Friday, June 18, 2010

Penultimate Mock Draft

This mock draft is entirely need-based. I will post the final one either Wednesday night or Thursday morning. It will undoubtedly change a great deal over the next couple days, but if the draft were to take place tomorrow, here's how I would see it going down.

1. Wizards: John Wall (6-4/195; PG; Freshman; Kentucky)
It will be interesting to see how Wall meshes with Arenas. Props to the Wizards' brass for not formally announcing their intention to draft the Kentucky phenom.

2. 76ers: Evan Turner (6-7/214; SG/SF; Junior; Ohio State)
Here is an interesting case of a player fillling a major hole and at the same time not fitting in. Turner is very similar to Andre Iguodala, but at this point the Sixers think they can make it work. Philly will attempt to shop the pick (as well as Iggy and Elton Brand) up until they're called on to make a selection.

3. Nets: Derrick Favors (6-10/246; PF; Freshman; Georgia Tech)
The 18-year old Georgia Tech product could form with Brook Lopez one of the lesgue's most dynamic low-post pairings. The Nets could (and should) go for DeMarcus Cousins after he turned in an awesome performance in his workout for them, but for now, Favors still looks to be the pick.

4. Timberwolves: Wesley Johnson (6-7/206; SF; Junior; Syracuse)
The Wolves have all but sent out a press release announcing their intention to draft Johnson, who satisfies their need for a wing who they can depend on to put the ball in the basket.

5. Kings: DeMarcus Cousins (6-11/292; C; Freshman; Kentucky)
After blowing them away in a workout in which he hit 78% of his shots, Cousins leapfrogged Monroe as the lead contender for the Kings' selection. If anyone can tame the infamously hot-headed Cousins it's Paul Westphal, who coached the comparably unstable Barkley to an MVP award and Finals appearance.

6. Warriors: Greg Monroe (6-11/247; PF/C; Sophomore; Georgetown)
The Warriors desperately for size down low, and Monroe is the more traditional big man who could help organize and stabilize such an erratic team.

7. Pistons: Al-Farouq Aminu (6-8/216; SF; Sophomore; Wake Forest)
Detroit is is dire need of a center, and while there are plently of talented bigs to be had, none measure up to Aminu in terms of potential. Tayshaun Prince only has one year left on his contract, so drafting a wing despite having a hole down low isn't so ridiculous. Cole Aldrich would have been a perfect fit, but when he measured an inch shorter than expected and tested as a remedial athlete, Dumars likely resolved to focus on talent above need.

8. Clippers: Luke Babbit (6-9/218; SF; Sophomore; Nevada)
Harboring high hopes for the first time in years, the Clips have a great core that includes Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin, Chris Kaman - and a gaping hole at small forward. They will doubtlessly target and wing, and while they'll hope Aminu falls to them, Babbit is likely the pick. A terrific scorer (averaged 21.9 ppg while shooting 41.6% from range and 91.7% from the line) with great size and a higher vertical leap than Aminu, Babbit could easily step in and contribute at the swing right away.

9. Jazz: Ed Davis (6-10/225; PF; Sophomore; North Carolina)
GM Kevin O'Connor is enamored of Greg Monroe, whose NBA-readiness, size and skill set and would allow them to more comfortably let Carlos Boozer walk, but there is no way he slips past Detroit. The Jazz could use some explosiveness on the wing, but they desperately need size. While they're high on Ekpe Udoh and Cole Aldrich, they feel that Davis is a better fit in their system and has the potential to become a star, not just a defensive specialist.

10. Pacers: Daniel Orton (6-10/269; PF/C; Freshman; Kentucky)
In having screwed themselves by finishing the year on a high note - and relinquishing what would have been the fourth pick in the draft with just three weeks left in the season - the Pacers find themselves in something of a pickle. Should they keep the pick, they will likely target a high-risk/high-reward prospect - which is why they requested a second workout with Daniel Orton. The Pacers are very weak down low, and could use someone to protect Danny Granger. Kentucky's Daniel Orton might not have played more than 13 minutes per game in college, but he wields his massive frame with uncommon agility, has a high basketball IQ for someone so young, and has the potential to become a dominant defensive big man.

11. Hornets: Patrick Patterson (6-9/240; PF; Junior; Kentucky)
David West only has one year left on his contract, and drafting a more offensive-minded big man makes sense considering Emeka Okafor will never be a reliable option in the post. The Hornets are a playoff team when healthy, and Patterson can contribute immediately, and his much-impoved outside shot suggests he could play alongside West and Okafor, if not as a starter.

12. Grizzlies: Ekpe Udoh (6-10/237; PF/C; Junior; Baylor)
The impending loss of Zach Randolph to a correctional facility suggests they will go big, and Udoh is a great fit. Drafting a wing in case Gay departs in free agency would make sense, but both Sam Young and DeMarre Carroll had very promising rookie campaigns, and Memphis currently doesn't have anyone who could fill in at the four. Udoh won't be as prolific a post scorer as Randolph, but he's an outstanding defender with great size for the position and could give Marc Gasol more room to grow.

13. Raptors: Avery Bradley (6-3/180; PG/SG; Freshman; Texas)
Rated the #1 recruit of last year's freshman class by ESPN, Bradley is a point guard who played off the ball in college and put up mediocre numbers...but hey, the same can be said about Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday! The Raptors are preparing to shake things up in a big way, and they're high on the potential-laden Bradley, who they think could become a building block alongside DeMar DeRozan.

14. Rockets: Gordon Hayward (6-8/211; SG/SF; Sophomore; Butler)
Houston will nab the best available player here, bearing dependable starters at every position on the floor. Gordon Hayward will be competing with Paul George here, and the fact that Hayward was officially invited to the green room suggests that he might just be the more coveted swingman.

15. Bucks: Xavier Henry (6-6/210; SG; Freshman; Kansas)
The formerly mediocre Bucks morphed into one of the best teams in the East after acquiring John Salmons, demonstrating the importance of putting a capable shooting guard on the floor with Jennings. Signing Salmons this off-season will be a priority (assuming he opts out), but in case he should leave, the young yet NBA-ready Henry would be a good insurance policy. They would love to get their hands on Patrick Patterson, a brusing big man to complement Bogut down low, but he will almost certainly be off the board by the time they pick.

16. Timberwolves: Paul George (6-9/214; SG/SF; Sophomore; Fresno State)
Though they'll likely draft Johnson and fill a major need at the swing position, the Wolves could still use a great deal of help on the perimeter. George is a terrific shooter and could potentially fill in at any of three positions on the offensive end if called upon to do so.

17. Bulls: James Anderson (6-6/208; SG; Junior; Oklahoma State)
Rose needs a backcourt mate who can help shoulder his load on offense. Anderson tore the Big 12 to shreds last year, has prototypical size for the shooting guard position in the league, is as NBA-ready as they come, and his picturesque stroke would nicely complement Rose's more bullish style of play.

18. Heat: Cole Aldrich (6-10/236; C; Junior; Kansas) 6-10 centers with remedial athleticism and little offensive polish aren't hot these days, but Aldrich is an all-world defender with a good feel for the game. He's not worth a lottery pick, but could be very valuable for a team like Miami, which could really use a defensive presence on the low block.

19. Celtics: Dominque Jones (6-4/216; SG; Junior; South Florida)
Boston's backcourt could be in complete dissaray very soon; Ray Allen, Tony Allen, Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels will all become free agents come July 1, so you can be sure Danny Ainge will target a guard. South Florida's Dominique Jones is a perfect fit: He's a tremendous scorer (21.6 ppg in the Big East), a great rebounder for his size (6.1 rpg), and is very unselfish (3.6). For the Celts, he's the definition of a value pick.

20. Spurs: Hassan Whiteside (7-0/227; C; Freshman; Marshall)
Some (myself included) feel Whiteside is worthy of being a top five selection, but concerns about his attitude (he's compared himself to Hakeem Olajuwon), age (he's a 21-year old freshman), and polish on the offensive end have scared some teams away. San Antonio would be a perfect fit, as the extraordinarily talented young 7-footer could learn from the game's most humble future Hall of Famer in Tim Duncan, and could earn playing time right away due to the Spurs lack of depth down low, without being heavily relied upon.

21. Thunder: Damion James (6-7/227; SF; Junior; Texas)
Every young team could use a little toughness, and while James would be just a rookie next year, he's pretty damn tough. One of the most experienced players on the college level last season, James steadily improved as a scorer over the course of his career at Texas, and he might be the best rebounder in this class.

22. Trailblazers: Eric Bledsoe (6-1/192; PG/SG; Freshman; Kentucky)
The prototypical Kevin Pritchard steal. Had Bledsoe stuck around in Lexington for one more year in order to show off his point guard skills he would have easily been a top-10 pick. A lockdown defender with great explosiveness and a superb jumper for a young point guard, Bledsoe would be a great value pick for a team that as of now does not have a true backup point guard.

23. Timberwolves: Elliot Williams (6-4/180; SG; Sophomore; Memphis)
Word is Williams has a promise somewhere in the first round, and it's hard to see him slipping past the Timberwolves. He would be the third shooter they drafted, but then again, this is a team that depended on Corey Brewer to knock down threes.

24. Hawks: Solomon Alabi (7-1/237; C; Sophomore; Florida State)
Al Horford has exceeded most everyone's expectations by becoming an All-Star in his third year in the league, but he is just not a starting center. The Hawks desperately need size down low, and Alabi is a big body capable of blocking shots and snagging boards. He might not be a starter, but he would certainly fill a major need.

25. Grizzlies: Greivis Vasquez (6-6/211; PG/SG; Senior; Maryland)
The ACC Player of the Year warned everyone to be shocked on draft night, and if the four-year Maryland standout's remarkably exciting career has been any indication, we should heed his advice. Projected as a very late second round prospect for much of the year (many thought he wouldn't be drafted), Vasquez, who at 6-6 plays the point guard position as well as anyone in this class not named Wall, is finally getting recognition as being worthy of a first round pick. The Grizzlies want to move O.J. Mayo to the point, or at the very least grab someone to compete with Conley, making the versatile Vasquez a great fit.

26. Thunder: Samardo Samuels (6-8/245; PF; Sophomore; Louisville)
The absence of a reliable post presence is all that's preventing Oklahoma City from wining 60 games. They will likely get their man in free agency, but Samuels could potentially fill that role. The most bewilderingly underrated prospect in the draft, ESPN rated Samuels the #2 recruit in the class of 2008, and he did nothing to disappoint in his two years at Louisville, averaging 15.3 points and 7 rebounds this past season while going up against elite Big East big men night in and night out. He has excellent post moves, soft touch around the basket, and is exceptionally strong. He will be the steal of the night, and for a team like the Thunder, an immediate difference-maker.

27. Nets: Jordan Crawford (6-4/198; SG; Sophomore; Xavier)
The Nets lost 72 games last season because nobody on the team could reliably hit a shot outside 14 feet, plain and simple. They will likely grab a dependable shooter in free agency, but should they fail to reel one in, Xavier's Jordan Crawford is a tremendous scorer who routinely shoots the lights out, and is known to ocassionaly dunk on LeBron James at his basketball camp.

28. Grizzlies: Craig Brackins (6-10/229; PF; Junior; Iowa State)
With their third selection the Grizzlies will no doubt take the best player available, leaving them with Iowa State's Craig Brackins. At 6-10 Brackins can play both forward positions, and he's one of the best scorers to be had in this entire class (he dropped 42 on Cole Aldrich and Kansas as a sophomore).

29. Magic: Willie Warren (6-4/208; PG/SG; Sophomore; Oklahoma)
Personal issues aside, Warren is a top-10 talent. The Magic have nothing to lose (they don't have room in the rotation for at least two players who could start on a number of teams), so if Warren acts up, they can just bench him. For them, the risk is absolutely worth the potential reward. Jameer Nelson is the only point guard the Magic have locked up next year, and Warren is a terrific ball-handler with tremendous upside.

30. Wizards: Quincy Pondexter (6-7/215; SF; Senior; Washington)
After they select Wall, the Wizards' execs should be repeatedly reciting one word in their minds when it comes to drafting: Stability. No head cases, no ball hogs, no one-and-dones. Pondexter, the PAC-10 Player of the Year, is ready to contribute immediately, can play either forward position, is a terrific scorer (19.3 ppg on 52.8% shooting), but most importantly, has four years of college ball under his belt and has carries not the slightest bit of baggage.

31. Nets: Armon Johnson (6-3/190; PG; Junior; Nevada)

32. Thunder: Lance Stephenson (6-6/227; SG/SF; Freshman; Cincinnati)

33. Kings: Gani Lawal (6-9/233; PF; Junior; Georgia Tech)

34. Trailblazers: Larry Sanders (6-10/222; PF/C; Junior; Virginia Commonwealth)

35. Wizards: Trevor Booker (6-7/236; PF; Senior; Clemson)

36. Pistons: Kevin Seraphin (6-9/263; PF/C; 20 years old; France)

37. Bucks: Luke Harangody (6-7/240; PF; Senior; Notre Dame)

38. Knicks: Jarvis Varnado (6-9/210; PF/C; Senior; Mississippi State)

39. Knicks: Terrico White(6-5/203; PG/SG; Sophomore; Mississippi)

40. Pacers: Mikhail Torrance (6-5/209; PG/SG; Senior; Alabama)

41. Heat: Devin Ebanks (6-8/208; SF; Sophomore; West Virginia)

42. Heat: Stanley Robinson (6-8/213; SF; Senior; Connecticut)

43. Lakers: Tibor Pleiss (7-0/222; C; 20 years old; Ukraine)

44. Darrington Hobson (6-6/204; SG/SF; Junior; New Mexico)

45. Timberwolves: Trailblazers: Lazar Hayward (6-6/226; SF; Senior; Marquette)

46. Suns: Hamady N'Diaye (7-0/223; C; Senior; Rutgers)

47. Bucks: Jerome Jordan (7-1/244; C; Senior; Tulsa)

48. Heat: Sherron Collins (5-11/223; PG; Senior; Kansas)

49. Spurs: Jerome Dyson (6-3/180; Senior; SG; Connecticut)

50. Mavericks: Tiny Gallon (6-10/302; PF/C: Freshman; Oklahoma)

51. Thunder: Ryan Thompson (6-6/210; SG/SF; Senior; Rider)

52. Celtics: Art Parakhouski (6-11/268; C; Senior; Radford)

53. Hawks: Dexter Pittman (6-11/303; C; Senior; Texas)

54. Clippers: Nemanja Bjelica (6-10/223; SF; 22 years old; Serbia)

55. Jazz: Andy Rautins (6-4.192; SG; Senior; Syracuse)

56. Timberwolves: Charles Garcia (6-9/232; SF/PF; Junior; Seattle)

57. Pacers: Elijah Millsap (6-6/210; SF; Junior; Alabama-Birmingham)

58. Lakers: Jon Scheyer (6-6/180; PG/SG; Senior; Duke)

59. Magic: Latavious Williams (6-8/205; PF; 21 years old; NBDL)

60. Suns: Derrick Caracter (6-9/280; PF; Junior; Texas-El Paso)

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