This may be the most difficult NBA Draft to predict in recent memory. A dearth of surefire talent, a handful of relatively unknown European players, and an uncertain lockout situation have combined to make prognostication almost impossible. But since the Utah Jazz have two lottery picks, and since BYU phenom Jimmer Fredette is projected to go in the first round, fans across the state are paying attention. Read on for our best guess at how the lottery will shake out.
Irving missed much of his freshman year at Duke with injury, but he still averaged 17.5 points and 4.3 assists per game. He's got the size, speed and shooting ability to be a starting point guard in the NBA for a long time. Cleveland needs help at every position, so this is a good start.
The rest of the draft hinges on this spot. Williams is clearly the best prospect on the board -- he can play either forward position and has a sweet shot from outside -- but the Wolves already have Kevin Love and Michael Beasley at forward. This pick could be trade bait, but no matter who picks here, they'll take Williams.
What will the Jazz do? No one knows. They've had Jimmer, Kemba Walker, and Knight in for workouts, and they've scouted the Euros and players like Enes Kanter, who is a strong possibility here. But Kevin O'Connor needs to make sure he nails this pick, and Knight's length and defense make him the safest selection.
As previously mentioned, the Cavs need help everywhere, but point guard and a legit center are their biggest needs. Valanciunas is thin but long, and he's got a ton of upside. It may be difficult to buy him out of his Euroleague contract, though.
The Raptors would like Brandon Knight here, but if he's gone, they'll go with Walker, the player who led the Huskies to a national championship. He's quick, a determined scorer, and a proven winner; Toronto could definitely use that kind of attitude.
Kanter is one of the great enigmas in this draft. He's got elite size and offensive skill, but he hasn't played a competitive season in over a year, as he was ruled ineligible to play for Kentucky. He's been showing well in workouts, but questions about his defense and injury history persist. The Wizards can afford to take the risk.
Word is that the Kings' ownership loves them some Jimmer, but the Kings have greater needs in the frontcourt. Leonard is a superb defender and an extremely hard worker, and he can fill a major hole at small forward.
Vesely has size (6'11") and skill, and he's a solid ball-handler, but he's very thin and his game could use refinement. Still, he's got a ton of talent and scores the ball in a lot of different ways -- perfect for a Pistons team that could use some versatility.
The Bobcats have a lot of needs, and they've whiffed on some very high draft picks in the past. Morris, one of the twins that led Kansas to the Big 12 title this year, has size, physicality, and a winning attitude. He's a good fit for an improving Bobcats team.
Michael Redd is done, so the Bucks need a shooter to combine with slashing guard Brandon Jennings and former Ute center Andrew Bogut. Thompson has shooting-guard size (6'7") and high accuracy from long range.
Here's another question mark. Biyombo set the hoops world ablaze at the Nike Hoops Summit this year, but little else is known about him. He's got incredible length and defensive ability, but his offensive game is almost non-existent at this point. His athleticism will fit in well with the run-and-gun Warriors, though -- he won't need to score.
Yes, according to this mock draft, Jimmer is available here. But if the Jazz take Knight at 3, they won't take another guard. Singleton is an elite defender who will greatly improve a Jazz defense that has been weak on the perimeter for years. This pick would be especially valuable if Andrei Kirilenko does not return to Utah. However, if the Jazz go big at 3 with Kanter or Valanciunas, Jimmer is a lock here.
It's not Utah, but Jimmer will get his wish to play in a high-tempo offense under the tutelage of Steve Nash. The Suns will get...well, The Jimmer. His outside shooting and quick pace will fit perfectly in the desert -- and his lack of defense won't be a problem for a team that has dealt with Nash's flaws in that area for years.
With Yao Ming's constant injury troubles, Houston needs size, and Motiejunas stands seven feet tall and possesses a polished offensive game. He's super thin and will have to improve his toughness and defense, but the tools are there.