Built like a cannonball, Smart is the best point guard prospect in this draft. He had his fair share of issues at Oklahoma State, including a suspension for shoving a fan, but seemed to settle down at the end of the year. Although he measured a bit shorter than expected, he also has a 6-foot-9 1/4 wingspan and has always been able to finish at the rim. Smart could have left Oklahoma State after his freshman year and been in the running for the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft. That talent still exists, albeit in a deeper draft. Point guards are always a hot commodity in the NBA.
Ben Bolch: Big question is whether point guard will be backup to Rajon Rondo or replacement.
No. 7 -- Lakers -- Julius Randle, 6-7 3/4, 249, Kentucky, power forward
Randle is one of those college players who put up big numbers in school, but it’s hard to see how their games will translate into the NBA. Randle was a double-double machine at Kentucky, averaging 15 points and 10.4 rebounds, but his game had more to do with his size and ability to plow through defenders than footwork or fundamentals. He has a decent shot, but just average size for an NBA power forward and won’t be able to get to the rim by purely lowering his shoulder. He was a very, very good player at Kentucky, but we’ll see if he can make adjustments for the pro game.
Ben Bolch: Lakers hope power forward emulates Zach Randolph except his 2.8 ppg. as rookie.
No. 8 -- Sacramento Kings -- Nik Stauskas, 6-5 1/4, 206, Michigan, shooting guard
Anyone who watched college basketball last season knows that Stauskas is one of the best shooters in the country. That was apparent from his first day in Ann Arbor. But Stauskas also has the ability to put the ball on the floor. He was the Big Ten player of the year by scoring almost 18 points a game, and evolved from a shooter to a threat to drive as the season went on. He’s a big shooting guard who can also jump, and might be one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft.
Ben Bolch: Kings picked sharpshooter after considering input from five analytic-minded fans.
No. 9 -- Charlotte Hornets -- Noah Vonleh, 6-8, 247, Indiana, power forward
Vonleh’s hands are the second-largest ever measured at the NBA combine, an otherworldly 9.75 inches long by 11.75 inches wide. Why is this important? Well, Vonleh is the best rebounder in this draft class. He pulled down nine rebounds in only 26 minutes a game, which led the Big Ten. He also doesn’t turn 19 until August, shot 49% from three-point range, and has a 7-4 wingspan. He’s not as developed as some other top prospects, but the sky is the limit for how good he could be.
Ben Bolch: Hornets didn’t even work him out because they didn’t think he would fall this far.
No. 10 -- Orlando Magic -- Elfrid Payton, 6-2 1/2, 185, Louisiana Lafayette, point guard
Payton is going to be drafted based on potential alone. He averaged almost 20 points and six assists, but that was against Sun Belt competition. It also doesn’t help that Payton averaged almost four turnovers and shot 26% from three-point range last season. Still, he’s a tall point guard who is explosive off the dribble and is a good defender. The team that drafts Payton is banking on the idea that they can help him develop a shot, otherwise Payton has a strong chance of becoming the next Devin Harris.
Traded to Orlando Magic for No. 12 pick Dario Saric.
Ben Bolch: Under-the-radar pick will be expected to quickly produce in prime time.
No. 11 -- Denver Nuggets -- Doug McDermott, 6-6 1/4, 218, Creighton, small forward
McDermott is another player who is going to have to make adjustments in the professional game. The senior can flat-out score, as his 26.7 points and 7.0 rebounds were the only reason Creighton was ranked last season. His ideal position in the NBA is small forward, but he’s not quick enough to guard the position defensively. At the same time, he’s probably too small to be a consistent power forward. His future might be as more of a stretch-4 — someone who can score in bunches on a team that can hide his defensive shortcomings. On the right team, McDermott could be a very solid NBA player.
Traded to Chicago Bulls for No. 16 and No. 19 picks.
Ben Bolch: Prolific scorer was a mile-high mirage for Nuggets fans before trade to Chicago.
No. 12 -- Orlando Magic -- Dario Saric, 6-10, 223, Croatia, power forward