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Scott Howard-Cooper

Mock Draft: Big men making presence felt now

Posted May 27 2011 1:19PM

Not a lot of major movement from when we went Mock I, which is about right. There have been two mass workouts since that Lottery night and most top prospects hid rather than risk their standing, so it doesn't make any sense to change many pieces at the top of the board other than where information has been gathered on the thinking of specific clubs. And even those insights are thin because the individual team-by-team auditions have barely started.

The biggest adjustment is the addition of centers near the end of the first round, with the reminder of how teams are always desperate for size. It doesn't matter that this is a Draft especially thin at center. That just makes teams more desperate, so talent that would ordinarily rank somewhere in the 30s or maybe even the 40s moves up into the 20s and guaranteed first-round pick money.

Among the other noteworthy developments: Georgia swingman Travis Leslie and Florida State swingman Chris Singleton are moving up. Leslie is such a freak athlete that teams want to fall in love with him, and improved shooting in early workouts gives executives new belief he will be worth the investment of a first-round pick. Singleton is the kind of versatile difference maker on defense the draft is sorely lacking.

1 Cleveland Cavaliers | Kyrie Irving | PG | Duke

Not in good physical shape after playing only 11 games in one-and-done college career, but mentally locked in: He wants the challenge of filling the void of life after LeBron.

2 Minnesota Timberwolves | Derrick Williams | SF-PF | Arizona

Calling himself the most NBA-ready of all prospects and openly saying one of the goals is to win Rookie of the Year.

3 Utah Jazz | Enes Kanter | C-PF | Turkey

Pros liked what they saw and heard from Kanter at the Chicago pre-Draft combine, an especially important showcase for Kanter after being ruled ineligible all last season at Kentucky.

4 Cleveland Cavaliers | Jan Vesely | SF-PF | Czech Republic

Aggressive, athletic player can play both forward spots with durability and he weighs in at 230 pounds, which offsets a lack of strength teams like from a power forward.

5 Toronto Raptors | Brandon Knight | PG | Kentucky

Needs to prove he can develop the playmaking skills to go with a shooter's mentality, but there is a lot to like with the package of speed and clutch plays.

6 Washington Wizards | Jonas Valanciunas | C | Lithuania

Some teams feel Valanciunas, though not ready to make an immediate impact, could turn out to be the best of the international prospects.

7 Sacramento Kings | Kemba Walker | PG | Connecticut

Sacramento can desperately use his leadership, even with the concern that the Kings don't need someone else to hold the ball in a backcourt that already includes Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton, who is expected to be re-signed.

8 Detroit Pistons | Bismack Biyombo | PF | Congo

The mystery man of the Draft amid an ongoing age debate -- listed at 18, but possibly several years older -- could become a major defensive presence inside.

9 Charlotte Bobcats | Alec Burks | SG | Colorado

The top true shooting guard available can handle the ball and excels in the open court, but needs to develop a consistent perimeter game.

10 Milwaukee Bucks | Donatas Motiejunas | PF | Lithuania

A very intriguing combination of size, athleticism and skill who can score from all over the floor despite needing to add bulk.

11 Golden State Warriors | Jordan Hamilton | SF | Texas

Dorell Wright is coming off a good season at small forward, but Warriors are sorely lacking depth and Hamilton shows signs of being a big-time scorer on the wing.

12 Utah Jazz | Jimmer Fredette | PG-SG | BYU

The move of a team that needs outside shooting, not the move of a team just looking to take a local star in a marketing move (but it wouldn't exactly hurt marketing either.)

13 Phoenix Suns | Kawhi Leonard | SF | San Diego St.

Some execs think the high-energy player who rebounds and slashes to the basket will go in the top 10. Some think he deserves the second half of first round.

14 Houston Rockets | Tristan Thompson | PF | Texas

Houston needs bigs and the blue-collar Canadian who played collegiately 175 miles away makes energy and rebounding a priority.

15 Indiana Pacers | Klay Thompson | SG | Washington St.

One of the best perimeter threats available has worked to show he can put the ball on the floor and be more than a spot-up shooter.

16 Philadelphia 76ers | Marcus Morris | PF | Kansas

He has the versatile offensive game to score from different parts of the floor and potentially the versatility to play both forward spots.

17 New York Knicks | Chris Singleton | SF-PF | Florida St.

He's arguably the top defender in the Draft and would go to a team that can obviously use the defensive help. He's experienced, too, after three seasons at a prominent program.

18 Washington Wizards | Markieff Morris | PF | Kansas

Physical presence, and willingness to use it, could push him into the top 14, possibly to be joined by twin Marcus and land both Morrises in the Lottery.

19 Charlotte Bobcats | Trey Thompkins | PF | Georgia

Has drawn comparisons as a poor-man's Kevin Love as a power forward -- he has smarts and a perimeter game while lacking elite athleticism.

20 Minnesota Timberwolves | Tyler Honeycutt | SF | UCLA

Smooth player who does a lot of things well without being great in any one area could become a nice complementary piece and the latest UCLA product to become an important pro after an understated college career.

21 Portland Trail Blazers | Jordan Williams | C-PF | Maryland

Big man with an interior presence improved his offensive game -- and his Draft stock -- last season as a junior.

22 Denver Nuggets | Kenneth Faried | PF | Morehead St.

Relentless rebounder and defender who put up big numbers against good competition will be an NBA success or crash through walls trying.

23 Houston Rockets | Darius Morris | PG | Michigan

One of the few true, playmaking point guards in the draft, Morris has the size and instincts teams like.

24 Oklahoma City Thunder | Kyle Singler | SF | Duke

One of the best options available for a team that needs 3-point shooting. He's an offensive threat that will draw defenses away from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

25 Boston Celtics | Jeremy Tyler | C | Tokyo Apache

Once considered a major prospect coming out of high school in San Diego, he is trying to reclaim that level of respect after disappointments as a pro in Israel and Japan.

26 Dallas Mavericks | Travis Leslie | SF-SG | Georgia

Mega-athlete has used consistent shooting in workouts, a concern during the season, to boost his chances of sticking in the first round.

27 New Jersey Nets | Marshon Brooks | SG | Providence

An unorthodox scorer who often gets wild shots to drop, he increased his average all four seasons and finished second in the nation as a senior at 24.6 points a game.

28 Chicago Bulls | Lucas Nogueira | C | Brazil

Obvious physical tools and potential on defense is offset by a limited offensive game, but two picks at the end of the first round gives Chicago the opportunity to keep him overseas and be patient.

29 San Antonio Spurs | JaJuan Johnson | PF | Purdue

Fluid big man who will do better in an open-court system rather than one that will require him to consistently bang inside.

30 Chicago Bulls | Josh Selby | SG-PG | Kansas

Has the tools to be a serious offensive threat, but could be held back in the pros as a player without a position. He's too small for shooting guard and lacking the ability to be a full-time point guard.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

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