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Projecting Next Year’s NBA Rookies

As this year’s group of rookies set out to begin their respective summer camps, it is never too early to project the rookies in regards to how they will fare next year.

Top Scorer: Stephen Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors

What better place for the best scorer in the draft to go than the free-shooting Warriors?  In Don Nelson’s system, Curry is going to have a  lot of freedom to roam around the floor and find open looks.  Helping him out will be point guard Monta Ellis whose penetration in the lane will free up Curry.

While Curry’s natural position is at the point, Nelson’s system calls for athletic guards who can do it all.  His range is there and he proved this year that he can pass the ball as well as he can shoot.  With Jamal Crawford being traded to the Hawks before the draft, Curry should be a starter from day one.

The Warriors averaged 108.6 points last year, good for second in the league, and that average could very well go up next year with Curry in the lineup.  PROJECTION: 16.5 points

Top Rebounder: Blake Griffin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers

A no-brainer here for the first overall pick in the draft as Griffin should have plenty of minutes to rack up the boards every night.  Center Hasheen Thabeet might be a close second but he does not project to play as many minutes as Griffin this year.

For the Clippers, Griffin will have to compete with Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby for boards, but the 6’10” power forward should have no problem ripping down missed shots.  Last year for the Sooners, Griffin averaged 14.4 rebounds per game to lead the nation.

Blake Griffin averaged 14.4 rebounds per game last year at Oklahoma.

Blake Griffin averaged 14.4 rebounds per game last year at Oklahoma.

While those numbers will obviously go down, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Griffin to average close to double-digit rebounds.  He has the size, athleticism, and instincts that attract him to the basketball on every possession.  PROJECTION: 8.6 rebounds

Top Passer: Jrue Holiday, PG, Philadelphia 76er’s

Kind of a wildcard pick here and if Ricky Rubio is traded to the Knicks, then I would put him in this spot.  However, Holiday is put on a team where he is going to pick up huge minutes and be playing around good talent.

Projected as a lottery pick in almost every mock draft, a shoulder injury scared teams away that allowed the 76er’s scoop him up.  With Andre Miller leaving to free agency, the keys to the car are now given to Holiday with high expectations.

Last year, the 76er’s were in the top ten in field goal percentage so Holiday should have plenty of chances to pick up dimes.  If Elton Brand can stay healthy, he will join Andre Iguodala as the two main cogs for Holiday’s success.  Starting on a playoff team that shoots good percentages will lead to good things for Holiday.  With excellent court vision and a jump shot in the works, all signs lead to Holiday handing out a lot of assists this year.  PROJECTION: 5.9 assists

Top Teammates: Ricky Rubio and Johnny Flynn, Minnesota Timberwolves

This seems like an obvious choice here but there is still a chance that Rubio is traded elsewhere.  The Wolves’ front office clearly believed that the two can co-exist in the same backcourt and if this is true, they should form a fantastic duo.  Rubio has a very raw shot that needs work but has court vision unlike any other prospect in the draft.  His teammate Flynn is more of a scorer that looks for his shot more than passing lanes.

If the two are on the court at the same time, size will be a problem but it will be interesting to see how they work off of eachother.  Both have great speed, are tough as nails, and have played on the big stage.

If Flynn can improve his jump shot range just a bit more, he will become a legitimate scoring threat from outside that will, in turn, make Rubio that much better as well.

Top Defender: Hasheem Thabeet, C, Memphis Grizzlies

The best defender in college basketball last year will be the best rookie defender in the NBA next year as well.  One more time, the term of “altering shots” (that I first coined) is where Thabeet makes his money, and while it will not be the same in the much bigger NBA, 7’3″ is 7’3″ and Thabeet will get his fair share of blocks and boards.

He will need to gain some more weight and muscle if he wants to battle down low with the Dwight Howard’s and Shaquille O’Neal’s of the league, but for now he remains a long, athletic big man that will succeed on the defensive end of the floor.  PROJECTION: 7.4 rebounds, 1.7 blocks

Best Backup: Eric Maynor, PG, Utah Jazz

The Jazz’s biggest need going into the draft was finding a backup for Deron Williams and they got their man.  Maynor has great experience and is one of the more NBA-ready point guards in the draft class that can see minutes right away.

Not only will he see the court, but he will learn from Williams that should improve his game even more.  Much like a rookie quarterback in the NFL, being able to sit back and learn as a backup point guard will slow down the game for a guy like Maynor.

Playing behind Deron Williams will do wonders for point guard Eric Maynor.

Playing behind Deron Williams will do wonders for point guard Eric Maynor.

A close second place in this category was Ty Lawson of the Denver Nuggets.  Much like Maynor, he will be joining a team with a veteran point guard and a team that can shoot the lights out.  Both have experience, good basketball IQ’s, and a mentor that should make them decent pros at worst.

Biggest Sleeper (first round): Toney Douglas, SG, Florida State

If Douglas can put everything together, he could become an excellent pro in Mike D’Antoni’s system.  Along side Chris Duhon, he will have a chance to start and see good minutes right away.

Douglas is a tad bit undersized at 6’2″ but makes up for it with his excellent shot and even better defense.  He runs the court exceptionally well which is always a plus for a fast-paced offense, with the outside range being an added bonus.

He slipped due to his size and age (23), but if he can overcome his lack of size and continue to work on his defense, he has the chance to start one day.

Biggest Sleeper (second round): DeJuan Blair, PF, San Antonio Spurs

For a guy that was projected to be a late lottery pick, it sounds weird to say that Blair is a sleeper.  While many know about him, I completely expect him to exceed expectations of a second rounder and become the next Anderson Varejao.

Jamie Dixon, Blair’s coach at the University of Pittsburgh, said he talked to all 30 teams to let them know Blair never missed a practice or game because of his knees, but clearly some teams still thought it was an issue that let him slip 36 slots.

I don’t think that his offensive game is good enough for him to ever start on a consistent basis, but his rebounding skills and brute strength is good enough for him to play big minutes off the bench.

Playing in San Antonio next to Tim Duncan can only help Blair’s success as well.  With the trade obtaining Richard Jefferson, the Spurs are contenders in the West once again and now have Blair to help the run.

Best Foreign Player Other Than Ricky Rubio and Brandon Jennings: Omri Casspi, PF, Sacramento Kings

It goes without saying that Rubio and Jennings are expected to outperform all other international players, but after that Casspi is next in line.  I’d be lying if I said I have ever seen him play outside of his draft clip after he was taken, but from what I hear he can be a good role player for the Kings.

When I saw his reel, I saw a more athletic player than Andres Nocioni who he has been compared to for a while.  He has the same tenacity and wreckless play that Nocioni has, but I liked his smooth shot a little more and felt like he played much longer as well.

Everything I hear says he should stay and play in the NBA this year and could have an impact right away.  The transition to the Association will be different, but a player of his talent should make it.

Biggest Difference Maker: Brandon Jennings, PG, Milwaukee Bucks

This might be a bit of a homer statement, but I believe that is Jennings can step in right away and play to his tenth pick potential, the Bucks are a playoff team next year.  The Luke Ridnour experiment failed miserably and the selection of Jennings all but said goodbye to Ramon Sessions.  If Charlie Villanueva is re-signed, the Bucks should have a solid nucleus capable of winning 41 games, even without Richard Jefferson.

If Brandon Jennings pans out, he could be the final piece for the Bucks.

If Brandon Jennings pans out, he could be the final piece for the Bucks.

As for Jennings, he joins a solid group of veterans including Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut, and should create messes for defenses.  He is a score-first point guard that plays very well in transition, two things the Bucks lacked last year.

Injuries riddled the Bucks last year but if they can stay healthy, the playoffs are not out of the question and Jennings will be a big reason why.

Rookie of the Year: Blake Griffin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers

Year in and year out, the Rookie of the Year comes from inside the top ten and this year will be no different.  Griffin was the one bright spot in a draft full of potential and will have the biggest impact on any team this year.  The Clippers are quickly putting together a solid core group with Griffin, Eric Gordon, and Al Thornton that could be very good in a few years.  Griffin should average around 15 points and 9 rebounds and be a highlight reel every time he steps on the court.

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June 27, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, NBA, NBA Draft | , , , | Leave a comment

Final Two Round NBA Mock Draft 4.0

1. Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma

2. Memphis Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet, C, Connecticut

3. Oklahoma City Thunder: Ricky Rubio, PG, DKV Joventut

4. Sacramento Kings: Jrue Holiday, PG, UCLA

5. Minnesota Timberwolves: Tyreke Evans, PG, Memphis

6. Minnesota Timberwolves: James Harden, SG, Arizona State

7. Golden State Warriors: Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona

8. New York Knicks: Stephen Curry, G, Davidson

9. Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan, SG, USC

10. Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy

11. New Jersey Nets: Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina

12. Charlotte Bobcats: Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke

13. Indiana Pacers: Johnny Flynn, PG, Syracuse

14. Phoenix Suns: Earl Clark, SF, Louisville

15. Detroit Pistons: Austin Daye, SF, Gonzaga

16. Chicago Bulls: Terrence Williams, SG, Louisville

17. Philadelphia 76’ers: Eric Maynor, PG, Virginia Commonwealth

18. Minnesota Timberwolves: B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State

19. Atlanta Hawks: Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest

20. Utah Jazz: DeJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh

21. New Orleans Hornets: Sam Young, SG, Pittsburgh

22. Portland Trailblazers: Omri Casspi, SF, Israel

23. Sacramento Kings: James Johnson, PF, Wake Forest

24. Dallas Mavericks: Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina

25. Oklahoma City Thunder: Chase Budinger, SF, Arizona

26. Chicago Bulls: Wayne Ellington, SG, North Carolina

27. Memphis Grizzlies: Derrick Brown, PF, Xavier

28. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonas Jerebko, SF, Italy

29. New York Knicks: Toney Douglas, PG, Florida State

30. Cleveland Cavaliers: Demarre Carroll, PF, Missouri

31. Sacramento Kings: Darren Collison, PG, UCLA

32. Washington Wizards: DaJuan Summers, PF, Georgetown

33. Portland Trailblazers: Victor Claver, PF, Spain

34. Denver Nuggets: Taj Gibson, PF, USC

35. Detroit Pistons: Jeff Pendergraph, PF, Arizona State

36. Memphis Grizzlies: Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s

37. San Antonio Spurs: Jerel McNeal, G, Marquette

38. Portland Trailblazers: Josh Heytvelt, PF, Gonzaga

39. Detroit Pistons: Jack McClinton, PG, Miami

40. Charlotte Bobcats: Danny Green, G/F, North Carolina

41. Milwaukee Bucks: John Brockman, PF, Washington

42. Los Angeles Lakers: Rodrgiue Beaubois, PG, France

43. Miami Heat: Jermaine Taylor, SG, Central Florida

44. Detroit Pistons: Ahmad Nivins, PF, St. Joseph’s

45. Minnesota Timberwolves: Christian Eyenga, SG, Congo

46. Phoenix Suns: A.J. Price, PG, Connecticut

47. Minnesota Timberwolves: Sergio Llull, PG, Spain

48. Phoenix Suns: Dante Cunningham, SF, Villanova

49. Atlanta Hawks: Vyacheslav Kravtsov, C, Ukraine

50. Utah Jazz: Leo Lyons, PF, Missouri

51. San Antonio Spurs: Wesley Matthews, SG, Marquette

52. Indiana Pacers: Jodie Meeks, SG, Kentucky

53. San Antonio Spurs: Goran Suton, C, Michigan State

54. Charlotte Bobcats: Patrick Beverly, PG, Ukraine

55. Portland Trailblazers: Dionte Christmas, SG, Temple

56. Dallas Mavericks: Tony Gaffney, PF, UMass

57. Phoenix Suns: Paul Harris, SF, Syracuse

58. Boston Celtics: Nando De Colo, SG, France

59. Los Angeles Lakers: Bryan Mullins, PG, So. Illinois

60. Miami Heat: Jeff Adrien, PF, Connecticut

June 25, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA, NBA Draft | , , , , | Leave a comment

NBA Lottery Mock Draft 3.0

1. Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma

The Clippers were the fortunate winners of the 25th NBA Lottery and are now coasting through the draft process as they wait to officially draft Griffin.  The consensus number one pick, Griffin will step in nicely with a core of young Clippers that could make some noise in a few years.

NBA Comparison: Amare Stoudemire

Other Options: Ricky Rubio

Previous Pick: Jordan Hill at #3

2. Memphis Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet, C, Connecticut

The Grizzlies jumped a lucky four spots in the Lottery and have to be pleased.  I still have a lot of faith in Mike Conley and I think the Grizzlies do as well.  Marc Gasol had problems on defense last year and should form a very good duo with the defensive star Thabeet.

NBA Comparison: Sam Dalembert

Other Options: Ricky Rubio, Jordan Hill

Previous Pick: James Harden at #6

Ricky Rubio will be one of two foreign point guards slotted to be taken in the top 5.

Ricky Rubio will be one of two foreign point guards slotted to be taken in the top 5.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder: Ricky Rubio, PG, DKV Joventut

A no-brainer here for the Thunder who take the next best player on the board and address a need.  Russell Westbrook can be moved to the shooting guard position and form a great core of young players.  The Thunder showed signs of greatness last year and may be just a few years away from turning the corner.

NBA Comparison: Rafer Alston

Other Options: James Harden

Previous Pick: Hasheem Thabeet at #4

4. Sacramento Kings: Jrue Holiday, PG, UCLA

I am not too high on Holiday as of right now, but he has the biggest ceiling of any point guard in the draft and fits the biggest need for the Kings.  After losing out on the top spot in the draft, Holiday is a boom-or-bust pick with loads of potential and will get the chance to start right away.

NBA Comparison: Rodney Stuckey

Other Options: Jordan Hill, Johnny Flynn

Previous Pick: Blake Griffin at #1

5. Washington Wizards: James Harden, SG, Arizona State

No one has helped their draft stock more than Harden, and he will fit in nicely with the Wizards.  In my last mock, I had Washington drafting a point guard and shifting Gilbert Arenas to shooting guard, but now a healthy Arenas can stay at the point and have the hot shooting Harden on the wing.

NBA Comparison: Ben Gordon

Other Options: Jordan Hill

Previous Pick: Ricky Rubio at #2

6. Minnesota Timberwolves: Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy

The Timberwolves fell back a place in the NBA Lottery but still get the chance to land their point guard of the future in Jennings.  Despite a poor season overseas, Jennings still has all the talent in the world.  He will form a great backcourt with Randy Foye as the Timberwolves continue to rebuild.

NBA Comparison: Allen Iverson

Other Options: Demar DeRozan, Jordan Hill

Previous Pick: Brandon Jennings at #5

Jordan Hill's ability to block shots has been needed in Golden State for quite some time.

Jordan Hill's ability to block shots has been needed in Golden State for quite some time.

7. Golden State Warriors: Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona

A pure value pick here for the Warriors who get a steal with Hill here.  While he is rising up many draft boards, his potential is not as high as others drafted before him which may cause him to slide.  Golden State gets a very good defensive player with a developing offensive game. What better place to go to develop your offense than Golden State?

NBA Comparison: Al Jefferson

Other Options: Tyreke Evans, Johnny Flynn

Previous Pick: Tyreke Evans at #7

8. New York Knicks: Stephen Curry, PG, Davidson

The one place where Curry’s defensive struggles will not be exposed as much is in New York so the Knicks take a chance on him.  His offensive game needs no introduction and in Mike D’Antoni’s system, his numbers could be off the chart on offense.

NBA Comparison: Mike Bibby

Other Options: Tyreke Evans, Gerald Henderson, Johnny Flynn

Previous Pick: Jeff Teague at #8

9. Toronto Raptors:Tyreke Evans, PG, Memphis

Tough pick here for the Raptors as I have them going with value.  Anthony Parker is more than likely leaving the Raptors next year via free agency and Evans is a good replacement.  He can play both guard positions and has outstanding size.  He is also great value right here.

NBA Comparison: Dwyane Wade

Other Options: Earl Clark, Demark DeRozan

Previous Pick: Gerald Henderson at #9

10. Milwaukee Bucks: Johnny Flynn, PG, Syracuse

I kept this pick the same for the Bucks because I really believe he should be the pick here.  The outside shot of nabbing the overall first pick is gone, so the Bucks should look to addressing the point guard position.  With Rubio and Jennings gone, Flynn is the next best option.

NBA Comparison: Tony Parker

Other Options: Earl Clark, James Johnson

Previous Pick: Johnny Flynn at #10

11. New Jersey Nets: Demar DeRozan, SF, USC

Another value pick here as the Nets grab the best all-around athlete in the draft.  DeRozan will win many dunk contests in the future, but a championship may be another story.  He is very raw and will take a few years to develop, but could be a defensive star.

NBA Comparison: Josh Howard

Other Options: James Johnson, Earl Clark

Previous Pick: Earl Clark at #11

Gerald Henderson really turned his game up the last few months of the year.

Gerald Henderson really turned his game up the last few months of the year.

12. Charlotte Bobcats: Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke

Henderson is the best shooting guard left and is the biggest need for the Bobcats.  A good draft could push the Bobcats into the playoffs next year, and they hope Henderson is the answer.  He really came on in the second half of the year and warrants a spot in the top 15.

NBA Comparison: Joe Johnson

Other Options: Wayne Ellington, James Johnson

Previous Pick: Wayne Ellington at #12

13. Indiana Pacers: Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina

The Pacers were hoping for a pure big man, but at this spot no one jumps out at me as warranting a pick.  Lawson will come in and share time with Indiana who loves to rotate their point guards.  He lacks ideal size but should do a nice job in the NBA as he plays solid defense and runs the break very well.

NBA Comparison: Deron Williams

Other Options: James Johnson, DeJuan Blair

Previous Pick: Stephen Curry at #13

14. Phoenix Suns: Earl Clark, SF, Louisville

Clark is big enough to play the power forward position but athletic enough to be a small forward.  Sounds a lot like Shawn Marion, doesn’t it?  Clark’s size didn’t fit in well with the college game all the time, but if he can improve his jumper and get a little quicker, he could be the steal of the draft.

NBA Comparison: Josh Smith

Other Options: James Johnson, Austin Daye

Previous Pick: Ty Lawson at #14

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA, NBA Draft | , , | 3 Comments

2009 NBA Mock Draft Round Two 2.0

Round one of my mock draft can be found here.
This year’s draft is not very top heavy. There are many steals waiting to be selected the second round, so let’s get to it.

31. Sacramento Kings: DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown

After addressing their two most glaring holes at power forward and point guard, the Kings select Summers, who has great value. Summers is a player whose size may suit the pros better than it did in the college game. Considering how well he played for the Hoyas, he could be a very good player in the NBA.

NBA Comparison: Tim Thomas

32. Portland Trailblazers: Nick Calethes, PG, Florida

Calethes is a very interesting prospect as he learned the point guard role after Jai Lucas transferred to Texas last year. I have seen him play only a handful of times, but he’s very efficient and has great athleticism. He takes the ball strong to the hoop and also plays well in transition. His size, 6′5″, doesn’t hurt either.

NBA Comparison: Rajon Rondo

33. Washington Wizards: Omri Casspi, SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv

I really believe that if Gilbert Arenas can stay healthy and Nick Young can step up to a bigger role next year, the Wizards are very close to a playoff berth. Depth in the front court can only help this projection, and Casspi gives it to Washington. He is reportedly a very efficient player who plays long and wide on defense. I have never seen him play and am simply going off of scouting reports.

NBA Comparison: Tayshaun Prince

34. Denver Nuggets: Jermaine Taylor, SG, Central Florida

The Nuggets do not have many needs, so they go with the best player left on the board. Going up against weaker talent, Taylor averaged 26.2 points per game last year and was even better at the recent Portsmouth Invitational.  He should fit in perfectly with the high-scoring Nuggets.

NBA Comparison: Jason Richardson

Tyler Hansbrough dominated at North Carolina, but will that translate to the NBA?

Tyler Hansbrough dominated at North Carolina, but will that translate to the NBA?

35. Memphis Grizzlies: Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina

Many have wondered how Hansbrough will do in the NBA. I am one of the few who believe he can make a big impact right away. Everyone knows his tenacity, toughness, and ability in college. I think it will transition. Memphis would be smart to take a flyer on him here.

NBA Comparison: Rasheed Wallace

36. Detroit Pistons: Toney Douglas, PG, Florida State

Much like Rodney Stuckey, Douglas is a combo guard who brings a lot to the table.  Despite Will Bynum’s surge toward the end of the year, Allen Iverson’s uncertainty leaves a lot of questions that Douglas will be able to answer. From what I saw of Douglas, he has the body of a point guard and the ability of a two guard.

NBA Comparison: Gilbert Arenas

37. San Antonio Spurs: Jeff Adrien, SF, Connecticut

Adrien is one of my favorite players in this draft. His toughness is unparalleled in this draft, and I am sure he will make it at the next level. Despite his height, Adrien has great leaping ability and great technique, which could make him a double-double machine in the pros.

NBA Comparison: David Lee

38. Portland Trailblazers: Sergio Llull, SG, Spain

Whoever Portland’s international scout is deserves a raise. They have hit on a ton of great international players. Llull, a combo guard, will add to that list. From what I have heard, he has the ability to play both guard positions and does a great job off the pick-and-roll.

NBA Comparison: Tony Parker

39. Detroit Pistons: Jonas Jerebko, SF, Spain

The Pistons are not going to have many roster spots open next year, so they take a flyer on Jerebko, whom they can have play overseas for a few years to develop his game. Again, I do not know international players very well, but he supposedly plays more like a power forward and could use some work offensively.

NBA Comparison: Kevin Durant

40. Charlotte Bobcats: Dante Cunningham, SF, Villanova

I got to see Cunningham play a lot last year and came away very impressed with the Big East’s Most Improved Player. His work in the post could use a bit of shaping up, but his ability to knock down 15-footers was probably better than most 6′8″ players in the nation not named Tyler Hansbrough. He will, however, need to get a little faster.

NBA Comparison: Jeff Green

41. Milwaukee Bucks: Dionte Christmas, SG, Temple

Christmas let me down in the NCAA Tournament. I had the Owls going to the Sweet 16 with wins over Arizona State and Syracuse. But he has a shot to be a pretty decent pro. Although he is still very raw in terms of fundamentals, his offensive game is one of the best in the country, and he has great size. The Bucks have a lot of depth after Michael Redd, but no one really warrants minutes other than Charlie Bell.

NBA Comparison: Manu Ginobili

42. Los Angeles Lakers: Derrick Brown, PF, Xavier

Brown is another intriguing prospect who plays very a very athletic type of game for his size. Although he does not have the size of a true power forward, as with Jeff Adrien, his physical play will warrant him minutes in the post. Whether Los Angeles has room for him on it roster is another question, but Brown should fare just fine.

NBA Comparison: Luis Scola

43. Miami Heat: Jerel McNeal, SG, Marquette

Yes! I can only hope McNeal will be suiting up next year next to his Marquette counterpart Dwyane Wade. Other than my wish coming true, this move makes sense.   Miami really lacked depth at shooting guard last year (among other spots), and I believe he can be a very good player in this league. His defense is outstanding, and if he can develop his dribble a little more, he can be a good role player.

NBA Comparison: Jason Terry

44. Detroit Pistons: Jeff Pendergraph, PF, Arizona State

The Pistons round out their second-round draft picks with Pendergraph. He is a smart player who produced good numbers at Arizona State and is looking to gain a better jump shot to go with his back-to-the-basket skills. Whether he can obtain a roster spot with the Pistons will depend on how well he progresses, especially on defense.

NBA Comparison: Antonio McDyess

45. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jodie Meeks, SG, Kentucky

Minnesota has a bunch of picks in this draft, some of which will be traded. The Timberwolves will look to continue to find gems. No one denies Meeks’ shooting range, but the other aspects of his game are suspect. He does not do anything else extremely well.

NBA Comparison: Ben Gordon

46. Cleveland Cavaliers: A.J. Price, PG, Connecticut

Mo Williams was arguably the biggest off-season acquisition in the NBA this year and has paid huge dividends for the Cavs. However, with Delonte West playing more of a shooting-guard role this year, the Cavs could use another true point guard in the rotation. That is exactly what Price could provide.

NBA Comparison: Deron Williams

47. Minnesota Timberwolves: Nando De Colo, PG, Cholet

I really do not know a whole lot about De Colo other than he is the best remaining prospect. Minnesota has a ton of picks (five) and should go with the best player available. De Colo is a Randy Foye-type who can play both guard positions fairly well. His game is still very raw and will need to improve if he wants to make the final roster.

NBA Comparison: Brandon Roy

48. Phoenix Suns: Leo Lyons, PF, Missouri

Lyons had a great year followed by a great tournament and is extremely athletic for his size. The Suns will look to add depth behind Amar’e Stoudemire. Lyons is a great fit for the Suns’ up-tempo offense. Lyons’ toughness and strength may be a concern, but overall he looks to be a decent prospect.

NBA Comparison: Drew Gooden

49. Atlanta Hawks: Danny Green, SF, North Carolina

After addressing the center position in Round One, the Hawks get a great small forward here. Green has outstanding length, plays exceptional defense, and has improved his offensive game out to the perimeter. Whether he will be quick enough in the NBA remains to be seen, but he has all the tools.

NBA Comparison: Gerald Wallace

No NBA scouts will be denying Damion James's defense come June.

No NBA scouts will be denying Damion James’ defense come June.

50. Utah Jazz: Damion Jones, SF, Texas

Utah stays big in Round Two, opting to go with the versatile and athletic James. Although I can definitely see James going back to Texas for his senior year, he would be a good option as a big man for the Jazz. At the three position, the Jazz are not very big and could use a good post presence.

NBA Comparison: Ron Artest

51. San Antonio Spurs: Milan Macvan, C, KK Hemofarm

The Spurs are almost as good as the Trailblazers at finding international talent, and although I do not know a whole lot about Macvan, he would give the Spurs another good big man. The Spurs can probably let him play overseas for a few years and see how he progresses.

NBA Comparison: Pau Gasol

52. Indiana Pacers: Wesley Matthews, SF, Marquette

The second Golden Eagle goes off the board at No. 52. Matthews played great in the Portsmouth Invitational and showed some moves that may convince scouts he can succeed as a shooting guard. The size is there, but the quickness might not be.  Matthews developed an excellent outside shot this year that will also help his chances of being drafted.

NBA Comparison: Grant Hill

53. San Antonio Spurs: Alex Ruoff, SG, West Virginia

The Spurs find a lot of their talent in young players who are very smart. Ruoff fits this description perfectly. He may not have all the athletic tools, but he plays smart and is very efficient. With so much talent at the shooting-guard position, it may be hard for Ruoff to find a spot, but it won’t be because he didn’t try.

NBA Comparison: Kirk Hinrich

54. Charlotte Bobcats: Taj Gibson, PF, Southern Cal

The Bobcats finish out their balanced draft with the best player available. Gibson did not improve a whole lot while at Southern Cal, but his consistency shone through as he became a go-to option this year for the Trojans. The Bobcats should find a spot for him on the roster as Sean May experiment is all but over.

NBA Comparison: Leon Powe

55. Portland Trailblazers: Michael Washington, PF, Arkansas

The Trailblazers have four second-round picks, so to end it I will give them the best player available. That happens to be Washington. Playing for the Razorbacks last year, Washington filled up the stat sheet and was great on offense. Defensively, he is still a little out of control, but he has great size to go with his skills.

NBA Comparison: Al Horford

56. Portland Trailblazers: Greivis Vasquez, PG, Maryland

Another best-player-available selection, Vasquez has played in big time games and stepped up in a big way. He does a little bit of everything and may fly under the radar as a guy who can make a roster. Portland is filled with young guards, but you never know what will happen with injuries and trades.

NBA Comparison: Jason Kidd

57. Phoenix Suns: Josh Heytvelt, PF, Gonzaga

The Suns took Leo Lyons earlier in the round, but Heytvelt is too good of value to pass up here. Despite his great offensive game, his defensive struggles really concern me. Will he be good enough to defend centers in the NBA? If he is, he could form a very nice duo with Robin Lopez in the Suns’ front court. Having a platoon of Lyons and Heytvelt would give the Suns a little bit of everything.

NBA Comparison: Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Marquette's Dominic James will make some team looking for a great back-up point guard very happy.

Marquette’s Dominic James will make some team looking for a great backup point guard very happy.

58. Boston Celtics: Dominic James, PG, Marquette

Maybe I’m being a bit of a homer pick here, but I could see the Celtics going with a point guard, and James is the next best one. James has been through a ton in his career and has maintained a positive outlook. That will transition to the next level in the Celtics’ locker room. If James can improve his free-throw shooting and jump shooting, he can start in the NBA. His defense is that good.

NBA Comparison: Nate Robinson

59. Los Angeles Lakers: Lee Cummard, SG, BYU

Cummard will be a long shot to make the team with such a deep unit for the Lakers, but he has great size for a shooting guard with a nice jump shot. He will need to improve his defense, but if he can, he could be a nice end-of-the-bench guy.

NBA Comparison: Matt Carroll

60. Miami Heat: Robert Dozier, SF, Memphis

Dozier had a decent year at Memphis, but last year’s losses clearly exposed him. Miami can use all the depth it can get, and Dozier plays nice defense with good length in his arms. Mr. Irrelevant for the NBA actually has a pretty good shot to make the team if the Heat stay at this position.

NBA Comparison: Tyrus Thomas

May 6, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, NBA, NBA Draft, Orlando Magic | , , , | 1 Comment

2009 NBA Mock Draft Round One 2.0

This year’s draft class is one of the weaker in recent memory, but a lot of teams are one piece away and there are great role players in this year’s draft who have the experience to come in right away and see minutes.  Round two will be up tomorrow but for now, enjoy my 2009 NBA Mock Draft 2.0!

1. Sacramento Kings: Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma

Unlike the NFL, when you have the first overall seed in the draft you go with the best player nine out of ten times. Count this one as one of those nine times as the Kings grab the best player in the draft in Griffin to tag-team with Spencer Hawes in the front court. NBA Comparison: Amare Stoudemire

It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that Blake Griffin will be selected first overall by whoever wins the NBA Lottery.

It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that Blake Griffin will be selected first overall by whoever wins the NBA Lottery.

2. Washington Wizards: Ricky Rubio, PG, DKV Joventut

Ever since his Olympics performance against the United States, scouts have been drooling waiting for Rubio to declare for the draft.  Now that he has entered his name, the Wizards can start building around him to get back to the playoffs. Moving Gilbert Arenas to a Dwyane Wade-type shooting guard role will help both players out and make the Wizards that much better.  NBA Comparison: Rafer Alston

3. Los Angeles Clippers: Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona

Hill was one of the most improved players in the NCAA this year and will be rewarded for it in the draft.  Hill is an outstanding scorer and and even better shot blocker.  Hopefully Los Angeles can reverse their Lottery luck and start to build a core around Hill, Eric Gordon, and Deandre Jordan.  NBA Comparison: Al Jefferson

4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Hasheem Thabeet, C, Connecticut

The Thunder are growing excellent young talent right now with Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Russell Westbrook, but there appears to be a gaping hole at the center position.  Thabeet was the best defensive player in the NCAA last year and if he can add a some muscle to his frame, he will be the next big shot blocker in the league.  NBA Comparison: Sam Dalembert

5. Minnesota Timberwolves: Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy

A lot of people are underrating Jennings because of his decision to play internationally instead of going to Arizona, but do not deny Jennings’ talent for one second.  He excels on his jump shot and getting to the hoop, where he finishes with great power.  Minnesota can move Randy Foye to shooting guard to make room for Jennings.  NBA Comparison: Allen Iverson

6. Memphis Grizzlies: James Harden, SG, Arizona State

I am not a huge fan of Harden as I wonder how good he can be without having top end speed. Still, you can not overlook his outstanding ability on jump shots.  He needs to work on creating more offensively and he plays pretty good defense for his size.  His potential is huge and despite having O.J. Mayo, the Grizzlies believe in Mike Conley and will build on more depth in getting Harden.  NBA Comparison: Ben Gordon

7. Golden State Warriors: Tyreke Evans, PG, Memphis

Evans was one of my favorite players to watch this year, and for good reason.  He has great size for a point guard and uses it very well getting to the hoop.  He is also able to guard bigger players on the defenders, something Golden State has been known to give up on most nights.  Evans also improved his jump shot as the year went on and will develop it even further in Don Nelson’s system.  NBA Comparison: Dwyane Wade

8. New York Knicks: Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest

Teague is the definition of a combo guard as he has a knack for scoring baskets but also handles the point very well.  He should thrive in Mike D’Antoni’s run-n-gun offense because of it, and with the uncertainty of Nate Robinson and Chris Duhon next year, Teague makes a lot of sense here.  NBA Comparison: Gilbert Arenas

9. Toronto Raptors: Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke

Toronto really struggled to find a steady and consistent shooting guard this year, but Henderson should solve all thier problems.  Henderson is unbelievably athletic and a smart player who will benefit greatly from an up-tempo style that he was not able to see while playing for coach K.  NBA Comparison: Joe Johnson

10. Milwaukee Bucks: Johnny Flynn, PG, Syracuse

I don’t know if Flynn will end up going over Ty Lawson in the draft come June, but he should.  Not only did Flynn have a better statistical season (by a hair), but I believe that he is the next big thing to come and has more potential than Lawson.  Flynn plays much bigger than he really is and the Bucks could use a starting point guard on a team full of back-ups in Luke Ridnour and Ramon Sessions.  NBA Comparison: Tony Parker

11. New Jersey Nets: Earl Clark, SF, Louisville

Clark is one of the most intriguing prospects in this year’s draft and one of my favorites.  I got to watch him quite a bit as he played in the Big East, and from what I can tell he has all the tools.  His size matched up with his athleticism is unlike any other player in the draft.  If he can focus on becoming a true forward (settles for too many jump shots), his outstanding defense and versatility will carry him far in the league.  NBA Comparison: Josh Smith

12. Charlotte Bobcats: Wayne Ellington, SG, North Carolina

Ellington’s permiter game is outstanding and he has pretty good size for a shooting guard.  Charlotte lacked a true two guard after the Jason Richardson trade, and it never hurts to have a little home-grown talent to bring some people to the stadium.  NBA Comparison: Richard Hamilton

13. Indiana Pacers: Stephen Curry, PG, Davidson

The value that Curry brings falling to number 13 is too hard to pass up.  Curry formed himself into a combo guard this year, taking over point guard responsbilities.  This will be a key asset for NBA scouts to see as last year he was more of a pure shooter that did not do anything else very well.  NBA Comparison: Mike Bibby

How fun would Ty Lawson be to watch playing in the Suns offense?

How fun would Ty Lawson be to watch playing in the Suns offense?

14. Phoenix Suns: Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina

Lawson will become the heir apparent to Steve Nash and he should thrive in the Suns up-tempo system, somewhat similar to what he played in at Chapel Hill.  Lawson lacks ideal size for a point guard but his combination of speed and strength should make him a very good player in the league.  NBA Comparison: Deron Williams

15. Detroit Pistons: Demar DeRozan, SF, Southern Cal

DeRozan has filled up many a Youtube videos with his athleticsm and speed to go with it, but the question is whether or not he can translate that into a solid basketball player.  At Southern Cal, DeRozan had an efficient year and, with so much potential on his side, Detroit should be able to turn him into a stud.  NBA Comparison: Josh Howard

16. Chicago Bulls: Terrance Williams, SG, Louisville

I do not expect the Bulls to re-sign Ben Gordon this off-season, leaving somewhat of a hole at the position.  Williams has the best intangibles and leadership qualities of anyone in the draft and plays excellent defense, which is something the Bulls could use more out of their guards. If Gordon is re-signed by the time of the draft, this pick could easily be Patrick Patterson.  NBA Comparison: Andre Iguodala

17. Philadelphia 76ers: Chase Budinger, SF, Arizona

Budinger has significantly increased his stock since coming out of high school with Greg Oden and Kevin Durant, and has become a much better all around player because of it.  Philadelphia could use depth at the position but would also consider Flynn or Lawson if either of them were to fall this far.  NBA Comparison: Luol Deng

18. Minneosta Timberwolves:James Johnson, PF, Wake Forest

While Minnesota has entrenched their front court with Al Jefferson and Kevin Love, Johnson is a project that can sit and wait in the wings for a few years becoming a full time player.  He flew under the radar all of last year because of Jeff Teague and Al-Farouq Aminu but his athleticism and strength are two great traits that could make him a stellar defender in the NBA.  NBA Comparison: Al Thornton

19. Atlanta Hawks: B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State

Mullens was the top prospect coming out of high school but did not have an unbelievable year at Ohio State. Still, he has a ton of potential that could very easily translate to the NBA game.  He is very raw but has good size and is fluid in the paint and is one of the few true centers that could go in the first round this year.  Atlanta could use some depth behind Zaza Pachulia and keep Al Horford at the power forward position. NBA Comparison: Sam Dalembert

20. Utah Jazz: DeJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh

If Carlos Boozer is not back for the Jazz, which I do not expect him to be, depth at power forward will be a major concern.  Paul Millsap proved that he is more than capable of starting, but behind him there is little talent on a team that runs on having depth.  NBA Comparison: Paul Millsap

21. New Orleans Hornets: Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU

The Hornets are really lacking at the shooting guard position and Thornton is a project that could stem into something very positive if he continues to work on his game.  He does a great job coming off of screens in offensive sets and even has a decent post game that he can use in the NBA.  NBA Comparison: Ray Allen

22. Dallas Mavericks: Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky

Other than Brandon Bass, the Mavs do not have very man post-up forwards, and that is exactly what Patterson is.  Injuries plagued him but when he is playing good basketball, he is a top-10 pick.  He averages close to three offensive rebounds per game and works very hard in the post to fight for rebounds despite still being a very raw player.  He could easily be the steal of this draft.  NBA Comparison: Al Horford

Jrue Holiday would benefit from another year with Ben Howland at UCLA...just ask Darren Collison.

Jrue Holiday would benefit from another year with Ben Howland at UCLA...just ask Darren Collison.

23. Sacarmento Kings: Jrue Holiday, PG, UCLA

After addressing the power forward position, the Kings pick up a big-time project in Holiday.  He has the potential to be a starting point guard in the Association but will really need to polish up.  He struggled late in the season but gives good versatility as a combo guard.  I would not be surprised at all to see Holiday come back to the Bruins for another year of work in college.  NBA Comparison: Rodney Stuckey

24. Portland Trailblazers: Sam Young, SF, Pittsburgh

Young is one of the most polished players in the draft that can come in right away and get minutes.  He will be coming to a team in the Blazers that has some of the best young talent in the league, so player that can see the floor from day one will be important.  Young plays great defense and really improved his jump shot this year.  NBA Comparison: Brandon Rush

25. Oklahoma City Thunder: Eric Maynor, PG, VCU

Despite having standout rookie Russell Westbrook, the Thunder have shaky depth at the point guard position.  Maynor benefited greatly from the NCAA Tournament and was one of the most well-recognized names in March.  He is a veteran player and a great leader that can translate to the young Thunder team.  NBA Comparison: Nate Robinson

26. Chicago Bulls: Austin Daye, PF, Gonzaga

Daye is a very interesting prospect that, like most Bulls forwards, will be a project in the making.  The one difference is that Daye is an outstanding defender and very strong in the post.  Too many times this year the Bulls were “out-physicaled” and it cost them points in the paint.  Daye also has a nice mid-range game on offense.  NBA Comparison: Jared Jeffries

27. Memphis Grizzlies: Patrick Mills, PG, Saint Mary’s

Mike Conley showed flashes of starting capability, but just in case he is not the answer for the Grizzles, Mills will be a very good pickup with good value.  Mills takes too many outside shots right now and will need to work on that, especially if he keeps missing them, but over time could prove to be a solid option at the point.  NBA Comparison: Rafer Alston

Gani Lawal has tremendous athleticism, but will it translate to the NBA?

Gani Lawal has tremendous athleticism, but will it translate to the NBA?

28. Minnesota Timberwolves: Gani Lawal, PF, Georgia Tech

With three selections in the first round, Minnesota will likely not have three huge needs to address, so they will either go with the player with the most potential or simply the best player on the draft board.  Lawal’s potential is through the roof as he plays above the rim on most possessions and has thunderous dunks in most games he plays in.  While he is still raw and not mechanically sound, he could be a star.  NBA Comparison: Jason Maxiell

29. Los Angeles Lakers: Darren Collison, PG, UCLA

Just like they did with Jordan Farmar, the Lakers go back to a UCLA point guard and get a great floor leader in Collison.  Staying for his senior year hurt his draft stock but he still produces at a high level and had three Final Four appearances, showing he knows how to win.  Derek Fisher will be 36 and has stopped producing for the Lakers, while Farmar is strictly a backup.  NBA Comparison: Chris Duhon

30. Cleveland Cavaliers: Tyler Smith, SF, Tennessee

The Cavs are in good hands with LeBron James, but injuries to Wally Szczerbiak and J.J. Hickson this year really exposed the Cavs lack of a bench at the forward position.  Smith is definitely a project and there is a good chance he will return for his senior year, but regardless of when he comes out, he has the athleticism to make it in the pros, if only as a great defender.  NBA Comparison: Tyrus Thomas

May 5, 2009 Posted by | Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, NBA, NBA Draft, Orlando Magic | , , , | 5 Comments

NBA Lottery Mock Draft

While there are still a few weeks left in the NBA regular season, the playoff teams have all but been decided and for some teams. it has been a long time coming looking forward to the NBA Lottery.  In this first edition, I am just going to go with the percentages of obtaining the first round pick, and that will be the draft order.  Basically, no lottery but rather record is what determines your spot in the draft….like it should be.

1. Sacramento Kings: Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma

Griffin declared for the NBA today and has to be the consensus number one pick unless someone comes out of nowhere this spring, and rightfully so.  Scarmento is building their core up and adding Griffin to the foundation of Spencer Hawes and Kevin Martin is definitely a step in the right direction.

2. Washington Wizards: Hasheem Thabeet, C, Connecticut

Oh, what a year can do for some people.  Last year, Thabeet was simply a big body with a lot of work ahead of him if he was going to make it.  Well, Thabeet did a lot of work last year and also blocked a lot of shots and is the reason that he is right behind Griffin.  Washington lacked a true center this year and never established a good inside game.  Hopefully, this team can stay healthy next year and be contenders with Arenas, Butler, Jamison, and Thabeet.

3. Los Angeles Cippers: Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy

The choice to go to Italy will never be seen as a good or bad decision, but regardless Jennings is still an unbelievable talent and just a year out of high school.  He can do it all and can be very successful in the Clippers system (whatever it is).  The reason I say that is because I can see him being the Monta Ellis that Baron Davis used to have, while Eric Gordon is quickly becoming the Jason Richardson that Davis used to have.

If he declares this year, Greg Monroe is a sure-fire lottery pick that will most likely be taken in the Top 5.

If he declares this year, Greg Monroe is a sure-fire lottery pick that will most likely be taken in the Top 5.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Greg Monroe, C, Georgetown

I watched Monroe this year against Marquette, and man did he show his athleticism and upside.  I know the term “upside” is something everyone gets bored of hearing during the NBA Draft, but it really is important and Monroe has plenty of it.  With Russell Westrbook and Kevin Durant taking care of the back court scoring, Monroe will come in and be a force right away and only get better as time goes on.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves: Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain

I really have not seen a lot of Rubio, but what I have seen shows me a lot of talent and smarts.  He dominated the Olympics and really got his name out there and will add a new dimension to a Timberwolves team that needs a floor leader.  Randy Foye is nice but I think I like him more at shooting guard, while Rubio can come in and run the point all day.

6. Memphis Grizzlies: Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest

There are probably better options at this point in the draft, especially at the guard position, but Aminu brings good versatility to the Grizzlies as he is able to play both forward positions.  He needs to improve his perimiter shot, but he plays excellent defense and rebounds very well.  I have always liked what he has done on the court and will join a Grizzlies team that could surprise a lot of people in the coming years with a core of Conley, Mayo, Gay, Gasol, and Aminu.

7. Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry, SG, Davidson

What better spot for the nation’s best shooter than the run’n’gun style of Golden State?  Curry will absolutely dominate in this offense and his lack of defense will not be as big of a deal.  This year, he showed off his ability to pass the ball as well and is quickly turning into a combo guard, something that is becoming more and more valuable to NBA teams.

8. Toronto Raptors: James Harden, SF, Arizona State

Harden has one of the best NBA bodies in the draft and will likely contribute to whatever team he ends up on right away.  I believe he is capable of playing the shooting guard position, and is capable of playing it very well.  He needs to become more consistent shooting the ball, but his ability to drive and draw contact is a key to his game.  His physical nature will take him a long way in the Association.

9. New York Nicks: Tyreke Evans, PG, Memphis

Right now, Evans is not ranked as the 9th best player in this draft, but by the time comes to draft he will be.  He needs to work on his jump shot and might not look like the ideal fit for the Knicks, but I believe that if you work on him as a project, he could be one of the best players to come out of this draft.  His ability to drive to the hoop and play very good defense warrant a first round pick, and his ceiling is high enough that he should be taken here.

10. Milwaukee Bucks: Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona

Hill finally put everything together this year, and the result was an improved offensive player as well as a freak of nature on the boards and in the lane.  His shot blocking ability and tenacity to get after it on defense is second to none, and with some more polishing he could become great.  Milwaukee got good work from Luc Richard Mbah a Moute this year, but he isn’t the same long term answer that Hill could be.

11. New Jersey Nets: Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas

No one saw their draft stock rise higher in the NCAA Tournament than Aldrich.  He dominated inside and proved that he is capable of playing both the power forward and center position.  I believe him and Brook Lopez can co-exist inside and form a very good tandem in the frontcourt for the Nets.

12. Indiana Pacers: James Johnson, PF, Wake Forest

Much like Aminu, Johnson can play both forward positions and has outstanding athleticism.  The Pacers are trying to build around Danny Granger and Troy Murphy, and Johnson gives them an inside presence with a lot of (here it is again) upside that could translate into a stud in a few years.

Ty Lawson should have no problem fitting in with a team that is known for scoring.

Ty Lawson should have no problem fitting in with a team that is known for scoring.

13. Charlotte Bobcats: Earl Clark, SF, Louisville

When I think of Earl Clark I think Danny Granger, and if that is the case than the Bobcats are getting an absolute still at 13.  I got to watch a lot of him this year in the Big East and he is everything people say he is.  At the end of spring, I could easily see his draft stock jumping through the roof into the Top 10.  He will join Gerald Wallace and Boris Diaw on a much improved Bobcats team that almost snuck into the playoffs this year.

14. Phoenix Suns: Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina

With Steve Nash seemingly having one foot out the door, it is time to find his replacement and Lawson is by far the answer.  He led one of the nation’s best offenses that averaged 90 points per game to a national championship and would have been a lottery pick last year.  He is extremely fast and also has good size to go with a decent outside jump shot.  He is capable of running the floor with Phoenix and will definitely succeed in this system.

April 7, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA, NBA Draft | , , | Leave a comment