This is not who we think each team will take, but instead who we think each team should take. For the most part, we took turns taking picks, with Eraulli (Alex) starting with ...
#1 Cleveland Cavaliers select Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
ER: The obvious choice. Cleveland's interior defense was terrible last season. Nerlens has all the tools to become an elite interior defender, the type of player you can build a defense around.
DZ: No argument here from me, obviously. I would trade this pick for Al Horford but that’s about it. Hopefully Noel can play about 30 games next season at around 20 minutes and get his feet wet, but my expectations from him next year are pretty minimal. Still, the core of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Nerlens Noel could be really special.
#2 Orlando Magic select Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
DZ: I am a bit wary of taking Burke this high, but Conrad and Sam have done a good job of selling him for me. I see him as very similar to Damian Lillard; I am not particularly high on Lillard. Still, this gives the Magic another nice piece to build with, but not necessarily around. With Maurice Harkless, Nikola Vucevic, and Tobias Harris, they have some intriguing young guys. I assume they want to be big players for Julius Randle and Andrew Wiggins, and Burke won’t be good enough to win them too many games, in my opinion.
ER: A good alternative here would be SG Victor Oladipo. He may not be as good of a fit as Trey Burke, but I think he is a better player overall. Every team needs someone that can slow down the opponent's best perimeter scorer, and Oladipo will be able to do that from day one. He is an elite athlete that plays with an extremely high motor and great intensity. His offensive game is a work in progress, but he will be effective in transition, on cuts to the rim, and on the offensive boards right away.
#3 Washington Wizards select Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown
ER: Although John Wall wants a PF that can shoot out of the pick-and-pop, I think Porter is the best fit for the Wizards. They need someone who can contribute right away on a playoff caliber team, someone who can be effective as a complementary player rather than the focal the point of the offense. Otto can step right in as a role player that will make everyone around him better. He may not have an elite skill or freakish athleticism, but he just does everything really well. Cavs: the Blog’s Kevin Hetrick dubbed him "Gorilla Glue," because he is a really high quality glue guy. I think the nickname fits, just as Porter fits in Washington.
DZ: This is a fine pick, but I think if I was Washington, Anthony Bennett would be my guy. First, the Wizards already have Trevor Ariza and will attempt to bring back Martell Webster, both guys coming off pretty good years at small forward. Outside of Emeka Okafor and Nene, guys not known for staying healthy, cupboard inside is bare. Even if they stay healthy all season, Okafor isn’t a long-term option. Second, Washington really struggled to score last season. As Alex points out, Bennett and Wall could run the pick-and-pop to perfection. Bennett has been called out for defensive shortcomings, and the criticism is warranted, but in the Wizards system he could be alright.
#4 Charlotte Bobcats Hornets select Anthony Bennett, PF, Nevada - Las Vegas
ER: Contrary to popular opinion, I actually think Victor Oladipo could work here in Charlotte. But since I've already written a paragraph about him we'll take a look at another good option for Charlotte: his teammate Cody Zeller. Before the combine Anthony Bennett appeared to be the clear #1 PF in the draft, but Zeller's measurements, athleticism and skill level have all been better than expected. He has the potential to become a really good stretch 4, and if he continues to shoot the ball well in workouts I think the Bobcats have to consider taking him with this pick. Keep an eye on this battle; Zeller and Bennett appear to be neck and neck right now.
DZ: I would be wary of Oladipo here. Charlotte has to score at some point. Four years from now I think MKG and Oladipo could be a good tandem on the perimeter. In the meantime, I just can’t see it working and I don’t know if it’d be good for either’s development. Bennett seems like the right pick to me.
#5 Phoenix Suns select Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana
ER: The Suns are really a mess right now. The only building block they have locked up long term is PG Goran Dragic. Who knows what they are trying to build, so I'm just going to give them the best player left on the board: Victor Oladipo. Paired with Dragic this would give them an exciting back court for years to come. If they can snag another top five pick next year they should be well on their way to rebuilding this franchise.
DZ: Yeah, this is fine with me. The Suns are more depressing to me than even the Bobcats at this point. A completely rudder-less franchise. Everyone knows the NBA wants owner Robert Sarver to sell the team. Low state taxes, great winter weather, the Suns should be a marquee franchise. Hopefully they turn it around, but they need to take their time.
#6 New Orleans Hornets Pelicans select Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas
DZ: My assumption is that Eric Gordon will need to be dealt. McLemore gives them an athletic shooter at the very least. I am not in love with him as a player, but there are worse places to be than Anthony Davis and McLemore. Word is that the Pelicans really like Dario Saric, which I would also see as a solid pick. He passes extraordinarily well, plays hard, and is said to have a really high basketball IQ.
ER: McLemore is probably the right pick here, but another option worth considering would be C Alex Len. With the Unibrow playing next to Len the Pelicans would have the potential to control the paint on both ends of the court. If Len develops well that could be a dominating front court in four or five years. It would be a risky pick, but the potential payoff would be immense.
#7 Sacramento Kings select Shabazz Muhammad, SF, UCLA
ER: Some view this as a poor fit because of character issues, but I disagree. While Shabazz has had some problems both on and off the court, I think that his competitive spirit is exactly what this team needs. He will drive his teammates to become better, to work harder. He will also ease the offensive burden on Demarcus Cousins, making teams think twice before double-teaming him in the paint.
DZ: I think this is high for Shabazz, but I don’t necessarily disagree with a lot of what you are saying here. People are saying he needs to be able to shoot off the dribble, which would certainly be helpful, but I think he needs to also be able to actually get to the rim. Does he have the handle to do that in the NBA? He won’t be physically bullying people moving forward. If Zeller really is a power forward (which I have been arguing for most of the last few months) why not pair him with Cousins?
#8 Detroit Pistons select Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
DZ: Part of this pick is simply based on who I don’t want the Pistons to draft: another combo guard. I’m not big on McCollum (for reasons explained below) and there isn’t a need for Alex Len in Detroit. There is a gaping hole at small forward, and a huge need for willing passers who can facilitate an offense. Saric’s shooting is inconsistent, but someone on this team needs to be able to create for others. Saric might be the guy. His stock is rising because he played incredibly well at the end of the season in Croatia.
ER: I really love how Saric fits with this team. I can't think of a player that I would consider over Saric here. Good pick.
#9 Minnesota Timberwolves select Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
ER: This might seem early to some, but I really like how he fits with the T-wolves. They need someone who can consistently drain 3-pointers, something Caldwell-Pope did efficiently in college despite jacking up seven per game (He literally had to carry that team on offense, taking 1 of every 3 shots when he was on the court, and still managed 57.9% true shooting). There are other good shooters in this draft, but few that have the diverse skill set of Caldwell-Pope. He is a great athlete, an active defender, a very good rebounder, draws fouls. A very well rounded player.
DZ: Works for me. They need shooting in the worst way up in Minnesota.
#10 Portland Trailblazers select C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh
DZ: Word is that the Trailblazers are looking hard for a shooting guard who can create for himself and take pressure off of Lillard. McCollum could fit the bill. I don’t believe McCollum is a point guard, but the Blazers won’t need him to be. McCollum’s lack of athleticism and the fact that he hasn’t played anyone very good or been a great creator for others worries me, but this is a good fit.
ER: The Blazers selected Meyers Leonard at #11 last year, but I don't think it'd be a bad idea to give him some competition. They really need to develop a big man to start alongside LaMarcus Aldridge, so I'd take Alex Len here and hope that between him & Leonard one of them develops into a starting caliber player. I believe than Len will. Leonard, I have less faith in…
#11 Philadelphia 76ers select Cody Zeller, PF, Indiana
ER: This would be incredible value if he falls this far, but I think it is a realistic possibility. From #6-10 every team except the Kings is completely set at PF, and even they have Patrick Patterson there along with bigger needs on the perimeter. I think Zeller may end up as one of the three best players in this class. Don't be surprised if someone trades up into that #6-10 range for him, but if he does fall this far I don't see how the 76ers could take anyone else. If Bynum ever plays a game for the 76ers I think he and Zeller would fit together well.
DZ: Len will be an intriguing option here. Philly is in a really tough spot. Not sure there is anyone other than Holliday I would want to build around. If the Cavs wanted to acquire Thaddeus Young that would be pretty cool.
#12 Oklahoma City Thunder select Alex Len, C, Maryland
DZ: Collison and Perkins aren’t getting any younger, so Len would seem to be the best fit moving forward.
ER: I expect OKC to go big with this pick, and Len seems like the most likely option if available. It is possible, however, that they might prefer Steven Adams or Rudy Gobert here. Either of these guys could be groomed to take over Perkins' role of defending the low post while providing a lot more than Perkins on the offensive end.
#13 Dallas Mavericks select Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
ER: This pick will likely be traded, but if not then expect them to go with a foreign prospect that they can stash for a year. Rudy Gobert or Sergey Karasev (or Dario Saric if available) are other options, but they could really use a PG, especially if they are unable to lure CP3 away from Los Angeles. Extremely quick with the ball and an improving shot make Schroeder an intriguing prospect, given his athleticism and length.
DZ: WAIT, WE HAVE A TRADE. THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS HAVE TRADED THE 19th, 31st, and 33rd PICKS TO THE DALLAS MAVERICKS FOR SHAWN MARION AND THE RIGHTS TO SERGEY KARASEV!
If Dario Saric is off the board, the best stash target for the Mavericks is gone. In comes Cleveland, and they take the guy falling to them in a lot of other mock drafts coming right now at 19. Karasev is done working out for NBA teams thanks to a rumored promise handed out by an NBA team to draft him in the first round. Karasev is considered to be one of the best shooters in the draft, and that is something the Cavaliers could really use. He has shown an ability to pass, is a coach’s son, and has the size and strength to develop into a solid defender, even if he isn’t the quickest player. He is performing at a high level at a very young age.
#14 Utah Jazz select Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
DZ: I don’t know a ton about this guy, but Utah needs a point guard. Gordon Hayward (who might not be a bad comparison for Dario Saric), Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter is an intriguing core moving forward. Schroeder could be part of helping them build something cool.
ER: Utah seems to enjoy having an overabundance of bigs, so maybe they'll take yet another one with this pick. Seriously, though, Utah needs a PG.