Today is NBA Draft day and before I post my third and final mock draft, I wanted to share a few thoughts.
Anthony Davis is the prize of this year's draft. The 6-11 forward dominated the NCAA in his only year at Kentucky on the way to winning a national championship and numerous player of the year awards. He brings instant credibility to the Hornets and he should be the center piece of his franchise the same way Kevin Durant is the center piece of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
That's right. I think Davis could have the same impact on New Orleans that Durant has had on the Thunder. His presence should rejuvenate that team and because they are unlikely to vault immediately into the playoffs, they should be able to add more assets in the lottery over the next few years to build a championship contender.
The Hornets also pick tenth in the first round. The player mentioned the most for that spot is Duke's Austin Rivers, a scoring guard with a lot of potential, but I believe that the Hornets could get a wing scorer at the top of the 2013 or 2014 draft so I believe they should invest in a true center - such as Meyers Leonard of Illinois - a versatile player like Moe Harkless of St. John's, a defensive minded wing player who won Big East Rookie of the Year this past season, or even Davis' college teammate at Kentucky, forward Terrence Jones.
Davis will be enough to excite the fans in New Orleans so they do not need to worry about reaching to make a "splash" at 10. The Hornets should be thinking about contending for a title in 2016 and therefore be looking to add pieces to make that happen, just like what the Thunder did with Durant.
With picks 21 and 22, the Celtics will have the opportunity to add two players with the potential to help them in both the immediate and long term future. Jared Sullinger of Ohio State, Royce White of Iowa State, Andrew Nicholoson of St. Bonaventure, Moe Harkless, and Fab Melo of Syracuse have all been mentioned as potential targets of Boston.
However, what if the Celtics decided to move up?
The Golden State Warriors have the seventh overall pick. With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, they already possess the young scorers that so many teams want so they really don't need another prospect. What they need are role players, players that have a certain skill that can complement their existing cornerstones.
If Andre Drummond, the 7-0 freshman center from UConn is available at 7 - and most mock drafts predict he will be there for the taking - would the Warriors trade back with Boston for picks 21 and 22 as well as the 2nd round pick in next year's draft that the Celtics picked up from the Thunder (that was originally owned by the Bobcats so it is likely to be a very high pick in the 2nd round) as a part of the Jeff Green trade?
This hypothetical trade - which got stuck in my mind courtesy of the Bill Simmons/Chad Ford mock draft on Grantland yesterday - would allow the Celtics to roll the dice on the potential of Drummond and would allow the Warriors to draft two rotation players at 21 and 22 while also having a high 2nd round pick in 2013.
For the Celtics, Drummond would be a major piece of their future but would also be an important part of their plan for 2013. Having Kevin Garnett to mentor him for a year or two (you know, considering KG comes back) would be the perfect situation for a talented young center who is only dropping to the back half of the lottery because talent evaluators question his work ethic. I don't see the lights going on for Drummond playing for the Warriors but after having seen Garnett influence lesser talents such as Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis, and even Greg Stiemsma into being productive players on winning Celtics teams, I trust that the Big Ticket could get Drummond to tap into his potential.
There would also be less pressure on Drummond to produce immediately in Boston because he would be playing with Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo. He could ease his way into the NBA on a winning team and when the time does come for Garnett and Pierce to retire, he would be ready to help Rondo lead the team into its next era.
It is highly doubtful but crazier things have happened on draft night.
If the Celtics stay put at 21 and 22, I would be excited if they added Sullinger and White. They are two forwards with NBA ready bodies that should be able to come in right away and help the team as bench pieces. Last year's playoff run exposed the Celtics thin front line and adding Sullinger's low post scoring and White's all-around game would help fill out the team's bench.
Melo, the 7-0 Brazilian, and Nicholson, a 6-9 scoring forward who has drawn comparisons to David West, would not be bad consolation prizes considering the team's need for talented big men. Harkless would be the supposed heir apparent to Pierce at small forward if he became a Celtic but the recent mock drafts have him rising out of the low 20's and into the middle of the first round.
I would also like to see Danny Ainge move into the end of the first round or the top of the second round - that 2013 second round pick and JaJuan Johnson might get the job done - to draft a young shooting guard like Kim English of Missouri (who I had the Celtics taking in my second mock draft), Will Barton of Memphis, or Jared Cunningham of Oregon State as the team prepares to move on from Ray Allen.
The Celtics need as many young pieces as possible right now as they try and build a bench and as they look to build their team for the future. Two big men and a shooter would make this a successful night.
There are rumors flying that the Thunder could be looking to trade swingman James Harden in an attempt to move up to select Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal.
The Thunder would want to deal Harden to try and save themselves some money in the immediate future - he is in line, along with forward Serge Ibaka, to get a big pay day and Oklahoma City already has big money tied up in Durant and Russell Westbrook - and Beal's perimeter shooting would be a great fit with the Thunder.
Look for them to make a deal with either Charlotte or Washington to get Beal.
Another championship contender looking to make a move are the Lakers.
The Lakers are reportedly looking for at least a player and a first round draft pick in exchange for power forward Pau Gasol.
One idea I came up with on ESPN.com's trade machine was a package of Gasol and point guard Steve Blake to Washington for the 3rd overall pick, power forward Nene, and small forward Trevor Ariza.
The Wizards would get an established star in Gasol to pair with point guard John Wall as well as a solid backup point guard in Blake.
The Lakers would get a replacement big man for Gasol in Nene to pair with Andrew Bynum, a good wing defender in Ariza (who helped the Lakers win a title in 2009), and the chance to take a shooter like Beal, forward Thomas Robinson, or a swingman such as Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or North Carolina's Harrison Barnes.