25. Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State, 6’8″, 215 lbs Early is NBA-ready and for a team like the Rockets now focused on a NBA title this pick makes sense. At 23, Early has the strength to step in and contribute on either end as a rookie. Early is the type of prospect that does a lot of things but is not elite at anything. However, teams have taken notice of Early’s performance in the NCAA Tournament and his improvement as a shooter this season. Early would be an instant contributor for Houston, who may lose RFA Chandler Parsons this offseason.
26. DeAndre Daniels, SF, Connecticut, 6’7″, 210 lbs In helping lead the Huskies to a championship, Daniels finally broke out and produced like many have long expected of him. The fear for some teams is that Daniels never produced on a consistent basis. Is this a case of a late bloomer or an underachiever? As a prospect, Daniels has nice length and an improved touch from outside, which a team drafting late in round 1 will find useful. Daniels is the type of athletic player who knows how to defend, and the Heat love to draft those guys, similar to when they took Norris Cole.
The last few picks of the first round every year are filled with teams looking to draft and stash, and this year should be no exception. Hezonja is a young prospect that will probably stay overseas for another season or two but already has shown flashes of brilliance on offense with a jumper with plenty of range and an arsenal of moves that allow him to score in handfuls. Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough has been openly talking to every team in Chicago about his interest in moving up or out on draft night as they have three picks and no intention of adding three rookies to next season’s roster. The Suns have three first-rounders and will be heavily involved in trade talks to move up or move their picks on draft night. If the Suns keep the pick, Jerami Grant is a player to watch as his athleticism and defense are NBA-ready and could give Jeff Hornacek a nice option in his rotation.
Robinson is a prospect to watch on draft night as his athleticism and length should be enough for teams to draft him. Robinson is polished and a strong shooter with great transition and finishing skills. Being the son of a former NBA player has helped Robinson prepare for his interviews. The Clippers need more shooting and it’s fair to expect Robinson to be able to contribute in limited minutes as a rookie next season.
Napier helped himself more than any other prospect in the Big Dance in leading his Huskies to a title. The star point guard showed flashes of another Huskies point man, Kemba Walker, carrying his team offensively down the stretch. Napier showed this season that he does it all. While he may not be a natural point, that is where he will wind up in the NBA. His ability to score, rebound and defend will be a commodity few teams this late can pass up on. Napier is a great option for the Thunder, and his style of play would certainly be a fit from Day 1, especially now that Derek Fisher is retiring.
McDaniels is prospect who capitalized on a strong junior season. The thing that stands out about McDaniels is his tenacious brand of defense and ability to lock down on opponents. As athletic as McDaniels is, it’s easy to see why he translates to a plus defender. If he can improve as a shooter, he could be a Danny Green-type of wing. The Spurs could use an infusion of youth in their backcourt and with Manu Ginobili slowing down finding an athletic lockdown defender.
Joe Kotoch is the Editor-in-chief of Pro Basketball Draft, a leading scouting service in the world of professional basketball. Before Joe created PBD he served as an NBPA & FIBA certified agent and scouted players all across the world. Born and raised in Cleveland, Joe also contributes to Fox Sports Ohio and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Follow Joe on Twitter @Probballdraft.