Don’t read any other mock draft. Because THIS one is totally correct. Or totally incorrect. Whatever.
Two excellent DT contributors gathered in with me and we formulated our mock draft. If you recall last year’s, we actually didn’t do too bad. That’s actually a pretty good thing for a mock drafter. Hey, we actually didn’t do too bad this time. Twenty percent correct! New record!
Bear in mind on this mock, we picked not as what we THOUGHT the franchise should do with its pick, but what we think they WILL do. And in most cases, we’re probably way off. I’m already wondering what the heck I was thinking in taking Hassan Whiteside for the Rockets at 14. I apologize for this, King Morey. There are so many moving parts to a draft, especially the deeper you go. Guys are still available you didn’t think would be. Someone is gone you didn’t think would be. It’s actually probably harder to draft than to predict the darn thing. Regardless, we tried. And likely crashed and burned.
1. Washington Wizards – John Wall, PG, University of Kentucky
This is a done deal. Washington isn’t even going to work out Evan Turner, and why should they? Wall is the only player universally believed to be a without-a-doubt superstar in this draft. Of course, Washington is probably the worst possible situation for him, the league, and potentially the Washington Wizards.
Short of the Wizards hiring Isiah Thomas to make this pick and assemble a team around him, Wall could not be destined for a worst situation. This is a franchise that is recovering from a devastating season that played out like a spaghetti western which led to every player of any value being traded off for pennies on the dollar. The only player of any circumstance remaining is their incumbent weapons toting point guard (same position as Wall) whose max-contract and balky knee still has four years and eighty million left. (Clark Matthews)
Any conspiracy theorists who still think the NBA can rig the draft will have a hard time explaining how David Stern would want a future star of the sport to spend his formative years in D.C.
2. Philadelphia 76ers – Evan Turner, PG/SG, Ohio State University
Almost as much as Wall to the Wizards is done, Turner to the 76ers is almost equal to it. Philly needs help in a lot of areas, but especially in the backcourt, specifically at shooting guard. And Turner is the best of that variety in this draft. Two things could hang the Sixers up and change this pick: 1) They fall madly in love with Derrick Favors at the last minute or 2) They find someone willing to take Elton Brand’s contract. But as it stands, Turner fits Philly, is a great player and meets needs. I don’t see how this isn’t a slam dunk. (Royce Young)
3. New Jersey Nets – Derrick Favors, PF/C, Georgia Tech University
Is anyone else terrified with what the Nets could have in their front court if Favors even approaches his ceiling. I know projecting players’ futures off of other players is a bit silly and far-reaching, but a Dwight Howard and Amare combination just scares me next to Brook Lopez. Dwamare and Lopez would own most big combos in the league.
I don’t see the Nets taking a gamble on Cousins here with their new owner’s somewhat, um, ambitious idea for a championship in five years. Tack on the fact that the Nets could still go out and get the actual Amare Stoudemire in free agency and bring Favors along slowly…and I’m just really, really happy the Nets are in the East because I think they could have an unbelievable turnaround next year. (JG Marking)
4. Minnesota Timberwolves – Avery Bradley, point guard, University of Texas Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse University
I’m assuming two things in making this pick. 1) Timberwolve GM David Kahn will not go with the best player available (either DeMarcus Cousins or Greg Monroe) because they already have trouble figuring out what to do with Al Jefferson and Kevin Love. 2) Kahn got the memo that every draft pick doesn’t have to be a point guard.
Johnson would be a good, not great, fit for the Wolves whose wingplay is a travesty. While they could really use some shooting, this draft class is pretty weak on that front. Johnson will at least provide steady defense and slashing ability. If Wayne Ellington can stay healthy and hit shots from the outside, he can complement Johnson nicely. Along with Love, Jefferson, and presumably some day, Ricky Rubio, this might be a nice little team some day. (CM)
5. Sacramento Kings select – DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C, University of Kentucky
I think most would agree the first four picks will likely hold to form. The Wolves aren’t working out anyone but Johnson, the Wizards didn’t work out Turner and Favors is considered the best big man in the draft. But with the fifth pick, things could start getting a little messy. Greg Monroe is extremely gifted. Cousins is equally talented, if not superior. But Cousins COULD be a headcase. The Kings would love another big to play alongside Jason Thompson, Carl Landry and Spencer Hawes. If the right player is taken, this could be a formidable front line.
And the reason the Kings go with Cousins here, at least in my mind, is because they’ve shown they’re willing to take a risk on the best talent. Conventional wisdom said last year to take Ricky Rubio. The Kings needed a point guard. Rubio was a point guard. Instead, they went with the wonderfully skilled Tyreke Evans. And we know how that worked out.
People are a bit up and down on Cousins. Will he stay in shape? Will he freak out and body slam an usher? Will he even show up to practice? I think the Kings are willing to take the risk. (RY)
6. Golden State Warriors – Greg Monroe, PF/C, Georgetown
Wait, you’re telling me that the Golden State Warriors will select a player who prefers passing to shooting and isn’t some kind of a combo guard or small forward slashing type?
Yes, yes I am. Why? Because it’s my pick and I love me some Greg Monroe. But secondly, SURELY the Warriors will use this pick to select the best player available who can make everyone on their team better (especially Stephen Curry). Monroe is the kind of mobile-enough big man that could really make a difference on this Golden State team.
He’s a team first guy with great vision, an unselfish attitude and with the most skills out of maybe anyone in this entire draft. With the sale of the team on the horizon, I think this draft and this pick mark the beginning of a new era in Golden State. Though I’d love it if they’d trade this pick to the Thunder, too. You know, if that was an option…Presti. (JG)
7. Detroit Pistons – Al-Farouq Aminu, SF/PF, Wake Forest
Everyone with sources seems to think Aminu has all but been given a promise by Detroit that they will take him. Chad Ford, who has long been a confidant of Pistons’ VP Joe Dumars, writes that Dumars is smitten with Aminu and thinks he can play power forward and help to re-establish the Pistons as a “tough” team.
Personally, I don’t get it. Detroit’s roster is a mess, and the only place where they have any semblance of strength is at the power forward position. They have Jonas Jerebko (the one real bright spot from the 2009/10 season), Charlie Villanueva, and Jason Maxiell. What they don’t have is a true center or back up point guard. From a needs standpoint, they should take Cole Aldrich–a true post player who one doesn’t need a gut feeling to think would provide toughness. If they wanted to go best available, there are several good players who are projected to be power forwards without needing to be converted.
Sometimes I don’t understand the NBA…and by saying that, watch Aminu earn Rookie of the Year. (CM)
8. Los Angeles Clippers – Gordon Hayward, SF, Butler
And here’s where we start getting a little dangerous. The Clippers don’t need a big man. They got one of those last year. They don’t need a two-guard (yet). They have Eric Gordon. They don’t need a point guard (yet). They have Baron Davis. Where they’re obviously lacking is at small forward. And in this draft, the options aren’t plentiful at that position.
Luke Babbitt is becoming a bit of a trendy sleeper and a lot of mocks have Xavier Henry going here. But Haywood is a nice pick for the Clips. Multi-skilled player that can get to the rim, shoot and pass. He disappeared at times, but that happens when you’re The Guy on your overachieving mid-major team. There’s no slam dunk pick here for LA, but Haywood will at least fill a need. It’ll come down to him, Babbitt or Henry here, and I’m guessing the Clippers go with Hayward. (RY)
9. Utah Jazz – Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas
Sometimes you just can’t escape your destiny.
With Boozer likely heading out of town and Mehmet Okur’s recovery from a torn Achilles still up in the air, I just can’t see Jerry Sloan and the Jazz’s front office passing up a skilled, gritty, defensive oriented big man who would bring rebounding, shotblocking and post toughness to a team that could be without its starting frontcourt from last year come opening tip. Luke Babbitt is a popular choice here as well (naturally, he too can not escape his destiny if the cards fall that way) but you can’t teach size and I think the Jazz would have to select Aldrich for all of the many things he brings to that team.
You know, Cole Aldrich being what he is… Oh come on, you’re thinking it just as much as I am. So no way am I going to say it. No matter how Ostertagian the physical resemblance may be!
Sometimes the whiting really is on the wall. Er, writing. (JG)
10. Indiana Pacers – Ed Davis, PF, University of North Carolina
The Pacers really want a point guard, and could go with Avery Bradley here (thinking he is a Russell Westbrook type of player who will learn the position in the league). On the other hand, there is a lot of chatter about Indiana attempting to trade for point guards taken in last year’s draft (New Orleans’ Darren Collison and Denver’s Ty Lawson, specifically). It stands to reason they are seeing some promising young bigs, Davis chief among them, falling to the ten slot, and are therefore trying to solidify the point using some of the excess post play that is about to exist. (CM)
11. New Orleans Hornets – Ekpe Udoh, PF, Baylor
No doubt here, New Orleans is going big. By the time No. 11 rolls around, most of the so-called “can’t miss” guys will be off the board. The Hornets could go with a potential immediate impact guy like Patrick Patterson, but they’ll probably defer to the future and take the gifted Oklahoma native, Ekpe Udoh.
Udoh is someone that will have to be given some time to develop. He needs to get stronger, refine his back-to-the-basket moves and get ready to push and shove on the lower block. But he’s a shot blocking, above the rim kind of forward, something the Hornets would love to have for Chris Paul to throw lobs to. (RY)
12. Memphis Grizzlies – Luke Babbitt, SF, Nevada
I think the Grizzlies are going to select Luke Babbitt with the 12th overall pick because of two reasons primarily. First, the “possibility” of Rudy Gay leaving via free agency means that the Grizzlies need to find themselves a scorer at SF. Second, Luke Babbitt is a match made in heaven for the Grizzlies in general. Babbitt is arguably the best all around shooter/scorer in the draft who puts up a lot of shots and is also a horrific defender who is always at a mismatch against players he’s asked to guard. I mean doesn’t that just scream “Memphis. Grizzlies.”
But seriously, Babbitt is not a slasher but can score from just about anywhere on the floor, especially the perimeter, which means OJ Mayo can finally show what he could do as a two guard and slashing scorer if/when Rudy Gay is offered a preposterous amount of money by the Clippers and heads to la-la land. (JG)
13. Toronto Raptors – Avery Bradley, SG/PG, University of Texas
This is a tough one. With Chris Bosh almost certainly changing jerseys for next season, the Raptors really need help down low. Unfortunately in this scenario, the best big men available would be a reach. Hassan Whiteside would be a nice complement to Andrea Bargnani and Daniel Orton could also aide in moving Bargnani away from the five. Taking either of those guys in the lottery would be shades of Rafael Araujo, the draft bust who basically got Bryan Colangelo the job he has now. (CM)
Bradley won’t pay immediate dividends, but being a wing player brings lower expectations than a post player. He will play behind (and occasionally alongside) Jose Calderon, bolster the team’s defense, and probably help them to get in the Harrison Barnes sweepstakes next season. Then again, any player who can’t convince Chris Bosh to stay will fulfill that last role.
14. Houston Rockets – Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall
It’s a good thing there are about 50 decent big men in this draft, because the Rockets are another team looking for help down low. Yao Ming’s health is a question mark. They traded away Carl Landry. And it’s much easier to take a chance on a 7’0 monster than a tweener guard.
So the Rockets put on the blindfold and come up with Whiteside, a uniquely gifted seven-footer. He fills some needs on the inside, plus since he’ll likely need a little time to develop, it will work because Yao should be back next year to help him along. (RY)
15. Milwaukee Bucks – Xavier Henry, SG, Kansas
This is the slam dunk of the draft for me besides the top two for me if Henry is still available. The Milwaukee Bucks need wing help desperately with Michael Redd overcoming his SECOND season ending knee injury with his career already on the decline. Couple that with John Salmons potential opt out in free agency and the Bucks are hurting for some quality in the backcourt and on the wings.
Good thing for them that Xavier Henry is the unquestioned best winger left. His NBA build, tremendous range on his jumpshot and ability to step in and help right away with the three-ball mean the Bucks should continue to add to last year’s playoff run next season. (JG)
16. Minnesota Timberwolves – James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State University
Because David Kahn is so difficult to understand, this pick was very hard to make (Thanks, Royce, for assigning me both Wolves picks, so far). What they should do is trade this pick and hopefully get a veteran in return. Since that is unlikely to happen, Kahn could do what he does best and stockpile one position, taking Paul George to instantly create animosity from their earlier pick, or he could try to add depth at a position of weakness.
By selecting Anderson, I am probably giving Kahn too much credit. Anderson has been underrated all season and has incredible scoring instincts. He is a good athlete, decent defender, and has prototypical size for the shooting guard position. The only reason I conjure for why he isn’t a lock for the lottery is that he is a quiet, humble guy. Personally, I think he has Thunder written all over him. Would Kahn be smart enough to realize he’s a steal here? (CM)
17. Chicago Bulls – Paul George, SG/SF, Fresno State
George gets the edge over Damion James because of his versatility. The Bulls are looking for a quality wingman to run alongside Derrick Rose. Someone that can slash, get to the rim, shooter and score. George didn’t blow anyone away at Fresno, but he definitely has the potential to be a quality NBA scorer. He’s got excellent length and size (6’9) and the Bulls will surely like his versatility. (RY)
18. Miami Heat – Eric Bledsoe, PG, Kentucky
A big part of me wanted to consider taking Alabi (who the Heat are rumored to be very interested in) or Hassan Whiteside because I think the reconstruction of the Heat will require them landing a promising big man with upside to go along with Dwayne Wade and whoever he can convince to join him in South Beach (shouldn’t be hard, we’re talking no state tax and South Beach, after all).
But the appeal of Eric Bledsoe was too much to pass up because, in stretches, he absolutely looked like a terror and willing passer/defender while at Kentucky and really impressed scouts at the combine with his physicality and athleticism. Plus, Bledsoe clearly is willing to defer to a far superior talent in the backcourt, so you know Wade and Riley have to love that.
I think taking Bledsoe here means that the Heat can end the Arroyo and Chalmers experiment that never seemed to gel with Wade and not be forced to hang on to them if they don’t want to, though you’d think Bledsoe is going to take some time to develop so I’d be shocked if both Arroyo and Chalmers are dealt. (JG)
19. Boston Celtics – Solomon Alabi, C, Florida State University
Before I explain my pick, I think it needs to be pointed out the Celtics won a four way coin toss to get this pick, beating among other teams, the Thunder. Now they’re in the mother flipping Finals. Why The Face? The Oklahoma City Thunder’s record was equal to the best team in the Eastern Conference.
Now, if the Finals taught us anything, it is that Boston wins when they are victorious in the rebounding battle. If it taught us anything else, it is that the Celtics are thin in the front court making it difficult to win the glass. Both Rasheed Wallace and Kendrick Perkins are prone to getting booted for technicals, and if either of them are escorted to the locker room, in comes Shelden Williams…a 6’9″ guy who has trouble dunking.
With that, this pick comes down to Alabi or Daniel Orton. Personally, I think Orton is the more skilled player, but Alabi surpasses that magic 7’0″ threshold that makes him a potential superstar just by standing upright. Also, Orton is the only player who kind of/sort of set off some red flags with his Draft Combine physical. You can be a dominant force, as DeJuan Blair proved, but when doctors start waffling on a player, NBA GMs run. So, Alabi gets to be the Celtics insurance policy. (CM)
20. San Antonio Spurs – Damion James, SF, University of Texas
Interesting pick here for the Spurs. They could go with an international big man, they could go with someone like Craig Brackins, a scoring combo big. Or they could try and fill a future hole at small forward with Damion James. James is still a pretty good value at 20 and would bring some scoring and rebounding off the bench for San Antonio. He’d play behind Richard Jefferson for now, but this is the kind of pick that could pan out big time in two or three years for the Spurs. And knowing them, it of course will. They could draft me here at 20 and somehow I’d become a key contributor and a “steal” in the draft. It’s just the way it happens when you go to San Antonio. (RY)
21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Daniel Orton, C, Kentucky
Big shock, huh? With reports coming out that there may, maybe not, probably so, definitely *wink* not, be a promise for Orton from the Thunder at 21 and with him being a local product who the Thunder are also to have been the first to be very high on him, everything seems to be falling in place for this almost Hollywood ending/beginning for Orton and the Oklahoma City team.
So why am I so hesitant to believe anything I hear about this and, to be honest, hesitant about Orton as a pro. I mean, I want to believe all the upside will become reality because there’s a lot to like with Orton. From his strength, to his above average athleticism to his excellent touch and soft hands to his ability to anchor the paint on both ends and even knock down 15 foot jumpers, on paper, everything is there.
It’s just…does it ever really work out that way? Especially for teams you really, really root for? (JG)
22. Portland Trailblazers – I have no flipping idea, but how about, Patrick Patterson, PF, University of Kentucky
Right now, Portland is being run by a guy who is on a seat so hot Mephistopheles wouldn’t sit on it. He could make a brilliant selection or a boneheaded selection and Blazers’ owner Paul Allen would still call for his head John the Baptist-style as soon as his search for the replacement concludes. Indications are that Kevin Pritchard is still firing along as if he will continue to be the GM, but who could blame him if he kind of rolled this draft to work on his resume.
He might be doing just that, because my research indicates that the only player possibly in the late first round to workout for Portland is Larry Sanders. That was my first inclination, and the Blazers do need depth at power forward, but Sanders is looking to be a second rounder, right now. Patterson, on the other hand, is expected to get a green room invite, has started cancelling workouts, and is still on the board. If he lands here, he slid a long way. (CM)
23. Minnesota Timberwolves – Larry Sanders, PF, Virginia Commonwealth University
Insert another point guard joke here.
Sanders makes sense for Minnesota because the Wolves would love a little added front court depth with Al Jefferson, Kevin Love and Ryan Hollins and Sanders is probably the most NBA ready big man left on the board. Sanders isn’t much of an offensive player, but that’s what Jefferson and Love are for. Sanders, much like Hollins, is extremely lengthy and could provide a defensive, shot blocking specialist off the bench. Minny already went small forward and shooting guard in our mock with its first two picks, so unless they want to another point guard or pull a Kahn and draft multiple positions, it just makes sense to look big.
But then again, you know, Kahn. (RY)
24. Atlanta Hawks – Joe Johnson’s replacement, I mean, Jordan Crawford, SG, Xavier
At 24, I think the Hawks look for someone who can give them at least some of the scoring that Joe Johnson did since, let’s face it, he’s leaving via free agency and even though Lance Stephenson, Dominique Jones and even Terrico White are all still on the board, I think the Hawks reach a bit on value and snag Jordan Crawford because he dunked on Lebron James, er, because he’s one of the best scorers in this draft, has the ability to put the ball on the floor and drive to the bucket and especially because he can hit the deep ball, which the other guys here just can’t do near as well.
I think Crawford’s complete scoring package combined with the addition of Jeff Teague last year means that the Hawks go for the man from Xavier who can score from anywhere on the court but is a bit of a high risk/high reward pick instead of a Dominique Jones, who is more like Teague than he is Joe Johnson-esque. (JG)
25. Memphis Grizzlies – Tommy Mason-Griffin, PG, University of Oklahoma Eliot Williams, SG, University of Memphis
As the first round gets close to the end, things usually get really weird. The Trailblazers buy picks, the Suns give them away, and players whose names no one expected to hear get guaranteed deals while players projected for the lottery slide into the second round. Memphis is a perfect candidate to make one of those picks no one is expecting…mainly because no one wants to play for them, and the team got snubbed like crazy for workouts.
As a Memphis native that left Duke to go home, Williams is one guy who might actually be happy to be a member of the Grizzlies. That might be true of one maybe two other players in the draft. (CM)
26. Oklahoma City Thunder – Tibor Pleiss, C, Germany
As I mentioned in the Big Board, I just feel like if OKC is keeping the 26th pick, the Thunder will go international. It doesn’t make a ton of sense to bring in two new players, unless one is drafted as a project to spend the entire year in Tulsa. But Pleiss is an offensive center that’s obviously got great size. He may never be a terrific interior defender, but that’s a misconception about OKC. Most talk about OKC needing a shot blocking defensive presence inside and while yes, that would be nice, the Thunder also need an offensive post player. Currently, OKC really has no one that it can dump the ball into on the block. And with Orton going to OKC at 21, the physical interior presence is potentially taken care of. So the Thunder take Pleiss with the intention to bring him along slowly to hopefully become an interior post scorer. (RY)
27. New Jersey Nets – Dominique Jones, SG, University of South Florida
Since it’s assumed that the Nets will be taking care of their PF/frontcourt issues either with the third overall pick or in free agency (probably both), I think the Nets go for some scoring punch from their backcourt and select the fire bolt of buckets that is Dominique Jones.
I really think Jones has the potential to be either the starting SG or a sixth man extraordinaire for the Nets, owing to the fact that he can absolutely give Courtney Lee a run at the SG spot but also could play both the 2 and the 1 for the Nets off of the bench. It is Jones versatility that makes him a fantastic selection for the Nets and one of the many reasons I think they might even challenge for that 8th playoff spot next year in the East. (JG)
28. Memphis Grizzlies – Willie Warren, PG/SG, University of Oklahoma
If Memphis actually makes this pick, I will be very surprised. It’s the third pick they possess in the draft, and the team is already loaded with green at the gills players. Instead, I would expect a team without a first rounder, or Portland who purchases draft picks just for giggles, to take this selection of the Grizzlies hands (most likely target: Kevin Seraphin). And the Grizzlies, who are hemorrhaging money could use the $3MM.
In the event the Grizz do actually send a card to the podium, point guard is their biggest need and Willie Warren is the only guy who plays the position worthy of being taken here. He would be a good fit in Memphis. He’s an awful teammate, overrated in the talent department, and injury prone. Chris Wallace loves those kind of guys. (CM)
29. Orlando Magic select…Grevious Vasquez, PG/SG/SF, University of Maryland
What the Magic would probably prefer here, is a big man. But instead of taking a project to develop overseas, they go with the potential immediate impact player. Vasquez is a truly gifted player maker with exceptional court vision and feel for the game. He can realistically play three positions and with Orlando possessing a bevy of long range bombers, Vasquez’s shooting deficiencies shouldn’t really matter. He could settle in as a slasher and creator and really fit Orlando’s offensive scheme perfectly. (RY)
30. Washington Wizards – Lance Stephenson, SG/SF, Cincinnati
I think the Wizards will do backflips if Stephenson is still here as the last pick of the first round. On paper, Stephenson has late lottery talent and has the size, NBA build and solid one-on-one skillset to flourish as a serious wing threat next to John Wall (and Gilbert since, you know, who is going to take that anchor or a contract?).
The only downside is that obviously Stephenson has weaknesses (no real range on his jumper, some maturity concerns) or else he would go in the late lottery and do the Wizards really need a potential misfire in such an important draft for their rebuilding project? (JG)
Either way, with this late of a pick, you can afford to swing for the fences and Stephenson would definitely be a grand slam at 30 if he can tap into his potential.