I hate to admit that I wrote 1,300 words on a Mock Draft where Cleveland moves up to No. 3 therefore pushing Detroit back to #9 (of course delivering their pick to Charlotte). But it seems futile to even think of that happening, so I scrapped it. Detroit is tanking harder than ever (they played Charlie Villanueva the other night, and yes he was -11 in 7 minutes. Somehow they still won against the Bucks). At this point the Pistons are pretty close to the #7 spot in the lottery, which would make it a statistical improbability that Charlotte would receive their pick in 2014.
Therefore, I’m ready to turn my energy back to the Portland pick, which as of today would come in at #24. Portland has yet to clinch a playoff berth and could potentially drop a few spots in the standings. Although I think that’s unlikely now that LMA is back and they have a pretty easy schedule the rest of the way.
Therefore, I’m going to assume Charlotte is picking at 24. Rather than mocking the back end of the draft (which is very tough to do, especially this far away from the actual event), I’m going to provide Draftexpress’ current big board from 18 through 30 (as of 4/1). From there I’m going to rank the guys based on Fit and Value (1 through 5, with 5 being the best).
A couple of disclaimers on the rankings:
Fit and/or Value: If projected as a future 2nd unit player only… max score of 3.
Fit: Culture is weighed just as heavily as Roster Need. Culture = Athletic, hardworking guys from winning programs. Roster Need = Back up PG, wings, and another big for MCB insurance.
Value: Age will be considered. It feels shortsighted to let the Bobcat’s recent success blur the strategy of drafting for talent.
Feel free to disagree or add commentary below.
Also, salaries by year for the 24th pick per Real GM:
Year 1: $997,300
Year 2: $1,042,200
Year 3: $1,087,100
Year 4: $1,901,338 (Team Option)
Year 5: $2,775,953 (Qualifying Offer)
Now you see why these picks are so valuable. Imagine getting Adrien Payne at #24 and paying him a TOTAL $5.1MM over 4 years. That’s less than MKG’s Year 4 Team Option.
Draftexpress 18 through 30 as of 3/31/2014:
18 T.J. Warren SF/PF, 20 yrs; 6'8"; 230 lbs.
N.C. State, Soph
19 Kyle Anderson SF, 20 yrs; 6'8"; 233 lbs.
20 Montrezl Harrell PF, 20 yrs; 6'8"; 230 lbs.
21 Jerami Grant SF, 20 yrs; 6'8"; 196 lbs.
22 P.J. Hairston SG, 21 yrs; 6'5"; 227 lbs.
Tex Legends, Jr
23 K.J. McDaniels SF, 21 yrs; 6'6"; 198 lbs.
24 Adreian Payne PF, 23 yrs; 6'9"; 215 lbs.
Michigan State, Sr
25 James Young SG/SF, 18 yrs; 6'7"; 202 lbs.
26 Jordan Adams SG, 19 yrs; 6'5"; 220 lbs. UCLA, Soph
27 Bogdan Bogdanovic SG, 21 yrs; 6'6"; 200 lbs.
28 Elfrid Payton PG, 20 yrs; 6'4"; 165 lbs.
La Lafayette, Jr
29 Cleanthony Early PF, 22 yrs; 6'8"; 216 lbs.
Wichita State, Sr
30 Zach LaVine SG, 19 yrs; 6'5"; 180 lbs.
From DraftExpress.com http://www.draftexpress.com#ixzz2xdNm7tZU
TJ Warren: I’m really going to leave this up to someone in the comments. I’ve only seen a handful of NC State basketball this year and everything I read about Warren makes me think he won’t be able to score effectively in the NBA. Fit (?) – Value (?)
Kyle Anderson: By far the most polarizing draft prospect in this year’s class, Anderson presents a unique player. Standing at a legit 6’8” or 6’9”, with an impressive wingspan, he sports the size of an NBA small forward. Yet, he plays with the ball in his hands like a point guard. He can see over the top of smaller defenders (as well as post them up), and has a herky jerky drive game with his left hand that reminds you of that dude at the Y who always annoys the hell out of you. Despite the high percentage (48% from 3pt range), he’s only shooting about 1.5 per game. I guess you can’t leave him open, but in the NBA that shot’s going to be harder to come by and likely contested. Still, if you’re looking for a 2nd unit mismatch nightmare, this is your guy. But if you’re expecting him to come in and start as a “point forward,” I think you’re going to be disappointed. His lack of speed appears overblown by media types but I haven’t seen anything that convinces me he has the lateral agility to hang with even the worst NBA small forwards. Most NBA defenses rely on perimeter defense as part of their scheme to keep players out of the paint. Adding Kyle Anderson to a starting lineup would require a team to build a defense around him, and I’m just not sure any NBA coach would be willing to make that move for a guy who isn’t a top offensive player. Also, Kyle’s size will become less of an advantage in the NBA, taking away some of his playmaking ability. Fit (3) & Value (3): 6.
Montrezl Harrell: Although we already have a defensive first, short but long energy big in Bismack Biyombo, Montrezl brings a lot to the table. He’s tough, can play above the rim, has decent hands, isn’t completely allergic to dribbling, and although not accurate, looks comfortable shooting baseline jumpers. Although I think that he lacks the range and skill to play as a full time NBA power forward, he should be able to play both some PF and C for an NBA second unit. For that reason alone, he has incredible value in the league. Finding a decent fourth big for on average $1.2MM for five years is hard to do. Despite the aforementioned length, strength, energy, and average skills, he only shot 46% from the FT line last year, which is discouraging. Still, at 20 years old and an impressive tournament run under his belt, Montrezl Harrell should be great value in the mid 20s. Fit (3) & Value (4): 7.
Jerami Grant: I’ve been high on this guy all season as his scouting reports sound like carbon copies of MKG’s. Despite playing in the Syracuse zone, it seems like Grant projects as a quality defender & rebounder. Expecting him to come in day 1 and be the perimeter defender MKG already is would be a mistake, but it’s not crazy to think Grant could come in year 2 or 3 and provide a lot of what the Kid does at a fraction of the cost (like 1/8th in 2016). His strengths: size, wingspan, rebounding (especially put backs), transition, and energy. Weaknesses: no jump shot. Sounds all too familiar. From watching some Grant tape, I can tell you he lacks MKG’s hitch, but I’m not sure that says anything about his future as an NBA jump shooter. It’s always risky to draft a wing with no 3pt shot, but it’s much safer to take on a project wing at #24 than #2 (see salaries above). Fit (4 – he fits the Culture and fills a need (backup wing)) & Value (3): 7.
P. J. Hairston: I’m not going to spend too much time on this one, because I think Cho does crazy background checks on all his picks. Not saying PJ has issues, but I’m saying Cho considers the following formula… Past Issues = Potential for Future Issues. It’s simple to him. PJ is an increased risk. Just like insurance companies charge a higher premium to people with a history of car wrecks, Cho is going to lower his risk as much as possible when he has reason to do so (like past arrests, etc). I mean if he’s going to pass on a D-League pick up mid-season due to potential locker room issues, I doubt he uses a 1st round pick on a guy with such a stained past (fair or not). All that being said, PJ looks like a potential starting NBA shooting guard, soooo if Cho does his homework, he might just talk himself into this. Also, I could see MJ having a Larry Bird & Lance type effect here. Fit (1) & Value (4): 5.
K. J. McDaniels: Another somewhat local prospect hailing from Clemson, is another guy I haven’t seen much of. Everything I read though says this guy is an NBA level athlete, who is a terror on defense. Blocking and stealing (stocking) like a center at the SF position and throwing down some ridiculous highlight dunks from far above the rim. Despite being a little older, he fits the sort of player that could slide into Charlotte’s defensive scheme from Day 1. That being said, he’s by no means an outside shooter (30% from distance on 3.9 attempts per game). But it’s not like you can leave this guy wide open from 20 feet… he shoots 85% from the line. Maybe not as versatile as Taylor (but 3 years younger), he would be a very intriguing back up SF prospect. Fit (4) & Value (3): 7.
Adreian Payne: A player that has been mocked to Charlotte quite a few times, and therefore discussed previously, he’s a guy who could come in right away and provide McRoberts Opt-out Insurance. A true stretch 4 with a good all-around game and a toughness a lot of Charlotte fans are looking for from their PF position, Payne would be a nice get at 24 for the Hornets. From when I watched him play, I thought he was a little too quick to pull up from 3 sometimes, but when you’re shooting 43% on 3.1 attempts per game, it’s hard to get mad because they’re usually going in the hoop. Also, it’s not like he’s a guy who only floats around the perimeter… he’s constantly fighting in the post or looking to screen. Most of his 3s seem to come from pick and pop or in transition (Mullens!). Despite the old man label, getting Payne at 24 would be A OK with me. Fit (4) & Value (3.5): 7.5… half point for the already developed skills. You can pray for a big to “get skilled” all you want, it usually doesn’t happen.
James Young: This guy was in consideration in the top 10 a few times this year and for good reason. He’s young, has the athleticism and size to be an NBA wing. On paper, you’d say he has the tools too, but throughout the year he’s made that a bigger argument. Slasher? Maybe, I'm not sure Kentucky's miserable offense is a good staging ground to test that one. Driver? Not yet… Shooter? Looks ok, quick release, and not afraid to pull it… but it’s not going in as much as you’d like. Defender? I’ve seen games where he puts the cooler on PGs, and games where he gets lost two plays in a row. Basically, for me (Clifford Voice), Young is a high reward type prospect, that should at a minimum be the 4th wing on a good team, so the risk doesn’t kill you at pick 24. If I was him, I’d stay another year, because this draft is so wing heavy. Either way he’d be a steal for Charlotte this late in the draft. Fit (3) & Value (4): 7.
Jordan Adams: I’ve watched my fair share of UCLA games this year, but I was typically staring down Kyle Anderson and Zach Lavine. That’s my own fault, because I’m sure I’ve missed some good all around play from this kid. I’m glad to give credit where credit’s due… DraftExpress has a good synopsis on JA:
“Adams has nice size for a shooting guard at 6'5” with a strong frame at 220 pounds but the rest of his physical attributes, including his length, quickness and athleticism are merely average compared to other NBA level shooting guards. Offensively, Adams relies on perimeter shooting for most of his production, as 70% of his field goals came from jump shots, according to Synergy Sports. His two point field goal percentage is efficient at 54% but he struggled with his outside shooting, as his 3 point percentage was only 30%, one of the lowest among shooting guards in our database . One cause for his struggles may be his inconsistent release, which seems to vary with almost every shot. At the same time, many of his shots close to the end of the season fell short which may show he tired during his freshman season.”
I’m not sure JA fits our roster at all (or how he fits on most NBA teams really). Fit: (1) & Value (2): 3.
BogdonBogdanBogdan: I admit all I know about this guy I gleamed from his 15 minute Draft Express video. As typical with these videos, the first half you’re convinced the kid is a future hall of famer and by the end you’re questioning why he’s even on NBA radars. If his game is somewhere in between sweet shooting, PnR handling, defensive menance and streaky, spacey, lazy dude man… he might be a decent SG prospect for the cost. However, there are rumblings that he is going to stay overseas, so this might be a moot point. Fit (2) & Value (3): 5.
Elfird Payton: A tall, yet quick, playmaking point guard? Kid has a 6’7” wingspan. Now this is like the 10th big PG that has been mocked by Draftexpress in the top 30 so far this year, so who knows if this kid will stick, but on paper it sounds promising. He gets to the rack real well, drops the ball off well, and is great at getting to the line (8 FTA/g). However he played in the Sun Belt conference, turns it over a good bit (5.8 to 3.8 A/T), and only shoots 59% from the charity stripe. His comp is MCW… look at these comparables:
MCW - 6’7” wingspan, 29% from 3, 69% FT, 7.3 to 3.5 TO, 5 Reb, 11.9 PTS/G.
EP - 6’7” wingspan, 26% from 3, 59% FT, 5.8 to 3.8 TO, 6 Reb, 19.3 PTS/G.
My favorite quote from DraftExpress…
Perhaps Payton's most attractive and likely also his most NBA-ready skill is his defense. He takes great pride in his work here, showing a high intensity level and extremely quick feet laterally, which allow him to get over the top of screens, and also stay in front of opponents on the perimeter.
Definitely a project, but could be worth it at the back end of the draft. Not sure he’ll be BPA when we get to the podium, but I wouldn’t hate the pick. Because I think it would be crazy to expect this kid to be the backup PG next year (as we compete for the playoffs again), I doubt we get to see more of Mr. Payton. Fit (3 – size/athlete) & Value (3): 6.
Cleanthony Early: One of the biggest risers in the later part of the season, the Wichita State wing has impressed me recently. He had a couple MONSTER dunks in the tournament and looked like an NBA caliber athlete. He has great size for an NBA SF but not sure he has the perimeter quickness to guard the SF position at the NBA level, so he might have that tweener label going into draft day. Also at 22 years old, he clocks in a little older than some of the other prospects in this range. But he shot well this year from distance (37%) and was part of one of the most impressive college teams in recent memory. So the Cho check boxes are filling up fast (athlete & winning program), but I’m not sure there is enough upside here to justify ditching the Taylor project. Also, I’m not sure he would fit in our defensive scheme at the 3 or the 4. Fit (3… culture is a plus, but roster negative) & Value (2): 5.
Zach Lavine: Draftexpress usually does real well in mock drafts. I’ve reviewed their 2011, 2012, and 2013 mocks and they’re pretty close to the real thing. However, I think they’re way off with Lavine. Way too much upside here to drop this far. UCLA is well known for overshadowing the talents of a guy like Lavine, especially on a team with two other top 25 prospects. He’s best with the ball in his hands but also projects as a nice shooter off the ball. His drives look Wade-esque, his shot when falling makes you double take, and he literally bounces off the court. He could stand to gain what looks like 100 pounds, but players like this don’t fall in the draft. Is he top 10? I don’t think so due to how strong the top 8 players are. But mid lottery? No way teams with strong foundations like Phx, Atl, Chi, or Bos pass on this kid. Just my humble guess. If he falls, I hope Cho jumps all over this pick. Fit (4) & Value (5): 9.
Personally, I’m a little skeptic that certain guys will fall far enough in the draft for us to have a chance... like Payne, Grant, Young, and Hairston. I see KJ McDaniels as the most likely pick at this point. Out of this list, my first choice would be Lavine. My second would be Jermai Grant, and my third would be Adreian Payne. I’m intrigued by Payton and Young and I’m not really interested in Early, Bogdan, Adams or Hairston. I’ve put a poll down below. Get your vote in because you know Rod Higgins is reading this.