1. Los Angeles Clippers – Blake Griffin, F, Oklahoma
This is a no-brainer pick. He has been the #1 pick in this draft since last November and has won every Player of the Year award you can think of. I’ve already posted my thoughts on this pick for the Clippers, so I won’t go over it again. He’s got the potential to be a top power forward in the league in a few years, but also if he doesn’t develop much of an offensive game, could have already reached his plateau. I don’t expect that to happen, so he will develop into a very good, borderline great, power forward in the league.
2. Memphis Grizzlies – Ricky Rubio, G, Spain
Rubio’s agent has already said they will do what they can to avoid him going to either Memphis or Oklahoma City, but the same agent tried to do this with Yi last year and failed. Ultimately, I think Rubio decides to play for whoever takes him and Memphis, with the #2 pick, should take the 2nd best talent on the board. People widely consider Rubio and Thabeet to round out the top-3 with Griffin, but I could see Memphis consider Jordan Hill at this pick if they do not want to stunt the growth of Mike Conley, Jr. In the end, Rubio is the pick and should embrace the chance to play with OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder – Hasheem Thabeet, C, Connecticut
The Thunder have many holes and are not in a position to draft by, well, position. Other than Westbrook, Durant and Jeff Green have solidified their spots on this team. Nenad Krstic was a nice pickup last year, but he’s not a center you would want to build around. Thabeet would give them an instant upgrade in the defense department and if his offense ever comes around, he could become a really nice player. He must bulk up, but who in the draft doesn’t? Also considered James Harden and DeMar DeRozan at this spot.
4. Sacramento Kings – Brandon Jennings, G, Italy
The Kings have drafted big men in the last two drafts with Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson. Both of them look as if they will grow into good players in the league. Add to those two Kevin martin and Andres Nocioni, the lack of a play-making point guard really holds this team back. Beno Udrih was given a horrible contract and the Kings will be eating that while Jennings runs the show. Though Jennings isn’t a pure point guard, his scoring ability will be greatly welcomed by the Kings.
5. Washington Wizards – Jordan Hill, F, Arizona
The Wizards are actually trying to shop the pick, but if they keep it, I think Hill will be a great pick at #5. I think that Hill will be the 3rd best prospect in the draft behind Blake Griffin and DeMar DeRozan. Hill has developed his game to a higher level after every season at Arizona and should only keep getting better. If he can add more weight and some refined post moves, he’ll be a very productive player in this league.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves – James Harden, G, Arizona State
Harden was considered a top-3 pick all season long, but his showing in the NCAA tournament this season may have hampered his draft stock a bit. Either way, the Timberwolves get a great shooter with a calm and a poise of a 10-year veteran. If he develops a killer instinct and learns to take over games, I definitely see a resemblance to Paul Pierce in this kid.
7. Golden State Warriors – DeMar DeRozan, G, Southern Cal
As I said earlier, I think DeRozan will be one of the top players in this draft class, and going to Golden State will help inflate his offensive numbers. I’m sure the Warriors would have loved to grab either Rubio or Jennings to move Monta Ellis to the off guard, but they will settle for the best player available. DeRozan has great speed and athleticism and has probably the most potential of any player in this draft.
8. New York Knicks – Stephen Curry, G, Davidson
Stephen Curry wants to play in New York. New York wants Stephen Curry. Curry is good friends with LeBron James. The Knicks want LeBron to come to New York in 2010. Looks like not only do the Knicks add a perfect piece to D’Antoni’s system, but also a potential key piece in luring LeBron to the Big Apple. Curry will, in my opinion, be a career bench player, but his shooting, basketball IQ and passing will be a great asset as a backup point guard.
9. Toronto Raptors – Earl Clark, F, Louisville
This was one of the tougher picks to make as I was juggling between Clark, Wayne Ellington and Chase Budinger. For now, Clark gets the nod but in later versions of this mock, don’t be surprised if that changes. Clark is an all-everything forward, just like Shawn Marion, but doesn’t do any one thing very well. Those type of players don’t always flourish in the league, but Clark could prove otherwise.
10. Milwaukee Bucks – Jonny Flynn, G, Syracuse
This is a lot earlier than other mocks have Flynn, but I think he deserves to go top-10. Milwaukee has Luke Ridnour, who has fallen out of favor, and Ramon Sessions at point guard. Ridnour will be shopped all season once again and I think the Bucks view Sessions as a nice backup point guard. Flynn can come in and spark the offense with Michael Redd, Richard Jefferson and a big man in Andrew Bogut.
11. New Jersey Nets – Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona
The Nets have a nice core of players with Devin Harris at point guard and Brook Lopez at center for the next 7-10 years. Vince Carter is still a really good player in the league and could use another scorer at shooting guard. Yi Jianlian was supposed to fill the scoring void, but it’s looking more and more like the NBA is too much for him to handle. Budinger is 6273 and has great athleticism to go along with a sweet stroke. He may have trouble guarding quicker guards, but he could give teams a nightmare on the offensive end.
12. Charlotte Bobcats – Dejuan Blair, F, Pittsburgh
Blair was a beast in college basketball last year with his wide frame, big body and relentless rebounding mentality. I, personally, am not that high on him, but maybe that’s because I’ve never been a Pitt fan. Blair should be able to carve out a nice role on any team off the bench like a Glen Davis. If he can develop a jump shot like Big Baby, then he could turn out to be a very good player for Charlotte, who is in desperate need of a banger (Sean May where are you?). Other players considered at this pick: Gerald Henderson, James Johnson
13. Indiana Pacers – Eric Maynor, G, Virginia Commonwealth
The Pacers need a point guard for the future as TJ Ford is looking more and more like injuries will hinder him the rest of his career. When healthy, he’s a great point guard, but that isn’t all too often. Jamaal Tinsley is on his way out and Maynor will be able to step in and play off the bench for two seasons before taking over for Ford. Maynor lead VCU to back to back NCAA tournaments and has the poise to lead a team as well as take the big shot at the end of a game. He’s got good size for a point guard at 6233 and would benefit greatly if he added the NBA three to his game.
14. Phoenix Suns – Gerald Henderson, G, Duke
The Suns are in love with Jonny Flynn, but the Bucks ruined the party at #10. Gerald Henderson slips down the draft board just a bit and would fit in with Phoenix’s uptempo game very well. He’ll need to add a consistent jump shot in order to become a well rounded offensive threat.
15. Detroit Pistons – Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis
The Pistons could really use a big man as they will probably be losing both Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess, but this is too high for BJ Mullens or Gani Lawal to be selected. The Pistons finally decide on Tyreke Evans, the tweener guard from Memphis. He should be able to back up both Rip Hamilton and Rodney Stuckey on a consistent basis. Detroit prides itself on defense, so that will be an area of improvement for Evans.
16. Chicago Bulls – Wayne Ellington, G, North Carolina
I full-heartedly believe that the Bulls will deal Kirk Hinrich, most likely for a big man, leaving some much needed depth at shooting guard. Wayne Ellington is the best player available and fills a need, so the Bulls take the Tar Heel. Ellington has a great jumper and finally became an effective slasher in his junior season. He gives it his all on the defensive end, but he just may not have the tools or size to lock down many two guards in the league. Still, he should get some good looks from Derrick Rose.
17. Philadelphia 76ers – Ty Lawson, G, North Carolina
Back to back picks yield Tar Heels as Lawson was the floor general for this year’s national title team. Philly has it’s lineup pretty much set with Iguodala, Young, Brand and Dalembert, but the inevitable departure of Andre Miller leaves a huge void at point guard. Lawson gets the nod for now, but Patty Mills could be the pick for the 76ers if he really impresses in workouts.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves – Patrick Mills, G, St. Mary’s
After adding a great prospect in James Harden, the Timberwolves continue to bolster the back court by adding the best Australian player since Andrew Bogut in Patty Mills. Randy Foye was drafted three years ago from Villanova and has been bit by the injury bug. Sebastian Telfair is a decent option off the bench, but they really need someone to come in and stabilize the position. I also considered Jrue Holiday here and hearing that he’s soaring up draft boards, he may not even be available at this pick.
19. Atlanta Hawks – Jrue Holiday, G, UCLA
Holiday was brought in to take over for Darren Collison, but since DC stayed at UCLA one more season, Jrue was played out of position at shooting guard. Still, he’s got great skills and can be a pest on the defensive end. Two years ago, the Hawks selected Acie Law IV and he hasn’t proven to be a worthy NBA point guard. With Mike Bibby free to sign with whoever he wants, the Hawks may want some insurance if he does bolt for another team.
20. Utah Jazz – James Johnson, F, Wake Forest
The Jazz are in disarray. Andrei Kirilenko has been shopped for two seasons now, Carlos Boozer is opting out of the last year of his deal and Mehmet Okur easily could do the same. Their backup power forward, Paul Millsap, is a free agent as well and will command much more than the $800,000 he earned this year. James Johnson is a 6283 small forward, but could move to power forward if the Jazz decided to go small. He’s got decent range on his jump shot and should be a very solid player for years in the league. Also considered BJ Mullens at this pick, but with Kosta Koufos, another one and done Ohio State center on board, the Jazz decide one project center is enough.
21. New Orleans Hornets – Gani Lawal, F, Georgia Tech
The Hornets don’t lose any of their key contributors and are just looking to add a piece to the puzzle to help get them back to the Western Conference elite. Gani Lawal is a monster on the glass and is relentless in the paint. Could still enforce his will on players in the NBA off the bench. Must work on his shot as he really has zero offensive game outside of the paint.
22. Dallas Mavericks – Darren Collison, G, UCLA
The Mavericks very well could lose Jason Kidd to free agency this season, and if they do, they almost have to go point guard with this pick. The top two left on the board are Jeff Teague and Darren Collison. I view Collison as a more pure point guard as Teague is just a scorer, so the Mavericks won’t want to have a duplicate of Jason Terry. This is a reach, but the Mavericks are looking to win a title with their window closing, so they are drafting by position.
23. Sacramento Kings – Omri Casspi, F, Israel
The Kings are in full rebuilding mode and Casspi is being compared to other European forwards like Nocioni and Turkoglu. To me, he reminds me of Austin Daye out of Gonzaga except he’s not adept with the American game. Could be a nice building block for the Kings, or could be a bust. Either way, the Kings could do worse with this pick.
24. Portland Trailblazers – Tyler Hansbrough, F, North Carolina
Psycho T is finally off the board at #24 to the Blazers. Brandon Roy said that they could use a big man behind Lamarcus Aldridge and Hansbrough will come in right away and give you energy and a “lunch pail” attitude. His upside is definitely limited, but there will always be a roster spot for him in the league. Also considered Taj Gibson and Jeff Pendergraph.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder – Taj Gibson, F, Southern Cal
The Thunder, sliding Kevin Durant to shooting guard and Jeff Green to small forward, desperately need a power forward that will just rebound and block shots. Pairing Gibson with Thabeet gives the Thunder two good rebounders with some interior shot blockers. Gibson has a much better offensive game than Thabeet, but isn’t going to demand the ball, leaving Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to continue to dominate the ball.
26. Chicago Bulls – BJ Mullens, C, Ohio State
The Bulls added Ellington through the draft and now will add a project center in Mullens. Reportedly, the Bulls are trying to get a feel for the interest in Tyrus Thomas around the league. Brad Miller and Joakim Noah are currently their other big men. Miller won’t be there for long, so to allow Mullens a season to just sit and learn would be huge for his development.
27. Memphis Grizzlies – Derrick Brown, F, Xavier
The Grizzlies really would have liked to grab a big man in either Hansbrough, Gibson or Mullens, but with them all gone, they go best player available. Derrick Brown is a great athlete, and at 6283, should be a nice target for Ricky Rubio to get the ball to. The Grizzlies are now forming a true run-and-gun team with Rubio, Mayo, Gay, Warrick and now Derrick Brown.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves – Terrence Williams, G/F, Louisville
After adding Harden and Mills, the Timberwolves probably look to move this pick. If they can’t, I see them grabbing Williams, the do-everything G/F from Louisville. He averaged 12.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 5.0 assists last season, leading his team in all three of those categories. He’s a big short at 6263 to play small forward in the NBA, but he’s great at using his body and has great range on his newly found jump shot.
29. Los Angeles Lakers – Dionte Christmas, G, Temple
The Lakers bench could use a spark in the worst way and Christmas has the sweetest stroke in the draft. He’s got legitimate three point range in the NBA and playing with Kobe in LA would get him plenty of open looks. The Lakers could look at a point guard here as Derek Fisher is clearly on his last leg and a backup behind Jordan Farmar would be a necessity. Curtis Jerrells from Baylor or AJ Price from UConn could be possibilities.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers – Sam Young, F, Pittsburgh
The Cavaliers could be a big player in free agency this season with Wally’s $13 million coming off the books. Cleveland prides itself on the defensive side of the ball and Sam Young is a great defender as well as an excellent athlete. He may be a bit on the short side, but he’s got enough bulk and foot speed to still be an effective defender at the professional level.