If there is one thing we know about the NBA Draft, it's that well, we don't know. Which is why I present you with my draft night winners and losers. Of course, it's entirely too early to forecast such picks, but that's what makes this so much fun. Let us start with the winners.
Bradley Beal fills a gaping need at shooting guard and will instantly mesh with John Wall in transition and in the half court. Yes, he only shot 37 percent from three during his freshman campaign in Gainseville, but his sound shooting mechanics and terrific late-season numbers show that the Ray Allen comparisons aren't crazy. The Wizards now have two solid starters in Trezor Ariza and Emeka Okafor, along with Beal and Wall. Beal also excels in the creative role when he can facilitate for others off of screen-and-role. This is a great get for Washington.
Talk to any GM and scout across the NBA and they will tell you that Rivers had no business going into the lottery. Can he score? Absolutely. But really, there's not much more to like, aside from his pedigree. This is a kid who feuded all season long at Duke and proved to be nothing more than a talented, but very high-volume scorer during his lone season in college. In time, he could develop into an offensive contributor, but he has an abundance of holes in his game. New Orleans really reached for him with the 10th pick in a draft loaded with quality perimeter players, including Jeremy Lamb, who was still on the board.
We all know that GM Daryl Morey's master plan has been to acquire Dwight Howard from Orlando. As I told you from day one though, the chances of that actually coming to fruition were beyond slim-to-none. Morey's consolation prize though, comes in the trio of Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones. There is plenty to like about Lamb. He is one of the draft's most skilled and athletic players. Think of him as a more versatile Kevin Martin. If he ever develops a killer instinct, he has All-Star potential. White, meanwhile, is one of those rare prospects at power forward who can really facilitate an offense with his passing, rebounding and ability to score from 15 feet and in. Jones has been so undervalued that by this point, getting him with the 18th pick actually represents tremendous value. He can play both forward positions on either end. And, as a left-hander who can score, he presents some matchup issues right off the bat.
Golden State Warriors
Before the draft even began, I felt that Golden State was closer than any other lottery team to being a playoff team in the next season. Harrison Barnes has a pro-style game with a quality one and two dribble pull-up. He steps in right away and averages 12 to 14 points per game. Festus Ezili presents the Warriors with a tremendous shot-blocker and rebounder alongside Andrew Bogut. Think of him as a rawer version of Serge Ibaka. Lastly, we have Draymond Green, whose skills make him belong in the lottery. Green will contribute immediately because of his versatility and dynamic passing ability. The Warriors got a big-time winner here that helps them build the culture all playoff teams need.
Portland Trail Blazers
I haven't been as high on Damian Lillard as most because I don't trust high-scoring point guards who struggle in pick-and-roll. However, this was the nation's second-leading scorer and I don't get the feeling he's an unselfish player. I really like Meyers Leonard as a contributor from day one, because he's a legitimate seven-footer and can score. Lastly, Will Barton from Memphis is a flat-out player and fills a need at guard for Portland. I like this Blazers draft a lot.
What did we learn from watching Boston lose to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals? Well, apparently what GM Danny Ainge did not: you have to have athletes and speed. Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo are both very below-average athletes with no dexterity and limited offense. Melo -- whom I had slotted here in my first mock draft -- could become a presence in the paint defensively ala Kendrick Perkins, but even that's a reach. Sullinger -- back problems aside -- is an undersized and underwhleming athlete at one of the league's most pivotal positions. As the Final Four proved, he struggles against any sort of length and because he's not a great leaper, will likely never develop into a dominant rebounder. The Celtics had a golden opportunity with picks 21 and 22, and I think they missed badly on both.
Perry Jones III
What a difference a year makes. Jones would have been a surefire top five pick if he left after his freshman season last year. Instead, he plummeted to the end of the first round after a lackluster sophomore campaign filled with knee concerns. Jones has a Kevin Durant body and type of skill set, but he lacks any sort of killer instinct and desire to take over in big games. Still, Oklahoma City is an ideal fit. But it is just incredible he fell this far.
I really don't get the Marquis Teague pick at all for the Bulls. He has great quickness, but struggled in pick-and-roll and wasn't particularly good in transition despite a reputation for playing fast. Derrick Rose is not going to be hurt forever and the Bulls desperately need an athletic wing who can score. Hard for me to comprehend passing on scorers like Doron Lamb, Will Barton and the vastly improved Orlando Johnson.
FIVE BIGGEST SUPER SLEEPERS:
Andrew Nicholson -- Orlando got a super versatile stretch four man in Nicholson who will play right away and contribute all over the floor.
Doron Lamb -- One of the best pure shooters in this draft who can play both guard spots -- a pure winner who will be a solid pro.
Orlando Johnson -- Really worked on his body during the pre-draft process and improved dramatically. Indiana needed another scorer from the shooting guard spot and Johnson fits perfectly.
Robbie Hummel -- The two torn ACLs killed his stock, but Hummel is taller and more skilled than most people realize. He will be able to play both forward spots and given his aptitude to compete, rebound and shoot the three, Hummel will find a role with the Timberwolves.
Super-Duper Sleeper: Scott Machado -- A pure point guard who finished second in the nation in assists, Machado doesn't have overwhelming quickness, but he understands how to run a club. Even though he went undrafted, he should be able to find a home in this league.
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