The NBA Lottery came and went Tuesday night and the Cleveland Cavaliers got the first pick in the draft. That’s good news for one former Duke player, but where will the rest of the Blue Devils go? What about other ACC players? Who’s falling? Who’s Rising? Where can I get a good mojito in Manhattan this late at night? All these questions (except the last one) will be answered by me right now.
KYRIE IRVING, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (1st PICK)
The Cavs are basically starting from scratch. Outside of J.J. Hickson, I don’t see a single player on their roster still playing in Cleveland in three years. Luckily for them, they got three first-round picks in this year’s draft, including two of the first four, to begin this post-LeBron rebuilding process.
Now the Cavs could get sneaky and go large with the first pick (D. Williams, E. Kanter?) and pray for Irving to fall to them with the 4th pick (he won’t) or just settle on someone like Brandon Knight, but that’s not going to happen. If Derrick Rose has taught us anything, this is a point guard league. If you’re going to start fresh, you grab your quarterback.
Irving played less than a dozen games at Duke, but he left an impression. He’s quick, with a dangerous first step. He’s not afraid to get dirty inside and he’ll launch it from deep. He’s everything a NBA GM craves for when he’s not thinking of his mistress. If he has one issue, he could use some more muscle to survive the 82-game season in the NBA serves up.
CHRIS SINGLETON, GOLDEN STATE (11th PICK)
The Warriors are desperate for two things. A big, strong body at the PF spot and more importantly, someone, anyone who can play defense. That’s Chris Singleton’s specialty. He’s long and surprisingly athletic, capable of guarding multiple spots on the floor.
Of course the knock on Singleton is he’s not a scorer. While he certainly doesn’t need to be “the man” on a team that features Monte Ellis and Seth Curry, he will have to improve his offensive game. He simply can’t shoot low forties from the field at the next level. I will say this, prior to getting injured, he had made improvements in both his jump shot and his ability to get inside.
After earning the Final Four MVP in the 2010 tournament, Singler probably would have landed somewhere between 15-20 in last year’s draft. At worse, he’s going to lose some dollars. The bright side is, he’s actually going to end up on a pretty good team.
The Thunder (who are currently in the West Conference Finals) have their star players (Durant, Westbrook). With the Lakers and Spurs aging quickly, this team is the future of the Western Conference. What they need are winners, i.e. glue guys who will do anything short of turning tricks to get the win. Kyle Singler is that guy.
He’s not the most athletic guy in the draft, but he can do a lot of little things, whether’s rebounding, defending (he held Harrison Barnes to 16-40 from the floor in three games), scoring inside or launching it from deep. He’d be a perfect addition at the backup SF spot (currently it belongs to Robert Vaden), plus he can play some power forward, which is something the Thunder need since Nick Collison isn’t getting any younger.
REGGIE JACKSON, BOSTON (25th PICK)
For some reason, the draft experts have developed a serious hard on for Jackson. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s a solid player, but I saw him going as high up as a lottery pick in some mock drafts.
Overall, he’s a super athlete, with unusual long arms for a guy standing just 6’3. The knock him him prior to last season was his slot selection, but he really did a fine job improving his shooting his junior year, hitting over 50-percent from the floor.
Still, his future is as a point guard and I’ve never really been that impressed by his decision making and ability to make players around him better. In three seasons of college basketball, he’s never produced a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
He probably won’t slip to Boston. The fact is, teams 19-21 (Charlotte, Minnesota and Portland) could all use his skills. I just think he’d be a great fit in Boston. He’d be able to play combo guard, getting minutes behind an aging Ray Allen, while learning to play the point behind Rondo.
JORDAN WILLIAMS, SAN ANTONIO (29th PICK)
First, let me state for the record that I think it was a mistake for Williams to come out early. While he put up some solid numbers for Maryland this past season (16.9 points, 11.8 rebounds), he’s still a limited big man. He’s a bully in the middle, getting most of his points up close and personal with the bucket. He’s basically a poor man’s Blake Griffen, but you don’t want to be a poor man’s anything in the NBA.
While he’s deceptively quick for a man his size, he doesn’t get a lot of lift and he never developed a signature post move. That’s not a big deal in college, but he’ll run into problems when he faces the big boys of the NBA.
Having said that, he just needs a little time to grow and there is no better way to grow than learning from a legend like Tim Duncan. The fact is, between Duncan and Antonio McDyess, we’re talking about 27 years of NBA experience. They’re old and the Spurs need to start thinking of a future without these two.
NOLAN SMITH, CHICAGO (30TH PICK)
Could the Bulls end up with a third Blue Devil? Maybe. They have two late picks in the first-round and I have Smith going with the second (the last pick in the first-round). Smith was given an opportunity when Irving went down to show the NBA he can run the point. He did a fine job.
While he doesn’t have the best first step and he’s not going to scare anyone with his athleticism, Smith has proven to be a savvy player. He can shoot the long ball and there is nothing prettier than a Nolan Smith floater. When taking it to the rim, he’s not going to finish above the rim, but he’s proven he can go both ways and he can finish with both the left and right hand. He’s also an underrated defender, who does a solid job keeping quicker guards in front of him.
The Bulls desperately need help at the SG spot. I’m not saying Smith is that answer, but he’s a perfect fit because he can play both guard spots off the bench.
IMAN SHUMPERT, GOLDEN STATE (41st PICK)
As a junior, Shumpert delivered a triple crown, leading a bad Georgia Tech team in points, rebounds and assists. With a new coach and no home stadium next season, Shumpert was probably smart to bolt now, even though he won’t be drafted in the first-round.
Here’s the deal, Shumpert played mostly point in college, although he played off the ball more his junior year. He’s a long 6’4, with a great basketball physic. However, he’s never been a great shooter. In fact, he was a bad shooter last season (40-percent overall, 28-percent from three). Having said that, a lot was placed on his shoulders and he tended to force the action.
He’s the second ACC player I have going to Golden State (Chris Singleton). Again, the Warriors have to be looking for D and Shumpert can deliver some. He’ll be coming off the bench, capable of backing up both Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry.
MALCOLM DELANEY (UNDRAFTED)
The problem is simple, he’s only effective as a scoring shooting guard. But he’s too small and too skinny to be an effective SG at the next level. I suspect teams will try him out as a free agent, where he could find some success on a team like Cleveland or maybe Milwaukee. Both could use a scoring SG off the bench.
JOE TRAPANI (UNDRAFTED)
He’s not a great shooter. He doesn’t like getting dirty inside. He tends to take plays off. Those are not the kind of qualities you want from an undersized power forward.
DEMONTEZ STITT (UNDRAFTED)
He’s been a decent defender, but he’s a bit streaky on the offensive end. He also lacks the size and quickness to keep up with NBA guards.
*** UPDATE ***
Over at ESPN, Chad Ford has his first post-lottery mock draft and let’s just say he’s not giving a lot of love for a couple of Duke players. He has neither Kyle Singler nor Nolan Smith getting drafted in the first-round.