Top 5 by position in draft

There is a buzz in pro basketball right now following an incredible Game 6 between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat, but the NBA draft is right around the corner.

Every other team sitting at home, wishing they could be playing in Game 7 on Thursday, is working hard, preparing for the draft. They want to move up the ladder, but this draft doesn't offer as many charmed players. It lacks immediate impact players like former greats Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and David Robinson.

This draft will give the league plenty of productive players, but it will take several years before you see guys performing at the level you expect.

Back when I was coaching the Detroit Pistons in the late '70s, I learned that players with potential do not always pan out. I had three first-round draft picks with the Pistons and we drafted Greg Kelser, Phil Hubbard and Roy Hamilton; three talented college stars from Michigan State, Michigan and UCLA, respectively.

In each case, something happened that curtailed their pro success. Kelser had knee surgery; Hubbard, a good rebounder and physical player, also had injury issues; and Hamilton had a difficult time shooting in the pros. They obviously never lived up to what we expected, and there were reasons for it.

The draft is a steady building process. Look at the Oklahoma City Thunder adding Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and several other parts of the puzzle through the draft. That's just one example of finding talent and getting it to mesh.

It's important to have a mix of veterans to complement the youngsters on your club. These youngsters are not going to take you to the Promised Land right away.

Let me lay on you my top five at each position. I did not include the foreign players because I have not seen enough of them to make adequate evaluations, though I know a few of them will hear their names called in the first round.

Here we go baby … here are my thoughts … I believe a few of these guys will turn out better than some experts project.


Trey Burke, Michigan
Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
Shane Larkin, Miami-Florida
Pierre Jackson, Baylor

This group has talent and several of these players will have as great an instant impact as anyone in this draft.


Victor Oladipo, Indiana
Ben McLemore, Kansas
Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State

Bullock should be on the rise; there is no substitute for shooting the rock, baby!


Otto Porter Jr., Georgetown
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
Glen Rice Jr., D-League
C.J. Leslie, NC State

Porter can do it all. Thomas has range for a guy his size.


Anthony Bennett, UNLV
Cody Zeller, Indiana
Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State
Tony Mitchell, North Texas

Zeller has to get stronger and tougher, but the talent is there. Keep an eye on Carmichael.


Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
Alex Len, Maryland
Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
Mason Plumlee, Duke
Jeff Withey, Kansas