I'm going to preface this by saying that mock drafts are generally a crap shoot, and mock drafts done two months before the actual draft are a colossal waste of time, especially given that the order of the first 14 picks has not yet been determined, not to mention the fact that underclassmen that have declared for the draft but not hired an agent can still change their mind and go back to school. So I begin by telling you to take these draft selections with a silo of salt. I also warn you that due to the volume of "information" (that's what I'm calling it, you can call it what you want) this story will take on a rather pookeyesque nature as it pertains to quantity, if not quality. So get comfortable – this could take awhile.
The main reason that I put this together at this time was to get some player profiles in front of you, a sampler platter of sorts. While a lot of variables will change things over the next couple of months, the players (to paraphrase Denny Green) pretty much are who we think they are. A couple of them will move up or down based on their pre-draft workouts, but most of them will confirm what has already been stated about them (good and bad).
My research was based on watching a lot of college ball, as well as scouring the internet for information. I am far less knowledgeable on the international players and had to rely more heavily on what I could pick up on the 'net.
So with all of that said, let's put the Miami Heat on the clock…
1) The Heat select Michael Beasley, 6'9", 235 lb. power forward, Kansas freshman. Beasley was the consensus #1 prior to the NCAA tourney. K-State got bounced, Memphis went to the finals and now Beasley and Derrick Rose share the #1 slot. Miami could certainly use either guy but in my draft they opt for Beasley, who can score all the way out to NBA 3 point range and finish at the rim with either hand. He is at his best facing the basket, has a great first step and very good hands. Only 6'9" but gets off the floor well and has a pretty good wingspan. If Marion stays in Miami this incredibly athletic forward tandem would cause a myriad of mismatches. Most of the questions regarding Beasley's attitude and work ethic seem to be a thing of the past after a stellar and blemish free season.
3) Minnesota takes Brook Lopez, 7'0", 260 lb. center, Stanford sophomore. The T-Wolves could have Jerryd Bayless or O.J. Mayo here, but they have Randy Foye at the point (remember, that's why they waived Beno Udrih) and Kevin McHale will see visions of Parrish/himself dancing through his head with Lopez/Jefferson (hey, it's his head). Lopez could be a nice player for Minnesota, but his selection at #3 will make Kings fans feel even better about getting Spencer Hawes last year at #10.
4) Memphis springs the first minor surprise of the day when they select Anthony Randolph, 6'10" power/small forward, LSU freshman. O.J. Mayo has an uninspiring workout for the Grizzlies, so they opt for Randolph, who they see as a bigger version of Rudy Gay, an eventual Lamar Odom type player. This won't fix Memphis, but having Conley, Crittenton, Gay and Randolph on the floor at the same time will make them fun to watch.
5) Donnie Walsh takes what he perceives as the surest thing here and drafts Eric Gordon, 6'3", 215 lb. shooting guard, Indiana freshman. Deciding not to take a chance on Mayo, Walsh instead opts for Gordon. The comparisons to Ben Gordon are a little too easy. Eeric Gordon is really built more like Mitch Richmond with better hops. I think that he could be a lot like MItch in his ability to get to the free throw line, though I don't know that he will ever be a better than average defensive player.
6) The Clippers can't believe that O.J. Mayo, 6'5", 210 lb. point/shooting guard, USC freshman has just fallen into their laps. Mayo has a lot of developing left if he is to become a legitimate point guard in the NBA, but worst case scenario he should still become a pretty fair two guard. He reminds me of both Chauncey Billups and Antonio Daniels when they came out of college, and both of those players needed some time to develop.
7) The Jerryd Bayless slide continues as Milwaukee opts for Danilo Gallinari, 6'10", 220 lb. small forward, Italy, 19 years old. The Bucks have Mo Williams on a long term deal at the point and see Gallinari as a versatile swing man that can help them right away. Choose from Toni Kukoc, Detlef Schrempf or a young Hedo Turkoglu for comparisons.
8) Jerryd Bayless, 6'3", 185 lb. point guard, Arizona freshman lands in Charlotte. The Bobcats have other needs, but Michael Jordan feels that Bayless is clearly the best player left on the board and can't pass on him. Bayless can play the 1 or 2 so he can be on the floor with Raymond Felton or Jason Richardson. MJ puts a picture of Monta Ellis under his pillow and hopes for the best.
9) The Chicago Bulls tend to their front court needs by drafting Kevin Love, 6'9", 260 lb. power forward, UCLA freshman. Paxson foresees a front line of Joakim Noah and Love maturing by the time Drew Gooden's contract expires. Noah's raw athleticism and Love's solid basketball fundamentals should complement each other nicely.
10) New Jersey selects DeAndre Jordan, 7'0" 260 lb. center, Texas A & M freshman. Yes, the Nets have both Josh Boone and Sean Williams. But Jordan can become a legitimate NBA center, while Boone and Williams are really power forwards that help out at center, and Nenad Krstic continues to have health issues. So the question is, will Jordan develop like Andrew Bynum or Patrick O'Bryant? Jordan is pretty raw and needs to work on his strength and conditioning, but the always craved "upside" is certainly there.
11) Indiana selects D.J. Augustin, 5'11", 180 lb. point guard, Texas sophomore. Larry Legend needs a point guard and likes the size of Russell Westbrook but opts for the pure point guard skills of Augustin. I've seen Augustin regularly compared to Jameer Nelson, but I liken him to T.J. Ford, except that Augustin is not made out of glass. The Hawks probably would have loved to have had Augustin at #11 last year as opposed to Acie Law IV.
12) The Kings mull over Darrell Arthur, Donte Green and JaVale McGee, but in the end they select Russell Westbrook, 6'4", 190 lb. point guard, UCLA sophomore. Westbrook is a defensive oriented guard that still needs to polish his point guard skills a little, though he is a good ball handler. The Kings draft him with the idea of playing him behind Beno Udrih for at least a year or two. I would compare Westbrook to Rajon Rondo, though he is a better finisher and has much more potential to become a good shooter.
13) Portland jumps on Donte Green, 6'10", 225 lb. small forward, Syracuse freshman. This is a bit of a project pick for Portland, but they're OK with that as they will be spending a lot of time working in Greg Oden this year. They will hope that Green starts to show flashes of Rashard Lewis type talent by the time Martell Webster packs his bags. Green needs to get stronger and could stand to be a little more agressive on the floor.
14) The Warriors round out the lottery by selecting Darrell Arthur, 6'9", 230 lb. power forward, Kansas sophomore. Chris Mullin sees a guy that can help them in the low post. Don Nelson sees a guy that will see less playing time than Brandan Wright saw last year. Kings fans implore Geoff Petrie to figure out a way to ship Artest down I-80 for Arthur, who just might become Antonio McDyess with good knees.
15) Phoenix (from Atlanta): Chase Budinger, 6'7", 210 lb. shooting guard, Arizona sophomore. Good perimeter shooter that has the athletic ability to thrive in Phoenix's up and down game.
16) Philadelphia: JaVale McGee, 7'0", 240 lb. center, Nevada sophomore. See DeAndre Jordan (#10), though McGee is a little better conditioned than Jordan. Also, if he does not bulk up a bit he's probably more of a power forward than center.
17) Toronto: Mareesse Speights, 6'10", 250 lb. center, Syracuse sophomore. Remember Darryl Watkins, with his offensive game that was > than Justin Williams and his defensive game that was < Justin Williams? That's what I see in Speights. He has the potential to be more than that, but he's a way from realizing that potential.
18) Washington: Hasheem Thabeet, 7'3", 265 lb. center, Connecticut, sophomore. Now I have to think that if Thabeet perceives that he will fall this far in the draft he will go back to school. But the Wizards would love to land this shot blocking machine here. He is on a par with Desagnia Diop and Adonal Foyle as a shot blocker. Unfortunately he also possesses their limited offensive games.
19) Cleveland: Nicolas Batum, 6'8", 210 lb. shooting guard, France, 19 years old. Batum draws consistent comparisons to Rudy Gay, though he is not nearly as polished. He was a potential lottery prospect last year but did not enter the draft.
20) Denver: Tywon Lawson, 6'0", 175 lb. point guard, North Carolina sophomore. Lawson may go back to school if he feels that he is going to drop this far, but the Nuggets would love and could use this true point guard. You could draw comparisons to Raymond Felton. Lawson needs to develop a much better jumper to succeed at the NBA level.
21) New Jersey (from Dallas): Chris Douglas-Roberts, 6'7", 200 lb. shooting guard, Memphis junior. Imagine if this kid becomes the next Jerry Stackhouse, meaning Rod Thorn got this kid and Devin Harris for an aging Jason Kidd. Hey Memphis, you taking notes?
22) Orlando: Roy Hibbert, 7'2", 275 lb. center, Georgetown senior. Yes, the same Roy Hibbert that was a projected top 10 pick last year. Oops.
23) Utah: Robin Lopez, 7'0", 255 lb. center, Stanford sophomore. The other white meat. Take Brook Lopez, sift out the offensive ability, add crazy hair and presto! Instead of being chosen 3rd and drawing comparisons to Brad Daugherty, you're drafted 23rd and compared to Anderson Varejao.
25) Houston: Brandon Rush, 6'6", 210 lb. shooting guard, Kansas junior. Wow, a pretty nice player for the Rockets here. Could provide an Eddie Jones type spark off the bench.
26) San Antonio: Ante Tomic, 7'1", 240 lb. center, Croatia, 21 years old. I've only seen a little of Tomic, and what I've seen is a less athletic Pao Gasol. I think that he can make a contribution on the offensive end but he may get pushed around a lot defensively. And he's 21, so his physical development has less upside.
27) New Orleans: Ryan Anderson, 6'10", 235 lb. small/power forward, California sophomore. Would he go back to school if projected this low? If not, his game might work well behind Peja Stojakovic and David West.
28) Memphis (from L.A. Lakers): J.J. Hickson, 6'9", 235 lb. power forward, North Carolina State freshman. I have to think that Hickson goes back to school if he projects this low. He has upside and could become a Chris Wilcox type. Of course, he could also become a Cedric Simmons type. Another year in school would probably benefit him.
29) Detroit: Bill Walker, 6'6", 230 lb. shooting guard, Kansas State freshman. Stop me if you've heard this one before, but he may opt to go back to school. Compared to Ruben Patterson both physically (good) and emotionally (not so good). A slashing wingman with good finishing skills and a lot of upside.
30) Boston: Joe Alexander, 6'8", 220 lb. small forward, West Virginia junior. Vaulted himself into 1st round consideration with a great NCAA tourney. He's got a pretty good skill set, but I can't shake the feeeling that if he is going to make it in the NBA it will be in the Austin Croshere/Eduardo Najera/Matt Barnes mold – a guy that does the little things (and sometimes nasty things) to help his team win.
And a dozen for the 2nd round (the KIngs have picks at 42 and 45): centers DeVon Hardin (Cal) and Alexis Ajinca (France), power forwards Joey Dorsey (Memphis), Richard Hendrix (Alabama), Serge Ibaka (Congo), Jason Thompson (Rider) and D.J. White (Indiana), small forward Davon Jefferson (USC), shooting guards Wayne Ellington (UNC), Courtney Lee (W. Kentucky) and Kyle Weaver (Washington St.), and point guard Mario Chalmers (Kansas).
I'm sure that I left somebody out and I'm sure that someone will announce that they are going back to school 30 seconds after I post this, but as I said, this is a starting point. Let the draft conversation begin!