This time, I’m giving the bulk of my writing attention to my prediction mock draft, but there will be my “if I were the GM” mock draft as well as an updated draft board below that.
As a note before beginning, one thing that’s fun about the NBA is that the playoffs have zero effect on the draft order, which makes doing mocks easier and can create fun situations where teams overperforming don’t change where they pick.
1. Miami Heat– Michael Beasley, PF/SF, Kansas State. Some people will put Mr. Rose here, but Pat Riley’s quest for Jose Calderon (as well as his history) bears out that he likes more experienced PG’s. Plus, if they could get a guy like Beasley, they could run a Marion/Beasley SF/PF combo that would just dominate in the East if they get the right PG.
2. Oklahoma City “Bombers” (aka the Ex-Sonics)– Derrick Rose, PG, Memphis. Just like last year, the Sonics could be sitting at #2 doing backflips at who is on the board. Rose gives them the PG for an up and down team, which also gives them more freedom to play Durant and Green together (at the 3 and the 4, not the 2 and the 3, PJ). He is an absolute terror in the open floor, and they could then work to move some of their other assets (Nick Collison, one or both of Ridnour/Watson, and either Petro or Sene) to get a few better fit players.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves– Jerryd Bayless, SG/PG, Arizona. Doesn’t it just sound like McHale to take an undersized combo guard when compliments for Al Jefferson are on the board? Bayless is a fascinating combination of abilities, but I genuinely worry about what his position is, and while the SF/PF wall is breaking down thanks to the Phoenix influence, the PG/SG wall is still relatively strong for starters.
4. Memphis Grizzlies– Eric Gordon, SG, Indiana. See above. Gordon is a decent player, but I just don’t see Chris Wallace going for a stable, lew ceiling (or at least percieved so) player over a boom/bust guy. He could see Eric as the heir to the Mike Miller throne and a dangerous piece either off the bench or in the starting lineup long-term.
5. New York Knicks– Brook Lopez, C/PF, Stanford. Call it a gut instinct, but I don’t see Donnie Walsh taking a guy with any character red flags here- getting out of the Isiah era will be sort of like getting out of the Michael Vick era in Atlanta. The problem with taking Lopez here is that he isn’t a guy with the mental makeup for NYC. He’s a good kid, but I worry that the bright lights would be a little too much for the kid out of Fresno, at least starting his pro career. Also, there’s no chance they’d get Robin too, which would make the transition harder.
6. LA Clippers– OJ Mayo, PG/SG, U$C. To put it simply, he’d be a fascinating fit for the Clippers. Granted, it all depends on who stays and who goes, but a backcourt of OJ and Shaun Livingston would cause people alot of problems. The other contender for this spot if the draft went this way would be Danilo Gallinari, but Al Thornton’s production and the return of the Brand/Kaman frontcourt makes him a little less necessary.
7. Milwaukee Bucks– DJ Augustin, PG, Texas. Moving Redd would bring guys like Gallinari into play here, but until I have evidence that he is not in their long-term plan, I will assume he’s in it. DJ would be an overpick here, but he is a fascinating player who has a great amount of talent and drive. It would be fantastic for the Bucks to add a big, especially a D-minded one, but there isn’t one at this pick that would work. Don’t be surprised to see them trade up for Lopez or trade down for someone else (+ picks) if they don’t like the way the picks are shaping up.
8. Charlotte Bobcats– DeAndre Jordan, C, Texas A+M. Simply put, this is easily the hardest pick to project, since the only 1st rounder taken by MJ while on the Bobcats was Adam Morrison thanks to last year’s J-Rich trade. I don’t see Jordan taking a Euro, and all of the bigs are either poor fits mentally or physically. In the end, I went with DeAndre Jordan because he seems like a good kid and he could work out very well next to Okafor in the long run. Don’t discount a guy with more collegiate experience here with the potential impact of Larry Brown as the coach.
9. Chicago Bulls– Kevin Love, PF/C, UCLA. This pick is primarily for if they get D’Antoni because it would make the Bulls such an appallingly dangerous team on the fast break. The three-headed beast of Noah, Tyrus, and K-Love would fit together beautifully on a running team. Just imagine Love sending missiles down the court to the starters…
10. New Jersey Nets– Danilo Gallinari, SF, Italy. Fantastic player who could mesh with both their current players and any bigger scale vision for the team. Would also save them the money they’d pay to Nachbar, which is nice. I seriously thought about a big like Anthony Randolph here, but the Nets need a C, and this is a little too high for JaVale McGee.
11. Indiana Pacers– Russell Westbrook, SG/PG, UCLA. They need a guard in the worst way and part of what Westy brings to the table is the ability to play both positions (at least until he develops more at one), so he can fill spots now and they can find a good fit in the future as well. Don’t sleep on a big here as well, especially if Jermaine O’Neal is more on the outs with management.
12. Sacramento Kings– Anthony Randolph, PF/SF. The Kings would have to be overjoyed to find Randolph here. Since they did well enough to fall out of the good PG range (which is Top-2 overall in this draft), the best target would be a PF (or even a C if they’re ballsy) to pair with Spencer Hawes. Randolph has some character concerns, but Sacto’s system would work well for him and they still have some veteran presence on the team (though I’d worry about Ron Ron).
13. Portland Trailblazers– Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG/SF, Memphis. This would be a great pick for Portland because CDR’s versatility makes him an asset for a team that has enough pieces to be a scary team in the future. Another valid direction for this pick would be a good big who can play C, but there isn’t the right player available here.
14. Golden State Warriors– JaVale McGee, C, Nevada. It’s hard to think of a better fit for what Golden State needs than Mr. McGee. His athletic gifts would be great and he has immense defensive potential with his 7’6″ wingspan and overall beastliness.
15. Phoenix Suns– Nicolas Batum, SF, France. It’s so hard to think of the Suns without the true running mentality. It’s extremely hard to peg where Steve Kerr will go with this pick considering he has no first round draft history and it’s unknown who their next coach will be. As such, I went with the best player left at their biggest position of need, which is SF. A big could also be quite useful here, but the dropoff after McGee is pronounced to say the least in terms of short-term production.
16. Philadelphia 76ers– Marrese Speights, PF/C, Florida. Their primary goal this offseason has to be to figure out what position they want Thaddeus Young to play for their future. I see him has more of a SF, though he can dance the PF dance at points. That decision is so key because they have an opportunity to pour assets into trying to fill the other slot. Speights would be a great fit for them because he could be a great PF in their system and also play minutes at the C spot when necessary. His dynamic abilities in the front court would fit phenomenally with the Andre’s and even though he’s raw, Speights could contribute minutes for a team like Philly right off the bat.
17. Toronto Raptors– Robin Lopez, C/PF, Stanford. For the love of God and all that is holy, get Chris Bosh a protector! Robin isn’t perfect for the role, but he is good enough to be an important contributor to a playoff team and that’s the best they can do in this draft. Lopez brings a more complete game than most people probably expect from him, and the city of Toronto would probably be a great spot for him, as well as the makeup of that team.
18. Washington Wizards– Donte Greene, PF/SF, Syracuse. I’m not necessarily sold on the fit of this, but he is a player that could work for them as a scorer off the bench immediately and hopefully eventually grow into Jamison’s role on the squad, though he’s more offensive-minded and a worse rebounder right now. They need a good shot-blocking and rebounding presence, but there simply isn’t one here who doesn’t suck (thanks, Hibbert!).
19. Cleveland Fightin’ Lebrons– Chase Buddinger, SG/SF, Arizona. Another team that’s hard to peg. One of their primary concerns has to be getting a guy who can get minutes right off the bat, which is a requirement that few guys at this section of the draft fit. Because of the salary structure of the team, their roster is relatively set, with the bigs rotation of Z/Varejao/Wallace/Smith and the PG’s as well if they keep Delonte around. What Buddinger brings is an offensively capable guy who can make their system flow even better as he is a talented scorer and an underrated passer. His D is deplorable (as is his effort there), but his immediate production potential makes him the pick here.
20. Denver Nuggets– Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina. I’m not entirely sure whether or not Ty will be in this draft, but I think he’d be in if he could get a top-20 pick, and the Nuggets would be fools not to take him. While it is hard to dispute that the team should be blown up if possible, what Lawson brings to the table is a PG who is worth being on roster regardless of how things go, though his value is much higher for an uptempo team. Also, he takes the ball out of AI and Melo’s hands, which would dramatically help the offensive flow and potentially have an effect on the defensive attitude as well.
21. New Jersey Nets (via Dallas)– Alexis Ajinca, C, France. Man, they must be loving that trade right about now. I hadn’t seen much of Alexis before the Nike Hoop Summit, but he was very, very impressive, especially considering the level of competition was actually pretty good for the age of the kids. He is definitely more of a developmental guy, but they need to have a C like that on roster in New Jersey. Ajinca is a guy that could end up rocketing up draft boards with some good workouts- keep an eye on him.
22. Orlando Magic– Jason Thompson, C, Rider. If the Magic take a player who is not a big, their GM needs to be disembowled. It’s hard to imagine how valuable a guy who can both back up Dwight at the C spot and play with him at times would be for this squad. Some would be surprised that Thompson would go before Hibbert, but Fat Roy just isn’t a fit for the up and down style of Ron Jeremy’s team.
23. Utah Jazz– Joe Alexander, SF/PF, West Virginia. No, he’s not just the pick here because he’s white. What Joe Alexander brings is a great natural compliment to Andrei Kirilenko’s skillset and they could play the SF/PF spots together at times, which would fit the times when Utah needs a little more punch offensively. If there was a game-changing C on the board here things would be different, but there isn’t and I think Fesenko will get some minutes during the 2008-2009 season as well.
24. Oklahoma City “Bombers” (aka the Ex-Sonics)– Brandon Rush, SG/SF, Kansas. He brings the Big XII recognition that I’m sure Clay Bennett would love to have in Oklahoma City and would be a great guy to have at the SG either in the starting lineup or off the bench in the future. Again, a big would be wonderful, but their hype just isn’t there (check my personal mock after this for how I’d shake that out).
25. Houston Rockets– Shan Foster, SG, Vanderbilt. Would bring firepower off the bench and play pretty well with either T-Mac or Battier next to him. The Rockets already have one slow as sin C, so they don’t need another in Rick’s system.
26. San Antonio Spurs– Roy Hibbert, C, Georgetown. They can mold him into something appallingly dangerous if they can get him to put in the effort. He’d be an absolute steal here for a team that could really use a guy who can play C.
27. New Orleans Hornets– Courtney Lee, SG, Western Kentucky. There needs to be a constitutional amendment to make sure this happens.
28. Memphis Grizzlies (via LAL)– Richard Hendrix, PF, Alabama. A very good player who could be a valued contributor for the Grizzlies. If Ryan Anderson stays in the draft and falls to here, he’d be great too, and DeVon Hardin wouldn’t be bad either.
29. Detroit Pistons– DeVon Hardin, C, Cal. They almost took him last year, and they get him now. The Pistons have long-term guys at the PG/SG (Stuckey), SG (Afflalo), and PF (Maxiell) to go along with their older studs, so getting a developmental C makes a ton of sense here. Also, putting Hardin on a team that has a defensive framework could dramatically help him reach his potential.
30. Boston Celtics– Serge Ibaka, PF, Congo. Because he’s the best player available and would be a fantastic fit if he ended up sliding this far.
The “If I were the GM” Mock
1. Miami Heat- Derrick Rose, PG, Memphis
2. “Seattle Sonics”- Brook Lopez, C/PF, Stanford
3. Minnesota Timberwolves- Michael Beasley, PF/SF, Kansas State
4. Memphis Grizzlies- Kevin Love, PF/C, UCLA
5. New York Knicks- Danilo Gallinari, SF, Italy
6. LA Clippers- Russell Westbrook, SG/PG, UCLA
7. Milwaukee Bucks- OJ Mayo, PG/SG, U$C
8. Charlotte Bobcats- JaVale McGee, C, Nevada
9. Chicago Bulls- Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG/SF, Memphis
10. New Jersey Nets- Robin Lopez, C/PF, Stanford
11. Indiana Pacers- DeAndre Jordan, C, Texas A+M
12. Sacramento Kings- Anthony Randolph, PF/SF, LSU
13. Portland Trailblazers- Marrese Speights, PF/C, Florida
14. Golden State Warriors- Nicolas Batum, SF, France
15. Phoenix Suns- Donte Greene, PF/SF, Syracuse
16. Philadelphia 76ers- Alexis Ajinca, C, France
17. Toronto Raptors- Courtney Lee, SG, Western Kentucky
18. Washington Wizards- Kosta Koufos, C, Ohio State
19. Cleveland Cavaliers- Jerryd Bayless, SG/PG, Arizona
20. Denver Nuggets- Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina
21. New Jersey Nets- Eric Gordon, SG, Indiana
22. Orlando Magic- Ryan Anderson, PF, Cal
23. Utah Jazz- Joe Alexander, SF/PF, West Virginia
24. Seattle Sonics- Trent Plaisted, C, BYU
25. Houston Rockets- Chase Buddinger, SG/SF, Arizona
26. San Antonio Spurs- DJ Augustin, PG, Texas
27. New Orleans Hornets- Serge Ibaka, PF, Congo
28. Memphis Grizzlies- DeVon Hardin, C, Cal
29. Detroit Pistons- Roy Hibbert, C, Georgetown
30. Boston Celtics- Richard Hendrix, PF, Alabama
My Draft Board:
1. Derrick Rose, PG, Memphis. What’s funny about going to the Final Four this year is that I lost some faith in Rose as a pure PG, but that was more than made up for by his absolute nastiness in the open court. While it is worrisome that his court vision is not at the same level as top tier PG’s like Nash and Paul, he doesn’t have to be at that level to be the #1 draft eligible player right now. He oozes potential, but needs to be in the right system to maximize it, at least for now.
2. Brook Lopez, C/PF, Stanford. Has natural talent in terms of shot blocking and rebounding that is exceedingly valuable for potential Centers. If you have the chance, watch the tape of him last season (2006-2007) and check out his shotmaking. It’s actually pretty impressive when he has the chance and the space to pull it off, and he has zero fear of taking big shots, which is unusual for Centers. That said, his obsession with cartoons (and his brother) is more than a little unnerving, but he’s far better than that.
3. Blake Griffin, PF/C, Oklahoma. Luckily, sports fans around the country are apparently going to get another shot at seeing Blake before he goes pro. I admit to not having seen as much of him as I’d like (it’s what happens sometimes, especially in conferences I don’t entirely respect), but I can say that I’ve watched three full games of his and have ended up impressed in each. A unique talent who appears to have a good attitude to match his capabilities.
4. Kyle Singler, SF, Duke. An underrated pro prospect for now. He has very good touch and is a surprisingly good passer for his size and position. He may not be the next Larry Bird, but he’s probably the closest to it of anyone not in the NBA. We’ll see how his game changes in 2008-2009.
5. Michael Beasley, PF/SF, Kansas State. Let me say this first: Saw him in San Antonio and he’s a legit 6’9″- all of my fears about him not having a PF body (at least to handle most of them) have been assuaged. That said, there’s a ton to be worried about. It begins like my criticism of Durant as a prospect, which is that his rebounding stats have been horribly inflated because of his status as the best rebounder on a bad rebounding team in a conference with terrible bigs (hey, it’s the same conference!). He has the tools to be great, but I also am concerned that he could become complacent and be satisfied with being the best player on an unsuccessful team. These players have a purpose, but I find this especially dangerous for a guy who is inevitably going to be a top-tier draft pick. Here’s hoping he proves me wrong- it’d be great to see.
6. Danilo Gallinari, SF, Italy. Haven’t seen a ton of him, but I like what he brings to the table in terms of scoring and mental toughness. Will of course have more on him later.
7. Kevin Love, PF/C, UCLA. I’ve written on him at length before, and I’ll do it some more later. He has his limitations, but his profound strengths are the type of thing that a good coach and system can utilize to make something special and transcendent. There are things to hate, but I sincerely hope that people can see that the positives severely outweigh the negatives.
8. James Harden, SG, Arizona State. Expecting another Pac-10 guard ahead of Mr. Harden? He’s coming soon. What James brings to the table is an uncommon understanding of what he does well and a desire to make his team better. It was somewhat hard to see given the Pac-10’s TV deal and ASU’s lack of a Tourney invite, but the kid is something special. You’ll see it this fall.
9. OJ Mayo, SG/PG, U$C. In some ways, the ultimate boom/bust player. While most it feels like a flip of the coin, it’s much more clear in my eyes for the Juice Deuce. He has great court vision and could be a defensive ace against PG’s, but he really needs to have the right mentor to channel his intensity and talent in an optimal direction. At least at first, it would be far better for his development to play off the ball and learn to play within the flow of an offense, and luckily there are some teams with alpha dogs near the top to make this happen (Miami and the Clippers are two).
10. Chris Douglas-Roberts, SF/SG, Memphis. Walked away more impressed with him than any other player in San Antonio. Not saying he was the best, but he improved his stock in my eyes by the largest degree. He is surprisingly fast with the ball and creative in terms of getting himself and his teammates improved looks. Also, he’s the type of guy who could work in a variety of different systems, which makes him all the more valuable.
11. Stephen Curry, SG/PG, Davidson. The entertainment industry talks alot about “it”. Whatever “it” is, I see that personified in Stephen Curry. He’s a kid who isn’t intimidated by the big stage or the big shot but is a team-first player who genuinely wants to become a great player on a great team. Undoubtedly there are players on this list with worlds more talent, but no one on this board has a better chance to maximize themselves. I’d love to see him play alongside Lebron or another unselfish talent (Shaun Livingston, D-Wade, Brandon Roy, etc) and let them roll. There are justifiable opinions that go in a multitude of directions on the Curry Man, but my take is that he’ll deliver.
12. Russell Westbrook, SG/PG, UCLA. I sincerely hope he comes back, because he can show the league how much substance there is to his game. He does not have the court vision and passing for a true PG, but he is a true gamer and would work as an off-guard or a lead guard who defers to a capable SG (Joe Johnson, D-Wade, B-Roy). His athleticism is off the charts and genuinely wants to improve as a player and wants his team to succeed.
13. Robin Lopez, C/PF, Stanford. Michelle Wie’s leading man (amazing, I know) is underrated by most because it’s easier to lower someone who is less of a prospect than their own flesh and blood. Regardless, he has the body and attitude to become a legitimate player in the league in both the short and the long term. Incidentally, the Lopezes are like the Gasols before them in that their games actually compliment each other, and it would be phenominal for their development for them to end up in the same place. Paging Mr. Presti…
14. Courtney Lee, SG, Western Kentucky. Love this kid- can create his own shot, defend competently, and handle the big situations with the best at his position. Still want to see him next to Chris Paul in New Orleans.
15. JaVale McGee, C, Nevada. Call it a gut shot, but I really like him. It might just be the residue of my Nick Fazekas mancrush, still JaVale provides a compelling package of size (7’6″ wingspan!), athleticism, and bizarrely enough, shooting ability.
16. DeAndre Jordan, C, Texas A+M. Raw like sushi, but can mold himself into a force to be reckoned with, and it appears like he wants to improve, which is pivotal for a player with his gifts. He’s honestly a guy who could benefit from coming out early and getting to the right team that is willing to develop him the right way (see: Bynum, Andrew).
17. Nicolas Batum, SF, France. Another guy who has the physical attributes to be a stud in the league, but the French Rudy Gay needs to show the desire to take his game (and his team) to another level. Getting drafted by the right team could expedite that process.
18. Anthony Randolph, PF/SF, LSU. Might just be because I’ve seen less of him than Chad Fraud, but he’s not at that Top-10 level yet. However, he has the size and raw materials to make the leap, so someone might pay a premium for that opportunity, and that’s 100% fair.
19. Ron Steele, PG, Alabama. Everyone has their favorites, and Ron Steele is one of mine. He’s not really an Eric Weddle Corrolary type of guy, but he has the savvy and ability to be a starting PG in the NBA, which puts him at this lofty spot on the list.
20. Marresse Speights, PF, Florida. Lots of people have him much higher than this and their reasons are justifiable. He has a great body for an NBA PF coupled with stats that are eye-popping when extrapolated for extended periods of playing time. He still needs to grow as a player and a talent, and some winning as a starter would do him a world of good, though he may just choose to take his chances at the next level.
21. Andrew Ogilvy, C, Vanderbilt. Gotta love this kid- plays well and has definitely impressed so far. Refining his technique and adapting to more attention could really help prepare him for life in the bigs.
22. Joe Alexander, SF/PF, West Virginia. Wait, a white player who gets drafted on raw ability? Some forget that Joe hasn’t been playing basketball for long (he started playing as a Junior in High School), he could become a jaw-dropping player, and unlike some of his other offensively gifted brethren, he actually seems to want to be a good defensive player even if he’s not there yet, and that counts for something.
23. Donte Greene, PF/SF, Syracuse. Pretty much along the lines of Anthony Randolph, but I want to see a skillset that better fits a position, because he needs alot more lateral quickness or effort to guard SF’s or some power to handle PF’s at the next level. Nice shot, though.
24. Alexis Ajinca, C, France. A raw, but very compelling player who could end up making a difference on both sides of the ball. Could end up much higher on this before the draft.
25. Eric Gordon, SG, Indiana. Let’s get this out of the way: I like Eric Gordon. He is a talented scorer who brings something valuable to the table that will get him drafted high and make him money. However, like Ben Gordon before him, the market for a SG who can’t properly defend the position should not be where it is today, and while it was warranted to have some reaction to the Kelvin Sampson shenanigans, his appalling performance down the stretch makes me think about the possibility of the “Mentally Weak” tag down the road.
26. Jerryd Bayless, SG/PG, Arizona. Say hello to the most overrated player in college right now. Of course, he has the tools to be a great scorer in the league, but he has the innate ability perfected by Tony Parker to make his opponents look ridiculously good on the offensive end. It’s appalling how many times other team’s players rocked the casbah with him guarding them, and that trend will only continue in the NBA, especially if he’s placed out of position should he ever end up actually having one.
27. Ryan Anderson, PF, Cal. If he were in the ACC, he would have been a Second-Team All-American. A scary combination of size, talent, and attitude that makes him a legit threat to be a serious NBA player. His offensive game is compelling to say the least, and he actually does a great job on the boards too, even when keyed on by the opposing team. He would be a great inside/outside complement for a more paint-based Center (Dwight Howard, Yao, etc).
28. Kosta Koufos, C, Ohio State. It’s sort of ironic to have him immediately next to Ryan Anderson because Kosta compares to him in a few interesting ways. In a way, I see Ryno at the center of the potential bell curve for Koufos. So why is he lower than Mr. Anderson? I’ll take the safer pick at this spot.
29. Serge Ibaka, PF, Congo. We’ll know alot more about him after the Nike Hoop Summit, but his absolutely freakish athletic talents could reap major rewards in the long-term.
30. DJ Augustin, PG, Texas. DJ is a cool case study, as his years with and without Durant were so different. In the end, what it comes down to is the determination that he isn’t a starting-caliber NBA PG at this time, so while he has a key place in the league, his value isn’t the same. Another big question mark for him in my eyes is that his performance in games against good opponents, which was a mixed bag. Also, his 3PT% and Free Throw % dropped by 6% each, which is a little jarring.
31. Eric Maynor, PG, Virginia Commonwealth. The small school Ron Steele. He’s just a combination of tools and attitude that I just love in a PG. Also, he has the size to potentially make a difference in the NBA, which is part of what separates him from many of the other smaller conference guys.
32. Nick Calathes, SG/PG, Florida. Potentially one of those guys who will cause major debates in draft circles, since he may not have a definite position but sure seems like a talented basketball player at this point. Another year of work under Billy Donovan could work wonders for his game and his profile among scouts, but I really like what he has shown thus far in terms of all-around game.
33. Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky. Like Speights, Patterson has the potential to be much greater than this slot, but he needs to overcome the limitations on his game to move up this board, though he will get every chance to do just that next season.
34. Trent Plastied, C, BYU. He’s a player who could end up doing much better than this, considering how well he played against top-level opponents, especially in the non-conference season. Really like Trent.
35. Earl Clark, SF/PF, Louisville. I have a long history of overrating Louisville players, and while he may be in this group in the end, there is a great deal to like here. He could end up being a very capable defensive player and he does a great job of getting his offense within the flow, which is simply key as the talent levels around him improve both in terms of teammates and opponents.
36. Danny Green, SF, North Carolina. He’s gonna be a good one, but he needs to spend more time as a central focus of the offense to move up. That said, he should be a contributor at the very least, which holds value.
37. Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina. The second-most divisive white post prospect who is draft-eligible. I spent five full minutes of game time watching just him in the Alamodome, and was floored to see that the inklings of what I’d seen during the year were far more pronounced in person. He is a better offensive player than he is perceived to be, but his fundamentals are not nearly as good as advertised and his rebounding leaves alot to be desired. He won’t get the calls in the NBA that he got at the college level, and since so much of his game is predicated on drawing contact (a point that Jay Bilas has nailed spot-on) it will hurt his success beyond UNC. I fully agree with Mike Wilbon that his whiteness has dramatically impacted the media’s treatment of him and it is appalling to say that he is the “hardest worker in the history of college basketball” because that requires an assumption that no one else has ever worked themselves as hard as they can which is simply false.
38. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, PF/SF, UCLA. People like Ford have compared him to Ron Artest, but he really is the Cameroonian Kirilenko from his athletic ability and stopper potential to his complete and utter lack of acceptance of his limitations as a player. The second Luc realizes that he needs to focus on what he does well is the second he becomes a 10-year starter in the NBA, especially if he can be a “Phoenix Four” in the vein of Shawn Marion.
39. Darren Collison, PG, UCLA. Very interesting guy because his defensive prowess and three point shooting are somewhat masked by his lack of size and weakness in the true PG attributes of court vision and passing. It would be wonderful to see him guard PGs with another ball handler, and he’ll have a role in the league as a complementary guard off the bench at the very least.
40. Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina. Darren Collison’s size, but swap the shooting and the stopperness for court vision and passing in the open floor. The reason he’s lower is because I am not sold on him in a half-court offense, so DC is more versatile as a prospect at the immediate time, though I really do like Lawson.
41. Chase Buddinger, SG/SF, Arizona. He is a fascinating offensive player with underrated passing ability for his position, but he is a Mentally Weak loser who has Zero (think absolute zero, like the Kelvin scale of apathy) desire to play any semblance of defense and chose to go to a college that would accept that instead of challenging himself to be a better player. There may never have been a prospect in any sport that I resent as much as Buddinger because of his appalling lack of character.
42. DeVon Hardin, C, Cal. Is physically the type of player that the NBA loves, but he never seems to have his head fully in the game and Cal bizarrely often played better when he wasn’t in the game, which makes no sense for a NBA player.
43. Austin Daye, SF, Gonzaga. Sleeper alert! Get ready to hear his name a whole hell of a lot in the coming years- I simply love what he could become.
44. Roy Hibbert, C, Georgetown. At the Final Four last year, I told anyone who’d listen that Hibbert had to go pro if he didn’t want to kill his draft stock. Well…. when you’re playing against Oompa-Loompas in the last game of your collegiate career and you get decimated, you slide just a little bit in my book.
45. Bill Walker, SG/SF, Kansas State. Showed glimpses of what he can be against U$C in the Tourney, but he needs to learn how to keep his emotions under control and harness them to his advantage to make a difference as a pro player. Still love his potential though.
46. Richard Hendrix, PF, Alabama. What can I say, I just like the kid. He may be a little undersized, but he delivers enough to satisfy and should be able to hang around the league if given a proper shot, which is really all you can ask for.
47. Shan Foster, SG, Vanderbilt. Hard not to like the Shan Man, and he sure seems like the type of guy who deserves to make an NBA roster and could make some team very happy. Was very productive at Vandy (shooting an appalling % for a SG).
48. Darrell Arthur, PF/SF, Kansas. A really interesting player, but I need to see a ton more consistency from him to move him up into the stratospheres where his talent truly should be. Another year under Self could do him worlds of good.
49. JJ Hickson, PF, NC State. Still a guy I like, but he needs to show me more versatility and domination to prove he can be a valuable contributor in the NBA.
50. Pat Calathes, PF/SF, St. Joseph’s. A downright sexy skillset and athletic ability for his size. I’m absolutely in love with his NBA potential, but his performance in games like the Oklahoma one scare him down to this spot on the board.
51. Jeff Pendergraph, PF, Arizona State. The list ends with a player who will get dramatically more visibility as ASU moves up the Pac-10 standings next year. Has a ton of NBA potential but needs to flesh it out with top performances against top teams for another year and we’ll see how he plays with his improved teammates.
52. Mario Chalmers, PG, Kansas. Consider him Acie Law IV without the hype. Super Nintendo Chalmers™ is a little bit limited as a true PG now, but he has big game guts and is the type of guy that every team should have at least one of.
53. Maarty Leunen, C, Oregon. A guy who may end up turning some heads before the draft and make some team amazingly happy as a UDFA. Savvy player who has the type of skillset that would make a creative coach’s head spin. Don’t be surprised if he ends up wherever D’Antoni lands, especially if it’s Chicago.
54. Davon Jefferson, SF/PF, U$C. A man without a position, but his tools could end up making him a contributor at the NBA level if he can find the right team/coach combination for his development as a player.
55. Kyle Weaver, SG/SF, Washington State. Like Bobby Jones before him, Weaver will be able to make a living in the NBA as a defensive player who scores when necessary. I’m hoping he gets a fair shot to do that.