It’s hard to say what was most shocking about Tuesday night’s lottery show: the Wizards getting themselves a top three pick or Cleveland not screwing themselves out of the top pick. The Wizards, coming in with the 8th best chance of getting the #1 pick, jumped up to the 3rd spot (we’ll save the Obama conspiracy talk for another night).
Cleveland came in with the 3rd best odds at the top selection and, with the help of Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert’s son’s bow tie, secured the number one overall selection. And with a history of solid number one overall picks going to Cleveland (LeBron James and Kyrie Irving being their most recent), the Cavs appear set up for success.
But how will the rest of the lottery selections shake out? Let’s take a look.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers select Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
I really hope the Cavs don’t over think things here. In a weak draft class, Noel is the closest to a sure thing. In the NBA, size wins titles, and Noel has it. As a 7-footer, he has great instincts defensively, averaging 4.4 blocks a game last season with the Wildcats. The Cavs could use some size and, despite likely not being productive right away, Noel still gives them the size they need. His limited offensive game is slightly concerning, but he’s no Hasheem Thabeet, nor will he bust as hard as Thabeet.
2. Orlando Magic select Trey Burke, G, Michigan
I’m one of the few aboard the Burke hype train. I watched him play many times this year and he’s an NBA ready PG. Call me crazy, but he could be this year’s Damion Lillard. He has NBA range (just ask Kansas), as well as explosiveness and a beautiful ability to finish at the rim. He’s a bit undersized as a point guard, but he’s an above average defender and quick enough to beat NBA guards. With the option to take Jameer Nelson off the books next season, I think the Magic find his replacement early on in this draft.
3. Washington Wizards select Anthony Bennett, F, UNLV
The Wizards have holes everywhere. Bradley Beal and John Wall are their back court of the future, but are far from set anywhere else. They’ll likely go for the best available player here, with Otto Porter and Victor Oladipo being options also. However, they need some help down low and Bennett has the strength and ability to do that. Bennett shot 37% from three last year, but also pulled down 8.1 rebounds a game. He’ll be an improvement over Emeka Okafor and Nene down low, which isn’t saying a lot.
4. Charlotte Bobcats select Ben McElmore, G, Georgetown
Much like the Wizards, the only set positions for the Bobcats are point guard with Kemba Walker and small forward with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Everywhere else they’ll be looking for upgrades. I’m not as high on McElmore as others might be, but I think the Bobcats take him here. He’s a proven scorer, which is something the Bobcats desperately need. A back court of Kemba and McElmore could set the Bobcats up for years to come.
5. Phoenix Suns select Victor Oladipo, G, Indiana
I’m a big believer in Victor Oladipo, admittedly with a biased opinion. He has a great engine and will bring non-stop energy to any team he goes to. He may not have NBA range yet, but just look at how much he improved from his sophomore to junior season at Indiana University. His defense is what separates him from the rest of the pack. He has elite athleticism and quick hands that leads to many steals. He’ll greatly improve a previously lethargic Suns squad next season.
6. New Orleans Pelicans select Otto Porter, G/F, Georgetown
I firmly believe the Pelicans are moving in the right direction, sans the horrible name change. Anthony Davis will be a NBA All-Star in the near future. Grevis Vasquez was a find for them and Eric Gordon can be their superstar, if he remains healthy (a big if, however). They could use another perimeter scorer like Porter, although Alex Len is an option also. With Porter, the Pelicans get an NBA-ready wing player who can lessen the scoring load off Gordon and Davis.
7. Sacramento Kings select Cody Zeller, F, Indiana
I’m very high on Zeller and I think once NBA teams bring him in for individual workouts, they will be too. He has work to do in finishing at the rim and dealing with physicality, but he has elite athleticism for a big man. He has range to knock down a jumper and runs the floor great. Playing alongside DeMarcus Cousins will only help him as he won’t be looked upon as the only low post scoring option and will give him time to develop.
8. Detroit Pistons select Shabazz Muhammad, F, UCLA
Shabazz Muhammad didn’t set the world on fire last year, but he still put up 17 points a game and shot 42% from deep. On a Pistons team that’s set down low with a great duo of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, Shabazz can bring more size at the wing and not be looked on to contribute down low in the post, a great situation for him.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves selectAlex Len, C, Maryland
Len has the thing that all NBA GMs covet over all: potential. He underperformed at Maryland this year, but showed enough flashes of greatness to warrant this pick (23 points and 12 rebounds against Noel). The Timberwolves aren’t a bad team and were ravaged by injuries, giving them the luxury of taking a player like Len and letting him develop. And there are few post players I’d rather learn from than Kevin Love.
10. Portland Trailblazers select C.J. McCollum, G, Lehigh
The Trailblazers found their star last year in Lillard. With McCollum, I forsee a Kyrie Irving-Dion Waiters tandem. McCollum is one of the best scorers in the draft. The Blazers too often relied on Lillard to be their offense and McCollum can help alleviate the scoring load from Lillard.
11. Philadelphia 76ers select Kelly Olynyk, C, Gonzaga
Olynyk played himself into a lottery selection late in the year last year. He’s a big man with an array of post moves and has great size. Philly will likely want to rid themselves of Andrew Bynum and forget that debacle and Olynyk can bring them the offensive post presence they didn’t get with Bynum. He also brings plenty of hair to a team that featured Spencer Hawes great flowing locks last year.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto) select Rudy Gobert, C, France
As was the case with Len, Gobert has the two things that NBA GMs love in size and potential. He stands at 7’2 with a 7’8 wingspan. He needs to add weight and bulk up, but considering the futility with which Kendrick Perkins played with these playoffs, the Thunder will likely be looking for upgrades in this draft.
13. Dallas Mavericks select Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
The Mavs have five players guaranteed to be on the roster next year as they’re geared up for a big run in the free agent market. That being said, Williams brings great size at the PG position as he stands at 6’6. I personally watched him carve up Indiana in the tournament and I think his stock will rise as teams get the opportunity to see him individually in workouts.
14. Utah Jazz select Kentavious Caldwell, SG, Georgia
The Jazz have a plethora of big men down low, regardless if they resign Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap. Their front court is set with Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, and Gordon Hayward. Their back court is an entirely different story as nearly all their players from last year are free agents. Caldwell averaged 17 a game for the Bulldogs and will be an upgrade over anyone the Jazz had last year.