Oh, there's plenty of intrigue and excitement entering Thursday night's draft. There's going to be a ton of trades, maybe even one involving Dwight Howard. But just in case nobody makes a move, here's how I see the first round playing out...
Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky
|Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas|
In the end I think the Bobcats trade this pick (possibly to Cleveland for the 4th and 24th picks of the draft). They have too many holes to fill, and after Davis there are about four guys who are at the same level. If they stay put, Robinson is the guy. He’s not a future star, but he should be a solid player and form a nice young frontcourt pairing with Bismack Biyombo.
|Bradley Beal, SG, Florida|
The Wizards are in a good place. They need a shooting guard to play with John Wall, and there will be at least two good ones on the board when they pick. Beal is a bit like a young Ray Allen, in that he can catch and shoot, but he’s also an excellent athlete who can hold his own defensively.
|Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SG/SF, Kentucky|
He’d join high school teammate Kyrie Irving to form one of the best young backcourts in the NBA. Kidd-Gilchrist isn’t a great offensive player, but he’s an intense competitor who can shut scorers down.
|Harrison Barnes, SG/SF, North Carolina|
Barnes was thought to be a future No. 1 overall pick, but after two good, but not great seasons, at North Carolina, his stock has slipped. He sometimes struggles to create offense against top-notch athletes like he’ll see in the NBA. Still, he’s a smooth scorer and can start at small forward for the Kings.
Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State
|Austin Rivers, SG, Duke|
Rivers paired with Seth Curry at Duke last year, and the Warriors probably like the thought of him teaming up with Stephon Curry, Seth’s big brother. He’s a shoot-first combo guard who’s similar to Monta Ellis, who Golden State traded last year.
|Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut|
After Davis, Drummond is the highest upside player left in the draft. If the Raptors can get him motivated, the 7-footer is athletic enough to dominate on defense. If they don’t, he’ll be a big-time draft bust. Either way, the potential is too good to pass up this late in the lottery.
|Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi State|
The Pistons have been looking for an athletic power forward to pair with center Greg Monroe. Moultrie would like going to Detroit, where he wouldn’t have to play center like some teams want him to do.
|Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina|
Zeller and Anthony Davis would be a fine young pair in the post for New Orleans. Davis is the athletic shot-blocker, and Zeller would give them a skilled 7-footer who can knock down jump shots on offense and draw charges on defense.
|Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse|
The Blazers add another weapon to the backcourt in Waiters, an aggressive, attacking scorer who’s underrated as a passer. He and Lillard would play off star big man LaMarcus Aldridge nicely.
|Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois|
He’s the biggest player in this year’s draft, which is what the Bucks need after trading Andrew Bogut last season. Meyers has the size to bang in the low post, and he’s shown signs of a nice developing shooting touch.
|Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut|
With Steve Nash all but gone, the Suns are about to enter a major rebuilding mode. Right now they just need good players, no matter what the position. And at this point, Lamb would be by far the best player available. He was a little disappointing last season, but he’s a big-time shooter who was clutch in UConn’s 2011 title run and has the long arms and athleticism to be a very good defender.
|Terrence Ross, SG, Washington|
The Rockets are trying to trade all three of their picks, possibly to get Dwight Howard. If they don't deal them, Ross would make perfect sense. They just traded Chase Budinger to Minnesota, and the sharp-shooting Ross is a very similar player.
|John Henson, PF, North Carolina|
Henson would bring some youth and athleticism to the Sixers' frontcourt. If he can stay healthy, he has a chance to be a key rotation player for the defensive-minded Sixers.
|Fab Melo, C, Syracuse|
If Houston keeps this pick, they might as well go for a high-risk, high-reward player like Melo. He's an athletic 7-footer who's very raw. The Rockets might keep him in the D-League for a year so he can learn the defensive rotations and overall principles he didn't learn playing in Syracuse's 2-3 zone.
|Terrence Jones, PF, Kentucky|
The Mavs should still be in best player available mode, even if they are unsettled at point guard (they'll make a push for Deron Williams in free agency). Jones is the kind of versatile, skilled forward who Rick Carlisle could mold into a solid player.
|Evan Fournier, SF, France|
Just like I said above, the Rockets are trying to get rid of all three of their first-rounders. If they can't, look for them to take Fournier. He's a long, athletic small forward with very good potential, and they could leave him in Europe to develop for another season or two.
|Moe Harkless, SF, St. John's|
Harkless would add some size and skill on the wing for Orlando. Not many people saw him during his one season at St. John's, but he could end up being one of the real sleepers in this draft.
|Draymond Green, PF, Michigan State|
Green doesn’t have the athleticism to be an All-Star, but he’s a smart, versatile contributor who should be a very good role player. The Nuggets rely heavily on statistics in their scouting, so they should love Green.
|Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State|
Sullinger's draft stock is really slipping because of a medical report on his bad back. There are rumors that back problems could shorten his NBA career. But the Celtics are about to see their championship window close, and Sullinger would be an immediate help, making him worth the risk.
|Will Barton, SG/SF, Memphis|
The Celtics are likely to lose Ray Allen in free agency, and they'll have to add some depth to the back court. Barton, a big, athletic shooting guard, would be a nice player to bring off the bench.
|Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina|
A pass-first point guard, Marshall would back up Jeff Teague, or share the backcourt with Teague.
|Perry Jones, PF/SF, Baylor|
Jones is one of the big-upside but big-risk players in this draft. The Cavs would love to put him alongside Kyrie Irving and see what the athletic big man can do.
|Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky|
Memphis really needs a back-up to point guard Mike Conley, who carried a heavy load last season. Teague (the younger brother of Hawks point guard Jeff Teague) would step right into that role next season.
|Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure|
A skilled big man who can score inside and out, Nicholson could do some serious damage as a second unit player in the NBA.
|Royce White, PF, Iowa State|
White's a rare player, with the size of a power forward but the skills and basketball IQ of a point guard (and, unfortunately, the free throw shooting of Shaq!). He could develop into a nice player if he learns some lessons from LeBron James.
|Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt|
The Thunder have to start planning for the possibility that they can't re-sign Serge Ibaka after next season. Ezeli is raw on the offensive end, but he could help replace Ibaka's shot-blocking down the line.
|Jared Cunningham, PG/SG, Oregon State|
The Bulls clearly need a replacement for C.J. Watson after the veterans disastrous postseason performance. Cunningham is a superb athlete and could become the kind of defensive presence the Bulls love.
|Miles Plumlee, C, Duke|
The Warriors could use some frontcourt depth, and Plumlee is the kind of athletic big man who could anchor their second unit defense.