Now that the NBA Draft order has been determined with the New Orleans Hornets winning the top overall pick, let’s take a look at what each lottery team should do with their pick.
1 New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis (Kentucky)
The pick will be Anthony Davis, and there is no one else to consider. Year one post Chris Paul was not easy, but under head coach Monty Williams, the Hornets played with maximum effort every game. No one can accuse them of tanking, and now they are rewarded with the best player by far in the draft. They also hold pick ten, so they can address another need there. If Eric Gordon resigns, they are set at shooting guard, and now with Davis, their front court is in good shape.
2 Charlotte Bobcats – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky)
General manager Rich Cho’s face when they did not win the rights to Anthony Davis said it all. The franchise had one of the worst seasons in NBA history, and with a roster devoid of much talent, Anthony Davis would have been a huge boost. The Bobcats have a bevy of options at number two, but the pick should be Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. They will be tempted by the potential of Andre Drummond, but it could be years until he meets his potential. Kidd-Gilchrist comes from a winning program much like Kemba Walker, and has all the intangibles and leadership skills the Bobcats are lacking.
3 Washington Wizards – Bradley Beal (Florida)
The Wizards already have one of the more exciting point guards in the league with John Wall, but his development has been hindered by a lack of talent surrounding him. During the season, the Wizards traded both Nick Young and JaVale McGee, who they felt contributed to the immature culture of the team. Beal is a fantastic scorer, built in a similar mold to Eric Gordon. He is an excellent rebounder for a guard, and understands his role in the offense. He will provide Wall with an excellent backcourt partner, and along with Nene Hilario, the Wizard’s will have some good pieces to build around.
4 Cleveland Cavaliers – Harrison Barnes (North Carolina)
The Cavaliers will be very happy with Barnes or Beal, but it’s more likely Barnes will be there. They lack a shooting guard currently, and Barnes would step in and immediately help them. Barnes will help take the scoring load off Kyrie Irving and provide some necessary athleticism in the backcourt beyond Irving.
5 Sacramento Kings – Thomas Robinson (Kansas)
Sacramento has one of the more talented frontcourt players with DeMarcus Cousins, but beyond that they are thin. Jason Thompson has been shifted positions throughout his career in Sacramento, and is likely not in their future plans. Robinson will bring the needed attitude and maturity lacking for the Kings.
6 Portland Trailblazers – Damian Lillard (Weber State)
Portland is in a state of transition after firing head coach Nate McMillian. They are set at the 3 and 4 with Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge, but the backcourt is very weak. Last year they elected to draft Nolan Smith over Kenneth Faried, which did not pan out well. This season, I think they make the smart decision and take Damian Lillard. Lillard does not come from a major program, but he was excellent in college. He is not a pure point guard, but more in the mold of Russell Westbrook, where he looks to get involved in the offense.
7 Golden State Warriors – Andre Drummond (Connecticut)
The Warriors have some talented players in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Bogut, and David Lee. The problem is Curry and Bogut are almost never healthy, but when they are, this core is solid. Bogut will help their poor defense, but adding Drummond will only help them. Drummond’s offense has yet to develop, but the Warriors can be patient until that develops with so many offensive weapons.
8 Toronto Raptors – Perry Jones III (Baylor)
Toronto will be getting last year’s draft pick Jonas Valanciunas this season, and he looks like the real deal. They have needs throughout the roster, but Jones offers them potentially an excellent back-to-the-basket type player they lack. Both Valucinas and Andrea Bargnani prefer to operate on the perimeter, and the combination of Ed Davis and Amir Johnson offer very little offense. Jones is frustrating because he has all the physical skills, but the effort isn’t always there. Head coach Dwayne Casey is one of the better defensive coaches in the league, and will demand maximum effort from Jones.
9 Detroit Pistons – Dion Waiters (Syracuse)
The Pistons drafted point guard Brandon Knight last season and Greg Monroe has developed into a nice player at center, but they lack scoring. Waiters will not only help this, but will also help Knight’s development. Jeremy Lamb is also an option, but Waiters offers more potential as a slasher and ability to work off the ball.
10 New Orleans Hornets – Terrence Jones (Kentucky)
Adding Terrence Jones who is already familiar with Anthony Davis will further help the Hornets frontcourt. They will take a long look at the point guards available, but with the tenth pick, taking Kendall Marshall or Tony Wroten Jr. would be reaches. Jones is a banger and will add some toughness, something Monty Williams will really appreciate.
11 Portland Trailblazers – Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut)
The Trailblazers have the luxury of having two lottery picks. With pick number one, I have them taking Damian Lillard, filling the need at point guard. With the second pick, I expect them to take a shooting guard. Lamb and Terrence Ross are the best players available to fill this need, and I expect Lamb to be taken because he is a little more developed.
12 Milwaukee Bucks – Tyler Zeller (North Carolina)
Milwaukee made a big trade last season acquiring Monta Ellis and Epke Udoh from the Warriors, but it did not help them make the playoffs. They are set in the backcourt with Ellis and Brandon Jennings, but the frontcourt is in flux. Losing Andrew Bogut hurts, but drafting Zeller will help infuse some scoring, rebounding, and energy. Milwaukee will likely lose Ersan Ilyasova as he has played himself into a big contract offer from some team, so the pick will definitely be used on a big man.
13 Phoenix Suns – Kendall Marshall (North Carolina)
The Suns will likely start next season without free agent Steve Nash for the first time in eight seasons, leaving a huge void at point guard. Phoenix does not have a lot of talent outside of Marcin Gortat. They have a ton of shooters, and last year’s pick Markieff Morris showed some potential. Marshall is a pass-first point guard that will help the Suns maintain the style of offense they are used to running.
14 Houston Rockets – Terrence Ross (Washington)
The Rockets are a difficult team to project because they are likely going to undergo some drastic changes. Kyle Lowry wants out, Goran Dragic is a free agent, and Kevin Martin might be traded. Ross will help provide some scoring for them, and once he develops a consistent shot, he will become a dynamic scorer.