Around this time almost all the writers and analysts that are going to create a mock draft come up with their first one…so here is my take on it. Warning: this is only based on my personally researched information; unlike some analysts and writers I don’t personally know any NBA General Managers and thus have no idea what they are thinking. I also don’t know any of these players personally, so while I will say it is reported that some have character and teammate issues, I can’t be positive because I don’t personally know that. However, on that note I like to think I have a pretty good draft feel, as I have called most draft busts over the years, (my biggest accomplishment being Greg Oden, but I also got Darius Miles, Darko and Kwame Brown…then again who didn’t get Kwame Brown?). WARNING: This is the picks as they stand now, if there are trades that are made on or before draft day, please disregard everything below where the trade happens, as it will probably screw up my mock draft terribly.
1. Washington Wizards- John Wall- PG- Kentucky- Wall is the obvious first overall pick, anybody who doesn’t have that in their mock draft is either hoping to get lucky that Washington’s GM is an idiot and they are right or are simply an idiot themselves. Wall is fast, knows how to get to the lane, and while he isn’t a great shooter, can shoot. His passing ability is top notch, and he still has a lot of potential, especially if he gets some teammates around him. The unfortunate thing is the best player on the Wizards currently (Gilbert Arenas) plays the same position as Wall, and so I think the Wizards are going to look to move Arenas before the draft. If the Wizards do move Agent Zero, it means that Wall is going to have a crap team his first year, but the upside is his odds of getting shot in the locker room go down.
2. Philadelphia 76ers- Evan Turner- SF- Ohio State- While I list Turner as a small forward, he can honestly play the 2 or the 4 as well. He is not an elite athlete, but he has a great basketball IQ and knows how to get his teammates involved. Turner needs to improve his jump shot to become a stud in the NBA, but he has a good mid-range game and creates his own shot very productively. He reportedly has good leadership skills and is reportedly solid on and off the court player. The downside to Turner is he is a less athletic, smarter Andre Iguodala, but since both are capable of playing multiple positions I think it will be Iguodala at the three and Turner at the two this year for the Sixers, barring trade.
3. New Jersey Nets- Derrick Favors- PF- Georgia Tech- Favors in my mind is the best athlete in the draft. He is long, has a mid-range game, and would have been a name in everyone’s mouth had he had a team to play with last year at Georgia Tech. Favors could be a star with the right coaching, and I see him being a lot like Chris Bosh who interestingly enough came out of Georgia Tech as well. The best thing going for Favors right now is his potential, because as far as potential goes for this draft Favors has it in bunches. He is only 18, and will continue to put on muscle and strength as time goes on. Favors could be truly dominant in 2 or 3 years from now.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves- Wesley Johnson- SF- Syracuse- This is the first mistake of the draft, not because Wes Johnson is bad, but because the Wolves will pass up on DeMarcus Cousins. I am a Syracuse student now, so I can tell you for a fact that when they were unranked at the beginning of this past years college season it was because nobody knew who Wes Johnson was. He is an athletic freak and will be a very good player on the next level. He needs more consistency to his jumper and needs to want to control games. Playing with PG Jonny Flynn will be helpful as they played together everyday during Johnson’s transfer year two years ago. What Wes lacks is a killer instinct that players like Wall and Favors have. He can be tentative at times on the court, and killer instinct is something that can’t be taught. The Wolves also already have a big man in Al Jefferson, so another one in Cousins isn’t necessary.
5. Sacramento Kings- DeMarcus Cousins- PF- Kentucky- Cousins is a stud in my mind that won’t be bad in the NBA, despite allegations of a poor work ethic and character issues. He did have the second highest body fat at 16.3% at the combine, but Shaq had a high body fat percentage at the combine (12.2%) and he did just fine in the NBA. Cousins can score and had fantastic measurements at the combine, and the Kings need a legitimate low post threat. Cousins also has a mean streak, something that can’t be taught, and if a coach can keep him focused for 40 something minutes than Cousins will be not just good but dominant at the next level. Expect that 10 years from now we’ll all be making fun of the Wolves, Nets, and Sixers for letting Cousins slip to 5.
6. Golden State Warriors- Greg Monroe- C- Georgetown- The Warriors really need a big man; however Cole Aldrich’s measurements at the combine didn’t look fantastic in my eyes. Monroe however had great measurements and is clearly the most skilled big man in the draft as far as basketball skills go. The only issue with Monroe, much like another Georgetown big man Patrick Ewing, is that he does not have the desire to take over games, and he won’t have to with Monte Ellis and Stephen Curry being the premier scorers on the team. Monroe will be a nice piece that can rebound, score, and best of all pass to the great shooters Golden State has on the perimeter when the double team comes.
7. Detroit Pistons- Ed Davis- PF- North Carolina- The Pistons want a tough big man, and Davis is the best fit when it comes to that. Obviously they would like to move up and expect them to try to get Favors or Cousins via swapping picks. However if they don’t get one of the two premier big men, they won’t select Greg Monroe even if he is available due to his lack of grittiness, and they definitely won’t go after Cole Aldrich, so Davis is the next best option.
8. Los Angeles Clippers- Al Farouq-Aminu- SF/PF- Wake Forest- Aminu is the best player available at this point, and the Clippers need an upgrade from Rasual Butler at the 3. With Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Aminu, Blake Griffin and Kaman, this team could actually do some damage in the league next year.
9. Utah Jazz (via New York Knicks)- Ekpe Udoh- PF/C- Baylor- The Jazz are in all likelihood losing Carlos Boozer this summer to either the Heat or Knicks, so the Jazz are in the market for a big man. Udoh is the best available and has the most upside, he measured well at the combine, and while he is raw offensively he has a lot of potential to improve.
10. Indiana Pacers- Xavier Henry- SG- Kansas- Henry strikes me as this years Jonny Flynn, not in talent or that they play the same position, but as the guy who’s draft stock will continue to soar all the way up to the draft. Henry was the number 1 or 2 ranked prospect (depending on who’s rankings you look at) coming out of high school, and I don’t think he was able to showcase his skill set as well in Kansas both because of Cole Aldrich clogging up the middle and the wide array of scorers that the Jayhawks had last year. Henry will probably end up going at the earliest #7 to the Pistons, but I like him to the Pacers at 10 for now.
11. New Orleans Hornets- Gordon Hayward- SF- Butler- Hayward is another prospect that I feel will continue to rise on draft boards up until the 24th. The guy can dribble like a point guard, shoot the lights out, and seems to be a great character on and off the court. The Hornets need more weapons to surround Chris Paul with, and if Emeka Okafor ever gets his act together this team could be fantastic.
12. Memphis Grizzlies- Luke Babbitt- SF- Nevada- Babbitt may very well be the best scorer in the draft, and with a team that lacks scoring with the exception of one O.J. Mayo, the Grizzlies will probably take him with the 12th pick. Babbitt is versatile and if he can learn to play some defense he could be a solid starter on the next level.
13. Toronto Raptors- Cole Aldrich- C- Kansas- Aldrich is very talented and to have him falling this far is probably overshooting it. The only problem he only measured 6’9” at the combine in socks, so he really isn’t as tall as everybody thinks he is. Aldrich still has a really good face-up game, and can board so he will fit in on somebody’s team, but I expect him to be a bust and that’s why I’m putting him this low.
14. Houston Rockets- Patrick Patterson- PF- Kentucky- Patterson is a fantastic team player from what I’ve seen all year at Kentucky and what I have heard from his interviews at the combine, and so that will raise his stock up. However in a deep draft like this he simply doesn’t have the talent to go higher. I think his unselfish style of play and great character more than makes up for the lack of elite talent though and Patterson goes 14 to the Rockets.
15. Milwaukee Bucks (via Chicago)- James Anderson- SG- Oklahoma St.- Anderson is a player with a lot of upside in this draft, and I think that the bucks have a need at 2/3 spot that Anderson can fill. With Anderson the Bucks could fill the void for injured SG Michael Redd, who after a second knee injury may not be the same player ever again.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Charlotte)- Hassan Whiteside- C- Marshall- It has been said by the T’Wolves front office that they need a third big to pair with Kevin Love and Al Jefferson to be more effective on defense, and I think right here they grab Whiteside, an athletic freak that measured the best out of any player at the combine. There are some maturity issues, but he will be playing on a young team that will get him a lot of minutes and see what he can do. He could be solid, could be a bust, honesty right now it’s a coin flip.
17. Chicago Bulls (via Milwaukee)- Avery Bradley- SG- Texas- The Bulls need a #2 to go with whoever they get in free agency, but I am pretty sure that they will get Bradley who is a steal falling to the #17 spot. Bradley is skilled and would go well with Derek Rose in the backcourt.
18. Miami Heat- Paul George- SF- Fresno State- George is another upside player who does not seem to have the toughness or the mind to take over a game, but definitely has the ability. Although he didn’t compete in most of the athletic drills at the combine, I expect he ranks as one of the better athletes in the draft, and could be a decent player for Miami, especially around D-Wade if he stays.
19. Boston Celtics- Donatas Motiejunas- PF- Lithuania- Motiejunas is a big man with a lot of upside if he stays in Europe for another year or two, and I think the Celtics will be really happy with the pick if he gets stronger. However when I look at this guy all I can think is Darko all over again, may be a huge bust if he even ends up coming over to play here.
20. San Antonio Spurs- Damion James- SF- Texas- James is the type of lockdown defender that San Antonio needs on its roster. They have enough offense, and James can d up on the 2, 3, or 4 spot on the floor. If he can learn to shoot the jumper this guy could fill the void that has been there since Bruce Bowen left, which was about the time the championships stopped coming.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder- Daniel Orton- C- Kentucky- Oklahoma city has a great starting four for the future in Westbrook, Harden, Durant, and Jeff Green, but are still missing a dominant big man. Look for them to select Orton with this slot to help fill that void, unless Serge Ibaka fills it for them.
22. Portland Trailblazers- Eric Bledsoe- PG- Kentucky- Bledsoe is a steal this far down, and with Andre Miller not getting any younger and a solid young core besides that (Roy, Aldridge, Oden if he ever stays healthy, and Bayless) the Blazers could be a consistent playoff team for years to come.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah)- Kevin Seraphin- PF- France- Seraphin may stay in France another year or two, but the T’Wolves would have to be crazy to let a physical specimen like this pass up at #23. Seraphin is raw and could become a good player with time, but right now he definitely needs to stay in Europe another year.
24. Atlanta Hawks- Lance Stephenson- SG- Cincinnati- Stephenson probably came out of school a year early, but I can tell you this is about the spot where he should go, not necessarily where he will go. Stephenson is very athletic, measured up pretty well at the combine, and the only time I saw him play this year was against Georgetown where he lit them up even though his team got destroyed. Stephenson will probably be nothing more than a role player who occasionally starts his entire career because of the bad move to come out a year early, but you never know.
25. Memphis Grizzlies (via Denver)- Larry Sanders- PF- VCU- Sanders is another physical freak who may go to Minnesota at 23 as well. He didn’t really get to see the most elite competition this year at VCU, but he is very solid on the defensive end and a gamer (definitely better than his combine numbers showed). He won’t be good right away, but in a couple of years could see some solid playing time.
26. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Phoenix)- Solomon Alabi- C- Florida St.- Again OKC needs big guys, and Alabi is the best one on the board left. His combine athletic numbers were horrendous, but his measurements were pretty good. He plays better in the game and has very solid paint presence. With Westbrook, Harden, Durant and Green he doesn’t need to be a star, but needs to just be a good defender.
27. New Jersey Nets (via Dallas)- Quincy Pondexter- SF- Washington- After getting Favors at 3 (which I think will happen) the Nets should get an athletic scorer in Pondexter late in the first round. He is a great scorer that could work well with Harris and Favors. The Nets may also get a solid free agent to come sign with them if their draft goes well.
28. Memphis Grizzlies (via LA Lakers)- Craig Brackins- PF- Iowa St.- Brackins is a solid choice here especially with the recent off court troubles of Zach Randolph, who was stopped with marijuana in his car the other day. Brackins could be a long term replacement regardless of whether or not Randolph is suspended, and I think he could work well defensively with center incumbent Hasheem Thabeet.
29. Orlando Magic- Terrico White- SG- Mississippi- White posted freak athletic numbers at the combine including a 40 inch max vertical, and with the right work could be a fantastic addition. He has some time to develop before Vince Carter retires, and I think that will be a solid pick for the Magic late in the 2nd round.
30. Washington Wizards (via Cleveland)- Jarvis Varnado- Mississippi St.- Vernado is one of if not the best shot blocker in the draft, which will translate to the next level. His game reminds me a lot of Theo Ratliff, and I feel that is the type of player he will be in the NBA. Hopefully his offensive game develops a little bit.