11. Philadelphia 76ers: Cody Zeller, Indiana
Zeller was projected to be the No.1 pick in this draft just a few months ago. After a less than stellar sophomore season with the Hoosiers, his stock took a drastic hit. Regardless, with the Sixers’ dire need for a big man, Zeller would be hard to pass up if he is available when they’re on the clock.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
Kendrick Perkins does not fit the Oklahoma City Thunder’s plans. OKC likes speed. OKC likes scoring. Fortunately for the Thunder, Olynyk is an athletic 7-footer with the ability to post-up or knock down a mid-range jumper.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Shane Larkin, Miami
Dallas is in desperate need of a point guard. When they won the championship in 2011, the recently retired Jason Kidd was running the show. Darren Collison was not the player that Mark Cuban thought he was getting when the Mavs signed him, and coach Rick Carlisle was forced to play Mike James as his starting point guard down the stretch. It is to no surprise that Dallas will look for an offensive improvement from that position. Whether it be via the draft, free agency, or trade is left to be unseen. Larkin can shoot the ball from anywhere, in catch-and-shoot situations, and off the dribble. He can light it up in a hurry and make defenses pay for not picking him up at half court.
14. Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder, Germany
Utah could go either one of two ways here. In this particular situation, they take Schroeder. Schroeder is the best point guard left on the board, and while Mo Williams was not bad this past year, there is the possibility that he may not return. Regardless, their point guards struggled off the bench. Former Indiana Pacers starter, Jamaal Tinsley, contributed next to nothing for the Jazz this season. Utah may also look to add a big here after potentially losing Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap and getting nothing in return.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
Larry Sanders established himself as one of the best rim protectors in the game this year. However, Sanders isn’t a true center, and Samuel Dalembert isn’t getting younger. Adams has the potential to be a steal in this draft, but is a few years from developing all of his talent.
16. Boston Celtics: Dario Saric, Croatia
With the rumors that Paul Pierce may not return to Boston pretty much at a minimum right now, it still remains a possibility. Regardless, Pierce is aging and Jeff Green is a capable replacement. However, that leaves their bench shorthanded. Saric has drawn a lot of interest from various NBA teams, and for good reason, he is a 6’10″ small forward with ball skills.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
Despite the knit-picking of Muhammad’s game right now by scouts, picking him 17th overall is a pretty low-risk, high-reward decision. There is a possibility that he turns out to be one of the best players in this class, and in Atlanta’s case, I’m not sure that they can pass up on that at the moment.
18. Atlanta Hawks: Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
Kyle Korver and Devin Harris are set to become unrestricted free agents as of July 1st. Louis Williams is coming off a torn ACL, so it is safe to say Atlanta’s back court is in a flux entering this off-season. Jeff Teague has showed promise, but depth is still an issue. Franklin could be a potential role player, possibly even a starter if the plan is still to bring Williams off the bench.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers: Rudy Gobert, France
Mike Brown is back in Cleveland as head coach once again. Defense is his specialty, and he has said that he would like to add another big body and length on the perimeter. If the Cavs hold on to the No.1 pick, it reportedly won’t be to select Nerlens Noel. If that’s true, it will likely be Otto Porter or Ben McLemore, both lengthy perimeter players. So in this case, they will look to add a big, long, defensive-minded body. Rudy Gobert is exactly that. His biggest asset to an NBA team will be his ability to protect the rim.
20. Chicago Bulls: Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
Chicago is know for their defense, particularly their big men. Joakim Noah is the anchor of the starters, and last year, Omer Asik was a stellar back-up. With Asik signing in Houston, the Bulls were forced to play Nazr Mohammed probably a little more than they wanted to. Dieng is a defensive presence that clogs the paint, blocks shots, and changes shots. When he was out of foul trouble, he was the anchor of the champion Cardinals’ defense. More importantly for the Bulls, Dieng knows how to play team defense and is spot on with his rotations, which is exactly what coach Tom Thibideau looks for.
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