(First, I would like to invite you, the readers of TTT, to let us know your mock drafts in the comment section of this post. If the draft seems like you took it seriously, we’ll gladly post them. Who are we to discriminate?)
I think it’s safe to say that most serious sports fans think mock drafts are stupid. At least that’s what I hope. As we approach Thursday night’s NBA Draft, there are a bunch of question marks after the Clippers choose Blake Griffin. Nobody really knows what the Grizzlies are going to do with the second pick. Will they pick Thabeet or Rubio, both of whom don’t want any part of Memphis? Or will they trade the pick, as multiple writers say they are desperately trying to do?
I have no idea what the Grizzlies will do because I don’t have access, but let’s assume they trade the pick to someone looking to take the second-best player in the draft. That player is, well, let’s get to just get to the draft and go from there.
1) LA Clippers – Blake Griffin, PF Oklahoma
Griffin is the best player in the draft and should team up nicely with Marcus Camby, Baron Davis and Eric Gordon to make the Clippers at least 6 wins better in the West. Then again, the Clippers are such a pathetic franchise that they’ve allowed Mike Dunleavy to coach for seven years and even promoted him to the team’s GM. The Clippers will likely be terrible for the foreseeable future, even though their talent base is impressive with the addition of Griffin at the top of this draft.
2) Memphis Grizzlies – (trade to ???) – Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain
Like I said before, I don’t know who’s going to trade up to snatch up Thabeet or Rubio, but I don’t think the Grizzlies are dumb enough to go through the whole Steve Francis ordeal again. In addition, the Grizzlies have a ton of time and money invested in their starting backcourt of Mike Conley and OJ Mayo. It wouldn’t make much sense to draft Thabeet either because of Marc Gasol’s above-average play last season.
Look for the Grizzlies to trade down to either the Knicks (for the Knicks’ pick and David Lee), the Warriors (something with Monta Ellis) or another team looking for an All-Star point guard. Whatever the scenario, I can’t see Rubio falling past this spot because of the importance of point guards in the NBA today.
(I just remembered that I read this morning that the Grizzlies are smitten with Tyreke Evans. If the Grizz stay here, I think they’ll pick Evans because of his potential and where he attended a semester of college.)
3) Oklahoma City Thunder – Stephen Curry, PG, Davidson
First off, Thabeet doesn’t make sense on the Thunder. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant want to run and Thabeet won’t let them do this. If Rubio is available here, I think he’s clearly the pick because Westbrook and Rubio could share ball-handling responsibilities (as both have done in the past) and Rubio would give the Thunder a Suns-like advantage of four guys who can run the floor and create mis-matches for the opposing team.
I know that most mock drafts don’t have Curry this high, but I think he would make perfect sense for the Thunder if Rubio is off the board. Curry could put Westbrook at the 2-guard and would give the Thunder floor spacing that would allow Durant and Westbrook to go one-on-one the entire game. Durant, in my eyes, is going to evolve into an unstoppable player who simply needs teammates who compliment his skill set (like LeBron). Curry, with pin-point shooting and the ability to drive and kick, does exactly this for Durant and the rest of the Thunder and would also allow Scotty Brooks to play up-tempo like the Suns.
The other player who would make sense here is Jonny Flynn, who gives the Thunder quality shooting and consistent penetration into the lane.
4) Sacramento Kings – Jonny Flynn, G, Syracuse
The Kings have a pretty strong front line with Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson, but need help in their backcourt. Flynn is reportedly high in the minds of the Kings and I think they a backcourt player to compliment Kevin Martin. James Harden, Thabeet and Jordan Hill don’t do that for the Kings, but watch out for Tyreke Evans here if they don’t pick Flynn.
5) Washington Wizards – James Harden, G, Arizona State
With this pick, the Wiz have to choose between Harden and Thabeet, which isn’t all that tough when you start to think about their style of play. The thing that stands out about Thabeet, and all centers who are over 7’3”, is that there’s really only one style of play a team can emphasize.
In the Wizards’ case, they have Arenas, Jamison and Butler. Those three players, especially Arenas, aren’t very good in the half-court. All three love to take bad shots, drive to the hole and hoist threes. Though he brings defense and rebounding, Thabeet will clog up the lane and wouldn’t really need to develop any post moves with all of the shooters on his team. Quite simply, the two styles of play won’t mesh very well if Washington picks Thabeet and he’ll turn out to be a misfit in Washington. That’s why I think the Wiz take Harden, who’s the second-best shooter in the draft, at this spot.
6) Minnesota Timberwolves – Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn
Contrary to Washington, Thabeet would be excellent in Minnesota. He would move Al Jefferson to power forward and they, along with Kevin Love, would create one of the best front lines in the league. The T’Wolves are at least another year away from going .500 out West, but a front line of Love, Thabeet and Jefferson would definitely get fans excited about the future of the franchise. And, with additional revenue created by the excitement for the team, Minnesota could then try to complete some sort of a trade for a veteran point guard, which they need desperately.
This is the first place, in my opinion, where Thabeet wouldn’t be out of place. If he’s taken by one of the five teams before Minnesota, I think his career will be a big disappointment. But don’t rule out a team trading up for Thabeet.
7) Golden State Warriors – Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis
There are a bunch of unknowns in this draft, but the biggest may be Evans. When I saw Memphis in the NCAA tournament this year, Evans looked like he should go in the top three of the 2009 draft. He’s a combo guard who’s very good with the ball in his hands, but he’s not that good of a shooter. In the Warriors’ system, his lack of shooting hurts. But, let’s be frank: the Warriors are a terrible franchise that has no idea what they’re doing. They have a glut of guards, none of which seem to be happy with their situation, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take another Thursday night.
They also have Corey Maggette, though. So don’t be surprised if the Warriors move up (to the Kings’ pick, possibly) to snatch Curry or Harden.
8) New York Knicks — (likely to trade up) – Jordan Hill, C, Arizona
This is where the draft starts to get muddled with a slew of different situations. When Stephan Curry declared for the draft, the Knicks reportedly told him and his agent that he wouldn’t fall below pick eight. As the draft inches closer, it’s clear he won’t be there at the eighth pick.
Do the Knicks trade up? Do they settle on someone like DeMar DeRozan? I have no idea how things will turn out, but the Knicks must find someone to fit their system and work well with a big-time member of the 2010 free agent class.
My pick: The Knicks need a quality point guard above anything else. Look for them to trade up by packaging the eighth pick with David Lee to get Curry, Flynn or Rubio. (Rubio would be my choice) With the trade, it depends on who falls here. I think it’s most likely going to be the Grizzlies, who will subsequently choose Jordan Hill to compliment Marc Gasol.
9) Toronto Raptors – Gerald Henderson, G, Duke
This team sucks. I hate watching them play and they’re going to have to do something of note to keep Chris Bosh in town. At number nine, I don’t think there’s much they can do outside of trading up or hoping a really good player (Hill and Evans seem to be the most likely candidates) falls to them at nine.
Out of all the players left on the board, I really like watching DeMar DeRozan play. He’s big, athletic and has a ton of potential. But the Raptors seem to value good shooters over anything else, so he probably won’t be the pick. I’ll go with Gerald Henderson here just because he seems like the type of player the Raptors would draft.
10) Milwaukee Bucks – DeMar DeRozan, G/F, USC
I see this team play four times per year (all versus the Bulls) and that’s probably four more than anyone outside of Milwaukee. To write this preview, it took me three minutes to figure out who their best players are (Villanueva, Redd & Bogut), which isn’t a good thing. The Bucks, more than anything else, need to draft players for their athletic gifts and potential so their fans get somewhat excited to go see their team when it’s 30 degrees below freezing and they’re, once again, in 11th in the Eastern Conference.
DeRozan has a ton of potential and will fill the hole left by Richard Jefferson, who was dealt to the Spurs on Tuesday. This is the type of player the Bucks never seem to have, which is why he would be perfect for this irrelevant franchise.
11) New Jersey Nets – Jrue Holiday, G, UCLA
They have Devin Harris, Vince Carter and Brook Lopez in place. At this point in the draft, SG/SF is typically the quality positions left on the table and Jrue Holiday would give the Nets a nice replacement for Richard Jefferson. Holliday has a unique skill set that compliments Harris very well.
At this point in the draft, however, it’s not really clear what any team is doing. I could see Earl Clark going here or the Nets reaching for someone like Austin Daye, BJ Mullens or Ty Lawson.
12) Charlotte Bobcats – Earl Clark, F, Louisville
The Bobcats have two quality point guards and now they need to address their front court. Last year, they relied on Sean May to get into shape and that was an epic failure. The Bobcats need a PF, which is why it wouldn’t surprise me to see Michael Jordan and Larry Brown trade up to get Jordan Hill.
If that doesn’t happen because Jordan is to busy with his golf game (which isn’t a criticism; he’s earned it), Earl Clark would be a nice fit into Larry Brown’s system because he’s versatile and experienced; just the kind of player Brown seems to adore.
13) Indiana Pacers – Brandon Jennings, G, International
Almost every mock draft I’ve seen has the Pacers picking Jennings. I think that’s a good move because it allows the Pacers, like the Bucks, to get someone their fan base can get excited about.
16) Chicago Bulls – DeJuan Blair, C, Pittsburgh
(I skipped the last two picks because I really don’t know who either team will pick. Things change too much, so it’s not worth it to fill your head with things that probably won’t come true.)
I love this pick for the Bulls, who desperately need someone to give them depth in their front court. At their best, Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas need to be aggressive on defense and need to play off the ball. Against Eastern Conference Centers like Dwight Howard, Kendrick Perkins and Al Horford, the Bulls typically struggle because Noah isn’t strong enough to play them one-on-one. Blair’s strength (and girth) would make him a huge asset to Vinny Del Negro against teams with solid front lines and would give the Bulls, a team with a ton of depth, even more flexibility.
That’s all. Let’s try something new: Let’s see your mock draft. Where do you think Stephan Curry will land? How far will Hasheem Thabeet fall? What on earth will the Knicks do on Thursday night?