21. Dallas Mavericks – Tyus Jones, PG, Duke
The Mavericks and Rick Carlisle are not opposed to going in a different direction here, but PG and the value here make sense. If you watched any of Duke’s tournament games, you could see how big of an impact Jones had as a true freshman. Jones is a throwback PG that creates great scoring opportunities for his teammates, but he also has the ability to hit the big shot or convert when he’s open, sort of like Chris Paul.
While Jones is not big, he has tons of heart and is a true leader. In a point guard-driven league, especially coming off the games he had in the latter stages of the NCAA Tournament, he could make a solid impact immediately. While he is a smallish guy, he plays with tremendous heart and has a high basketball IQ.
Dallas, fresh off the Rajon Rondo debacle and relying on Raymond Felton to play minutes in the playoffs, will be hard-pressed to pass on a player like Jones. He has the chance to be capable of playing early in his career and give Dirk Nowitzki and company better scoring opportunities. I’ve heard the Bulls are also interested in Jones as an upgrade over backup PG Aaron Brooks, so Dallas will need to grab Jones here.
The Mavs could look for wing help here too.
22. Chicago Bulls – Robert Upshaw, C, Washington
I’m hearing the Bulls will be active and looking to possibly deal both Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. Are we looking at the next DeAndre Jordan?
Upshaw is a long center with a great wingspan and frame who has shown the ability to move well in space and defend the pick-and-roll.
Having blocked 4.5 shots per game at Washington, Upshaw clearly has embraced being a rim protector. On the offensive end, Upshaw is limited beyond finishing at the rim and is a horrible foul shooter. Like I said, think DeAndre Jordan.
With Tom Thibodeau fired and Fred Hoiberg the likely next coach, there is still some uncertainty with the Bulls. Anyone who saw the playoffs knows that changes are coming in Chicago. Upshaw is a fine defensive player who can contribute immediately. Kevon Looney is another name to watch.
23. Portland Trail Blazers – Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA
Privately there is concern that LaMarcus Aldridge could leave the Blazers this summer, and if that’s the case, Portland could opt to retool or rebuild. They could target Looney, who is the type of prospect teams drafting in the mid-to-late first round love because of his freakish length, a great motor and good athleticism.
As Looney develops physically, he should have the ability to mix it up down low against NBA bigs. Looney will need patience from the team that drafts him, but could be a high-ceiling type of pick later in round one. He is reminiscent of current Blazer Nicolas Batum, but projects as a bigger body.
If disaster strikes and Aldridge leaves as an unrestricted free agent— some are saying that scenario is more likely than Aldridge has led people to believe— Looney is the type of player who can step right in and be an NBA starter from the get-go. He was very impressive at times as a freshman at UCLA and is another candidate whose stock could rise quickly and reach the middle of round one.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers – Terry Rozier, PG, Louisville
While Cleveland and their fans aren’t concerned with a draft pick as the NBA Finals approach, we all saw how thin the Cavs are at PG behind Kyrie Irving. While Matthew Dellavedova is a free agent, he is not a PG you can play starter’s minutes for a seven-game series.
Blessed with great length, speed and skills, Rozier is a true lead guard who can do everything from grab boards, facilitate for his teammates and play aggressive on-the-ball defense. He is NBA-ready and could play backup minutes behind Irving right away. A player like Rozier would be an excellent backup and could spell Irving when he needs rest in the regular season.
Cleveland traded away next year’s number one, so this is a pick they will need to make whether its for them or someone else. Also, watch on draft night as the Cavs’ name could be involved in several trade scenarios. Brendan Haywood’s non-guaranteed contract can be unloaded to improve the roster.
In a league dominated by great PG play, Rozier had a great season for the Cardinals and appears ready to make the jump to the NBA and landing in his hometown and playing alongside James, Irving and company could do wonders for his development. Cleveland could also look international here as well.
25. Memphis Grizzlies – Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia
The Grizzlies continue to be a team on the cusp of winning the Western Conference, and as their core gets older, injecting some youth into it would help extend their window of contention. Memphis could go big with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph free agents but there won’t be a player here capable of helping right away.
Anderson has a solid frame and is a rugged defender who will intrigue teams drafting in the late first round. Offensively, Anderson must become a more consistent shooter and ball-handler.
Incidentally, Anderson reminds me a bit of Tony Allen in his defensive ability and versatility to defend multiple positions. And we all just learned in the second round exactly how important Allen is to the Grizzlies.
As we all now know, teams need a guy like Allen, Kawhi Leonard or Draymond Green to become one of the NBA’s elite teams. Allen’s hamstring problems slowed the Grizzlies down to a certain extent over the second half of this season, and Allen’s NBA shelf life may be nearing an end. Anderson would be a nice guy to have around to learn from Allen while he is still in Memphis.
26. San Antonio Spurs – R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State
With Tony Parker getting older, Manu Ginobli possibly retiring and Danny Green an unrestricted free agent, the Spurs may look for backcourt help. Hunter’s calling card is offense and he could be a great replacement, eventually, for Ginobli.
Capable of scoring from anywhere on the court, Hunter doesn’t lack confidence. Hunter played under his father at Georgia State and is a crafty, but physically limited player.
Hunter looks like a capable guard off the bench that can create his own offense or serve as a shooter. Until Tim Duncan announces his retirement, expect the Spurs to continue to target players that fit into their system and complement their core nucleus and a player like Hunter would have an immediate role in San Antonio.
As always the Spurs could be a team to take a flier on an international prospect here.
27. Los Angeles Lakers (From Houston) – Rakeem Christmas, PF, Syracuse
As I discussed with the second pick, the Lakers need to pair Okafor with a rim protector and with the chances of Lakers targeting wing help in free agency drafting a rim protector makes sense.
Christmas had one of the most promising performances in Chicago, showcasing a diverse offensive repertoire that scouts had not seen on a consistent basis during his collegiate career. Christmas has always been known for his ability to protect the rim and hit the glass, but the flashes of offense make him an intriguing prospect to watch. Word from around the NBA is that Christmas should be a popular prospect for teams to work out during the pre-draft process.
Despite a four-year career at Syracuse, Christmas still has some upside because of a solid frame, a freakish 7’5″ wingspan and good mobility for a big. He could play either power forward or center depending on whether the Lakers choose to play small ball.
This is somewhat of a freebie pick for the Lakers; they got it for taking on the contract of Jeremy Lin.
28. Boston Celtics (From Los Angeles Clippers) – Delon Wright, PG, Utah
Before Celtics fans freak out over the pick, this will likely be moved on draft night either to a team wanting to add a late first or as part of a package to move up or acquire a veteran.
This is a good spot for Wright, who is a four-year player who capped off a great collegiate career and should be a very serviceable PG from day one in the NBA.
NBA coaches love long point guards who can cover opponents, and Wright sure can do that. Offensively, Wright is a very capable scorer who can attack the rim or stroke it from beyond the arc.
Again, expect this pick to be swapped or the Celtics to go international here if they keep it.
29. Brooklyn Nets (From Atlanta) – Timothe Luwawu, SF, Antibes
The Nets will be picking here as part of the Hawks ability to swap picks with them. Expect to hear Luwawu’s name called in round one as teams are going to target this high-upside prospect.
Due to a manageable contract buyout, Luwawu can come over right away or spend another season or two in France. Luwawu has the potential to be a very good defender because of his length, athleticism and quickness to guard multiple positions. On the offensive end, Luwawu is a solid shooter who will serve as a Danny Green-type of role player.
With an aging Joe Johnson and an older roster, adding a young, talented player like Luwawu would give the Nets an asset going forward.
Expect Brooklyn to buy up second-round picks as they did a year ago. Luwawu is a name to watch closely, as several championship contenders could be targeting him in the first with the idea of stashing him overseas for another year or two.
30. Golden State Warriors – Jarell Martin, PF, LSU
As Draymond Green approaches free agency, the Warriors will be on the lookout for insurance in case he gets a max deal and leaves.
In case the Warriors choose to grab an insurance policy for Green, a player like Martin would be a wise choice. Martin, who is a prospect with great skills, including rebounding, but his combine measurements will go a long way toward determining how high he is drafted. The Tigers listed him at 6-foot-10, but he measured 6’8″ without shoes at the Combine with 10.1 percent body fat.
Martin will be best suited to defend power forwards in the NBA, but also has some versatility facing up to draw out defenders and help space the court. That makes him similar in that regard to Green.
Martin played almost 35 minutes per game at LSU, averaging 16.9 points and 9.2 rebounds while shooting 51 percent from the field and making 14 of 52 3-point shots. In Steve Kerr’s system, playing alongside Klay Thompson and Steph Curry could really bolster Martin’s chances to blossom in the NBA.
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 him on Twitter.