.
Keep an eye on Jamaal Franklin as an alternative if the Bucks want a wing that can score.
16. Boston Celtics – Shane Larkin, PG, Miami (5’11, 14.5 ppg, 4.6 apg, 3.8 rpg)
With Doc Rivers’ departure and rumors of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce potentially being traded, the rebuild has officially started in Boston. Larkin falling here would be a coup for the Celtics.
Its only a matter of time until Rajon Rondo is traded, and grabbing Larkin to be the heir apparent would be a wise move. At Miami, Larkin had a spectacular season and showed he can score, shoot, and create for others. Additionally, Larkin tested out as one of the top athletes at the NBA Combine.
17. Atlanta Hawks – Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga (7’0, 17.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.7 apg)
Even though the Hawks will be going after big time free agents this offseason, having two first-round picks gives them the option to take a player that could help right away. In this case, the Hawks have long needed frontcourt size. With Zaza Pachulia and Josh Smith set to hit the free agent market, getting Al Horford some help is a must.
If Olynyk falls this far, Danny Ferry would have to be ecstatic. Olynyk is highly regarded amongst the analytic community and the Hawks have been looking for a center to slide Al Horford back to his natural position of power forward.
Atlanta has plenty of cap space and can take a chance on a player like Olynyk, who can immediately contribute off the bench. Do not rule out a trade on draft night as the Hawks could look to move up.
18. Atlanta Hawks (From Houston) – Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Filathlitikos (6’9, 9.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.4 apg)
Similar to the Mavericks, the Hawks are in a position where they are gearing up for a free-agent run that hopefully will result in landing Dwight Howard. The Hawks also have the cap room to get a second max free agent.
GM Danny Ferry has positioned the Hawks well enough to where they could have only three guaranteed contracts on the books next season – Al Horford, Lou Wiliams and John Jenkins (Jeff Teague and Ivan Johnson are eligible for qualifying offers that would make them restricted free agents). While the 17th pick won’t weigh too much against the cap, every dollar counts when it comes to luring top-tier free agents.
Ferry has long been comfortable taking international players and has always done a good job of scouting Europe. According to sources, Adetokunbo is a player Atlanta likes a lot, so much so that it is very likely this could be as far as the “Greek Freak” falls as the Hawks look to be the team that gave him a promise.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (From LA Lakers) – Rudy Gobert, C, Cholet (7’0, 8.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.3 bpg)
Its hard to envision Cleveland drafting two centers in the first round, but since the Cavs have had extensive talks with teams in the lottery about moving up and appear to be focusing on Sergey Karasev.
If Cleveland doesn’t move the pick, drafting an international player that can be stashed makes sense since Cleveland doesn’t want four rookies on their roster this season.
Gobert is an impressive specimen with a 7’9″ wingspan and explosive athleticism.
But again, the Cavs-Mavs trade in which Marion lands in Cleveland and Dallas drops from 13 to 19 makes a ton of sense.
20. Chicago Bulls – Mason Plumlee, C, Duke (6’10, 17.1 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 1.4 bpg)
Plumlee could be the forgotten big man in this draft class because of the depth at the center position. Plumlee improved every year at Duke, produced at a high level, will be able to defend from Day 1 and tested very well athletically. He won’t be a star in the NBA but likely will have a very good career.
With the future unclear for Carlos Boozer (it is likely the Bulls will amnesty him after the 2013-14 season, claring room to bring in EuroStud Mikola Mirotic), adding a quality big to the rotation for the Bulls would be a wise move. The Bulls could certainly use a wing that can score but there are not many options for one at this point in the draft, unless they choose Franklin.
21. Utah Jazz (From Golden State) – Lucas Noegueira, C, Estudiantes (6’11, 5.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.1 bpg)
As Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap appear to be leaving via free agency, adding a big man to the rotation behind Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter makes sense.
Noegueira is a pesky defender and rebounder who will be able to play minutes in any rotation right away. He still needs to develop but is ready to come over after flirting with the draft a few years ago.
In the past week Noegueira has soared up draft boards and it would not be a surprise his name mentioned in the late lottery, but for now he fills a need in Salt Lake City.
22. Brooklyn Nets – Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville (6’11, 9.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.5 bpg)
We are shifting gears here, because according to a source with knowledge of the Nets thinking, Gorgui Dieng appears to be the choice. Dieng is a mature prospect, who is physically ready to play in the NBA. As a bonus for the Nets, Dieng’s strengths are rebounding and blocking shots something they always need. Armed with an improved 15′ jumper Dieng could be a functional player on the offensive end.
Adding a great shooter could also make sense for the Nets as they try to get better spacing on offense. Reggie Evans, Kris Humphries and Andray Blatche all played alongside Brook Lopez last season, and Dieng could be teamed in a Twin Towers lineup with Lopez.