Tag:Brandon Knight
Posted on: June 22, 2011 9:11 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 9:13 pm
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NBA Draft: Brandon Knight says he's ready now

2011 NBA Draft prospect Brandon Knight says he's ready to lead a team right now. Posted by Ben Golliver. draft-brandon-knight

NEW YORK, N. Y. -- Brandon Knight isn't looking over his shoulder and he doesn't have any time to waste.

The one and done Kentucky point guard addressed the media on the eve of the 2011 NBA Draft, and it was the verbal equivalent of a rim run: straight, direct, no veering or wavering.

Knight, who averaged 17.3 points and 4.2 assists as a freshman, wants to be picked at the top of the board, he wants to start immediately and he wants to win.

"My competitive nature wants me to go as high as possible," Knight said.

One day before NBA Draft night, Knight is projected to go as high as No. 3 to the Utah Jazz and no lower than No. 7 to the Sacramento Kings. The Toronto Raptors at No. 5 are also a possibility should the Jazz elect to draft Turkish big man Enes Kanter at No. 3.

Knight holds himself to a high standard -- notching a 4.3 GPA in high school -- and is equally demanding in his expectations for his NBA home.

"A place that can use a point guard, a place that wants me, obviously," Knight said. "A place where I can compete. I don't want to go somewhere where they have no chance of winning at all. A place where I know I can compete, where I have great teammates."

The Jazz figure to be the best fit for that description. While they have a starting quality point guard in Devin Harris already in place, Utah certainly has a longer tradition of winning than either Toronto or Sacramento. Utah had made the playoffs four straight years before this season, which saw a trade of franchise point guard Deron Williams and the retirement of longtime coach Jerry Sloan. The Jazz also have a string of making the postseason 20 straight years.

The Raptors, meanwhile, have made the playoffs in just two of the last nine years and arguably have one of the two or three least talented roster in the league. The Kings are far removed from their glory days at the beginning of the aughts, having missed the playoffs in five seasons. A turbulent and tenuous ownership situation only makes seriously competing that much more difficult.

Pressed about his fit with the Jazz, Knight did his best to remain open to all possibilities.

"The draft is inexact," he said. "I might not be taken by the Jazz. I might. I definitely would be comfortable there. I had a great vibe with the coaching staff and front office." 

Outsiders might view Utah as a perfect fit. Knight could serve as Harris' understudy, learning the pro game and gradually taking on added responsibilities and minutes. Knight doesn't necessarily see it that way.

Asked if he felt he was ready to step in and assume starting point guard duties from Day One, Knight, who is 19 years old, said, "Yeah, I do." No hesitation. No blinking.

He listed off the attributes he brings to the table in a methodical manner, stripping emotion from the process as if he was reading a boring legal document.

"The ability to shoot, spread a defense, defend other point guards, run a team," he said. "That's something I've got better at this year."

One thing he doesn't bring to the NBA? Second thoughts about returning to Kentucky for a sophomore season.

"Once I knew I might be a top 10 pick," Knight recalled without a trace of regret. "My mind was decided."

For all that readiness and self-assuredness, Knight did admit that one thing has tripped him during the pre-draft process: the travel.

"I've never really lived out of a suitcase before," he said, allowing himself a rare grin.

He'll get used to it.
Posted on: June 20, 2011 4:43 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 5:15 pm
 

Report: Cavs 'commit' to Kyrie Irving at No. 1?

The Cleveland Cavaliers have reportedly decided that they will draft Duke point guard Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 selection in the 2011 NBA Draft. Posted by Ben Golliver.

kyrie-irving

Have the Cleveland Cavaliers officially decided on their man?

The Cavaliers hold the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday's 2011 NBA Draft and have long been expected to take Duke point guard Kyrie Irving with the pick.

ESPN.com reports that Cleveland has made up its mind:
The Cavaliers, after taking the temperature of the Timberwolves and Jazz to see if Kyrie Irving could somehow fall to No. 4 in Thursday's NBA draft, are now committed to the former Duke guard as the No. 1 pick and are fielding offers for the fourth pick, league sources said Monday.

In preparation for the No. 4 pick, Cleveland brought in Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight for a visit Monday.

And former Kentucky student Enes Kanter of Turkey, who was ruled by the NCAA to be permanently ineligible with the school, returned Monday for a second visit.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Plain Dealer disputes the report on Twitter, writing: "My NBA sources dispute ESPN report that Cavs have committed to Kyrie Irving at No. 1, but that doesn't mean they won't wind up taking him."
This one probably qualifies as non-news. Since the Cavaliers won the Draft Lottery, Irving has been penciled in as their selection. The only other prospect in the running for the No. 1 selection is Arizona forward Derrick Williams, and it would be a massive upset if the Cavaliers selected him over Irving. 

Things get a bit more interesting with the No. 4 pick, as there is no consensus as to who should go there. Flipping the pick to another lottery team to move a few spots up or down is definitely an option that's in play. Trading out of the pick entirely to obtain a proven veteran to help make Irving's life easier wouldn't be the worst idea either.

It's just unclear how valuable the No. 4 pick in a 2-player draft is.
Posted on: June 16, 2011 7:38 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2011 7:46 pm
 

Utah Jazz making Millsap, Harris available?

The Utah Jazz are reportedly making forward Paul Millsap and guard Devin Harris available. Posted by Ben Golliver. derrick-favors

Owners of the No. 3 pick and the No. 12 pick, the Utah Jazz figure to be one of the major movers and shakers in next Thursday's NBA Draft.

Indeed, ESPN.com reports that the Jazz aren't simply looking to deal picks. They could also be open to moving major roster pieces.
Jazz looking for deals. Would be open to discussing Paul Millsap or Devin Harris.
Trading Millsap, Harris or both would be textbook rebuilding trade(s). If the Jazz ship either player out it shouldn't come as a surprise.

In Millsap's case, the Jazz must decide whether forward Derrick Favors, acquired from the New Jersey Nets in a deal involving Deron Williams, is ready to be their franchise forward. Given his talent level and sheer size, he should be sooner rather than later. Once the Jazz determine Favors is ready to be the guy, Millsap, an undersized power forward set to make $8.1 million next year, is a poor fit next to him. They'll either compete with each other for minutes or be forced to play alongside each other in an unconventional frontline. Either way, it's not ideal. It could work for next season, maybe, but eventually the training wheels are going to come off of Favors and someone's going to get their minutes and/or touches crunched.

Harris -- who is on the books for $9.3 million in 2011-2012 -- has been one of the most rumored trade pieces for years now. Perhaps that is because he is a "grass is greener on the other side" point guard for teams unhappy with their own starting one. He has good size, solid athleticism and a good but not great overall skill level. Unfortunately, he always seems to play on losing teams and  doesn't have the talent to right a ship by himself. One other major factor weighing on whether the Jazz keep Harris: they are in position to draft a potential franchise point guard at No. 3, with Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker as two possibilities. Another option: selecting Jimmer Fredette at No. 12. Either way, eventually Harris, and his salary number, is going to stand in the way of a youth movement.  

Building from the ground up requires a hard look at all of the current pieces. Outside of Favors, Gordon Hayward and whoever they draft at No. 3, everyone on the Jazz roster should be expendable. If you're heading towards a youth movement, it's best to go all the way with it. Plus, both Millsap and Harris carry some trade trade value. Shopping them makes all the sense in the world.
Posted on: June 15, 2011 8:21 pm
Edited on: June 15, 2011 8:54 pm
 

Jimmer Fredette aces Utah Jazz workout

Jimmer Fredette says he performs well in his highly-anticipated workout for the Utah Jazz. Posted by Ben Golliver. jimmer-fredette

The immense pressure on the Utah Jazz to draft BYU guard Jimmer Fredette just got bumped up a big notch. 

Last week, we noted that Fredette or his camp had publicly challenged Kentucky guard Brandon Knight and UConn guard Kemba Walker to a head-to-head workout.

On Wednesday, Fredette got his wish, or at least half of it, working out against Walker in front of the Jazz.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Fredette spoke confidently of his performance after the workout.
"I thought it was one of my better workouts. I really did. I thought I played very well,” said Fredette, who competed against Walker, Malcolm Lee (UCLA), Josh Harrellson (Kentucky), Senario Hillman (Alabama) and Paul Carter (Illinois-Chicago) for more than an hour at the Jazz practice facility.
Fredette impressed Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin.
“This cat really competes, and he hates to lose,” Corbin said. “He’s a good kid. He really likes to play, and that shows in everything that he does on the floor -- along with his scoring ability. Everyone knows him for putting up numbers on the board. But I think he’s a more complete player than a lot of people give him credit for.”
The Tribune also noted on Twitter that while Corbin wouldn't say whether Fredette outplayed Walker, he at least held his own: "Jimmer wasn't outplayed by Walker. Definitely held his own, according to four other players involved in the workout."

Fredette told the Deseret News that he thinks staying in Utah would be a good fit.
"Yeah, it would be a great place," he said. "I just think it would be a great fit for me basketball-wise. I'd fit into the system. They need a guy who can stretch the floor, get into the lane, get other guys involved and that plays right into my strengths."
Knight, meanwhile, will reportedly only work out by himself for the Jazz. 

The Jazz hold both the No. 3 pick and the No. 12 selection. While management has maintained that it won't bow to public pressure when it comes to Fredette, another solid showing against elite competition certainly can't have hurt his standing.

Posted on: June 10, 2011 8:47 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2011 9:37 pm
 

Report: Brandon Knight's stock is dropping?

Is UK point guard Brandon Knight's stock dropping? Posted by Ben Golliver. brandon-knight

On Thursday, we noted that BYU point guard Jimmer Fredette was taking a pro-active stance with his pre-draft workout strategy, essentially challenging UK point guard Brandon Knight and UConn point guard Kemba Walker to work out against him head-to-head.

We applauded that strategy, noting that Fredette really has nothing to lose. Knight and Walker, on the other hand, lose a bit of face publicly if they don't agree to work out against him -- or potentially risk slipping down the board should Fredette convincingly best them in a head-to-head setting.

SI.com reports that Fredette isn't the only thing that Knight needs to worry about. Until now, he's participated in a limited number of tightly controlled workouts. The site notes that the strategy is rubbing some people the wrong way.
Sources say the Kentucky point guard could be risking his chance to go third overall to Utah by refusing to work out against competition. Knight has an open invitation to join Connecticut's Kemba Walker, BYU's Jimmer Fredette and UCLA's Malcolm Lee in a June 15 workout with the Jazz, but sources close to both sides said he has yet to decide whether to take part.

What's more, there are rumblings that Utah is less than thrilled at the notion that Knight would even consider dictating the terms with the No. 3 pick (although Turkish center Enes Kanter already did just that in his Jazz workout in Chicago in which Toronto also took part). It's unclear whether the Jazz would take a hard-line stance and refuse to take Knight unless he worked out against other top-line competitors, but that appears to be a possibility.

I attended Knight's workout in Sacramento on June 2 and walked away convinced that Knight saw the Kings as his so-called first-round floor at No. 7. The problem there, predictably, is that the one-on-none approach wasn't well received by the Kings' brass either.
Griping from NBA executives whose jobs hinge on their ability to evaluate talent is pretty commonplace this time of year. Imagine if your job was on the line and you didn't have much control during the most important decision-making time of the calendar year? That would be rough, so the complaints are legit.

But the top prospects have all the leverage every year. As long as they don't go out of their way to be rude, flaky or controversial, players who are regarded as top-5 picks are free to set the terms of their workouts and meetings with teams. It's a classic limited supply, loads of demand scenario that tips the balance in the players' favor.

Now, as for Knight specifically. His personality is top-notch. He's a hard-working, team-first, high-IQ point guard who developed his game during his one year of college and has been regarded as an elite NBA prospect for years. He manages to enjoy the big moment without having a big ego.

Any team that passes on him because he is playing his hand wisely is nuts. But if they want to grumble because they can't see more of him? Totally understandable. 

Posted on: June 9, 2011 7:57 pm
 

Jimmer Fredette wants Knight, Walker in workout

BYU guard Jimmer Fredette makes it clear he wants to face Kentucky guard Brandon Knight and UConn guard Kemba Walker in pre-draft workouts. jimmer-trophy
Posted by Ben Golliver.

No one ever accused BYU guard Jimmer Fredette of lacking confidence with the ball in his hands. His pre-draft strategy now looks just as gutsy.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Fredette has decided to do the draft prospect equivalent of calling out his competition. Fredette is making it clear that he will do what it takes to face more highly-touted point guard prospects Kemba Walker, out of UConn, and Brandon Knight, out of Kentucky, in head-to-head pre-draft workouts.   
Former Brigham Young guard Jimmer Fredette is scheduled to work out next Wednesday with the Jazz, and he has every intention of sticking to the date. But Fredette is willing to change his plans to accommodate the schedules of Kemba Walker (Connecticut) and Brandon Knight (Kentucky). And whether the two highly touted 2011 NBA Draft prospects will face off against Fredette in Salt Lake City remains to be seen.

With his draft stock rising, Fredette wants to work out against Walker and Knight to prove that he can compete with the point guards, who are expected to be taken early during the first round.
The consensus take on Knight is that he should be a top-7 pick, perhaps going as high as No. 3 by the Utah Jazz. Walker is generally regarded as a top-10 prospect. Fredette, though, is generally seen as a late-lottery to mid-first round pick.

That's why this public challenge is so savvy. Getting a chance to knock off the higher-rated guys is a no-lose proposition for Fredette. If he shows well, maybe a team re-evaluates him, talking them in to taking a bit of a risk on a player with a defined NBA skill -- his shooting -- and questions on the defensive end. If Knight and/or Walker get the best of him, it costs him nothing. He was supposed to get beaten anyway and a vast majority of the workouts are private and not open to the media.

Do Knight or Walker need to respond here? Do they lose face if they don't accept -- and win -- the challenge?

You might think so at first glance, but NBA teams are far more concerned with a prospect's overall evaluation rather than whether he is supposedly ducking someone during workouts. Everyone involved understands the politics at play, and most draft decisions will be made on a system fit basis rather than one guy's ability to outplay another.

Still, great PR move from Fredette's team. If it succeeds, he gets his chance to make his name and change some opinions. If not, he comes across confident and motivated, enjoying a buzz bump that goes with the extra headlines. 
Posted on: May 17, 2011 11:20 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2011 12:06 am
 

Post-Lottery NBA Mock Draft by Ben Golliver

The NBA Lottery was held Tuesday night. The Cleveland Cavaliers landed the No.1 overall spot. Here's a first take mock draft reflecting the lottery results. This mock draft is by Ben Golliver, EOB Blogger.

kyrie-irving

1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving: A mature, talented point guard with good size and a solid offensive game. He makes his teammates better, and that’s exactly what Cleveland needs.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves -- Derrick Williams: After failing to win more than 24 games in the last four seasons, star potential is at a premium. Williams’ ability to play on the perimeter should complement Kevin Love nicely.

3. Utah Jazz – Brandon Knight: The Jazz, like just about everyone, can use a point guard of the future. Knight, a scorer and playmaker with excellent upside, fits the bill.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers – Bismack Biyombo: This might raise some eyebrows, but the Cavaliers need a ready-right-now, physical specimen like Biyombo and can afford a bit of a risk with Irving already in hand.

5. Toronto Raptors – Enes Kanter: The Raptors know full well that Andrea Bargnani needs a wide-bodied low-post presence to play next to him, and Kanter is the best bet.

6. Washington Wizards -- Kawhi Leonard: The Wizards need help at positions 2-4 and Leonard’s energy and athleticism will fill the gaping lineup hole between franchise point guard John Wall and developing big man JaVale McGee.

7. Sacramento Kings – Kemba Walker: Tyreke Evans is probably better as a two long-term. The Kings would probably prefer Knight, but Walker is an excellent consolation prize and yet another exciting puzzle piece on a roster full of them.

8. Detroit Pistons – Jonas Valanciunas: Does Joe Dumars dare go dipping back into the European well? If so, Valanciunas could make a nice post pairing with All-Rookie snub Greg Monroe.

9. Charlotte Bobcats – Tristan Thompson: Thompson doesn’t have the inside-out versatility to replace Gerald Wallace but he does bring elite physicality and excellent defensive tools.

10. Milwaukee Bucks – Alec Burks: The Bucks need a floor-spacer to pair with Brandon Jennings and Burks fits that bill.

11. Golden State Warriors – Jan Vesely: Whether Vesely is truly a small forward remains an open question, but he’s long and has highlight film potential. If the Warriors stick with their push-the-pace mentality under a new coach, he could be a fit.

12. Utah Jazz – Donatas Motiejunas: If the Jazz opt for a guard with their top selection, they can do worse than Motiejunas, who once drew “poor man’s Dirk” comparisons. His ceiling has come down a bit, but he can score and has excellent vision.

13. Phoenix Suns – Marcus Morris: The Suns have a lot of mismatched pieces in the frontcourt, but Steve Nash can always use a power forward that can play both inside and out and has some offensive game.

14. Houston Rockets – Jordan Hamilton: There’s no Yao Ming at No. 1 this year, let alone No. 14, so the Rockets look to mine the undervalued asset route, snagging a wing scorer who has had a rocky road to the NBA.

15. Indiana Pacers – Klay Thompson: Paul George has been a revelation but another knockdown shooter in the backcourt wouldn’t hurt.

16. Philadelphia 76ers – Markieff Morris: When in doubt, add a talented big man to the frontcourt. The Sixers have some contract decisions to make after next season.

17. New York Knicks – Chris Singleton: The Knicks will look to address their hole in the middle via free agency but Singleton adds much needed defensive intensity to the wings.

18. Washington Wizards – Kenneth Faried: A bottom five rebounding team, Washington would do well to grab this group’s most obvious board-cleaning specialist.

19. Charlotte Bobcats – Nolan Smith: Best available ACC player on the board. Plus the Bobcats need a point guard.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves -- Jimmer Fredette: Maybe the most David Kahn pick of all time.

21. Portland Trail Blazers – Davis Bertans: The Blazers are at a roster crossroads and need to replenish their coffers after a bunch of consolidation trades. Bertans is a long, versatile forward, can shoot the rock and could be a nice future asset.

22. Denver Nuggets – Tobias Harris: With Carmelo Anthony gone, there’s a pothole at the three. Harris can’t fill it, not even close, but he can get buckets.

23. Houston Rockets – Lucas Nogueira: Daryl Morey has said that sometimes you need to swing for the fences in the draft. Nogueira is rail-thin but has such incredible height and length that he can nearly dunk while standing on his tiptoes.

24. Oklahoma City Thunder – Nikola Mirotic: With a beautifully constructed rotation, the Thunder have the luxury of snapping up the best available European without worrying about the contract situation that could keep him overseas for awhile.

25. Boston Celtics – Trey Thompkins: With Glen Davis likely headed out in free agency, Thompkins can plug the “needs to be in better shape, can surprise you every once in awhile” hole.

26. Dallas Mavericks – Josh Selby: The Mavericks need to add to their aging backcourt and the undersized scoring two guard has been a productive staple for Dallas for years. Could make an electric pair with Rodrigue Beaubois someday.

27. New Jersey Nets – Tyler Honeycutt: Travis Outlaw has been kind of a disaster and the Nets’ small forward was one of the worst positions in the entire NBA. Honeycutt probably isn’t a long-term answer but the pickings are slim.

28. Chicago Bulls – Travis Leslie: The Bulls really need a floor-spacing shooter at the two spot, but would settle for the remarkable athlete who would make the “Bench Mob” that much scarier.

29. San Antonio Spurs – Kyle Singler: Incredibly intelligent, competitive forward who would kill to have the opportunity to play for Gregg Popovich.

30. Chicago Bulls – Marshon Brooks: Another off-the-dribble threat for the Bulls. Maybe he can prove to be the shooter they need but, if not, there are other elements to his game.
Posted on: May 17, 2011 11:18 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2011 12:07 am
 

NBA Mock Draft v.3.0 by Dave Del Grande

The NBA Lottery was held Tuesday night, with the Cleveland Cavliers landing the No.1 overall spot, and the UtahJazz moving up to the No. 3 position. Here's our immediate mock draft reflecting the lottery results. This mock draft is by Dave Del Grande, EOB Blogger. 

Posted by Dave Del Grande

derrick-williams


Where’s Jared Sullinger when you need him?

The Cleveland Cavaliers could sure use the homegrown Ohio State standout, much as they parlayed fellow Buckeye State native LeBron James into seven memorable seasons earlier this decade.

Alas, Sullinger has decided to return to Ohio State for his sophomore season, no doubt believing he’d be surrounding himself with better talent than the Cavs had on display this past season.

But now with the first and fourth picks of the 2011 draft, that could be about to change.

So what do the Cavs do with the top pick? The good news is: They could use a little of everything. OK, maybe a lot of everything.

The next James could be nice. Heck, even the next Kevin Durant.

That guy probably doesn’t exist in the 2011 draft crop. But surely the prospect who comes closest to fitting the mold is Arizona swingman Derrick Williams.

You might have seen the two-year collegian play, but chances are you’ve never noticed his height and weight: 6-foot-8, 241 pounds. Hmmm … very James-like.

Whether he’s got the feet to fit into those big shoes is another matter.

Here’s my first mock projection of the 2011 NBA Draft.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (from L.A. Clippers) -- Derrick Williams, SF, Arizona.
If they’d known dealing Mo Williams was going to bring them the No. 1 pick in the draft, they’d have done it a lot earlier. Chances are, this Williams will have a far greater impact.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves -- Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke. Falling out of the No. 1 spot isn’t a big deal for the Timberwolves. In fact, they’d probably like to see Irving go first, because, truth be told, they’ve drafted enough point guards in recent years.

3. Utah Jazz (from New Jersey) -- Enes Kanter, C, Kentucky. Don’t be surprised if the Jazz attempt to package their picks to move up, because the dropoff from 2 to 3 in this year’s available talent is sizable. No doubt, Utah has its eyes on a certain BYU little guy at No. 12, so a big man is the obvious choice here.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers -- Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky. The best thing about being the least talented team in the league is it makes draft night easy. You simply take the best available athlete that doesn’t duplicate the guy you’ve already selected.

5. Toronto Raptors -- Kemba Walker, PG, Connecticut. Several international prospects are projected in the Top 10, but the Raptors are already overloaded with them. The Big East Conference standout will give American fans in the Northeast a reason to cross the border.

6. Washington Wizards-- Jan Vesely, C, Czech Republic. Yes, it’s early, but here is where the 2011 draft becomes a bit anonymous. The Wizards need a big man, and arguably the best three available at this point are foreigners. Roll the international tapes.

7. Sacramento Kings -- Jimmer Fredette PG, BYU. Saved by the bell at the end of the 2010-11 season, the Kings' franchise desperately needs a ticket-seller more than any in the league. Few have fascinated the masses more than Fredette this past season.

8. Detroit Pistons -- Donatas Motiejunas, C, Lithuania. Here’s another candidate to move up, dangling at least one of their underachieving, highly-paid talents. Yeah, that’s more likely to move them down than up, but given the early run on their position of need (point guard), the Pistons have to try something.

9. Charlotte Bobcats -- Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State. The Bobcats would love to discover a reincarnation of a young Gerald Wallace. They might have had to win the lottery to accomplish that feat, but at least Leonard is better than what they have.

10. Milwaukee Bucks -- Bismark Biyembo, PF, Spain. The Bucks believe they’re ready to win now, so they’re looking for experience. Biyembo is a far greater talent than the best remaining collegiate senior.

11. Golden State Warriors  -- Jonas Valanciunas, PF, Lithuania. You might recall the last Lithuanian the Warriors drafted – Sarunas Marciulionis. That worked out well. This could, too, as he would address the club’s greatest need.

12. Utah Jazz -- Alec Burks, SG, Colorado. If they knew Fredette would be done by 12, I wouldn’t put it past the Jazz to take him at No. 3. That said, Burks might be a better fit for what the club needs – a deadly long-range shooter who can actually defend a bit.

13. Phoenix Suns -- Klay Thompson, SG, Washington State. Dealing Jason Richardson for Vince Carter was a mistake, so the goal here is finding a Richardson facsimile. Remarkably, Thompson looks the part.

14. Houston Rockets -- Marcus Morris, PF, Kansas. The Rockets have to be careful here. Their chief need is a center if Yao Ming doesn’t return. But if they draft a center, then maybe they'd be giving the big guy a reason not to come back. Morris can be sold as a sidekick.

15. Indiana Pacers -- Tristan Thompson, PF, Texas. The early run on point guards helps some talented power forwards slip through the lottery. You won’t hear the Pacers complaining.

16. Philadelphia 76ers -- Markief Morris, PF, Kansas. The 76ers need someone more like Samuel Dalembert, but he doesn’t exist this low in the draft. So taking the most defensive minded power forward has to suffice.

17. New York Knicks -- Chris Singleton, PF, Florida State. The Knicks are another team desperate for a defensive presence in the middle. Maybe Singleton can turn into a Tyson Chandler type. Then again, maybe not.

18. Washington Wizards (from Atlanta) -- Jordan Hamilton, SF, Texas. The run on big men in the middle of the round helps convince the Wizards going big early on was a wise choice. The slick Hamilton has a lot more potential here than someone taller.

19. Charlotte Bobcats (from New Orleans) -- Nolan Smith, PG, Duke. Neither of the remaining Duke prospects is Kyrie Irving, who would be the answer to the Hornets’ dreams. Smith makes a lot more sense as a hometown selection at this point than Kyle Singler.

20. Minnesota  Timberwolves (from Memphis) -- Tobias Harris, SF, Tennessee. Recent history warns us the Timberwolves are more likely to draft a point guard here now that they’ve just taken another. But this time around, brighter minds should prevail.

21. Portland Trail Blazers -- Tyler Honeycutt, SF, UCLA. The freshman has the potential to be taken a lot higher, but he doesn’t have the size most of the teams immediately north of the Trail Blazers in the draft covet. So Portland gets a nice value here.

22. Denver Nuggets-- Jordan Williams, C, Maryland. The run on foreign big men who’ll never come to America is about to start, but unlike many of the teams in the high-rent district, the Nuggets actually need a center who can play.

23. Houston Rockets (from Orlando) -- Lucas Riva Nogueira, C, Brazil. Luis Scola might be a South American rival on the international trail, but they’d make a nice side-by-side tandem on any court. Of course, the Brazilian will be Yao’s backup (wink, wink).

24. Oklahoma City Thunder -- Reggie Jackson, PG, Boston College. The Mavericks are said to have a big depth advantage over the Thunder in the Western finals. This selection helps Oklahoma City close that gap.

25. Boston Celtics--Davis Bertans, SF, Slovenia. Replacing Kendrick Perkins is the club’s top priority. The slender European isn’t exactly the guy, but at least he’s tall.

26. Dallas Mavericks-- Kyle Singler, SF, Duke. The Mavericks are as deep as any team in the league, so it’s unlikely anyone taken at this point will crack the rotation. But rest assured the hard-working Singler will give it a go.

27. New Jersey Nets (from L.A. Lakers) --JaJuan Johnson, PF, Purdue. It’s going to sting watching the Jazz use the Nets’ pick to take the third-best talent in the draft. But this Big Ten standout has a chance to contribute right away nonetheless.

28. Chicago Bulls (from Miami) --Kenneth Faried, PF, Morehead State. Most teams consider low first-rounders as the worst picks in the draft because of their two-year guarantees. The only thing worse is having two of them.

29. San Antonio Spurs --Trey Thompkins, PF, Georgia. Life could be worse than making a seven-figure guaranteed salary to learn the NBA game from Tim Duncan. It’s worked well so far for DeJuan Blair.

30. Chicago Bulls --Nikola Mirotic, PF, Serbia. It’s best-available-athlete-who’s-least-likely-to-cross-the-p
ond time. At least it’ll give Mirotic a rooting interest next spring.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com