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Last week, I gave you a quick and dirty version of a mock draft for the lottery picks based on whimsy and a total lack of meaningful research. But you, my faithful readers, deserve better than that.

So, I have labored and sweated over this material the last seven days until my eyes crossed and my fingers blistered on the keyboard. I’ve read Chris Mannix and Gary Parrish. I’ve talked with Matt Moore and Nate Jones. Chad Ford — I know his stuff so well now that I can tell you what he will have for breakfast tomorrow morning (half a grapefruit and a poached egg). I’ve read every single mock draft on the internet from to the one posted by Bubba Ray Anderson of Skokie, IL in the last remaining AOL chatroom set up for diesel mechanics who like talk about windmills. I’ve read them all, I tell ya!

Here is what I’ve learned: Nobody has a freakin’ clue how this draft is going to play out. But never fear, fair citizens — I think I’ve got it figured out. As always, all picks guaranteed wrong or your money back. The jokes are free — because they’re awful.

    1. Cleveland – Ben McLemore (SG – Kansas) I promise I’m not doing this just to troll Conrad Kaczmarek, although that is a fun bonus. I think McLemore has the highest potential upside with the least concern about future injury issues, as well as being a nice fit next to Kyrie Irving (and LeBron too, since we know he’s going back to Cleveland). Many mock drafts have McLemore slipping out of the Top 5 entirely, but I think he has the best chance of being the star of this draft class.
    2. Orlando – Nerlens Noel (C – Kentucky)  That means most people’s top pick falls to Orlando who eagerly scoops him up like Shaq asking for another scoop of Dutch chocolate at Baskin Robbins. (It’s still cool to make Shaq jokes when talking about the Magic, right? Judges? They’ll allow it.) Athletic, long, explosive — words that describe the somewhat raw Wildcat (and myself, although not in the same context) and tell you exactly what kind of player he’s expected to become. He’ll be a defense-first player while his offensive game develops. I fully expect McLemore and Noel to be the top two picks tonight in one order or the other.
    3. Washington – Otto Porter, Jr. (SF – Georgetown) The Wizards have their backcourt in place already, and also have some decent pieces in the post, so upgrading the SF position seems smart at this point. Also, Porter is probably the third best player in the draft, so that makes this pick an easy selection. The fact that he’s from nearby Georgetown is just icing on the cake. (No Shaq! No cake for you!)
    4. Charlotte – Alex Len (C – Maryland) Who is Alex Len? No, seriously, who is this guy? Did anyone actually watch the Terrapins this year? After taking Kentucky to the limit to open the season, all they did was beat Duke a couple of times the rest of the year and then go to the NIT. Wait…what was I talking about? Oh yeah — Alex Len. He’s…umm…yeah. Which makes him perfect for the Bobcats. Bobcats? Hornets? Horncats? Yes, that’s it — Horncats.
    5. Phoenix – Anthony Bennett (F – UNLV) The Suns need a SG, but Bennett is too talented to let him slip by. Wouldn’t surprise me if the Horncats take him a spot earlier, actually. Bennett is a tremendous athlete who can score in a variety of ways and should fit in well with the Suns’ other pieces (the good ones, not the guy he’ll be replacing in Michael Beasley).
    6. New Orleans – Victor Oladipo (SG – Indiana) The Pelicans (love the way that rolls off the tongue) needed Bennett to fall to them since they already have Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers (stop laughing!) on the roster. They could take a PG like Trey Burke here, but Oladipo is the Best Player Available (BPA) and sources say that’s their draft plan for tonight (as it should be for every draft). Gordon’s uncertain status for the future makes this a less risky pick in the long run.
    7. Sacramento – Michael Carter-Williams (PG – Syracuse) Has anyone taken a look at the Kings’ roster lately? I’m starting to think the front office hasn’t done so in the last few seasons either. Their best player is constantly mentioned in trade rumors (not that they’ll get anything close to equal value for him), they have more guards laying around than a barbershop counter, and no identity as a team. Tyreke Evans looks like he’s headed elsewhere sooner rather than later, qualifying offer notwithstanding, so why not draft his replacement in the 6’6″ MCW – a pure point guard with great athleticism and length. He can be paired up with the shorter Jimmer Fredette in the backcourt, as well.
    8. Detroit – Trey Burke (PG – Michigan) The Pistons need someone to feed Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond on the blocks. Brandon Knight is not that guy, although he’ll make a great 6th man going forward. Burke’s ability to drive and either dish or score would make him a very valuable addition to this rebuilding club. He’s the most polished PG in the draft and appears to be a solid pick for anyone willing to select him.
    9. Minnesota – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG – Georgia) I’m tempted to put Shabazz Muhammad here, but I think his potential for, shall we say “personality issues”, will make KCP the better pick here. If the T’Wolves can ever get healthy (pleasepleaseplease – I wanna see that), then having a great shooter on the wings to give space in the lane for Ricky Rubio’s drives and the combined post efforts of Kevin Love and Nikola Peković will be invaluable. Honestly, I wish the Grizzlies could move up high enough to select the former Bulldog.
    10. Portland – Cody Zeller (C – Indiana) The fact that Zeller is available at #10 is more surprising than Shaq refusing seconds at Paula Deen’s house. (Wait…that joke doesn’t work for some reason. Oh well, I’ll just say something about rings to Charles Barkley and act like it was brilliant commentary.) The Blazers are pretty well set at PG, SF, and PF, so adding a C of Zeller’s caliber is an easy call. I’ve seen some people slotting Steven Adams or Kelly Olynyk here, but quite frankly (taking out a quarter to give to George Lapides) Zeller is a Top 3 talent in my book.
    11. Philadelphia – Steven Adams (C – Pittsburgh) How is it that the Sixers haven’t been getting crucified for their moves over the last two years? Have they become irrelevant somehow? Nobody knows who they’re even strongly considering for their coach — and they said three weeks ago that they probably wouldn’t hire whomever it is before tonight’s draft. Oh well. Adams is a project player who is all potential and little actualization so far. He’s a workout wonder, which has many scouts salivating over what he could become, so it will be interesting to see where the young Kiwi winds up.
    12. Oklahoma City – Shabazz Muhammad (SG – UCLA) I know everyone has the Thunder taking a center here, but Kelly Olynyk isn’t going to be ready to handle the likes of Marc Gasol, Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, or even Omer Asik for a few years at least. (He could totally take DeAndre Jordan though.) Instead, I think the Thunder find their replacement for James Harden (no offense to Kevin Martin, who I think finds another suitor this offseason). Muhammad is actually fairly similar to Harden in terms of skillset and physicality, so this could be a great fit for him.
    13. Dallas – C.J. McCollum (G – Lehigh) McCollum is a tweener guard in the same vein of Steph Curry from my viewpoint. He’s not a traditional pass-first, pure PG, but he scores so easily and does a number of other things that he should be able to be the lead ball-handler for a team that gave the reins to….wait for it….Mike James (MIKE JAMES!!!) by the end of the season. Word is that the Mavs want to trade out of this spot, but if they keep the pick, McCollum makes the most sense for them.
    14. Utah – Dennis Schröder (PG – Braunschweig) Of course the Jazz take a German-born guard who played the last two seasons for a German professional team. This practically writes itself. Wait, what’s that? He’s not a pasty white guy? Are you sure? But his name’s Dennis Schröder…you know, like the piano player on the Peanuts comics. Peanuts…Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus. Yeah, Linus. No, that’s Pigpen you’re thinking of. Linus carried the blanket around with him everywhere. But I digress… Schröder is a lightning quick guard who thrives on attacking the basket and utilizing his pterodactyl-like wingspan. And the Jazz employed Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson at PG last year, so…yeah.
    15. Milwaukee – Shane Larkin (PG – Miami) The Bucks are a team in flux (go away Dr. Seuss, I’m busy!) and are really only set in the frontcourt as their best backcourt players are free agents of one sort or another this offseason. Whether or not you’re sold on Brandon Jennings as a PG, Larkin’s dynamic ability is almost too much to pass up — especially for the salary he’ll garner over the next 4 years versus what Jennings is expecting to be paid.
    16. Boston – Kelly Olynyk (C – Gonzaga) Let the rebuild begin! Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass are signed for a couple more seasons. Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger didn’t exactly blow anyone away either, so going for a big man here makes as much sense as anything else. Olynyk’s ability to score in the low-post provides a nice counter-punch to the more perimeter-based offensive skillsets of Green and Bass (and KG if he’s still around).
    17. Atlanta – Sergey Karasev (SF – Triumph Moscow)
    18. Atlanta – Jamaal Franklin (SG – San Diego State) The Hawks are starting over with only three players under guaranteed contracts for next season (Al Horford, Lou Williams, John Jenkins), so they can just look at BPA and roll on. Karasev and Franklin are both solid prospects who should be able to contribute immediately.
    19. Cleveland – Gorgui Dieng (C – Louisville) Since I have the Cavs taking McLemore at #1, going big here is the play. Dieng is the fuzzy replica of Noel — an older prospect who is just as raw offensively and as intimidating on defense. And his name is fun to say.
    20. Chicago – Tim Hardaway, Jr. (SG – Michigan) The Bulls could use a PF like Tony Mitchell to make Carlos Boozer amnesty fodder, but taking a solid, smooth backcourt partner for Derrick Rose to work with who isn’t a complete offensive disaster seems like a smarter selection here.
    21. Utah – Lucas Noguiera (C – Asefa Estudiantes) Noguiera is potentially a stash-and-wait prospect, although with Utah’s uncertainty over the future of their frontcourt, he could be brought over immediately. The Brazilian big man isn’t polished, but he has the kind of tremendous physical gifts that make front offices take chances.
    22. Brooklyn – Giannis Adetokunbo (SF – Filathlitikos) Another prospect likely to be stashed overseas for a couple more years, this 6’9″ player’s representatives have been telling everyone he is a point guard. To say there is some doubt about that would be more generous than the legroom in Shaq’s stylish Buick LaCrosse.
    23. Indiana – Reggie Bullock (G/F – North Carolina) I think the Pacers will look at some of the PG prospects like Isaiah Canaan here, but will go with shooting and upside in the end. They’ll still have to figure out what to do with a (semi) healthy Danny Granger, as well.
    24. New York – Allen Crabbe (SG – California) Will J.R. Smith leave the Big Apple? Either way, this opens up plenty of headline opportunities for newspaper guys to explore their creativity with Crabbe’s name.
    25. Los Angeles – Glen Rice, Jr. (SF – Georgia Tech/Rio Grande Valley) With Doc Rivers as the new man in charge, I have no idea what to expect here. I do know the Clippers have a gaping hole at SF though, and Rice has lottery-level talent, so why not?
    26. Minnesota – Tony Snell (SF – New Mexico) The T’Wolves could go a number of directions here, but adding a solid defender with a decent all-around offensive game is rarely a bad move.
    27. Denver – Isaiah Canaan (PG – Murray State) The former Racers’ star can move into the role of backup PG as Andre Miller’s career winds down to its eventual close. Right? Miller can’t play that old-man game forever, can he?
    28. San Antonio – Mason Plumlee (C – Duke) I know, I know — he’s not an international player or a guy who went to a college that never had a televised game, so that can’t be the Spurs’ pick. Whaddayagonnado?
    29. Oklahoma City – Jeff Withey (C – Kansas) The Thunder need someone to help put Kendrick Perkins out to pasture, so why not the former Jayhawk? He’s active and can finish at the rim — both of which instantly make him 1000% better than Perk at this point.
    30. Phoenix – Ricardo “Ricky” Ledo (SG – Providence) The Suns need a little bit of everything, including outside shooting. Ledo hits the deck ready to fire away and is capable of playing some at either backcourt position. He could be deadly alongside Goran Dragic.Second Round
    31. Cleveland – Tony Mitchell (PF – North Texas)
    32. Oklahoma City – Nate Wolters (PG – South Dakota State)
    33. Cleveland – Pierre Jackson (PG – Baylor)
    34. Houston – Rudy Gobert (C – Cholet)
    35. Philadelphia – Archie Goodwin (SG – Kentucky)
    36. Sacramento – Livio Jean-Charles (F – Villeurbanne)
    37. Detroit – C.J. Leslie (F – North Carolina State)
    38. Washington – Alex Abrines (SG – Barcelona)
    39. Portland – Erick Green (G – Virginia Tech)
    40. Portland – B.J. Young (PG – Arkansas)
    41. Memphis – Mike Muscala (C – Bucknell)
    42. Philadelphia – Myck Kabongo (PG – Texas)
    43. Milwaukee – Grant Jerrett (PF – Arizona)
    44. Dallas – Marko Todorovic (C – Barcelona)
    45. Portland – Deshaun Thomas (F – Ohio State)
    46. Utah – Solomon Hill (SF – Arizona)
    47. Atlanta – Colton Iverson (C – Colorado State)
    48. Los Angeles (Lakers) – Ray McCallum (PG – Detroit)
    49. Chicago – Trevor Mbakwe (F/C – Minnesota)
    50. Atlanta – James Southerland (F – Syracuse)
    51. Orlando – Nemanja Nedovic (G – Lietuvos Rytas)
    52. Minnesota – Jackie Carmichael (PF – Illinois State)
    53. Indiana – Lorenzo Brown (PG – Norch Carolina State)
    54. Washington – Arsalan Kazemi (PF – Oregon)
    55. Memphis – Matthew Dellavedova (PG – St. Mary’s)
    56. Detroit – Carrick Felix (SG – Arizona State)
    57. Phoenix – Raul Neto (PG – San Sebastian)
    58. San Antonio – Bojan Dubljevic (F/C – Valencia)
    59. Minnesota – Adonis Thomas (F – Memphis)
    60. Memphis – Vitalis Chikoko (C – TBB Trier)
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