Here are the full rankings of the Western Conference, from 15 through to 1. How we believe the playoffs will pan out will be discussed on the Point Forward Podcast at a later date.
You can find the Eastern Conference Rankings here and an overview of the process here.
15th New Orleans Pelicans – GM Jack
Point Guard: Jose Calderon, Pick 160
Shooting Guard: Evan Turner, Pick 141
Small Forward: Gordon Hayward, Pick 21
Power Forward: Terrence Jones, Pick 81
Center: Hassan Whiteside, Pick 40
6: Trevor Booker, Pick 201
7: Devin Harris, Pick 220
8: Tayshaun Prince, Pick 261
9: Nik Stauskas, Pick 280
10: Chuck Hayes, Pick 321
Coach: Brad Stevens, Pick 100
I built this team around perennially underrated player Gordon Hayward. He’s in a tough situation in Utah where things look good but not good enough to be a serious contender, and they’re often unlucky enough to miss out on the playoffs as well, in a tough Western Conference. I started the draft by adding a 4 and a 5 to play in front of Hayward and do the dirty work down low, Terrence Jones and Hassan Whiteside will fill that role nicely, and there’s strong parallels to what Hayward currently has in Favours and Gobert. Hayward’s struggles in Utah however have come with sub-par guard play from inexperienced players, and I hope to counter this with Calderon, a smart, experienced guard who can still knock down shots and handle the ball proficiently, and Evan Turner, a certified scorer who can take a lot of the load on the offensive end. On the bench I’ve added Booker and Harris as 6th and 7th men to provide relief, as well as Tayshaun Prince who can play both forward spots for this team. Hayward will also benefit from coaching by Brad Stevens, who’s squeezing every drop of juice he can out of the Celtics roster he currently has to work with, and will do the same with this squad.
Best Pick: Evan Turner, Round 5
What Hayward has been in need of for a long time is a guard who can take some of the scoring pressure, allowing hayward to work for more quality looks. Evan Turner is a handy pick up in the 5th round who’ll be able to do just that, and the two of them will be a strong wing partnership. Worst Pick: Jose Calderon, Round 6 While Calderon is a solid player who can manage a team from the point and hold his own, he’s old, and it’s unknown how much more he has in the tank, if any. I might have been better served by finding myself a younger guard who has experience running an offense. Patty Mills comes to mind as a player who could have played the Calderon role much more effectively.
Elliott Rank: 14th
Adam Rank: 14th
Jack Rank: 14th
All of us had a team worse than these Pelicans, but on the spread, they come out as the worst team in the West.
14th Dallas Mavericks – GM Jack
Point Guard: Rajon Rondo, Pick 46
Shooting Guard: Andre Roberson, Pick 165
Small Forward: Trevor Ariza, Pick 75
Power Forward: Paul Millsap, Pick 15
Center: Joakim Noah, Pick 136
6: Nikola Mirotic, Pick 186
7: Gary Harris, Pick 225
8: Alonzo Gee, Pick 256
9: Raymond Felton, Pick 285
10: Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Pick 316
Coach: Doc Rivers, Pick 106
This team is going to be one of the most physical in the league. From Rondo to Noah, the starting line-up is physical and tough on defense, and this is exactly the sort of team with which Doc Rivers has proven success. As well as tough defense, the front-court can provide a lot on the offensive end, with Noah, Millsap and Ariza all being proficient, Noah at creating baskets and Millsap and Ariza at scoring and shooting. In addition to the starters, Mirotic, Harris and Gee are all good scorers, so this team isn’t going to solely rely on defense to win games and struggle on the offensive end. It might take some creative thinking to work out the finer points of this offense, however, as it’s full of unconventional players and the starting guards aren’t great shooters. I imagine a post heavy offense that makes use of Noah’s and Millsap’s skills down low, with Noah and Rondo running the offense in the unique ways they are known to do so; Noah from the elbow, and Rondo whilst steaming towards the rim, drawing countless help defenders. This will all change when the scorers come off the bench, as Mirotic and Harris are much better shooters and will be able to fit into more conventional roles where they find space on the perimeter and take it from there. This team is going to need a good offensive co-ordinator, that’s for sure.
Best Pick: Gary Harris, Round 8
Adding a 38% 3 point shooter as the 7th man on your roster is always a good move, and I found that player in Harris, who’s finding the shot he advertised at Michigan State in his sophomore season. Harris adds some much needed depth, and shooting depth, to a back court that needs a scorer. Roberson and Rondo both are bad shooters, and having Harris be able to come off the bench and mix things up will add so much to the offensive capabilities of this team.
Worst Pick: Doc Rivers, Round 4
At the time, I thought I’d bring in Rivers because of his success with Rondo, and I pictured the tough sort of team that Rivers has shown he’s capable of working with. What I didn’t see coming was a team that was full of so much grit and grind that the last thing they would need is the sort of emotional coaching Rivers provides. In retrospect, I should have added a coach who could deal with the challenging offense I discussed earlier. A smart offensive mind who can get the tough players on this roster to be a productive offense. Ah well, I guess this team will become the Grizzlies of the new NBA.
Elliott Rank: 15th
Adam Rank: 12th
Jack Rank: 13th
I have major concerns over how this team will score. 14th seems fair.
13th Los Angeles Lakers – GM Jack
Point Guard: Reggie Jackson, Pick 20
Shooting Guard: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Pick 80
Small Forward: Marcus Morris, Pick 140
Power Forward: Pau Gasol, Pick 41
Center: Nikola Jokic, Pick 161
6: Mario Chalmers, Pick 200
7: Cory Joseph, Pick 221
8: Jerami Grant, Pick 260
9: Ben McLemore, Pick 281
10: Nate Robinson, Pick 320
Coach: Steve Kerr, Pick 101
This team has a lot of talented shooters in the backcourt, Jackson, Caldwell-Pope, Chalmers, Joseph, and even Morris have been knocking down 3s at a good click this season. This is the sort of talented shooting backcourt that Steve Kerr can absolutely go to town with, and it could lead to plenty of success. Add to that Pau Gasol, a better scorer from the block than any player Kerr has had to date and a tough, underrated center in Nikola Jokic, and this roster has the vibe of what could be a very successful team. Reggie Jackson and Pau Gasol will be a great pick and roll combination, and Jokic isn’t a bad substitute to roll to the rack and finish. While this may be the starting lineup, I imagine that most of the game will consist of Jokic and Gasol sharing time at the 5 spot, as the team goes with a 4-out offense with Caldwell-Pope at the 3 and Morris at the 4. This team might struggle on the defensive end, but Jokic will be able to provide good rim protection and Caldwell-Pope will be able to lock down the opposition’s best perimeter threat.
Best Pick: Cory Joseph, Round 8
This team has a lot of sneaky good shooters, and Joseph is one of them. He’s not having a great season in Toronto this year, only shooting 26.3% from 3, but he’s got the talent to shoot at a 36.4% click like he did last year in San Antonio. This is no doubt the work of Gregg Popovich, but here in Los Angeles he’ll be under the tutelage of Steve Kerr, who has worked under Pop himself and also coaches the best 3 point shooting team in the league. For that reason I think spending an 8th round pick on him is definitely worth it, as pace-and-space is going to be king on this roster.
Worst Pick: Jerami Grant, Round 9
I spent a late round pick on Grant with the hopes that the young talent could be a good fill-in off the bench, but in hindsight I think a big man who could provide relief to Jokic or Gasol might have been a pick better spent.
Elliott Rank: 12th
Adam Rank: 15th
Jack Rank: 7th
With only Gasol and Jokic as recognised frontcourt players on the roster, this team will get pounded in a long regular season. Would have been a danger team if they had made the playoffs.
12th Memphis Grizzlies – GM Elliott
Point Guard: Dennis Schröder, Pick 113
Shooting Guard: CJ McCollum, Pick 53
Small Forward: Otto Porter Jr., Pick 128
Power Forward: Blake Griffin, Pick 8
Center: Zaza Pachulia, Pick 68
6: Shaun Livingston, Pick 173
7: Nene, Pick 233
8: Quincy Pondexter, Pick 248
9: Joel Embiid, Pick 293
10: Jason Terry, Pick 308
Coach: Quin Snyder, Pick 188
Under Quin Snyder, I expect a heavy Pick and Roll offense, utilising Dennis Schröder and CJ McCollum’s ball handling and Blake Griffin’s ability to roll to the rim or step back for the mid-range jumper. Expect this team to run a lot of offense from the elbow, with Blake Griffin averaging the second most elbow touches per game in the league (10 touches, 11.1% of his total touches) and Zaza Pachulia coming in at sixth (7.3 touches, 15.3%). Snyder’s current Jazz team also plays with two traditional big men, and his playbook runs plenty of offense through the elbow, with Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors 3rd and 8th in the league in elbow touches. Griffin and Pachulia are much better passers than Gobert and Favors and will allow half court sets to be run through the big men, in a similar manner to the real life Atlanta Hawks. This team has a lot of interesting pieces, and Quin Snyder – one of the most innovative coaches in the league – should be able to craft a funky offense, whilst maintaining a stable defence. Snyder generally plays at a slow pace, but I have given him the options to change the pace and play style, with plenty of lineup versatility. For example, he may choose to put some combination of Schröder/McCollum/Terry/Livingston/Porter Jr./Pondexter on the floor with Blake Griffin at the five, and play an uptempo offense. Conversely, he may choose to put a lineup of Livingston, McCollum, Poter Jr., Nene, Pachulia on the floor and slow down the pace completely – he has plenty of options. I think that this team’s biggest weakness will be on the defensive end, with only Shaun Livingston and Zaza Pachulia being renowned defenders. Despite this, no player on this roster – save for Jason Terry – is a complete sieve on the defensive end, and I think that this team will at least be able to compete defensively, especially under Quin Snyder, a superb defensive coach.
Best Pick: Shaun Livingston, Round 6
Livingston is great value in the sixth round, and is the perfect man to come off the bench as my third guard. He would fit seamlessly with either Schröder or McCollum, offering size and length to cover them defensively. He’s proven to be effective both on and off the ball for Golden State, offering a party mix of ball handling, cutting and smart passing, and I expect him to bring as much to this Grizzlies team.
Worst Pick: Zaza Pachulia, Round 3
Whilst Zaza is a good player, pick 68 seems really high for a guy that offers a similar skillset to Tiago Splitter, who went at pick 186. With Marcin Gortat, Nerlens Noel, Andrew Bogut, Jonas Valanciunas, Robin Lopez and Joakim Noah still on the board, it was a reach to go with Pachulia. Overall though, I still believe that he will contribute positively to the team on both ends of the floor and I like his fit next to Blake Griffin, so the news is not all bad.
Elliott Rank: 11th
Adam Rank: 11th
Jack Rank: 12th
Another team that could’ve been dangerous if they made the playoffs. A lot of interesting pieces, but couldn’t quite make the playoffs.
11th Denver Nuggets – GM Adam
Point Guard: Derrick Rose
Shooting Guard: Klay Thompson
Small Forward: Chandler Parsons
Power Forward: Zach Randolph
Centre: Derrick Favors
6. Aaron Gordon
7. Michael-Carter Williams
8. Kevin Martin
9. KJ McDaniels
10. Mitch McGary
Coach: Fred Hoiberg
With Fred Hoiberg as coach, the Denver Nuggets shall be employing an offence that revolves around a lot of driving to the hoop and kicking to open shooters. With Derrick Rose and Michael-Carter Williams running the point, this will be exemplified as they have 9.3 and 7.9 drives a game respectively. In Klay Thompson, Chandler Parsons and Kevin Martin there is plenty of reliable shooting and in Zach Randolph and his left hand, the Nuggets have a man who can get buckets in that low post area. On defence, the team is built around strong rim protection from Derrick Favors and the lock down defence of Klay Thompson. This team also has great length and athleticism in KJ McDaniels, Aaron Gordon and MCW that will help force turnovers and disrupt passing lanes.
Best Pick: Chandler Parsons, Round 4
What a find from the Denver Nuggets. Not only did they find a player capable of knocking down the open jumper (41.4% in catch and shoot 3’s, 39.2% overall), but they also found a player with great versatility and someone who can create their own shot in isolation. Parsons gives the Nuggets the option to go small, as he has the length to slide into the 4 spot and can also contribute in the rebounding and assists. Best of all Parsons has the best pump fake in the league, so Nuggets fans can watch defenders fly by when Parsons’ gets them to bite.
Worse Pick: Aaron Gordon, Round 6
In Aaron Gordon, the Nuggets found an unrefined offensive player who doesn’t shoot well enough to play the three but lacks the size to play the 4. Although Gordon is uber athletic and can bring the crowd to their feet, he just does not fit into this system well, where he would be asked to shoot the three ball a lot. The Nuggets are really hoping that his athleticism can translate into good defence and that he can become at least a positive on the offensive side of the ball.
Elliott Rank: 9th
Adam Rank: 13th
Jack Rank: 3rd
Jack had this team as the third best, yet GM Adam had them as 3rd worst. Go figure. Personally, I have concerns that this team simply doesn’t have that much top-level talent.
10th Sacramento Kings – GM Elliott
Point Guard: Goran Dragic, Pick 38
Shooting Guard: Eric Gordon, Pick 98
Small Forward: Jabari Parker, 158
Power Forward: Serge Ibaka, Pick 23
Center: Jonas Valanciunas, Pick 83
6: Marcus Smart, Pick 143
7: Jahlil Okafor, Pick 203
8: Jeremy Lamb, Pick 218
9: Trey Lyles, Pick 263
10: Shabazz Muhammed, Pick 323
Coach: Steve Clifford, Pick 278
Serge Ibaka is not the 23rd best player in the league. He is also not a number one option on a playoff team. So why take him in the first round? Simple. He has the perfect skillset to build a team around – just ask OKC. This guy is a rim protector, one of the top ten defenders in the league, a pick and roll/pop machine and a three point shooter. Alongside Draymond Green, he has the most versatile skillset in the NBA. To complement his unicorn skillset of rim protection and sniping, I decided to pair him with an offensively minded Center in Jonas Valanciunas. Per 36 minutes, Valanciunas averages 16.8 points and 13 rebounds whilst shooting 53.6% from the field. Add to this a newfound aptitude on the defensive end – his rim protection is improving, his feet actually move and he’s ready the Pick and Roll better – and you have a deadly big man combination. In a Golden State Warriors-less league, he and Ibaka should be able to finish games together. If not, Jabari Parker should be able to slide up to the four and play alongside either. Whilst I was concerned when picking Parker about his inept defence and inability to shoot from deep, I figured in a roster that surrounds him with shooters and defenders, he should be able to shine. With Goran Dragic back to being the number one man and being given a license to run his own team, his numbers should return to the Phoenix days. This team has a lot of interesting skillsets, and the man to bring them all together is Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford. I envision this team playing up tempo basketball and bombing from deep at every turn. Combining Jeremy Lamb with Clifford made sense to me, with Lamb playing the best basketball of his career this season for the Hornets, whilst I think that Trey Lyles and Shabazz Muhammed will excel under this sort of system as well. Jahlil Okafor figures to be a like-for-like replacement when Valanciunas sits and offers some scoring off of the bench. Defensively, Clifford has crafted top five defences before, and with guys like Ibaka and Smart on the team, I can see him transforming this team into an above average team on the less glamorous end of the floor. This is despite a clear lack of wing defence, with none of Gordon, Parker, Lamb or Muhammed even close to being above average defenders.
Best Pick: Jonas Valanciunas, Round 3
As stated above, I got great value for Valanciunas, a threat from the post, elbow or as the roll man in a Pick and Roll. Not only does he offer my team scoring, but he is one of the best rebounders in the games, averaging over 11 rebounds per 36 minutes in each of the last three seasons. Of these rebounds, he is especially good on the offensive boards, averaging the sixth most per game in the league (and playing less minutes than everyone above him). Add to this improved defence and you have a steal at pick 83.
Worst Pick: Jabari Parker, Round 6
This was a mistake. A guy who can’t shoot and can’t defend is toxic in the league today and Parker is exactly that. Granted, he is an efficient scorer and a decent rebounder, but his attitude towards defence is something that Clifford will have to improve immediately. It’d also be nice if he could find the promising jump shot he showed at Duke.
Elliott Rank: 8th
Adam Rank: 9th
Jack Rank: 8th
Interestingly, we all had this team as a fringe playoff team, yet they ended up in 10th. Overall, a solid team, but similarly to the Nuggets, there’s not enough top-end talent.
9th Portland Trail Blazers – GM Jack
Point Guard: Isaiah Thomas, Pick 32
Shooting Guard: Will Barton, Pick 89
Small Forward: Wesley Johnson, Pick 152
Power Forward: Ersan Ilyasova, Pick 149
Center: Andre Drummond, Pick 29
6: Patrick Patterson, Pick 209
7: Gorgui Dieng, Pick 212
8: Brandon Rush, Pick 269
9: Garrett Temple, Pick 272
10: Anthony Bennett, Pick 329
Coach: Stan Van Gundy, Pick 92
When it came to the 29th pick and the Portland Trailblazers were on the board, the number one player on my big board was the big man currently playing center in Detroit, Andre Drummond. So far this year he’s been having a lot of success under Stan Van Gundy, benefiting from a 4-out offense that gives him plenty of space in the post, dozens of rebounds to catch, and plenty of players to co-operate with on the pick and roll. When my second pick came around, the best option to keep up this Pick and roll strategy was easily Isaiah Thomas, the high scoring, creative Point Guard from Boston. These two are going to make a great one-two punch, just like Reggie Jackson with Drummond already this year. I then added Will Barton at the off-guard spot, who will go well as the second ball handler and a spot up shooter, an attribute which has been a big contributor to his improved play this season. I added SVG in the 4th round to implement his stretch four, pick and roll offense – the partnership of him and Drummond has been very effective to-date and it should remain so on the Blazers. Wesley Johnson and Ersan Ilyasova filled out my forward spots. Johnson will provide a lot of solid contributions to both sides of the ball, blending into the offense well, and taking the shots when they come his way without getting in the way or slowing down the offense. He’s the perfect man to be a faithful servant to SVG which is often required at the 3-spot in a 4-out offense. Ersan Ilyasova has long been seen as a promising player as a stretch four, but has struggled to find sustained success; Stan Van Gundy is the perfect coach to bring his talents to the forefront. Patrick Patterson, Brandon Rush, Garrett Temple all fit perfectly into this offense on the perimeter, and Dieng will be an effective backup for Drummond.
Best Pick: Andre Drummond, Round 1
The success of any 4-out offense is almost entirely predicated on the ability of the Center to hold his own on the block without any assistance. There is no better player in the league to take on that responsibility than Drummond, who’s doing that exact job for the Pistons and grabbing 15 rebounds per game and scoring at 17.3 PPG (eFG%: 55.9%). His rim-protection will allow his perimeter defenders to take more liberties and be more aggressive on defense, as we’ve seen on the Pistons, who have a top 10 defensive efficiency rating.
Worst Pick: Gorgui Dieng, Round 8
I needed a backup Center to cover when Drummond has to rest, and I went for the young talent in Dieng over players while possibly overlooking some talent that went later in the draft such as Alex Len or the proven team player Timofey Mosgov. Either way, it won’t impact the success of the team too much, but I’m hoping Dieng’s lackluster rim protection stats are a product of the Timberwolves roster and he can do a better job for me in Portland.
Elliott Rank: 10th
Adam Rank: 3rd
Jack Rank: 10th
Jack and I both saw this as a mediocre team, but Adam must have fallen in love with the SVG stretch Pick and Roll system. 9th seems fair.
8th Minnesota Timberwolves – GM Jack
Point Guard: Tyreke Evans, Pick 69
Shooting Guard: Matthew Dellavedova, Pick 172
Small Forward: Jimmy Butler, Pick 9
Power Forward: Ed Davis, Pick 129
Center: Tim Duncan, Pick 52
6: Matt Barnes, Pick 189
7: Miles Plumlee, Pick 232
8: Kyle Anderson, Pick 249
9: Mike Scott, Pick 292
10: Steve Novak, Pick 309
Coach: David Joerger
This will really be the first time in Tyreke Evans’ Career where he has two experienced and talented players in Jimmy Butler and Tim Duncan, and I see him flourishing the role. His best position has always been point guard, and he’ll have plenty of opportunity to handle the ball. That being said, he won’t have to absorb all the pressure, with Jimmy Butler and Matthew Dellavedova both able to handle the ball effectively. I imagine the go-to scoring options will be primarily the Pick and Roll with Duncan and Davis setting screens. Off the bench Barnes, Plumlee and Scott provide toughness. This team should have little struggle on the defensive end, each of the starters are effective defenders, with Butler and Duncan both boasting defensive-team honours. In addition to the Pick and Roll, Duncan will be able to create offense from the post and Butler has found a way to score 20 PPG in the last two seasons.
Best Pick: Tyreke Evans, Round 3
Evans is going to have a great opportunity here in Minnesota, and has the sort of players around him who he can play with very effectively. Plenty of pick and roll options, outlet passes and other scorers to go to if need be, he’ll be in a good situation.
Worst Pick: Mike Scott, Round 10
Adding another power forward to the mix probably wasn’t the best idea, and I probably should have found myself looking for a guard who could come in to relieve Evans or Dellavedova when the time comes. There probably won’t be much space in the rotation for Scott. He does a lot of the things Matt Barnes can already do in front of him, so he doesn’t bring many unique skills to the table that Joerger can make use of.
Elliott Rank: 13th
Adam Rank: 8th
Jack Rank: 2nd
Jack loves this teams’ defensive identity, but I have major concerns on how this team will score and if they have enough talent to compete.
7th Utah Jazz – GM Elliott
Point Guard: Eric Bledsoe, Pick 30
Shooting Guard: Kyle Korver, Pick 91
Small Forward: Jared Dudley, Pick 90
Power Forward: Marvin Williams, Pick 150
Center: DeAndre Jordan, Pick 31
6: Brandon Jennings, Pick 151
7: Doug McDermott, Pick 210
8: Myles Turner, Pick 270
9: Kris Humphries, Pick 271
10: Jonathan Simmons, Pick 330
Coach: George Karl, Pick 211
With the 30th pick, I obviously wasn’t going to get a superstar, so I decided that I would pick a two man combination that would be able to compete with some of the big names taken at the top of the draft. Luckily for me, DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe were on the board, offering me two way versatility and plenty of athleticism to begin my roster. Immediately with these two on board, I decided to surround them with shooters and some of the best role players the league has to offer. Immediately, with my next two picks I grabbed Kyle Korver and Jared Dudley, who offer shooting, positional flexibility and a bit of playmaking. Add to this mix Marvin Williams and you have a starting lineup with plenty of spacing around a potentially lethal Bledsoe and Jordan Pick and Roll. With the starters sorted, I was concerned about a potential lack of scoring, so I added Brandon Jennings and Doug McDermott, along with George Karl to coach the team. Under Karl, this team will be playing an up tempo, special offense – similar to that of the 2012-13 Denver Nuggets. Myles Turner, Kris Humphries and Jonathan Simmons, all good athletes who will be able to be efficient under Karl, fill out the roster and add depth to an already solid team.
Best Pick: Jared Dudley, Round 3
Picking a guy that can play three positions (sometimes four) is always going to add flexibility, and when they’re one of the best role players in the league, you really can’t go wrong. Slotting him in at the four next to DJ or at the three alongside Humphries or Williams or even at Shooting Guard in huge lineups adds the advantage of being able to match up against any team. Add to this that Dudley is a good facilitator, shooter and a lockdown defender and you have the perfect guy to complement any team.
Worst Pick: Kris Humphries, Round 10
Humphries doesn’t make a lot of sense on this team that is looking to get up and down the floor quickly. If this pick is to work out, I need Humphries to start knocking down those shots he was in the preseason and to go back to his Brooklyn days when it comes to his rebounding. Here’s hoping.
Elliott Rank: 3rd
Adam Rank: 5th
Jack Rank: 15th
Adam and I see this team playing well on both ends of the floor, with good role players everywhere. Jack doesn’t think this team would play well together, and is extremely low on DJ right now.
6th Oklahoma City Thunder – GM Adam
Point Guard: Ish Smith
Shooting Guard: Avery Bradley
Small Forward: Robert Covington
Power Forward: LaMarcus Aldridge
Centre: Dwight Howard
6. Anthony Morrow
7. Ty Lawson
8. Spencer Hawes
9. OJ Mayo
10. Roy Hibbert
Coach: Scott Brooks
The OKC Thunder will run two particular sets on offense; a basic pick and roll and post play. When LaMarcus Aldridge is on the court, OKC will run action off his post play, where loops and picks will be set to get shooters clear and create space for Aldridge to operate. The alternative to this is the pick and roll/pop, with players like Howard and Hibbert rolling to the basket and Hawes, Aldridge and Convington popping for three pointers or mid range shots. In Ty Lawson and Ish Smith, I have the point guards necessary to run this offense effectively. With Aldridge, Howard and Hibbert, this team has very strong rim protection throughout. This allows my guards to be over aggressive and try and force turnovers through steals and deflections. In Avery Bradley, OKC has a lockdown defender and overall rebounding will be very important in order to finish possessions strongly and stopping second chance opportunities.
Best Pick: Ty Lawson, Round 7
Ty Lawson is a fantastic back-up point guard and a perfect fit for this OKC team. He runs the pick and roll well and is very capable catch and shoot shooter (42.6% from three). He is also great facilitator and can get a lot of teammates involved in the offense with his court vision and awareness.
Worse Pick: Roy Hibbert, Round 11
Anyone looking for an immobile centre, who isn’t that polished offensively and defensive rim protection has fallen off quite a bit? Enter Roy Hibbert. The way this man has fallen off a cliff is quite unbelievable if you ask me. Although I could talk about how he hasn’t improved his offensive game at all and that he just doesn’t fit todays NBA, ill leave you with this statistic; when he is on the floor the LA Laker have a net rating of -15.8. The lousy, can’t win a game Lakers. Enough said.
Elliott Rank: 7th
Adam Rank: 7th
Jack Rank: 4th
This team has an interesting identity and is the first team we’ve unanimously concluded is a playoff team. First round exit for mine.
5th San Antonio Spurs – GM Elliott
Point Guard: George Hill, Pick 111
Shooting Guard: Rodney Hood, Pick 130
Small Forward: Paul George, Pick 10
Power Forward: Boris Diaw, Pick 171
Center: Marcin Gortat, Pick 70
6: Al-Farouq Aminu, Pick 190
7: Rodney Stuckey, Pick 231
8: Meyers Leonard, Pick 250
9: Larry Nance Jr., Pick 291
10: RJ Hunter, Pick 310
Coach: Gregg Popovich, Pick 51
Firstly, with pick ten, there was no one better on the board than Paul George, so it was a no brainer to start the Spurs with a guy who has led Indiana to the Eastern Conference Finals multiple times. Along with this, at Pick 51, there was no player available that could influence a team as much as coaching mastermind Gregg Popovich. Next, I wanted to surround Paul George with guys that complimented his skillset and Pop’s coaching. As such, I decided that shooters, defenders and guys with interesting skillsets and untapped potential would be my next targets. After constructing this roster, I fully expect Paul George and George Hill to share ball handling responsibilities in a similar manor to the way they currently operate in Utah. Along with this, having a skilled passer and shooter at the four – who just happens to be a guy Gregg Popovich already coaches on the Spurs – in Boris Diaw will allow me to run a lot of possessions through the post, throwing a different look for the opposition. Defensively, this current Spurs incarnation is one of the best defences of all time, and with good defenders on the perimeter (Hill), wing (George, Aminu) and protecting the rim (Gortat) in the regular rotation, this team should be fine as well. The second unit of this Spurs team is comprised of guys that can not only play together, but fill in for the starters with aplomb in different rotations – or when Pop undoubtedly decides to rest guys. I believe that Aminu will be able to play both alongside Paul George or instead of him, depending on how Pop wants to play and I believe that Pop will be able to use Aminu – and his newfound jump shot on the offensive end, after all, this is the greatest coach of all time. As for the other guys, Rodney Stuckey has proven to play well with both George Hill and Paul George before, and on a Spurs team where he will be able to play within himself, he should excel. Stuckey offers ball handling, passing and an ability to get into the lane and create space for open shooters that could be reminiscent of Tony Parker on this team. As for Meyers Leonard, I am intrigued by his skillset (the first Center to go 50/40/90 – albeit with not enough attempts to make it official) and by what Coach Pop will be able to do with it. RJ Hunter will sub in as somewhat of a Rodney Hood lite, a knockdown shooter and scorer capable of handling the ball, whilst Larry Nance will hopefully provide some hustle and toughness when Gortat is on the bench. Overall, I think this Spurs team will be really efficient offensively and lockdown defensively – and if they make the playoffs, they will be very hard to beat, as there is no better tactician out there than Gregg Popovich.
Best Pick: Gregg Popovich, Round 2
He’s the G.O.A.T. What more can I say?
Worst Pick: George Hill, Round 4
I may have played it a little safe here going with a guy that I know works alongside Paul George, and pick 111 may be high for him, but overall I don’t mind the pick. Considering Dennis Schroder, Ricky Rubio, Jerryd Bayless, Elfrid Payton, Marcus Smart and Brandon Jennings were the Point Guards taken after him, I think that Hill was selected at a reasonable point in the draft. After all, he knocks down 43.5% of his 6.2 attempts from deep per game and is certainly an above average defender at the Point.
Elliott Rank: 6th
Adam Rank: 2nd
Jack Rank: 9th
A hard team to rank, with Pop having new guys after years of continuity. A huge danger come playoff time.
4th Houston Rockets – GM Adam
Point Guard: Jerryd Bayless, Pick 122
Shooting Guard: Wesley Matthews, Pick 59
Small Forward: DeMarre Carroll, Pick 62
Power Forward: LeBron James, Pick 2
Center: Festus Ezeli, Pick 182
6: Enes Kanter, Pick 119
7: Patty Mills, Pick 179
8: Joe Johnson, Pick 239
9: David Lee, Pick 242
10: James Jones, Pick 302
Coach: Mark Jackson, Pick 290
As Mark Jackson as coach, one thing is for certain on my team; there will be no player animosities towards the coach. But on a serious note, under Jackson, I envisage this team to play a style of offence which involves a lot of drive and kicks. With LeBron James as my first pick, I decided this team would be at its best if I allowed him to play the point forward and surrounded him with shooters. With players like Matthews, Carroll and Mills all being reliable shooters, there will be plenty of space in the paint for LeBron to operate. When LeBron is not on the floor, the offence shall run through a combination of Mills, Bayless and Johnson, who are creative enough to create their own shots and shots for others. It will also feature post ups and elbow touches for Enes Kanter and David Lee. On defence, I will be relying on switching through the wings and solid rim protection from Festus Ezeli. However, the real trouble will be turning the second unit into a passable defensive unit, but I believe with Jackson as coach this is doable, as during his tenure as a head coach he turned Golden State from a bottom 5 defence to top 5 defence.
Best Pick: Festus Ezeli, Round 7
With my perimeter defence sorted, this team was desperately looking for some form of rim protection. Enter Festus Ezeli. With an opponent field goal percentage of 44%, in which 45% of his shots are contested, he has marks that are only bettered by one player in the NBA. Along with this, he is a great alley-oop finisher and is athletic enough to run the floor on the fast break.
Worst Pick: Enes Kanter, Round 4
Although Enes Kanter is a gifted offensive player, his play on the other side of the ball leaves much to be desired. With a DPBM of -2.9 and an opponent field goal percentage of 51.1%, Kanter is one of the worse defensive big men in the league and leaves my second unit vulnerable to leaking serious points and puts a lot of pressure on the perimeter defence to force turnovers.
Elliott Rank: 2nd
Adam Rank: 10th
Jack Rank: 5th
This really does depend on how much Power Forward you think LeBron will play under Jackson. Hopefully a lot. GM Adam was not too happy with his performance.
3rd Phoenix Suns – GM Elliott
Point Guard: Kyrie Irving, Pick 22
Shooting Guard: Kent Bazemore, Pick 99
Small Forward: CJ Miles, Pick 142
Power Forward: Tobias Harris, Pick 82
Center: Rudy Gobert, Pick 39
6: Jared Sullinger, Pick 159
7: Timofey Mozgov, Pick 219
8: Jamal Crawford, Pick 262
9: Kirk Hinrich, Pick 279
10: Lance Stephenson, Pick 322
Coach: Tom Thibodeau, Pick 202
With Kyrie Irving selected as my first pick, the first thing I wanted to do was pair him with a defensive expert, and with Kawhi Leonard off the board, it was only natural to take the best rim protector in the league in Rudy Gobert. With Gobert on board, along with Timofey Mozgov, this team will have no shortage of rim protection, and despite Kent Bazemore being the only other defender of note, I have no doubt that Tom Thibodeau will be able to create a top 10 defence with these pieces. With Gobert and Thibodeau crafting a top defence, my attention then came to picking guys to complement Irving offensively. Immediately, I sought out players that were smart, good off the ball and could shoot – or at least some combination of those three things. With CJ Miles shooting 35.4% from deep, Kent Bazemore 39.4% and Tobias Harris having shot 36.4% last year, I felt that I had enough shooting to space the floor nicely for an Irving/Gobert or Irving/Harris Pick and Roll situation. Coming off the bench, I fully expect Crawford Pick and Rolls with either Mozgov or Sullinger, whilst Hinrich will act as a spot up shooter and second facilitator. Picking Lance Stephenson is certainly a risk, but as proven in Indiana, when put in the right situation, he can be a serious player. Hopefully Tom Thibodeau will be able to get the best out of Lance and he can contribute to the team. Scoring should not be a problem for this team, with strong Pick and Roll big men accompanying proven scorers such as Irving, Harris and Crawford and good secondary options such as Bazemore, Miles and Sullinger. A lot of this team’s offense will rely on Kyrie, and I fully expect him to handle the responsibility. After all, he has the best handle in the league, a smooth stroke and is one of the best finishers at the rim in the game.
Best Pick: Kyrie Irving, Round 1
The biggest knock on Irving is the fact that he cannot stay on the court, so in a league where injuries are ‘turned off,’ he is an absolute steal at the end of the first round. With players like Draymond Green, Paul Millsap and Reggie Jackson, who have never been the best player on their team taken ahead of him, along with Kyle Lowry, LaMarcus Aldridge and Gordon Hayward, all of whom are less skilled than Irving makes him highway robbery at 22. Despite his incredible offensive talent (already outlined above), I did have some concerns about building around him with his lack of defensive nous. However, Kyrie has shown some promising defensive instincts – especially in big games – and has actually proven to be a capable contributor on that end of the floor when he tries. The main problem is his lack of effort that occurs all too regularly, with him often taking possessions off. However, after selecting Tom Thibodeau to coach the team, my concerns about Kyrie not trying defensively were alleviated. This pick will be looked upon with great fondness when Irving leads the Phoenix Suns deep into the playoffs.
Worst Pick: Kirk Hinrich, Round 10
I left it too late to pick a replacement for Kyrie, and by the time that it came around to getting one Hinrich was the only NBA calibre player left on the board. Hopefully, with Jamal Crawford handling most of the ball handling off the bench, Hinrich won’t be asked to create too much and can simply act as a spot up shooter and locker room presence.
Elliott Rank: 4th
Adam Rank: 6th
Jack Rank: 6th
The second out of three consensus playoff teams. I had them 4th, the highest out of any of us, but they fell into the third seed due to every other team being seen as lousy by at least one of us.
2nd Golden State Warriors – GM Elliott
Point Guard: Mike Conley, Pick 33
Shooting Guard: Victor Oladipo, Pick 88
Small Forward: Mike Dunleavy Jr., Pick 93
Power Forward: Chris Bosh, Pick 28
Center: Tyson Chandler, Pick 148
6: Brandan Wright, Pick 153
7: JJ Barea, Pick 208
8: Justise Winslow, Pick 213
9: Wayne Ellington, Pick 273
10: Kyle O’Quinn, Pick 328
Coach: David Blatt, Pick 268
David Blatt is one of the smartest coaches and basketball minds in the league, so strategically, this team will be well equipped. The main weakness with Blatt is communicating with his players and harnessing big personalities. Luckily for him, I have picked a team where such players do not exist. Between Conley, Dunleavy, Bosh and Chandler, there is plenty of locker room leadership and experience to fully capitalise on Blatt’s game plan. With Conley, Oladipo and Barea, I have three guys who can handle the ball in the Pick and Roll, whilst Bosh and Chandler are two of the best big men in the league when it comes to the play. Combining Bosh’s lethal arsenal of inside scoring, shooting and post play with Chandler crashing hard to the rim makes for a match made in heaven – and one that could potentially be a better version of Nowitzki-Chandler in Dallas last season. Defensively, this team will be top shelf, with each of the starters being a top shelf defender in their position. Offensively, with the spacing provided by guys like Dunleavy, Bosh, Ellington and Barea combined with the Conley and Oladipo having the ability to knock down shots, this team should be lethal. Add to this Blatt’s strategic nous and this will be one of the hardest teams to beat. Even when the starters sit, JJ Barea is a renowned sparkplug off the bench and none of Ellington, Winslow, O’Quinn or Wright are inept offensively. Overall, this is a balanced team and the only thing that will be able to beat it is a team that simply has more talent, because this is one of the most well rounded teams in the league.
Best Pick: Brandan Wright, Round 6
Wright is the perfect bench big man, a rim protector and a smart passer who can play alongside either Bosh or Chandler, depending on the matchup. With the ability to adjust to any offensive system – as shown by him playing alongside Dirk and Chandler in Dallas and then ZBo and Gasol in Memphis. Overall, at pick 153, I couldn’t have asked for a better player to add to my frontcourt depth.
Worst Pick: Wayne Ellington, Round 8
Ellington is a poor defender, has played for six teams in the last five years, is shooting 32.7% from deep and 38.2% from the field this year. So why pick him? Put simply, when he isn’t on an awful team, he’s a good contributor. The last two seasons have seen him on the Lakers and the Nets, where he has struggled with efficiency when burdened with a heavier offensive load. Bring him back to a role player and hopefully he can find that efficiency and shooting from deep that saw him be such a good contributor earlier in his career. If that isn’t the case, this pick could look really poor.
Elliott Rank: 1st
Adam Rank: 1st
Jack Rank: 11th
Overall, one of the most well-rounded teams, with Adam and I seeing them as the best in the West. Jack isn’t a fan of any starters other than Bosh.
1st Los Angeles Clippers – GM Jack
Point Guard: Steph Curry, Pick 1
Shooting Guard: JJ Redick, Pick 61
Small Forward: Danilo Gallinari, Pick 60
Power Forward: David West, Pick 180
Center: Jusuf Nurkic, Pick 121
6: PJ Hairston, Pick 181
7: Willie Cauley-Stein, Pick 240
8: Aaron Brooks, Pick 241
9: Gary Neal, Pick 300
10: Nemanja Bjelica, Pick 301
Coach: Terry Stotts, Pick 120
I see this team scoring about 115 points per night, and probably letting through about 110. Outside of Jusuf Nurkic who has shown himself to be a good rim protector and pull down 12.9 rebounds/36 this season, and Steph Curry who’s elevated his play on the defensive end to the point where coaches needn’t be worried about him, there isn’t a lot of defensive prowess on this team. They’ll make up for this, however, with unbelievable shooting from all over the floor. From 1 through 4 on the starting line up this team can shoot the rock from deep, and off the bench, Brooks and Neal are both effective shooters. David West will be able to come off the bench and score and Cauley-Stein will be able to contribute on the defensive end. Teams will have no hope of attempting a double team on Steph Curry with Redick, Hairston and Gallinari on the perimeter to space the floor.
Best Pick: Willie Cauley-Stein, Round 8
Cauley-Stein has the freakish athleticism to be one of the best defenders in the NBA, and being able to add him to a roster that will need the help on the defensive end in the 8th round is an absolute steal. Without him, there’s not much promise on the defensive end and trying to protect the rim would be an absolute nightmare. At least now with two 5s who can guard the rack, players can afford to at least chase down shots on the perimeter and hopefully hold their own.
Worst Pick: Jusuf Nurkic, Round 5
While I’m not questioning the fact that I need a defensive anchor at the 5 spot, I could have chosen a better player. Joakim Noah was still on the board and, while he hasn’t been his past self recently, he’s still got the talent that is direly needed on this team. Tyson Chandler or Brandon Wright could also have been good additions with more proven success playing this role. Regardless, I’m high on Nurkic and think his talents will not go astray, so overall I’m not that unsatisfied with this pick.
Elliott Rank: 5th
Adam Rank: 4th
Jack Rank: 1st
The team with the first pick comes out first in the West. Will score 150 a night (maybe). The third of three teams we unanimously had making the post season.
- Articles written by respective GM’s of teams, compilation and annotations completed by Elliott.