A different kind of NBA mock draft

Hey all,
I did something last night that I’ve wanted to do for a while. The basic premise is take the projected order for the NBA Draft (I did my own), and make selections as if I was the GM of every team. To make it coherent, I didn’t allow trades, though free agent moves could be factored in the equation. Also, I used the logic that if a kid had a promise that the portion of the draft where I have him he’d leave, and that some guys who are first-round worthy (Taj Gibson, Bill Walker, Jamont Gordon) would stay if they didn’t get in the top 20 or so.

Put your mittens on your kittens and awaaay we go! (after the jump)

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves- Brook Lopez, C/PF, Stanford. Always fun to start with the most argue-worthy pick first. Lopez is an astonishing talent with an unbelievably high ceiling. Also, he’s a natural compliment to Al Jefferson because he is a natural shot-blocker and has an underrated mid-range game.

  2. Oklahoma City Sonics- Derrick Rose, PG, Memphis. I wouldn’t take Rose this high with almost any other team, but his dynamic abilities and potential mesh up really well with what the Sonics have going. He’s a solid scorer and passer, and should be able to defend the position quite well when all is said and done at 6’4″. There are other PG’s in this draft that may fit this squad better immediately, but Rose is the best pick for the big picture.

  3. New York Knicks- DJ Augustin, PG, Texas. The Knicks are the hardest team to figure out the right fit for in the entire league. The players I like the most on their roster don’t start (D. Lee and Balkman), and while they have talent at the swingman positions, they also have overpriced veterans who deserve time as well. Ideally, there would be a big man who can block shots and score some who can pair with Curry/Randolph/Lee, but that isn’t the case with draft-eligible guys right now. As such, the next most logical need is at PG. While I don’t have Augustin as the next best PG on my board, he is the best fit for what the Knicks should do- run an intense, up and down game. DJ does that with the best of them and create looks for Lee and Balkman in transition while creating his own and playing solid D.

  4. Sacramento Kings- Darrell Arthur, PF, Kansas. A super-athletic PF who can do a lot of things surprisingly well considering his age. He would be a natural compliment to Hawes and allow the Kings to run a little more, which would help them overall.

  5. Philadelphia 76ers- Kevin Love, PF/C, UCLA. Kevin is a player who still needs work, but that’s not surprising considering he’s a college freshman. What he brings to the table is a skillset that hasn’t been seen in a big man in quite some time. Kevin is unselfish and an amazing passer both in a half-court set and transition. His mid-range game is shockingly advanced given his post prowess. His biggest weaknesses are conditioning and defense presence, but having a guy like Samuel Dalembert behind him and Iggy on the wing would make him worthy of a pick like this.

  6. LA Clippers- Eric Gordon, SG, Indiana. This pick could go in a multitude of directions based on where the Clippers decide to go in the offseason, especially when combined with the uncertainty surrounding Elton Brand’s future with the squad. If I were the GM, I’d do my damndest to make sure he stayed, and getting Eric Gordon should help. EG is a natural scorer, and could becomes what many of us wished Ben Gordon would be. Eric is much more of a self-starting scorer and would fit very well with Shaun Livingston, who I would keep as well.

  7. Portland Trailblazers- Nicolas Batum, SF, France. Nicolas is a toolsy plater who could bring a ton to the table for the Blazers. First off, he has solid size for a SF already (6’8″), and he is only 18, so he could still be growing. Also, he is a surprisingly good passer for his position, which would help given the lack of a true #1 scorer in Portland but a multitude of excellent supporting guys like Roy, Aldridge and hopefully Oden. The Blazers could also go with a PG or an SG here (moving Roy to the point), but none of the guys on the board fit that well. Eric Gordon might, but he’s taken.

  8. Charlotte Bobcats- Michael Beasley, PF, Kansas State. If he’s around, the Bobcats’ brass should be doing back-flips, because if Derrick Coleman 2.0 can keep it together, he’ll be a significant player in the league. While it is clear that he’s not a character guy, Beasley has physical gifts that are scary to say the least. He’s a natural scorer and a solid rebounder, though his numbers are inflated because of his team. A high-potential guy to a team that can use some offensive juice.

  9. Memphis Grizzlies- Roy Hibbert, C, Georgetown. There is a lot that scares me about Hibbert (part of why he falls to #9 here), but he meshes well with the Memphis bigs of Gasol, Darko, and Warrick. He has some work ethic issues, but playing with this amazing lineup could only help him stay motivated to become a solid contributor.

  10. Milwaukee Bucks- Darren Collison, PG, UCLA. Darren is the fastest guy around, and is an amazing athletic specimen. His defensive role on the other team’s point would dramatically help the Bucks’ shaky D, especially on the perimeter. I like Mo Williams fine, but this two-headed PG beast would be a real force, especially in a division (and a conference as a whole) that has some teams with unstable PG situations.

  11. Miami Heat- Kyle Singler, SF, Duke. This kid is the real deal. On many teams, he’d be worthy of a Top-5 pick, but with the way this board shook out he takes a bit of a fall. Singler has an all-around game that is awfully impressive for his age, and would bring a level of competitiveness that could benefit the Heat long-term. A big-time C prospect (or a PG/SG to compliment Wade) are the other logical steps for the Heat to take, but Kyle is the best guy around and a solid fit.

  12. New Jersey Nets- Kosta Koufos, C, Ohio State. While there is a ton about Kosta that worries me, most notably the way he has played against big-time competition thus far in his college career, he fits well here.
  13. Phoenix Suns (via Atl)- Serge Ibaka, PF, Congo. A long, defensively apt player with scary, scary potential. Could do incredible things with good coaching and the right system, two things that Phoenix has right now.

  14. Denver Nuggets- Russell Westbrook, SG/PG, UCLA. The Nuggets need three things in order to move up the West totem pole: a big PG who can defend either the 1 or the 2 (w/AI), a swingman stopper to compliment Melo, and a post scorer. At this point in the draft, Westbrook is the best fit for any of those three spots. He’s a natural for the Nuggets because he’s a beast full-speed but does not need the ball in his hands to be a part of the offense, which is good because he won’t in Denver.

  15. Indiana Pacers- Ty Lawson, PG, UNC. He’s a very good player (it’s splitting hairs at this point between him, Collison, and Augustin), but his game just makes him slide a bit further than them, no fault of his own. He’d be a great player in Indy and help Jim O’Brien’s offense either off the bench or as Tinsley’s replacement.
  16. Chicago Bulls- Richard Hendrix, PF, Alabama. The Bulls should have drafted a post scorer last year, but opted for the talented Joakim Noah instead of a guy like Spencer Hawes. The best way to get one of those is through a trade, but since those aren’t options here, the best scoring post player left is the way to go.

  17. LA Lakers- OJ Mayo, PG/SG, USC. Obviously the most controversial pick of this mock draft (and probably the real draft as well). OJ’s biggest problem is that at this juncture in his career, he is absolutely not a distributor, especially at the end of games. What’s worse, he seems to have no interest making his teammates better. So why the Lakers? Because Kobe is one of the few alpha dogs in the NBA that Mayo could follow, and anyone can get his head on straight, it’s Phil Jackson. What makes even more sense here is that since Kobe plays on the ball so much, it would allow OJ the chance to be more of an off-the-ball PG, which allows him to keep the position which he’d be best at defensively since he retains his size advantage. Also, the Lakers could play a Farmar/Mayo/Kobe/Odom/Bynum line-up at points which would be scary to match up against.

  18. Washington Wizards- Trent Plaisted, C, BYU. He’s a dynamic and compelling post prospect to follow this season. While it’d make the most sense for the Wiz to draft a purely defensive C here, there isn’t a natural fit who is not a gigantic reach, and Trent’s skills make him an interesting fit.

  19. Houston Rockets- Tyler Hansbrough, PF, UNC. The perfect guy next to Yao Ming. The man is deranged when it comes to basketball, which makes him a great rebounder and glue guy on a team that could use another one. With the other pieces the Rockets have, they don’t need offense, and Hansbrough will get more than his share of put-backs, so he’ll do that too.

  20. Cleveland Cavaliers- Danilo Gallinari, SF, Italy. He’s a substantially better player than this (think Top-10), but that’s what happens when there are an entire set of teams that are set at the SF position. Your natural inkling might be to reply that the Cavs are too, but Lebron’s most amazing attribute is that he can play just about anywhere on the floor. Playing LBJ and Gallinari at the same time could work extremely well.

  21. Golden State Warriors- Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, PF/SF, UCLA. The Warriors could really use a big PG like Shaun Livingston and/or a true C to share minutes with Biedrins, but neither one is around in this scenario. As such, they move to another spot. Luc is a great rebounder who can run the floor well and finish. Also, he can defend perimeter players very well with his size, speed, and effort. He’d be a natural off the bench, especially as a compliment 3 for when Harrington is playing the 4.

  22. Dallas Mavericks- Chase Buddinger, SG/SF, Arizona. Chase is an amazing offensive player, but his complete lack of D is too much for most teams to bear. However, the combo of Devin Harris and Josh Howard, combined with Diop in the post makes this a palatable and potent combination of player and team. Plus, we know how much Cuban loves white guys…

  23. New Orleans Hornets- Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG/SF, Memphis. CDR is a great fit in New Orleans because he is a natural 2 who is solid defensively and should be a solid offensive player fairly soon. This allows him to play with Peja and Mo-Pete as well as Julian Wright. If the Hornets see Julian as a 3, they could also go in the direction of a 4 (possibly like Ryan Anderson), but a legit 2-guard is a clearer need and CDR is a phenomenal match.

  24. Toronto Raptors- DeVon Hardin, C, Cal. Surprise, surprise, the Raptors need size. Even though Hardin is raw and lacks the basketball IQ one looks for in a first rounder, he has amazing raw skills and could develop into a very good NBA player. Also, he should be able to play Center in the NBA, which the Raptors need desperately next to Bosh and Bargnani.

  25. Orlando Magic- Ryan Anderson, PF, Cal. Hey look- another team that needs size in a bad way! Anderson is a scary-good fit next to Dwight Howard as he can rebound fairly well and can shoot the ball, which is key for a 4 in Stan Van Gundy’s offense. A Center would also make sense here, but with Hardin off the board, there is not a guy who makes that much sense in terms of Orlando.

  26. Detroit Pistons- Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn. The Pistons are fairly well set at the 1 (Rodney Stuckey), 2 (Arron Afflalo), and 4 (Jason Maxiell) in the long-term, which is amazing. This sends us to a 3 or a 5, and Thabeet makes a lot of sense, because the Pistons can afford to take a risk and having a potential defensive animal like Thabeet would really help them as time goes by. Who knows what Thabeet will end up being, but the Pistons are a team with enough pieces to make him work regardless.

  27. Utah Jazz- Nikola Pekovic, C, Serbia and/or Montenegro. Pekovic is the type of guy the Jazz need right now; a solid big who can grab some minutes and be an all-around player and contributor. He is doing very well so far this season for KK Partizan and could end up being a nice compliment to Kyrylo Fesenko in the future.

  28. Boston Celtics- Eric Maynor, PG, VCU. What do you get the team with the Big 3? Another PG, of course. The Celtics could use another big, but they don’t need another 4 (Taj Gibson), and there isn’t a C on the board that really fits what they should be looking for. As such, taking a guy like Maynor who could end up being a solid NBA guard is a steal. Eric is one of my absolute favorite players in this draft, and would be an excellent pick in this area.

  29. San Antonio Spurs- Brandon Rush, SG/SF, Kansas. Mr. Rush is probably a better player than his ranking here, but a sweet-shooting swingman isn’t the most valued commodity in the NBA these days, given the supply/demand issues. That said, he’s a great player who should be the best of the Rush brothers in the NBA, though it’s not a big stretch to say that he’d do that the first time he takes the floor.
  30. Seattle Sonics (via Phx)- Brandon Costner, PF, NC State. Mr. Presti would be lucky beyond all things if he could get his hands on a guy like Brandon. He is an intriguing 4 because he has a solid face-up game and a post game, with a frame that helps him play the four well. He’d be a solid fit next to Durant long-term, and is a steal at this juncture of the draft, especially for a team with a front-court as in flux as the Sonics’ will be in the next two years.

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