Friday, June 28, 2013

NBA Draft Day Winners And Losers

Shocking many NBA fans, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected
UNLV forward Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick.

     Most analysts considered this year's draft a weak class, but the 2013 NBA Draft was definitely exciting and intriguing in a number of ways. From selections, to trades, to the exit celebration for commissioner David Stern, it was a great night for most NBA fans. Let's examine the winners and losers of this year's hectic draft day.

Winner - Anthony Bennett

Why: Here's one of the more obvious winners of the night. Bennett even said himself that he was shocked to be taken first overall. Cavaliers fans might be worried, but Bennett is a young prospect with high potential. There are weight concerns, but if Bennett sheds some pounds, he can be a nightmare for traditional small forwards and bigger, slower power forwards. Bennett has special offensive versatility because he can shoot from the outside and post up in the paint. Out of all the prospects in this year's draft, he has arguably the highest potential.

Loser - Indiana Pacers

Why: This was simply a weird draft for the Pacers. In the first round, they selected Arizona small forward Solomon Hill. There is no denying Hill's talent -- I did see him play in several games this season and during the NCAA Tournament -- but the consensus of most draft experts was that he would be picked in the second round. Another concern is that Hill is a small forward, where the Pacers already have Paul George and Danny Granger filling that slot. To make things even more head-scratching, Indiana traded their second round pick to Boston. The Pacers may know something that other teams and fans don't, but selecting somebody they probably could have gotten later in the draft who doesn't fill a position of need is a fairly questionable decision.

Winner - Brooklyn Nets

Why: Duke center Mason Plumlee is a solid value pick for the Nets, but that's not the only reason why Brooklyn is one of the biggest winners of Draft Day. As most fans are well aware, the Nets pulled off a blockbuster deal with Boston to acquire Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. Now, the Nets boast arguably the best starting five in the entire Association. The Nets are clearly in win-now mode under owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Billy King. From winning only a dozen games three years ago, the Nets are now legitimate title contenders.

Loser - Golden State Warriors

Why: At the end of the first round, the Warriors selected Serbian point guard Nemanja Nedovic. In most drafts, Nedovic was projected to be taken in the second round. With free agents Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry set to earn a bigger pay day if they decline their player options, the selection of an international prospect who won't contribute immediately is a bit underwhelming. Draftees that the Warriors passed on include Jamaal Franklin, Lorenzo Brown and Tony Mitchell, among others.

Winner - New Orleans Pelicans

Jrue Holiday becomes New Orleans' first franchise
point guard since Chris Paul.
Why: Another significant trade that was overshadowed by the Boston-Brooklyn deal involved Philadelphia 76ers All Star point guard Jrue Holiday being dealt to the New Orleans Pelicans for 2013 first round pick Nerlens Noel and a 2014 protected first round pick. Holiday, 23, is just starting to scratch the surface of his perennial All Star potential and gives New Orleans a legitimate star floor general for years to come. His modest salary of $11 million per year gives the Pelicans flexibility in attracting free agents to play with he and 2013 All-Rookie First Team member Anthony Davis. If the Pelicans can acquire a highly skilled small forward and an offensive-minded center to play next to Davis, they might be able to push for a playoff spot in their inaugural season as the "Pelicans."

Loser - Boston Celtics Fans

Why: Well, for this year at least. It's been a tough summer so far for Celtics fans. With three years left on his contract and mulling his options, head coach Doc Rivers fled Boston to become head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers via trade. Last night didn't make things much better once faces-of-the-franchise Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were dealt to Brooklyn, an Atlantic Division rival. All Star point guard Rajon Rondo is still in Beantown, but he's recovering from a torn ACL and likely will be out for a lengthy portion of the season. This is probably a year to forget for a proud Celtics franchise, but there are better days ahead, especially in the summer of 2014.

Winner - Detroit Pistons

Why: Detroit is one of the young, up-and-coming teams in the NBA and they improved even more last night in an impressive draft by general manager Joe Dumars. With the eighth overall selection, the Pistons selected former Georgia swingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The shooting guard has bright potential and can step in to contribute right away. He can shoot the ball from the perimeter and attack the basket aggressively. His length and quickness helps him on both sides of the ball. But, Caldwell-Pope isn't the only reason that Detroit is a Draft Day winner. In the second round, Detroit selected Tony Mitchell and Peyton Siva. Mitchell, a power forward from North Texas, is a strong athlete that was projected to be drafted in the first round by most experts. Siva was the floor general catalyst for Louisville during their championship run. Both Mitchell and Siva were solid value picks that will help round out their young, growing roster.

Incomplete - Philadelphia 76ers

Why: What general manager Sam Hinkie did wasn't exactly confusing, but it was certainly a gamble. Some, notably ESPN analyst Bill Simmons, believe that the Sixers obtained great pieces/assets in this draft, but I'm not so sure. The Sixers traded the one player that kept them competitive last season in point guard Jrue Holiday to obtain Nerlens Noel, a very skinny center who has injury concerns, major offensive deficiencies and all the ingredients to become a draft bust. With the eleventh overall pick, their selection of Michael Carter-Williams was a smart one, but it's clear that this team is essentially succumbing this season in an effort to land a high draft pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, which is regarded as one of the strongest classes in recent history. They also acquired a top-five 2014 protected pick from New Orleans in the trade, but depending on how competitive the Pelicans are in the upcoming season, that pick could be mid-lottery, late lottery or even out of the entire lottery if they make the playoffs. Things may or may not pan out, but only time will tell for this franchise.

Winner - Minnesota Timberwolves

Why: Minnesota had arguably the best draft out of all 30 NBA teams. Flip Saunders was cunningly strategic by drafting Trey Burke, the best point guard prospect, at ninth overall knowing that he could flip Burke to a point guard desperate team for extra selections. Saunders did exactly that, flipping Burke to Utah for the 14th and 21st picks, which were used to draft Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng. Muhammad, a Co-Pac 12 Freshman of the Year, is heralded as a cold-blooded scorer and an exceptional work ethic. Dieng, the defensive stopper for Louisville's championship team, blocks shots and gets on the glass often. He also has a decent, developing mid-range game. In the second round, Minnesota selected North Carolina State point guard Lorenzo Brown, who was projected as one of the better point guard prospects, to presumably play behind Ricky Rubio.

Steal of the Draft: Memphis Grizzlies - Jamaal Franklin

Why: Franklin was widely considered a first round prospect and worked out for a number of first round teams, so it was surprising to see him fall all the way to the 41st overall selection. The main knock on Franklin is his lack of a perimeter shot, but otherwise, he is a solid, all-around role player who is very similar to Memphis guard Tony Allen. Franklin could attack the basket to score, defend, run and rebound the ball extremely well. Memphis is a gritty, tough team that Franklin's style of play meshes with perfectly. This is a fantastic value pick for Memphis because Franklin fills a need on this Grizzlies team and fits within the roster better than any of the other prospects that were available at that point of the NBA Draft.

     How do you think your team fared in this year's NBA draft? What did you think of all the activity and trades during the draft? Voice your opinion in the comments section below!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Complete 2013 NBA Mock Draft

The 2013 NBA Draft will be the last time Commissioner David Stern (right)
will read the selections, as he is set to retire. Adam Silver (left) will be his successor.

     The NBA Draft is officially less than 24 hours away, as fans, executives and prospects prepare for the future to unfold. Sixty young men will be picked out of a much larger pool to live their dream as an NBA player. In that being said, here are the sixty players who I believe will hear their name called on the stage whose futures will be changed forever. My analysis of the first round can be found here.

The First Round

1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Nerlens Noel, Center, Kentucky

2. Orlando Magic - Victor Oladipo, Shooting Guard, Indiana

Indiana's Oladipo (right) and Zeller (left) are
lottery-projected draft picks.

3. Washington Wizards - Otto Porter Jr., Small Forward, Georgetown

4. Charlotte Bobcats - Anthony Bennett, Power Forward, UNLV

5. Phoenix Suns - Ben McLemore, Shooting Guard, Kansas

6. New Orleans Hornets - Alex Len, Center, Maryland

7. Sacramento Kings - Trey Burke, Point Guard, Michigan

8. Detroit Pistons - Michael Carter-Williams, Point Guard, Syracuse

9. Minnesota Timberwolves - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Shooting Guard, Georgia

10. Portland Trail Blazers - C.J. McCollum, Point Guard, Lehigh

11. Philadelphia 76ers - Cody Zeller, Center, Indiana

12. Oklahoma City Thunder - Steven Adams, Center, Pittsburgh

13. Dallas Mavericks - Sergey Karasev, Small Forward, Russia

14. Utah Jazz - Shane Larkin, Point Guard, Miami (FL)

15. Milwaukee Bucks - Shabazz Muhammad, Shooting Guard, UCLA

16. Boston Celtics - Dennis Schroeder, Point Guard, Germany

17. Atlanta Hawks - Kelly Olynyk, Center, Gonzaga

18. Atlanta Hawks - Giannis Adetokunbo, Small Forward, Greece

19. Cleveland Cavaliers - Jamaal Franklin, Shooting Guard, San Diego State

20. Chicago Bulls - Tim Hardaway Jr., Shooting Guard, Michigan

21. Utah Jazz - Mason Plumlee, Center, Duke

22. Brooklyn Nets - Gorgui Dieng, Center, Louisville

23. Indiana Pacers - Tony Mitchell, Power Forward, North Texas

24. New York Knicks - Jeff Withey, Center, Kansas

Glen Rice Jr. is attempting to make the
jump from the D-League to the NBA.
25. Los Angeles Clippers - Glen Rice Jr., Small Forward, Rio Grande Valley Vipers

26. Minnesota Timberwolves - Allen Crabbe, Shooting Guard, California

27. Denver Nuggets - Isaiah Canaan, Point Guard, Murray State

28. San Antonio Spurs - Rudy Gobert, Power Forward, France

29. Oklahoma City Thunder - Lucas Nogueira, Center, Brazil

30. Phoenix Suns - Mike Muscala, Center, Bucknell

The Second Round

31. Cleveland Cavaliers - Reggie Bullock, Small Forward, UNC

32. Oklahoma City Thunder - Alex Abrines, Shooting Guard, Spain

33. Cleveland Cavaliers - Pierre Jackson, Point Guard, Baylor

34. Houston Rockets - Deshaun Thomas, Power Forward, Ohio State

35. Philadelphia 76ers - Ricardo Ledo, Shooting Guard, Providence

36. Sacramento Kings - Tony Snell, Small Forward, New Mexico

37. Detroit Pistons - C.J. Leslie, Small Forward, North Carolina State

38. Washington Wizards - Nate Wolters, Point Guard, South Dakota State

39. Portland Trail Blazers - Andre Roberson, Small Forward, Colorado

40. Portland Trail Blazers - Colton Iverson, Center, Colorado State

41. Memphis Grizzlies - Lorenzo Brown, Point Guard, North Carolina State

Kabongo, a former All-American, is looking
to silence his critics at the next level.
42. Philadelphia 76ers - Livio Jean-Charles, Small Forward, France

43. Milwaukee Bucks - Erick Green, Point Guard, Virginia Tech

44. Dallas Mavericks - Myck Kabongo, Point Guard, Texas

45. Portland Trail Blazers - Marko Todorovic, Center, Montenegro

46. Utah Jazz - James Ennis, Small Forward, Long Beach State

47. Atlanta Hawks - Ray McCallum, Point Guard, Detroit

48. Los Angeles Lakers - Archie Goodwin, Shooting Guard, Kentucky

49. Chicago Bulls - Dewayne Dedmon, Center, USC

50. Atlanta Hawks - Jackie Carmichael, Power Forward, Illinois State

51. Orlando Magic - Seth Curry, Shooting Guard, Duke

52. Minnesota Timberwolves - Trevor Mbakwe, Power Forward, Minnesota

53. Indiana Pacers - Phil Pressey, Point Guard, Missouri

54. Washington Wizards - Grant Jerrett, Power Forward, Arizona

55. Memphis Grizzlies - Michael Snaer, Shooting Guard, Florida State

56. Detroit Pistons - Peyton Siva, Point Guard, Louisville

57. Phoenix Suns - Ryan Kelly, Power Forward, Duke

58. San Antonio Spurs - Bojan Dubljevic, Power Forward, Montenegro

59. Minnesota Timberwolves - Solomon Hill, Small Forward, Arizona

60. Memphis Grizzlies - Nemanja Nedovic, Point Guard, Serbia

     Comments? Questions? Feel free to leave a comment below and I'll respond as soon as possible. Also, I'll be present at this year's draft at the Barclays Center, so follow me on Twitter @TheSkiReport for live-tweeting and the latest NBA updates from Brooklyn!

2013 NBA Draft First Round Projections

Rumors have varied, but it seems the Cavaliers will select a center at #1 overall.
Question is, will they pick Nerlens Noel (left) or Alex Len (right)?
     In recent memory, the 2013 NBA Draft may be the most puzzling for scouts, analysts and general managers who study college basketball and international prospects. Many have touted this year's class of prospects as "weak" compared to previous drafts and lacking of future superstar talent. For the second time in three years, the Cleveland Cavaliers have won the top spot in the draft, but there has not been one bona fide prospect that has stood out to be the guaranteed first overall pick. The Cavaliers are still mulling who to select and have even considered trading the pick. With the draft just a day away, here are my projections for the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft. Feel free to leave a comment below!

The Mock

1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky

Why Noel: The Cavaliers have exhausted as many resources as possible to figure out what to do with the top pick, and they still might not know what to do. While they could go with the "safe need" pick and select Otto Porter, I believe the Cavs select Noel because of his defensive prowess and overall potential. If Noel didn't suffer a terrible knee injury, he'd be the consensus No. 1 choice. Also, the Cavaliers have Anderson Varejao and Tyler Zeller to hold down the paint as Noel recovers. Noel is a project and could have bust written all over him, but if the Cavaliers are patient, he can develop into a potential Defensive Player of the Year caliber player.

2. Orlando Magic - Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana

Why Oladipo: If the Magic decide to trade Arron Afflalo for Eric Bledsoe, Orlando will have a hole at shooting guard. Orlando will approach this situation in two ways -- to select either Oladipo or Kansas guard Ben McLemore. Both are freakishly athletic, but Oladipo's skill set is more polished than that of McLemore. Oladipo is much more fundamentally sound on defense and can create on offense. He is generally considered one of the "safe" picks in the draft and even ranked the top prospect by some analysts. Oladipo oozes All Star potential and should be Orlando's selection.

3. Washington Wizards - Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown

Why Porter: This projection is a tough cookie. Earlier reports were that the Wizards were determined to select Anthony Bennett, but now it seems that Porter could be the choice. Porter is the logical fit for the Wizards because he fills their gaping hole at small forward immediately and is considered -- along with Oladipo -- as the "safest" prospect in the draft. He can score, rebound, defend and handle the ball well. He has all the desirable traits a team would look for in a top prospect. Look for the Wizards to challenge for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this season.

4. Charlotte Bobcats - Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV

Why Bennett: He is the offensive threat that this Charlotte team desperately needs in the starting lineup. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Bismack Biyombo have shown little offensive skill this past season and guard Gerald Henderson will be a free agent this summer. Charlotte isn't exactly the hottest free agent destination, so they would be wise to select a big man with great offensive talent, such as Bennett or Alex Len, who can contribute scoring and on the glass immediately.

5. Phoenix Suns - Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas

Why McLemore: The young former Kansas phenomenon is exactly what this discrepant Suns franchise needs. He has the sweetest shooting stroke and arguably the highest ceiling of all the prospects in this year's draft. McLemore has even drawn comparisons to future Hall of Famer Ray Allen. McLemore will not reach that potential quickly, but his lanky, athletic frame is reminiscent of a shorter Paul George. McLemore's floor is probably O.J. Mayo, which isn't bad at all. McLemore has a bright future and gives Phoenix someone to be very excited about.

6. New Orleans Pelicans - Alex Len, C, Maryland

Why Len: The former Maryland Terrapin would be the perfect adversary to Anthony Davis in the future. Davis is more polished defensively and is better suited as a power forward anyway because of his long but not yet bulky frame. Len has the height (he stands at 7'1") and broadness to play center in the NBA. He has decent athleticism and much promise offensively, with a variance of post moves that are similar to those of Nets center Brook Lopez.

7. Sacramento Kings - Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

Why Burke: Trey Burke was the unquestioned leader of the Michigan Wolverines in leading them to the national championship game this past season. The Naismith Player of the Year is short, but plays with a ton of heart and has an alpha dog mentality. Under a new ownership group and coach, if the Kings select Burke to be their franchise point guard of the future, Sacramento could be on the way back to relevance.

Burke (left) and Carter-Williams (right) are the top point guards
in the 2013 NBA Draft.

8. Detroit Pistons - Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse

Why Carter-Williams: MCW brings a unique skill set to a Detroit team that is nearing its breakout. He's a 6'6" point guard that was one of the leaders in the country in assists per game. One of the knocks on Carter-Williams' game is his jump shot, but as Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs has proven, a player can develop an NBA perimeter jump shot over time. Carter-Williams is a natural point guard, which will allow Brandon Knight to move over to shooting guard. He has good potential and reminds me of a poor man's Rajon Rondo. C.J. McCollum is a popular choice to go to the Pistons, but they already have undersized combo guards in Knight and Rodney Stuckey.

9. Minnesota Timberwolves - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia

Why Caldwell-Pope: KCP was the lone bright spot for a dismal Georgia team this past season and while his team suffered, Caldwell-Pope surely didn't fail to shine when in the spotlight. His incredible athleticism, long frame and proficient three point shot will help him thrive in the NBA. In Minnesota, he'll most likely step into a starting gig right away, but I expect Caldwell-Pope to have a very solid NBA career.

10. Portland Trail Blazers - C.J. McCollum, PG/SG, Lehigh

Why McCollum: Two seasons ago, McCollum led the nation in scoring average. He instantly adds a major factor to Portland's bench, which was abysmal for the most part last season. McCollum and point guard Damian Lillard are a potent, dangerous scoring tandem that will help lead Portland on a hopeful playoff run.

11. Philadelphia 76ers - Cody Zeller, C/PF, Indiana

Why Zeller: At the NBA Draft Combine, Zeller tested out in several drills extraordinarily which garnered praise that he could be the next LaMarcus Aldridge or Chris Bosh. Whether or not the mercurial Andrew Bynum returns to Philadelphia, the 76ers are in need of another big man. Cody Zeller could step in, be a leader and contribute from Day 1. This pick is a near no-brainer.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder - Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh

Why Adams: The big man from New Zealand has one of the highest upsides of any player in this draft. He is particularly strong on defense and the glass, but at the NBA Draft Combine shocked several scouts by showing off a nice mid-range game. Adams is still a developmental project, but he could develop behind Kendrick Perkins for a season or two. Plus, the Thunder don't need him to contribute right away. Oklahoma City usually plays its cards right and this could be the steal of the draft.

13. Dallas Mavericks - Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia

Why Karasev: This Russian prospect has been a noted fit with the Mavericks as an ideal "draft and stash." Dallas may or may not trade this pick in an attempt to clear up as much salary as possible to pursue big name free agents this summer. If Dallas keeps this pick, don't be surprised if they select an international prospect to stash overseas for a season so that they have more cap room for this summer.

14. Utah Jazz - Shane Larkin, PG, Miami (FL)

Why Larkin: Utah's biggest hole this offseason is at point guard. While Larkin is oft criticized for his diminutive stature, his unbelievable athleticism makes up for his height. His athleticism is Russell Westbrook-esque and if he becomes half the player Westbrook is, Jazz fans will have large smiles across their faces.

15. Milwaukee Bucks - Shabazz Muhammad, SG/SF, UCLA

Why Muhammad: Shabazz Muhammad came into UCLA as one of the most hyped freshmen in the country and for a long period of time, was considered to be selected near the very top of this year's draft. However, over the course of the past season and pre-draft events, his stock has dramatically fallen. The biggest positive about Muhammad is his scoring prowess and great work ethic. In Milwaukee, he gives the Bucks a potential All Star and a guy who isn't afraid to have the ball in his hands at the end of a long as Brandon Jennings would be willing to pass the ball to him.

16. Boston Celtics - Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany

Why Schroeder: The young German point guard has been up and down mock drafts, but I think Boston will be his landing spot. Rajon Rondo will be out for a good portion of the upcoming season after tearing his ACL, so Boston will need a natural point guard to fill his role. Schroeder has even drawn some comparisons to Rondo because of his elusiveness and huge hands.

17. Atlanta Hawks - Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga

Why Olynyk: Hopefully the Hawks aren't hedging all of their bets that Dwight Howard will be taking his talents to A-Town, even though it looks like they might already have, but Olynyk is not a bad draft consolation. He and Al Horford would form a solid scoring duo in the paint, yet defense will be a major question if they fail to re-sign Josh Smith.

18. Atlanta Hawks - Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece

Why Adetokunbo: This international man of mystery is incredibly raw and will likely need to develop overseas for at least two years, but dividends could pay off if he is developed properly. Adetokunbo is listed as a 6'9" point-forward with a supposed high amount of potential. He could be picked anywhere from 10-29 in this draft, but whichever team selects him must know that he is the definition of a long-term project. The Hawks could gamble with this pick and stash him in Europe for a couple years, because he needs to grow into his body and start playing competition better than Division III basketball.

19. Cleveland Cavaliers - Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State

Why Franklin: The versatile guard plays very similar to his predecessor at San Diego State -- Kawhi Leonard. Franklin's biggest struggle is his three-point shooting, but that can be fixed over time. He is aggressive on defense, can attack the basket on offense and rebounds excellently for somebody of his size. He will be a welcome addition by head coach Mike Brown, who preaches defense.

20. Chicago Bulls - Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan

Why Hardaway Jr.: The Michigan guard fills the Bulls' longstanding hole at shooting guard for the short and long-term future. He has great length and range and will be counted on to hit the perimeter jumper. His consistency on defense is a question mark, but if anybody could get the most out of his players, it's Tom Thibodeau. Hardaway Jr., like his father before him, should have a solid, productive NBA career.

21. Utah Jazz - Mason Plumlee, C/PF, Duke

Why Plumlee: After selecting a franchise point guard at #14, the Jazz need some size to neutralize the likely departures of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Young big men Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter can fill in for those two, but Plumlee will be needed as an athlete off the bench. You can never have enough size in the NBA.

22. Brooklyn Nets - Gorgui Dieng, C, Louisville

Why Dieng: The Senegalese-born center is exactly who the Nets need in the draft. At Louisville, Dieng was the defensive menace in the paint that surely was a big reason why the Cardinals won the NCAA Championship this past season. At Louisville, Dieng averaged nearly a double-double in points and rebounds and led the Big East with over three blocks per game. He's the defensive stopper the Nets are looking for behind Brook Lopez. Also, if he falls to the Nets, it's unlikely that he slides past Brooklyn.

Dieng was instrumental to Louisville's success and is heralded
as an impressive, spectacular defensive stopper.

23. Indiana Pacers - Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas

Why Mitchell: This hybrid forward had an underwhelming season at North Texas, but tested out well at the NBA Draft Combine, which should help him maintain his first-round stock. David West is likely to stay in Indiana, but there are rumblings that fan favorite Danny Granger might be traded. Mitchell is a high-energy, athletic body who could contribute right away off the bench and maybe start in the distant future. Indiana's small market and team chemistry would be a great setting for Mitchell.

24. New York Knicks - Jeff Withey, C, Kansas

Why Withey: This former Jayhawk fits the Knicks best because of his defense in the paint. He should not be asked to start because of his still-developing offensive repertoire, but he provides a reliable, intelligent backup to Tyson Chandler, who he has modeled his game after.

25. Los Angeles Clippers - Glen Rice Jr., SF, NBDL

Why Rice Jr.: The former Georgia Tech product is intriguing in many ways, but most of all because he's taken a different approach by playing in the D-League before going into the draft. He fills a need for the Clippers on the wing and should be able to contribute right away. In what is considered a weak draft, Rice Jr.'s developed learning curve in the D-League will help him thrive early on. For a Clippers team with championship aspirations, this could be a very beneficial move for "Lob City."

26. Minnesota Timberwolves - Allen Crabbe, SG, California

Why Crabbe: Yes, I projected Minnesota to take a shooting guard early, but if anyone remembers the 2009 NBA Draft, the Timberwolves do draft multiple players at a specific position. Crabbe comes in as a prodigious shooter that can be a sixth man right away. He and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope shall fill the Timberwolves' hole at shooting guard for years to come.

27. Denver Nuggets - Isaiah Canaan, PG, Murray State

Why Canaan: The Murray State point guard fell a bit off the map this year after his team failed to duplicate their collective, impressive performance of two seasons ago when they made a run to the NCAA Tournament. However, that doesn't take away the fact that Canaan is a skilled player. He is a score-first point guard, but can develop into a Jameer Nelson-type player.

28. San Antonio Spurs - Rudy Gobert, C/PF, France

Why Gobert: This is the perfect fit for the Spurs, who boast at least 1/4 of the French national team on their roster. Along with fellow Frenchmen Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Nando De Colo, Gobert should be able to adjust better and easier. He fills a hole if Tiago Splitter decides to sign elsewhere in free agency and would have one of the best mentors of all time in Tim Duncan. Also, Gregg Popovich is a pretty good coach, so that helps too.

29. Oklahoma City Thunder - Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil

Why Nogueira: Known as "Bebe," this extremely athletic Brazilian would fall into a great scenario with the Thunder. The Thunder don't really need this pick and it's no surprise that they are trying to trade this pick to secure a higher slot in the draft. But, if they do end up keeping this selection, Nogueira is a good choice. He is a developmental project and the Thunder don't really "need" him right now, so he will be able to hone his skills and talent for a year or two in Brazil before he comes over to the NBA. Another smart move by the Thunder.

30. Phoenix Suns - Mike Muscala, PF/C, Bucknell

Why Muscala: The former Bison averaged a double-double this past season in leading his team to the NCAA Tournament. His talent offensively is undeniable and while some suggest he needs to bulk up, he'll have at least one season to develop behind Marcin Gortat. Muscala could end up becoming one of the "steals" of this year's draft.