Why Not? The Clippers will select Blake Griffin with the No. 1 overall pick - then things will get interesting.
With the NBA draft less than a week away, you’ve probably seen dozens of mock drafts with a fairly similar look. We’ve decided to change it up a bit for our first mock draft. In addition to listing the probable first round picks, we’ll grade the likely selection.
1. L.A. Clippers – Blake Griffin, F/C Oklahoma
This makes too much sense for even the Clip Joint to screw up. The Clippers hasn’t hid the strong desire to land Griffin, the first highly marketable player the team has boasted in years. His game still has plenty of room to improve and he should have a huge impact from day one in L.A.
Grade: A+ Clippers finally make a good move with a top-5 pick.
2. Memphis Grizzlies – Hasheem Thabeet, C UConn
The Grizzlies don’t want to be in this spot. Attempts will be made to trade the pick, but the team will likely settle on the best available player not named Ricky Rubio. Memphis seems to think Thabeet’s the best fit because of his defensive abilities.
Grade: F The pick needs to be traded at all costs, but I’m not counting on that to happen. Thabeet is the latest over-hyped big man and Marc Gasol is already in the middle – talk about a slow frontline.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder – James Harden, SG Arizona State
Harden’s maturity and scoring ability makes him an attractive pick for the young Thunder.
Grade: C Harden will be a good pro, but OKC is very weak inside and could use a post scorer more than another perimeter player.
4. Sacramento Kings – Ricky Rubio, G, International
Rubio could be the man to breathe some life into a dying franchise. He won’t be a star right away, but has all the tools to be a great point guard, and more importantly, sell tickets.
Grade: A His 6 million dollar buyout is somewhat of a mystery, but it will only cost the Kings $500,000. Rubio hasn’t objected to the idea of playing in ‘Mento – this one is a no-brainer.
5. Washington Wizards – Jordan Hill, F Arizona
Hill is the best big man in the draft.
Grade: A Washington already has Gilbert Arenas and still hasn’t given up on Nick Young, so a big man makes sense here. Hill would provide much-needed inside-scoring for the Wiz.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves – Tyreke Evans, G Memphis
The T’Wolves will make a big splash in the draft, and it all starts with Evans. He has the tools to be an All-Star for years and make fans forget about draft disasters Randy Foye and Rashad McCants.
Grade: A Minnesota should have a strong draft now that Kevin McHale isn’t running the show any longer.
Tyreke Evans could be headed to the Twin Cities.
7. Golden State Warriors – Stephen Curry, G Davidson
Don Nelson loves guards and has more input than he should in Warriors’ draft decisions. Curry and Monta Ellis would give Nellie plenty of offense and no size or defense – just the way he likes it.
Grade: C Golden State’s system suits Curry’s skills, so the pick wouldn’t be a total disaster. The Warriors need inside help, but it doesn’t really matter – nothing good will happen as long as Nelson is in charge.
8. New York Knicks – Jrue Holiday, G UCLA
The Knicks are one of several teams talking to Memphis about the No. 2 pick in a quest to land Ricky Rubio. If that falls through, look for NY to nab Jrue Holiday.
Grade: B Holiday has point guard skills but is relatively inexperienced and could take some time to develop. LeBron is not impressed.
9. Toronto Raptors – DeMar DeRozan, G/F USC
DeRozan has been impressive during workouts and has as much potential as any other player in the draft field.
Grade: A+ This pick fills a need and gives the Raptors the best player available – the perfect combination for draft success.
10. Milwaukee Bucks – Jonny Flynn, G Syracuse
Flynn is still learning how to be a facilitator, but his scoring energy would make him a nice addition for the Bucks.
Grade: B In a draft filled with solid point guards, and Brandon Jennings and Ty Lawson could end up having better pro careers than Flynn.
11. New Jersey Nets – Gerald Henderson, G Duke
The Nets need to get younger and more athletic, and Henderson has been impressive in several pre-draft workouts. Rod Thorn has a knack for drafting quality perimeter players.
Grade: A Henderson is a safe pick and should have a nice pro career.
12. Charlotte Bobcats – Terrence Williams, G/F Louisville
Williams has a ton of talent and could fit nicely with Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton.
Grade: C Williams is the kind of player Larry Brown hates, so Brandon Jennings or Earl Clark might be a better option.
13. Indiana Pacers – Brandon Jennings, G International
Jennings is a sparking talent and could finally give the Pacers stability at the point guard spot.
Grade: A Even if it takes a couple years for him to develop, Jennings should be worth the wait.
14. Phoenix Suns – James Johnson, F Wake Forest
Johnson is strong, big and athletic – his awful jumper is only glaring flaw.
Grade: A The Suns need to get younger on the perimeter, and Johnson is a step in the right direction
15. Detroit Pistons – Earl Clark, F Louisville
Clark’s versatility makes him the perfect replacement for the fragile Tayshaun Prince
Grade: A The Pistons desperately need help in the frontcourt and Clark has a ton of potential.
Clark would be a nice fit in the Motor City.
16. Chicago Bulls – DeJaun Blair, F Pittsburgh
The Bulls could look to replace Ben Gordon with this pick, but Blair’s inside scoring ability makes him the likely pick.
Grade: C Blair might be able to score inside, but he won’t be a good defensive player and has limited upside.
17. Philadelphia 76ers – Ty Lawson, G North Carolina
Lawson’s speed and quickness could help the Sixers become one of the fastest teams in the NBA.
Grade: A Lawson could be the perfect replacement for Andre Miller, who is expected to be elsewhere next season.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves – B.J. Mullens, C Ohio State
Despite his size and talent, Mullens has no idea what it means to play hard or tough.
Grade: C There is nothing wrong with stockpiling big men, but Minnesota should look for a point guard or wing.
19. Atlanta Hawks – Jeff Teague, G Wake Forest
The Hawks passed on another Wake point guard a few years back and desperately need Teague to develop.
Grade: C Teague is certainly not Chris Paul and needs to get much, much stronger
20. Utah Jazz – Tyler Hansbrough, F North Carolina
Hansbrough’s days of domination are over, but he will be a decent NBA player.
Grade: B In a draft light on quality big men, Hansbrough is the best available besides Thabeet and Blair.
21. New Orleans Hornets – Chase Budinger, G/F Arizona
The Hornets desperately need a running mate for Chris Paul.
Grade: A Budinger is a good shooter and finisher who could flourish in the NBA – this pick makes sense.
22. Dallas Mavericks – Sam Young, F Pittsburgh
The Mavs need more youth on the perimeter.
Grade: A Young could be Josh Howard – without the attitude.
23. Sacramento Kings – Omri Casspi, F International
Casspi’s athleticism and versatility make him an attractive prospect.
Grade: A The Kings can afford to wait a couple years for Casspi to develop.
24. Portland Trail Blazers – Eric Maynor, G VCU
Maynor could be a steal in the late first round.
Grade: B Jerryd Bayless is probably more suited to be scoring guard, so Maynor could be the distributor the Blazers need.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder – Taj Gibson, F USC
Gibson needs to gain weight in order to be effective on the inside.
Grade: B This is a little high for Gibson, but the pick certainly fills a team need for the Thunder. Gibson is the last decent big man remaining in the draft.
26. Chicago Bulls – Wayne Ellington, G North Carolina
Ellington is sneaky athletic and a good shooter.
Grade: A His skills make him a good compliment to Derrick Rose.
Ellington could be runnin' with the Bulls.
27. Memphis Grizzlies – Victor Claver, F International
Claver is a bit raw but has a wealth of offensive talent.
Grade: B This could end up being a great pick, that is if he wants to play in Memphis.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves – Darren Collison, G UCLA
Collison is a winner and could be a great defensive player in the NBA.
Grade: A Randy Foye’s future in Minnesota is cloudy – Collison would be a nice insurance policy.
29. L.A. Lakers – Toney Douglas, G Florida State
Douglas has the maturity and toughness to fit in with the Lake Show.
Grade: A With Derek Fisher is nearing the end, Douglas could be the perfect replacement.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers – Derrick Brown, F Xavier
Brown is as steady as they come and a strong defender.
Grade: A Brown would be the perfect combo forward for the Cavs to match up against Rashard Lewis, Lamar Odom types.