Draft day has finally arrived and while everyone pines for the 2014 class already, this one has the chance to be sneaky good. The All-Star appearances from this class will likely be rare, but there will undoubtedly be as many quality starters and rotation players selected as any other draft.
*Comments for each pick will be posted shortly.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel
The Cavaliers have been playing coyote ugly for the past month after their lottery win heard 'round the world by aggressively shopping the pick. Former Cavaliers' GM Jim Paxson was apparently interested in shopping the 2003 first overall pick and was surprised that no teams called about the availability of LeBron James., so there is a precedent in the franchise. Noel easily has the best chance of being special from this class. Noel is a future Defensive Player of the Year candidate and though he won't ever be a volume scorer, he has more than enough game on offense to be a factor. This is actually an easy pick for the Cavaliers if they are unable to make a trade.
2. Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo
Oladipo has the makeup of the type of player any franchise wants to have during a rebuilding project with his commitment on both ends of the floor and for maximizing his ability. We'll need to see if he can sustained the improvements he made on offense during his junior season and he will be an injury risk given how hard and awkward he falls when attacking the rim.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter
The Wizards did well drafting for need last season by selecting Bradley Beal third and repeat the formula here with Porter. He is an ideal small forward complement to the John Wall/Beal backcourt as a smart player and good physical profile. Porter will be able to contribute right away and that has value to the Wizards right now even if he is not even a top-5 talent on my draft board.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Alex Len
The Bobcats figure to be back here next year and there isn't a center in that draft class that compares to Len. With the height and weight of a true center, Len is a strong athlete that will only get better and start in this league for the next 10 years. No aspect of Len's game jumps out at you visually and the analytics community has a tepid response as well, but his teammates at Maryland didn't do him any favors and has impressed against future NBA competition.
5. Phoenix Suns: Ben McLemore
McLemore is the best wing prospect in the draft as a great shooter for his size and athletic gifts. McLemore hasn't taken the draft process as seriously as many have hoped and his inability to create off the dribble causes him to disappear when his jumper isn't falling.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Bennett
Bennett is rated as the second best prospect in this draft on my board as he has an NBA-ready inside/outside game on offense. Bennett doesn't play undersized because he has the strength and body mass to dominate the game physically. Bennett will be able to shift down to small forward for a few minutes a night at least early in his career to give his team a jumbo package and he'll be able to contend with most of the centers in the NBA not named Roy Hibbert and Marc Gasol. The pairing of Bennett with Anthony Davis fascinates me.
7. Sacramento Kings: Trey Burke
Burke gives the Kings a true point guard with legitimate NBA range on his jumper. He also has the type of floor leadership that the franchise has been missing for years.
8. Detroit Pistons: Michael Carter-Williams
A backcourt of Carter-Williams and Brandon Knight would be one of the biggest and most versatile in the NBA. Carter-Williams isn't a scorer but the offense he creates for Andre Drummond and Knight is much needed.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Caldwell-Pope doesn't have the mentality to be a lead scorer, but it is difficult to argue for another player in this draft that gives the Wolves a more ideal fit. Caldwell-Pope is a really good shooter relative to his athleticism and will be able to defend better NBA scorers immediately.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. McCollum
A backcourt of McCollum and Damian Lillard is the complete opposite of Carter-Williams and Knight in Detroit as they would be as small as that Stephen Curry/Monta Ellis tandem from a few seasons ago with the Warriors. The talent is unquestionably there, however, as McCollum is one of cleverest scorers in this draft.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Cody Zeller
Zeller is a better athlete than he appears at first glance since he isn't the most graceful prospect in this draft, but he is unquestionably functional. Zeller will get incrementally better and is ready to play immediately assuming he gets better and more comfortable in his physicality.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Raptors via Rockets): Kelly Olynyk
The Thunder need to stretch the floor better and Olynyk gives them that at either of the big positions. Olynyk won't create his own offense, but he'll hit his open looks on passes from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, plus he is impressively agile and has great touch on cuts to the bucket.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Steven Adams
The Mavericks almost certainly will trade this pick, giving Adams this draft slot.
14. Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder
Shane Larkin may be a little more NBA ready, but there is no doubt that Schroeder is the better prospect. Schroeder is an incredible passer with the quickness necessary to lose his man at any time. He also is an advanced perimeter shooter for his age and can become a lockdown defender. He'll have issues in his decision-making like any young point guard, but will be worth it.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Adetokunbo
Adetokunbo has a great natural feel for the game and incredible athletic gifts, but is almost entirely untested and an unknown quantity. It was because of high school prospects similar to Adetokunbo that the draft rule was changed because the risk for whomever selects him will be so high.
16. Boston Celtics: Shabazz Muhammad
Drafting Muhammad right here in the middle of the first round is a very Danny Ainge move. No general manager in the NBA craves the boom/bust players as much as Ainge. I agree with the philosophy and believe the Celtics can reel Muhammad in away from the bad aspects of his game while highlighting what he does well.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Reggie Bullock
The Hawks could look a million different ways at the start of next season, but a really good 'Three and D' guy like Bullock is always needed.
18. Atlanta Hawks (from Rockets via Nets): Mason Plumlee
Plumlee is strictly a role player but he is one of the better big man athletes and also is ready to contribute immediately.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Lakers): Jamaal Franklin
Franklin is an explosive playmaker on both sides of the floor and the hope is that he develops his understanding of the game and perimeter shot over time to match.
20. Chicago Bulls: Tim Hardaway Jr.
Hardaway is a really good spot-up shooter with the ability to drive and finish at the basket if he has an open lane or in transition. Hardaway tends to disappear if his shot isn't falling, as he can't create his own offense.
21. Utah Jazz (from Warriors via Nets): Rudy Gobert
Gobert is an amazing combination of length and athleticism with a standing reach nearly at the rim. Gobert is unlikely to ever do anything complicated on offense and my previous opinions on Alexis Ajinca gives me pause, but he will be a protector at the basket and finisher as the worst case scenario.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Shane Larkin
Larkin tests as an outstanding athlete, but he hasn't fully figured out how to use it in a functional way. The trajectory of his improvement is impressive, but looks to be a career backup at point guard and therefore is exactly what the Nets need.
23. Indiana Pacers: Gorgui Dieng
The Pacers' lack of depth was a huge issue in the playoffs and Dieng gives them instant contributions on defense and on the glass. Dieng will never do much on offense, but has a clearly defined role that he can already parlay against NBA competition.
24. New York Knicks: Archie Goodwin
Goodwin has great physical attributes and is especially impressive in transition and on defense. Goodwin has mechanical flaws in his jumper and needs to refine his game, but can play right away for the Knicks in a limited role.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Jeff Withey
Withey gives the Clippers a rim protector capable of eventually hitting a mid-range jumper and help solve some of their late game issues.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Grizzlies via Rockets): Tony Mitchell
Mitchell is one of the most gifted players in this draft and was a likely lottery pick before a baffling season at North Texas. He needs a good player development system to help refine his game, but there is no risk in selecting a player of his talent this late in the draft.
27. Denver Nuggets: Sergey Karasev
Karasev is one of the better playmakers in the draft and is certainly versatile. His lack of explosiveness makes him project as a second unit type of player.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Lucas Nogueira
Nogueira is similar to Gobert as a raw big with a ton of length and athleticism. The Spurs have the right system in place to develop Nogueira.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Isaiah Canaan
Canaan is a fearless scorer that can get points on the perimeter or off the bounce in the paint.
30. Phoenix Suns (from Heat via Cavaliers and Lakers): Ray McCallum
McCallum is a solid all-around point guard that fits in on any roster as a reserve point guard.