NOTE: Good fits/Bad fits adjusted based on a player’s potential range, with a small bit of consideration for trading possibilities. Fits are omitted for players not in this year’s draft.
1. Derrick Rose, PG, Memphis. It’s strange to see someone who is so good, but the overall perception of what he is seems so dramatically off what he’ll be as an NBA player. Though he sure seems to be unselfish on the court, his court vision is not at the same level as top tier PG’s like Nash and Paul. However, he doesn’t have to be at that level to be the #1 draft eligible player right now because his open court game and overall savvy makes him the top guy in an overall weak pool. He oozes potential, but needs to be in the right system to maximize it, at least for now.
Good Fit teams: Seattle, Miami, Minnesota, Chicago
Bad Fit teams: Memphis
2. Brook Lopez, C/PF, Stanford. A player whose profile is unfairly hurt by where he went to school. Simply put, it is lazy to compare him or his brother to the Collins twins or anything similar. My comparison for him is a poor man’s Tim Duncan, in the sense that both guys have a great amount of skills in their “toolbox” and have the knack of using the right one at the right time. 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 shot-making. 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. Additionally, Brook put up good stats in the best conference in America and against other draftable talent (Love, Hardin, Pendergraph, Brockman) as opposed to Beasley dominating a conference with no other viable big men who got minutes. That said, his obsession with cartoons (and his brother) is more than a little unnerving, but he’s far better than that.
Good Fit teams: Seattle, Minnesota, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee
Bad Fit teams: New York, Charlotte
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. Kevin Love, PF/C, UCLA. What we learned about Kevin recently is that his athleticism numbers aren’t as bad as expected, and there’s a level of intrigue. We so often talk about guys with high potential being the raw players like Tyrus Thomas who people hope will improve as they gain experience, but Love is in the Brandon Roy mold of a guy who is very good now who will continue to improve and add new facets to a game that is already more advanced than anyone else who has played college hoops in my lifetime. 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, as he’s a surprisingly easy player to find a complement for since he does so many things well already.
Good Fit teams: Portland, Minnesota, Golden State, Philadelphia, Orlando
Bad Fit teams: New York, Milwaukee, Sacramento
5. 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.
6. Michael Beasley, PF/SF, Kansas State. The biggest worry for me only tangentially relates to the height issue. The fact of the matter is this: he’ll have to transcend positional definitions to become the offensive player that pundits and fans alike think he will be at the next level. The number of guys with his height that have succeeded at the level people hope for Beasley in today’s NBA is one: Elton Brand. It’s worth noting that Brand was leagues better as a skilled player coming in than Michael is now. Another major concern 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 as Durant!). 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. The other massive question is that I cannot figure out a player in the league who would be a compelling and natural compliment for him. Here’s hoping he proves me wrong- it’d be great to see.
Good Fit teams: Seattle, Memphis
Bad Fit teams: Chicago
7. Danilo Gallinari, SF, Italy. I like what he brings to the table in terms of scoring and mental toughness. It is great to have a player who has a clear position in the NBA and has already produced against good competition.
Good Fit teams: New York, Portland, LA Clippers
Bad Fit teams: Sacramento, New Jersey
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. Russell Westbrook, SG/PG, UCLA. An enigma, but one with the tools and the drive to potentially make it. The Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, Russell Athletic can lock down smaller perimeter guys and stick with some of the bigger SG’s. Incidentally, Russ’ best role could be similar to OJ Mayo’s as a backcourt wingman for a top SG since he does not have the court vision and passing for a true PG. His athleticism is off the charts and genuinely wants to improve as a player and wants his team to succeed.
Good Fit teams: Portland, Miami, Washington
Bad Fit teams: Sacramento, New York
10. 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 solid 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. The Miami developments could end up saving him as a prospect, because playing alongside a ballhandler and dominant clubhouse presence (especially with Riley around) would force Mayo’s hand and development. In the wrong team and the wrong city, he could be toxic.
Good Fit teams: Miami, LA Clippers (w/Livingston)
Bad Fit teams: Minnesota, Seattle, New York
11. Joe Alexander, SF/PF, West Virginia (Stock: Up). 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 in my book. With the right coaching, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make some All-Star teams (and some All-Star Saturday Nights too), but he’s a disaster in the wrong situation.
Good Fit teams: Portland, Golden State, Phoenix
Bad Fit teams: Sacramento, Washington
12. Courtney Lee, SG, Western Kentucky (Stock: Up). A guy from a small school who has a ton of talent and has performed in big games. Courtney 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, but I hope his stock keeps rising, especially when he’s a part of that big multi-team work out hosted by Golden State.
Good Fit teams: Seattle, New Orleans, Cleveland, Indiana, Memphis
Bad Fit teams: Utah, Toronto
13. Chris Douglas-Roberts, SF/SG, Memphis (Stock: Down (a little). Seeing him below #20 in Chad Fraud’s mock draft makes my soul sad. He was incredibly impressive in San Antonio as an all-around player. 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.
Good Fit teams: Cleveland, Seattle, Sacramento, Portland, Denver, Houston
Bad Fit teams: None
14. 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.
15. Alexis Ajinca, C, France (Stock: Up). 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.
Good Fit teams: Golden State, Seattle, Cleveland (if they ran, and they should), Orlando, Toronto, Houston
Bad Fit teams: Sacramento, New Jersey (unless they pull a good PF early)
16. 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 phenomenal for their development for them to end up in the same place. Paging Mr. Presti…
Good Fit teams: Anywhere Brook Lopez ends up, Toronto, Phoenix, Washington, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Detroit
Bad Fit teams: Philadelphia, Charlotte, Denver, Orlando
17. Marresse Speights, PF, Florida (Stock: Up). 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. I just see him as more of a limited minutes beast or a slightly lower quality player for more substantial PT. 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 taking his chances at the next level might just work out.
Good Fit teams: Philadelphia, Sacramento, Washington, Denver
Bad Fit teams: Toronto, Milwaukee, Cleveland
18. 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.
19. Eric Gordon, SG, Indiana (Stock: Up). 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.
Good Fit teams: LA Clippers, Indiana
Bad Fit teams: Portland, New York
20. Ryan Anderson, PF, Cal (Stock: Up). 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).
Good Fit teams: Orlando, Phoenix, Golden State, Philadelphia, Seattle, Utah, Houston
Bad Fit teams: New Jersey (without the right C), Sacramento, Detroit
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. 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.
23. 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.
24. Kosta Koufos, C, Ohio State (Stock: Up). I loved Kosta so much going into college that it is genuinely hard to have him this low. Also, Kosta compares to Ryan Anderson in a few interesting ways. Essentially, 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.
Good Fit teams: Cleveland, Orlando, Charlotte, Seattle
Bad Fit teams: Washington, Denver, New York
25. 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.
26. JaVale McGee, C, Nevada (Stock: Down). 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. Make no mistake about it: he is astonishingly raw. However, it seems like the tools and desire are there, which make him worth the risk around here.
Good Fit teams: Golden State, LA Clippers, Minnesota, Orlando
Bad Fit teams: Philadelphia, Denver, New Jersey, Memphis
27. DeAndre Jordan, C, Texas A+M (Stock: Down (a little). 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). As a piece of “molding clay”, Jordan brings so many elements a team would want: size, athleticism, and hands. If he can learn to play basketball…
Good Fit teams: Phoenix, Toronto, New Jersey
Bad Fit teams: Milwaukee, Washington, Sacramento
28. 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.
Good Fit teams: Golden State, Portland, Phoenix, Philly (if Thad is more of a 4), San Antonio
Bad Fit teams: Seattle, Denver, Utah
29. Brandon Rush, SG/SF, Kansas. A player whose stock has inflated heavily, but should be a solid contributor over the course of his career. Here’s hoping he does better than the other Rushes…
Good Fit teams: Cleveland, Seattle, Memphis
Bad Fit teams: Milwaukee, Phoenix
30. Serge Ibaka, PF, Congo (Stock: Up). A freakish athletic talent who will probably need a little more time in the oven, but could reap major rewards in the long-term.
Good Fit teams: Cleveland, Detroit, Seattle, San Antonio
Bad Fit teams: Utah, Denver (w/Camby)
31. 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.
Good Fit teams: Washington, Utah, Seattle, New Jersey
Bad Fit teams: Philadelphia (bigger needs)
32. Anthony Randolph, PF/SF, LSU (Stock: Down). A fascinating, fascinating prospect. He seems to have a solid basketball IQ, but he still needs to learn how to actually play the game better. It’s a combination that almost never exists, sort of like a trained electrician who is Amish. However, he has the size and raw materials to make the leap, so someone might pay a premium for that opportunity despite his frail frame and some possible character issues.
Good Fit teams: Philadelphia, Golden State, Indiana
Bad Fit teams: Toronto, New Jersey, Charlotte (unless Okafor can play the 5)
33. 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. His T-Rex arms will also be a concern because he’ll need more space to get his shot off unless the elevation on his jumpers is otherworldly.
Good Fit teams: Cleveland (not possible, sadly), Miami, LA Clippers
Bad Fit teams: New York, Seattle, Milwaukee
34. DJ Augustin, PG, Texas. The second-best PG in the draft this year, DJ is a cool case study because his years with and without Durant were so different. In the end, what it comes down to is my 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 while still a college kid.
Good Fit teams: New York, Milwaukee, Sacramento, Washington
Bad Fit teams: Cleveland, Charlotte, Denver
35. Bill Walker, SG/SF, Kansas State (Stock: Up). 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.
Good Fit teams: New Orleans, Houston, Seattle
Bad Fit teams: Denver, New Jersey
36. 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.
Good Fit teams: Golden State, Seattle, wherever Michael Beasley ends up
Bad Fit teams: Any team that will let him play a pure 3 or shoot a mid-range shot
37. Donte Greene, PF/SF, Syracuse. 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.
Good Fit teams: Utah, New Jersey
Bad Fit teams: Seattle, Memphis
38. 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.
39. 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.
40. 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.
41. 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.
42. 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.
Good Fit teams: Orlando, Miami, Chicago
Bad Fit teams: Denver, Detroit, Boston
43. 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.
44. 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. Will inevitably be horribly, horribly overdrafted.
Good Fit teams: Orlando, Seattle, Denver
Bad Fit teams: Memphis, Detroit
45. 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, but for effort) 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.
46. 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.
Good Fit teams: Detroit, Houston, Minnesota
Bad Fit teams: Memphis, any team where he’d sniff starting soon
47. 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 the Davidson Oompa-Loompas in the last game of your collegiate career and you get decimated, you slide just a little bit in my book.
Good Fit teams: Milwaukee (if they slow down), Washington, Cleveland
Bad Fit teams: Seattle, anywhere that runs
48. Jeff Pendergraph, PF, Arizona State. 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.
49. 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.
Good Fit teams: LA Clippers, Sacramento
Bad Fit teams: Miami, Detroit
50. 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).
Good Fit teams: Boston, Indiana, Houston, New York
Bad Fit teams: Milwaukee, Portland, Sacramento
51. 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.
52. 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.
Good Fit teams: Philadelphia, Minnesota, Indiana, Golden State
Bad Fit teams: Toronto, Denver, Sacramento
53. Mario Chalmers, PG, Kansas. Consider him Acie Law IV without the hype. Super Nintendo ChalmersTM 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.
Good Fit teams: Indiana, Portland (unless they love Sergio), Seattle
Bad Fit teams: Denver, Phoenix
54. 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 on a solid running team given his experience.
Good Fit teams: Golden State, New York, New Orleans, San Antonio
Bad Fit teams: Cleveland, Boston, New Jersey
55. 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.
Good Fit teams: Sacramento, Indiana, Philadelphia
Bad Fit teams: Utah, LA Lakers, Dallas
56. 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.
Good Fit teams: Orlando, Denver, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Cleveland
Bad Fit teams: Philadelphia, Toronto