This is it, the day is here, yet another professional sports draft. I love the draft, as many readers have probably realized, as I’ve spewed out thousands and thousands of words between the NBA and NFL draft over the last few years. A bunch of kids getting rich is always fun, and when it’s kids that I’ve watched give it all in college hoops, it’s even more interesting. I had a huge Mock Draft (Part 1 and Part 2) a while back, and while it’s still very relevant here’s a mock that only considers what I’ve heard and read about who is going where tomorrow, with a little of my predicting process involved. I’m sure a trade or three will muck up my mock, but I’m giving it a shot anyway.
1. John Wall – Washington Wizards: No-brainer. I, personally, would consider Turner at #1 for a couple teams in the league – but Wall’s appeal is real – he’s an explosive athlete that could very well be an even better NBA player than a college guy. And he was one of the best in all of college hoops.
2. Evan Turner – Philadelphia 76ers: It looks like the 76ers have smartened up a bit and decided on Turner. Favors was flirted with, and his upside at PF is understandably sexy, but Turner does it all and the 76ers need that desperately. I think Turner will be an All Star within the next 3 years. Not many guys in this draft you can say that about.
3. Derrick Favors– New Jersey Nets: There’s been lots of chatter here, but I find it hard to believe that the Nets would skip out on the opportunity to draft an NBA freak athlete PF like Favors for a small forward like Johnson. Could Johnson be better than Favors? Certainly, but small forwards are a lot easier to find than good power forwards, and right off the bat Favors will make an impact.
4. Wes Johnson– Minnesota Timberwolves: I think Wes Johnson will be a very solid pro player. I don’t think he has starting All-Star upside, but this guy might come in and be the biggest offensive threat on the team from day one. Makes sense to me.
5. DeMarcus Cousins– Sacramento Kings: How can the Kings not go for the gold here? Is Cousins a risk? Sure, but he’s also a dominant 7 footer that can score the basketball and has tons of upside. Sounds like a risk worth taking.
6. Al Farouq Aminu– Golden State Warriors: I’ve heard that Ekpe Udoh might be the guy here, but I find that hard to believe. I like Udoh more than a lot of “experts” and think he has some offensive upside that was shown off against Duke (and other teams), but I still don’t think Golden State will go Udoh with the 6th pick. If they trade down, maybe. But I think they’ll go upside here and pull Aminu off the board. His athleticism on both ends could really help them, especially with Maggette traded away.
7. Greg Monroe– Detroit Pistons: The Piston don’t have a real power forward. Ben Wallace doesn’t have PF skills, and certainly is old and without offensive game. Villanueva plays more like a SG than a PF, he’s soft. Austin Daye is too weak to be a PF. They have other guys that are too short. Monroe has every offensive skill you need, and he’s a great passer with good vision. He has the body to be a presence defensively and on the glass. He’s a good pick here for Detroit if they can’t move up to get their guy, Cousins.
8. Gordon Hayward– Los Angeles Clippers: If Aminu’s still here, they take him I’m sure. If Aminu’s gone, there’s lots of options. One that hasn’t been thought of much is Avery Bradley – that wouldn’t stun me. I have always really liked Hayward though, a guy that doesn’t get enough recognition for how elite he is athletically. Dude is springy. He can really shoot (though struggled last season a bit from the floor), but I think he’ll be a better pro than he was as a college player – and he was good for Butler. He’d help sure up a spot in LA that is pretty weak.
9. Ed Davis– Utah Jazz: I think Davis doesn’t get enough credit, or rather he gets too much blame for the failures of UNC last season. He wasn’t a first option offensive force anyway, and had a hard time getting the ball between sharing post opportunities and guards having trouble. Davis is a big kid that has lots of maturing to do, but he’s more explosive and even longer than people give him credit. He would be a solid defensive guy for a team that is terrible on D.
10. Avery Bradley– Indiana Pacers: If the Pacers don’t trade their pick (I think they do), Bradley would be a solid option. They don’t really have a PG of the future, and this kid is very explosive and great defensively. Paul George has been what I’ve been hearing, but I think 24 hours will be plenty of time for Indiana to realize they don’t need a lanky scorer off the bench. I think Bradey’s the move, though I would easily trade this pick for the likes of Ty Lawson or Darren Collison.
11. Ekpe Udoh – New Orleans Hornets: I have heard too many things about the Hornets and where they’ll go with their pick, but Udoh seems like a good option to me. He’s a defensive presence in the middle for a team that doesn’t have one, and I think he has upside to benefit offensively from a dominant point guard. He can finish above the rim, well.
12. Paul George– Memphis Grizzlies: I would be surprised if the Grizzlies didn’t find a way to package some of their picks to move up and pick the guy they really want in the 7-10 range (but who is that?). I’m not too sure what the Grizzlies want. They should believe they have a center of the future. They have Marc Gasol. Even Zach Randolph was solid for them. If they think they might lose Rudy Gay, than a guy like Babbitt or maybe Xavier Henry makes sense here. But the Grizzlies have enough solid players where absolute upside should be key, and that looks like Paul George to me.
13. Cole Aldrich– Toronto Raptors: Lots of guys make sense for this soft team. Chris Bosh is gone, and he was the Raptors. Now they’ll go to Bargnani, and he’s a very solid player – but as a center, he’s soft, a perimeter player. Enter Aldrich. He’s not flashy, doesn’t have high upside, but shoot – at pick 13, the NBA Draft History says getting an effective player at all is a good deal. I think Aldrich would help take defensive pressure of Bargnani, and make a nice tandem to build on in Toronto.
14. Patrick Patterson– Houston Rockets: The Rockets gave up Carl Landry last year, and I think Patrick Patterson would be a great player to put on this squad. This team tries to do all the little things, and Patterson would be a perfect guy in the front court rotation for their team concept. Plus he helps right meow.
15. Craig Brackins– Milwaukee Bucks: So many options for Milwaukee. After doing pretty well in trades, they don’t really need any one spot. They could take help anywhere, though, and so I think they grab the best player that can surely help them continue to be a playoff team. I think Damion James would be a great guy for them, but they might go for more upside than the hard working James. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they reached for the big Frenchman. His upside is impressive, and they have added plenty of pieces prior to the draft to justify that pick. Still, I think they can get needed help up front in this draft, and Brackins could give them an interesting option off the bench, spreading the floor for guys like Jennings to attack the paint.
16. Luke Babbitt– Minnesota Timberwolves: I think Babbitt would be a big time offensive force in the triangle offense. He can shoot and really understands the game – plus he’s lights out from range and while he’s not good defensively, he’ll help this team immediately.
17. Xavier Henry– Chicago Bulls: Who knows where the Bulls go, honestly. They could trade a couple guys, move a couple spots, get all gung ho about adding some big free agents. Shoot, they might even have an inside track on LeBron. But they could use the best player left in the draft, in my opinion, Xavier Henry. He shoots the ball really well, and with Derrick Rose, the more guys that can drain jumpers the better.
18. Damion James– Oklahoma Thunder: I’ve always said that the Thunder could really use some unheralded guys that are just flat out better than their size or speed insists. James is a stud, he can hit shots, he can take big shots, he will get rebounds, play defense. He’s a solid player that could eventually start, always come off the bench, anything. He’s glue. They need more glue.
19. Eric Bledsoe– Boston Celtics: I’ve heard lots about how the Celtics need a ‘Sheed replacement, but Bledsoe fits too well here for me to ignore. If he’s undrafted by 19, I’ll be a bit surprised, but it looks like he’ll still be on the board. He can back up Rondo at the point and play the 2 if need be. He can score and I see point in his future. For an older team with lots of questions in their back-court, Bledsoe makes too much sense.
20. Kevin Seraphin– San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs are smart. They’ll just build by taking a guy like Saraphin and having him grow up a bit before they start playing him. That’s why the Spurs are always good. They are smart.
21. Larry Sanders– Oklahoma City Thunder: I think Sanders gives the Thunder some toughness and athleticism at a position where they place Nenad Kristic and Nick Collison. Enough said, right?
22. Quincy Pondexter– Portland Trailblazers: The Blazers have plenty of talent in plenty of places, and Pondexter would just add a player that can do lots of things, be long and athletic, and produce energy plays any time he’s on the floor. He’s a quality player right now.
23. James Anderson– Minnesota Timberwolves: For those telling me that the Wolves don’t need a shooting guard – please, the Wolves need all the scoring they can get. Anderson might not be the next Michael Jordan, but that’s why he’s available late – he still knows how to score the ball, something the Wolves have a lot of trouble doing efficiently.
24. Solomon Alabi– Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks could really use more bigs. Guys that can make a dent on the defensive end against taller post players. They seem to get destroyed by teams with a post presence, and that’s probably because they don’t have a defensive post presence with length. Alabi would be a good fit.
25. Jordan Crawford– Memphis Grizzlies: I like Crawford. I don’t think the Grizzlies even know what they’re going to do, trades, free agency, etc. Crawford would give them a shot to explore some trade options and still have a high upside shooting guard. This late in Round 1, he’s a solid risk play.
26. Daniel Orton– Oklahoma City Thunder: They’ll have to hit with one of their bigs in this draft, right? The Thunder have a very good staff, and that’s why I don’t see them spending an early pick on Orton – too much risk. However, they have been stockpiling picks and if he’s there late, he’s a solid risk.
27. Elliot Williams– New Jersey Nets: Williams is a good defensive player, can really break down defenders 1 on 1, and that’s in college against zones and hand checking. I think he’s a steal this late, and New Jersey could use all the steals they can thieve.
28. Hassan Whiteside– Memphis Grizzlies: This kid has all the physical upside you could want, and so much length and hype… He also seems like a real donkey. To Memphis late, seems like a good fit.
29. Lance Stephenson– Orlando Magic: I think the Magic would be wise to grab a talent like Stephenson and see if they can get through to him and have him realize his potential. They could use some young off the dribble guys that can create.
30. Gani Lawal– Washington Wizards: Hard-nosed tough big man that is willing to do dirty work and not afraid to demand the ball. He’s super competitive and works very hard. Sound like any of the big guys in Washington? Not at all – that’s why he’d be a great pick up for the Wizz.
2010 NBA Mock Draft
Here’s my 1st Mock Draft for the 2010 NBA Draft. I’ve gone through every team making their first round pick based on who I think they will go for. In each explanation, I also tell you who I’d pick if I were selecting among. Who they will pick, who I would pick, explanation. That spells it out pretty clearly. Here goes the Lottery Picks, the first 14 picks in the draft. I’ll post the rest of my first mock next week.
1. John Wall – Washington Wizards: Who would I pick? John Wall. He’s the best NBA prospect in the draft. I would say Evan Turner was the best college basketball player in the country, and I know he’ll be a very good pro, but John Wall has that special motor and his feel for the game, his vision, and his leadership are underrated. He’s a must pick for the Wizards.
2. Derrick Favors – Philadelphia 76ers: Who would I pick? Evan Turner. I think Favors is a fantastic talent, and his upside might very well be greater than Turner’s, however Turner dominated the competition last season in a do-it-all fashion, and he’s the biggest sure thing in this draft. Turner might play the same position as Andre Iguodala but he’s a much smarter player, a much better passer, and a better shooter. If you don’t draft the best players, you are making a mistake. The 76ers weren’t in love with keeping Iggy last season, as he spent much of the pre-deadline time in trade rumors – why would you not draft a great player because he plays that same position? I see the sexiness in taking Favors, an elite NBA body, a big time upside front-court player on a team without any.
3. Evan Turner – New Jersey Nets: Who would I take? Evan Turner. The man in charge of New Jersey has a good head on his shoulders, he definitely gets it. If Turner falls to him at #3, he’ll smile and take the best college basketball player in the draft. Turner does it all for a team that has no real identity. He sees the floor very well and has great size and playmaking ability for a 2/3 player. To walk away with the biggest sure thing in the draft at #3 would be great for this 12 win team.
4. DeMarcus Cousins– Minnesota Timberwolves: Who would I take? Wes Johnson. Lets be honest, the Timberwolves aren’t great at any position. I would say they are solid at power forward, but at that spot they have two of the same guy. I would say that Al Jefferson is a great post offensive player, but his back-up, Kevin Love, is a better all around player. Jonny Flynn has some upside, and Corey Brewer showed some flashes, but neither are starters on a good team, right now. I think Wesley Johnson is a very good player that translates well to the NBA game. He shoots very well and has great size. He can play at least the 3 and the 4 in the NBA and can outshoot almost everyone at those positions. His game is refined. He can hit big shots. I think Cousins had great upside, but so do a lot of young guys with terrible attitudes that never turn out to be anything. He’s a chance, a big one, a guy I see the Wolves taking a chance on – but I’d take Wes Johnson if I were the Wolves. He’s the 4th best player in this draft.
5. Al Farouq Aminu– Sacramento Kings: Who would I take? Aminu. I think Cousins would be a good pick for the Kings. They don’t have any big question marks, and could really improve if they got a young stud center. If they have a chance to roll the dice on one of the best talents in the draft, I think they should take it. But he’s gone, and that leaves the Kings with a lot of guys to chose from. While I like Wes Johnson more as a player, and he could definitely help spread the floor for Evans, I just think Aminu’s athleticism and upside fits the best on a team with a ball dominant guard like Evans. Aminu would give them a completely different dimension off the bench at the small forward position. His upside is limitless and his athleticism is great.
6. Wes Johnson– Golden State Warriors: Who would I pick? Wes Johnson. I like Corey Maggette, but I think Wes Johnson would be a better player for this team. He does a lot of things well, can hit open shots, and has very good range – something Maggette doesn’t have. I honestly think Maggette and Ellis are very similar players, and having them on the floor at the same time doesn’t make much sense. I see Wes Johnson as a very good fit on any team, as he’s very versatile.
7. Greg Monroe– Detroit Pistons: Who would I draft? Greg Monroe. I think this would be a great pick for the Pistons. Regardless of what people say about Monroe, the kid does everything at a high level. He might not be dunking on people in the NBA, but the fact that he’s a great passer, a smart player, has a good feel for the game, and can do anything you want your PF/C to do makes him a great pick up for a Pistons team that is really missing that glue guy. He might not be an in-your-face tough guy like Dumars is after, but this kid will be a solid starter for a long time.
8. Gordon Hayward– Los Angeles Clippers: Who would I draft? Xavier Henry. I actually think these two guys are eerily similar. Both can shoot it well, but I think Xavier will end up being the better shooter down the line. Hayward is more athletic, but Henry has a very solid game. Both guys will be great #2, 3, or 4 options in a couple years.
9. Ed Davis– Utah Jazz: Who would I draft? Good question. I guess I’d take the guy I think is the best player left on the board, and that’s Henry. At the very least he can play a couple different dimensions. They would probably love Cousins, Monroe, Johnson, or Aminu to fall this far, but I don’t see any of them doing so. I have them reaching for an upside PF/C prospect in Ed Davis – a guy that probably lost some of his luster because his guards couldn’t really get him the ball, and he’s not a great low-post scorer. But he could do a lot of things for Utah, probably not fill in to Boozer’s spot, but his defensive presence, rebounding, and length makes him a decent pick. I think John Hollinger’s Player Rater doesn’t take into account the problems Davis had getting the ball from his guards at UNC. I tend to agree with what Hollinger is selling, but I disagree on Davis, I think he’ll be a solid contributor to a good team, off the bench early and maybe as a starter down the line. I still think Xavier will be the better player.
10. Avery Bradley– Indiana Pacers: Who would I draft? Eric Bledsoe. Why punish a kid for playing on the same team as the best pro prospect in college basketball? You give Bledsoe a chance to run the point at Kentucky, and I think he’s a Top 5 pick. I actually like A.J. Price, but Bledsoe has much better upside than him, and I definitely like him more than Earl Watson and TJ Ford. But I understand the lotto ticket you’re buying when you draft a guy like Bradley. Bradley’s physical talents and quickness are impressive. I don’t know how much he’ll be able to help offensively or run a team, but defensively he can help immediately. I like Bledsoe more, but I get it if the Pacers take Bradley.
11. Cole Aldrich – New Orleans Hornets: Who would I draft? Luke Babbitt. Everybody in New Orleans might as well start on the bench outside of their two point guards, Marcus Thornton, and David West. Emeka Okafor is greatly overpaid. David West is, too. The team’s two best players play the same position and both are small – tough to play together. But at least they have good something. What they need they probably will have trouble finding with the 11th pick, unless the reach for a good player that isn’t highly touted by NBA draftniks. One thing Babbitt can do is score. He can do that from many places on the floor, and that’s a great thing to team up with one of the best ball dominant guards in the NBA. Alrdrich may have been the better college player, and he does have good size and toughness, but this team doesn’t need another Emeka Okofor. One is too many, already.
12. Luke Babbitt– Memphis Grizzlies: Who would I draft? Eric Bledsoe. What the grizzlies don’t need is “upside” players. No, no – they need help fill in the cracks NOW players. This team definitely overshot their pre-season predictions, even with a tough 2nd half record. They are pretty solid up front, and they have depth with last years’ lottery pick, Thabeet. What this team really needs is to just get older, and get a point guard to either take Conley’s spot, or at least spell him. Mike’s not bad, but he’s not real good either. The Grizzlies are said to be in love with Babbit, so I say they take him here, but Bledsoe would be a solid option if Babbit’s off the board, and I still think Xavier Henry is the best player on the board. I don’t know if the Grizzlies need an offensive first scorer than doesn’t guard well – but what do I know?
13. Daniel Orton– Toronto Raptors: Who would I draft? Ekpe Udoh or Henry. They say Orton has huge upside, and lots of teams love him. But tell me how a guy can hardly get minutes for his college team and be a lottery pick that year? I’ve rarely seen that practice turn into success, but this could be the first. I know Orton has elite athleticism. While the Raptors will need help down low, especially with Bosh on his way out, I don’t think Orton is the answer. Amir Johnson is a solid enough “upside” guy that is already on their roster. I think Udoh is a guy that could help right now. He showed me a lot against Duke, and I think he would be a solid match with Andrea Bargnani, the one guy the Raptors will try to build around. I still like Henry a lot, and think taking the best player on the board is always a good move – but DeRozan is that same guy.
14. Xavier Henry– Houston Rockets: Who would I draft? Xavier Henry. I know they don’t need Henry – but looking at their roster, and what’s left in this draft, what do the Rockets need that can be filled here? A real Center? Not with Yao coming back, and Samhan is my highest rated guy left – probably not the best pick at #14. Hassan Whiteside has gobs of talent, but he seems a bit like a donkey if you ask me. Not that donkeys can’t flourish in a me-first league, but Houston is smart, and they don’t pick guys with those problems. I think Henry will be a good player in the NBA. Not a role player, a good player. He needs to grow up a little bit, physically, but he’s smart and he can help any team right out of the gates with his basketball IQ, his ability to shoot, and his versatility. Finally X goes off the board.