By: Nick Bartlett
#21 (Boston Celtics): Meyers Leonard
I doubt Leonard would slip this far, but if he did, he'd be a wonderful fit with the Celtics. They are a team in desperate need of a true Center (many teams are) with KG having to suffice playing out of position in the playoffs this past year. Although Garnett played quite well, there are speculations that he could be retiring. Regardless, Leonard could provide much needed size in the paint with the Celtics.
By no means will Leonard be a dominating force, but at 7'1" he will provide a team with a solid presence down low and certainly a good protector of the lane on defense. He's more athletic and coordinated than some give him credit for and shoots a decent percentage at the free throw line (73%). I can see him contributing right away as a Tiago Splitter type of player with slightly more finesse but less intangibles. A great plus, however, is that he's just 20 years old. I see him contributing early and establishing himself as a very formidable Center throughout his career.
#22 (Boston Celtics): John Henson
Henson slipping into the 20s could be a long shot just like Leonard. But if he does make it this far, I can see the Celtics snagging him. Again, they need size. They also need a 2 guard with Ray Allen most likely leaving, but I'm not sure they would be able to pass on the raw talent that Henson possesses. His ridiculous wingspan and athleticism alone will be huge assets to whomever gets him. I don't see him providing a ton of offensive help right away, but he clearly is a very capable defender and rebounder at the professional level. Hopefully he can add some muscle to his extremely lanky frame as well. No big man will look forward to having to face him and his shot blocking ability.
It'll be interesting to see what the Celtics do with these back to back picks at 21 and 22. I wouldn't be surprised if one or both of them were traded. If they keep the picks, I would imagine one would be used on a big man and a one on a 2 guard unless these two prospects are still on the board. Look for the Celtics to be active, though. Danny Ainge knows he has to do something fairly drastic to remain a legitimate contender in the East.
#23 (Atlanta Hawks): Moe Harkless
The Hawks are a very solid team. They have decent depth at every position, but still don't have anyone that can take the game over. With their pick at #23, they can't expect to find a game changer. However, they can add another piece to the puzzle. Moe Harkless is a very talented 19 year old out of St. John's University who stands 6'9" with a great motor. He is still very raw so you can expect him to take a few years to develop. He's a great rebounder and defender and can play the 2-4 positions. I see him a lot like Marvin Williams actually, but at just 19 years old, he has a lot of potential.
Atlanta is looking to move out of the "solid team" description to an elite contender in the East. This could be the year they do it. With Danny Ferry moving in as the new GM, big changes could be under way. Whether they keep this pick or not is still up in the air. Harkless can be a great role player, but he won't lead them to the promise land quite yet. Wherever he lands will certainly receive plenty of potential. Whether he taps into that potential is yet to be determined.
#24 (Cleveland Cavaliers): Royce White
In my mind, Royce White is the biggest X-Factor in the entire draft. He clearly has the skill to be a lottery pick and his body is possibly the most NBA-ready of anyone (Okay, Thomas Robinson, too). So how could he could slip this far down? Well, Royce has had a difficult past in Minnesota and has had documented psychological
issues. It seems
like he was able to address these issues pretty dang well last year,
though, at Iowa State as he led his team in virtually every statistical
category. These questions still remain as well as the question of what
position he'll play. In Royce's case, I think the position question is a
very good thing. It shows how truly versatile he is. He can play
anywhere from a 1-4. He clearly can't be a true point guard, but he's
skilled enough to play "point forward."
The Cavs still obviously need some help to get back into serious contention in the East. Kyrie is a wonderful building block and they have a few more pieces as well. Royce White would provide this team with a fantastic skill set and immediate NBA-ready help. As I say this, he still is a big risk; there's no escaping it. But, with that great risk could potentially bring great reward. Keep an eye on Royce White wherever he goes. He's got one of the most NBA-ready bodies of any 21 year olds you'll see.
#25 (Memphis Grizzlies): Tony Wroten Jr.
I like to think of the Grizzlies as the Western Conference Atlanta Hawks. A very solid team, but not quite to the elite level. They have a lot of solid players: Mike Conley, Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol. But, as we saw in the 1st round of the playoffs, they don't have enough fire-power to advance. At #25, they are in the same predicament as the Hawks as well. It's unlikely they draft an immediate game-changer but they can add a solid piece to their puzzle.
Anyways, Tony Wroten Jr. could be a great fit. He's young, raw, athletic, and has the versatility to play either of the guard positions. I realize this is a bit (maybe more) of a stretch, but he reminds me of Tyreke Evans. He's 6'6", can play point guard, is explosive, but doesn't have much of a consistent jumper. By no means do I think he'll end up being a Rookie of the Year or have the impact of Evans, but I think he could definitely increase the depth in the backcourt in Memphis with his athleticism and versatility. The Grizz could be looking to shake things up so we'll see what they do with this pick. I've heard grumblings of them trying to pair the Gasol brothers together by bringing Pau back to Memphis. We'll see if this pick has something to do with that or any other type of trade.
Side note: I think it's crazy that there haven't been any legitimate international prospects up to this point. Typically there are a few in the lottery and many teams take risks in the 20s by snagging some foreign players. Not entirely sure what's going on this year, but it seems like all the legitimate 1st round prospects went to college in the United States. We'll see how it all plays out on Thursday!