To those of you who are used to the format, welcome back.
For those who are not familiar with how I do draft work, here’s a short synopsis: I do two distinct mock drafts, one of which is the Predictions mock and the other which is what I would do if I were the GM of each team. For this time, I have not put in trades on either mock, but they will be in soon. After that, I have my 67 player deep Draft Board, which is a semi-exhaustive list of draft-eligible players. This year, that list includes a ton of guys who are eligible but declined to enter, so it gives a sort of prospective on who to keep an eye on and where those guys would stand.
At the outset, I’d like to note how bad of a draft we have this year. Below the Draft Board, I have included for the first time my tier rankings, which basically group players based on how good I think they will be in their prime. The most jarring part is that there is a total of one Tier 1 draft-eligible player (Rubio) and a very, very small number of Tier 2 guys. The number of fringe starters and rotation players is not horrendously off of the average draft, but the top being so weak pushes those players much higher this time. A good basic rule is that outside of the top few picks, moving everyone down 8 slots would put them where they would go in an above-average year.
Predictions Mock (no trades projected this time):
- LA Clippers– Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma. No surprises here. I don’t doubt that the Clippers are listening to offers, but I doubt they actually move the pick.
- Memphis Grizzlies– Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn. My take is that they see Rubio’s threat as credible (mostly because it is) and take the guy that is #2 on their board, which apparently is Mr. Thabeet.
- OKC Thunder– James Harden, SG, Arizona State. A much better fit between Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, plus he still keeps the possibility alive of trading for Tyson Chandler, which is a serious possibility.
- Sacramento Kings– Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain. There would be no happier fanbase, and it has a serious likelihood of happening if Memphis passes (which I think they will). What Sacto needs to watch out for is being jumped by Minnesota, Golden State, or the Knicks, especially since Sam Presti has no problem accumulating assets coupled with the knowledge that neither the Kings nor the Wizards would realistically take Harden.
- Washington Bullets– Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona. The likely BPA on their board also makes sense if they are considering moving Antawn Jamison, as has been heavily rumored.
- Minnesota Timberwolves– Jrue Holliday, PG/SG, UCLA. An incredibly hard pick to project at this time, but they end up settling on Jrue because he is a good fit next to Randy Foye as a primary ballhandler with size. Honestly, there are about 5 guys who would not remotely surprise me at this pick, so we’ll have to wait and see.
- Golden State Warriors– Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy. If he is around, it would be genuinely shocking to see the Warriors go in any other direction should they have the pick.
- New York Knicks– Stephen Curry, PG/SG, Davidson. There is ZERO chance that if Curry is around he falls past the Knicks. He is a solid fit off the bench for next season and as a starter once the 2010 class gets sorted out.
- Toronto Raptors– Tyreke Evans, SG/PG, Memphis. A pretty solid fit, though there is the possibility of DeJuan Blair if the Bosh situation clears itself up before draft day.
- Milwaukee Bucks– DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt. If they are losing Charlie V (and signs indicate that they will), Blair is a natural fit next to Bogut. Obviously, PG is a possibility here, but I see them going after a more established PG like Kirk Hinrich over a rookie who is a little ways away.
- New Jersey Nets– Austin Daye, SF/PF, Gonzaga. Gives the Nets even more length on the perimeter and a guy who they can work along slowly as the rest of the team comes together.
- Charlotte Bobcats– Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke. If it were any other team, I’d have DeMar DeRozan here, but Charlotte has shown a penchant for taking guys like Henderson both under the Jordan regime and during the rest of Bob Johnson’s tenure with the team.
- Indiana Pacers– Earl Clark, PF/SF, Louisville. Considering the wealth of talent already on the Indiana roster, a flexibile guy like Clark who would be perfect in Obie’s system makes a great deal of sense. Don’t rule out a backcourt player here, but I think they like Ford and Rush enough to not rock the boat with another lotto pick.
- Phoenix Suns– DeMar DeRozan, SG, U$C. Because he’d be a great fit for their team and an absolute (perceived) bargain at this point.
- Detroit Pistons– Terrance Williams, SG, Louisville. Williams screams “Dumars player” to me: he’s great defensively and is flexible enough to do a lot of different things as he retools their roster.
- Chicago Bulls– Jeff Teague, PG/SG, Wake Forest. The Bulls replace Ben Gordon with a younger, cheaper version.
- Philadelphia 76ers– Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse. Another big value pick, and a guy who can help the Sixers in both the short term and the long term.
- Minnesota Timberwolves (via Miami)– Chase Buddinger, SG/SF, Arizona. With the Point Guard situation under control thanks to Holliday and Telfair, the next logical spots for the T-Wolves are a shot-blocking C or a swingman. Since the C pile is effectively empty, Buddinger becomes a logical choice.
- Atlanta Hawks– Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina. Oh man, this would lead to one of the most entertaining teams in the entire NBA. Lawson’s stock appears to be dropping, and with the PG’s sliding a little bit, Atlanta gets their backup who they can groom to take the reins.
- Utah Jazz– Eric Maynor, PG, Virginia Commonwealth. The Jazz finally get a bona fide backup for Deron Williams.
- New Orleans Hornets– BJ Mullens, C/PF, Ohio State. If they keep the pick, the Hornets HAVE to take some size to back up Chandler and West and to cover when they get hurt.
- Dallas Mavericks– James Johnson, SF/PF, Wake Forest. Mark Cuban gets the man who might be the heir apparent to Josh Howard from Josh’s alma mater.
- Sacramento Kings (via Houston)– Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina. With the PG spot locked down, Sacto gets a big man who can get some minutes for them.
- Portland Trailblazers– Gani Lawal, PF, Georgia Tech. With the PG’s sort of at an awkward place for Portland, they take a good little PF that can become an immediate part of their rotation.
- OKC Thunder (via San Antonio)– Nick Calathes, SG/PG, Florida. Sam Presti clearly has no issue taking guys who are going to be abroad for a few years, and their roster flexibility allows them to get a guy who will be just nasty in a few years.
- Chicago Bulls (via Denver thru OKC)– Derrick Brown, PF, Xavier. The Bulls need big man depth, and Brown is probably the best option at this juncture.
- Memphis Grizzlies (via Orlando)– DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown. There is always the distinct possibility they take a PG here, but I see them as the frontrunners for guys like Sergio Rodriguez, so Summers makes sense as a Chris Wallace pick here.
- Minnesota Timberwolves (via Boston)– Victor Claver, PF/SF, Spain. The T-Wolves are adding enough new pieces as it is, so they can either keep Claver in Europe for a year or just bite the bullet and dump a 2010 expiring to bring him over now.
- LA Lakers– Sergio Llull, PG/SG, Spain. Seems like an awfully good fit in the Triangle for a team that needs productive PG play like nobody’s business.
- Cleveland Cavaliers– Sam Young, SF, Pitt. The BPA just happens to be the swingman that the Fightin’ Lebrons need.