The NBA Draft is only days away and there are still many questions that have yet to be answered. Who will be the #1 pick, Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley? What will the New York Knicks do with the 6th overall pick? How far will freshman talents such as DeAndre Jordan, JaVale McGee, Anthony Randolph, and Marreese Speights fall? Based on the needs of each team and what NBA executives and scouts have been saying, here is my best estimation of how the draft will play out. Keep in mind that this mock draft is solely based on what I think the teams will do, not what I think they should do.
I’ll provide a more in-depth breakdown of the lottery picks (1-14), covering all likely scenarios and providing my personal analysis of what I think each team should do with their draft pick. Beyond that I will provide my projected picks for each draft slot along with brief commentary on the thought process behind the selection.
1. Chicago Bulls – Derrick Rose (PG, 6’3, 196 lbs., Memphis Fr): Bulls General Manager John Paxson has not given any sort of indication whether he prefers Rose or Kansas State’s Michael Beasley, maintaining that they haven’t made a decision yet. At this point I’ll say the odds that the Bulls take the hometown hero are right at 1:2.
• Alternative option: Michael Beasley
• Analysis: Drafting Beasley here would just be taking the easy and more convenient road out. If the Bulls are serious about winning a championship they have to take Derrick Rose here, even if that means having to trade Hinrich and sort out the mess that is their backcourt. Rose has the character, leadership, and team mentality necessary to elevate the Bulls into championship contender status. There are a lot more Beasley’s in the NBA than Rose’s, and when a player like Rose comes along you have to jump on the opportunity.
2. Miami Heat – Michael Beasley (PF, 6’8, 239 lbs., Kansas State Fr): Seemingly a no-brainer here, right? The Heat will just take whoever is left out of Rose and Beasley. Not so fast. Mayo has gained a lot of buzz in recent weeks due to how he and Dwyane Wade hit it off and quickly became friends. After his impressive private workout with the Heat, there is certainly a possibility that Mayo will land in Miami. In addition, the #2 pick has tremendous market value right now and it is also possible that the Heat could explore the route of trading the pick to a team that is looking to move up and have a shot at either Beasley or Mayo. The Grizzlies have already reportedly offered the Heat a package of Mike Miller, Kyle Lowry, and the 5th overall pick in exchange for the 2nd overall pick and Mark Blount.
• Alternative option: O.J. Mayo
• Analysis: The Heat need to just keep it simple here and stick to the original plan. There is a considerable drop off in talent from Rose and Beasley to Mayo and Bayless, then an even bigger one after that. Grab Beasley and don’t look back.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves – O.J. Mayo (SG, 6’4, 200 lbs., USC Fr): Brook Lopez seemed to be the consensus pick early on, but in recent weeks Mayo has pretty much solidified his spot here since he is widely considered to be the best player available after Beasley and Rose. If Minnesota hasn’t noticed already, there are a handful of teams including Milwaukee, Portland, and New York that are seriously interested in trading up to get their hands on Mayo. If the T’Wolves are not completely sold on Mayo then they could explore a trade down to 6th or 8th overall given that they will still have a shot at either Kevin Love or Brook Lopez.
• Alternative options: Brook Lopez, Jerryd Bayless
• Analysis: O.J. Mayo’s agent is trying to sell Mayo as a pure point guard to improve his stock (because we all know that PG’s are more valuable than SG’s) but he is anything but that. I don’t see how a backcourt tandem of Mayo and Foye could work out. Looking at the T’Wolves’ current roster they have two things going for them already: a glut of swingmen and perimeter shooting. What does a shooting guard who shot a ridiculous amount of three-pointers (45% of his total shots) do for them? For Minnesota, interior and perimeter defense are by far bigger concerns than scoring points. I would draft Jerryd Bayless here or trade down (if the right offer came along) and grab Brook Lopez. Britt Robson does a great job of breaking down Minnesota’s interior defensive woes with Al Jefferson at center and Ryan Gomes at PF in this season recap.
4. Seattle SuperSonics – Jerryd Bayless (PG/SG, 6’3, 204 lbs., Arizona Fr): Not much to say here – this pick is the closest to a lock that you’re going to see early on in this draft. The Luke Ridnour and Earl Watson platoon has failed miserably the past few seasons and it ends here.
• Alternative option: O.J. Mayo
• Analysis: Bayless is actually the third best prospect on my draft board behind Rose and Beasley. Tough break for the SuperSonics to fall from #2 to #4 because of the lottery, but they definitely landed in a very favorable situation here.
5. Memphis Grizzlies – Kevin Love (PF, 6’9, 255 lbs., UCLA Fr): Love reportedly had a very strong workout for Memphis and he certainly fits some of the Grizzlies biggest needs. Lopez’s stock has fallen quite a bit recently because teams are questioning his upside while Love’s stock is on the up and up due to his raw talent.
• Alternative option: Brook Lopez
• Analysis: I think Love will be the better long-term NBA player, but the Grizzlies can’t go wrong with Brook Lopez here either. The Grizzlies were almost dead in opposing centers’ PER last year, giving up an average of 19.1 PPG and 15.0 RPG with an eFG% of 53.5%. Brook Lopez certainly fits that bill and is the best defensive big man available at this point.
6. New York Knicks – Russell Westbrook (PG, 6’3, 192 lbs., UCLA So): This is the most difficult pick to project because the Knicks are deficient in so many areas that they could go in a number of directions here. Mike D’Antoni reportedly wasn’t a huge fan of Gallinari’s game when he was shown tape during the season, but does that necessarily mean the Knicks aren’t going to draft him? They could also go with Eric Gordon, the best player available at this point. The Knicks’ biggest need is at PG though, and going by the tier system discussed by Chad Ford, the Knicks should look to fill their positional need here by going with Russell Westbrook or D.J. Augustin. Westbrook seems to be the consensus #1 PG right now; therefore, he is the most likely candidate at the moment.
• Alternative options: Danilo Gallinari, Joe Alexander, D.J. Augustin, Eric Gordon
• Analysis: Can’t lose with either Westbrook or Augustin here. Westbrook brings defensive tenacity and excellent speed while Augustin is an exceptional floor leader with legitimate NBA 3-point range. Augustin is the better point guard prospect in my mind though and he is a better fit than Westbrook in Mike D’Antoni’s style of offense.
7. Los Angeles Clippers – Eric Gordon (SG, 6’3, 222 lbs., Indiana Fr): This should be a fairly easy selection for the Clippers especially with Corey Maggette hitting free agency. They’ll be targeting whoever is left out of Gordon and Westbrook.
• Alternative options: Russell Westbrook, Danilo Gallinari, D.J. Augustin
• Analysis: The Clippers definitely need to upgrade their backcourt, so either Gordon or Augustin would work out well for them.
8. Milwaukee Bucks – Joe Alexander (SF, 6’8, 220 lbs., West Virginia Jr): Alexander is the draft’s biggest mover and has teams enamored with his athleticism, upside, and work ethic. Small forward is the Bucks’ biggest positional need, and with Gallinari refusing to work out for them it appears very likely that Alexander will end up in Milwaukee.
• Alternative options: Danilo Gallinari, Anthony Randolph
• Analysis: Alexander is the most logical pick here and Gallinari’s refusal to work out for the Bucks reminds many of what happened with Yi Jianlian last year.
9. Charlotte Bobcats – Brook Lopez (C, 7’0, 258 lbs., Stanford So): The Bobcats are looking for a frontcourt complement to Emeka Okafor, particularly a center. Lopez should fit well with Larry Brown’s defensive-oriented and grind it out style of play.
• Alternative options: Kevin Love, Anthony Randolph, D.J. Augustin
• Analysis: There are some concerns about whether Raymond Felton can fit into Larry Brown’s half-court offense, making D.J. Augustin a possibility here. The Bobcats have much bigger concerns at the center position though and would greatly benefit from sliding Emeka Okafor over to the 4 where he is better accustomed.
10. New Jersey Nets – Danilo Gallinari (SF, 6’9, 212 lbs., Armani Jeans Milano): President Rod Thorn and GM Kiki Vandeweghe’s strategy of taking the best player available makes Gallinari the easy choice. The Nets have put Richard Jefferson on the trading block and will not hesitate to draft a small forward here.
• Alternative options: Brook Lopez, Russell Westbrook, Joe Alexander, Anthony Randolph
• Analysis: The Nets have their backcourt duo of Devin Harris and Vince Carter locked up, making the chance that they draft D.J. Augustin very slim. I don’t buy Anthony Randolph’s chances of being successful in the NBA at all, so Gallinari would be the Nets’ best bet here.
11. Indiana Pacers – D.J. Augustin (PG, 5’11, 172 lbs., Texas So): The Pacers would be ecstatic if either Augustin or Westbrook fell to them at 11. Expect the Pacers to trade down if neither of them is available, as there really isn’t a center available here that fits their need for toughness.
• Alternative options: Russell Westbrook, Kosta Koufos
• Analysis: Augustin would be an outstanding option here. The Pacers have had problems at the point guard position for a while now stemming from Jamaal Tinsley’s inability to stay healthy (averaging 20+ missed games each season). Augustin steps in and provides the Pacers with an outstanding floor leader with much needed character.
12. Sacramento Kings – Anthony Randolph (SF/PF, 6’10, 197 lbs., LSU Fr): Randolph is not helping himself with the way he’s been working out, being very average so far according to numerous people who’ve watched him, looking “laid back” or even “out of shape.” His stock has fallen quite a bit, but if he is available here the Kings won’t be able to pass on him especially with their need at PF. There is talk about the Kings promising Arthur their pick here but I would suspect things will change if Randolph is available.
• Alternative option: Darrell Arthur, D.J. Augustin
• Analysis: The Kings are in sort of a lose-lose situation here, as neither Randolph nor Arthur project well as NBA prospects in my mind. Randolph had more turnovers than any prospect outside of Beasley and Thompson, and his 49.9 true shooting percentage is alarmingly bad for a guy who is supposed to dominate athletically. Arthur has a big tendency to disappear and have mental lapses when it comes to rebounding and defense. He also has a scorer’s mentality coupled with poor passing ability which doesn’t bode well. I would seek a trade here if possible.
13. Portland Trail Blazers – Donte Greene (SF, 6’9, 221 lbs., Syracuse Fr): It’s tough to project who will be drafted here because the Trail Blazers have been shopping this pick around heavily around for a savvy veteran. If Portland was to keep this pick, the upside of Donte Greene should be too attractive to pass up on. The Blazers are hoping that one of Alexander, Augustin, or Westbrook will drop to them but that appears to be highly unlikely.
• Alternative option: Brandon Rush
• Analysis: Greene is certainly not the Blazers’ answer at small forward and I see Rush as much more of a SG than a SF. More than half of Greene’s shots were three-pointers and his terrible shot selection led to an anemic 41.8 FG%. If the Blazers were to keep this pick I would definitely draft Brandon Rush here.
14. Golden State Warriors – Kosta Koufos (C, 7’1, 252 lbs., Ohio State Fr): Koufos’ stock has risen dramatically due to his excellent workouts, and out of the plethora of big men available at this spot Koufos seems to be the type of big man that would appeal the most to GM Chris Mullin. Donte Greene would be a likely selection if he is available.
• Alternative options: Donte Greene, Darrell Arthur, DeAndre Jordan, JaVale McGee
• Analysis: As a Warriors fan I am hoping that Mullin avoids Koufos, Arthur, Greene, and Robin Lopez. Since the plan is to build for 2010 around the core of Monta Ellis, Brandan Wright, and Andris Biedrins, a player with legitimate upside like JaVale McGee would be a great pick here.
15. Phoenix Suns – Brandon Rush (SG/SF, 6’7, 210 lbs., Kansas Jr): The Suns’ window is closing fast with Nash and Shaq nearing the end of their careers, so the Suns are looking for a swingman to step in and play for them next season.
• Alternative options: Robin Lopez, Donte Greene
16. Philadelphia 76ers – Darrell Arthur (PF, 6’9, 216 lbs., Kansas So): Arthur is the best fit for the 76ers here and offers the least risk amongst all of the other big men they are considering.
• Alternative options: Kosta Koufos, Marreese Speights, DeAndre Jordan
17. Toronto Raptors – Robin Lopez (C, 7’0, 255 lbs., Stanford So): Word is that the Raptors highly covet Robin Lopez and would have no hesitation drafting him if he fell. They believe Lopez is the physical post player they are looking for who will complement Chris Bosh well.
• Alternative options: Nicholas Batum, Alexis Ajinca, Roy Hibbert, DeAndre Jordan
18. Washington Wizards – Roy Hibbert (C, 7’2, 275 lbs., Georgetown Sr): The Wizards would opt for Darrell Arthur if he was available but chances are that he won’t. Roy Hibbert is the most NBA-ready out of the big men available here and would be a quality backup behind Brendan Haywood. Washington ranked 27th in pace factor last season and Hibbert would be a nice fit in a slow-paced offense due to his lack of athleticism.
• Alternative options: Darrell Arthur, DeAndre Jordan, JaVale McGee, Alexis Ajinca
19. Cleveland Cavaliers – DeAndre Jordan (C, 6’11, 250 lbs., Texas A&M Fr): Cleveland is looking to trade up in the draft and could strike a deal for Portland’s 13th overall pick in order to have a shot at Kansas’ Brandon Rush. If they were to stay at 19 then DeAndre Jordan would make the most sense given his raw, athletic upside. They are hoping Koufos falls to them but given the demand for big men in the 12-18 range and Koufos’ rising stock, that seems pretty unlikely.
• Alternative options: Roy Hibbert, Marreese Speights, JaVale McGee
20. Denver Nuggets – Mario Chalmers (PG, 6’2, 170 lbs., Kansas Jr): The Nuggets seem to be pretty serious about addressing their need at point guard and have been discussing a potential trade with the Grizzlies involving Kyle Lowry. The withdrawal of Ty Lawson from the draft means that Chalmers is without a doubt the best PG on the board at this point.
• Alternative options: Alexis Ajinca, JaVale McGee, Marreese Speights
21. New Jersey Nets – Marreese Speights (PF/C, 6’10, 245 lbs., Florida So)
22. Orlando Magic – Courtney Lee (SG, 6’5, 200 lbs., Western Kentucky Sr)
23. Utah Jazz – Alexis Ajinca (C, 7’1, 240 lbs., Hyeres-Toulon)
24. Seattle SuperSonics – JaVale McGee (C, 7’0, 241 lbs., Nevada So)
25. Houston Rockets – Nicolas Batum (SF, 6’8, 210 lbs., Le Mans Sarthe Basket)
26. San Antonio Spurs – Chris Douglas-Roberts (SG, 6’7, 200 lbs., Memphis Jr)
27. New Orleans Hornets – J.J. Hickson (PF, 6’9, 240 lbs., N.C. State Fr)
28. Memphis Grizzlies – Nathan Jawai (PF, 6’10, 270 lbs., Cairns Taipans)
29. Detroit Pistons – Jason Thompson (PF, 6’11, 250 lbs., Rider Sr)
30. Boston Celtics – Serge Ibaka (PF, 6’10, 230 lbs., L’Hospitalet)
Justin Phan is an aspiring sportswriter and one of the Cafe's recognized experts. He grew up in the Bay Area and has been a Warriors fan since the Run TMC days. Justin maintains that Baron Davis' beard is without a doubt the greatest thing about the NBA despite the results of the BDL Bedlam Tournament. Currently a college student at Santa Clara University, Justin looks forward to many years to come in the sports writing industry. Catch up with Justin, who posts as Rounders Block, and many other great minds at the Cafe's forums.
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