The Hornets get their man, a dominant defensive presence and team-first talent who will now attempt to meet incredible expectations. The comparisons, to review, have been made to the likes of Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. The exciting part for Hornets fans is that Davis is likely a long ways from reaching his potential. He sprouted to his current height midway through high school and will be fun to watch develop. New Orleans hopes to re-sign free-agent shooting guard Eric Gordon and have him form a promising inside-outside duo with Davis.
The Bobcats had everyone believing that Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson was their man. But in Kidd-Gilchrist, they've opted for a tenacious defender whose character, motor and ability to get to the rim are widely respected. He'll have to improve his perimeter shooting to round out his offensive game.
The Wizards were excited about this pick all along, hoping that no one would get in their way of adding the dynamic sharpshooter to point guard John Wall in the backcourt. Shooting was a major priority for Washington, and the athletic Beal comes with the added benefit of being able to defend, get to the rim and rebound. He has been compared to a young Ray Allen as well as Eric Gordon. Many executives believe he'll be a future All-Star.
The Cavs were as tough to gauge as any team in recent weeks, but they pull off an early shocker here by taking the talented combo guard who came off the bench for Syracuse. They were believed to be high on Harrison Barnes early, and then Bradley Beal became the flavor of the week. Waiters' appeal is in the fact that he is a tough, fearless scorer who was far more efficient than many of his fellow guards. The Warriors are sure to be disappointed because they wanted Waiters at No. 7.
The Kings have to be thrilled. Robinson was very high on their list all along, but they were under the impression that he would be gone to Charlotte at No. 2. He'll be dangerous alongside emerging center DeMarcus Cousins, who had already added a serious dose of nasty to the Kings' personality. They'll be feisty, talented, dangerous and fun to watch.
Lillard's rise to No. 6 spot was impressive: He jumped from mid-major talent to top 10 prospect by blowing away executives at every turn. He impressed at the Chicago combine, then dazzled the Blazers in his workout in Portland. He is a tremendous shooter, a creative scorer and an underrated athlete. Portland needed help here because guards Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford -- who both disappointed last season -- are about to become free agents.
The Warriors missed out on Waiters, but they get one of the top three on their wish list in Barnes. Now we'll see if he's good enough to fill the small forward void, one of the team's top offseason priorities. He is a very good athlete and shooter, but there is some question about whether he'll be able to create his own shot in the NBA. The Warriors don't have any point guards like North Carolina's Kendall Marshall, who always looked to pass first and made a habit out of making Barnes look good. Still, the pairing of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Barnes has some interesting long-term potential.
The Raptors had their pick of shooting guards, from UConn's Jeremy Lamb to Duke's Austin Rivers to Ross. In the Washington product, Toronto gets a player with phenomenal range, size and top-tier athleticism. After improving defensively in coach Dwane Casey's first season, the Raptors were hyper-focused on adding scoring. Ross will push DeMar DeRozan to speed up his learning curve.
As evidenced by the Pistons' hopes of landing North Carolina power forward John Henson, they were one of the few teams that prioritized team need over talent. They wanted a dominating defensive presence to put next to center Greg Monroe, and were prepared to take him higher than expected to fill that need. But in landing Drummond, they get the perfect mixture of need and talent. He has major upside and should be able to make a defensive impact right away. The reward far outweighs the risk at this point in the draft.
The Hornets thought seriously about adding a center to go with Anthony Davis and solidifying their frontcourt, but that's because they thought Rivers would be gone by now. The son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers is on my short list of players whose careers I can't wait to watch, as his mixture of talent and swagger seems NBA-ready. He'll be a good fit with coach Monty Williams, who just so happens to be a family friend. One question is whether Rivers is ready to play some point guard in the NBA alongside shooting guard Eric Gordon, should the Hornets re-sign Gordon.
The Blazers get the sort of guard-big man package that they coveted by taking Leonard after grabbing Damian Lillard at No. 6. Leonard is a very good athlete with some offensive skills, and he's a strong defensive presence with his size and improving strength. He struggled with inconsistency at Illinois and has been accused of lacking focus. Still, Portland hopes he can complement All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
With Rockets shooting guard Kevin Martin less than thrilled to still be in Houston and his backup, Courtney Lee, set to be a restricted free agent, the team is expected to continue shopping Martin and pay Lee now. Lamb shouldn't be expected to become the primary scorer from Day One; he'll have a chance to grow into that role.
Free-agent point guard Steve Nash made it clear recently that he's not coming back to Phoenix unless significant improvements are made. Regardless of Nash's status, Marshall could be groomed as the point guard of the future, a terrific passer who will spoon-feed the likes of Jared Dudley and Channing Frye on the wings. Marshall didn't score much at North Carolina, but here's how he explained it at the draft combine: "[T]here's a reason I didn't shoot the ball a lot. There are other guys in my team that specialize in that area. But I feel like when my number was called, and when I needed to score, I did so."
The Bucks had their eyes on Henson's North Carolina frontcourt mate, center Tyler Zeller, but the recent trade for center Samuel Dalembert changed their draft board. Henson covers serious ground defensively and is a game-changer around the rim. The glaring question, of course, is whether he'll be eaten alive by opposing forwards who may outweigh him by as much as 50 or 60 pounds.
I love this pick by Philadelphia. Harkless was a front-office favorite in recent weeks, and it's his combination of scoring ability, rebounding and athleticism that has executives thinking he is going to be "really, really good," as one such source said. The 76ers might have made it easier to trade veteran small forward Andre Iguodala with Harkless as an option for coach Doug Collins.
White is also on my short list of most intriguing players, and not only because of his fascinating personal story. Beyond the fact that he has a well-chronicled anxiety disorder that sometimes includes a fear of flying, White is a point-forward who can score, pass and rebound. That being said, the Rockets' roster has a serious logjam of power forwards, and we continue to wonder what's coming next for Houston on the trade front.
According to numerous reports, Zeller will be sent to Cleveland in exchange for the No. 24, No. 33 and No. 34 picks. The ACC Player of the Year can help address the Cavaliers' lack of interior scoring.
To reiterate, time will tell how many of these Rockets players are actually part of their plan. But in terms of valuable assets that will either help them or be intriguing to other teams, they have done very well in landing Lamb, White and Jones. Jones can play some small forward or be a stretch power forward, and he has been seen by some as a top-10-caliber talent.
Whether or not Dwight Howard remains in Orlando, Nicholson should boost the Magic's frontcourt. He's a safe pick who can score from inside and out as well as rebound. Nicholson led the Bonnies to their first NCAA tournament in 12 years.
Denver pulls a mild surprise in selecting Fournier, who was seen by most as a late first-round or second-round pick. He's said to be a smooth scorer with a solid penetration game and shooting range. The Nuggets' combination of talent and reasonable contracts gives them a roster of maximum flexibility for trades. Add Fournier to that mix.
The Sullinger slide stops here. After he was red-flagged at the draft combine, many teams worried that his back issues would short-circuit his career. His camp says Sullinger suffers from tight hamstrings that cause the back issues, but that he should be unaffected as long as he is diligent with his agility work and weight management. Boston badly needs young talent, especially in the frontcourt. The Celtics have nine unrestricted free agents, chief among them Kevin Garnett.
Celtics president Danny Ainge went for the risk pick with Sullinger, and now he takes the big man whose value is easy to assess. Melo is huge, and he defends the rim. If he develops an offensive game, that will be a bonus. But he's the sort of paint-clogging big man who would come in handy for any team.
New Hawks GM Danny Ferry did well here, grabbing a player in Jenkins who is viewed by some as the best shooter in the draft. He reminds me of Klay Thompson, the former Washington State shooting guard who had a very good year with Golden State last season. Jenkins averaged 19.9 points and shot 43.9 percent from three-point range as a junior, and 8.7 of his 13.1 field-goal attempts were from long range.
Cunningham is headed to Dallas in a trade. His strength is getting to the basket: Cunningham averaged 7.5 free-throw attempts per game last season and 7.1 two years ago. Cunningham isn't a great shooter, and we'll see how he does playing some point guard. Dallas' backcourt is in flux, with Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and Delonte West all hitting the free-agent market and the Mavs hoping to make a run at Deron Williams.
Memphis needs point guard help behind Mike Conley, and I'm curious to see if Wroten can play that role. He's definitely talented enough, and he puts major pressure on defenses with his up-tempo, aggressive style. But he is a poor shooter who dominates the ball and has shown poor decision-making skills. Lots of upside, though.
Plumlee is another intriguing talent. His rare mix of size and athleticism could make him one of the better big men in this group a few years from now. He can jump out of the gym and says he was underutilized at Duke, where it was the Austin Rivers/Seth Curry show and the big men were asked to set screens, rebound and block shots. Plumlee averaged only 20.5 minutes a game last season.
Miami has agreed to trade this pick to Philadelphia in exchange for a future first-round pick and the 45th pick. Moultrie, who averaged 16.4 points (on 54.9 percent shooting) and 10.5 rebounds last season, is a great get here for the Sixers, who continue to beef up their frontcourt.
This is one of the more memorable slides that we've seen. Jones was considered a possible top five pick a year ago. And though there were concerns about a knee problem late in the pre-draft process, it still doesn't add up that he fell this far. Nonetheless, he may have fallen into a great situation with the Thunder, who get incredible value with this pick and could have yet another highly productive player on a relatively cheap contract. Given GM Sam Presti's recent track record, this could be yet another move in which he looks smarter than his colleagues a few years from now.
He's no Derrick Rose, but the Bulls needed point guard help in light of their franchise player's devastating ACL injury. Teague will push the tempo and could be a productive reserve immediataely. And considering he just led Kentucky to a national title, he'll be ready for postseason pressure assuming the Bulls find a way to make it back to the playoffs. In that regard, he's this year's version of Miami's Mario Chalmers (who won a title with Kansas).
The Warriors have been looking for bigs for years, and their deal with Milwaukee for center Andrew Bogut in March is now followed by the addition of a big man who improves their depth. Ezeli could play the defensive/rebounding role that Kwame Brown filled well early last season before sustaining a season-ending pectoral injury.
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