I'm sure we've all read every mock draft there has been offered this summer, all scoured over player profiles and NCAA statistics, watched YouTube video upon YouTube video, trying to figure out what all these players are actually about. Now, I'm taking the time to write out what I think will happen on Thursday. I could be wrong, but hey, there's a first time for everything.
1. Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin.
Just because if they don't, it'd be the worst decision since...well, ever.
2. Memphis Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet.
The Grizzlies need an elite low post defender, and Thabeet could be just that.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder: James Harden.
Harden fits in perfectly into the fountain of youth known as the Thunder.
4. Sacramento Kings: Ricky Rubio.
At this point, being the team with the worst record in the NBA last season (sorry you got screwed out of the top pick, Sacramento), the Kings need to get the best player available. At this point, Ricky Rubio has too much potential and upside for them to not pick him. Tyreke Evans is another option...but I think they'll go with Rubio.
5. Washington Wizards: Tyreke Evans.
While rumors have it that the Wiz are trying to sell their pick, if they do wind up holding onto it, they'd do well to pick up Tyreke Evans. They've got a plethora of PF/C projects (Javale McGee, Andray Blatche) and their starters (Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood), so drafting someone like Jordan Hill doesn't quite add up.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves: Stephen Curry.
The Timberwolves need an upgrade at every position not occupied by Al Jefferson. Adding a PG/SG tweener that can give them firepower from outside and possibly draw enough attention so Jefferson is left down in the post sounds like a good call to me.
7. Golden State Warriors: Jonny Flynn.
He's got a monster vertical and seems to be really quick...fits perfectly into the Warriors system. Just not into Don Nelson's.
8. New York Knicks: Jordan Hill.
While the Knicks have a definite need at PG, with all of the "Nash not wanting to sign an extension until the Suns future plans emerge" talks and his little confession on Late Night (about him loving the idea of playing for the Knicks), it would make sense to not draft a PG until that outlet is resolved. Jordan Hill would be a good fit in the uptempo system D'Antoni runs and would be a valuable player anyway, in case David Lee or Al Harrington don't return for whatever reason.
9. Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan.
The Raptors need a super-athletic wing player, and since they've got Bosh down low and Calderon distributing, why not pick arguably the best athlete in the draft? He had a semi-disappointing freshman year at USC, which is why I think he'll be available at 9.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Jrue Holiday.
I've heard that the Bucks aren't wanting to resign Ramon Sessions, and with the amount of time Luke Ridnour missed last season, they're going to need some PG talent. Holiday should fit the bill well for Milwaukee.
11. New Jersey Nets: James Johnson.
It seems like JJ has been improving his draft stock with his interviews, his "likability", and his ability to possibly create a mismatch at the SF spot. With the Nets already having a Harris/Carter backcourt, and Lopez working out fantastically for them, it would do them well to draft an athletic wingman who can both defend and score.
12. Charlotte Bobcats: Gerald Henderson.
I think Henderson is pretty much a lock for the 12 spot. Raja just isn't cutting it as he once could, and coming from a well-disciplined system in Duke, I think Larry Brown might just go out of his "no rookie" mentality and give this guy a shot.
13. Indiana Pacers: Brandon Jennings.
Brandon Jennings has too much upside to not be picked. And, with Indiana looking for a reliable (non-injury prone) option at PG, Jennings could very well be that person.
14. Phoenix Suns: Earl Clark.
There has been talk that the Suns may be looking to draft big again and go for one of the more true post players (Mullens, Hansbrough), but does a 6'10", athletic forward (who has been nailed with the tendency to disappear at times in games) sound familiar? If we can nab Clark and get him involved in a system that would encourage him to be his best, he could be a great player for years to come.
15. Detroit Pistons: Tyler Hansbrough.
With 'Sheed not sure on his future in the NBA (at least the last time I checked, he wasn't sure) and McDyess surely in his last year or two in the league (notwithstanding his late season surge), the Pistons will be looking to draft big. With Hansbrough, the Pistons know exactly what they're getting, and I think that he would fit in well into their system. He's America's Sweetheart, has passion for the game, and despite everyone doubting if his game would translate into the NBA, if given a shot, I think he'll be a solid rotation player.
16. Chicago Bulls: Terrence Williams.
While the Bulls have a wing scorer in Ben Gordon, and have a lot of years (and cash) tied up in Luol Deng, Gordon is seeking a max extension and Deng has now developed the penchant for being injured. Enter Terrence Williams. Played very well for a very good Louisville team, and even if Gordon and Deng are in Bulls uniforms next year, bringing him off the bench and having him learn from those two guys could be a very good thing.
17. Philadelphia 76ers: Ty Lawson.
Miller is getting old, and while I think they could go the DeJuan Blair route, why would they draft someone whose game I think is almost a carbon copy of Elton Brand's? The 76ers should draft Lawson for the following reasons: he's a great distributor, he won't have a problem not being the first option (because that is clearly Iguodala), and he seems to thrive in an uptempo system. All signs point to yes.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Miami Heat): BJ Mullens.
While I don't think the Wolves will hold onto their remaining two first rounders, I think they should draft a player with a decent upside and decent value. This person could be BJ Mullens. He's a 7 footer who has good hands and can finish as well as anyone. He didn't quite have a stellar year with the Buckeyes, but he also didn't get the touches or opportunities to showcase his abilities.
19. Atlanta Hawks: Eric Maynor.
It's no secret that Mike Bibby is getting old, and while he is still a fairly serviceable PG in this league, who knows how long that will keep up. With Atlanta having a bit of a youth movement going on, I think that drafting a PG for the future could do well. And, if he doesn't pan out, they can always try again in the 2010 draft, which is supposed to be much deeper.
20. Utah Jazz: Chase Budinger.
With Okur saying he wants to come back to the Jazz, Boozer still on the roster (though it's not sure whether or not he'll stay there), and Williams manning the point, the Jazz are left with a hole at wingman. They did very well to draft Ronnie Brewer, but with Kirilenko being injury prone and the possibility of him winding up on another team next season, the Jazz should go for a good scoring SF. Budinger, while not exactly exemplary on defense, is a good shooter and has decent basketball IQ. He was a lock for a top 10 pick a couple years back, but returning to college for a couple years has had its impact on his stock. Still, despite the fact that he comes from UofA (and I'm an ASU fan), the guy's got skills.
21. New Orleans Hornets: DeJuan Blair.
With Chandler going down last season, it was obvious to the Hornets that the combination of Hilton Armstrong, Melvin Ely and Sean Marks just can't cut it. Look for the Hornets to draft big, and though DeJuan Blair has his drawbacks, I think he's too good of a player for New Orleans to pass up.
22. Dallas Mavericks: Sam Young.
With most of the Mavericks wingman positions being aging veterans, look for the Mavericks to upgrade in this area. Young was the go-to guy many times on a talented Pittsburgh team, defends well, and looks like he should be a very good NBA player. Could very well be the sleeper of this year's draft.
23. Sacramento Kings (via Houston Rockets): Austin Daye.
Already having drafted their supposed PG of the future in Ricky Rubio, the Kings need to go after upgrades at other positions. They drafted well last year with Jason Thompson, and already have a talented SG in Kevin Martin, so I think the Kings will go after Gonzaga's Austin Daye. He's got great wingspan, great height, but he's a little too thin to man the PF spot right now. He needs to add bulk and get stronger, but once that inevitably happens, I think he'll be a smart pick by the Kings.
24. Portland Trail Blazers: DaJuan Summers.
Summers is an interesting prospect that had an up and down year on and up and down Georgetown team. While the Blazers drafted Batum last year, I think adding another young SF to the mix could do well. Or they could just draft a good player and package him with another one of their youngsters for a solid veteran. Either way, Portland wins.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (from San Antonio Spurs): Jeff Pendergraph.
Being from Tempe and following ASU basketball, I always thought Pendergraph would be a mid second round pick. Though, at the combine and at various other workouts, it seems as though many teams are pretty high on him. He's determined, has a good skill set, and moves well. The Thunder are lacking a good PF type player, and while I think Pendergraph will be largely a bench player in the NBA, I think he will excel as that, especially on a team like the Thunder.
26. Chicago Bulls (from Denver Nuggets): Omri Casspi.
Haven't seen much of the guy, but from what I've read about him, he could be a good project for the Bulls.
27. Memphis Grizzlies (from Orlando Magic): Darren Collison.
Darren Collison is a good player and had a fairly good year at UCLA. His draft stock has slipped a little bit since last year, but I have no doubt that he can become a good rotation player in the NBA level. He'll never become a superstar, but his skill set should set him up to be a good backup, or maybe even a serviceable starter one day.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Boston Celtics): Wayne Ellington.
Again, the Wolves will not likely keep this player, but in case they do, they'll be getting a polished player in Ellington. He's not freakishly athletic, he's not a superstar defender, but the kid can shoot the ball. He'd be a good addition to the Wolves (as they lack a consistent outside shooter), but can also be a semi-valuable selling piece.
29. Los Angeles Lakers: Derrick Brown.
Don't look for the Lakers to shake much up, but I think adding another young wingman to the mix would be a good idea. Brown is a good athlete and has a pretty well rounded game, but isn't exactly stunning in any one aspect. Could be a good addition to learn under the Phil Jackson/Kobe Bryant team.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jeff Teague.
While the Cavaliers had the best record in the league last year, there were obviously a few spots on their team that needed improvement. They lacked a dominant big man presence, and outside of LeBron James and (very rarely) Mo Williams, they didn't get much production from other players. I think the Cavaliers would do well to draft Jeff Teague, and bring him in as a pseudo-replacement for Wally Szczerbiak.
31. Sacramento Kings: Dionte Christmas.
32. Washington Wizards: Jonas Jerebko.
33. Portland Trail Blazers: Josh Heytvelt.
34. Denver Nuggets: Taj Gibson.
35. Detroit Pistons: Nick Calathes.
36. Memphis Grizzlies: DeMarre Carrol.
37. San Antonio Spurs: Jon Brockman.
38. Portland Trail Blazers: Patrick Mills.
39. Detroit Pistons: Danny Green.
40. Charlotte Bobcats: Robert Dozier.
41. Milwaukee Bucks: Leo Lyons.
42. Los Angeles Lakers: Sergio Llull.
43. Miami Heat: Jeff Adrien.
44. Detroit Pistons: Jerel McNeal.
45. Minnesota Timberwolves: Victor Claver.
46. Cleveland Cavaliers: Dante Cunningham.
47. Minnesota Timberwolves: Rodrigue Beaubois.
48. Phoenix Suns: Jodie Meeks.
49. Atlanta Hawks: Jermaine Taylor.
50. Utah Jazz: Toney Douglas.
51. San Antonio Spurs: Paul Harris.
52. Indiana Pacers: Vyacheslav Kravstov.
53. San Antonio Spurs: Sergii Gladyr.
54. Charlotte Bobcats: Eric Devendorf.
55. Portland Trail Blazers: Wesley Matthews.
56. Portland Trail Blazers: Milenko Tepic.
57. Phoenix Suns: Curtis Jerrells.
58. Boston Celtics: Terrel Harris.
59. Los Angeles Lakers: Courtney Fells.
60. Miami Heat: Chris Johnson.