No. 14: Houston Rockets — Gordon Hayward, SF, Butler
Nothing scientific about this pick. With Yao coming back, this is a team for the now, and unless they want future insurance by going after one of the project bigs, they could use a high-efficiency shooting prospect. But knowing Houston, they are value hunting, and who like they here is extremely subject to change, as is where they ultimately pick in the first round.
No. 15: Milwaukee Bucks — James Anderson, SG/SF, Oklahoma St.
Whether John Salmons opts out or not, with a number of players locking down the defensive portion of the court, the Bucks need perimeter scoring options. Enter James Anderson.
No. 16: *Minnesota Timberwolves — Daniel Orton, C, Kentucky
The Wolves were the third-worst shotblocking team in the league — with the lowest block percentage — and with Al Jefferson and Kevin Love getting big minutes, that’s not likely to change. So, interior defense is the right call, and Orton probably gets the biggest upside tag. Are we sold on him? Absolutely not. Can the Wolves develop him properly? Not sure about that either. But either Orton or Alabi will be worth the gamble with three first-round picks.
No. 17: *Chicago Bulls — Donatas Motiejunas, PF/C, International
We could see the Bulls trading out of the first round so nothing impedes on their cap space, but the next best option to that is selecting a player that won’t necessarily come to the NBA this season. Sure, they still need post scoring, but at this point, they aren’t finding it in the draft.
No. 18: Miami Heat — Eric Bledsoe, PG, Kentucky
Since nobody knows what the Heat roster will look like two weeks after the draft, giving Bledsoe the opportunity to transition to the league with a Wade-Bosh/Boozer/Stoudemire combo makes sense in a Rondo-with-the-big-three sort of way.
No. 19: Boston Celtics — Damion James, SF/PF, Texas
There are two ways the Celtics could go. Either they find someone who can play now in an attempt to bolster an aging roster, or they find someone to ride the pine and then play in two years when Rondo takes over the franchise. A James pick probably leans more towards the former path, as he play hard enough to garner respect, and thus playing time, from players-run-this-joint type of squad. Can you imagine any of the project centers in this draft developing well with Garnett screaming at them in practice?
No. 20: San Antonio Spurs — Solomon Alabi, C, Florida St.
Young shotblocking to bolster an aging frontline? Sure. Alabi should provide a nice counter, skillswise, to what DeJuan Blair offers.
No. 21: Oklahoma City Thunder — Luke Babbitt, SF, Nevada
Put it this way, someone who has something to do with this blog had Babbitt on lock this past season. Considering said person is a third-round draft pick, that might not be the best thing for Babbitt’s hopes. And yet he’s rising on draft boards. In fairness, the NBA version of Babbitt will be asked to do much less than the Nevada version, and he would benefit greatly from limited responsibilities in OKC.
No. 22: Portland Trail Blazers — Dominique Jones, PG/SG, South Florida
Jones is apparently rising on draft boards, and while he may come off as a bit of a Jerryd Bayless clone with a defensive attitude, teams are falling for Jones’ ability to create his own scoring opportunities, including at the free-throw line. Wait, you’re thinking, Portland has Bayless, why do they want to start a clone war? Well, if you believe Bayless could be the starting point guard in the two years, and simultaneously have little faith in Martell Webster and Rudy Fernandez being able to shoulder a significant offensive load off the bench, Portland might eventually have a need for a capable playmaker in the second unit. For that role, Jones could represent the best value. Bradley of Texas is also a consideration here, as is Seraphin.
No. 23: *Minnesota Timberwolves — Kevin Seraphin, PF, International
It seems highly unlikely that the Wolves use all three of their first-round picks, thus bringing in three guaranteed rookie contracts. Seraphin is getting some positive feedback early on in the draft process and might not drop this far, but if Minnesota takes Orton earlier, taking Seraphin helps ensure that you’ll get some production out of the five spot, eventually.
No. 24: Atlanta Hawks — Avery Bradley, SG, Texas
Bradley might not be the best Joe Johnson substitute around, as he’s lacking in playmaking skills, but he might project to be the best perimeter defender in the draft outside of John Wall, which should keep him solidly in the first round. If Seraphin falls, he might make more sense here, and surely if Josh Childress goes back to ATL, they have less of a need for a swingman.
No. 25: Memphis Grizzlies — Quincy Pondexter, SF, Washington
As with Minnesota, it’s tough to imagine Memphis using all three of their first-round picks, so either this or the No. 28 should be a trade-down or out. Pondexter might not be the best fit next to O.J. Mayo, but at this point, we’re searching for value.
No. 26: Oklahoma City Thunder — Gani Lawal, PF/C, Georgia Tech
Expect the Thunder to take size with one of their two picks, and while Lawal might seem redundant with Serge Ibaka being undersized, he’s got long arms and by all accounts is a hard worker.
No. 27: New Jersey Nets — Larry Sanders, PF/C, VCU
Yet another one of this draft’s athletic project centers. If Derrick Favors isn’t enough, Sanders completes the infusion of athleticism into New Jersey’s frontcourt. Sanders might make for a better unguaranteed second-rounder, but someone will probably take the first-round plunge.
No. 28: Memphis Grizzlies — Paul George, SF, Fresno St.
Value, value, value. The Grizzlies take another cheap replacement for Rudy Gay.
No. 29: Orlando Magic — Willie Warren, SG, Oklahoma
Once a Top-10 talent, Warren has fallen on draft boards around the league, but is worth the risk, for his ballhandling and occasional playmaking skills, for a team that has Jason Williams and Anthony Johnson backing up Jameer Nelson.
No. 30: Washington Wizards — Jordan Crawford, SG, Xavier
There’s some good chatter surrounding Jordan Crawford that could push him into the first round, and while the Wizards could use someone more like Avery Bradley for defensive purposes, Crawford has the tools to give Washington some of what they’ll lose with Mike Miller going in free agency.
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