Thursday, June 10, 2010

Colten's NBA Mock Draft: Version 3.0

With the draft only a couple of weeks away, things are starting to take shape. Teams are inviting certain prospects for private workouts, so it's getting easier to predict which prospects a team likes and what position(s) they are looking at. We still must be careful, however, to distinguish between legitimate interest and smoke and mirrors. Case in point: the behavior of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Sitting at #2, the consensus player to fill that slot is Ohio State guard, Evan Turner. The Sixers, however, have a need for a big man, so word got out that they were looking at selecting Derrick Favors or DeMarcus Cousins at #2. Since then, nothing but "Evan Turner, Evan Turner" has come from the Sixers brass. This makes perfect sense, because convincing other teams that they will select Turner is crucial if they wish to obtain maximum value in the event of a trade.

With that in mind, I present to you, Colten's NBA Mock Draft: Version 3.0. Feel free to compare it with Version 1.0 and Version 2.0.

1. Washington Wizards: John Wall, PG, Kentucky
The Wizards haven't confessed their intentions just yet, but Wall is the consensus top prospect in the draft, so he is the selection here. Wall also brings off-court charisma and a flashy style to the table, so he should thrive as the face of a big market franchise like Washington.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Philadelphia): Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State
Just like in Versions 1.0 and 2.0, I have the T'wolves trading up from #4 to #2 to select Turner. Philly will try to get Minnesota to take Elton Brand's contract off its hands, while Minnesota will offer its third first round pick, #23 overall, to Philly. I think they will meet in the middle, and Philly will settle for the #4 and #16 picks in exchange for the #2 pick. Turner should fit right in with the T'wolves current perimeter duo of Johnny Flynn and Corey Brewer.

3. New Jersey Nets: Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech
Marc Stein of is reporting that the Nets have reached a verbal agreement with former Mavericks coach and current ESPN analyst, Avery Johnson to be its next head coach. If true, look for the Nets to possibly make a run at Dirk Nowitzki, who is expected to opt out of his contract with the Mavericks and become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Devin Harris might be the guy to benefit the most from this move, as he experienced tremendous success under the tutelage of Johnson while they were both in Dallas.

With or without Johnson and Dirk, I think Derrick Favors is the selection here. He and Cousins are the best players available, but I think Favors would fit in better next to Brook Lopez down low, so the Nets will go in that direction. I think Favors and Lopez could form the best young post duo in the league, which would make Nets fans very happy.

4. Philadelphia 76ers (via Minnesota): DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky
Many think DeMarcus Cousins has the talent to be in the running for the #1 overall pick, but maturity and conditioning concerns have him falling a few slots. As an avid UK fan who has watched Cousins play as much as anybody, I think these concerns are overblown, and teams that pass on him (other than the Wizards) will likely regret the decision shortly after. Cousins is young, huge, powerful, skilled, tough, and crafty -- all of which are terrific attributes for a big man prospect to have. I think Cousins will average 15+ ppg and 9+ rpg as a rookie and make a serious case for ROY. Additionally, he should fit right in with the rough and tough Philadelphia persona, much like Bill Lambeer in Detroit.

5. Sacramento Kings: Greg Monroe, C, Georgetown
I had Al-Farouq Aminu in this slot in my first two mocks, but Greg Monroe's stock is on the rise and the Kings could use another big man, so he is the choice this time. Although the Kings could use a versatile perimeter defender and rebounder like Aminu, they are set to possibly lose Jon Brockman, Sean May, Spencer Hawes, and Carl Landry to free agency over the next two summers. Monroe has a higher ceiling than any of their current big men, and he would be a nice choice at #5.

6. Golden State Warriors: Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse
Players who love to run the floor, shoot threes, and throw down huge dunks on the fast break are perfect for Don Nelson's famed "Nelly Ball," and Wesley Johnson fits that description to a T. With the emergence of Stephen Curry and the fact that Montae Ellis and his moped are wearing out their welcome in Oakland, I could see the Warriors sliding Corey Maggette from the three to the two and inserting Johnson in his place. Plus, the Warriors might lose Anthony Morrow this summer as an RFA, so Johnson makes even more sense if that is the case.

7. Memphis Grizzlies (via Detroit Pistons): Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest
If Favors, Cousins, and Monroe are all gone at this point, then I think Detroit will try to trade down. They'd love to move up to take one of those three, but with what assets? Tayshaun Prince's expiring contract? The value at #7 is at SF, but the Pistons are desperate for a center. If they can't find a partner, then they could be left to choose among Cole Aldrich, Daniel Orton, Ekpe Udoh, etc. That is why, if they're smart enough, the Grizzlies will capitalize on the opportunity to package a couple of its three first round picks and snag an elite player like Aminu.

The Pistons don't really need a SF since they already have Jonas Jerebko, Tayshaun Prince, Charlie Villanueva, Austin Daye, and DaJuan Summers serving as "big guys who can play on the perimeter." The Griz, however, might lose Rudy Gay to free agency this summer if a desperate team (like the Knicks or Nets, if they lose out in the LeBron sweepstakes) offers him a max-level contract. If this goes down, I think the Pistons will acquire the Grizzlies' #12 and #25 picks, and they'll take the best available big man at #12 -- possibly Cole Aldrich. In the end, I think this would be a terrific trade for both teams.

8. Los Angeles Clippers: Gordon Hayward, SF, Butler
The Clippers could really use a SF to fit in between Eric Gordon and a healthy Blake Griffin. Hayward is unselfish, plays tough D, and can shoot threes. He isn't a flashy pick, but I think he's the right one for the Clippers.

9. Utah Jazz (via New York): Luke Babbitt, SF, Nevada
I am torn between Patrick Patterson and Luke Babbitt here, but rumor has it the Jazz are infatuated with Babbitt, and have been for some time. With the looming free agencies of Wes Mathews and Kyle Korver, the Jazz will need someone to stretch the defense. On the other hand, Carlos Boozer is also expected to bolt to greener pastures this summer, so Patterson would certainly make sense here, too. But today, the pick is Babbitt.

10. Indiana Pacers: Avery Bradley, Guard, Texas
The Pacers are desperate for a playmaking guard, and Avery Bradley fits the description. There are questions about what his NBA position will be, but he should at the very least become a lock-down perimeter defender. If he really pans out, then he could become an improved version of Monta Ellis -- you know, the version that plays defense.

11. New Orleans Hornets: Daniel Orton, PF/C, Kentucky
The Hornets could really use a versatile big man to spell Emeka Okafor at center and David West at PF. Orton's combination of size, athleticism, and skill set makes him a better choice here than, say, Aldrich, Whiteside, or Udoh. Ed Davis makes sense here, too, but Orton's bulk and the fact that he projects well as a pick-and-roll player gives him the edge.

12. Detroit Pistons (via Memphis): Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas
See, I told you the Pistons might end up with Aldrich, anyway! Like I mentioned earlier, the Pistons are desperate for a center to replace Ben Wallace and Kwame Brown, and Aldrich should be a good start.

13. Toronto Raptors: Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina
Chris Bosh hasn't ruled out a return to Toronto, but most people think that he's bolting this summer. If that is the case, then the Raptors will need a PF to fill the void. Ed Davis is no Bosh, but he is a good value and fills a big need.

14. Houston Rockets: Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall
Although I would love to put Ekpe Udoh (the local kid from Baylor) in this spot, I think the Rockets need a true center, rather than a PF/C hybrid, so the edge goes to the 7-footer, Whiteside. If Yao Ming is healthy, then the Rockets have a deep frontcourt consisting of Yao, Chuck Hayes, David Anderson, Luis Scola, Jordan Hill, and Jared Jeffries. Now, it's unlikely that all of these players will be on the Rockets' roster in 2010-2011, but they should still have enough depth that they can afford to draft for upside and bring him along slowly, so Whiteside makes sense in that regard.

15. Milwaukee Bucks (via Chicago): Xavier Henry, SG/SF, Kansas
The Bucks need to replace the outside shooting of Michael Redd and, maybe, John Salmons, so Xavier Henry would be a terrific fit here. The Bucks could also look at the upside of a guy like Paul George, or the high floor of a guy like James Anderson, but I think they'll get a little bit of both in Henry.

16. Philadelphia 76ers (via Minnesota, from Charlotte): Paul George, SG/SF, Fresno State
With Cousins already on board, the Sixers can look to backcourt help. Paul George has the combination of size and athleticism to become a good starter in the NBA if he can develop a consistent jumper. At #16, he's definitely worth the risk.

17. Chicago Bulls (via Milwaukee): James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State
The Bulls never replaced the outside shooting of Ben Gordon when he left for big money in Detroit last summer. Anderson would be a welcomed edition in Chicago whether they land LeBron, D-Wade, or neither.

18. Miami Heat: Ekpe Udoh, PF, Baylor
The Heat could lose PG's Carlos Arroyo and Rafer Alston to free agency this summer, so Eric Bledsoe is a possibility here. However, they could have an even bigger gap to fill down low with the potential departures of Udonis Haslem, Jamaal Magloire, Jermaine O'Neal, and others, so I think Ekpe Udoh would be the choice in this scenario. Many experts expect Udoh to be a lottery pick, so this is good value for Miami.

19. Boston Celtics: Solomon Alabi, C, Florida State
If you are watching the NBA Finals, then you must have noticed by now that the Celtics are woefully undersized compared to the Lakers. Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom simply tower over Glenn Davis and Kendrick Perkins. The Celtics' tallest and longest players are Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace, but each is facing the twilight of his career and neither is as physically imposing as Alabi, who stands at 7'-1".

20. San Antonio Spurs: Damion James, SF, Texas
I was torn between putting Damion James or Eric Bledsoe here, but then a thought occurred to me and I decided on James. Just to make sure I wasn't out of line, I asked my brother (who happens to be sitting just a few feet from me) who he would take if he were the Spurs. He said, "James." I asked him why, wondering if he was thinking the same thing as me. "Bledsoe is too dumb to play for Popovich." My thinking, exactly.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky
The Thunder would be thrilled if Patterson were to fall this far. Unfortunately for Patterson, lots of teams need height and length, rather than versatility at the PF spot, so that is his reason for the fall. If the Pacers decide to deal Troy Murphy this summer, then Patterson has a chance to head to Indiana to play alongside Roy Hibbert, but for now he will have to drop to the Thunder. I think Patterson might actually start fairly soon for the Thunder, which would allow Jeff Green to be the sixth man and replace either the SF or PF -- kind of like what Lamar Odom does for the Lakers.

22. Portland Trail Blazers: Eric Bledsoe, PG, Kentucky
Andre Miller isn't getting any younger, and I doubt the Blazers believe Patrick Mills or Jerryd Bayless is the floor general of the future, so they hinge their hopes on Eric Bledsoe. He needs to learn to play under control, but Bledsoe has good upside and he would benefit from learning from Miller for a couple of years before taking the reins.

23. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah): Larry Sanders, PF, VCU
Minnesota is expected to re-sign Darko Milicic, who complements Al Jefferson and Kevin Love down low, and they traded up to fill the void at SG, so they go with Larry Sanders here because of his intriguing upside and the fact that he is different from anyone they have on their roster. He would be a nice change of pace to the bulkier Jefferson and Love.

24. Atlanta Hawks: Willie Warren, Guard, Oklahoma
Joe Johnson is on his way out of Atlanta this summer, so the Hawks will need to draft a combo guard who can sub in for Mike Bibby or Jamal Crawford and provide scoring for the second unit. Enter Willie Warren. Warren has his maturity issues, but there is no denying his talent and scoring ability. At #24, he is worth the risk.

25. Detroit Pistons (via Memphis): Keith Gallon, PF, Oklahoma
The Pistons already drafted a center with its first pick, so now they add another big body who can also stretch the defense a little. Like his teammate, Warren, Gallon has some maturity questions and was caught up in an improper benefits scandal during his time at OU. However, Gallon has a rare combination of size and skill that would be very appealing to Detroit.

26. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Phoenix): Jerome Jordan, C, Tulsa
Prior to the 2009-2010 college basketball season, Jerome Jordan was considered a potential lottery pick. Jordan did not live up to the hype, however, so most mock drafts are relegating him to the second round. Fortunately for Jordan, the Thunder could really use a center to compete with BJ Mullins for playing time, and all of the "first round" centers are gone, so Jordan gets the nod at the end of round one.

27. New Jersey Nets (via Dallas): Quincy Pondexter, SF, Washington
Pondexter really showed his mettle this March in the NCAA Basketball Tournament by leading Washington to the Sweet 16. Pondexter is NBA-ready, and could see some decent minutes for the Nets as a rookie.

28. Memphis Grizzlies (via Los Angeles): Jarvis Varnado, PF, MSU
This is a little high for Varnado, but I just have a gut feeling about this one. The Grizzlies have shown a preference for local guys, because they think they will have a better chance of retaining them when they head to free agency (see their acquisition of Ronnie Brewer and their flirtations with Monta Ellis). Varnado played ball at nearby MSU, and he grew up in Tennessee, plus the Griz have a need for a backup PF who can play defense and block shots. Sounds kind of like Varnado, to me.

29. Orlando Magic: Devin Ebanks, SF, West Virginia
If the Magic lose Matt Barnes to free agency, then they will need another perimeter defender to spell Vince Carter at SG, Mickael Pietrus at SF, and Rashard Lewis at PF. Devin Ebanks just happens to be a guy who can guard all three of those positions, so I think he would be a nice choice for Orlando here. If he improves his offensive game, then Ebanks could eventually become a good starter in the NBA.

30. Washington Wizards (via Cleveland): Gani Lawal, PF, Georgia Tech
The Wizards selected the new face of their franchise, John Wall, with the first overall pick. To close out round one, I think they will look for a guy to bang around down low. Gani Lawal doesn't wow you with his physical attributes or his skills, but he plays hard and cleans the boards, and every team could use a guy like that. With the additions of Wall and Lawal, the Wizards get off to a good start on their rebuilding efforts.

As always, please be sure to check out these other fine mock drafts:

Walter Football
Football Fan Spot
DC Pro Sports Report

1 comment: