16. Houston Rockets
Pick: Austin Rivers - G
Rivers' relative slide stops here as Houston grabs him with the hope he delivers on his obvious but fleeting star potential. Assuming Houston trades Kyle Lowry and resigns Dragic, he'd team with Rivers in the backcourt to give Kevin McHale two good pick-and-roll ballhandlers and transition finishers to run the team for the foreseeable future. The Rockets got younger in this draft but didn't add much in the way of risk with Rivers and Zeller, important for a team always looking to stockpile tradable assets. With two mid first round picks, they could certainly do much worse.
Jordan's Take: Is Rivers that good in the pick and roll? This year didn't provie a definitive answer, and he'll certainly have to grow that part of his game in the NBA. There's no denying his potential, and a Dragic/Rivers combination, if both of them play up to their promise, could be special. If Rivers doesn't take to coaching, and there have been rumblings about this propensity, it could be trouble. Still, he's the best player available, and a good pick this late.
17. Dallas Mavericks
Pick: Terrence Jones - F
This was a steep slide for Jones who, entering the season, had high lottery written all over him. However, growing character concerns have caused his stock to fall rapidly. He's the consummate NBA head case: teams love his talent and potential, but hate his immaturity. If he falls this low, I have to think the Mavericks take a chance on him.
Jones athleticism, as well as his penchant for taking (and missing) long two-pointers remind many of Josh Smith. However, should Jones get selected here, he'll have the opportunity to learn from one of the best forwards in the league, who also happens to be one of the league's most poised professionals. Carlisle, though he doesn't play rookies often, would love Jones' versatility and could help him channel his competitive fire to fuel his game.
Jack's Take: Jones is a great talent and a better fit for the Mavs, who need a youngster to develop amid their roster full of veterans. He was thought of as a potential top five pick at times during his career at UK and has slipped for various reasons, but the skill, size, and athleticism is all there for him to develop into an impact player. And Rick Carlisle is the perfect coach to get it out of him.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves
Pick: Terrence Ross - SG/SF
I love Ross here. Players his size that can shoot and finish at the rim are few and far between, and if he ever turns all that athleticism into penetration or solid defense he's a potential top six player in this draft. Better than all that he's a perfect fit for the Wolves, who have been looking for a good wing since drafting the disappointing Wes Johnson. Love, Rubio, Pekovic, Ross? That's a nice start for an organization clearly on the rise.
Jordan's Take: Should Ross develop as everyone thinks he can, the Wolves will have a dangerous core once Rubio comes all the way back from his devastating ACL injury. The one worry with Ross is his lack of ball handling skills. The Wolves need someone else who can create off the dribble, and if they take Ross, they'll expect him to be that guy.
19. Orlando Magic
Pick: Quincy Miller - SF
Before he tore his ACL, Miller was pegged as a top-5 talent in the draft. Unfortunately, Miller was never at a hundred percent during his lone season at Baylor. His numbers were decent, but you could tell that he was still in recovery. The talent is still there, it's just a question of if he can gain back what he lost.
Assuming he does, which isn't a terrible assumption, considering he's only 19, Orlando gets a great bargain here. They need youth at virtually every position, not to mention talent. Miller's got the skills, able to dribble and weave through traffic like a guard and hit from deep despite an awkward release, as well as his aforementioned youth. . And while Miller won't make anyone forget about Howard, he'll undoubtedly be a building block for the Magic as they rebuild under new General Manager Rob Hennigan.
Jack's Take: What to think of Miller? I'm not even sure NBA front offices and doctors know, which is why his stock is plummeting as draft day gets ever closer. He was an elite HS player and once considered a lock top 10 pick, but obviously his recovered and rehabbed athleticism is still in question. Miller vanished all too often his one year at Baylor, and whether or not that was due to his injury, a skill-set not as good as we originally thought, or both, it's troubling. Orlando, in flux, needs to take a chance here though, and Miller's the rare late first round pick that has some boom potential.
20. Denver Nuggets
Pick: Royce White - F
White's game is the most unique in the entire draft, and if not for his well-documented anxiety disorder and rocky path to his lone year playing at Iowa State, he'd go much, much higher. His talents are easily worth taking a chance on this late, though, and White would fit in perfectly with a Nuggets squad that loves to push the tempo and move the ball. If White's monitored and nurtured off the floor, he keeps his weight under control, and he develops a semi-reliable jumper he could be the steal of the draft, as players with his combination of size, ballhandling ability, court vision, and knack on both ends are extremely rare.
Jordan's Take: It's tough to separate White the player from White the person. Mental health issues are slowly, very slowly, becoming less and less taboo among male professional athletes. A team selecting White despite his anxiety issues would go a long way in dispelling the phobia of mental health disorders. Anxiety disorder is common, White's game and combination of skills aren't. He's matured signifcantly, and has shown the desire to be better, both as a player and as a person.
21. Boston Celtics
Pick: Andrew Nicholson - F/C
Moultrie could have been the pick here, but with KG's future uncertain, the Celtics need a forward who can score on something other than cuts and putbacks. Enter Nicholson. He has a refined post game, improving range on his jumper and has shown the ability to drive to the hoop. His defense is suspect, and his wiry frame doesn't allow for much muscle, which will certainly lead to a decline in the Celtics' once legendary defensive dominance. But he's a good pick here, and will be a valuable weapon for a team that needs to rebuild around Rondo.
Jack's Take: Boston is in a strange spot this off-season with the uncertain futures of KG, Ray Allen, and Brandon Bass. If the gang is brought back together Nicholson's a very good pick, an additional offensive option whose skill-set differs from those already on the roster. Moultrie is greener and thus has more room to grow, though, so if Danny Ainge is forced to blow up the team he might be the better option.
22. Boston Celtics
Pick: Fab Melo - C
It might seem redundant to consecutively pick two true big men, but Melo offers defensive potential Nicholson doesn't and is three years younger, meaning their learning curves will in all likelihood be far different. With his head on straight, Melo could develop into one of the league's premier shot-blockers and has enough mobility and coordination to defend pick and rolls and finish easy ones at the rim, too.
Jordan's Take: Melo is an enigma. Before the season, he was a fringe second rounder. Now, he's steadily climbing the draft ladder, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him gone before this. The Celtics have needs at every position almost, and Melo, if he proves worthy of his recent hype, could be a solid starting center for the Celtics.
23. Atlanta Hawks
Pick: Arnett Moultire - F/C
Al Horford is playing out of position as a center. Moultrie, despite his size and athleticism, still has a ways to go as a defender, as he's a surprisingly awful shot blocker, but could allow Horford to slide back to his more natural position at the four.He's a terrific rebounder, especially on the offensive glass, averaging 5.2 offensive boards per 40. Though he's also raw offensively in terms of creating his own offense, he's adept at cutting and getting open around the basket, skills that could translate into a dangerous high-low game between he and Horford.
Jack's Take: I really like Moultrie here, but not necessarily for the reasons you do. He's a senior age-wise for this draft, but in terms of experience and potential he projects more like an underclassmen would because he played just one season at Mississippi State after transferring from UTEP and was nary a blip on the NBA radar prior to last season. Late-bloomers with size and athleticism should always be given an extra look, and Moultrie fits that bill. But for the Hawks? He gives them much-needed frontcourt depth, yes, but I fundamentally disagree with the notion that his selection merits Horford sliding up to the 4. He's a 5 in today's NBA, especially considering it's been made clear that Josh Smith is best suited playing power forward. Moultrie, as much as I like him, isn't good enough to push Atlanta's two best players from the positions they're best suited.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers
Pick: Moe Harkless - SF
This is a huge coup for Cleveland, as Harkless is one of the biggest sliders in our draft after once being considered a potential top 10 pick. He's extremely raw, but had a very good freshman season at St. John's playing out of position in the post and offers great size and athleticism on the wing. Harkless' plays with a fiery disposition and is lauded for his tireless work in practice, too, so he should fit right in with Irving, Beal, and Tristan Thompson as the core of the Cavs' rebuilding project. He obviously needs to develop his offensive game as a shooter and penetrator, but Cleveland can afford to wait on that given his considerable overall upside.
Jordan's Take: Harkless goes to a perfect situation in Cleveland, where he can grow alongside Irving and (in this case) Beal. There are some serious questions about his defense. Even though he played out of position this year, is especially on defense, his defensive fundamentals, such as his stance, left many wanting. If he's able to harness his skills and lock in on defense, he could become a great two-way player. Nice "future" pick for the Cavs.
25. Memphis Grizzlies
Pick: Jeff Taylor - SF
This may be a bit of a reach for Taylor, but he's a pretty good fit for Memphis. Taylor addresses two key needs for the Grizzlies: scoring, and a capable back up to Rudy Gay. His shooting, both in terms of percentages and mechanics, improved a great deal this year, to the point where he's a threat from beyond the arc. Since he's also a plus defender, Memphis can slide Taylor over to the two at times without sacrificing too much defense when Tony Allen comes out.
Jack's Take: To say Taylor wouldn't sacrifice much on defense when replacing Allen seems like a stretch, but he's a good pick for the Grizzlies here nonetheless. They stand to lose O.J. Mayo in free agency and could use extra shooting help even in the unlikely case they re-sign him, so the improvement Taylor made this season as a jump-shooter makes him a nice fit. He could likely come in and contribute early, too, important for a team as readymade as the Grizzlies.
26. Indiana Pacers
Pick: Tony Wroten - PG
The Pacers, like all successful teams just a notch below the true elite, are in a tough spot here. They've got a great nucleus to build around that's still young, but lack the superstar it takes to win a championship. They could go conservative and choose a player that could help them right away like Draymond Green, or they could swing for the fences and hope they hit on a prospect anything but a sure thing. That's Wroten, a huge point guard with character concerns and a shoddy jumper. Consider him another asset if or when Indy decides to make some changes in search of that elusive star player.
Jordan's Take: I like Wroten's talent, but I don't like the pick for the Pacers. Larry Bird has worked too hard to bring in model citizens (Lance Stephenson excepted) and build a team with great character. Wroten doesn't fit in there. Now, if they used him as trade bait, as you suggested, then I'm warmer on the pick. There aren't a lot of good picks for the Pacers here. I think Green would make sense, or maybe Festus Ezeli to provide front court depth.
27. Miami Heat
Pick: John Jenkins - SG
Draymond Green has been the popular pick here, but I'm going with Jenkins because of his shooting. Shane Battier was a revelation in the playoffs, but he showed his age in the regular season. Moreover, Miami can't bet on Mike Miller hitting 50 three pointers in one game for an entire season. Jenkins provides spacing for the Heat, and can take over the designated shooter role for Miller when he gets hurt.
Jack's Take: Can't argue with Jenkins going to Miami. He might be the draft's best shooter, and as LeBron gets more and more comfortable in the post the Heat will need talents like his more than ever.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder
Pick: Draymond Green - F
The offensive limitations of the Thunder's frontcourt were exposed against Miami, and Green's versatile skill-set would go a long way toward rectifying them. He can score in the post, off the dribble, and along with Royce White is the draft's best passing big man. Green was a great rebounder in college, too, and an underrated spot-up shooter. All of that talent will be especially beneficial to OKC when they're playing small, as he's a perfect fit alongside Kevin Durant in such lineups. Green doesn't defend well or have the highest ceiling, but the latter hardly matters for a team as top-heavy with star talent like the Thunder.
Jordan's Take: It's interesting that Draymond Green could be exactly what Jeff Green was supposed to be for the Thunder. I love the pick, as it adds even more versatility to a team that can field multiple effective line ups.
29. Chicago Bulls
Pick: Will Barton - G/F
I think the Bulls would have liked Jenkins here, but since he's gone in this situation, they'll turn to Barton. The former Memphis Tiger should be able to provide them with defense, shooting, and a player who can create a bit off the dribble. For a few years, the Bulls have been missing a player who can create their own offense outside of Rose. Barton should be able to fill that role. Another possibility here is Marquis Teague, whom the Bulls could play this year then use as trade bait next year once Derrick Rose is fully recovered.
Jack's Take: Barton's a strange case for me. He has length, athleticism, can put the ball on the floor, drastically improved on both ends from his freshman to sophomore year, and put up big numbers on a good team. His jumper is shaky and he's rail-thin, but those are two aspects of his game that can be honed and developed. It's a mystery to me why he's not considered a better prospect. Obviously, then, I like this pick for Chicago, especially if there's any legs to the Luol Deng rumors.
30. Golden State Warriors
Pick: Marquis Teague - PG
Teague slid a bit through the draft process. He was once considered this crop's top point guard or close to it, and it's easy to see why given his natural gifts despite his up-and-down season at Kentucky. Not unlike his older brother, Teague combines good size for a point with stellar athleticism. End to end, he might be this draft's fastest player with the ball in his hands and is equally quick with his first step in the half-court. Teague played out of control all too often his lone year in college and his jumper is far from solid, but he's a very good value pick for the Warriors here, especially considering the versatility he offers their lineup by allowing Steph Curry to slide down to the 2.