Two years ago, Dwight Howard mentioned his attraction to the Mavs' willingness to allow star players…
DB.com Mock Draft Version 2: A Mavs Center?
We know of some of the Dallas Mavericks' pre-Draft visitors and we know about some of the options with the "Euro Cap Stash.''
We also know a little more than we did in Mock Draft Version 1.
Time for another crack at it:
1.) Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, PF, Kentucky
The Cavs have been a terrible defensive team for the past three years. Noel is by far the best defensive player in this draft. He's an extremely active shot-blocker who covers a lot of ground and his athleticism is enough to make him a serviceable offensive player as a rookie. The only worry is that Noel is still recovering from an ACL tear suffered during his only season at Kentucky. Pretty much every sentence written in this paragraph was said about Greg Oden in 2007. Even so, he's too instinctively good and athletic to pass up.
2.) Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
I expected the Magic to take McLemore with the number one overall pick so getting number two here shouldn't hurt them. McLemore -- who DB.com reports the Mavs consider by far the best 2-guard in the draft -- has everything that you would expect from a swingman that will eventually score 18-22 points per game. He has a great outside shot and is developing the skills to be able to take the ball to the basket and finish.
3.) Washington Wizards: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
4.) Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets: Cody Zeller, PF, Indiana
Here's the first change-up from my last mock draft. Version one had the Bobcats taking Victor Olidipo. But if Charlotte is committed to anything they are committed to Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. That doesn't leave a lot of room for Olidipo on the wing. That's why I now have them drafting Olidipo's Indiana teammate, Cody Zeller, who can slide into the power forward position. Zeller is great at running the floor and finishing for a big man and with the speed driving abilities of Walker and Kidd-Gilchrist the Bobcats could finally find an identity.
5.) Phoenix Suns: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
6.) New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Bennett, SF, UNLV
7.) Sacramento Kings: Michael-Carter Williams, PG, Syracuse
A player Dallas continues to covet.
8.) Detroit Pistons: CJ McCollum, PG, Lehigh
My first version had the Pistons taking Trey Burke with this pick. Burke was the National Player of the Year for Michigan and all of his big shots in the NCAA Tournament made him possibly the most popular player in college basketball last year. Having the Pistons keep him in the state of Michigan seemed perfect. That being said, I think CJ McCollum is the better prospect and will turn out to be a more complete point guard. Burke might have hit more noteworthy shots for Michigan, but McCollum was the better shooter at Lehigh all season long. It will just be a matter of if the Pistons agree with me and have the courage to pass up the hometown hero.
9.) Minnesota T-Wolves: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
The T'Wolves will be happy to try to make the Pistons regret leaving Burke on the board.
10.) Portland Trail Blazers: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
Oh-oh. Problem here, for all of us mock-drafting, amid word he wants to stay in Europe while pulling out of the draft.
11.) Philadelphia 76ers: Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
Our Mike Fisher notes that the Mavs consider him the second-best 2-guard available.
12.) Oklahoma City Thunder: Alex Len, C, Maryland
The Thunder will finally have a viable alternative to playing Kendrick Perkins. Len needs to become much more aggressive on both ends of the floor, but his size is very impressive. He stands 7'1 and 255 pounds. He would be perfect in Oklahoma City in a system where he has small roles that he can grow into.
13.) Dallas Mavericks: Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
My first version had the Mavericks landing Croatian sharpshooter Dario Saric, but we have to at least examine the possibility that Saric is unavailable at the 13th pick.
I have Olynyk and Michael Carter-Williams as two players likely on the Mavs list of safe, all-but-certain contributors. One being a point guard, the other a center, they would both get chances at solid minutes in the rotation. If you're judging the 13th pick by the likelihood that the player becomes an All-Star, you might be disappointed with these two players. But if you judge it by the likelihood that the player will be contributing in the NBA in five or six years then you should feel good about either player.
That may not be all that exciting, but Mavs fans know it's easy to strike out in the NBA draft.
I don't see Olynyk being a strikeout. His strength is his offensive skillset. He could turn out to be a very nice complement to Nowitzki. He has a few nice moves in the post and has great range on his set shot. He's not the type of guy you want to take a great post defender one on one, but he'll likely make a handful of shots in the flow of the game.
He may struggle on the boards as he gets used to NBA play, but I would expect him to become a serviceable rebounder in time. He'll have to work pretty hard to become a good defender at this level, but his quickness should help him avoid becoming a defensive liability.
I wouldn't exactly say that Olynyk is a superstar in the making, but it's fair to say that he brings much more to the table than he takes away.
14.) Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
15.) Milwaukee Bucks: Shane Larkin, PG, Miami
16.) Boston Celtics: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
17.) Atlanta Hawks: Tony Snell, SG, New Mexico
18.) Atlanta Hawks: Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State
19.) Cleveland Cavaliers: Lorenzo Brown, PG, NC State
20.) Chicago Bulls: Tim Hardaway Jr. SG, Michigan
21.) Utah Jazz: Allen Crabbe, SG, California
22.) Brooklyn Nets: DeShaun Thomas, SF, Ohio State
Do I think DeShaun Thomas will be a "good" NBA player? That's tough to answer.
I think Thomas will be a player that will continue to be able to hit very difficult shots, which is of course something to value in the NBA. But another name for "difficult shots" is "bad shots" and players that can hit bad shots usually take bad shots. So it's tough to say if he'll be much more than a volume shooter whose great games remind you why he's in the league, but don't come all that often.
Thomas isn't valued all that high right now, but I think teams will see him as a player much more likely to put the ball in the basket than some of the other late first round prospects.
23.) Indiana Pacers: Erick Green, PG, Virginia Tech
24.) New York Knicks: Tony Mitchell, SF, North Texas
25.) LA Clippers: Mason Plumlee, PF, Duke
26.) Minnesota T'Wolves: Steven Adams
This is pretty low for ranking for Adams in most people's opinions -- including that of DB.com's David Lord, who long ago pinpointed Adams as a fave. Adams is projected as a high first-round pick and many consider him a lottery pick.
However, I watched Adams play numerous times at Pittsburgh and have always been left very unimpressed. He often looked lost in the moment and unable to even come close to taking advantage of the size he had over his college competition.
There are some nice highlight packages of Adams' game, but left out of those highlights are points where he is outworked on the boards by smaller, tougher big men, as well as a serious hesitancy to make anything happen on offense that is not created by a teammate.
I would say the 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game he averaged last season are not an anomaly, but a sign of a player that will need to develop confidence, assertiveness and legitimate post skills before he can contribute to an NBA team.
I don't think that Adams is nearly as developed as a player like Meyers Leonard was when he came out of college last year before being drafted by Portland.
27.) Denver Nuggets: Sergey Karasev, SG, Russia
Outside of Saric and Schroeder, I think Karasev is the safest international pick, more so than even Rudy Gobert. who is currently being hyped (will discuss later). I don't mean to say Karasev is a lock to be a good player. There are very few "safe" picks in the NBA Draft and international players can be even tougher to judge. However, Karasev's jump shot might be enough to keep him in the league. Whether or not he's just another good shooter or something more is hard to tell.
28.) San Antonio Spurs: Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
29.) Oklahoma City Thunder: Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville
30.) Phoenix Suns: Isiah Canaan, PG, Murray State
Canaan is my hidden gem of the draft. Very few people are projecting him as first-rounder at the moment, but I was tempted to place him even higher (stay tuned for the third and final version to see if he works his way even higher).
He's undervalued because of his size; he's only 6'0, but the thing to always look out for in short point guards is strength and Canaan is certainly strong for his size. Despite his height, he won't be pushed away from the spot he wants to get to on the court. He's also got an excellent jump shot off the dribble. He may be small, but I have yet to find a reason why he won't eventually be able to do the same things on the court that Jarrett Jack can do.
A Few Notable Omissions:
Rudy Gobet, C, France:
A lot of people like Gobert's size. And at 7'2 there's a lot to like about his size.
But if you can find footage of an entire game that he played in I would be willing to bet you hardly notice him, even with his enormous size. In my opinion, he clearly has less upper body strength than even a player like Jeff Withey out of Kansas, who isn't exactly touted as strong post player.
DB.com's David Lord noted to me that "you can't teach tall." That's a pretty solid point. I have to admit if a 7'2 20-year old fell in to the lap of an NBA team, it would be hard for them to complain. But I'm not quite sure I agree with the common adage of not being able to teach size (with all due respect to DL). I think timing, footwork and toughness are all ways of teaching size. It's where the term "playing big" comes from. A strong, gifted, 6'10 player with good size is often more valuable than a 7'2 player who can be moved from his spot on the court with ease.
And even if I assume that Gobert can become a very impactful defensive player, I just see him as an enormous liability on offense. Any team that puts him on the court next season will be playing four-on-five every offensive possession.
Until I see a credible source claim that a team is deeply interested in Gobert (which could happen) I have trouble believing he is a solid first-round pick. Check back for Version Three to see if he squeezes his way in.
Reggie Bullock, SG, North Carolina:
I really liked Bullock as a college player; I just wonder if his game really translates to the NBA. His lack of strength and below-average driving ability will probably lead to him being just a spot up shooter in the league. Don't get me wrong, he's a good shooter, but there are too many other great shooters in the NBA that could take that job from him.