Mock Draft plus Podcast Analysis

For complete analysis of the mock draft check out my talk with Arsenalist. You can also listen in iTunes or download the audio file.

1. Los Angeles Clippers

Blake Griffin 20 PF 6-10 248 Oklahoma

Griffin is a no-brainer as the #1 overall pick. Every GM, every blog, every website has Griffin ranked as the top player in this draft. The bigger question here is how do the Clippers find touches or even minutes for all their big men (Kaman, Randolph, Camby, Thornton and Griffin)?

2. Memphis Grizzlies

Ricky Rubio 18 PG 6-4 180 Spain

Lots of talk about Memphis drafting Thabeet (and that may be true) but Memphis would be crazy to take him that high with so many teams as potential trading partners because of the interest in Rubio. Memphis may not draft Rubio but whoever they trade this pick to, will.

3. OKC Thunder

James Harden 19 SG 6-5 222 Arizona State

Most see OKC looking to go big or draft a PG, but why wouldn’t they take Harden? He is NBA-ready and at the SG would allow them to play Green or Sefolosha at the SF which would move Durant to the 4 where he belongs. It would also give them a starting 5 of Westbrook, Harden, Sefolosha or Green, Durant and Kristic.

4. Sacramento Kings

Jordan Hill 21 PF 6-10 232 Arizona

Again, lots of PG talk but this is a team that needs a serious upgrade at the PF position and is passable everywhere else. Hill would be a beastly addition to a good young core that already boasts Udrih, Garcia, Martin and Hawes at the other spots. Jordan Hill can be afforded heavy minutes and get his NBA learning out of the way early.

5. Washington Wizards

Jrue Holiday 18 PG 6-4 199 UCLA

For a team that, if healthy, should compete for the Eastern Conference title, the opportunity to add a multi-tool player like Holiday to the back court with other combo-style guards like Arenas and James would be a nice addition. Holiday has All-Star potential, he is a big guard who can defend both backcourt positions and score in bunches. Agent 0, meet your new best friend.

6. Minnesota Timberwolves

Hasheem Thabeet 22 C 7-3 267 Connecticut

Even Minny cant screw this one up right? Al Jefferson and Kevin Love are good but neither has any real height or defensive prowess. The chance to add a defensive-minded shot blocking presence in the form of a 7-footer Thabeet would be the karma that Minny deserves for releasing Garnett and returning the Celtics to glory.

7. Golden State Warriors

Stephen Curry 21 PG 6-3 181 Davidson

Why not? Nellie loves guys who can jack up shots from anywhere but here’s the difference: Curry can actually hit them! Put him next to slashers like Ellis, Crawford, and Maggette and you have an excellent addition to the back court since he can play both guard positions on the “O”. He’d be an excellent solider on a team not known for “team-first players”. If you thought the run ‘n gun loving D’Antoni would like to get his hands on Curry, why wouldn’t Nelson?

8. New York Knicks

Brandon Jennings 19 PG 6-2 165 Italy

Even though most people feel that the Knicks would do back-flips to get their hands on Curry, Jennings may be the real steal of the draft. After a disappointing year in Italy, coach D’Antoni is precisely the remedy Jennings needs. After all, this guy should have been a lock for a top five pick if he had gone to college. Either way, in D’Antoni’s system Jennings has “all-star” written all over him.

9. Toronto Raptors

DeMar DeRozan 19 SG 6-6 211 USC

Someone posted last week that DeRozan is like Joey Graham with skill. Talk about an understatement. That’s like saying mini-wheats are like shredded wheat with sugar. Shredded wheat will always suck, while mini-wheats have the potential to rival top cereals everywhere. DeRozan may end up being a Gerald Green as one prominent draft prognosticator wrote last week but is much more likely to be a Vince Carter type player, especially on the Raptors where he’ll get to start, run, play with guys who make open shots (Calderon, Bargnani) and who command a double team (Bosh)

10. Milwaukee Bucks

Jonny Flynn 20 PG 6-1 196 Syracuse

Flynn has become a hot name over the last two months and Milwaukee need a point guard. His shooting is streaky and he is not the tallest guard in the draft, but he is a leader. The Bucks have lots of guys with talent but are in desperate need of a floor leader. Ramon Sessions has taken them as far as he can, it’s time for new blood at the 1 in Milwaukee.

11. New Jersey Nets

Tyreke Evans 19 SG 6-5 220 Memphis

Rod Thorn always takes the best player available. If Evans is on the board at 11, Thorn will take him. It also gives NJ a nice insurance policy for Vince Carter, who lots of contending teams still have interest in every year at the deadline.

12. Charlotte Bobcats

Gerald Henderson 21 SG 6-5 215 Duke

Larry Brown insists that his players play “the right way”. The jury’s out on Henderson when it comes to his actual talent and ability and he’s still a bit of an enigma, some nights he drops 25 and others he is invisible but no matter what, he always hustles, plays defense and always plays “the right way.” He is the prototypical Coach K prodigy.

13. Indiana Pacers

James Johnson 22 PF 6-8 257 Wake Forest

The Pacers need size. They have a stud in Granger and when Dunleavy comes back they appear to be set in the wings. Troy Murphy can go off for 20 rebounds, but then goes a week where he is non-existent. Johnson won’t be flashy at the the 4 but will provide a solid consistent presence. This might be a bit of a stretch for a lottery pick, especially with both Louisville boys on the board, but Larry Bird has made it a point that character is a priority for players in Indy from now on.

14. Phoenix Suns

Earl Clark 21 SF 6-10 226 Louisville

If Phoenix wants to run, let Amare go nuts, and find a real replacement for Marion, then Clark is the answer. He is unpolished and needs some refinement, but when you’re playing on a team with Nash, Amare, Hill, and Shaq you can afford your mistakes. He gives Phoenix the “guy who can score without his own shot” that they so desperately missed last season.

15. Detroit Pistons

Austin Daye 20 SF 6-11 192 Gonzaga

He can score, he has a high basketball IQ and on the right team he can come in and help right away. Plus, with both Rip and Prince on the trading block, Daye provides some insurance and if Boozer or Bosh do end up in Detroit, then Daye can take some time to develop as a sixth man on a good team. It also gives Joe Dumars a young core of Stuckey, Daye, Prince, Maxiel, and Johnson (and a ton of cap space) to move forward and rebuild.

16. Chicago Bulls

DeJuan Blair 20 PF 6-7 277 Pittsburgh

Cant see the Bulls keeping this pick, but if they do, Blair would be the obvious choice since the Bulls still lack a low-post player. Most draft boards have Blair as a lottery pick but his lack of height (even though he got a 7’4 wingspan) and his weight (even though he looked fit ‘n trim at the combine) have raised Tractor-trailer or Big Baby comparisons and that might be enough to see him slip on draft night.

17. Philadelphia 76ers

Jeff Teague 20 PG 6-2 175 Wake Forest

Andre Miller could be heading out of town and while Lou Williams is nice, the Sixers need help at PG. Teague is NBA-ready and could step in next season as the starter on a good young team and that would free up 10 million in cap space for them to spend in the off-season.

18. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Miami)

Ty Lawson 21 PG 6-1 199 North Carolina

Having already secured Thabeet in the top 5, Minny now turns to getting a PG. While Teague or Maynor may be a “safer” pick, Minnesota lacks winners and Lawson is a winner. His draft stock has surprisingly taken a hit in the two months since winning the NCAA title with North Carolina, but at 18 he would be a steal and his pedigree would help a Minnesota team with an identity complex. The North Carolina system has known to cast a shadow on a player’s true talent.

19. Atlanta Hawks

Eric Maynor 21 PG 6-3 164 VA Commonwealth

How many times can one team pass up drafting a point guard? Maynor is a solid guard who is ready to start in the NBA and along with Acie Law should be able to fill the void if Bibby leaves this summer. Even if he doesn’t, he could take over in a year or two when Bibby is finally shown the exit. The Hawks need insurance at PG and they won’t be screwing this one up again.

20. Utah Jazz

B. J. Mullens 20 C 7-1 258 Ohio State

Tall, white, awkward, has potential….send him to Utah! But seriously, Okur and Boozer will soon depart (either this year or next) and a guy like Mullens would fit nicely next to the smaller but equally beastly Millsap for the next decade. Had Mullens even played decent this season he would have landed top 10 in this draft. He still may rise (7 footers have a history of going higher on draft night then predicted) but if around at 20, I think he is the best fit for Utah, especially considering the Utah staples of Williams, Miles, Brewer and Millsap.

21. New Orleans Hornets

Tyler Hansbrough 23 PF 6-10 234 North Carolina

The Hornets too often fell victim to long periods of drought – no baskets, bone-head plays, and no-one other than CP3 to turn to. Hansbrough would be a great fit in New Orleans, his motor never stops and the guy is a worker. As the first guy off the bench he would be a great compliment to the West-CP3 combo by adding serious hustle and garbage points night-in and night-out. What’s even better is that the cash strapped Hornets could deal West to a team like the Pistons (who are looking for an All-Star PF for a real wing player like Prince and then start Tylerhans at the 4. He won’t dominate the NBA like he did college, and many people feel he is nothing more than a Christian Laetner type of player, but, Hansbrough has talent and will make a team compete.

22. Dallas Mavericks
Look for Dallas to draft the most talented player on the board as they are a team with a lot of holes. However, with Josh Howard on the block (and maybe the easiest way to fill all those holes) – Williams would be a nice replacement.

Terrence Williams 21 SG 6-6 213 Louisville
23. Sacramento Kings (via Houston)

Patrick Mills 20 PG 6-1 175 St. Mary’s (CA)

Best point guard that nobody knows about (outside of Internet basketball geeks like myself) would be a great addition to the Kings and would eventually replace Udrih as the point guard of the future in Sactown. This of course if they don’t manage to swing a deal with Memphis for Rubio.

24. Portland Trailblazers

Darren Collison 21 PG 6-2 166 UCLA

Portland needs a guy to pair with Roy in the back court. But not just any player, they need a mature guard who is not flashy, does not demand the ball, does not seek out his own shot, and can distribute the rock. For the last two years Collison has queitly gone about his business at UCLA while letting high profile prospects Westbrook and Holiday take all the prestige. He is a solid guard and would be a nice addition to Portland. Plus, he is tough as nails and McMillan would love this guy.

25. OKC Thunder (via San Antonio)

DeMarre Carroll 22 PF 6-8 207 Missouri

Think of Ronaldo Balkman on speed. Think of JYD with talent. Think of a guy who will run the court for 48 minutes, who has size, speed, and is a beast on the boards. If Carroll were to go back to Missou he’s looking at the lottery for sure in 2010. Instead, he may parlay his excellent tournament into a first round pick as OKC, after shoring up their back court with Harden, will look for a 6th man to back up Durant.

26. Chicago Bulls (via Denver)

Chase Budinger 21 SG 6-7 206 Arizona

At 26 you take whatever you can get. Buddinger is the best talent still on the board and the Bulls who once had too many wing men to think about, could find themselves needing depth at the 2-3. They dealt both Sefolosha and Noccioni at the deadline, could loose Gordon as an FA, and Deng is apparently on the block. Buddinger would be a nice back up to Salmons and let both Rose and Hinrich play together in the backcourt.

27. Memphis Grizzlies (via Orlando)

Gani Lawal 19 PF 6-9 229 Georgia Tech

The Grizzlies need size in the front court to pair with the excellent backcourt of Conley Jr, Gay, and Mayo. While I imagine any deal that includes the #2 overall pick would address this issue, a guy like Lawal would be a nice pick-up at 27. At 19 he has huge upside but is not close to being NBA-ready and while he probably should return to GT, if he sticks in the draft he would be a steal at 27 since after two more seasons at GT he would be in the lottery and probably even in the top ten.

28. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Boston)

Wayne Ellington 21 SG 6-5 202 North Carolina

If Minnesota could walk away from this draft with Thabeet, Lawson, and Ellington what a night it would be in State of Lakes! Ellington brings all the same intangibles as Lawson in addition to great defense and a scorers touch. I see a lot of Grant Hill in him. Think of a starting five of Thabeet, Jefferson, Love, Ellington, Lawson and a bench that includes Miller, Foye and Brewer. That’s more talent than the Raptors.

29. Los Angeles Lakers

Nick Calathes 20 PG 6-5 185 Florida

He is the perfect guard for the triangle: big, good court vision, and can stick his shot when needed. Even though he is heading to Greece, LA would be smart to own his rights for 3 reasons:

  1. If he stayed in the draft and didn’t sign in Greece he was easily top 20 (Dallas was in-love with him at 22) and if he went back to Florida for another year he was looking top 10.
  2. The Lakers are cash-strapped with both Ariza and Odom needing to be resigned (even the 29th pick gets a guaranteed contract). A pick this late almost never steps in right away to help a team that has been to back-to-back finals.
  3. The buyout from his Greek club after 1 year is only 500,000 and the NBA club is allowed to pay all of it.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers

Sam Young 24 SF 6-7 223 Pittsburgh

Best player available, most boards have Young as a first round pick. He is very strong and an excellent rebounder that, when paired next to Lebron at the 2, opposing wing players would hate to play due to the physical beating they would endure.

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