Adam Silver will be rollin’ phat on Draft night
Eds. Note: This mock isn’t necessarily intended to predict what teams will do, but to spell out what WE would do at each pick. Some of that is likely to map onto what teams actually end up doing on Thursday, some isn’t.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
Patrick J: I think the Cavs go with the conventional wisdom here. In a draft without a sure-thing superstar, you go with talent and size, especially when there’s a seven footer with potentially upper upper level shotblocking skills and defensive instincts.
Andy G: Can’t disagree, here. It’s not so much that NERLENS is can’t-miss as much as there’s probably not a sure thing anywhere in this draft and it’s pretty easy to see how his game carries over to modern NBA defense, often times built around roaming paint protectors.
Plus, that flat top.
In a podcast with CBS Sports, Jonathan Givony was asked to name one player that is “confounding him” right now — meaning that his opinion differs significantly from what he’s hearing from NBA teams. His response:
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has really moved up draft boards significantly over the last few months. He has a really good chance of being a top-ten pick on Thursday now. And while I like his talent — I like a 6’6″ guy that can really shoot the ball and is committed to playing defense — that can really score, I wonder if he has the mindset to be a top-ten draft pick and really carry an NBA team; to be a go-to option early on in his career. I wonder about that. I think that he is more comfortable being a complementary type — being a third or fourth option player. I liked him a little bit more when he was projected just outside the lottery, in that 15 to 25 range as opposed to a top-ten pick. I think really that’s what the draft is all about, it’s all about value. I think all these players are talented. I don’t think there’s a single guy that’s going to go in the first round that cannot play. I just think that it’s a matter of expectations. It’s a matter of where you fall in the draft and what opportunity you get to how you can actually become.
Andy G: We attended Wolves-Wizards last January. The Wiz were barely beginning to hit their stride (which made the ass-kicking that much more painful — we didn’t totally see it coming, despite Mickael Gelabale being a starter) and in particular their young backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal looked mighty impressive. The synergy that Ernie Grunfeld envisioned when he drafted Beal (and reportedly turned down a James Harden trade (!)) was coming to fruition before our eyes, even with Randy Wittman at the wheel.
John Wall created shot opportunities. Bradley Beal took advantage of them. In the course of their first season together — largely limited by injuries — the duo thrived. On average they were +3.6 per game, best of commonly-used Wizards player pairings. I think many will predict big improvement from Washington next season, including a playoff berth, in large part because they’ve put together such a talented and balanced backcourt.
I bring this up because the Wolves also have a magnificent playmaker at point guard, a dearth of capable 2’s, and a pair of first rounders in the upcoming draft. Also like Washington, Minnesota has veteran frontcourt talent. Basically, everybody’s waiting for that shooting guard to arrive. Whether it be with the lottery pick (9) or the one received from the Grizzlies (26) it seems likely that a wing player will don a Timberwolves cap on June 27.
We’ve already talked Victor Oladipo and Shabazz Muhammad. ‘Dipo is not Beal. Whether better all-around or worse, there’s a clear difference in style; in tool sets. And Shabazz, well… it’s probably best we lay off that one for a bit. He’s controversial, putting it mildly.
If they end up going lottery wing, that likely leaves Kentavious Caldwell-Pope from Georgia (if they stay at Number 9) or Ben McLemore from Kansas (if they trade up). Both can shoot it.
Which is the way to go, all things considered?
Shabazz Muhammad – Future Timberwolf?
Andy G: That was my immediate reaction. Now that I’ve *poured that bourbon* and *stepped outside for that air* we should probably take a couple steps back and digest what it means that the Timberwolves will be picking 9th in the upcoming draft and not 1st, 2nd or 3rd like we had hoped — however irrationally, given the 94 percent chance that they would — you know — NOT pick 1st, 2nd or 3rd. I guess I’ll start: Nerlens Noel isn’t walkin’ through that door, Ben McLemore isn’t walkin’ through that door, and Victor Oladipo isn’t walkin’ through that door, fans.