Ah yes. It's the end of the college basketball year, and that means everyone's favorite NCAA tradition is upon us: EARLY ENTRY IN THE THE NBA DRAFT!!! Your favorite college stars have not seen the inside of a class room since winter midterms and are ready to graduate from drunk, amateur college girls to the "professionals" that frequent NBA hotel lobbies. Sure, all year your top PG has "not thought about the NBA" and "loves college," but I am sure it was a coincidence that the first person he hugged after the Final Four was his agent. Whoops!
Anyway, here is our contribution to the plethora of NBA mock drafts. We have decided to base the picks more on need and production rather than the ever popular "upside," "intangibles," and "basketball IQ." I also realize, not all of these players have officially announce their intentions yet, but this is my best guess.
1. Miami Heat- Michael Beasley, Kansas State- Lets face it. Miami is terrible. They have a need at every position. Why not take the guy most everyone thinks is the best player available. Beasley may be a bit of a "tweener" in the pros, but Pat Riley has followed this guy around the country like Bill Walton following the Greatful Dead.
2. Seattle Supersonics- Derrick Rose, Memphis- Rose is easily the best PG in the draft (an honestly is probably the best player). Seattle has future superstar Kevin Durant and Rose would be a perfect guy to dish the ball to Durant, but also has the scoring ability to take some pressure off his shoulders.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves- OJ Mayo, USC- Everyone has known Mr. Mayo since he was in 6th grade. It is finally time for him to show his stuff on the NBA scene. He really came into his own as the USC season progressed and the T-wolves, while in need of a lot, are in desperate need of a shoot guard. Starting Marko Jaric in the Western Conference is just not going to cut it.
4. New York Knicks- Danilo Gallinari, Italy- Can anyone else wait until the Knicks make their first non-Isiah Thomas draft pick since Rolando Balkman? You just know Isiah has GOT to find a way to screw up even someone else's draft. I mean, He did cause an entire league to fold on his watch. Gallinari is easily the best Euro in the draft. He can provide the Knicks with a huge scoring threat from the SF position that Jarred Jefferies just can't give.
5. Memphis Grizzlies- Brook Lopez, Stanford- Time to replace Darko? Probably. With Milicic and Hakeem Warrick as starters the Griz are deficient in inside scoring and defense. Lopez is a polished 7 footer with some great offensive moves. He could be a nice compliment to Rudy Gay and Mike Miller's outside scoring.
6. Milwaukee Bucks- Donte Green, Syracuse- Okay. This one might be a stretch here, but Green provides a need for the Bucks; and that is someone beside Michael Redd that can fill up a score sheet. Green is long, athletic, and likes to shoot. He can provide the offensive threat that Desmond Mason can't give the Bucks. If they can get Yi to come back and be a scorer, the Bucks may actually have a decent offensive team.
7. LA Clippers- Jarred Bayless, Arizona- While Bayless might be caught between the 1 and 2 positions in the NBA, the Clippers definitely need a PG and Brevin Knight may no longer be the answer. Bayless is 6'3'' and has a very developed offensive game. But if Shawn Livingston can come back and pick up PG duties next year, Bayless could be moved to the SG position, sending Quinton Ross to the pine.
8. Charlotte *Hornets (see comments)- Eric Gordon, Indiana- Gordon is deceptively good since wearing sleeves under your jersey automatically makes you look 27% less athletic. But don't be fooled, Gordon is going to provide a nice offensive option to a team with out many, especially this year with Gerald Wallace missing time. Matt Carroll should not be getting more that 10 mins a game, much less starting for an NBA team. If Gordon can follow the example of Royal Ivey and lose the tee shirt, he might be taken more seriously in the NBA.
9. Chicago Bulls- Nicholas Batum, France- I actually like that Chicago picks up players from winning college programs. Okay, so it hasn't totally translated perfectly into the NBA yet, but I feel like it has potential. And do we really need any more French players in the league? (looking at you, Tony Parker). But, despite all this, Batum can put up points and give some relief to both Loul Deng and Drew Gooden. He is also athletic enough, even at 6'8'' to take over a spot from under performing Larry Hughes.
10. New Jersey Nets- Hasheem Thabeet, UCONN- This guy is a personal favorite of mine. I know he doesn't have completely polished offensive skills, but you have to love his aggressiveness and post defense. Fellow UCONN Huskie Josh Boone is not cutting it as an NBA center. Thabeet could easily turn into one of the best NBA defenders very soon into his pro career. They just don't make big men like this any more and teams need to jump on the chance while they can.
11. Indiana Pacers- Maurice Speights, Florida- I would just like to point out that not only is Jeff Foster the starting center for the Pacers, but they are also fielding 4 white starters in the NBA. Are you serious? Has Larry Bird secretly been pulling strings around there? While you might lose some size in the interior with Speights, the athleticism upgrade over Foster will pay dividends on the offensive and defensive ends.
12. Sacramento Kings- DJ Augustin, Texas- The Kings got rid of Mike Bibby and are in desperate need of a point guard. Augustin has a mature game with a developed outside shot. He can step and and pick up where Bibby left off. While Anthony Johnson can run an offense, DJ can provide points and a faster game pace. DJ is going to be a defensive liability for a while, but his positives outweigh his few negatives.
13. Portland Trailblazers- Darren Collison, UCLA- When the Trailblazers get Greg Oden back next year, they are going to be one of the youngest, most dangerous teams in the NBA. They have big time scoring, big time defense and adding a big time PG will put them over the edge and have them becoming a force in the West. Collison brings more athleticism that Steve Blake and may be the key to Portland's emergence next year.
14. Golden State Warriors- Darrell Arthur, Kansas- Golden State has the most potent and exciting offense in the league, but also one of the worst defenses. Getting Arthur, who can run the floor and shoot will not slow down their frenetic pace of play, while giving them some much needed interior defense. To me, this pick just makes too much sense not to work.
15. Phoenix Suns (From Atl)- D'Andre Jordan, Texas A&M- The nice thing about having a good team is that you don't need your young players to be good right away. Sweet! That's perfect for D'Andre Jordan, whose college coach called him "the most overrated player he has ever seen." But Shaq will be around a few more years, and honestly, Jordan has Andrew Bynum-like talent. Maybe some of the Suns veterans can whip him into shape and the Suns can end up with a 7'0'' center than can run with Steve Nash.
16. Toronto Raptors- Chase Buddinger, Arizona- The Raptors need a shooting guard and a small forward. Welcome, Mr. Buddinger. The 6'7'' combo guard has unlimited range and can take some of the scoring pressure off Chris Bosh and provide some outside 3 point ability the Raptors have lacked recently. Buddinger can create his own shot and is deadly enough to be one of the best outside shooters in the NBA.
17. Philadelphia 76ers- Kevin Love, UCLA- Love is a polarizing player. He is loved by much of the media, but his translation into the NBA game has been questioned. He needs to lose weight, he may be under sized and his offensive game may not translate well to the next level. But, The Sixers need a high energy guy, who will crash the boards and at the same time can develop a decent offensive game. And honestly, who's really clinging on to Reggie Evans?
18. Washington Wizards- Roy Hibbert, Georgetown- While Hibbert's game may have been a bit overrated at Georgetown, the Wizards need some inside presence. Hibbert has decent range and can be a defensive stopper. And lets be honest. He's 7'2''. There is always going to be a place on a NBA roster for a guy with that size and some ability to score.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers - James Harden, Arizona State- Here's another possible stretch. The Cavs desperately need someone to be a second big time scoring option to help out LeBron James (not that he can't drop 50 every night). Harden exploded onto the Pac 10 scene and might have garnered more hype if he hadn't been at Arizona State and the Pac-10 had so many great freshmen. I am going to go out on a limb and say if he decides to declare, the Cavs should take a chance on a guy who loves to shoot and has a big time developed offensive game.
20. Denver Nuggets- Ty Lawson, UNC- The Nuggets have superstars at every position, except for PG. Why not add a big name there too? Lawson may be the quickest PG in the draft and would go higher if he had not been injured so much this year. This would be a huge get for the Nuggets who are like every team that is fighting an uphill battle in the West.
21. New Jersey Nets (From Dallas)- Anthony Randolph, LSU- Despite the fact I have D'Andre Jordan going early to Phoenix, there is nothing I hate more in basketball than lazy big men who seem like they don't try. The poster-boy for this may be Mr. Randolph. I also hate the fact that there is always a team that will draft one of these guys. Oh well, I guess I will continue to be short and bitter. Randolph could be good in the NBA, but who the hell knows. Its up to him. If the Nets can score Randolph and Hasheem Thabeet in the same draft, they could have an incredibly powerful front court.
22. Orlando Magic- Tyler Smith, Tennessee- Smith may be a question mark because he is going to have to get used to playing on the wing in the NBA. But if he can improve his perimeter shot, he already has the ability to get to the rim and finish. Smith could start out as a nice change of pace from Turkoglu's outside shot and have more of a threat to get the ball to the basket.
23. Seattle Supersonics (From Pho)- Jason Thompson, Rider- While the Sonics won't get any more experience with this pick, they will be getting a mature college senior, that will be older than a lot of players already on the team. It seems weird saying a rookie may be able to provide some leadership, but this is a REALLY young team. He is a big player that can score inside and play decently well on defense. The Sonics really just need someone who can step in a play fairly quickly, and it seems like Thompson can be that kind of player.
24. Utah Jazz- JaVelle McGee, Nevada- I almost had McGee going to Seattle, but I thought that he may need more time to develop than Thompson. The Jazz can provide that time for McGee to mature. He's a 7 footer who's a great defender and a hard worker. That sounds pretty good for Jerry Sloan, right? He can work a little on his offense, but is a solid player who will fit nicely into Utah's system.
25. Houston Rockets- AJ Price, UCONN- The Rockets could go either small or big with this pick. I chose for them to target the PG position. While Rafer Alston is playing well this year, he is not the long term solution. There are still a bunch of questions about Yao, but he is in Houston to stay. Price really came on late in the year and proved to be a great scoring option from the point position. He really rebounded from a terrible freshman campaign to be one of the best guards in the Big East. The Rockets desperately need a consistent scoring PG. Will the Price be right?
26. Memphis Grizzlies (From LAL)- Tyler Hansbrough, UNC- Oh Psycho-T, what will the NBA do with you? What I can tell you is that he's going to get under the skin of a couple of NBA vets and end up getting punched a few times his rookie year. The Grizzlies need a fire on their team and this is the player to bring it. No one is sure exactly how his game will translate, but he was the NCAA player of the year and you know he will not fail for lack of trying. If nothing else, he'll provide some entertaining moments; something Memphis is lacking of.
27. San Antonio Spurs- Joe Alexander, West Virginia- The Spurs are getting old and boring (oh wait, they've been that since the early 90's). Alexander is an energy guy with a great offensive game. He long and tall and will immediately be the least obnoxious player on the team (looking at you, Manu). He fits the Spurs system as he seems mature and fundamentally sound. And if he can master the defensive flop, look out! San Antonio will have a new favorite son!
28. New Orleans Hornets- Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis- CDR is another polished player that can provide a contender with a player than can contribute immediately. He is mostly a slasher, but will also be a nice running mate for Chris Paul and his face paced offense. He can come in and be a decent defender. He will end up being an upgrade from Morris Peterson.
29. Detroit Pistons- Brandon Rush, Kansas- Detroit has a solid team already and Rush will be able to provide some depth ans size on the perimeter. He has basically been ready to declare himself for the NBA for 3 years, and now finally can since he is not injured. Rush can shoot from the outside, but will have to develop into a player that can get his own shot and be able to cope with tougher NBA defenders. But in the end, Rush will be successful for the Pistons, as he will be able to be brought along slow over a few years.
30. Boston Celtics- Richard Hendrix, Alabama- Question: What do you get the team that has 3 future NBA Hall of Famers? Answer: A tough, hard-nosed inside presence that will be an animal on the boards and do all the things asked of him by a veteran roster. Hendrix can provide the same game intensity as Garnett and is also a better athlete than Kendrick Perkins. Hendrix will be there to provide some important bench minutes and to keep the intensity high.