15. Boston Celtics Austin Rivers (6’4″ SG, Duke, Freshman)
Reasoning: Almost too poetic. I personally believe Rivers will go back to school, but I can see him coming out if he thinks he has a chance to play for his dad. It’s time for the Celtics to start their rebuild with Rondo as their main piece. Rivers presents the scoring instincts they’ll need moving forward and is a nice match with the pass first Rondo. This is probably a bit too early for him, but I’ll keep him here for now.
16. Houston Rockets Cody Zeller (7’0″ C, Indiana, Freshman)
Reasoning: Chances are, the younger Zeller will also return to school. But again, I’m going to assume he’s coming out until he says otherwise. You could just as easily put his brother Tyler in this spot, but Cody has more upside and has shown more intensity as well. Houston has been hurting for big men since Yao Ming’s retirement, and this is a great start.
17. Memphis Grizzlies Arnett Moultrie (6’11″ PF/C, Mississippi State, Junior)
Reasoning: The injury to Zach Randolph showed how thin the Grizzles frontcourt is. They signed Speights, but he is more of a role player than a long term solution. Moultrie can help provide a different dynamic to a roster that features two slow-it-down plodding bigs in Gasol and Randolph. He is a great athlete that thrives off the ball where he can take advantage of his opponent. With Randolph turning 31 soon, they need to find a long term replacement, and Moultrie can be that guy.
18. Denver Nuggets Tyler Zeller (7’0″ C, North Carolina, Senior)
Reasoning: Denver is probably the deepest team in the league. The only place they have any sort of hole is in the frontline. Nene has been accumulating injuries and Andersen isn’t getting any younger. So while Mozgov is a serviceable player, they need somebody who can be a long term solution. Zeller is a great athlete for his size and has the speed and range to help the team for many years to come. He isn’t the toughest defender, but Nene and Faried provide where he is deficient.
19. New Jersey Nets Patric Young (6’9″ PF, Florida, Sophomore)
Reasoning: Kris Humphries will be a free agent after this year, and the Nets need to find some sort of insurance for the possibility that he leaves. Patric Young is as good an athlete as you’ll find in a big man and is built to handle the wear and tear of the NBA. He isn’t a very good offensive player but will hit the boards hard and blocks his fair share of shots. Young will be just the type of player who flourishes next to Deron Williams (assuming he stays)
20. Los Angeles Lakers Kendall Marshall (6’4″ PG, North Carolina, Sophomore)
Reasoning: The Lakers are an aging team that could use a splash of youth across the board. All indications point towards Fisher being on his way out in the very near future so Marshall can come in and fill that void admirably. Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum will need their touches and Marshall is just the guy to get the job done. He is the pass-first point guard of all pass-first point guards. Kobe would love that.
21. Atlanta Hawks Evan Fournier (6’7″ SG/SF, International, 19 years old)
Reasoning: Atlanta has big salary locked up across the board so they’ll benefit by stashing this pick overseas while he develops. Fournier has great size for the position with a good frame that can possibly add some bulk in the future. Fournier isn’t a strong shooter or defender, but he will have plenty of time to develop.
22. Indiana Pacers Terrence Ross (6’7″ SF, Washington, Sophomore)
Reasoning: This is another deep team that doesn’t have many holes, despite not having a true star player. At this point in the draft, their best bet is to draft the best player available. They could easily go with Mason Plumlee here, but Ross projects as a better player in the future. Ross and George could be one of the longer, more athletic wing tandems for a long time.
23. Philadelphia 76ers Mason Plumlee (6’11″ PF, Duke, Junior)
Reasoning: Elton Brand is getting up in age and it’s time they found a replacement. Both Hawes and Vucevic are more finesse big men. They could use a more athletic guy like Plumlee who can go out and do the dirty work. Plumlee is a great athlete and rebounder and can add a sense of toughness that this team lacks in the frontcourt. He won’t be a dependable offensive player, but the Sixers rely on a team approach on that side of the floor anyway.
24. Boston Celtics Mike Moser (6’8″ PF, UNLV, Sophomore)
Reasoning: Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett could potentially be on their way out in the next couple of years. I have them drafting Rivers earlier to replace Allen, and Moser could be the guy who eventually steps into Garnett’s spot. Moser has surprised many people this year with his production as a stretch 4 who is a great athlete for his size. He does most of his damage in an uptempo setting and the Rondo/Rivers duo would benefit from having a big man who can keep up with them down the floor. He isn’t the strongest player, but has a good frame that should be able to add some size, which should help him in the long run.
25. Orlando Magic Jeff Taylor (6’7″ SF, Vanderbilt, Senior)
Reasoning: In past years, Taylor was known exclusively as an athlete who lacked polish on offense. However, this year he has become a very efficient option for an underwhelming Vandy squad. Taylor can come in and immediately be a strong defensive presence on the wing and can replace most of the production they get from Richardson.
26. Dallas Mavericks Tony Wroten (6’5″ PG, Washington, Freshman)
Reasoning: The Mavericks, like the Lakers, are an aging team that could use an infusion of youth. Jason Kidd is getting up in age and Roddy Beaubois hasn’t produced according to what his potential would suggest. Wroten plays the game in much the same way that a young Jason Kidd did. He is a big bodied guard who possesses strong defensive instincts and exceptional vision. He would do well to learn from Kidd for a year or so.
27. San Antonio Spurs Tony Mitchell (6’9″ PF, North Texas, Freshman)
Reasoning: largely unknown player from a small school. Sounds just like the type of player the Spurs draft late and everybody else kicks themselves for not seeing his talent. Mitchell is producing at a very, very high level and produces in all facets of the game. If Mitchell was putting up his same numbers at a bigger school, he would be in the discussion for a lottery pick.
28. Chicago Bulls Doron Lamb (6’4″ SG, Kentucky, Sophomore)
Reasoning: The only thing the Bulls need is a floor spacing off guard who can handle the ball a bit. Rip Hamilton is too old to be the answer and Brewer is more of a defensive specialist. Lamb is one of the best shooters in the country and can also initiate the offense for 5-10 minutes a night, which would take pressure off Rose.
29. Miami Heat Festus Ezeli (6’11″ C, Vanderbilt, Senior)
Reasoning: Miami is strong at every position but Center. Joel Anthony is obviously not the long term solution and the youngsters they’ve picked haven’t panned out. If not for a preseason injury, Ezeli would be much higher on draft boards. He has great size and athleticism and won’t demand the ball on offense.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder Fab Melo (7’0″ C, Syracuse, Sophomore)
Reasoning: The Thunder are in much the same situation the Heat are. They are very strong across the board but could use some depth at the Center spot. Melo is quickly moving up boards as he showcases his quickness and defensive instincts so he could be much higher come draft night. But as of now, this is a safe spot to put him.
31. Charlotte Bobcats William Buford (6’5″ SG, Ohio State, Senior)
Reasoning: You could just as easily put Tyshawn Taylor, Dion Waiters, or John Jenkins in this spot, but Buford offers a lot of what the team needs. He provides a mature, stable presence that has the ability to score from anywhere on the floor, but is most known as being a great shooter who can handle the ball.