Wednesday, June 9, 2010

2010 NBA Mock Draft

It's been a while, but it's that time of year again. Here are my projections for the 2010 NBA Draft. (Note: heights/weights are based off ESPN's Chad Ford.)

First Round

1. Washington Wizards: John Wall (Kentucky) [PG, 6-4, 196 lbs, 19 yrs] - There's no doubt about this pick, as Wall has been the consensus #1 pick for some time now. It will be interesting to see what the Wizards do with Gilbert Arenas. In theory, his scoring ability should make him a good fit on offense next to Wall, while Wall's size and athleticism should allow him to defend shooting guards, so on paper this sounds good on offense and defense. But would it actually work? Arenas is accustomed to having the ball in his hands and his numbers would likely suffer a bit playing off the ball. Of course the more pertinent question is whether the Wizards want Wall to be around Arenas. Much in the way that the Blazers were eager to get rid of Zach Randolph when they had Greg Oden coming in, we could see the Wizards attempt to deal Arenas, lest he corrupt their point guard of the future.

2. Philadelphia 76ers: Derrick Favors (Georgia Tech) [PF, 6-10, 245 lbs, 18 yrs] - This is a very difficult pick to project and no one would blame the Sixers for trading down a few picks to land DeMarcus Cousins, but in the end of the day, Favors' potential is probably too much to pass up. He's listed as a power forward, but his official measurements (6-10, 7-2 wingspan, 9-2 standing reach) suggest that he could play center if needed. Evan Turner wouldn't be a bad pick here, but his game seems too similar to Andre Iguodala's. DeMarcus Cousins would be a solid pick as well, as he has as much potential as anyone in the draft, but Favors seems to have the edge among NBA GMs right now. It's also very possible the Sixers will draft Turner just to trade him.

3. New Jersey Nets: Evan Turner (Ohio State) [SG, 6-7, 214 lbs, 21 yrs] - No doubt the Nets would be thrilled if Favors were to fall to them here, as he and Brook Lopez would make quite a front-court tandem, but Turner is a nice consolation prize. He can play either shooting guard or small forward. Power forward is a bigger need for the Nets, but they can likely address that position in free agency, with Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, and Carlos Boozer all likely available. As rough as the draft lottery was on the Nets, they could easily have a starting five next year that consists of Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, Turner, Brook Lopez, and Bosh/Stoudemire/Boozer. Not too shabby.

4. Minnesota Timberwolves: Wesley Johnson (Syracuse) [SF, 6-8, 206 lbs, 22 yrs] - I'm not a big fan of taking Johnson this high, but it's hard to figure who else the T'wolves could take here. Johnson is a great athlete with a sweet shooting stroke, but he hasn't shown a strong ability to create his own shot and it's hard to rate his defense after a year playing the Syracuse zone. Still, if nothing else he projects as a good role player and should be a good fit with a team that already has playmakers in Johnny Flynn (and maybe Ricky Rubio, down the road) and low-post players in Kevin Love and Al Jefferson. Of course, it's also possible Minnesota could trade either Love or Jefferson to facilitate drafting Cousins here, but for now it seems Johnson is the likely pick.

5. Sacramento Kings: DeMarcus Cousins (Kentucky) [C, 6-11, 292 lbs, 19 yrs] - The Kings already have two impressive young big men in Jason Thompson and Carl Landry so they could opt for a perimeter player here, but it's hard to imagine them passing up on Cousins' talent to take a more questionable prospect like Al-Farouq Aminu. If nothing else, they would be wise to pick Cousins just to trade him. That said, there's no reason to think that Cousins couldn't slide into their current rotation, starting alongside Thompson with Landry in the sixth man role he played in Houston. Were it not for some questions about his character and work ethic, Cousins would be battling Wall for the top overall pick, so this could potentially be a tremendous value pick.

6. Golden State Warriors: Al-Farouq Aminu (Wake Forest) [SF, 6-9, 215 lbs, 19 yrs] - Aminu doesn't fill a clear-cut need for the Warriors, but as a super-athletic combo forward, he should fit very well into their up-tempo style of play. An interesting pick here would be Ed Davis, who is also a good athlete, but is more of a prototypical power forward and could provide the Warriors with some much-needed defense and rebounding. On the flip side, it would create a bit of a logjam at the power forward position, as the Warriors also need to find minutes for Anthony Randolph and Brandan Wright. For now Aminu's versatility gives him the edge.

7. Detroit Pistons: Greg Monroe (Georgetown) [PF, 6-11, 247 lbs, 20 yrs] - The Pistons already have young players at point guard (Rodney Stuckey), shooting guard (Ben Gordon), and power forward (Charlie Villanueva) and they drafted two small forwards last year (Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko), so it would make sense for them to take a big man who can play center. Monroe is the best center prospect left on the board and with his size, low-post ability, and passing, he should excel alongside perimeter-oriented scorers such as Villanueva and Gordon. Ed Davis is also a strong possibility here, as he could help shore up the Pistons defense, but Monroe's size advantage makes him the better pick for Detroit.

8. Los Angeles Clippers: Avery Bradley (Texas) [SG, 6-3, 180 lbs, 19 yrs] - The Clippers' biggest need is the small forward position so Gordon Hayward is a possibility here, but they will likely try to address small forward through free agency. While landing LeBron isn't likely, they could make a serious run at Rudy Gay or Joe Johnson to fill that hole. Bradley wouldn't start right away, but he could contribute off the bench on defense and might eventually be able to take Baron Davis' place as the starting point guard.

9. Utah Jazz: Ed Davis (North Carolina) [PF, 6-10, 227 lbs, 20 yrs] - The Jazz will very likely have to replace Carlos Boozer this off-season so getting a solid big man is a must. While Paul Millsap could take up some of Boozer's minutes, his lack of size makes him a suspect defender (and it's not as if Mehmet Okur is going to lock down opposing bigs). Davis has the size and athleticism to make up for the loss of Boozer's rebounding and could provide some much-needed post defense and shot-blocking.

10. Indiana Pacers: Cole Aldrich (Kansas) [C, 6-10, 236 lbs, 21 yrs] - This would continue the Pacers' trend of drafting accomplished college players with little-to-no upside. Think about it -- Tyler Hansbrough, Roy Hibbert, Brandon Rush, A.J. Price. Aldrich should fit right in. He should be a solid big man for a while, but his lack of athleticism limits his potential. If nothing else, he should contribute on the boards and with blocked shots. An interesting pick here would be Xavier Henry (and not just because of the inherent awkwardness of picking a Kansas guard to replace Brandon Rush, another Kansas guard). Henry is not the most explosive athlete, but he has an NBA-ready body and is a deadly three-point shooter who could help space the floor for Danny Granger. But the presence of Rush and Mike Dunleavy makes Aldrich the more likely pick.

11. New Orleans Hornets: Ekpe Udoh (Baylor) [PF, 6-10, 237 lbs, 23 yrs] - While the Hornets have two solid starting big men in Emeka Okafor and David West, they could really use some depth up front. Udoh's age makes him a bit of a question mark this high, but he's coming off a great season at Baylor and could really develop as an offensive player once he refines his game a bit. If nothing else he'll rebound, block shots, and run the floor with Chris Paul. Another option would be Daniel Orton, but he may be more of a project than the Hornets want to take on.

12. Memphis Grizzlies: Gordon Hayward (Butler) [SF, 6-8, 211 lbs, 20 yrs] - While Memphis claims they intend to retain Rudy Gay, it would be foolish on their part not to draft an insurance policy. If some team offers Gay a max contract, is Memphis really going to match it? Even if they keep Gay, Hayward could be a solid sixth man for the Grizzlies.

Just for the record, I think Hayward will be a pretty big bust. His scoring numbers are solid, but nothing to write home about, especially considering the better part of his games came against Horizon League competition. He's hyped as a three-point shooter, but he only shot 29.4% last season. Granted, he was the focal point of the offense and faced more defensive pressure than, say, Xavier Henry, but that still doesn't inspire confidence that he'll be able to get off shots against NBA defenses. To me, the play that summed up Hayward as a prospect was his missed shot against Brian Zoubek in the waning seconds of the National Championship game (not the half-court heave, the fadeaway before that).

Because of Zoubek's size and Hayward's so-so athleticism, he was forced into an extremely difficult high-arching fadeaway. The shot wasn't far off the mark, but it missed nonetheless. Obviously he won't be guarded by seven-footers all that often in the NBA, but considering how long and athletic most NBA small forwards are (and how unathletic Zoubek is), it's actually a reasonable comparison to what he'll have to look forward to in the league. Not to mention, a similar foray into the paint against an athletic NBA big man would result in that shot being swatted into the seats. Suffice it to say, I would not take Hayward anywhere near this high, but this is a mock draft, not my prospect rankings, so somebody is going to make that mistake -- and what better team than the Grizzlies?

13. Toronto Raptors: Daniel Orton (Kentucky) [C, 6-10, 269 lbs, 19 yrs] - Orton is a bit of a project considering he didn't even log much playing time in his one year in college (sitting behind DeMarcus Cousins on the depth chart didn't help), but let's face it, if Chris Bosh leaves Toronto, they're in rebuilding mode and they can take their time bringing along a player with Orton's inexperience and tremendous upside. He should be able to provide some solid rebounding and shot-blocking numbers right off the bat and he projects as a good inside scorer who should complement the outside shooting of Andrea Bargnani. In the unlikely scenario that Bosh stays put, he'd give them a nice reserve PF/C and some of the toughness and defense they've lacked in recent years.

14. Houston Rockets: Larry Sanders (VCU) [PF, 6-11, 222 lbs, 21 yrs] - With last season's Carl Landry trade and Luis Scola's expiring contract, the Rockets are lacking at power forward. They might be tempted to go with the potential of Hassan Whiteside, but I have them going for a more experienced player. Sanders is still raw on the offensive end, but he's proven himself on the defensive side. Driving into the paint against Sanders (2.6 BPG last year) and Yao would be pretty intimidating. Another possibility here would be Patrick Patterson. Sanders or Patterson would give Houston an experienced forward, as opposed to Whiteside, who is more of a project player. Then again, if the Rockets are convinced that Yao could be leaving the team after his contract expires at the end of the upcoming season, they might gamble and go after Whiteside.

15. Milwaukee Bucks: Xavier Henry (Kansas) [SG, 6-7, 210 lbs, 19 yrs] - The Bucks will have Michael Redd back next season, but who knows how healthy or effective he'll be. Considering the team had to resort to starting Carlos Delfino in the playoffs, there is a clear need at shooting guard/small forward. Henry's game was a bit one-dimensional in his one year at Kansas, but if nothing else his elite shooting ability should turn him into a poor man's Michael Redd, though likely a better defender. Getting Henry this late would be a steal.

16. Minnesota Timberwolves: Hassan Whiteside (Marshall) [C, 7-0, 227 lbs, 20 yrs] - The Al Jefferson/Kevin Love experiment seems to have been a failure and it's quite possible that one of the two (more likely Love) will be dealt on or approaching draft day. If there is a trade, then Minnesota has a clear need at center, but even if no moves are made, Whiteside's skill set should complement both big men quite well. His size and athleticism make him the best shot-blocker in the draft. He averaged 5.4 BPG last year as a freshman at Marshall and recorded multiple triple-doubles in points, rebounds, and blocks. He was also active on the glass, though he'll have a harder time duplicating that in the pros until he bulks up. His offensive game is still raw but he's a good jump shooter for a big man and if he continues to work on that, he'll fit in very well with Jefferson's low-post game. This is a bit of a gamble, as Whiteside is something of a project, but with such a young team and three first round picks, Minnesota would do well to take a chance here.

17. Chicago Bulls: James Anderson (Oklahoma State) [SG, 6-6, 210 lbs, 21 yrs] - It's hard to project the Bulls' needs without knowing who they'll land in free agency, but Anderson should be a solid pick no matter who they get. He's not an elite athlete, but he's a good shooter with a knack for getting to the free throw line. He should give the Bulls a perimeter player other than Derrick Rose who can create his own shot and should be able to replace some of the perimeter offense they lost when Ben Gordon left last summer.

18. Miami Heat: Paul George (Fresno State) [SF, 6-9, 214 lbs, 20 yrs] - Like the Bulls, the Heat's draft strategy has to hinge on their plans for free agency. Obviously the priority is to retain Dwyane Wade and, once that is accomplished, sign a big-name power forward to play alongside him. Not only that, but the team also has to decide whether or not to stick with former #2 overall pick Michael Beasley. It seems like the team has given up on Beasley and he could be on the way out, sooner rather than later. The Heat have a couple different directions they could go with this pick. They could draft for size, as Jermaine O'Neal and Udonis Haslem have expiring contracts, but they will likely go after a big man in the free agent market. They could add a point guard, such as Eric Bledsoe, but, talented as Bledsoe is, he is a bit of an unknown at the point guard position, having played in John Wall's shadow at Kentucky. Instead, I have them shoring up a need at small forward and adding Paul George. George is a great athlete and a dead-eye three-point shooter. He'd look good running the floor with Wade and should benefit from the open looks that Wade generates.

19. Boston Celtics: Luke Babbitt (Nevada) [SF, 6-9, 214 lbs, 21 yrs] - The Celtics could very well lose Ray Allen in the off-season via free agency and they'll need someone to help replace his scoring punch. Babbitt is a good all-around scorer and an excellent shooter who could step in and fill Allen's shoes to a degree. The biggest knock on him is his defense which is a legitimate concern, but Allen was never known as a great defender either and with defensive stalwarts like Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, and Rajon Rondo, the Celtics should be able to mask Babbitt's deficiencies.

20. San Antonio Spurs: Craig Brackins (Iowa State) [PF, 6-10, 229 lbs, 22 yrs] - The Spurs are supposedly shopping Tony Parker, hoping to land a big man to pair with Tim Duncan. If they pull off such a trade, look for them to go after a guard such as Eric Bledsoe. If not, Brackins makes a lot of sense for them here. He is a proven low-post scorer and has a solid perimeter game as well. He's also posted strong rebounding numbers over the past few years. The Spurs might go another direction here, with DeJuan Blair and Antonio McDyess still under contract, but McDyess is on his last legs and Blair is not the kind of versatile scorer that Brackins is. Brackins' skill set should complement any of the Spurs' big men on the offensive end.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Solomon Alabi (Florida State) [C, 7-1, 237 lbs, 22 yrs] - As impressive as the Thunder's turnaround was last year, their first-round defeat at the hands of the Lakers (while certainly nothing to be ashamed of) highlighted their need for size and low-post scoring. At 7-1, Alabi certainly has the size part covered. His numbers weren't overly impressive at Florida State, but then again the same can be said of B.J. Mullens, who the Thunder drafted last year. If nothing else, he has legit center size and should be able to block some shots, with the potential for much more.

22. Portland Trail Blazers: Damion James (Texas) [SF, 6-8, 227 lbs, 22 yrs] - Portland will no doubt be tempted to draft a big man after a rash of injuries left their frontcourt depleted last year. However the trade for Marcus Camby and the resulting decreased playing time for Joel Przybilla and Greg Oden should alleviate some of those concerns. A young team, the Blazers have depth at virtually every position. While they could opt to take a point guard to serve as heir apparent to Andre Miller, I see them going for the best remaining player in Damion James. It's unclear what position James will play in the pros, as he's undersized for a power forward, but that fits his skill set better than small forward. However, the undersized power forward is all the rage in the NBA these days and James should be able to make up for his lack of height with his athleticism and motor. He's a good fit for Portland in that he can play power forward if needed but can also log valuable minutes at small forward.

23. Minnesota Timberwolves: Robin Benzing (Germany) [SF, 6-10, 210 lbs, 21 yrs] - Minnesota has three first round picks, making it likely that they'll take at least one player they can stash overseas (you know, intentionally, not like last year when they drafted Rubio). One option here would be Kevin Seraphin, but the Timberwolves are pretty well stocked at PF/C, especially if they take Whiteside with the 16th pick. Instead, they go for Benzing, who, with his size and nationality, will inevitably draw Dirk Nowitzki comparisons. However, comparing him to Rashard Lewis or Hedo Turkoglu would probably be more apt.

24. Atlanta Hawks: Jordan Crawford (Xavier) [SG, 6-4, 198 lbs, 21 yrs] - Atlanta will most likely lose Joe Johnson this off-season so they'll need someone to replace some of his scoring punch. Crawford should be a good fit in that regard as he was an excellent scorer for Xavier last year. In particular he made waves in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 29 PPG, highlighted by his 32 points against Kansas State. Crawford is a bit undersized, but with his athleticism he should be able to make up for his lack of height. Of course, should Atlanta decide that he's too similar to their residing sixth man, Jamal Crawford, they could go another direction.

25. Memphis Grizzlies: Eric Bledsoe (Kentucky) [PG, 6-2, 192 lbs, 20 yrs] - The jury is still out on whether or not Mike Conley is the point guard of the future for the Grizzlies. He has not made the expected strides since they drafted him 4th overall in 2007. He'll likely retain the starting job for now, but the Grizzlies would be wise to draft someone to give him a little competition. Despite being overshadowed by John Wall, Bledsoe is a fine point guard prospect and, if nothing else, his shooting ability should give the Grizzlies a bit of a different look when he subs in for Conley.

26. Oklahoma City Thunder: Terrico White (Mississippi) [SG, 6-5, 203 lbs, 20 yrs] - White's career has been plagued by inconsistency, but he is one of the best athletes in the draft and when he is on he can really light up the scoreboard. His ability to log some minutes at point guard also works in his favor. If nothing else, he would look good running the fastbreak with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. This late in the first round, he's a good gamble for Oklahoma City.

27. New Jersey Nets: Patrick Patterson (Kentucky) [PF, 6-9, 240 lbs, 21 yrs] - This, of course, presumes that the Nets draft Evan Turner and not Derrick Favors with their first pick. The team's biggest hole last year was undoubtedly power forward, where Yi Jianling proved to be soft and extremely erratic as the starter last year. Patterson doesn't have overwhelming upside, but he has a solid all-around game and should be able to contribute immediately.

28. Memphis Grizzlies: Kevin Seraphin (France) [PF, 6-10, 258 lbs, 20 yrs] - There's a good chance Seraphin will withdraw from the draft after suffering a knee injury that will keep him out for the next few weeks. However, if he stays in the draft, he'd be a solid pick for Memphis, who can let him develop abroad for a few years, as they have three first round picks in this year's draft and already have some depth at power forward and center. Seraphin is very raw but he has the potential to develop into a defensive force.

29. Orlando Magic: Willie Warren (Oklahoma) [PG, 6-4, 208 lbs, 20 yrs] - Warren's stock has taken a major hit since last year's draft, but his physical tools and shooting ability should get him picked in the first round. Orlando would be a good landing spot for him. His size and athleticism would make him a nice complement to Jameer Nelson and he should be able to take advantage of double teams on Dwight Howard, much in the way he benefited from Blake Griffin's presence in his first year at Oklahoma.

30. Washington Wizards: Jarvis Varnado (Mississippi State) [PF, 6-10, 210 lbs, 22 yrs] - The Wizards were an atrocious defensive team last year and could use some help on the interior. Varndao should have that covered, as the NCAA's all-time leading shot-blocker. And while his offensive ability is nothing special, he's not exactly Ben Wallace either. He should be able to make an instant impact for Washington on the defensive side of the ball.

Second Round

31. New Jersey Nets: Lance Stephenson (Cincinnati) [SG, 6-6, 227 lbs, 19 yrs] - Stephenson underwhelmed in his lone season at Cincinnati though he seems to have alleviated some of the concerns about his character. He started out strong, but struggled late in the year. That said, he has lottery talent and is worth a shot with the first pick in the second round. And what better way to tap into that Brooklyn fan base early than to draft the Lincoln High School phenom?

32. Oklahoma City: Gani Lawal (Georgia Tech) [PF, 6-9, 233 lbs, 20 yrs] - After taking chances on projects such as Solomon Alabi and Terrico White, I have the Thunder going for a safer pick here in Lawal. His numbers dropped off a bit in 2009-10 from the previous season, but that was because Derrick Favors plays the same position as him and their games do not mesh together particularly well. His offense could still use work, but he should be able to come in and be a force on defense and on the boards right away.

33. Sacramento Kings: Quincy Pondexter (Washington) [SF, 6-7, 220 lbs, 22 yrs] - Pondexter lacks a polished perimeter game, but is one of the better athletes in the draft and was a great slasher at Washington. He's a high-energy player who will crash the boards and work hard on defense. He should be a good running mate for Tyreke Evans.

34. Golden State Warriors: Sylven Landesberg (Virginia) [SG, 6-6, 210 lbs, 20 yrs] - Landesberg isn't the lights-out shooter than Don Nelson might have wanted but he's a good slashing guard who's shown a strong ability to get to the free throw line. He's also an adept ball-handler and should be able to slide in next to either Monta Ellis or Stephon Curry with relative ease, perhaps even running the point now and again, allowing Ellis or Curry to play off the ball.

35. Washington Wizards: Armon Johnson (Nevada) [PG, 6-4, 195 lbs, 21 yrs] - Johnson would give Washington another combo guard who could line up next to either John Wall or Gilbert Arenas in the backcourt. At 6-4 with good athleticism, he should be able to hold his own defending shooting guards, if need be. If nothing else, he'd provide a little depth at the point guard position.

36. Detroit Pistons: Stanley Robinson (Connecticut) [SF, 6-8, 213 lbs, 21 yrs] - After taking Greg Monroe in the first round, a player with so-so athleticism but superb skills, the Pistons go the opposite route in Round 2, opting for the hyper-athletic but raw Stanley Robinson. If he can refine his skills, Robinson has the potential to be a very good player and could ultimately replace Tayshaun Prince. If not, he should still be able to provide some defense and energy off the bench.

37. Milwaukee Bucks: Jerome Jordan (Tulsa) [C, 7-1, 244 lbs, 23 yrs] - Jordan isn't a polished low-post scorer, but he has great size and has been a strong defensive presence at Tulsa. While he won't blow anyone away, he should be able to be a solid backup for Andrew Bogut.

38. New York Knicks: Elliot Williams (Memphis) [SG, 6-4, 180 lbs, 20 yrs] - The Knicks obviously aren't expecting to land any starters at this point in the draft, but their mindset has to be to draft players whose skills complement the players they're looking to add in free agency. Williams could be a good fit for that purpose. He's a bit of an undersized shooting guard, but he would play well with either LeBron James or Dwyane Wade since either superstar can do the bulk of the ball-handling if need be.

39. New York Knicks: Keith Gallon (Oklahoma) [PF, 6-10, 302 lbs, 19 yrs] - Gallon is a bit of a risk as he's struggled with weight issues and has become perhaps a little too fond of his outside shot. That said, if he can get his weight under control, he is an excellent fit next to James or Wade, as his shooting ability would help space the floor and at the same time he could contribute on the offensive glass. The Knicks drafting Gallon or Elliot Williams isn't about to lure LeBron or Wade to New York, but should the Knicks land one of them, these second rounders could potentially serve as valuable role players.

40. Indiana Pacers: Sherron Collins (Kansas) [PG, 6-0, 217 lbs, 23 yrs] - After taking Cole Aldrich with the 10th pick, the Pacers grab another experienced Jayhawk in Sherron Collins. He's undersized, but Aaron Brooks and Darren Collison have both excelled despite their diminutive statures so maybe Collins can be just as effective. If nothing else he'd feel at home with, joining Aldrich and former teammate Brandon Rush.

41. Miami Heat: Dexter Pittman (Texas) [C, 6-11, 303 lbs, 22 yrs] - Miami could use some size and they would certainly get that in Pittman. He never put up big numbers at Texas because of a combination of foul trouble and poor conditioning, but with his size and strength, one has to think he can give Miami a few quality minutes off the bench, with the potential for more down the road.

42. Miami Heat: Mikhail Torrance (Alabama) [PG, 6-5, 209 lbs, 21 yrs] - The Heat clearly soured a bit on Mario Chalmers last season and they could use another point guard to challenge him. Torrance has good size and decent shooting ability so he should be able to play off Dwyane Wade reasonably well, while possessing the ability to create some offense for himself, given the chance.

43. Los Angeles Lakers: Trevor Booker (Clemson) [PF, 6-8, 236 lbs, 22 yrs] - Booker is a bit undersized, but he makes up for it with long arms and athleticism. He should be able to make an instant impact on defense. Offensively, he still has work to do, but he's put up solid scoring numbers at Clemson, averaging 15 PPG for the past two years, and he is a good passer for a big man, averaging 2.5 APG last season, so he should be a good fit in the triangle offense.

44. Portland Trail Blazers: Darington Hobson (New Mexico) [SF, 6-7, 204 lbs, 22 yrs] - Hobson is one of the most versatile players in the draft, with the ability to play three positions. His numbers were similar to Evan Turner's, though he lacks Turner's upside. His versatility should intrigue the Blazers, who already have a versatile star in Brandon Roy. Should Hobson work his way into the Blazers' rotation, he should give them a lot of different lineup options.

45. Minnesota Timberwovles: Dominique Jones (South Florida) [SG, 6-5, 216 lbs, 21 yrs] - Jones isn't a prototypical shooting guard, getting a lot of his points on drives to the basket, but there's no questioning his effectiveness. He averaged 21.4 PPG last year and showed the ability to play a little point guard as well. He could develop into a solid scorer off the bench for the T'wolves.

46. Phoenix Suns: Manny Harris (Michigan) [SG, 6-5, 185 lbs, 20 yrs] - One thing that stood out in the Suns' playoff defeat at the hands of the Lakers is that, with Raja Bell gone, they had no one to check Kobe Bryant. While I wouldn't deem Harris a Kobe-stopper, he is a good athlete and an aggressive defender who ought to be better suited for that defensive stopper role than Grant Hill or Jared Dudley. Harris also has good potential as a scorer, even if he was erratic in that role at Michigan. If Alvin Gentry can rein him in and keep him from taking so many bad shots, he could become a good bench scorer.

47. Milwaukee Bucks: Greivis Vasquez (Maryland) [SG, 6-6, 211 lbs, 23 yrs] - Vasquez put up very impressive numbers at Maryland but it's hard to know whether they will translate to the pros. He isn't much of an athlete and lacks great range on his jumpshot, so he'll have quite an adjustment to make. His saving grace may be his size combined with his ability to play point guard. Those aspects and his motor might be enough to make him a serviceable backup. The Bucks are shallow at point guard, with Luke Ridnour's contract up, so Vasquez might be a solid gamble for them.

48. Miami Heat: Devin Ebanks (West Virginia) [SF, 6-8, 208 lbs, 20 yrs] - The Heat could look to an international prospect here, with their fourth draft pick, but with so many impending free agents, they might just want to fill out the roster. Getting Ebanks here is a potential steal. He never quite put it together in college, but he's got good upside as a pro and should be a solid energy player off the bench, if nothing else.

49. San Antonio Spurs: Jon Scheyer (Duke) [SG, 6-6, 180 lbs, 22 yrs] - Scheyer is a mediocre athlete and doesn't project to be nearly as good in the NBA as he was at Duke, but he has an outstanding basketball IQ and is a great shooter. Those aspects should make him a great fit for the Spurs. In San Antonio, he should see his share of wide open looks and should be able to make good on them and there's no doubt Gregg Popovich will appreciate his basketball IQ and passing ability.

50. Dallas Mavericks: Charles Garcia (Seattle) [PF, 6-10, 232 lbs, 21 yrs] - Garcia has the physical tools to make an instant impact, but he played against a low level of competition at Seattle University and will have to make some adjustments to succeed in the NBA. That said, based on his talent, he would have likely been a first round pick if not for questions about his character.

51. Oklahoma City Thunder: Da'Sean Butler (West Virginia) [SF, 6-7, 225 lbs, 22 yrs] - Butler would have almost certainly been drafted earlier if not for his torn ACL, but he still has a chance to become a solid NBA player. Oklahoma City is loaded with young talent and can afford to wait and see if he can recover and turn back into the player who some viewed as a potential first round pick before his injury.

52. Boston Celtics: Derrick Caracter (Louisville) [PF, 6-10, 280 lbs, 22 yrs] - Caracter's main flaw in the eyes of most GMs is his history of off-the-court problems. However, the Celtics have had no trouble keeping troubled players in line in recent years. They took on the likes of Stephon Marbury, Rasheed Wallace, and Nate Robinson, so there's reason to believe that they can handle Caracter.

53. Atlanta Hawks: Luke Harangody (Notre Dame) [PF, 6-7, 240 lbs, 22 yrs] - Despite a superb college career, Harangody's pro prospects are very questionable. He's undersized and unathletic. That said, he's one of the most polished low-post scorers in the draft and has a solid mid-range game. With all the high-fliers on the Hawks, Harangody might be able to fit in nicely.

54. Los Angeles Clippers: Latavious Williams (NBDL) [SF, 6-8, 205 lbs, 21 yrs] - Williams went straight from high school to the NBDL last year, making him eligible for this year's draft. He's a project player but he has great physical tools and could develop into a solid forward. This late in the draft, the Clippers can afford to take a chance on him.

55. Utah Jazz: Lazar Hayward (Marquette) [SF, 6-6, 226 lbs, 23 yrs] - The Jazz had good luck with former Golden Eagle Wes Matthews last season so why not reunite him with his former teammate. Hayward is a very physical player, which will no doubt be appreciated by Jerry Sloan, and he's got a solid perimeter game, which could help make up for the loss of Kyle Korver.

56. Minnesota Timberwolves: Tibor Pleiss (Germany) [C, 7-0, 220 lbs, 20 yrs] - Pleiss still needs some time to physically develop but after a few more years abroad, he could be a solid NBA role player. Minnesota only has so many spots on their roster, so they would do well to take another international player here.

57. Dallas Mavericks: Miroslav Raduljica (Serbia) [C, 7-1, 250 lbs, 22 yrs] - Dallas likely only makes this pick if they can get some sort of assurance that Raduljica will leave Europe. If so, he could be a good pick here. He already has an NBA body and has the size to be a solid role player down the road.

58. Los Angeles Lakers: Jerome Randle (California) [PG, 5-10, 160 lbs, 23 yrs] - Randle is more of a scoring guard than a point guard, but the triangle offense doesn't necessarily require a pure point guard. Randle is a superb three-point shooter and would greatly benefit from all the open looks generated by Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. He's also one of the quicker guards in the draft, which could be an asset for the Lakers considering how much trouble they've had in recent years with guards such as Aaron Brooks, Russell Westbrook, and Rajon Rondo.

59. Orlando Magic: Andy Rautins (Syracuse) [SG, 6-6, 192 lbs, 23 yrs] - With J.J. Redick heading to free agency, the Magic could look for another three-point specialist. Rautins would be a solid choice for them to fill that role.

60. Phoenix Suns: Brian Zoubek (Duke) [C, 7-1, 260 lbs, 22 yrs] - Zoubek hasn't been a dominant player at any point in his college career, but his size and rebounding ability make him a pretty sure thing to be an adequate backup center in the league. The Suns are lacking in size up front and could use a big body.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Live Blogging the NBA Draft

The 2009 NBA Draft is underway and we'll be bringing you live coverage and analysis. It's a difficult draft to predict, with pretty much every pick up in the air after Blake Griffin goes first overall. Between the parity between the prospects and the blockbuster trades that seem to keep happening (more on those later), it should be an exciting night for NBA fans.

1. Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin (Oklahoma) [PF, 6-10, 248 lbs, 20 yrs] - And we are underway. The Clippers, as expected, take Griffin. This was really the only pick to make. The funny thing about Griffin is that he doesn't seem to have the upside of your average consensus #1 pick. Don't get me wrong, he's a tremendous talent, but it's hard to see him being much more than Carlos Boozer. But by taking the only sure thing in the draft, the Clippers certainly made the right choice. Now we'll see if they can unload one of their big men to make room for Griffin.

2. Memphis Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet (Connecticut) [C, 7-3, 267 lbs, 22 yrs] - Not really sure how Thabeet helps Memphis. He'll provide some much-needed defense, but will he give them anything on the offensive end? Also, the Grizzlies already have a solid center prospect in Marc Gasol and it's difficult to envision Gasol and Thabeet playing together. Like the Clippers and Griffin, this is a case of the Grizzlies wanting to know what they're getting, rather than take a chance on one of the many guards expected to go early. Still, shouldn't they have at least considered Jordan Hill with this pick, considering their lack of depth at power forward?

3. Oklahoma City Thunder: James Harden (Arizona State) [SG, 6-5, 222, 19 yrs] - The Thunder pass up on Rubio. Wow. Love it. After hinting strongly that they'd take Rubio, they instead opt for Harden. This makes me think that all the rumors of them drafting Rubio were just a scheme to attempt to get Minnesota or another team to trade up for the pick. I guess it didn't work, but I still think it's a great manuever.

Much as I like the trickery, I'm not a big fan of Harden. He's a good all-around guard, but he strikes me as an undersized shooting guard, and not an especially athletic one. I keep hearing Brandon Roy comparisons, but Roy is taller and more athletic. I suspect Harden will be a bust, but he's a sensible pick considering the Thunder's need at shooting guard. (Also, I love the bow-tie.)

4. Sacramento Kings: Tyreke Evans (Memphis) [SG, 6-5, 220 lbs, 19 yrs] - Guess the Kings really didn't like Rubio's workout. Needing a point guard, they go for the converted shooting guard. Clearly Evans can play the position, as he excelled in Memphis, but he's earned a reputation as a bit of a selfish player and it's hard to say if he's really suited to be an NBA point guard. Evans has to be singing John Calipari's praises right now because if Evans hadn't been moved to the point, there's no way he would've gone that high.

Evans should be a good fit in Sacramento. He'll give them some scoring out of the backcourt and the tandem of Evans and Kevin Martin will be very tough to defend. Though one does have to wonder if he's up to the task of guarding some of the smaller, quicker NBA guards.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves: Ricky Rubio (Spain) [PG, 6-5, 180 lbs, 18 yrs] - Finally, Rubio is off the board. Well, alright it wasn't that long, but considering he was the consensus #2 pick for months leading up to the draft, it's a little surprising to see him drop to fifth.

This is a great pick for Minnesota. Rubio is going to a young team with a spot for him in the starting lineup and he shouldn't be under any major pressure to produce wins early on. Rubio will need to improve his outside shot, but he should make his teammates better with his passing. Also, I'd just like to point out that I have nailed the first 5 picks in this draft.

6. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonny Flynn (Syracuse) [PG, 6-1, 196 lbs, 20 yrs] - Bit of a head-scratcher here, as Minnesota selects point guards with its back-to-back picks. It kind of makes sense if they think Rubio can defend shooting guards and Flynn can play off the ball effectively, but wouldn't it make more sense to take Stephon Curry here? My guess is they're trading this pick.

7. Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry (Davidson) [PG/SG, 6-3, 181 lbs, 21 yrs] - Nice pick for the Warriors, who trade Jamal Crawford and then acquire the best shooter in the draft. Hard to imagine a player better suited for Nellie-ball than Curry. He should look good running the floor with Monta Ellis. He is greeted by a cascade of boos as the Knicks fans watch Curry slip out of their grasp.

8. New York Knicks: Jordan Hill (Arizona) [PF, 6-10, 232 lbs, 21 yrs] - Hill is a nice consolation prize for the Knicks, after missing out on Curry. He's a great athlete, good rebounder, and has a decent jump shot, all of which should make him a good fit in the Knicks' offense.

9. Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan (USC) [SG, 6-6, 211 lbs, 19 yrs] - Toronto takes a shooting guard who can't shoot. Let me know how that works out. DeRozan could become a good player, but he's very raw at this point and is basically being picked on athleticism and potential.

10. Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings (Italy) [PG, 6-2, 165 lbs, 19 yrs] - Nice pick for the Bucks, who get one of the top prospects in terms of potential. Jennings has been controversial due to his lackluster performance in Italy, but this guy would have been a top 10 pick last year, out of high school, so unless scouts think he actually got worse in his time abroad, I don't see anything wrong with this pick. Jennings and Rubio should have a slight advantage over the other rookies, having played professional basketball already.

11. New Jersey Nets: Terrence Williams (Louisville) [SG, 6-6, 213 lbs, 21 yrs] - Solid pick for the Nets, who now have a shooting guard tandem of Williams and Courtney Lee, following the Vince Carter trade. Williams has the size and athleticism to play some small forward, so they could play together as well. The Nets are years away from competing, but Williams, Lee, Devin Harris, and Brook Lopez could be a nice core.

Speaking of the Nets, I'm a little iffy of the Vince Carter trade, at least on Orlando's end. They got a talent upgrade, undoubtedly, but they have very little in the way of perimeter defense now. Also, Carter is not really a dead-eye spot up shooter. It's hard to see how this trade does not improve Orlando, but I'm not sure it makes them that much better, or enough so to justify taking on Carter's huge contract.

12. Charlotte Bobcats: Gerald Henderson (Duke) [SG, 6-5, 215 lbs, 21 yrs] - No surprise here, as the Bobcats get some much-needed shooting guard depth. However, I don't think Henderson will be much of a player. His college numbers were not overwhelming and he's a bit undersized at the 2. He seems like he'll be an average shooter with limited ability to create his own shot, with his biggest asset being his defense. Think Brandon Rush, but a worse shooter.

13. Indiana Pacers: Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina) [PF, 6-10, 234 lbs, 23 yrs] - Questionable pick here for Indiana as they add Hansbrough. Hansbrough was a tremendous college player...but so was Christian Laettner. His greatest asset seems to be his hustle. He's a good, but not great rebounder, a respectable mid-range jump shooter, but he doesn't have much of a low-post game. On his ESPN profile it says he must improve "finishing above the rim." My point exactly. He's not a great athlete and that's never going to get better. He'll play hard and grab some rebounds, and that should be enough to keep him in the league, but he's never going to be anything special.

14. Phoenix Suns: Earl Clark (Louisville) [SF, 6-10, 226 lbs, 21 yrs] - I really like this pick for Phoenix. Clark is similar to Boris Diaw and would fit in very well with Phoenix, should they try to get back to their pre-Shaq uptempo offense. Clark isn't here to greet Stern, so instead Brandon Jennings comes out, having just arrived. Better late than never.

15. Detroit Pistons: Austin Daye (Gonzaga) [SF, 6-11, 192 lbs, 20 yrs] - Not really sure how Daye fits into the current Pistons roster, but it may not matter since Daye won't be expected to contribute for a few years. He could eventually be a good player in the Rashard Lewis mold, but right now he probably compares better to Yi Jianlian.

Side note: Dick Vitale thinks Tyler Hansbrough was a great pick. Now I feel much better about picking him as a bust. He also thinks Curry will be Rookie of the Year and a superstar. Has Vitale ever even watched an NBA game? He shouldn't be allowed at the draft.

16. Chicago Bulls: James Johnson (Wake Forest) [PF, 6-8, 257 lbs, 22 yrs] - Nice pick by the Bulls, who get a good face-up combo forward. His shooting ability should make him a good compliment to the Bulls less-offensively inclined big men (Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah).

17. Philadelphia 76ers: Jrue Holiday (UCLA) [PG, 6-4, 199 lbs, 18 yrs] - The Sixers get a tremendous value pick here, selecting a promising young point guard in Holiday. Holiday struggled at UCLA, playing out of position at shooting guard. He should be an excellent fit for the Sixers. He is an outstanding athlete and can defend opposing shooting guards, while also possessing very good court vision. With his size and point guard ability, he should be able to play alongside Lou Williams. He may even have the opportunity to be tutored by Andre Miller, if the Sixers opt to re-sign the veteran and ease Holiday into the league.

18. Minnesota Timberwolves: Ty Lawson (North Carolina) [PG, 6-1, 195 lbs, 21 yrs] - ANOTHER point guard? Minnesota could be going for some kind of crazy all-point guard team. Wouldn't that be fun to watch? More likely, they'll trade the pick.

19. Atlanta Hawks: Jeff Teague (Wake Forest) [PG, 6-2, 175 lbs, 20 yrs] - Solid pick for Atlanta, as they needed a point guard, but they might want to consider trading up for a better distributor. Teague is more of a shooting guard in a point guard's body. I'd suggest trading up for Lawson, but Teague wouldn't do Minnesota much good. They could always trade down to whoevers takes Eric Maynor, though if they were actually interested in Maynor they probably would've just drafted in in the first place.

20. Utah Jazz: Eric Maynor (VCU) [PG, 6-3, 164 lbs, 21 yrs] - Utah adds one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft. Maynor should be a solid backup to Deron Williams as a rookie. Nice pick here.

21. New Orleans Hornets: Darren Collison (UCLA) [PG, 6-2, 166 lbs, 21 yrs] - Another backup point guard is selected. This seems a bit high for Collison, but the Hornets did need a backup for Chris Paul. Collison should be able to knock down open shots and play solid defense, but he may be a bit small for the NBA.

22. Portland Trail Blazers: Victor Claver (Spain) [SF, 6-11, 217 lbs, 20 yrs] - Solid pick for Portland. Claver is very talented and could be a good contributor, but he'll likely stay in Spain for now. Portland doesn't need more youth on the roster at the moment and Claver allows them to build for the future without disrupting the present roster.

23. Sacramento Kings: Omri Casspi (Israel) [SF, 6-9, 211 lbs, 21 yrs] - Casspi is a bit of a project, but he's a good, tough player who draws comparisons to Matt Harpring and Andres Nocioni. Not sure he'll contribute much as a rookie, but the Kings will have the option of letting him stay in Israel for the time being.

24. Dallas Mavericks: B.J. Mullens (Ohio State) [C, 7-1, 258 lbs, 20 yrs] - Good value pick here for Dallas, but they've got a project on their hands. He has a lot of work to do before he becomes a useful NBA player, but he's got good long-term potential. Dallas isn't looking to play a lot of rookies now, so it's a logical pick.

25. Oklahoma City Thunder: Rodrigue Beaubois (France) [PG, 6-2, 182 lbs, 21 yrs] - Apparently this pick will be swapped with the previous one, so Beaubois heads to Dallas and Mullens goes to Oklahoma City. That makes sense, as Dallas needs a backup point guard more than a project center and Oklahoma City could use a true center.

26. Chicago Bulls: Taj Gibson (USC) [PF, 6-10, 214 lbs, 24 yrs] - I don't understand this pick. The Bulls already drafted a power forward in James Johnson and Gibson seems very similar to Tyrus Thomas. If they see Johnson as a small forward, then this makes a little more sense, but wouldn't they be better off adding a guard, seeing as they're probably losing Ben Gordon this off-season?

27. Memphis Grizzlies: DeMarre Carroll (Missouri) [PF, 6-8, 207 lbs, 22 yrs] - Not sure Carroll is going to be much on an NBA player, but Memphis needed power forward help and they got it. Still, this seems like a reach, especially with DeJuan Blair still on the board. I would've picked him just for the sheer comedic value of having Blair and Thabeet on the same team.

UPDATE: Ty Lawson is supposedly headed to Denver. Not clear what Minnesota will get in return. Here's hoping they draft a 4th point guard here.

28. Minnesota Timberwolves: Wayne Ellington (North Carolina) [SG, 6-5, 202 lbs, 21 yrs] - Ellington is a little one-dimensional, but his shooting should be an asset to Minnesota, now that they've got (at least) two point guards to get him open looks.

UPDATE: The Knicks have supposedly swung a trade sending Quentin Richardson to Memphis for Darko Milicic. This is a nice gamble for New York. Not sure exactly what Darko will give them, if anything, but in theory he should fit in well with their system. Regardless of what Darko does for them, they already know what they have in Richardson and they don't need him.

29. New York Knicks: Toney Douglas (Florida State) [SG, 6-2, 183 lbs, 23 yrs] - Douglas is a combo guard who should help shore up the Knicks' perimeter defense. He's also an accomplished three-point shooter; maybe a poor man's Stephen Curry on offense, though Eddie House is probably the better comparison.

30. Cleveland Cavaliers: Christian Eyenga (Congo) [SF, 6-6, 210 lbs, 20 yrs] - Very surprising pick here. Eyenga is a superb athlete but is extremely raw. He'll most likely stay abroad for the next few years. Picking an international project makes some sense, as the Cavs are going for a title and wouldn't have much playing time for rookies anyway. But why not take a gamble of Chase Budinger here? They could probably buy a second round pick if they really wanted Eyenga.

2009 NBA Mock Draft 2.0

Well, it's June 25th. Since the last mock draft we've learned a lot...right? We know Blake Griffin is going first, but after that it's basically anyone's guess. Here's a final version of our mock draft.

First Round

1. Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin (Oklahoma) [PF, 6-10, 245 lbs, 20 yrs] - The only question here is how the Clippers can modify their roster to accomodate Griffin. Sharing the frontcourt with Zach Randolph, Chris Kaman, and Marcus Camby isn't exactly ideal.

2. Memphis Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet (Connecticut) [C, 7-3, 265 lbs, 22 yrs] - Memphis really needs a power forward more than a center, but supposedly the Grizzlies are pretty high on Thabeet and they may not be prepared to draft a point guard and effectively give up on Mike Conley. It's hard to imagine Thabeet and Marc Gasol playing together (Thabeet would probably be his backup), but the Grizzlies just need size in general right now.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder: James Harden (Arizona State) [SG, 6-4, 215, 19 yrs] - Many mock drafts have Ricky Rubio going here, but with Russell Westbrook already in the fold, I can't picture Rubio suiting up for the Thunder next season. That said, it's entirely possible that OKC drafts Rubio and then trades the pick. Harden gives the Thunder a natural 2-guard with a nice three-point stroke. Another option would be Stephon Curry.

On a side note, there's been a lot of Ricky Rubio talk surrounding the Thunder lately, despite there being obvious reasons for them not to draft him. My theory is that this is all deliberate on the part of the Thunder and GM Sam Presti, as they want to create the illusion that they will draft Rubio so that a team like Minnesota or the Knicks will trade up for the pick.

4. Sacramento Kings: Tyreke Evans (Memphis) [SG, 6-6, 220 lbs, 19 yrs] - Hard to believe the Kings would pass up on Rubio if he fell to them, but from all reports they were unimpressed with his workout. Instead, they could take Evans, who excelled at the point for Memphis this past season. While he is by no means a natural point guard, he can clearly play the position and, with his size and athleticism, he could provide some matchup problems for opponents.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves: Ricky Rubio (Spain) [PG, 6-4, 180 lbs, 18 yrs] - The Timberwolves would have to be beside themselves if they were able to land Rubio with the fifth pick. While Rubio is not much of a scorer at this point, he's a brilliant distributor and is arguably the most NBA-ready, considering he's been playing professional basketball since he was 14.

6. Minnesota Timberwolves: Stephen Curry (Davidson) [PG/SG, 6-3, 185 lbs, 21 yrs] - Pairing Rubio and Curry would make for one of the most intriguing backcourts in the league, if a bit undersized. Minnesota might be better off with a more natural shooting guard, after taking Rubio 5th, so they could look to trade down with this pick, perhaps looking to land DeMar DeRozan, Gerald Henderson, or Terrence Williams. However, the Rubio-Curry comparison might be too tempting to pass up.

7. Golden State Warriors: Jordan Hill (Arizona) [PF, 6-10, 235 lbs, 21 yrs] - A point guard seems like the way to go, but Monta Ellis is dead-set on remaining the starting point guard, so instead the Warriors could grab a versatile power forward in Hill. With his athleticism and shooting touch, he should be a good fit in Don Nelson's system.

8. New York Knicks: Jonny Flynn (Syracuse) [PG, 6-0, 175 lbs, 20 yrs] - Flynn would be a very popular pick in New York, having bolstered his reputation at MSG during the Big East Tournament. A great distributor with a good all-around offensive game, he should look good in Mike D'Antoni's system.

9. Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan (USC) [SG, 6-6, 200 lbs, 19 yrs] - As one of the best athletes in the draft, DeRozan is considered to have as much upside as just about anyone out there. However, with mediocre shooting numbers in his one year at USC, there are questions about how he'll fare in the NBA. He also rated exceptionally poorly in John Hollinger's draft rater, but, as Hollinger admitted in the article, his draft rater struggles to predict players with a small sample size of data.

10. Milwaukee Bucks: James Johnson (Wake Forest) [PF, 6-9, 245 lbs, 22 yrs] - After trading Richard Jefferson, the Bucks have likely cleared enough salary to re-sign both Ramon Sessions and Charlie Villanueva, so they can opt for the best player available here, rather than drafting out of need. That player would likely be Johnson, who is a versatile combo forward.

11. New Jersey Nets: Gerald Henderson (Duke) [SG, 6-4, 215 lbs, 21 yrs] - This picks likely comes down to either Henderson or Terrence Williams. Williams is probably the better overall prospect, but Henderson is a better shooter and a more refined player, making him a better fit in New Jersey.

12. Charlotte Bobcats: Terrence Williams (Louisville) [SG, 6-6, 220 lbs, 21 yrs] - According to reports, Williams wowed the Bobcats during his workout, outperforming Henderson, though the Bobcats are still very interested in Henderson as well. They will probably take whichever of the two is available, with Williams taking precedence.

13. Indiana Pacers: Jrue Holiday (UCLA) [PG, 6-4, 200 lbs, 18 yrs] - The Pacers are in need of a point guard and Holiday is probably the best available here. He had a so-so freshman year at UCLA, but that can be attributed to playing out of position and in a primarily halfcourt offense. Ty Lawson is another option here, but Holiday's size and defensive ability make him a better fit in Indiana.

14. Phoenix Suns: Eric Maynor (VCU) [PG, 6-3, 175 lbs, 21 yrs] - The Suns need a backup for Nash and Maynor should excel in that role. He is perhaps the most NBA-ready point guard in the draft, which makes this a sensible pick, especially if the Suns think they can still compete in the West. However, after trading Shaq to the Cavs, the Suns may be in full-scale rebuilding mode and could opt for more of a project player, like Brandon Jennings or even B.J. Mullens.

15. Detroit Pistons: DeJuan Blair (Pittsburgh) [PF, 6-7, 250 lbs, 20 yrs] - As it is, Detroit will likely lose Rasheed Wallace to free agency and they will need to shore up the frontcourt. It's hard to say if Blair will ever be much more than a potent rebounder in the NBA, but his girth and inside scoring could make him a good fit, when paired with Jason Maxiell.

16. Chicago Bulls: B.J. Mullens (Ohio State) [C, 7-1, 260 lbs, 20 yrs] - Mullens may be a few years away from being a valuable contributor, but his size and scoring ability should be an asset to the Bulls, who are currently using defensive-minded big men like Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas.

17. Philadelphia 76ers: Brandon Jennings (Italy) [PG, 6-2, 165 lbs, 19 yrs] - The Sixers would have a very tough call here between Jennings and Ty Lawson. Lawson is accustomed to playing in an uptempo offense and has to be considered more NBA-ready than Jennings, but Jennings has more sizzle and upside. What this decision might come down to is the perceived status of Andre Miller. If Miller re-signs and sticks around for a few more years, he could mentor Jennings until he is ready to take the reigns, but if they think they will lose Miller, they could take Lawson, hoping that he can play major minutes at point guard as a rookie.

18. Minnesota Timberwolves: Earl Clark (Louisville) [SF, 6-9, 200 lbs, 21 yrs] - With four first round picks, it's hard to imagine that Minnesota will keep all of them. That said, they might want to hang on to Clark, who is one of the most intruiging prospects in the draft, as a 6-10 swingman who can play both forward positions, plus a little point forward.

19. Atlanta Hawks: Ty Lawson (North Carolina) [PG, 5-11, 195 lbs, 21 yrs] - Atlanta would be fortunate to get Lawson this low. He seems like an ideal fit to run their offense and would be a good long-term replacement for Mike Bibby. With Lawson and Jamal Crawford joining Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and Al Horford, the Hawks could be a very dangerous team next year.

20. Utah Jazz: Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina) [PF, 6-9, 250 lbs, 23 yrs] - With Carlos Boozer most likely on his way out, Utah will need power forward depth. Hansbrough doesn't have a great deal of upside, but he should be a solid contributor right away and would be a good fit under Jerry Sloan.

21. New Orleans Hornets: Sam Young (Pittsburgh) [SF, 6-6, 215 lbs, 24 yrs] - Young should give New Orleans some much-needed help on offense and, at 24 years old, he should be one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft. The Hornets need a guy who can provide an instant impact. Another posibility here could be Chase Budinger.

22. Portland Trail Blazers: Nick Calathes (Florida) [PG, 6-5, 185 lbs, 20 yrs] - Portland could use an upgrade at point guard, but they are looking more for veteran help than a rookie, at this point. Calathes is set to play in Greece next year, so this gives Portland a very promising point guard prospect who can join the team in a few years after getting some valuable experience in Europe.

23. Sacramento Kings: Jeff Teague (Wake Forest) [PG, 6-2, 180 lbs, 20 yrs] - The Kings can further shore up their backcourt with this pick. Neither Teague nor Evans is a pure point, but the combination of the two should significantly improve the Kings' point guard play.

24. Dallas Mavericks: Darren Collison (UCLA) [PG, 6-1, 165 lbs, 21 yrs] - Dallas could use another point guard, especially if they don't think they can re-sign Jason Kidd. Collison is a bit undersized, but his defense and three-point shooting should make him a useful role player in Dallas.

25. Oklahoma City Thunder: Austin Daye (Gonzaga) [SF, 6-10, 190 lbs, 20 yrs] - Daye is a very difficult player to project, but the upside is definitely there and, this late in the draft, he's worth a look. If nothing else, he should be able to provide some shooting and shot-blocking. If he can add some muscle and toughness, he could be a very good pro.

26. Chicago Bulls: Toney Douglas (Florida State) [SG, 6-2, 183 lbs, 23 yrs] - The Bulls are probably losing Ben Gordon this off-season and adding Douglas should help to off-set that loss. He won't start as a rookie, but he could be a solid role player off the bench.

27. Memphis Grizzlies: Patrick Mills (St. Mary's) [PG, 5-11, 175 lbs, 20 yrs] - Memphis could use a backup point guard and Mills has shown flashes of being a very good one. He's considered a scoring point guard, but that should make him a solid compliment to Mike Conley off the bench, who better fits the pure point guard mold.

28. Minnesota Timberwolves: Chase Budinger (Arizona) [SG, 6-7, 205 lbs, 21 yrs] - As previously mentioned, one has to think Minnesota trades one of its first round picks, but they would be hard-pressed to if they could land Budinger here. Budinger hasn't improved at Arizona the way many had hoped he would, but he's still an excellent athlete and a very talented scorer, although he leaves much to be desired on the defensive end.

29. New York Knicks: Derrick Brown (Xavier) [SF, 6-9, 225 lbs, 21 yrs] - Brown is an excellent athlete with a much-improved three-point stroke and should be a good fit in the Knicks' run and gun offense.

30. Cleveland Cavaliers: Danny Green (North Carolina) [SF, 6-6, 210 lbs, 21 yrs] - Green hasn't gotten much draft-day hype, but he's proven to be a winner and a very solid role player. He's a good three-point shooter and defender and should be an asset to the Cavs.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2009 NBA Mock Draft

It's that time of year again. While most are focused on the NBA Conference Finals, we here at The People's Sports Blog are looking to the future. Here is the first edition of the PSB 2009 NBA Mock Draft. (Note that all the heights and weights are from Chad Ford's list on

First Round

1. Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin (Oklahoma) [PF, 6-10, 245 lbs, 20 yrs] - The Clippers aren't the ideal team for Griffin based on their current roster (then again when have the Clippers been an ideal team for anyone), but the Clippers would be insane to pass him up. They'll draft Griffin and see if they can get anything for Zach Randolph.

2. Memphis Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet (Connecticut) [C, 7-3, 265 lbs, 22 yrs] - Ricky Rubio has been the consensus #2 pick for some time now, but rumor has it that he doesn't want to play in Memphis (or Oklahoma City, for that matter) and the Grizzlies are desperate for size. Jordan Hill could get a long look here as well, as the Grizzlies would then have the option of playing him alongside Marc Gasol.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder: Ricky Rubio (Spain) [PG, 6-4, 180 lbs, 18 yrs] - While I don't expect Rubio to suit up for the Thunder next year, I can't imagine Oklahoma City will let him slip past them. Supposedly he is not interested in playing in OKC and even if he was, his so-so shooting would make him a poor fit alongside Russell Westbrook. More likely, they will draft Rubio and then trade down, hoping for a better fit, such as James Harden.

4. Sacramento Kings: James Harden (Arizona State) [SG, 6-4, 215, 19 yrs] - Harden is not an ideal fit for the Kings, but I'm predicting this assuming that they'll grab Harden and swap picks with Oklahoma City. Harden gives OKC a capable shooter to pair in the backcourt with Westbrook, while Rubio gives Sacramento one of the best point guard prospects in recent memory.

5. Washington Wizards: Jordan Hill (Arizona) [PF, 6-10, 235 lbs, 21 yrs] - Drafting Hill gives Washington the option of trading Antawn Jamison, or sliding him over to small forward and seeing if a lineup of Arenas, Butler, Jamison, Hill, and Haywood can stay healthy and make some noise in the East. The Wizards would also have to consider taking a point guard, such as Brandon Jennings or Jrue Holiday, and moving Arenas to shooting guard, or taking a 2-guard like DeMar DeRozan, but Hill seems like the best value here.

6. Minnesota Timberwolves: DeMar DeRozan (USC) [SG, 6-6, 200 lbs, 19 yrs] - Minnesota needs a point guard above all, but taking one here seems like a bit of a stretch and there should be point guards available when they pick again later in the first round (18th). DeRozan gives them an athletic swingman who can play at shooting guard or small forward and who ought to be an upgrade over the likes of Rodney Carney and Rashad McCants.

7. Golden State Warriors: Brandon Jennings (Italy) [PG, 6-2, 165 lbs, 19 yrs] - Jennings is an outstanding athlete and would fit in well in the Warriors up-tempo offense. This would also allow Golden State to move Monta Ellis over to shooting guard, where he's had more success. While Don Nelson might prefer a more established PG, such as Jonny Flynn or Ty Lawson, Jennings has the most potential and is the best option here.

8. New York Knicks: Stephen Curry (Davidson) [PG/SG, 6-3, 185 lbs, 21 yrs] - There are rumors that the Knicks have made Curry a promise, and while they may not be true, Curry would be a sensible pick for the Knicks. With his shooting ability, he would be a good fit for Mike D'Antoni's offense. However, it is worth noting that Curry would not work out well for the Knicks on the defensive end, where he would likely be forced to defend taller, more athletic shooting guards more often than Knicks fans would like, especially if he's asked to play alongside the diminutive Nate Robinson.

9. Toronto Raptors: DeJuan Blair (Pittsburgh) [PF, 6-7, 250 lbs, 20 yrs] - This is a bit of a reach, but the Raptors are woefully thin up front and Blair should provide some much-needed rebounding and toughness off the bench. I believe James Johnson is a better power forward prospect, but his game is too similar to that of Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani. Other possibilities here include Earl Clark and Tyreke Evans.

10. Milwaukee Bucks: James Johnson (Wake Forest) [PF, 6-9, 245 lbs, 22 yrs] - Johnson would be a nice security measure in case Milwaukee loses Charlie Villanueva in the off-season. Of course, a point guard is also an option, since there's a chance Ramon Sessions is also on his way out.

11. New Jersey Nets: Earl Clark (Louisville) [SF, 6-9, 200 lbs, 21 yrs] - The small forward position was an area of weakness for the Nets last year, as they struggled through a season of Yi Jianlian, but they can upgrade with Clark. While his work ethic and heart have been questioned, he's a very versatile player who can play point forward and should look good running the floor with Devin Harris and Vince Carter.

12. Charlotte Bobcats: Gerald Henderson (Duke) [SG, 6-4, 215 lbs, 21 yrs] - Assuming the Bobcats continue their habits of drafting players with good college pedigrees and limited pro potential, Henderson is a likely pick. Henderson showed progress in his junior year at Duke, but was still erratic and his numbers were not overly impressive (especially the 33.6 3P%). However, he is a superb perimeter defender and a very good athlete. It's not a bad pick for the Bobcats, who only really have Raja Bell at shooting guard and could use a good backup.

13. Indiana Pacers: Jrue Holiday (UCLA) [PG, 6-4, 200 lbs, 18 yrs] - Getting Holiday here would be a great value and he could be a very good fit for this team. He has the size and athleticism to defend shooting guards, which would allow him to play alongside T.J. Ford for stretches. However, the Pacers would do well to try and play him primarily as a point guard, as Holiday had difficulty playing shooting guard at UCLA. As long as they play at a reasonably fast pace and let Holiday run the offense some of the time, he should do just fine.

14. Phoenix Suns: Eric Maynor (VCU) [PG, 6-3, 175 lbs, 21 yrs] - The Suns have been looking for a capable backup to Steve Nash for years now and in Maynor they could have a good one. Frankly, they can't go terribly wrong with any of the PG available here (Maynor, Ty Lawson, Jonny Flynn), but Maynor's got the advantage because he has a few inches on Lawson and Flynn and because he is used to playing in an up-tempo offense. While he'll need to add some muscle if he's to guard opposing shooting guards, his height and defensive ability will serve him well when he's sharing the backcourt with Nash or Leandro Barbosa.

15. Detroit Pistons: Terrence Williams (Louisville) [SG, 6-6, 220 lbs, 21 yrs] - Detroit could take a point guard here and trade down, since this part of the draft is very heavy in that position and they are already committed to Rodney Stuckey. However, if they keep the pick, it's likely to be between Williams and Tyreke Evans. Evans is the better prospect, but considering his domination of the ball at Memphis and his questionable shot selection, it's hard to see him fitting in with the Pistons (especially right after they jettisoned Allen Iverson). Williams has been considered underaggressive, if anything, but his all-around ability and willingness to share the ball should play well in Detroit.

16. Chicago Bulls: Tyreke Evans (Memphis) [SG, 6-6, 220 lbs, 19 yrs] - Chicago would probably prefer a better shooter, especially if they have to replace Ben Gordon, but at this point in the draft, and needing a swingman, they can't pass up on Evans. While the team would suffer from a lack of perimeter shooting when playing Evans and Derrick Rose together, Evans has as much potential as any swingman in the draft and he would make a great fastbreak partner for Rose. He'll also give them a capable defender and a guy who can consistently get to the free throw line.

17. Philadelphia 76ers: Ty Lawson (North Carolina) [PG, 5-11, 195 lbs, 21 yrs] - I would rank Flynn as the better point guard prospect, but Lawson makes a little more sense for the Sixers, who may need to replace Andre Miller. The Sixers have been a horrific three-point shooting team for the last two years and Lawson would give them a capable marksman, while also providing a point guard who is accustomed to running an up-tempo offense. The only downside to this pick is that Lawson's small stature would make it difficult for the Sixers to play him with Lou Williams.

18. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonny Flynn (Syracuse) [PG, 6-0, 175 lbs, 20 yrs] - Minnesota would have to be thrilled to get Flynn here, as some might argue that, after Rubio, he's the best point guard prospect in the draft. Minnesota is a few years away no matter who they draft, but with Flynn, DeRozan, Randy Foye, Kevin Love, and Al Jefferson, the T'wolves would have a nice young core.

19. Atlanta Hawks: Jeff Teague (Wake Forest) [PG, 6-2, 180 lbs, 20 yrs] - The Hawks could really use a backup point guard, as Acie Law has been a bust and reportedly wants out of Atlanta. Teague plays more like a shooting guard than a point, but the Hawks could use him with Joe Johnson and play Teague off the ball. Another possibility here could be Austin Daye, who would give the Hawks another versatile wingman with range, but it could be hard to find him minutes with Josh Smith and Marvin Williams already in the fold.

20. Utah Jazz: Gani Lawal (Georgia Tech) [PF, 6-9, 220 lbs, 19 yrs] - It's looking like the Jazz are about to lose either Carlos Boozer or Paul Millsaps and their selection here will depend on which player leaves. If they lose Millsaps, it might make more sense to take a more experienced forward who can step right in and be a role player, such as Tyler Hansbrough. However, if Boozer leaves, they have to take the PF with the best long-term potential, and at this point in the draft that is Lawal, who is a superior athlete to Hansbrough and, if nothing else, should provide some rebounding and shot-blocking as a rookie.

21. New Orleans Hornets: Chase Budinger (Arizona) [SG, 6-7, 205 lbs, 21 yrs] - The Nuggets' first-round dismantling of the Hornets showed that New Orleans needs more help on offense if they are going to make a run in the West. Budinger has not improved the way many thought he would in his time at Arizona, but nevertheless has the potential to be a very good offensive player. His athleticism and shooting ability should make him a terror as he runs the fastbreak with Chris Paul. Another option here would be B.J. Mullens, who could serve as a long-term replacement for Tyson Chandler, but his disappointing performance at Ohio State makes him a tough sell for a team that is looking to make a playoff run next season.

22. Dallas Mavericks: Darren Collison (UCLA) [PG, 6-1, 165 lbs, 21 yrs] - This pick obviously depends on whether or not the Mavs think they are getting Jason Kidd back. If not, Collison would give Dallas a good defensive point guard who is also a good three-point shooter. The only problem with this pick is that Collison's small stature would make it difficult for him to play alongside Jason Terry. However, it's hard to imagine Dallas starting Collison as a rookie, with or without Kidd, so that may not be a huge issue. If Kidd stays in Dallas, the Mavs could opt for a big man, such as B.J. Mullens.

23. Sacramento Kings: B.J. Mullens (Ohio State) [C, 7-1, 260 lbs, 20 yrs] - Mullens is very much a project player and it could be a few years before he is a meaningful contributor, but he's got a rare combination of size and athleticism and should help the Kings down the road.

24. Portland Trail Blazers: Patrick Mills (St. Mary's) [PG, 5-11, 175 lbs, 20 yrs] - Mills should be a good fit in Portland. He's not a pure point guard, but they already have one in Steve Blake and Brandon Roy is capable of running the offense when he and Mills are on the floor together. There are questions about his jump shot and his durability, but he should be able to be a useful role player even as a rookie.

25. Oklahoma City Thunder: Austin Daye (Gonzaga) [SF, 6-10, 190 lbs, 20 yrs] - Daye has had a disappointing college career but there's no questioning his potential. At 6-10 with outstanding athleticism and three-point range, Daye has the raw ability to be a great scorer in the NBA, reminiscent perhaps of Rashard Lewis (though right now I'd say he reminds me more of Yi Jianlian). There's no telling whether or not Daye can get it together and live up to the hype, but if nothing else he should become a useful role player. This is a good gamble for the Thunder.

26. Chicago Bulls: Derrick Brown (Xavier) [PF, 6-8, 225 lbs, 21 yrs] - In Brown, the Bulls get another athlete to run the floor with Derrick Rose, but one who can also knock down some deep jumpers. Brown would be a good player to pair with Joakim Noah. While he isn't the rebounder or shot-blocker that Tyrus Thomas is, having Brown at power forward would space the floor better and allow Rose to penetrate more easily. Another option here would be Toney Douglas, who has drawn comparison's to Ben Gordon. Douglas would be a logical pick if Gordon leaves and the Bulls don't take a shooting guard with their first pick in the draft.

27. Memphis Grizzlies: Wayne Ellington (North Carolina) [SG, 6-5, 194 lbs, 21 yrs] - Memphis could use depth at just about every position and Ellington could be an upgrade over players such as Greg Buckner and Quinton Ross. The Grizzlies are looking for young players with upside and Ellington's shooting should make him pretty valuable.

28. Minnesota Timberwolves: Josh Heytvelt (Gonzaga) [PF, 6-11, 235 lbs, 22 yrs] - Having already added a shooting guard and a point guard, Minnesota can use this pick to shore up the frontcourt. Heytvelt isn't a prototypical NBA big man, but the T'wolves can get away with his so-so rebounding if he plays alongside Al Jefferson or Kevin Love. At the same time, his outside shooting should be an asset, especially when paired with Jefferson.

29. Los Angeles Lakers: Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina) [PF, 6-9, 250 lbs, 23 yrs] - All the Lakers have been hearing during the playoffs is how soft they are. Well, adding Hansbrough to the mix would put a stop to that. His pro potential is very limited, as he is not an exceptional athlete, but his rebounding, tenacity, and basketball IQ could make him a useful role player for a team like the Lakers.

30. Cleveland Cavaliers: Sam Young (Pittsburgh) [SF, 6-6, 215 lbs, 24 yrs] - Young strikes me as the next Al Thornton, both in terms of ability and potential. He should be a good combo forward, but, at age 24, he's not going to get much better than he is now. But that's just fine from Cleveland's perspective, as they are looking for players who can help with a championship. Young is capable of playing both forward positions and is also a capable three-point shooter. Having a player like Young would allow the Cavs to play him and LeBron together and really space the floor. He would almost certainly be an upgrade over Sasha Pavlovic and Wally Szczerbiak.

Second Round

31. Sacramento Kings: Danny Green (North Carolina) [SF, 6-6, 210 lbs, 21 yrs] - Green never blew anyone away in college, but he showed himself to be a good three-point shooter and defender. He may never be much more than a role player in the pros, but the Kings need perimeter defenders and Green could be a good value pick in the second round.

32. Portland Trail Blazers: Victor Claver (Spain) [SF, 6-11, 217 lbs, 20 yrs] - The Blazers already have two Spanish players on the roster and Claver could well be the third. It's not entirely clear what position he'd play in the NBA. He'll need to bulk up to play power forward but he might not be quick enough to guard opposing small forwards, but he's improved his jump shot and the Blazers would have the option of letting him develop in Spain for a few more years before adding him to the roster.

33. Washington Wizards: DaJuan Summers (Georgetown) [SF, 6-8, 225 lbs, 21 yrs] - Summers would give Washington another athletic wingman who already has an NBA body. He's primarily a jump-shooter, but he should be in line for some open looks, playing with Arenas, Butler, and Jamison (if he's still around).

34. Denver Nuggets: Marcus Thornton (LSU) [SG, 6-4, 205 lbs, 21 yrs] - As good as Denver has been this year, the one thing they have lacked is an effective perimeter stopper. Dahntay Jones has done a decent job, but his inability to score makes it hard to keep him on the floor, especially with J.R. Smith waiting on the bench. Thornton, though a bit undersized, is a capable defender and has been a big time scorer at LSU, averaging 21.1 PPG this season. He is not going to be a dominant scorer in the NBA, but his perimeter game is good enough that he shouldn't be an offensive liability.

35. Memphis Grizzlies: Omri Casspi (Israel) [SF, 6-7, 206 lbs, 20 yrs] - Casspi is a scrappy small forward who has drawn comparisons to Andres Nocioni and Matt Harpring. He'll have to improve his shooting to be as valuable as Nocioni, but Memphis will have the option to leave him at Maccabi Tel Aviv for a few years if they don't think he's ready just yet.

36. Detroit Pistons: Jeff Pendergraph (Arizona State) [PF, 6-10, 220 lbs, 22 yrs] - The Pistons stand a good chance of losing Rasheed Wallace in the off-season and they will need new sources of low-post scoring. One of these sources could be Pendergraph, who avergaed 14.5 PPG while shooting 66.0% as a senior.

37. San Antonio Spurs: Jermaine Taylor (Central Florida) [SG, 6-4, 205 lbs, 22 yrs] - The Spurs made a rare first round exit from the playoffs this year and much of the reason was their lack of scoring depth. With Manu Ginobili injured, the Spurs had just two players, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, who could consistently create their own shots. Taylor can certainly do that, though his style of play could be conceived as selfish. If Popovich can get him to buy into the Spurs' system and play a little defense, he could be a spark plug off the bench.

38. Portland Trail Blazers: Taj Gibson (USC) [PF, 6-9, 225 lbs, 23 yrs] - Right now the Blazers should be looking for players who can either contribute right away or who can be stashed overseas. In Gibson, they'd get the former. He'll need to bulk up to play power forward in the NBA, but, if nothing else, he should already be an effective shot-blocker.

39. Detroit Pistons: Curtis Jerrells (Baylor) [PG, 6-1, 208 lbs, 22 yrs] - The Pistons could really use a backup point guard. While Jerrells doesn't have the upside of some of the earlier selections, he should be able to serve as a competent backup to Rodney Stuckey.

40. Charlotte Bobcats: Tyler Smith (Tennessee) [SF, 6-7, 210 lbs, 22 yrs] - Smith is a solid all-around forward that could help the Bobcats' bench and, if all goes well, could be an eventual replacement for Gerald Wallace.

41. Milwaukee Bucks: A.J. Price (Connecticut) [PG, 6-2, 190 lbs, 22 yrs] - This provides the Bucks with another option at point guard, should Ramon Sessions leave Milwaukee. Price has had a tumultuous career at UConn, but has put up good numbers while also hitting some big shots. One has to think that if UConn had won the title this year, Price would be a borderline first round pick.

42. Los Angeles Lakers: Jonas Jerebko (Sweden) [SF, 6-9, 220 lbs, 22 yrs] - Jerebko still needs some time to develop overseas, but when he's ready for the NBA he could be a useful combo forward for the Lakers.

43. Miami Heat: Patrick Beverley (Ukraine) [PG, 6-1, 172 lbs, 20 yrs] - Both in his college stint at Arkansas and with his current Ukrainian team, Beverley has shown the ability to be a solid scoring point guard with NBA three-point range. While he tends to play more like a shooting guard, this would not be a major problem in Miami, as Dwyane Wade tends to do most of the ball-handling anyway.

44. Detroit Pistons: Joe Ingles (Australia) [SF, 6-8, 200 lbs, 21 yrs] - It's hard to imagine the Pistons adding four rookies to their roster next year, so it stands to reason that they will stash at least one of their draft picks overseas. Ingles is a good candidate for that, as he has already established himself as a scorer in the Australian league.

45. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jerel McNeal (Marquette) [SG, 6-3, 200 lbs, 21 yrs] - McNeal showed a great scoring touch at Marquette in his senior year, which had a lot to do with his improved three-point shooting. His shooting could help Minnesota's bench.

46. Cleveland Cavaliers: Dionte Christmas (Temple) [SG, 6-5, 190 lbs, 22 yrs] - Christmas is a good defender with a great three-point stroke who should be able to help the Cavs immediately. He will, however, have to get stronger to defend NBA shooting guards.

47. Minnesota Timberwolves: Vladimir Dasic (Serbia) [SF, 6-9, 225 lbs, 21 yrs] - Minnesota can stash Dasic overseas for now, but in a few years he should be able to contribute as a combo forward who can rebound and make some mid-range jumpers.

48. Phoenix Suns: DeMarre Carroll (Missouri) [PF, 6-8, 235 lbs, 22 yrs] - Carroll is a good, powerful athlete who should be able to help Phoenix secure offensive rebounds, while also scoring in transition. He has also improved his outside shooting and could log some minutes at small forward, sharing the frontcourt with Amare and Shaq (if they aren't traded).

49. Atlanta Hawks: Leo Lyons (Missouri) [PF, 6-9, 240 lbs, 21 yrs] - Long and athletic, Lyons would fit in well on the Hawks. The biggest complaint about him is his mediocre rebounding, but since he'll be playing alongside Al Horford and Josh Smith, it shouldn't be as big of a problem.

50. Utah Jazz: Lee Cummard (BYU) [SG, 6-7, 185 lbs, 24 yrs] - While Cummard will certainly need to add some muscle, he is a fundamentally sound player who can really shoot the ball and could be an asset to the Jazz as a bench player.

51. San Antonio Spurs: Sergio Llull (Spain) [PG, 6-3, 175 lbs, 21 yrs] - The Spurs love their foreign players and they really should love Llull; an athletic point guard who does a good job limiting his turnovers.

52. Indiana Pacers: Tasmin Mitchell (LSU) [SF, 6-7, 230 lbs, 22 yrs] - Mitchell is a bit of a tweener at only 6-7, but undersized power forwards are becoming more and more popular in the NBA and he looks like he could be a useful addition to a team's bench.

53. San Antonio Spurs: Milan Macvan (Serbia) [PF, 6-9, 260 lbs, 19 yrs] - The Spurs add another European player. Macvan is a good rebounder and has a very good basketball IQ and skills for a big man, drawing comparisons to Kevin Love.

54. Charlotte Bobcats: Ahmad Nivins (St. Joseph's) [PF, 6-9, 242 lbs, 22 yrs] - Nivins put up impressive scoring and rebounding numbers at St. Joe's, but his lack of athleticism has made his draft stock relatively low. That said, he's probably worth a look this late in the second round.

55. Portland Trail Blazers: Dar Tucker (DePaul) [SF, 6-5, 210 lbs, 21 yrs] - Tucker is very raw, but he is an excellent athlete and the Blazers can afford to bring him along slowly.

56. Portland Trail Blazers: Vyacheslav Kravtsov (Ukraine) [C, 7-0, 260 lbs, 21 yrs] - Another raw player, Kravtsov can spend some time overseas developing. He has the size and athletic ability to be a good defensive center in the NBA.

57. Phoenix Suns: Greivis Vasquez (Maryland) [SG, 6-6, 190 lbs, 22 yrs] - Vasquez is a well-rounded guard with a very high basketball IQ and great passing ability. He's not an elite shooter or athlete, but his basketball IQ and passing would make him a good fit in Phoenix.

58. Boston Celtics: Jon Brockman (Washington) [PF, 6-7, 255 lbs, 22 yrs] - The Celtics will probably lose at least one of their backup power forwards (Glen Davis and Leon Powe) to free agency, so drafting a power forward is their best bet. Brockman's game is very similar to that of Tyler Hansbrough, who many scouts think will be a solid NBA role player, so it stands to reason that Brockman can find a niche as well.

59. Los Angeles Lakers: A.J. Abrams (Texas) [SG, 5-11, 155 lbs, 22 yrs] - The Lakers have had terrible point guard play in the postseason, but Abrams could help with that. He's more of a shooting guard, but he is one of the best three-point shooters in college basketball. With the triangle offense, you don't need a playmaker at point guard, so the only issue would be whether or not he could play effective defense due to his lack of size.

60. Miami Heat: Dante Cunningham (Villanova) [PF, 6-8, 230 lbs, 22 yrs] - Cunningham had a slow start to his college career, but a breakout senior year should be just enough to get him drafted. Cunningham will give Miami a good combo forward. Playing him and Beasley together should create some mismatches.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

PSB Review: Making the Big Game by Jeffrey Fekete

We were recently sent a copy of Jeffrey Fekete's Making the Big Game: Tales of an Accidental Spectator, which just came out in April. It's an interesting book, in which Fekete describes the experience of both getting to and attending Super Bowl XLII; the epic showdown between the Patriots and Giants.

If you're looking for another writer who's going to rave about that game and tell you that Eli Manning is the new Joe Namath, you may come away disappointed. That's not Fekete's angle. He's not the hardcore fan who's been to every single game and can tell you what Jeff Feagles had for breakfast before the Giants win over the Redskins on October 30th, 2005. Rather, he's a casual fan who brings an unusual insight to the table.

Fekete is not a season-ticket holder or a sports writer. He brings a different perspective, as someone who works in radio advertising. While he won't break down stats for you, he'll tell you why the Super Bowl is advertised the way it is and how it's taken over as the prominent sporting event in the country (and arguably the world).

The book is written in a somewhat meandering style, in which Fekete will supplement a point in the main story (his journey to the Super Bowl on short notice) with sidenotes about the history of the game, individual players, and personal anecdotes. The tangents are usually interesting, as is the primary story. What makes this different from many other books written on Super Bowls is the focus is not as much on the game, as it is the arduous process of getting to the game.

Acquiring tickets, making the travel arrangements, and even getting to the stadium play a more prominent role in the book than the game itself. Not that the game isn't discussed. Fekete gives a fan's view of the game, straight from the stands. But the process of getting to the game is what makes the book interesting, as there's little that can be included in a description of the game (that game in particular) that hasn't already been said a million times over.

Making the Big Game is an unorthodox account of one of the greatest games ever played, and all the hoopla that surrounds it. It's in book stores now, or you can find it online.