OK – we are going to try something new here and do a combined mock draft, with each of us alternating and selecting players based on how WE would pick if we were GM’s. This is not a prediction of how the draft WILL go, rather how the draft WOULD go if WE ran the teams.
We will update this as we get to it, feel free to chime in as we move along (click-thru to see where we are)…
1. Los Angeles Clippers (Pete): Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma
This is easy. Best player by a long shot. Eric Gordon, Al Thornton and Blake Griffin will give the Clippers a great core of young players, whose careers they can ruin.
2. Memphis Grizzlies (Dannie): Hasheem Thabeet, C, Connecticut
I guess this pick is going against grain a little bit in two ways.
- I don’t really like Thabeet a ton personally and
- Rubio is the sexy pick at #2 for most people (although I think he is more hype than substance at this point).
But I think Mike Conley started to show some signs last season that he can be the Grizzlies long-term answer at the point. He increased his number in every statistical category including shooting 40% from three on 217 attempts. Furthermore I think Memphis gets better faster and with a longer lasting effect by solidifying their front court with Thabeet at center and Gasol at PF. You have a strong rebounding front line, a defensive center to protect the basket and a solid offensive, back to the basket power forward to go along with Mayo and Gay on the perimeter. Also with Mayo and Gay I don’t think they needs a player that needs offensive touches and Thabeet fits the bill there.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (Pete): Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain
This is a tough pick for me. Sure, you could move Russell Westbrook to SG and play Rubio at the point, but that will give you one of the worst, if not the worst, shooting backcourts in the NBA. I know Durant can shoot, but you need some help in the back court. The other option here would be Jordan Hill. Hill would fill a huge need for Oklahoma City, and could prove to be a solid NBA player, but would be a reach here. The Thunder are young enough that you really have to go with the best available player at this point, and Rubio is that player. If nothing else, he’ll be a great passer and defender. He’s got a chance to be what Shaun Livingston could have been if not for injury.
4. Sacramento Kings (Dannie): Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona
Sucks to be a Kings fan right about now. They missed out on Blake Griffin considered to be a more athletic version of Karl Malone and franchise player. Then they dropped out of the top 3 which is exaclty where they needed to be to get the impact player at point they need without it becoming a reach. They also have a need for a starting small forward and front court depth and toughness. Jordan Hill has potential but I hate using that as the sole reason for a pick. What Hill can do is step right in and help their league worst defensive rating and 29th ranked defensive rebounding right away. Not to mention the Kings have the 23rd and 30th pick to grab a point guard in a draft heavy with them.
5. Washington Wizards (Pete): Stephen Curry, PG/SG, Davidson
Here’s the first curveball. Most experts will have James Harden here, but this is my mock draft, and I think James Harden is wildly overrated. In Chad Ford’s most recent scouting analysis, he says Harden “won’t necessarily wow you with his athleticism. He’s not the tallest guard at his position. He doesn’t have a “SportsCenter” highlight reel. But he’s sneaky.” Add this to the most passive performance by a star in the NCAA’s I’ve seen in awhile (3 for 18, 19 points, in 2 games), and I’ll pass, thanks. Instead, I’ll take Curry, who when put in a backcourt with Gilbert Arenas, gives them 2 of the best shooters in the league, both of whom can play PG or SG. Curry scored 28 ppg while being double and triple teamed, and will see a lot of open shots with Arenas, Butler and Jamison getting the attention. Curry proved this year he can adapt his game and be a distributor as well if he needs to be, with 5.6 apg (Bob Knight even called him “the best passer I’ve ever seen in college,” which is weird and incorrect, but high praise nonetheless). He’s a smart dedicated kid who will scare off some GMs because of his size and baby-looks, but I think he’s one of few sure-things in this draft.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves (Dannie): James Harden, SG, Arizona State
Pete’s “curveball” screwed me a little bit because I was leaning heavily on taking Curry with this pick. The Wolves were 24th in the NBA in 3pt shooting, need a point guard and surrounding Jefferson and Love in the post with Miller and Curry sounds like a good idea to me.
With that whining out the way it’s clear Minnesota is only set in the front court at this point with Mike Miller in the last year of his contract. So I take James Harden who disappointed me in the tournament but I am not as low on as Pete. Word is he lost some weight and is working hard on his athleticism and jumper. I think he is going to be good, how good depends on how he uses the growing criticism as fuel to prove everyone wrong. But this also gives me a bunch of options. I can play him at the two and move, Miller (6-8, decent rebounder) to the SF. I can use Miller’s coveted shooting ability and expiring contract to improve my team long-term or I could get really creative and see if Harden can parlay his high basketball IQ to playing a big point guard which he did some of in college.
7. Golden State Warriors (Pete): Brandon Jennings, PG, USA
The Warriors really need a PG, and there are lots here to choose from, including Jennings, Johnny Flynn and Ty Lawson. I’ll take Jennings, who is a little underrated right now because he didn’t quite get the PT he thought he’d get in Europe. I’ll let Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony explain what he saw in a recent visit to Italy:
Pitted against one of the best defenders in Europe in American guard Ibi Jaaber, Jennings gets to wherever he wants on the court, showing blazing speed, outstanding ball-handling skills, incredible creativity and a real flair for making flashy plays.
Could make for an exciting backcourt with Monta Ellis.
8. New York Knicks (Dannie): Ty Lawson, PG, UNC
No Steph Curry so the Knicks have to go in a different direction. I think the sure pick and perfect style player for this team is Ty Lawson. He is arguably the quickest guard in the draft which fits perfect with D’Antoni’s 7 seconds or less offense. Ty is easily the best point guard in transition and takes care of the ball extremely well. I watched most of his games at UNC he is the real deal, a leader a winner and tough. Questions about his shooting should go away, he increased his shooting %’s in each season and among the top points in this class he scored more efficiently than them all overall. Ty is pass-first and a very good complimentary scorer and adequate shooter. He should flourish in this “don’t touch anyone” NBA and has the perfect set of skills to run Mike D’Antoni’s offense. All that is enough to look past his stature.
9. Toronto Raptors (Pete): Tyreke Evans, PG/SG, Memphis
This is a team in trouble. Chris Bosh wants out, Anthony Parker and Shawn Marion are leaving and their second best player might be Andrea Bargnani. I’m going with the best player available, and in my opinion, that is Tyreke Evans. Evans was the best player on Memphis as a freshman, and led his team to the Sweet 16 while winning National Freshman of the Year. He can get to the basket and is creative scorer, something that Toronto doesn’t have right now. Could end up as a steal at #9.
10. Milwaukee Bucks (Dannie): Jrue Holiday, PG, UCLA
This pick no matter what has to be point guard or power forward. Ramon Sessions is a restricted free agent and probably played his way into a full mid-level deal next season as a promising 23-year-old point guard. Charlie Villanueva is an URF as well and had the best season of his career. Word is they like both but probably can’t afford to sign them both.
I picked Jrue Holiday not because I love him as a prospect but with the expectation and higher likelihood teams will go after Sessions with a deal we can’t match more so then Villanueva. Holiday has great size and is a lockdown defender and penetrator who Skiles would love next to Michael Redd. This is the perfect fit since he won’t be called on to score much which would expose is weak jumper and underdeveloped offensive versatility.
11. New Jersey Nets (Pete): DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt
Blair, and his freakish 7’3” wingspan, would make a good pairing with Brook Lopez in the front court for the Nets. Blair is an elite rebounder and his length will make up for his height in the NBA. At this point in a weak, PG-heavy draft I would really be looking for a solid role player, and I think Blair has excellent chance to be at least that. Everytime I watched him, I was impressed with his anticipation on offensive rebounds, something that is very valuable and very hard to teach.
12. Charlotte Bobcats (Dannie): Wayne Ellington, SG, UNC
This is a tough one. The Bobcats have a clear need at shooting guard. But they don’t need another Gerald Wallace type athlete at that position and the best 2-guards are exactly that (Henderson and Williams). So I go in another direction and take another one of my favorite players Wayne Ellington here. Stretch? Sure but there are legit reasons for it.
Bobcats need a shooter at this position and Ellington is probably the best of the bunch. They have Raja Bell on the roster for one more year and I think Wayne can learn a lot and develop into that type of player (shooter/defender) in the NBA. The Larry Brown/Michael Jordan UNC tie makes this look less of a stretch. This season I thought Wayne improved in 2 major areas: defense and creating his shot off the bounce. He displayed his full compliment of skills with a fantastic tournament as well so his improved play will be fresh in people’s mind.
13. Indiana Pacers (Pete): Johnny Flynn, PG, Syracuse
I thought about taking a flyer on Demar DeRozen here, but with T.J. Ford often injured, and Jarrett Jack a free agent, Flynn is actually a good pick-up at this point. He’s quick, confident and can shoot a little. I’d say he’s Sebastian Telfair with a better jump-shot, which isn’t saying much, but will get him into an NBA rotation.
14. Phoenix Suns (Dannie): Earl Clark, SF/PF, Louisville
This is an easy pick. You’ve probably already heard the Shawn Marion comparisons but I think he actually has more offensive talent and it’s clear Phoenix has abandoned their short stint at trying to play more defense and at a slower pace by firing Terry Porter. Clark can run the floor, play multiple positions and pass like Boris Diaw and if he were to ever put in the work to reach his potential he could be an all-star. He has that kind of talent.
15. Detroit Pistons (Pete): Gerald Henderson, SF, Duke
Yes, I know they have Prince and Hamilton and could use more help in the front court, but if I’m Joe Dumars, I know that this team is about to be completely blown-up and I just need to get good basketball players. Henderson showed an improved jump shot and improved offensive game to go with his freakish athleticism. At the absolute worst, he’s a better version of Dahntay Jones.
16. Chicago Bulls (Dannie): James Johnson, PF, Wake Forest
I am assuming Ben Gordon is resigned here. Ideally the Bulls would want a banger, rebounder with some back to the basket post skills. Johnson is a decent rebounder and has a developing post game and face-up mid-range game and can run with Derrick Rose. With Miller and Tim Thomas both in the last year of their deals and unlikely to be resigned adding a young front court player is the pick for now.
17. Philadelphia 76ers (Pete): Eric Maynor, PG, VCU
Maynor is the slam dunk pick here for me if Lawson or Flynn don’t drop. He’s quick, smart, has good size and can shoot the ball. He can also come in and start right away in place of the (hopefully) departed Andre Miller. I loved him in college and both Dannie and I saw him in person against UCLA this year and he played very well against 2 good defenders in Darren Collison and Jrue Holliday. He’s not a star, but can be a real solid game manager who can score 10-12 points a game.
However, if Demar DeRozen were to drop here, you’d have to give him a look. We need a SG as well, and his ability has drawn comparisons to Tracy McGrady. But, if I’m GM, the PG is far more important and I’m not interested in a project.
I would also consider Nick Calathes, depending on how he works out.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (Dannie): Demar DeRozen, SG/SF, USC
Can’t pass on talent like this at this spot. In fact some draft boards have the Wolves taking him with their first pick in the draft to fill a need at small forward. He will come in and compete immediately for time with Gomes and Brewer at the three. If the draft actually went this way and the Wolves could get two strong wing players like with with their first two picks and point guards still on the board for their next pick I think their fans would be ecstatic.
19. Atlanta Hawks (Pete): Nick Calathes, PG, Florida
Doesn’t quite make up for passing on Chris Paul and Deron Williams, but with Mike Bibby possibly on his way out, Calathes might be a good fit. Jeff Teague is a better shooter, but Calathes is plenty good in that category and a far better passer. If Calathes can show good quickness and penetration skills, he will move up my draft board and perhaps give Eric Maynor a challenge at #17.
20. Utah Jazz (Dannie): Tyler Hansbrough, PF, UNC
He is going to be drafted in the first round by someone, might as well be Utah right? [insert a Utah and white basketball player joke here (see comment section)] I love Hansbrough. He played hard and got the job done in a historical way as a college baskeball player. All the concerns about him are legit though. He needs to measure out well in terms of his height and wingspan. He needs to show some athleticsm and lateral quickness during his workouts and combine. There is no question he is strong as a horse, driven, tough and coachable. Those things along with his developing face-up jumper and aggressive rebounding should be enough for Jerry Sloan and the Jazz to take him here.
21. New Orleans Hornets (Pete): Chase Budinger, SG, Arizona
For a good team, the Hornets could really use help everywhere except PG. I’m taking Budinger because he’s the type of player that could benefit from playing with a Chris Paul. He never lived up to expectations at Arizona because he isn’t really suited to be the main guy. However, he has a good outside shot and is a good finisher with his 44-inch (yes, you read that right) vertical leap. He could immediately contribute as a rotation player, which is all he’ll ever be in the league.
22. Dallas Mavericks (Dannie): Terence Williams, SG/SF, Louisville
Jason Kidd is a free agent and I am sure the Mavs would like some security by drafting a point but in our mock all the good ones are gone and Jeff Teague is more Jason Terry like than, a true point guard who can distribute. The Mavs have a clear hole at shooting guard though and Terence Williams is a ball of talent who can do a lot of different things on the court. If Kidd returns he is a perfect running mate in transition and he can provide defensive help on the perimeter as well.
23. Sacremento Kings (Pete): Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest
Teague has as much talent as any of the PG’s in this draft, but I think his inconsistency and lack of leadership skills really hurt Wake Forest this year, as that team should have been much better than they ended up. The Kings do need a PG though, and if Teague matures, he could be a good one.
24. Portland Trailblazers (Dannie): Austin Daye, SF/PF, Gonzaga
Portland probably still needs a point guard but there aren’t any much better than what they currently have on the roster available. They also could use some depth at PF and a starting SF. They get both with Austin Daye at 6’10, ball skills, three-point range and post offense. Word is he is rising up the draft board with his workouts and proving he isn’t as soft as his reputation suggests. There is no doubt the kid has a ton of talent and might be the most versatile and skilled player in the draft. Perfect fit for a Portland team in terms of need, style of play and their philosophy to stockpile young talent.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (Pete): B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State
Mullens was the #1 ranked high school player in the country last year by Rivals.com. The 6 players who got that honor before him? Beasley, Oden, Gerald Green, D-Howard, LeBron and Melo. Not bad company. At 7’1”, Mullens can handle the ball, shoot it a bit and has great athleticism for a kid his size. He was expected to come in a have an Oden-like impact at OSU, but didn’t. He’s a project, and needs a little fire, but is a fine risk here at #25 for a team that needs frontcourt help anyway.
26. Chicago Bulls (Dannie): Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU
This pick is a safe pick for the Bulls. Marcus Thornton is a senior with two seasons of proven production. If they can’t resign Ben Gordon they get a similar player in Thornton as a slightly undersized scoring guard who can shoot. If they do keep Gordon they still lack depth behind him and this pick helps fill that hole. Two bonuses with Thornton are he drives well and has a nice body for a shorter player so he gets to the line at a nice rate, is a terrific defender and doesn’t turn the ball over much (only 1.8 per game this season). Averaged 27 ppg in this two NCAA tournament games.
27. Memphis Grizzlies (Pete): Danny Green, SF, North Carolina
I would try to trade this pick to anyone at this point. Really nothing I like here for the Grizzlies. Since we aren’t mocking trades, I guess Memphis could use a shooter here after picking up a big man in Thabeet. Green is a good enough shooter and a decent defender to boot. He is accustomed to a secondary role, so will have no trouble doing so in the NBA.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (Dannie): Darren Collison, PG, UCLA
No brainer. We haven’t had the Wolves take a pure point guard because we have been picking the best available palyer. They clearly have a need since Foye is best served as a combo guard and Telfair isn’t a starter either. Collison is solid, pass-first and a good shooter and defender. While he is projected to be only a very good back up point guard he is probably better than Telfair at this point who can’t shoot to save his life.
29. Los Angeles Lakers (Pete): Dante Cunningham, SF, Villanova
I’m not even going to try to hide that this is a homer pick, BUT, it’s not a bad pick. The Lakers will likely need help at SF with Ariza and Odom hitting free agency. Cunningham is athletic, has shown an ability to improve his game, and will hit that 12-foot jumper of his 90% of the time. He’s also an active defender and rebounder. We don’t know whether he can be a true SF in the NBA, but all the remaining players have serious questions. Most mocks have him going in the high 2nd round, so I’m not being that crazy taking him here.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers (Dannie): Sam Young, SG/SF, PIttsburgh
I really like Sam Young and think he could become a very good role player in the league. He is NBA ready which is what the Cavs need since they are a contender looking to win a lot right now. They have no back-up wing player behind James, West or Williams that can create his own shot so I like Young in this spot for depth.