Chris Singleton, who will be in the NBA Draft green room, could be drafted by the Jazz or Suns. (Icon SMI)
By Ryan Feldman
Saturday, June 18, 2011
The NBA Draft is less than five days away. Teams are finalizing their draft boards and figuring out which players might be available when they are on the clock.
The concept of a "draft promise" is often overhyped. There aren't many real draft promises in the NBA Draft. Teams will tell players that they plan on taking them if they're available. But players often hear that from multiple teams and it doesn't always hold true.
Nobody knows who will slip or what trades will be executed to throw things out of whack.
After talking to numerous sources, I am now comfortable enough to declare certain likelihoods for Thursday's NBA Draft. There is always a chance that something won't come true because of unforeseen circumstances.
But if everything goes as expected (highly unlikely), here's what I am confident saying will happen, based on conversations with a number of sources:
The Cavs will take Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 pick. They brought in Derrick Williams and will take another look at Enes Kanter on Monday, but that is for the No. 4 pick, even though Kanter is aiming for the No. 1 pick.
The Timberwolves will draft Derrick Williams with the No. 2 pick, as long as they don't trade the pick. That's a big "if," but assuming they stay put Williams is their guy.
If Irving and Williams are gone, Brandon Knight is the top guy on Utah's draft board. Unless the Jazz are able to make a trade or Williams falls to them after Minnesota makes a trade, the Jazz intend on drafting Knight.
Enes Kanter could go anywhere between No. 3 and No. 6. He will only go No. 3 if the Jazz agree to a trade. If not, he will almost certainly go No. 4 to the Cavs. But again, the Cavs could explore a trade involving Kanter. If the Cavs somehow pass on him, he'll either go No. 5 to the Raptors or No. 6 to the Wizards (no chance he gets past there).
The Cavs are the team highest on Kanter right now and are hoping he is available at No. 4. But they are open to a trade and have been very involved in trade talks, so it's no lock that Cleveland is the team he ends up with if he goes No. 4.
The Raptors have not yet ultimately decided who they will take if Brandon Knight is off the board. If he's there, Toronto is taking him. But assuming he's gone, the Raptors would consider Kanter (if he falls to them), Bismack Biyombo (who will work out for the Raptors on Monday), Kemba Walker, Jonas Valanciunas and Jan Vesely. The Raptors could really affect what happens in the draft because their choice is so up in the air right now.
Jimmer Fredette is not the top guy on the Sacramento Kings draft board. They prefer Kemba Walker over Jimmer as far as point guards are concerned. Kawhi Leonard is the top guy on their draft board, assuming everything goes as expected.
Leonard will also be strongly considered by the Wizards at No. 6. The Wizards are considering a number of guys, including Leonard, Jan Vesely, Jonas Valanciunas and Alec Burks.
Alec Burks is unlikely to get past the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 10. Although they are bringing in Marshon Brooks on Monday for a second look, he would have to be overwhelmingly incredible to change the minds of the Bucks front office. They intend on drafting Burks if he's available.
The same goes for Klay Thompson with the Golden State Warriors. They intend on drafting Thompson at No. 11 if he's available. Even if they end up trading Monta Ellis, which I'm told isn't as likely as some have reported (they aren't actively shopping Ellis for a trade), Thompson would still fit in no matter what. He could replace Ellis at shooting guard alongside Stephen Curry or he can step in at small forward.
A Duke player other than Kyrie Irving will likely be selected in the first round. The word is that the Nets are high on Kyle Singler at No. 27 and the Bulls are high on Nolan Smith at No. 28 or No. 30. The Nets have been targeting a small forward that can knock down outside shots. The Bulls have been targeting a backup point guard for Derrick Rose that can also play alongside him in a shooting guard role.
One or both Duke players could end up in the final few picks of the first round. The Bulls also have Singler high on their draft board. The Bulls have always preferred a winning college player from a big-time college basketball program. The Bobcats have also been a team to follow those guidelines.
In the past five years Chicago has taken USC's Taj Gibson, Memphis's Derrick Rose, Florida's Joakim Noah, Pitt's Aaron Gray, Texas's LaMarcus Aldridge and Memphis's Rodney Carney, while Charlotte has taken Duke's Gerald Henderson, Xavier's Derrick Brown, Texas's DJ Augustin, North Carolina's Brandan Wright, Gonzaga's Adam Morrison and UCLA's Ryan Hollins.
I'm hearing that Jeremy Tyler is near the top of a few teams' draft boards in the first round. Teams that could possibly take him in the first round include Portland (21), Houston (23) and Boston (25). It doesn't seem that Tyler received a definite promise from any team because he is still scheduled to work out for Minnesota on Tuesday, but he did cancel a workout in Philadelphia that was scheduled for Sunday.
I'm also hearing that Josh Selby has moved himself into likely first round status. He is near the top of a few teams' draft boards in the first round, including the Knicks (17), Trail Blazers (21), Rockets (23) and Thunder (24).
Jimmer Fredette and Chris Singleton are both candidates to go the Jazz (12) and Suns (13). If both are on the board at No. 12, the Suns will likely take whichever player isn't chosen by the Jazz. Singleton is also in the mix for the Bobcats at No. 9. The Rockets also have expressed interest in Fredette at No. 14, but he won't get that far.
The Houston Rockets are very high on Donatas Motiejunas and he appears to be at the top of their draft board. They were the first NBA team to bring him in for a workout in this country, as he visited Houston on Friday. The Sixers are also very high on Motiejunas but they'll likely have to trade up to get him. Motiejunas will not get past the Sixers at No. 16.
After working out in Houston on Friday, Motiejunas worked out for the Spurs on Saturday. He'll work out for the Sixers on Monday and the Knicks on Tuesday. He will then fly to Chicago to watch the draft with his agent Herb Rudoy.
Marshon Brooks will get a look from the Bobcats (9) and Bucks (10), but the real possibilities start with Indiana (15) and New York (17).
Tobias Harris is a strong possibility for the Wizards (18), Bobcats (19) and Nuggets (22). He is unlikely to get past the Nuggets.
Trey Thompkins is considered a first round pick by many teams. The Wizards (18), Bobcats (19), Trail Blazers (21) and Bulls (28 and 30) will all give Thompkins strong consideration. One NBA executive even told me he'd be willing to "bet me 50 bucks that Thompkins goes first round."
Charles Jenkins and JaJuan Johnson are two players to have a lot of interest from teams in the late first round but both could easily slip to the early second round.
Kemba Walker will be in the mix for the Raptors at No. 5 if Brandon Knight is off the board. If the Raptors pass on Walker, he could go to the Kings (7), Pistons (8) or Bobcats (9). The Kings would likely only select Walker if the Wizards take Leonard.
The Pistons have been reported as a strong possibility for Walker, but a source told me the Pistons aren't excited about a small point guard and would prefer a big man like Tristan Thompson or Bismack Biyombo. Those two will go head-to-head on Monday, so that will likely decide which big man the Pistons will prefer.