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Pre-Lottery Mock Draft: Picks 1-15

Cleveland Jackson, Alex Raffalli, David O'Leary and I collaborated on an email chain over the last couple weeks that evolved into a pre-lottery mock draft.

We completed it just in time to revise this mock draft as soon as the lottery positions are assigned on Tuesday night. For now, though, Part 1 is below. Part 2 is coming later.

Team need was considered with each selection in combination with an overall talent ranking.
 

1- Orlando Magic (Brendan) – Nerlens Noel: His weight is a bit concerning along with the fact that he won't be healthy enough to make his rookie debut until Christmas. But Noel is the best shot-blocker in the country while also possessing a combination of size and athleticism you can't teach. It would be hard for Orlando to pass on a replacement-ish player for Dwight Howard here with the Kentucky freshman on the board. 

 2- Charlotte Bobcats (Jack) – Ben McLemore: This is the portrait of an athlete, a human shooting guard machine standing 6 foot 4 and a half inches in sneakers. McLemore has superhuman quickness, explosive leaping ability and picture perfect shooting mechanics, which have at times been compared to Ray Allen. He’s so good, that he could go first overall in this draft if a team had concerns about Noel’s health. His athleticism makes him excellent on defense and he has every tool to become a star in the league and his weaknesses are only in areas where he has undeveloped potential. There may be a conversation someday as to whether McLemore should have gone #1 in this draft, and I wouldn’t want to be on the other side of the debate. If the Cavs somehow end up in a lottery position to take this guy, you draft him and figure out how to make it work later on.

3- Cleveland Cavaliers (Alex) – Otto Porter: The Cavaliers need everything Otto Porter brings, and they need it now. He has the length, the shooting ability, the basketball IQ and the defensive mind to fit in the Mike Brown mold and help the Cavs greatly at a position where they have been so bad since LeBron James left. He is the biggest upgrade the team could wish for. Of course, he isn’t the most athletic guy or the strongest (he needs to put a good 20lbs on his frame to defend bigger wing players, but what rookie doesn’t need to put up some weight anyway?) and might not be the most talented possible pick, but he will help the Cavs win! Also, given that his name means eight in Italian, I think he should be forced to have jersey #8. I mean, makes sense, right? (the only problem with this logic is that the most famous man named Otto in history is most likely Von Bismarck and he was German… Doesn’t make sense anymore, does it? And of course, I’m waiting for suggestions on “more” famous Otto's)

4 – Phoenix Suns (David) – Anthony Bennett: I don’t know if there’s a team more in need of help at either forward spot than the Suns. Bennett is a low post animal with an insane wingspan who’s already very accomplished at finishing in a crowd and while absorbing contact. Sure, he’s a tweener and he’ll have trouble guarding small forwards most of the time, but he could be real good real fast. Plus, he’s a brute who’ll bully his way to buckets from day one. The only downside here with this pick is that we could break up the possibility of the Suns starting both Morris twins next year, which for obvious reasons would have been brilliant on about 37 different levels.

5- New Orleans Pelicans (Brendan) – Victor Oladipo: This guy successfully completed a 360-dunk in a Big Ten Basketball game while also completing 19 credit hours to graduate from Indiana in three years. He wowed scouts at the combine with a 42-inch vertical, while also suggesting that those concerned with his height (6'4.25") simply round up to the nearest tenth and then he's 6'5". Relax. According to Oladipo he is "abnormal", which in my opinion gives him the potential to be great. 

6- Sacramento Kings (Jack) – Cody Zeller: Zeller is as skilled as McLemore is athletically gifted. A 7-foot tall center with a multitude of moves around the rim and a developing shooting touch, there was a time when Zeller’s name was at the top of this list. He’s not going to be a superstar, but he will not bust. He works hard and he runs the court like an animal. He has a high basketball IQ, he makes free throws and he has the highest floor of any of the top 10 picks in this draft. He’s what the fans, the team and the city of Sacramento needs.

7- Detroit Pistons (Alex) – Trey Burke: Trey Burke stays in Michigan. Why? Mainly because I don’t believe in Brandon Knight. The Pistons need to give their talented and promising big men a point guard that will make them shine. After acquiring a true PG in Jose Calderon in the second half of the season, they saw the impact a facilitator could have on their team. The Spaniard is a free agent though, and even if Joe Dumars has some cash to spend, I’m not sure he’ll want to pay Calderon big money. Drafting Burke solidifies their young core, and they can try to play Knight as an off guard on their bench or could eventually use him as a trading chip to bring in a veteran wing player.

8- Washington Wizards (David) – Alex Len: The low-post presence so badly needed in D.C. He’ll run the break with Wall and Beal, he’ll provide the necessary passing to facilitate an inside-out-attack, and he’ll have his fair share of highlight reel rejections. Am I concerned he didn’t exactly dominate in college? No, because Maryland never really used him properly. If you want to see how dominant he can be, Google Kentucky v Maryland at the start of last season and have a quick look.

9- Minnesota Timberwolves (Brendan) – Shabazz Muhammad: Shabazz has been a known fixture on the national landscape since he was a sophomore in high school. In today's world, this is similar to having broken down every aspect of a college senior's game by the time he graduates. It doesn't happen often to players who spend only one year in college, but I think the known quantity argument has people sleeping on Muhammad as my guy Rodger said they were last week. We know he's a volume shooter, we know his Dad is a nut, we know he was part of a conspiracy to lie about his age…but…the T-Wolves need a wing and Shabbazz can score still score the ball. 

10- Portland Trailblazers (Jack) – CJ McCollum: The best shooter and best scorer in the draft. A Canton native and this draft’s next Stephen Curry, McCullum is a combo guard that can create for himself, make shots from anywhere, and take the critical ones without flinching.

11- Philadephia 76ers (Alex) – Rudy Gobert: Rudy Gobert is a freak. His measurements are just insane at 7”2 with a 7”9 wingspan and close to a 10 feet standing reach. His only problem is that he is thin. Way thin. At 235 pounds, he will get destroyed in the paint in the NBA. However, he is relentless going for blocks and rebounds and he is already a defensive force at 19 years old. I think his future is bright. Given the uncertainty over the Andrew Bynum situation, Gobert is a very safe pick for Philly. Of course, I’m French and it clearly is tainting my judgment, but my take on Rudy is that worst case scenario he will be JaVale McGee offensively, and best case scenario, he will be Tyson Chandler defensively.

12- Oklahoma City Thunder (from Toronto) (David) – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: People have questioned my judgment in taking Caldwell-Pope here; but when he’s raining down three’s on Miami’s second unit in the 2014 NBA Finals, just picture me smiling and saying, “Told ya so!” Once this guy gets into workouts his stock will skyrocket, trust me.

13- Dallas Mavericks (Brendan) – Mason Plumlee: Maybe he spends two seasons learning the NBA's power forward position under Dirk and goes on to become the American version of Nowitzki. Or, maybe he averages 10 and 10 for the Mavs off the bench which would also help. 

14- Utah Jazz (Jack) – Gorgui Dieng: Jack was unavailable for comment on this one, most likely because he was filming this video for Dan Gilbert's lottery contest last week which was unanimously expected to win by all pundits upon publication. 

15- Milwaukee Bucks (Alex) – Michael Carter-Williams: Sooo, basically, the Bucks are losing their whole guard rotation this summer. Most likely, Jennings, Ellis and Redick are gone, and the Bucks have a LOT of cash to spend this summer (with not that many potential targets unfortunately). Michael Carter-Williams will be their PG going forward, and they will finally have a guy “running” the point for their team instead of jacking up 25 shots a game. It is likely Bucks fans forgot what a PG was, and I think they need a reminder. They will love MCW, who can play both guards positions at 6”6 and one of the top point guards in this Draft. At 15, he is not only the best the Bucks could hope for but a huge steal. Will he be the first All-Star with three first names in his name? (Sidenote: too bad his name is not William Michael-Carter, that would have been ALMOST ‘WMD’, which is the single coolest nickname you could ever wish for, right?)

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of StepienRules.com. I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine, Cleveland.com, BleacherReport.com, InsideFacebook.com and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.

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