May 122012
 

Check out my NBA Draft Grades

Instead of doing a redraft, as it is 30 minutes before draft time, I will keep you updated with the draft in real time on my NBA Live Draft Blog. Check it out.  

#1 LA Clippers- PF/C Blake Griffin (Oklahoma) 

I don’t know exactly where the Clippers will put Griffin, maybe they trade Chris Kaman, or agree to a buyout with Zach Randolph, but Griffin is the best player in the draft and as the Clippers are a team that desperately needs a savior, they need to take him. It’s much a better decision than taking Ricky Rubio, who may never develop, especially since the Clippers already have Baron Davis at point guard.

NBA Comparison: Amar’e Stoudemire

#2 Memphis- PG Ricky Rubio (Spain) 

Rubio isn’t going to play for the Grizzlies. The risk that he just flat out refuses to play in Memphis is too big. However, his value is too high for them to not trade to work out a draft and trade and with Minnesota’s move to get the 5th pick from Washington, it looks like that’ll happen. Memphis will get to pick at 5 and 18 and at 5 they will have a good chance to take Jordan Hill, the player they really want. At 18, they can get a good player almost for free, as the Grizzlies will likely take Hill even if they stay at 2. The Timberwolves get a guy who can be a very nice sidekick for Al Jefferson.

NBA Comparison: Steve Nash

#3 Oklahoma City- SG/SF James Harden (Arizona State)

I’ve been saying that its obvious that the Thunder are going to take Thabeet if he’s here for weeks. Now I take that back. I forgot that the Thunder have been notorious for surprising everyone and not taking who everyone thinks they will take since the team was still in Seattle. Reportedly the Thunder love Harden, who they think is the perfect swingman compliment to Kevin Durant and the perfect backcourt compliment to Russell Westbrook.

NBA Comparison: Brandon Roy

#4 Sacramento- G Jrue Holliday (UCLA) 

The Kings are going to take a point guard because they need one badly. They would love to get Rubio somehow, but it looks like they’re going to have to outbid Minnesota for him and since Minnesota has 4 first round picks, that’s going to be tough to do. Instead, they reach for Holliday, who has huge upside. They are reportedly very high on him.

NBA Comparison: Rodney Stuckey

#5 Minnesota- PF Jordan Hill (Arizona)

Memphis still gets the player they want here at #5. Hill fills a huge hole at power forward. The Grizzlies now have a great young core of Hill, Mike Conley, OJ Mayo, and Rudy Gay and 2 picks later in the round.

NBA Comparison: Chris Bosh

#6 Minnesota- C Hasheem Thabeet (Connecticut) 

I don’t see how the Wolves can pass on Thabeet if he’s still available here. They don’t have a true center and defensively minded Thabeet would be the perfect frontcourt compliment to Al Jefferson and could fit will in a rotation with Jefferson and Kevin Love.

NBA Comparison: Dikembe Mutumbo

#7 Golden State- G Tyreke Evans (Memphis) 

The Warriors have reportedly traded Jamal Crawford to the Hawks for Acie Law and some cap relief, so the Warriors now have to make a decision on whether they want to keep Monta Ellis at point guard or move him to shooting guard. Most likely Don Nelson will keep Ellis at point guard and draft a shooting guard, like Tyreke Evans, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if they take a point guard like Brandon Jennings or Stephen Curry instead.

NBA Comparison: Jamal Crawford

#8 New York- G Stephen Curry (Davidson)

Curry would be a nice fit for Mike D’Antoni’s run and gun offense. However, it remains to be seen where he would play. Is he a point guard? Not likely with Chris Duhon doing so well at point guard. Is he a shooting guard? Maybe, but at 6-3, putting him at shooting guard could be a mistake. Is he a 6th man? Most likely and the Knicks might not want to use the 8th pick on a guy who would be a career 6th man. They may try to trade this pick, get more value out of it, and save some money for the Summer of LeBron in 2010.

NBA Comparison: Jason Terry

#9 Toronto- SG Demar DeRozan (USC)

Jason Kapono is gone via trade so the Raptors now have a huge hole at shooting guard. DeRozan might not be NBA ready get, but they can’t ignore his Vince Carter esque athleticism. Hopefully he’ll work out better than Carter did in Toronto.

NBA Comparison: Vince Carter

#10 Milwaukee- F Earl Clark (Louisville) 

The one good thing about the Bucks’ horrible trade of Richard Jefferson to the Spurs is that they can resign either Ramon Sessions or Charlie Villanueva, whereas both were likely gone before. The Bucks will likely take the best available player at either power forward or point guard and resign Villanueva if they take a point guard and Sessions if they take a power forward. Clark’s the best available at either of those positions. Scott Skiles will love his toughness and versatility.

NBA Comparison: Boris Diaw

#11 New Jersey- F James Johnson (Wake Forest) 

New Jersey hopefully has realized that Bobby Simmons is not a longterm answer at small forward. Clark is NBA ready now and can play small forward as that do everything kind of guy. He also can move to power forward if needed.

NBA Comparison: Ron Artest

#12 Charlotte- SG Wayne Ellington (North Carolina) 

The Bobcats need a set up scorer and a shooting guard as they have lacked both of those since Jason Richardson was traded. Raja Bell only has one more year on his contract and is better suited as a stopped and a shooter. The Bobcats will have their choice between Gerald Henderson and Wayne Ellington. I have Henderson higher rated, but I don’t think that UNC alum Michael Jordan over a Dukie. Now you might be thinking that Jordan wouldn’t just pick someone over a better player just because of college allegiances, but this is also the guy who drafted Kwame Brown #1, Adam Morrison #3, and took DJ Augustin last year when he already had Raymond Felton. Look at Jordan’s drafting record in Charlotte and you’ll see that he has already taken 2 former Tarheels, Sean May and Raymond Felton in his short time.

NBA Comparison: Richard Hamilton

#13 Indiana- SG/SF Gerald Henderson (Duke) 

One team’s loss is another team’s gain. Charlotte’s decision to pass on Henderson for Ellington will allow Indiana to take Henderson, who is by far the best player available. Marquis Daniels is a free agent and the Pacers were thin at the shooting guard position with him, often using 2 point guards, TJ Ford and Jarrett Jack, at the same time to compensate.

NBA Comparison: JR Smith

#14 Phoenix- PG Ty Lawson (North Carolina) 

Steve Nash is sadly not going to be able to play forever. I’ve been saying that they should take a point guard for the past few years, Taureen Green in 2007 and Mario Chalmers last year, but they haven’t yet. However, they get their best opportunity to do so here. Lawson is one of the best players available. He would be one of the fastest players in the league as the Suns move forward with the run and gun offense once again under Alvin Gentry. He also, as did both Green and Chalmers, won a national championship so he is very experienced for a college kid and is a poised leader.

NBA Comparison: Jameer Nelson

#15 Detroit- PG Brandon Jennings (Italy) 

Allen Iverson didn’t work out too well. The team was better when he didn’t play. He won’t be back as he’s a free agent this offseason. Rodney Stuckey played well last season and he’s a great player, but he’s more of a nice tweener guy off the bench. They need a true distributing point guard. Brandon Jennings is best known as the guy who didn’t want to play college ball and went to Europe to play professionally instead. He struggled in Europe and his stock fell, but he still has great upside and may be considered a steal at this point when its all said and done. He can push the ball, distribute, and score it from time to time, both by hitting jumpers and creating his own shot. That’s all they really need.

NBA Comparison: Jason Williams

 

#16 Chicago- C BJ Mullens (Ohio State)

This is as close to a lock as any pick in the draft, with the exception of Blake Griffin going #1. Mullens canceled a workout last week and his agent said it was because Mullens had already gotten a guarantee from a top 16 pick. He could have said top 15, or a lottery team (top 14), to make it easier if it were the Pistons or the Suns, but he said top 16, meaning that team is likely the Bulls at 16. Also, a twitter page that is believed to belong to Mullens posted a tweet saying he got a guarantee from “MJ City,” referring to Michael Jordan, long time Chicago star. The Bulls need a true center, so they’ll take the high upside Mullens here at #16.

NBA Comparison: Spencer Hawes

#17 Philadelphia- PG Jonny Flynn (Syracuse) 

Andre Miller is a free agent and considering there is a good chance he is gone and the team has very little behind him, they may want to replace him. Flynn is also one of the best available players and would fit into this young offense very nicely.

NBA Comparison: Raymond Felton

#18 Minnesota- F Austin Daye (Gonzaga) 

The pick was originally Minnesota’s, but they gave it to Memphis in the Ricky Rubio deal. However, the player drafted here will not be a Grizzly. The Grizzlies already have 4 very good young players, but need a veteran presence, preferably one who can fill their hole at center. The Clippers are likely going to trade either Chris Kaman or buyout Zach Randolph to make room in the frontcourt for Blake Griffin. The Grizzlies can give the Clippers what the Clippers want, cap space and another draft pick. The Grizzlies give the Clippers Darko Milicic, whose contract comes off the books in 2010, saving the Clippers 9.5 million, as well as this pick, for Kaman, who makes the Grizzlies instantly playoff contenders in the West. The Clippers take Daye, who has the most upside of any small forward in the draft class and can be the Clippers’ small forward of the future.

NBA Comparison: Corey Brewer

#19 Atlanta- SG/SF Terrence Williams (Louisville)

The Hawks have 7 players signed to contracts for next year, so they take best available. Williams is extremely versatile which will help the Hawks as they go into a critical offseason which will determine if they stay contenders or fall back to obscurity.

NBA Comparison: Gerald Wallace

#20 Utah- PF DeJuan Blair (Pittsburgh) 

Jerry Sloan has shown time and time again that he doesn’t care how tall his power forward and centers are, just how talented. Blair has a ton of talent, but measures about 6-5, 6-6 in shoes. He could provide insurance in case either Carlos Boozer or Paul Millsap, or both, leave as a free agents.

NBA Comparison: Craig Smith

#21 New Orleans- SG/SF Chase Budinger (Arizona) 

New Orleans needs some depth on the wings. Budinger is an amazing talent, but has never done much because he has never really played with a great point guard, which he needs because he has trouble creating his own shot. He’ll like playing with Chris Paul.

NBA Comparison: Brent Barry

#22 Portland- PF Tyler Hansbourgh (North Carolina) 

Portland isn’t going to keep Hansbourgh, but instead ship him to the Knicks, along with Jerryd Bayless and Martell Webster, for Stephen Curry’s draft rights and Jared Jefferies. Curry would be the perfect fit in Portland, playing point guard alongside a shooting guard who can handle the ball and distribute, Brandon Roy. New York also sends Jared Jefferies to Portland for salary cap reasons. Jefferies is one of the last of the Isaiah Thomas big contracts still on the team. This move makes a lot of sense for the Knicks. Bayless is essentially a poor man’s version of Curry and can fill their 6th man role just as well. Webster can be the shooting guard of the future for the Knicks, assuming he bounces back from his foot injury, and the Knicks don’t have one of those. Hansbourgh is essentially a David Lee clone and Lee played very well as a center for the Knicks this year in Mike D’Antoni’s system. Lee is a free agent and could be gone. Hansbourgh is also used to the pressure he’ll face playing in the Garden, as he spent 4 years in the college basketball capital of the world, Chapel Hill. By getting Webster and Bayless instead of Jefferies, they save about a million. By getting Hansbourgh instead of Curry, they save about 2 million. By getting 3 players for the price of 2, they save money because now they don’t have to spend money to fill their roster. They also don’t have to resign David Lee to a giant contract. In the end, this deal ends up saving the Knicks about 14-16 million dollars for the summer of 2010, when LeBron, Wade, Nash, Bosh, etc become free agents.

NBA Comparison: David Lee

#23 Sacramento- SF DaJuan Summers (Georgetown)

Francisco Garcia can’t start at small forward longterm, so if Donte Greene doesn’t pan out, the Kings need a backup plan. Summers is the best available at that position.

NBA Comparison: Tim Thomas

#24 Dallas- PG Jeff Teague (Wake Forest)  

Jason Kidd is a free agent so the Mavs should pick up a point guard in this point guard rich draft class. Teague would be a lottery pick most years.

NBA Comparison: Keyon Dooling

#25 Oklahoma City- PF/C Jeff Pendergraph (Arizona State)

The Thunder, after passing on Thabeet, need a big man, even if only for depth purposes. Pendergraph is bigger than Jeff Green, tougher than Nenad Kristic, and more talented than Nick Collison. He’ll find a role in this front court.

#26 Chicago- G Jermaine Taylor (Central Florida) 

Ben Gordon could be gone, which would be a huge blow for this team. Hopefully replacing him with the NCAA’s 3rd leading scorer will be enough to replace him. I don’t care if he didn’t play at a big time school, 26.2 ppg is 26.2 ppg. This guy is a legitimate NBA scorer from everywhere on the court.

NBA Comparison: Leandro Barbosa

#27 Memphis- PG Eric Maynor (VCU)

They have Mike Conley, but I don’t see how they can pass up on a player as talented as Eric Maynor

NBA Comparison: Antonio Daniels

#28 Minnesota- SG/SF Sam Young (Pittsburgh)

The Timberwolves, having traded Randy Foye, need a shooting guard. Young isn’t much of a scorer, but he can play the position, defend well, rebound, and bring toughness and leadership to this young team. He’s definitely NBA ready.

NBA Comparison: James Posey

#29 LA Lakers- F Derrick Brown (Xavier) 

In case either Trevor Ariza or Lamar Odom leave as free agents, the Lakers take the best available small forward and that happens to be Brown.

NBA Comparison: Robert Horry

#30 Cleveland- SG Marcus Thornton (LSU) 

Wally Sczerbiak is likely gone as a free agent so the Cavs need a shooter to fill his role. Thornton is one of the best from long range in the draft class and he’s NBA ready as the Cavs try to convince LeBron to stay.

NBA Comparison: Rashad McCants

 

I’ll have another mock up tomorrow before the draft with my 2nd round and some changes to the first round if any trades happen. 

 

1st round

#1 LA Clippers- PF/C Blake Griffin (Oklahoma)

I don’t know exactly where the Clippers will put Griffin, maybe they trade Chris Kaman, or agree to a buyout with Zach Randolph, but Griffin is the best player in the draft and as the Clippers are a team that desperately needs a savior, they need to take him. It’s much a better decision than taking Ricky Rubio, who may never develop, especially since the Clippers already have Baron Davis at point guard.

NBA Comparison: Amar’e Stoudemire

#2 Memphis- PG Ricky Rubio (Spain)

There is too much value in Rubio for the Grizzles not to try and draft and trade him. The Kings at #4 really need a point guard and a face of the franchise and Rubio would be both. The Grizzles, however, have no real need for Rubio as they already have a point guard in Mike Conley and need interior help. They could move down to #4 and pick up a player in the process. The Kings would likely have to give up either 2007 1st round pick Spencer Hawes or 2008 1st round pick Jason Thompson. At #4, they could take a player like Jordan Hill, who would help them inside, along with either Thompson or Hawes. It is in the Grizzles’ best interest to try and make a trade with Sacramento and I think one will get worked out. If one, for whatever reason, does not get worked out, the Grizzles should not take Rubio. He will not play for them. He has said, through his agent, that he wants a big market and Memphis is not one. The risk of him staying in Europe and the Grizzles wasting a #2 pick is too big, especially when point guard is not a need. If they can’t work out a trade, they should just reach for Jordan Hill.

NBA Comparison: Steve Nash

#3 Oklahoma City- C Hasheem Thabeet (Connecticut)

Unless Rubio falls here, its obvious what the Thunder will do here. Their biggest need as a shot blocking center, which is interesting because they have already spent 3 first rounders in centers since 2004, Robert Swift in 2004, Johan Petro in 2005, and Saer Sene in 2006. Maybe the 4th time is the charm. Thabeet is more talented than all of those busts. The Dikembe Mutombo comparisons are dead on with him.

NBA Comparison: Dikembe Mutombo

#4 Sacramento- PF Jordan Hill (Arizona)

Again, the Kings will be making this pick on behalf of the Grizzles, then trading the player to Memphis along with either Jason Thompson or Spencer Hawes for Ricky Rubio. Memphis would likely want Jordan Hill. Darrell Arthur is not the longterm solution at power forward and Hakim Warrick is a free agent. Hill is too good of an all around player for the Grizzles to pass up here.

NBA Comparison: Chris Bosh

#5 Washington- SG/SF James Harden (Arizona State)

If the first 4 picks play out like they do in this mock, the Wizards will definitely take James Harden. What they do with him after taking him is less definite. The Wizards are in an interesting position. They have a lot of talent on their roster, but had a bad year last year because of injuries. They could keep James Harden and put him at shooting guard. He’s a very NBA ready player and could help them win right away. The other option is to trade him for some immediate help. I like option B. My favorite trade rumor is the one where Washington send James Harden, Antawn Jamison, and Mike James to Phoenix for Amar’e Stoudemire. With Stoudemire, Caron Butler, and Gilbert Arenas, the Wizards would have an amazing big 3, assuming all stay healthy. The Wizards could turn draft picks into legitimate NBA talent, as the Celtics did in 2007. 12 months later, the Celtics hoisted the trophy. I’m not saying that this move would win the Wizards the NBA Championship, but it should make them a 50 win team right away. As for Phoenix, Amar’e could leave after 2011 for nothing. The Suns get Jamison, who, while he is older than Stoudemire, is under contract for longer and cheaper per year. Jamison is an athletic big who can run the floor and would fit perfectly in Phoenix’s system. Mike James would give the Suns about 6 million of cap space for the summer of 2010. James Harden, while he would not be a perfect fit for the Suns system, is versatile enough to play the Suns’ run and gun offense and would give the Suns what they do not have right now, a young, talented wing player.

NBA Comparison: Brandon Roy

#6 Minnesota- G Tyreke Evans (Memphis)

The Timberwolves need that step up scorer and they shouldn’t pass up on Evans as he would fit that role perfectly. He can play both point and shooting guard for them, as can Randy Foye, which will allow them to mix things up to compensate for the fact that they don’t have a true 1 guard.

NBA Comparison: Jamal Crawford

#7 Golden State- G Stephen Curry (Davidson)

 Is this too high for Curry? Yes, but Nellie is picking. The man wants a roster of 12 scorers and is very close to having one. Curry could be that missing ingredient in Nellie’s recipe for disaster. Have fun stopping anyone.

NBA Comparison: Jason Terry

#8 New York- SG Demar DeRozan (USC)

 Right now the Knicks just have Quentin Richardson and Larry Hughes at shooting guard. Let me rephrase that, right now the Knicks just have Quentin Richardson’s expiring contract and Larry Hughes’ expiring contract. Both will be gone in 2010 as the Knicks go after LeBron. DeRozan is the perfect athletic player to play in D’Antoni’s system and would fill what is soon to be a need at shooting guard. 

NBA Comparison: Vince Carter

#9 Toronto- SG/SF Gerald Henderson (Duke)

The Raptors traded Jason Kapono away so the Raptors are definitely going after a shooting guard here, even if it means they have to reach for a guy like Henderson.

NBA Comparison: JR Smith

#10 Milwaukee- PG Ty Lawson (North Carolina)

Milwaukee needs a point guard. Lawson moves into this spot because of his great NCAA Tournament. He’s the fastest player in this draft class period, but he also is tough, plays good D, and has a nice outside shot. His toughness is what will attract Scott Skiles to him the most, over guys like Jrue Holliday, Brandon Jennings, Jeff Teague, and Jonny Flynn.

NBA Comparison: Jameer Nelson

#11 New Jersey- F Earl Clark (Louisville)

New Jersey hopefully has realized that Bobby Simmons is not a longterm answer at small forward. Clark is NBA ready now and can play small forward as that do everything kind of guy. He also can move to power forward if needed.

NBA Comparison: Boris Diaw

#12 Charlotte- SG Wayne Ellington (North Carolina)

The Bobcats need a set up scorer and a shooting guard as they have lacked both of those since Jason Richardson was traded. Raja Bell only has one more year on his contract and is better suitor as a stopped and a shooter. The Bobcats will have their choice between Gerald Henderson and Wayne Ellington. I have Henderson higher rated, but I don’t think that UNC alum Michael Jordan over a Dukie. Now you might be thinking that Jordan wouldn’t just pick someone over a better player just because of college allegiances, but this is also the guy who drafted Kwame Brown #1, Adam Morrison #3, and took DJ Augustin last year when he already had Raymond Felton. Look at Jordan’s drafting record in Charlotte and you’ll see that he has already taken 2 former Tarheels, Sean May and Raymond Felton in his short time.

NBA Comparison: Richard Hamilton

#13 Indiana- F James Johnson (Wake Forest)

The Pacers will take Johnson here because he’s the best available player, but because he’s too similar to Danny Granger, they’ll trade him to the Timberwolves for the Wolves’ 18th and 28th selections, also sending a future 2nd rounder to Minnesota. The Timberwolves have 3 first rounders so they’ll be happy to trade up. With Johnson and Evans, they can get two guys who can help them right away next year.

NBA Comparison: Ron Artest

#14 Phoenix- G Jrue Holiday (UCLA)

Steve Nash might not be around too much longer. The team seems to be falling apart around him and he’s a free agent in 2010. He may follow his old coach Mike D’Antoni to New York. The Suns need a point guard of the future. The Suns look like they are going to be running and gunning for a while in the future with Alvin Gentry as coach so Holiday’s speed and quickness are huge assets. He’s not NBA ready, but he won’t have to do much in his first year and can learn for Nash. He has more upside than anyone left on the board.

NBA Comparison: Rajon Rondo

#15 Detroit- PG Brandon Jennings (Italy)

Allen Iverson didn’t work out too well. The team was better when he didn’t play. He won’t be back as he’s a free agent this offseason. Rodney Stuckey played well last season and he’s a great player, but he’s more of a nice tweener guy off the bench. They need a true distributing point guard. Brandon Jennings is best known as the guy who didn’t want to play college ball and went to Europe to play professionally instead. He struggled in Europe and his stock fell, but he still has great upside and may be considered a steal at this point when its all said and done. He can push the ball, distribute, and score it from time to time, both by hitting jumpers and creating his own shot. That’s all they really need.

NBA Comparison: Jason Williams

#16 Chicago- C BJ Mullens (Ohio State)

This is as close to a lock as any pick in the draft, with the exception of Blake Griffin going #1. Mullens canceled a workout last week and his agent said it was because Mullens had already gotten a guarantee from a top 16 pick. He could have said top 15, or a lottery team (top 14), to make it easier if it were the Pistons or the Suns, but he said top 16, meaning that team is likely the Bulls at 16. Also, a twitter page that is believed to belong to Mullens posted a tweet saying he got a guarantee from “MJ City,” referring to Michael Jordan, long time Chicago star. The Bulls need a true center, so they’ll take the high upside Mullens here at #16.

NBA Comparison: Spencer Hawes

#17 Philadelphia- PG Jonny Flynn (Syracuse)

Andre Miller is a free agent and considering there is a good chance he is gone and the team has very little behind him, they may want to replace him. Flynn is also one of the best available players and would fit into this young offense very nicely.

NBA Comparison: Raymond Felton

#18 Minnesota- SG/SF Chase Budinger (Arizona)

This pick will go to Indiana in the James Johnson deal. The Pacers need a true shooting guard. They needed one last year so much that they used TJ Ford at shooting guard and Jarrett Jack at point. Jack is likely gone as a free agent, as so is Marquis Daniels, the Pacers only true shooting guard. It would be smart of them to take a shooting guard and pair him with Ford. Budinger is the best available and fits the Pacers’ up tempo style.

NBA Comparison: Brent Barry

#19 Atlanta- SF/SG Terrence Williams (Louisville)

The Hawks have 7 players signed to contracts for next year, so they take best available. Williams is extremely versatile which will help the Hawks as they go into a critical offseason which will determine if they stay contenders or fall back to obscurity.

NBA Comparison: Gerald Wallace

#20 Utah- PF Tyler Hansbourgh (North Carolina)

Both Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap are free agents. Hansbourgh is the type of fundamental and tough player that Jerry Sloan likes.

NBA Comparison: Drew Gooden

#21 New Orleans- F Austin Daye (Gonzaga)

The Hornets can just take best available here. Daye has great upside, possibly more than any other small forward in the draft class and small forward is a position of need for the Hornets

NBA Comparison: Corey Brewer

#22 Dallas- PG Jeff Teague (Wake Forest)

Jason Kidd is a free agent so the Mavs should pick up a point guard in this point guard rich draft class. Teague would be a lottery pick most years.

NBA Comparison: Keyon Dooling

#23 Sacramento- F DeJuan Blair (Pittsburgh)

Jason Thompson is going to Memphis in the Ricky Rubio deal, so the Kings need another rotational big man. Blair is not going to be anything more than a role player in the NBA, but he brings the toughness to the frontcourt that this team needs.

NBA Comparison: Craig Smith

#24 Portland- PG Eric Maynor (VCU)

Portland has a lot of depth, but needs a legitimate starting point guard. Steve Blake was alright last year, but he could be upgraded. Maynor is the best player available in a very strong point guard class.

NBA Comparison: Antonio Daniels

#25 Oklahoma City- SG Marcus Thornton (LSU)

The Thunder are keeping Durant at small forward for now, which is good because that’s where he belongs. However, they need a starting shooting guard. Thornton can play shooting guard and gives them that all important 3 point shooter to stretch the defense. They did not really have that last year.

NBA Comparison: Rashad McCants

#26 Chicago- G Jermaine Taylor (Central Florida)

Ben Gordon could be gone, which would be a huge blow for this team. Hopefully replacing him with the NCAA’s 3rdleading scorer will be enough to replace him. I don’t care if he didn’t play at a big time school, 26.2 ppg is 26.2 ppg. This guy is a legitimate NBA scorer from everywhere on the court.

NBA Comparison: Leandro Barbosa

#27 Memphis- SG/SF Sam Young (Pittsburgh)

Memphis has a thin bench, so they add swingman Sam Young who can add young leadership, physicality, and toughness to this team.

NBA Comparison: James Posey

#28 Minnesota- PF/C Jeff Pendergraph (Arizona State)

This pick will also go to Indiana as part of the James Johnson deal. Indy needs an athletic big man to add to the rotation with Troy Murphy. Roy Hibbert proved that he’s not capable of being more than a 15-20 minute guy so Pendergraph will sneak into the first round and add depth to the Pacers’ frontcourt.

NBA Comparison: Mikki Moore

#29 LA Lakers- SF DaJuan Summers (Georgetown)

Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza are both free agents and if both were to leave, they would be left with Luke Walton and Adam Morrison at small forward, which is not a good thing. With very few other needs, they take the best small forward available just in case.

NBA Comparison: Tim Thomas

#30 Cleveland- PF/C Taj Gibson (USC)

Ben Wallace could retire, Joe Smith is likely gone as a free agent, and Anderson Varejao could ask for 10 million a year, which means he might not be back. The Cavs need a power forward who can help with shot blocking and rebounding, even if the team trades for Shaq. Gibson is a nice depth guy who can also run the floor.

NBA Comparison: Brandon Bass

  

2nd round

#31 Sacramento Kings- F Derrick Brown (Xavier)

In case Donte Greene doesn’t pan out at small forward, the Kings need a backup plan and some depth. Francisco Garcia shouldn’t have a major role in your team if you want to be a good team. Brown has good upside, but also valuable versatility as he can move over to power forward as well, which is good because, with Thompson gone, the Kings don’t have a true power forward other than veteran Kenny Thomas.

NBA Comparison: Robert Horry

#32 Washington- SG Jodie Meeks (Kentucky)

The Wizards expect Nick Young to grow into the main guy at the shooting guard position, to go with Arenas, Butler, Stoudemire (via trade), and Brendan Haywood. However, the Wizards still could use some depth at that position and most of all they need a shooter to extend the floor. Meeks is a bit of a reach here as he’s a one trick horse, but he fills the Wizards’ two biggest needs, shooting guard and a 3 point shooter.

NBA Comparison: Eddie House

#33 Portland- SF Omri Casspi (Israel)

Portland has enough players in the states, so they’ll go foreign here and get a guy who has first round potential.

NBA Comparison: Hedo Turkoglu

#34 Denver- PG Patrick Mills (St. Mary’s)

With very few needs, the Nuggets take a backup point guard, in a very strong point guard class, and get a guy who has first round talent. Mills can lead the offense when Billups needs a breather.

NBA Comparison: Dee Brown

#35 Detroit- F DeMarre Carroll (Missouri)

The Pistons take a tough combo forward to give them depth. They only have one small forward signed going into next season.

NBA Comparison: Renaldo Balkman

#36 Memphis- PG Darren Collison (UCLA)

The Grizzles need a backup plan in case Mike Conley doesn’t pan out so they take advantage of a deep point guard class. Collison is very underrated, in my mind, at this point.

NBA Comparison: Darrell Armstrong

#37 San Antonio- SG/SF Danny Green (North Carolina)

The Spurs shouldn’t go foreign here because they need talented players to him them win now. They’re window of opportunity is closing. They need some youth on the wings and Green, when hot, can score with the best of them.

NBA Comparison: Francisco Garcia

#38 Portland- PF/C Josh Heytvelt (Gonzaga)

The Trailblazers need a replacement up front for Channing Frye, who is a free agent and who has been very disappointing thus far in Portland.

NBA Comparison: Matt Bonner

#39 Detroit- PF/C Jon Brockman (Washington)

The Pistons have been lacking that energy inside defender since Ben Wallace left. Brockman is a poor man’s Ben Wallace, but the Pistons will still take that here in the 2nd round. The Pistons don’t have a lot of big men signed to contracts for next season so Brockman would fit in right away. He’s a little undersized, but makes up for it with his hustle which the Pistons like.

NBA Comparison: Reggie Evans

#40 Charlotte- G Jack McClinton (Miami)

Raymond Felton might not be back next season, and the Bobcats could use a nice streaky microwave type shooter off the bench even if he is back. Michael Jordan likes proven college kids so McClinton has to be very high on his 2nd round list. McClinton gives them young leadership and a nice role player off the bench.

NBA Comparison: Tony Delk

#41 Milwaukee- F Jeff Adrien (Connecticut)

Adrien is undersized at 6-7, but makes up for it with hustle. The Bucks lack one of those inside hustle guys. Coach Scott Skiles will love Adrien’s hustle and intensity. Many see him as the next Chuck Hayes, an undersized energy guy who can help a team out off of the bench or as a supporting starter.

NBA Comparison: Chuck Hayes

#42 LA Lakers- G Nick Calathes (Florida)

Derek Fisher won’t be around forever and Jordan Farmar hasn’t exactly grown until the starting point guard role as they would have hoped. Calathes would be a huge steal here. Even if Farmar pans out long term as the point guard, Calathes has the size to play both the 2 and the 3. Because he’s drafted in the 2nd round, the Lakers can buy Calathes out of his contract his Greece, which he is reportedly regretting signing, and bring him over to play next year.

NBA Comparison: Jose Calderon

#43 Miami- F Chris Johnson (LSU)

Miami lacked tough shot blockers on the interior last season so much that they signed Jamaal Magloire. Johnson could fill that role this season.

NBA Comparison: JaVale McGee

#44 Detroit- G Jerel McNeal (Marquette)

McNeal is a tenacious defender and could serve in that role off the bench next season as either a point guard or a shooting guard. The Pistons need to get back to playing DEEEETROIT BASKETBALL and that would require a tenacious defender like McNeal. 

NBA Comparison: Shannon Brown

#45 Minnesota- F Victor Claver (Spain)

Minnesota already got two players who can help next year, and who are safe bets to help a lot in the future, so the T-Wolves, with 2 2nd rounders can take a foreign project here. Claver has huge upside and has the talent of a late 1st rounder.

NBA Comparison: Jorge Garbajosa

 

#46 Cleveland- SG/SF Lee Cummard (BYU)

Wally Sczerbiak and his giant expiring contract are likely gone as he is a free agent. The Cavs need a shooter to replace him on their bench. Cummard doesn’t do much well other than shoot, but that’s all they need to do and he’s very good at it.

NBA Comparison: Jason Kapono

#47 Minnesota- PF Alade Aminu (Georgia Tech)

The Wolves get a garbage guy inside to put in the rotation with Kevin Love and Al Jefferson with their final pick in what has been a good draft for them.

NBA Comparison: Carl Landry

#48 Phoenix- F Dante Cunningham (Villanova)

The Suns need depth at small forward with Matt Barnes a free agent and Grant Hill getting up there in age. Cunningham can play some power forward in the Suns’ run and gun system as well. He’s the best player available here.

NBA Comparison: Malik Allen

#49 Atlanta- PG Curtis Jerrells (Baylor)

The Hawks need a point guard in case Mike Bibby leaves as a free agent and Acie Law can’t handle it by himself.

NBA Comparison: Marcus Banks

#50 Utah- G Toney Douglas (Florida State)

The Jazz take advantage of a deep point guard class to get a backup for Deron Williams, who missed significant time with injury last year.

NBA Comparison: Charlie Bell

#51 San Antonio- F Milan Macvan (Serbia)

The Spurs always seem to take at least one foreign player every draft so they take Macvan, who should be a nice role player in the NBA very soon.

NBA Comparison: Linas Kleiza

#52 Indiana- F Robert Dozier (Memphis)

The Pacers take an athletic big man who can run the floor in the Pacers’ run and gun style offense.

NBA Comparison: Hakim Warrick

#53 San Antonio- SG/SF Dionte Christmas (Temple)

The Spurs take a great shooter who can help the team off the bench right away as they go for a championship in what might be their final try in the Tim Duncan era.

NBA Comparison: Courtney Lee

#54 Charlotte- PF Leo Lyons (Missouri)

Sean May is likely done as a Bobcat, maybe as an NBA player completely, so Jordan and the Bobcats need a replacement in the rotation for the former 2005 1st round pick. Lyons is an accomplished college player so he’s high on Jordan’s list.

NBA Comparison: Leon Powe

#55 Portland- F Paul Harris (Syracuse)

I love Paul Harris as a sleeper. I think he’s a poor man’s Charles Barkley and with the power forward position changing from a big basher 2nd center type of guy to an energy hustle rebounds guy where height doesn’t matter, only strength, it’s a perfect time for a 6-4 guy like Harris to play power forward in the NBA. He’s a project and a risk, but the Trailblazers can afford to do that and this is only a 2nd round pick. The upside on him is huge.

NBA Comparison: Poor man’s Charles Barkley

#56 Portland- C Paulao Prestes (Brazil)

The Blazers could use another center. Prestes has good upside, but he’s a project. The Trailblazers can afford to wait. He can be a replacement for Joel Pryzbilla in a few years.

NBA Comparison: Kendrick Perkins

#57 Phoenix- F Jonas Jerebko (Sweden)

The Suns cut costs and take a foreign player that they can bring over in a few years when they start rebuilding.

NBA Comparison: Matt Harpring

#58 Boston- G AJ Price (Connecticut)

No bigs with a high chance of sticking on a team are available here, which is unfortunate because the Celtics could lose both Glen Davis and Leon Powe. Instead the Celtics take a high character winner who can shoot the three and replace Eddie House in the role of guy who camps at the three point line but still helps a team in a huge way in case House leaves as a free agent.

NBA Comparison: Jamaal Tinsley

#59 LA Lakers- C Garret Siler (Augusta State)

The Lakers need to get tougher inside, even if Bynum can stay healthy for a whole season. Siler is 7-0 290. He may be too big to play longterm in the NBA, but if they can get him in shape they could have a real steal.

NBA Comparison: Dan Gadzuric

#60 Miami- PG Tyrese Rice (Boston College) 

The Heat could use a backup point guard to take the pressure off of young Mario Chalmers. 

NBA Comparison: Bobby Jackson

 

 

#1 LA Clippers- PF/C Blake Griffin (Oklahoma)

I don’t know exactly where the Clippers will put Griffin, maybe they trade Chris Kaman, or agree to a buyout with Zach Randolph, but Griffin is the best player in the draft and as the Clippers are a team that desperately needs a savior, they need to take him. It’s much a better decision than taking Ricky Rubio, who may never develop, especially since the Clippers already have Baron Davis at point guard.

NBA Comparison: Amar’e Stoudemire

#2 Memphis- PG Ricky Rubio (Spain)

There is too much value in Rubio for the Grizzles not to try and draft and trade him. The Kings at #4 really need a point guard and a face of the franchise and Rubio would be both. The Grizzles, however, have no real need for Rubio as they already have a point guard in Mike Conley and need interior help. They could move down to #4 and pick up a player in the process. The Kings would likely have to give up either 2007 1st round pick Spencer Hawes or 2008 1st round pick Jason Thompson. At #4, they could take a player like Jordan Hill, who would help them inside, along with either Thompson or Hawes. It is in the Grizzles’ best interest to try and make a trade with Sacramento and I think one will get worked out. If one, for whatever reason, does not get worked out, the Grizzles should not take Rubio. He will not play for them. He has said, through his agent, that he wants a big market and Memphis is not one. The risk of him staying in Europe and the Grizzles wasting a #2 pick is too big, especially when point guard is not a need. If they can’t work out a trade, they should just reach for Jordan Hill.

NBA Comparison: Steve Nash

#3 Oklahoma City- C Hasheem Thabeet (Connecticut)

Unless Rubio falls here, its obvious what the Thunder will do here. Their biggest need as a shot blocking center, which is interesting because they have already spent 3 first rounders in centers since 2004, Robert Swift in 2004, Johan Petro in 2005, and Saer Sene in 2006. Maybe the 4th time is the charm. Thabeet is more talented than all of those busts. The Dikembe Mutombo comparisons are dead on with him.

NBA Comparison: Dikembe Mutombo

#4 Sacramento- PF Jordan Hill (Arizona)

Again, the Kings will be making this pick on behalf of the Grizzles, then trading the player to Memphis along with either Jason Thompson or Spencer Hawes for Ricky Rubio. Memphis would likely want Jordan Hill. Darrell Arthur is not the longterm solution at power forward and Hakim Warrick is a free agent. Hill is too good of an all around player for the Grizzles to pass up here.

NBA Comparison: Chris Bosh

#5 Washington- SG/SF James Harden (Arizona State)

If the first 4 picks play out like they do in this mock, the Wizards will definitely take James Harden. What they do with him after taking him is less definite. The Wizards are in an interesting position. They have a lot of talent on their roster, but had a bad year last year because of injuries. They could keep James Harden and put him at shooting guard. He’s a very NBA ready player and could help them win right away. The other option is to trade him for some immediate help. I like option B. My favorite trade rumor is the one where Washington send James Harden, Antawn Jamison, and Mike James to Phoenix for Amar’e Stoudemire. With Stoudemire, Caron Butler, and Gilbert Arenas, the Wizards would have an amazing big 3, assuming all stay healthy. The Wizards could turn draft picks into legitimate NBA talent, as the Celtics did in 2007. 12 months later, the Celtics hoisted the trophy. I’m not saying that this move would win the Wizards the NBA Championship, but it should make them a 50 win team right away. As for Phoenix, Amar’e could leave after 2011 for nothing. The Suns get Jamison, who, while he is older than Stoudemire, is under contract for longer and cheaper per year. Jamison is an athletic big who can run the floor and would fit perfectly in Phoenix’s system. Mike James would give the Suns about 6 million of cap space for the summer of 2010. James Harden, while he would not be a perfect fit for the Suns system, is versatile enough to play the Suns’ run and gun offense and would give the Suns what they do not have right now, a young, talented wing player.

NBA Comparison: Brandon Roy

#6 Minnesota- G Tyreke Evans (Memphis)

The Timberwolves need that step up scorer and they shouldn’t pass up on Evans as he would fit that role perfectly. He can play both point and shooting guard for them, as can Randy Foye, which will allow them to mix things up to compensate for the fact that they don’t have a true 1 guard.

NBA Comparison: Jamal Crawford

#7 Golden State- F Earl Clark (Louisville)

Don Nelson likes Earl Clark as a point forward type player and since Nellie is probably going to be the one making this pick, I think Clark will be chosen here. Don’t be surprised if Nellie takes another guard, like Stephen Curry, to make up for the fact that Jamal Crawford is a free agent. Clark is NBA ready, would help defensively, and would allow the Warriors to move Corey Maggette to shooting guard and Monta Ellis back to point guard. Clark would likely also play some power forward in Nellie’s crazy system.

NBA Comparison: Boris Diaw

#8 New York- G Stephen Curry (Davidson)

Curry would be a nice fit for Mike D’Antoni’s run and gun offense. However, it remains to be seen where he would play. Is he a point guard? Not likely with Chris Duhon doing so well at point guard. Is he a shooting guard? Maybe, but at 6-3, but him at shooting guard could be a mistake. Is he a 6th man? Most likely and the Knicks might not want to use the 8th pick on a guy who would be a career 6th man. They may try to trade this pick, get more value out of it, and save some money for the Summer of LeBron in 2010.

NBA Comparison: Jason Terry

#9 Toronto- SG Demar DeRozan (USC)

Jason Kapono is gone via trade so the Raptors now have a huge hole at shooting guard. DeRozan might not be NBA ready get, but they can’t ignore his Vince Carter esque athleticism. Hopefully he’ll work out better than Carter did in Toronto.

NBA Comparison: Vince Carter

#10 Milwaukee- PG Ty Lawson (North Carolina)

Milwaukee needs a point guard. Lawson moves into this spot because of his great NCAA Tournament. He’s the fastest player in this draft class period, but he also is tough, plays good D, and has a nice outside shot. His toughness is what will attract Scott Skiles to him the most, over guys like Jrue Holliday, Brandon Jennings, Jeff Teague, and Jonny Flynn.

Comparison: Jameer Nelson

#11 New Jersey- F James Johnson (Wake Forest)

New Jersey hopefully has realized that Bobby Simmons is not a longterm answer at small forward. Johnson is NBA ready now and can play small forward as that do everything kind of guy. He also can move to power forward if needed.

Comparison: Ron Artest

#12 Charlotte- SG Wayne Ellington (North Carolina)

The Bobcats need a set up scorer and a shooting guard as they have lacked both of those since Jason Richardson was traded. Raja Bell only has one more year on his contract and is better suitor as a stopped and a shooter. The Bobcats will have their choice between Gerald Henderson and Wayne Ellington. I have Henderson higher rated, but I don’t think that UNC alum Michael Jordan over a Dukie. Now you might be thinking that Jordan wouldn’t just pick someone over a better player just because of college allegiances, but this is also the guy who drafted Kwame Brown #1, Adam Morrison #3, and took DJ Augustin last year when he already had Raymond Felton. Look at Jordan’s drafting record in Charlotte and you’ll see that he has already taken 2 former Tarheels, Sean May and Raymond Felton in his short time.

Comparison: Richard Hamilton

#13 Indiana- SG/SF Gerald Henderson (Duke)

One team’s loss is another team’s gain. Charlotte’s decision to pass on Henderson for Ellington will allow Indiana to take Henderson, who is by far the best player available. Marquis Daniels is a free agent and the Pacers were thin at the shooting guard position with him, often using 2 point guards, TJ Ford and Jarrett Jack, at the same time to compensate.

Comparison: Michael Finley

#14 Phoenix- G Jrue Holiday (UCLA)

Steve Nash might not be around too much longer. The team seems to be falling apart around him and he’s a free agent in 2010. He may follow his old coach Mike D’Antoni to New York. The Suns need a point guard of the future. The Suns look like they are going to be running and gunning for a while in the future with Alvin Gentry as coach so Holiday’s speed and quickness are huge assets. He’s not NBA ready, but he won’t have to do much in his first year and can learn for Nash. He has more upside than anyone left on the board.

Comparison: Rajon Rondo

#15 Detroit- PG Brandon Jennings (Italy)

Allen Iverson didn’t work out too well. The team was better when he didn’t play. He won’t be back as he’s a free agent this offseason. Rodney Stuckey played well last season and he’s a great player, but he’s more of a nice tweener guy off the bench. They need a true distributing point guard. Brandon Jennings is best known as the guy who didn’t want to play college ball and went to Europe to play professionally instead. He struggled in Europe and his stock fell, but he still has great upside and may be considered a steal at this point when its all said and done. He can push the ball, distribute, and score it from time to time, both by hitting jumpers and creating his own shot. That’s all they really need.

Comparison: Jason Williams

#16 Chicago- PF Tyler Hansbourgh (North Carolina)

I’ve moved DeJuan Blair out of this spot because of his lack of size. He measured 6-5 in socks, which is not good for an NBA power forward. He’ll likely be stuck as a tweener forward energy guy. The Bulls need a legitimate post scorer to pair with Brad Miller, a point center type guy who can hit the outside shot, and Joakim Noah, a hustle, energy, rebounds, blocks, guy. Hansbourgh is not very athletic, but he hustles, he can score inside, he can score with his back to the basket, he’s tough, and he can hit the step away jumper.

Comparison: Drew Gooden

#17 Philadelphia- PG Jonny Flynn (Syracuse)

Andre Miller is a free agent and considering there is a good chance he is gone and the team has very little behind him, they may want to replace him. Flynn is also one of the best available players and would fit into this young offense very nicely.

Comparison: Raymond Felton

#18 Minnesota- SF/SG Terrence Williams (Louisville)

The Timberwolves have 3 first rounders so they can probably just take the best available player. Williams would be an upgrade over Ryan Gomes, if Corey Brewer never gains enough muscle to pan out. Even if he never becomes a starter, Williams can help this team as a nice role player off the bench. He plays nice defense, hustles, and is developing a jumper.

Comparison: Gerald Wallace

#19 Atlanta- PF DeJuan Blair (Pittsburgh)

The Hawks only have 8 players under contract for next year, so they can just take best available. Blair wouldn’t fill a need for the Hawks expect their need for players, but he can serve a very nice role off the bench as a combo forward and that’s the type of player Blair was meant to be in the NBA.

Comparison: Craig Smith

#20 Utah- F Austin Daye (Gonzaga)

The Jazz need a power forward with the threat of both Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap leaving as free agents this offseason very real. However, no true power forwards are available at this slot that wouldn’t be complete reaches. BJ Mullens can play some power forward, but he is too similar to both Mehmet Okur and Kosta Koufus, who the Jazz already have. The Jazz will take a high upside player here, Austin Daye, who is the best player left on the board. Andrei Kirilenko has not proven he can stay healthy, so a longterm solution at small forward would be welcome. Daye may have more upside than any small forward in the draft class, but he’s very raw. He can also play some power forward if they really need him too, because he’s 6-11, but at 193 pounds, that might not be a smart idea. While I think the Jazz will take him here, I don’t like Daye. I think he’s too similar to Corey Brewer who has been a big bust so far.

Comparison: Corey Brewer 

#21 New Orleans- SG/SF Chase Budinger (Arizona)

New Orleans needs some depth on the wings. Budinger is an amazing talent, but has never done much because he has never really played with a great point guard, which he needs because he has trouble creating his own shot. He’ll like playing with Chris Paul.

Comparison: Brent Barry

#22 Dallas- C BJ Mullens (Ohio State)

Dallas will not keep BJ Mullens, but Mullens will be part of a big 2 part trade, which I will talk more about in just a few picks or so.

Comparison: Spencer Hawes

#23 Sacramento- SG/SF Sam Young (Pittsburgh)

The Kings need interior depth after losing either Hawes or Thompson, but they don’t want to reach. They instead take a talented wing player who can give them depth at that position. Small forward is a bit of a weakness for this team and Young can either play there, or play off the bench providing young leadership.

NBA Comparison: James Posey

#24 Portland- PG Jeff Teague (Wake Forest)

Portland will not keep Teague. Instead they will trade him to Dallas, along with a 2nd rounder, for BJ Mullens. Portland needed Dallas’ help keeping Mullens away from Sacramento, who would have taken him to replace Hawes, or Thompson, depending on who they sent to Memphis. In exchange for Dallas’ help, Portland gives Dallas a 2nd rounder, which Portland has 4 of. Dallas gets a free 2nd rounder out of it because the player they want, Jeff Teague, is obviously still going to be available at 24, because the Kings at 23 already took a point guard. Portland needs Mullens to package in a deal, along with Jerryd Bayless and Martell Webster, to send to New York for Stephen Curry. Curry will be perfect for Portland because he is not a great ball handler for a point guard, but shooting guard Brandon Roy is above average for a shooting guard. Portland is fine giving up Webster and Bayless, along with the 2nd round pick, because Portland already has a very full NBA roster and more talent stashed away in Europe. New York also sends Jared Jefferies to Portland for salary cap reasons. Jefferies is one of the last of the Isaiah Thomas big contracts still on the team. This move makes a lot of sense for the Knicks. Bayless is essentially a poor man’s version of Curry and can fill their 6th man role just as well. Webster can be the shooting guard of the future for the Knicks, assuming he bounces back from his foot injury, and the Knicks don’t have one of those. Mullens is the deal breaker. The Knicks don’t have a true center. Mullens can play center and he’s 7 foot tall, but he can also run the floor which is very important in Mike D’Antoni’s system. This move also saves the Knicks money. By getting Webster and Bayless instead of Jefferies, they save about a million. By getting Mullens instead of Curry, they save about 2 million. By getting 3 players for the price of 2, they save money because now they don’t have to spend money to fill their roster. In the end, this deal ends up saving the Knicks about 4 million dollars for the summer of 2010, when LeBron, Wade, Nash, Bosh, etc become free agents.

NBA Comparison: Keyon Dooling

#25 Oklahoma City- SG Marcus Thornton (LSU)

The Thunder are keeping Durant at small forward for now, which is good because that’s where he belongs. However, they need a starting shooting guard. Thornton can play shooting guard and gives them that all important 3 point shooter to stretch the defense. They did not really have that last year.

NBA Comparison: Rashad McCants

#26 Chicago- G Jermaine Taylor (Central Florida)

Ben Gordon could be gone, which would be a huge blow for this team. Hopefully replacing him with the NCAA’s 3rd leading scorer will be enough to replace him. I don’t care if he didn’t play at a big time school, 26.2 ppg is 26.2 ppg. This guy is a legitimate NBA scorer from everywhere on the court.

NBA Comparison: Leandro Barbosa

#27 Memphis- PG Eric Maynor (VCU)

Memphis needs a backup plan in Mike Conley doesn’t pan out. Its always good to have a backup point guard you can rely on. Maynor also happens to be the best available by a mile.

Comparison: Antonio Daniels

#28 Minnesota- PG Darren Collison (UCLA)

Having Tyreke Evans and Randy Foye alternate is good, but nothing beats a true point guard. Sebastian Telfair is good, but not great. Collison has nice upside for this slot. He can handle the ball, distribute and he’s very good on the defensive end as well.

Comparison: Darrell Armstrong

#29 LA Lakers- SF DaJuan Summers (Georgetown)

Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza are both free agents and if both were to leave, they would be left with Luke Walton and Adam Morrison at small forward, which is not a good thing. With very few other needs, they take the best small forward available just in case.

Comparison: Tim Thomas

#30 Cleveland- PF/C Taj Gibson (USC)

Ben Wallace could retire, Joe Smith is likely gone as a free agent, and Anderson Varejao could ask for 10 million a year, which means he might not be back. The Cavs need a power forward who can help with shot blocking and rebounding, even if the team trades for Shaq. Gibson is a nice depth guy who can also run the floor.

Comparison: Brandon Bass

2nd round to come some time after June 15th, which is the deadline for player who have declared, but not hired agents to return to college

1st round 

#1 LA Clippers- PF/C Blake Griffin (Oklahoma)

 I don’t know exactly where the Clippers will put Griffin, maybe they trade Chris Kaman, or agree to a buyout with Zach Randolph, but Griffin is the best player in the draft and as the Clippers are a team that desperately needs a savior, they need to take him. It’s much a better decision than taking Ricky Rubio, who may never develop, especially since the Clippers already have Baron Davis at point guard.

 Trade

Memphis gets #4, #23, and a 2010 2nd round pick

Sacramento gets #2 and #27

 I am not going to project a lot of trades in this first mock draft, but I will put this one in there because it makes too much sense. Rubio is clearly the 2nd best player in the draft class, but Memphis already has an emerging young point guard in Mike Conley, who they just drafted #4 overall 2 years ago. Instead of trading a proven commodity at the point guard position to take Rubio, they will trade down and pick up value in the process. The Kings are the most likely suitor because of their need for a point guard and the fact that their owners loves flashy names like Rubio’s.

 #2 Sacramento- PG Ricky Rubio (Spain)

 Beno Udrih is not the longterm solution, so the Kings take Rubio and hope that he can emerge into that all around great point guard they can build around. Rubio has more upside than any player in this draft, but it remains to be seen whether or not his game will carry over to the states.

 #3 Oklahoma City- C Hasheem Thabeet (Connecticut)

 The Thunder lack that big shot blocking center and since this is a very weak center class, they’ll take one with their earliest pick. The Mutombo comparisons are dead on. This guy will make an instant impact on the defensive end for an up and coming young team that closed the season with some hope for the future.

 #4 Memphis- PF Jordan Hill (Arizona)

 Darrell Arthur is not the longterm solution at power forward and Hakim Warrick is a free agent. Hill is too good of an all around player for the Grizzles to pass up here. This is the guy they were hoping would still be there when they moved down to #4. If they can’t move down, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take Hill at #2. He fits their needs that well.

 #5 Washington- SG/SF James Harden (Arizona State)

 Nick Young was drafted to be the future shooting guard for this team, but Harden is too good to pass up. He’s that selfless and tough player that the Wizards need with 3 scorers already on the court. He can play great defense and score if he needs to. He also fills a huge position need.

 #6 Minnesota- G Tyreke Evans (Memphis)

 The Timberwolves need that step up scorer and they shouldn’t pass up on Evans as he would fit that role perfectly. He can play both point and shooting guard for them, as can Randy Foye, which will allow them to mix things up to compensate for the fact that they don’t have a true 1 guard.

 #7 Golden State- G Stephen Curry (Davidson)

 Is this too high for Curry? Yes, but Nellie is picking. The man wants a roster of 12 scorers and is very close to having one. Curry could be that missing ingredient in Nellie’s recipe for disaster. Have fun stopping anyone.

 #8 New York- SG Demar DeRozan (USC)

 Right now the Knicks just have Quentin Richardson and Larry Hughes at shooting guard. Let me rephrase that, right now the Knicks just have Quentin Richardson’s expiring contract and Larry Hughes’ expiring contract. Both will be gone in 2010 as the Knicks go after LeBron. DeRozan is the perfect athletic player to play in D’Antoni’s system and would fill what is soon to be a need at shooting guard. 

 #9 Toronto- SF Earl Clark (Louisville)

 The Raptors are probably going to lose Shawn Marion as a free agent, but if they take Earl Clark, who is equally as versatile as Marion, they won’t lose much.

 #10 Milwaukee- PG Johnny Flynn (Syracuse)

 The Bucks have lacked a true point guard since Maurice Williams was traded. Flynn is that tough point guard that Scott Skiles liked. He had it with Kirk Hinrich in Chicago and should have it again in Milwaukee with Flynn.

 #11 New Jersey- F James Johnson (Wake Forest)

 The Nets could use help at both forward positions and Johnson can play both. He should be able to start right away which is more than you can say for a lot of players that you take 11th overall and he is the best player available.

 #12 Charlotte- SG Wayne Ellington (North Carolina)

 The Bobcats need a set up scorer and a shooting guard as they have lacked both of those since Jason Richardson was traded. Raja Bell only has one more year on his contract and is better suitor as a stopped and a shooter. The Bobcats will have their choice between Gerald Henderson and Wayne Ellington. I have Henderson higher rated, but I don’t think that UNC alum Michael Jordan over a Dukie. Now you might be thinking that Jordan wouldn’t just pick someone over a better player just of college allegiances, but this is also the guy who drafted Kwame Brown #1, Adam Morrison #3, and took DJ Augustin last year when he already had Raymond Felton. Look at Jordan’s drafting record in Charlotte and you’ll see that he has already taken 2 former Tarheels, Sean May and Raymond Felton in his short time.

 #13 Indiana- SG Gerald Henderson (Duke)

 One team’s loss is another team’s gain. Charlotte’s decision to pass on Henderson for Ellington will allow Indiana to take Henderson, who is by far the best player available. Marquis Daniels is a free agent and the Pacers were thin at the shooting guard position without him, often using 2 point guards, TJ Ford and Jarrett Jack, at the same time to compensate.

 #14 Phoenix- PG Ty Lawson (North Carolina)

 Steve Nash is sadly not going to be able to play forever. I’ve been saying that they should take a point guard for the past few years, Taureen Green in 2007 and Mario Chalmers last year, but they haven’t yet. However, they get their best opportunity to do so here. Lawson is one of the best players available. He would be one of the fastest players in the league as the Suns move forward with the run and gun offense once again under Alvin Gentry. He also, as did both Green and Chalmers, won a national championship so he is very experienced for a college kid and is a poised leader.

 #15 Detroit- PG Brandon Jennings (Italy)

 Allen Iverson didn’t work out too well. The team was better when he didn’t play. He won’t be back as he’s a free agent this offseason. Rodney Stuckey played well last season and he’s a great player, but he’s more of a nice tweener guy off the bench. They need a true distributing point guard. Brandon Jennings is best known as the guy who didn’t want to play college ball and went to Europe to play professionally instead. He struggled in Europe and his stock fell, but he still has great upside and may be considered a steal at this point when its all said and done. He can push the ball, distribute, and score it from time to time, both by hitting jumpers and creating his own shot. That’s all they really need.

  

 #16 Chicago- PF DeJuan Blair (Pittsburgh)

 The Bulls got dominated inside by the Celtics, even when the Celtics did not have Kevin Garnett. They need to bulk up their interior defense. Blair is 260 pounds of immovable defensive prowess. He is undersized at 6-7 and lacking on the offensive end, but they need a tough guy like him on the inside.

 #17 Philadelphia- PG Jeff Teague (Wake Forest)

 Andre Miller is a free agent and considering there is a good chance he is gone and the team has very little behind him, they may want to replace him. Teague is also one of the best available player and would fit into this young offense very nicely.

 #18 Minnesota- SF/SG Terrence Williams (Louisville)

 The Timberwolves have 3 first rounds so they can probably just take the best available player. Williams would be an upgrade over Ryan Gomes, if Corey Brewer never gains enough muscle to pan out. Even if he never becomes a starter, Williams can help this team as a nice role player off the bench. He plays nice defense, hustles, and is developing a jumper.

 #19 Atlanta- PG Eric Maynor (VCU)

 Mike Bibby is a free agent so with Maynor still on the board, they should take him. Maynor is one of the few point guards that is intelligent enough to come in and start right away. Even if they bring back Bibby, Maynor would still make a nice backup for a team that only has 7 players signed to contracts for next season.

 #20 Utah- PF Tyler Hansbourgh (North Carolina)

 Both Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap are free agents. Hansbourgh is the type of fundamental and tough player that Jerry Sloan likes.

 #21 New Orleans- SG/SF Chase Budinger (Arizona)

 New Orleans needs some depth on the wings. Budinger is an amazing talent, but has never done much because he has never really played with a great point guard, which he needs because he has trouble creating his own shot. He’ll like playing with Chris Paul.

 #22 Dallas- G Jrue Holliday (UCLA)

 Jrue Holliday is the best player available, even though he really struggled in his freshman year at UCLA. He gives them a safety net in case Jason Kidd leaves. He’s more of a true point guard than Jason Terry and a better player than Jose Juan Barea. Holliday has an amazing ceiling and could be a huge steal here.

 #23 Memphis- C BJ Mullens (Ohio State)

 Darko Milicic is mulling a return to Europe (on a side note, good for him, he’s a great foreign player, just never right for the NBA). Mullens can take his place as this team will be in need of shot blockers when Milicic is gone. He’s also the best player available and there’s always a place on any team for a 7 footer who can shoot threes.

 #24 Portland- F Gani Lawai (Georgia Tech)

Portland has so much young talent at every position, both on their roster and stashed over seas. They should just take the best available here and that’s Gani Lawai.

 #25 Oklahoma City- SG/SF Sam Young (Pittsburgh)

 The Thunder are keeping Durant at small forward for now, which is good because that’s where he belongs. However, they need a starting shooting guard. Young is an experienced college player that should bring leadership to this young team right out of college and also help them on the defensive end.

 #26 Chicago- G Jermaine Taylor (Central Florida)

 Ben Gordon could be gone, which would be a huge blow for this team. Hopefully replacing him with the NCAA’s 3rd leading scorer will be enough to replace him. I don’t care if he didn’t play at a big time school, 26.2 ppg is 26.2 ppg. This guy is a legitimate NBA scorer from everywhere on the court.

 #27 Sacramento- SF Damion James (Texas)

 The Kings got their point guard so they can just take best available here. The Kings need upgrades of their perimeter defense and the small forward position and James does both. He would have been a lottery pick if it weren’t for a bad year.

 #28 Minnesota- PG Darren Collison (UCLA)

 Having Tyreke Evans and Randy Foye alternate is good, but nothing beats a true point guard. Sebastian Telfair is good, but not great. Collison has nice upside for this slot. He can handle the ball, distribute and he’s very good on the defensive end as well.

 #29 LA Lakers- SF Tyler Smith (Tennessee)

 Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza are both free agents and if both were to leave, they would be left with Luke Walton and Adam Morrison at small forward, which is not a good thing. With very few other needs, they take the best small forward available just in case.

 #30 Cleveland- SG Marcus Thornton (LSU)

 Wally Sczerbiak is a free agent and that’ll leave the Cavs without a sharp shooter. Thornton can hit it from anywhere on the field and will benefit a lot from playing with LeBron and not having to be the main guy as he was at LSU. 

 

2nd round

#31 Sacramento- G Greivis Vasquez (Maryland)

The Kings could use that do everything style combo guard off of their bench.

#32 Portland- SF Omri Casspi (Israel)

The Trailblazers have a lot of picks in this draft and a lot of guys already signed to contracts. This means they’ll probably make a lot of moves, but I am not projected trades in this mock. If the order stays this way they will take a high upside European here and stash him away in Europe until they need him. If it wasn’t for his situation with his contract in Israel, Casspi would be a sure first rounder.

#33 Washington- PF Victor Claver (Spain)

The Wizards have a lot of players already signed to contracts so they take a high upside European and stash him in Europe until he’s needed.

#34 Denver- PF/C Taj Gibson (USC)

Gibson can block shots and rebound which the Nuggets need. He can also run the floor with this high octane offense which is essential for the Nuggets.

#35 Memphis- PG Patty Mills (St. Mary’s)

The Grizzles have a very thin bench. They add to that bench by taking Collison, a steal at this point. Collison is a nice backup plan in case Conley doesn’t pan out and can still serve a role on this team even if Collison does pan out.

#36 Detroit- PF Jon Brockman (Washington)

The Pistons have been lacking that energy inside defender since Ben Wallace left. Brockman is a poor man’s Ben Wallace, but the Pistons will still take that here in the 2nd round. The Pistons don’t have a lot of big men signed to contracts for next season so Brockman would fit in right away. He’s a little undersized, but makes up for it with his hustle which the Pistons like.

#37 San Antonio- SF DaJuan Summers (Georgetown)

The Spurs normally take foreign, but these aren’t the Spurs of 2005 or 2006. They need help now. Summers is NBA ready and can help take some of the pressure off of an aging Bruce Bowen at small forward.

#38 Portland- PG Toney Douglas (Florida State0

The Trailblazers already have 3 decent point guards on the team. Adding a fourth won’t hurt, especially since Mills has the upside to be more than decent.

#39 Detroit- PF Jeff Pendergraph (Arizona State)

The Pistons take more depth for their interior as they could lose much of that in the offseason.

#40 Charlotte- SG/SF Danny Green (North Carolina)

Michael Jordan takes another Tarheel with hopes to use Green as Roy Williams did, as a microwave style bench scorer.

#41 Milwaukee- F Jeff Adrien (Connecticut)

Adrien is undersized at 6-7, but makes up for it with hustle. The Bucks lack one of those inside hustle guys. Coach Scott Skiles will love Adrien’s hustle and intensity. Many see him as the next Chuck Hayes, an undersized energy guy who can help a team out off of the bench or as a supporting starter.

#42 LA Lakers- G/SF Nick Calathes (Florida)

Derek Fisher won’t be around forever and Jordan Farmar hasn’t exactly grown until the starting point guard role as they would have hoped. Calathes would be a huge steal here. Even if Farmar pans out long term as the point guard, Calathes has the size to play both the 2 and the 3.

#43 Miami- PF/C Chris Johnson (LSU)

Miami lacked tough shot blockers on the interior last season so much that they signed Jamaal Magloire. Johnson could fill that role this season.

#44 Detroit- G Jerel McNeal (Marquette)

The Pistons already have taken two bigs so they should be set in that area. McNeal is a tenacious defender and could serve in that role off the bench next season as either a point guard or a shooting guard. The Pistons need to get back to playing DEEEETROIT BASKETBALL and that would require a tenacious defender like McNeal.

  

#45 Minnesota- SG/SF Lee Cummard (BYU)

Mike Miller failed miserably. Cummard can’t do much but shoot, but the T-Wolves need someone to stretch the defense so they take him.

#46 Cleveland- PF/C Josh Heytvelt (Gonzaga)

Ben Wallace could retire. Anderson Varejao and Joe Smith are free agents. Varejao could ask for up to 10 million a year, which would make getting an help for LeBron in the summer of 2010 impossible and thus they could lose him. Heytvelt could be a replacement for Varejao if he leaves or a replacement for Ben Wallace when he finally decides to hang them up.

#47 Minnesota- PF Milan Macvan (Serbia)

Minnesota has 5 draft picks so they pretty much have to take a European. Macvan is the best European available.

#48 Phoenix- SG Dionte Christmas (Temple)

The Suns need to surround Nash with shooters, something they didn’t quite do this season. Christmas can shoot and run the floor well which makes him perfect for this offense.

#49 Atlanta- SG Wesley Matthews (Marquette)

Again, the Hawks take best available to make up for the fact that only 7 players are signed to contracts for next season.

#50 Utah- F Dante Cunningham (Villanova)

Cunningham is the best available and can fill the role of high energy combo forward in case Paul Millsap leaves as a free agent.

#51 San Antonio- PF Jonas Jerebko (Sweden)

They wouldn’t be the Spurs if they didn’t take a guy with a last name you can’t pronounce.

#52 Indiana- PF Leo Lyons (Missouri)

The Pacers are very thin inside going into next season. Lyons played in Missouri’s high octane offense last season so he should have no problem keeping up with TJ Ford’s fast break.

#53 San Antonio- G Milenko Tepic (Serbia)

The Spurs take another European who we won’t see until 2011 and whose last name we won’t be able to pronounce ever.

#54 Charlotte- PF Connor Atchley (Texas)

Sean May looks like a bust. Atchley is a good IQ replacement for him.

#55 Portland- C Boban Marjanovic (Serbia)

The Trailblazers simply don’t have room in the states for another player. Boban is huge at 7-4 and has huge upside once he figures out how to do something other than stick his arms straight up and block shots. He can be the longterm replacement for Joel Pryzbilla if the Blazers are lucky.

#56 Portland- SF Vladimir Dasic (Montenegro)

Once again, the Trailblazers take BEA (best European available).

#57 Phoenix- F Robert Dozier (Memphis)

Dozier is a versatile big who can run with the Suns.

#58 Boston- G AJ Price (Connecticut)

No bigs with a high chance of sticking on a team are available here, which is unfortunate because the Celtics could lose both Glen Davis and Leon Powe. Instead the Celtics take a high character winner who can shoot the three and replace Eddie House in the role of guy who camps at the three point line but still helps a team in a huge way in case House leaves as a free agent.

#59 LA Lakers- C Garret Siler (Augusta State)

The Lakers need to get tougher inside, even if Bynum can stay healthy for a whole season. Siler is 6-11 305. He may be too big to play longterm in the NBA, but if they can get him in shape they could have a real steal.

#60 Miami- PG Curtis Jerrells (Baylor)

Jerrells is the best available player by far. The Heat could use some depth at point guard.    

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