AWWW SNAPS! First thing you have to do, aside from reading that exclamation and this opening sentence, is click play on the Youtube player. Second, sit back and let the sounds of the Yamaha electric piano vibrate your very core. Third, let the violin c(h)ords and (see what I did there?; cleverly cunning, I know) imitate the feeling your heart got when this song came on. And finally, let the bongos and drum snares pulse through your veins with unrelenting fervor. That’s right, “Roundball Rock” by the famous John Tesh always signified that something big was gonna happen. It meant that: A. it was Sunday, B. basketball was about to consume the next 5 hours of my life with insane quadruple-headers and C. the NBA on NBC was, and still is, the shit. Hopefully by hearing that familiar tune you have been time-ported back to the simpler days when ESPN was just Chris Berman making goofy noises with his mouth, ABC still had TGIF and everyone wanted to know what Topanga and Corey were going to do with their lives after Mr. Feeny’s class (go ahead and hate, you know you did too, TV was great back then). But ultimately, I want you to feel excited and amped for what is happening on Thursday afternoon 4 PM Pacific: The NBA Draft. Especially with this year’s free agency crop (which is an entirely different post in and of itself), this year’s draft will make you salivate at the depth of talent that is available. Unlike last year’s draft, I feel as if there is ample talent that even reaches into the mid 30s (second round for those unfamiliar to the process) and maybe even deeper. While the international feel is significantly less than it has been in years prior (damn you Jan Vesely and Donatas Motiejunas for wanting to wait another year… damn you!), it is now time for the stateside kiddies to flex their muscle.
I have never actually sat and done a mock draft, hell not even a top 10 mock draft. However, by some prodding (thanks Casey) I am going to try my hand at this because it seems fun and plus, if I get a few right outside of the top 10 it will make me feel as if I could run an NBA team (an all time dream, next to being a pro golfer and owning/designing golf courses). With this endeavor there are going to be some limitations and rules that I make. Firstly, I will mention, but not account entirely for the possibilities of traded picks or any of the politicking that occurs during the actual draft… I’m not fuckin’ Rain Man. Would be cool if I was that intuitive and intelligent, but I ain’t that good (no matter what your moms says… yea, I went there). Secondly, I doubt I will stick to the bullshit idea of “best player available” (BPA). If I feel like player X is legit and needed, but he would clash with so and so, player X is going there and so and so will just have to deal with it (Al Jefferson, I’m looking at you). Thirdly, since all good things come in threes, I open the picks up to debate in the comments section. And lastly, the first 30 is what I am going to do because I have not been researching enough to do a full 60. Please come and help mold my NBA Mock Draft 2010… ain’t no fun if we all can’t get some, right? On to the picks, Washington is on the clock…
Washington 1- John Wall, PG, Kentucky
Pretty much a lock pick right here. This draft actually overshadowed the 2009 NBA Draft primarily because of John Wall. Having played for the controversial Coach Cal, John will come into the league with as good as a resume of any other player. Being the third point to be groomed by Coach Cal in the past three years (Rose in ’08, Evans in ’09), it is pretty much a given he will come in and make a splash immediately. Going to a Wizards team in desperate need of youthful exuberance and a new face to inspire hope, John Wall will begin the “Cool the Hibachi” campaign. I expect Ernie Grunfeld to field offers for Gilbert, but with that turrible (say in your best Charles Barkley) contract, nobody, not even Donald Trump will bite. Having seen John Wall put on a show at the Hoop Summit last year, we as fans are in for a treat.
Philadelphia 2- Evan Turner, SG/SF, Ohio State
Evan Turner is the right pick here for a few reasons. First, you know exactly what you are going to get out of him from the get-go. As a finalist for national player of the year (don’t know if he won it), Evan nightly put on clinics, dropping close to triple doubles every game. During the NCAA tournament the kid turned it up a few more notches and dropped 30 consistently, scoring in a multitude of ways and getting to line at an insane clip. Evan’s game is highly comparable to that of Brandon Roy’s and I think he would complement the existing core of Lou Williams/Iggy Hop/Brand (steadly declining)…. I mean imagining a backcourt of Williams/Turner just makes me think of good times to come in Philly… plus it gives them the best excuse not to play Willie Green.
New Jersey 3- DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C, Kentucky
While Derrick Favors maybe the better pick to play alongside Brook Lopez, purely off of his skill set and athleticism, Cousins has been lights out during the workout sessions. Consistently going up against Favors, Cousins is murking. Apparently, at the New Jersey session Cousins went bananas from the field and put on such a show that the front office in East Rutherford is in heated debate about this. Now, I know it isn’t smart to go off pure workout stats, I mean Yi went against a chair for crap’s sake, but the prospects of Brook Lopez and DeMarcus Cousins clogging the lane? Tantalizing. Defense maybe a problem, but this is where I enact rule two… it just sounds too good. I would not be surprised to be wrong, in fact I hope it is Favors because it balances better and also because Cousins would like to be drafted by Detroit. Debate this in the comments.
Minnesota 4- Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse
This is another lock pick I feel. Al Jefferson is all but entrenched because of his knee trouble and shortcomings, but with Wesley Johnson comes something everyone wishes Corey Brewer could ever be on the offensive end. In desperate need of a 3 not named Damien Wilkins or Sasha Pavlovic, Johnson gives the Timberpups, er Timberwolves, a dynamic and athletic running mate for Jonny Flynn (or Ricky Rubio if he ever comes over to play for Minny… pinch me when that happens). Any hope is good hope for the consistently in the dumps Minnesota franchise. With David Kahn though, following in the footsteps of predecessor Kevin “sure I’ll take Randy Foye for Brandon Roy” McHale, you never know what he’ll do. Hell, he might draft me.
Sacramento 5- Greg Monroe, PF/C, Georgetown
Taking the place of Spencer Hawes is Greg Monroe. Spencer being traded to the 76ers for Samuel Dalembert leaves the Kings extremely thin up front (not a knock on the Haitian born center). Greg brings much of what Spencer had: high BBIQ, great soft hands, superb passing ability for a big man and incredible facial hair (though I think Greg wins because of how BAMF it is… he keeps that lined up nicely). I mean, how much more sense do I need to make of this pick? Solid move for Geoff Petrie.
Golden State 6- Derrick Favors, PF/C, Georgia Tech
The first slide of the night finds Derrick in a favorable (couldn’t help it) position. At some point, a GM or owner has to nix Don Nelson’s senility. Or, in this case, I will tell him just to go eat his Ahi in Hawaii while I make a pick to help him bolster his wins record. You can only collect so many Anthony Randolphs and Brendan Wrights (yeah, he is still alive) before you have to make a change of tactic. Favors gives the Warriors actual size, size as in girth not Andris Biedrins. And with size comes easier points in the paint, maybe some intimidation and cleaner looks for some guy named Steph Curry. No brainer really, especially because Favors is still around to be scooped up.
Detroit 7- Al-Farouq Aminu, SF/PF, Wake Forest
Ok, so I am going to be honest. I hype a lot of these guys, but this dude right here, this dude right here: he’s my guy. Fell in love with his game after watching him in the Hoop Summit back in ’08 and instantly tagged him as a guy to watch in the coming years. He slipped up a bit his freshman year, struggling and adjusting to the rigors of the college game, and probably life. But this year was exactly what I had expected to see, read and hear. Al Farouq came out like gangbusters and became one of the best scorers in the ACC and lead a surprisingly good Demon Deacons team to a thrilling win over Texas (called that!) in the tournament. Aminu gives Joe Dumars another athletic wing player, and maybe, just maybe it will amend for his gross overpayment of Charlie Villanueva.
LA Clippers 8- Paul George, SG/SF, Fresno State
The first major reach, or steal, could be made by Donald Sterling and whoever his GM… who am I kidding, Donald Sterling writes the checks. Paul George’s ceiling has been highly debated because many feel he is just scratching the surface of what he could become as a player. But the blogosphere isn’t as convinced and throw darts at him saying that he could be the next bust guy. However, I feel that Paul has it in him to get it all together and make the pick pay off for the Clippers. With a body like T-Mac (band-aid sold separately.. kidding, he isn’t fragile), a game predicated on the jumpshot, a decent looking post game (granted against WAC competition, literally) and an in-the-works 3-ball, Paul could complement the Boom’s Beard, Eric Gordon’s chubby cheeks, and Blake Griffin’s biceps just fine with his fade. Plus, isn’t it time Rasual Butler stopped jacking up 3’s?
Utah 9- Gordon Hayward, SF, Butler
The All-American kid who played David to Duke’s Goliath and almost slayed the behemoth with two rather good looks is the next guy Jerry Sloan welcomes to the Jazz family. Hayward, being white and OH SO CLOSE to Indiana, cries Pacers pick (you know, so Larry Bird can acquire as many white players and have an all white starting 5 so he can once and for all prove they are better… I mean, who needs Danny Granger?), but at 9 and with the Jazz I feel he falls into a perfect situation. A kid with his work ethic, pedigree and a desire to learn is a great fit for a demanding and great coach in Sloan. Playing in the simplest and most efficient offenses in the league will make his transition to the NBA that much easier. Watch this kid be something great for the Jazz and something of a thorn in the side for the rest of the league. Guarantee.
Indiana 10- Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina
So, I am here to crush Larry Bird’s all-white dream. Taking Ed here is a commitment to adding some athleticism to one of the more plodding and uninteresting teams in the league. Along with this, it finally gives Larry a person he can have groomed to take Troy Murphy’s spot when he is inevitably traded to that one contending team looking for a ‘stretch 4’ because it is the missing piece to the puzzle (cough Cleveland). Though Ed missed much of his sophomore year to broken wrist, it can not be forgotten that he was rated the 5th best player coming out last year before he decided to return for a second running of the Heels with the jovial Roy Williams… ha, jovial Roy Williams. What an oxymoron, that guy always looks steamed during games.
New Orleans 11- Xavier Henry, SG/SF, Kansas
This is a tough pick. The Hornets are victims of many ills. Hamstrung by a few bad contracts (James Posey, Peja Stojakovic and Emeka Okafor), a cost-cutting owner, an impending sale of the team that is stalled at the moment, competing with the Super Bowl champion Saints and a sinking city (my bad, that last point isn’t the Hornets fault, my bad). Xavier Henry gives the Hornets some youth and vibrancy that Mo Peterson and Peja and even James Posey will never give to the team again. It also gives the Hornets flexibility in their guard dynamics (even if Chris Paul gets traded) because they have the burgeoning talents of Darren Collison and lightning-in-the-bottle Marcus Thornton. Adding a prospect of Henry’s caliber will give a boost and shot in the arm for the Hornets who are looking to remain competitive, while working on a budget. Long as they play what they have, they will succeed in my book.
Memphis 12- Eric Bledsoe, PG/SG, Kentucky
It gets tough down here. I have to juggle three things here: Chris Wallace and his draft history, the roster imbalance and Rudy Gay’s imminent departure and what I truly feel needs to happen here. Bledsoe had a pretty decent year at Kentucky playing alongside John Wall, and it so happens that the Grizzlies desperately need a back-up point to spell Mike Conley. Let’s be frank (you be Dean and I’ll be Sammy), Marcus Williams is a huge disappointment and will probably be nothing more than a pudgy, mediocre 3rd string hoping to latch on as a 2nd string point and Jamaal Tinsley should be commended for getting his life in check and being serviceable again. But, Mike Conley finally made the strides many thought would come last year and has cemented himself as the point guard of the future for the Grizz (he even has Lionel Hollins’ approval). What this team needs, amid the athletic length they have, is another guard who can be electric and run sets. Drafting another big would make the Grizzlies the Seattle Supersonics during the Swift-Sene-Petro dynasty (that worked out incredibly well I might add [rolls eyes]) and drafting another wing would make this team probably the best video game fast break team imaginable.
Toronto 13- Ekpe Udoh, PF/C, Baylor
Chris Bosh isn’t coming back. Half that team might not even be there next year. It seems that the Raptors have been in constant flux since the mid-2000s, even during that one time fling into the playoffs. Signing Hedo was a major mistake (am I glad the Blazers dodged that Howitzer sized mortar shell), Bargnani is good, but not as revolutionary as hyped, and the rest of that team can’t really defend anyone… not even the grandma league at the Y. But, there can be something salvaged here. Build off of DeMar DeRozan’s solid rookie year, slide Bargs down to his natural position at the 4 and give Udoh starter minutes at the 5 and build some kind of consistent chemistry. Udoh was a darling of this year NCAA’s, putting up numbers that made him shoot up draft boards and possibly even trends on Twitter. I like what I saw during the Duke-Baylor game, and the fact that he is pretty nice with the handles and attacking the basket is a major plus. Do it Colangelo, do it for Drake and all of T-Dot.
Houston 14- Solomon Alabi, C, Florida State
Houston has scoring in bunches with Brooks/Martin/Budinger and to a lesser extent Ariza (he of 15 pts on 15 shots fame, fantastic efficiency), but what they do not have is a defensive presence. With Yao’s return looking more questionable by the day, and David Andersen (while serviceable as a back-up, not a starter), and Chuck Hayes being a true gamer, the Rockets need immediate size in the middle. Alabi, standing at 7’1”, can be that guy to give them some form of defensive mainstay, and possibly develop some form of a low-post repertoire. Plus, his Nigerian roots allude to visions of a former Rocket legend- Akeem “The Dream” Olajuwon. The symmetry is perfect, and even if Yao does come back, he can be eased back in and teach this neophyte to ball some.
Milwaukee 15- Luke Babbitt, SF, Nevada
To be completely honest I have no information on Babbitt. From what I have read, he has beast mode athleticism, pretty jump shot and a pretty dominant offensive player. Then I look at his credentials and resume and see that all this domination came at the expense of WAC competition and Nevada hasn’t been a relevant school since Fazekas/Sessions/Kemp back in like 2005-2006. In the spirit of mock drafting though, Babbitt could be everything the Bucks wanted from the injury-riddled (unhappy and not given a fair shake) Joe Alexander. Also, with the news that John Salmons (hopefully a Blazers target this summer) is going to opt out of his contract, Corey Maggette and his history of injuries just got traded to Milwaukee, and the incredible/inconsistent CDR will soon join, Babbitt will give Skiles some more depth and ability to mix and match rotation. For Babbitt’s sake I hope he can move laterally and get after it defensively or Skiles will doghouse him immediately.
Minnesota 16- Larry Sanders, PF/C, VCU
David Kahn working his odd draft magic is selecting 12 picks after getting Wesley Johnson at 4. Here David, hoping he is still thinking with a semblance of intelligence, will select the a pretty good talent in Sanders. Still a little raw offensively, Sanders rates out pretty darn well defensively. Going to a team that is atrocious on both sides of the ball, but in particular defense, Kurt Rambis gets a high energy hustle guy that he can plug in to get some boards, maybe a block or two, but more importantly to spell either Love or Jefferson from the beating the other team’s 4 is inflicting. Trial by fire, and Minnesota is player hell.
Chicago 17- Avery Bradley, PG/SG, Texas
Looking for a replacement to Ben Gordon, I believe Bradley can fill that role. A much better option than Flip Murray, Bradley could be that running mate Rose wants in the backcourt to help to take some of the pressure he gets all night (though I think Rose settles for the jumper too much… someone just show him that dunk he had on Dragic and also against the Thunder late last year; then tell him, “Kid, you should be doing this on EVERYONE.”). Bradley can shoot, pass it, play second fiddle and become the guy the Bulls should have kept instead of re-upping with Luol Deng.
Miami 18- Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas
Word on the street is that the Heat are not keeping this pick because they need to clear cap, but since they have close to 30 million coming off the cap this summer I would like them to take a shot at Cole taking over the spot Jermaine O’Neal use to man. Assuming Wade stays, and gets a decent second scorer (or Beasley finally gets it together), Cole Aldrich can be right in the middle of it all (literally). Possessing a high BBIQ, great hands and touch around the basket, and great amount of energy, this could turn out to be a very good pick for the Heat. Also having Mario Chalmers on the roster makes Aldrich’s assimilation even easier since they played college ball together. However, with the news the way it is it doesn’t look like the Heat will make a pick in the first round this year.
Boston 19- Damion James, SF/PF, Texas
The runners-up to the Lakers this year, Boston is a team that epitomizes transition. With players such as Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo looking for new contracts everything is all but green in the land of Massachusetts. The main problem with Boston that I have is that they are an old squad in the same vein as the Spurs. Taking a guy like James (right before the Spurs bee-tee-dub) gives them some youth and toughness. As a four-year starter at Texas, James comes in experienced and ready to contribute right away. Plus, it is another guy KG can inculcate and teach to be a “fiery competitor” (who barks at players and acts like a d-bag)… because we need another one of those, right? On the real, James would be superb here and if he can refine his jumper enough, maybe out to 18-20 feet (to go along with his bruising type inside game) he can be a force.
San Antonio 20- Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall
Timmy D and Antonio McD aren’t getting any younger. That entire team isn’t getting younger. Time to jump-start that youth movement, all while keeping contention the main goal. Whiteside has some incredible ability to score from the post, although that is not his primary means of contributing on the offensive end. Armed with a delicate baby hook, imagine what it would be like if the big Fundamental could teach this kid a thing or two about being crafty and scoring in the paint? Would be something awesome, I suggest it happen (also that Hassan put on some weight or he’ll be pushed off the spot/bowled over). On defense, the hallmark of every good Spurs team, Hassan’s numbers (adjusted of course for conference) say that he is better than average as a defender and at this stage of his career his instincts are impeccable. It is more or less a matter of learning and honing his skills to help make the transition into the post-Duncan era.
Oklahoma City 21- Daniel Orton, C, Kentucky
The team that has probably the brightest future in the NBA is still without one piece: a center worthy to play with Durantula/Green/Westbrook/Harden. Add a good enough center to that mix and bang, you have fast tracked the fast tracking Thunder. Daniel Orton has been highly scrutinized for his decision of leaving Kentucky too early, not being ready enough and also not looking all that good in the few workouts he has performed. Increasingly concerning is the fact that there are dissenting opinions in his family over his representation by agents. But, that is neither here nor there in this analysis. Orton could help this team pretty quick because of his already very polished offensive game around the basket, as well as my weariness in trusting BJ Mullens to really amount to anything. As a center, and as the most known and best center left, I have to eat my words and say that BPA works right here. Kudos Presti.
Portland 22- Patrick Patterson, SF/PF, Kentucky
Amazing how I forgot about Patrick Patterson in this whole process until just now. Seriously, I had gotten so caught up in looking at roster balance and the like, that every team had a Patrick Patterson type player on it already and I kind of see Patterson dropping in similar fashion. What I like about Patterson is that he gives it his all whenever he on the court and the Blazers could use a tough, rugged, energetic “I ain’t taking any shit” type of player off the bench. In the same vein as a Dante Cunningham and Jeff Pendegraph, Patterson brings the intangibles that make basketball teams work well. Still needs to work on his jumper and free throw shooting, but if Patterson is around here, snatch him. Editor note: 45% me sees this pick being packaged with, say Rudy/Bayless/(insert player) to move up or get something in return, 45% is thinking there is some “big” the team is looking at here and the other 10% is feeling like I did last year (which was not really worried or caring, just wanting to happen so then I could dissect it). I will be looking at everything prior to this pick and the moments leading up to the pick to get a better feel for it.
Minnesota 23- Tibor Pleiss, C, Germany
Because David Kahn can do whatever he feels like; if he likes euros, he takes euros. To be clear, I doubt the Wolves use this pick for anything they need. This has package pick all over it. Tibor, I am sorry, but you are just a placeholder in my game.
Atlanta 24- Jordan Crawford, SG, Xavier
Yeah, that guy that supposedly dunked on LeBron and then caused one of the stupidest firestorms and a video-gate unseen since Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson. With Joe Johnson leaving the A, the Hawks need a big time scorer to take his place and Crawford has the kind of game that can step in and try to provide that. This is the end of an era for the Hawks (let’s think about it, prior to JJ the Hawks had zero direction… tons of talent, zero direction; I feel this last season was the closest they could get to getting up there and they crapped out worse than Antoine Walker). Crawford demonstrated strong skills during the NCAA’s and his appetite to learn the game will serve him well in Atlanta. Also, you could have two Crawfords coming off that bench… how neat-o gang!
Memphis 25- Elliot Williams, SG, Memphis
Staying local, Chris Wallace should select Elliot Williams at this pick mostly as a means to give that bench some scoring punch. With many of the guys already on the bench (Carroll, Young,et al.) all being slashers with jumpers leaving you wanting more, Elliot can be that shooter off the bench that ever team covets in drafts and free agency. Also, with the low salary being paid to Williams, I would love to assume that Heisley could afford it… but you know what they say about assuming… Editor’s note: I think this pick was traded to Minny earlier on 6/22. Even if this is still here Thursday don’t expect too much from Wallace… he is slow.
Oklahoma City 26- Dominque Jones, SG, South Florida
At this point in the draft, my attention span begins to wane and the player profiles begin to read like this: very good at this, needs to work on this. Jones can score the ball with the best of them, but has question marks on ability to guard something, anything really. A bit small for 2, he would need to be crafty as hell or torch the guy guarding him to stick in solidly in the league. This pick is a prime candidate to be traded.
New Jersey 27- Quincy Pondexter, SF, Washington
A solid choice here as the impending deal of CDR leaves the Nets with the mesmerizing Terrence Williams and the vomit inducing Jarvis “chuck 3s allllllllll dayyyyyyy” Hayes. Pondexter gives a boost as a four-year college kid who: knows how to be the man, be the facilitator and be good behind the scenes. Q was a big reason the Huskies went as far as they did in the NCAA’s and I feel this is a good landing spot from him to start his NBA career.
Memphis 28- Darington Hobson, SF, New Mexico
While this pick also screams “Trade me from the ineptitude!,” Hobson would be a good fit here because he can slide into the spot vacated due to the dumbo that overpays for Rudy Gay. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Rudy Gay, but at this point he is nothing more than a 5 yr, 35-42 million. He shouldn’t get paid more than what he currently makes because there is still so much he can do that he isn’t doing. But with Hobson, the Grizz get the second coming of Danny Granger and last I checked that isn’t such a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all.
Orlando 29- James Anderson, SG/SF, Oklahoma State
Because it is always smart to realize that Half man-Half a season is always an injury away from being shelved for a few weeks to month (I struggled with his balky ankle and bum shoulder too much on my fantasy team this year), James Anderson is a good insurance policy. Having a fantastic junior year for the Cowboys, Anderson is flying a little low because he has not been performing well in workouts. However, his impact on the right team could be like that of Marcus Thornton, who faced similar situations last year and was selected in the second round (only to blow it up when finally given playing time). Miss Cleo called and said that Anderson’s future will follow that arc, then she asked me for another dollar to continue to the call (the things I do for you all).
Washington 30- Kevin Seraphin, PF/C, France
Bookmarking this first round, the Wizards select Kevin Seraphin from France. Slowed by a knee injury during this entire draft process, Kevin has kept his name in the draft pool. Having seen him in the Hoop Summit a year ago, I feel that this is a steal type of pick because his impact could be in the mold of Serge Ibaka. The kid is hyperathletic, springy in the legs and has an extremely high learning curve. Similar to Serge Ibaka (I’ve been tabbing Ibaka since he was like maybe 17 or so), Kevin has been competing against grown men over in France (the French league is just below the ACB league of Spain, which is just beneath the NBA) and has had pretty good success. Ibaka came on strong late in the season for the Thundercats (God, I wish this was there name… think of the marketing, HOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!) and was pretty beast mode in the series against the Lakers. Going off all of that, Seraphin is the pick and the perfect way to end this mock.
There you have it, all 30 picks done in the manner that I would do if I controlled the NBA. Please enjoy and discuss this at length in the comments. Here is to counting down to Thursday, and the advent of the NBA Offseason!