Friday, June 22, 2007

If I Were These GM's: NBA Mock Draft

The problem with Mock Drafts tends to be that by the time you get around to doing one. You've already looked at about 800 others. I will try and fight Chad Ford and all the other Mock Drafts as I take a look at this from a little different perspective. What if I were these GM's, sitting in my swanky office and printing money on that cool machine you see in drug related movies (ala Blow or Rush Hour). Here I go, looking at every roster millions in my pocket. What am I going to do? To keep those millions coming in...

(NOTE: I'm going with just the lottery here as I don't know many of the international players well enough to slot them with teams.)

1. Portland Trail Blazers - Greg Oden
The Blazers winning the lottery to begin with was probably the best evidence we'll ever see that the Lottery is not rigged. As far as the pick goes, it's an absolute slam dunk can't-think-twice-about-it kinda pick. As great as Kevin Durant was last year at Texas will he be that good at the next level? Who knows swing-men are a dime a dozen in this league. Big men however, are not. When you get your shot at one like this, you absolutely have to take it. Consider how dominant he was in the National Title game against TWO lottery caliber players. Al Horford and Joakim Noah had no answer for Greg Oden and if the rest of his team had shown up. Maybe those Buckeyes raise the title. The Blazers will settle their SF issue another time. They MUST take Oden or risk that Bowie/Jordan situation all over again.

2. Seattle SuperSonics - Kevin Durant
This is an easy pick here. The potential is certainly there for KD. But will he be able to tap it at the next level? Is he strong enough? Like Oden's injuries, Durant's toughness has been called in to question quite regularly since he couldn't bench 185 pounds at the "combine". I'm not convinced Durant will be the mega-star that many others are. The biggest question for me, is how will be adjust to be pushed around in the early going? That should let us all know just what kind of player he's going to be. As I have no doubt that he'll be pushed around a little bit in the early going. If he responds well at the very least he has the tool to become a second tier level superstar (ala Tracy McGrady, or Vince Carter). Regardless, with Lewis certain to leave this is another no-brainier.

3. Atlanta Hawks - Al Horford
While Mike Conley Jr. is probably the most fitting pick in this spot I as the Hawks have plans for pick #11. Thus, it's Horford time in Atlanta. Considering only Marvin Williams is worth the ink on his contract this actually makes sense. This would push Sheldon Williams (way too many Williams') into the 3rd/4th big man off the bench role he belongs in. As I'd expect Horford to take the starting job from the slow-developing Marvin quickly. And, as Billy Knight my fear of losing my job makes Horford's NBA ready body an easy pick. I liken him a lot to Carlos Boozer with more pure talent and he puts the work in. Horford has what it takes to the second best player in this draft if Durant fails to excel at the next level.

4. Memphis Grizzlies - Joakim Noah
Operating under the "keeping Pau Gasol" umbrella missing out on Horford certainly hurts. And while Brandan Wright's potential is intriguing I don't know that he'll be much better than Hakim Warrick can be. Nor do I want to wait for Pau's prime to expire before he's ready to contribute. With that in mind I'm reaching a little bit and taking Joakim Noah in this spot. While many think they have to take Conley here, I disagree. Damon Stoudamire is still solid and I believe Kyle Lowry will contribute at some point. At least as a serviceable backup to Damon this year (sorry Chucky). I like Noah here as he's a long, defensive energy guy who can score around the basket and has shown some promise with his jump shot. His emotion alone should provide a boost to this sad bunch and his size inside along with Gasol's provides an immediate defensive juggernaut upfront. Now only if they could get those guys on the perimeter to stop somebody once in a while they'd be in good shape. Just imagine their defensive front if Rudy Gay can do his best Tayshaun Prince. The length would be absolutely overwhelming. This is a reach I can admit that, but I believe it's the best fit for Memphis whether it happens or not.

5. Boston Celtics - Corey Brewer
Before I sat down to do this I'd have never thought I'd slot the three Gators 3-4-5, let alone with Noah going before Brewer. That said if Boston cannot swing some kind of deal for Garnett Brewer is the best fit. With Jeff Green a close second. Wally Szczerbiak has been completely useless and will likely continue on that path. Brewer is a very different kind of player than Wally is. And I think he'll fit in much better than Wally ever did. He'll provide solid defense on the perimeter the minute he steps onto the floor. Eventually he could develop into a defensive stopper in the mold of Tayshaun Prince, using his length and athleticism to slow down opposing ball handlers. Offensively he's pretty raw but he's fearless going to the basket and has a decent, though easily block-able jump shot. He's got a good shot to be a Josh Howard/Prince mix though a little worse offensively then Howard. Along with Pierce and Jefferson I think Brewer can get Boston back into the playoffs in the horrid Eastern Conference.

6. Milwaukee Bucks - Mike Conley Jr.
This would be a dream come true for the Bucks. And could save them millions in the long run as they prepare to offer free agent Chauncey Billups a max contract. Would drafting Conley be enough to deter them from chasing Chauncey? Who knows. But it would be enough for me. With the young nucleus they have they might as well toss Conley directly into the fire immediately and Earl Boykins is a solid backup at the point. Conley can take time developing his jump shot and concentrate on getting to the rim and facilitating for his teammates. With Redd, Villaneuva, Bogut and an improving Charlie Bell Conley won't have to score at all. And can pick his spots and develop into the Tony Parker like PG I think he will become. I think this is a great fit for both Conley and the Bucks. All they'll be missing is a true PF so they can move Villaneuva to the three where despite his size he plays better and put Bell into the 6th man role.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves - Jeff Green
Whether Garnett stays or not Green will fit in nicely in Minnesota. With Garnett still around he can develop into the player they wanted Wally to be. Like Brewer he should be a solid defender on the perimeter from day one and in a situation where he'll defer to KG he should thrive in his first year. He, Foye, and hopefully McCants will provide a great group moving forward when KG leaves via free agency. Should KG leave via trade, (especially in that deal with Boston) Minnesota will be an exciting team. And Jeff Green will become the face of the franchise in just a few years. As the most polished of the young group.

8. Charlotte Bobcats - Al Thornton
Charlotte is in need of three things: defense, scoring and publicity. Well "two out of three ain't bad" with Al Thornton another small forward who's just about as good as Green and Brewer but not quite as marketable as either. At this point anyway. Adam Morrison cannot play defense and he struggled offensively last year as well. He's probably one of the worst #3 picks of all time. But that pick was based a lot on marketability. This one should not be. With Gerald Wallace and Matt Carrol both likely headed for the door (Wallace almost for sure) Thornton can step in and do his damnedest to pick up that slack. He's good enough right now to lead the team in scoring and if the Bobcats do manage to pick up Rashard Lewis. Thornton, Lewis, Felton, Okafor and Brezec should be a solid core moving forward. The biggest issue will be that they'll overpay for Lewis and regret it when Thornton turns out to be the better player.

9. Chicago Bulls - Yi Jianlian
I don't know much about Yi at all. I've never seen more than a few video clips of the guy. But the Bulls can offered to take a flier here and reap the benefits if he's anywhere near what many think he will be. Chicago is the ideal market for Yi as well so it's a perfect fit all around. This pick should signal the official end to Andres Nocioni's tenure in Chicago. Not to mention Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha can pick up the slack while Yi develops. This is all assuming the Bulls don't gut the team for Kobe Bryant. That would be a huge mistake.

10. Sacramento Kings - Spencer Hawes
For the Kings it all depends on whether or not they believe they can unload Ron Artest. If not, and I suspect not Spencer Hawes makes sense. Brad Miller's getting older and he's a similar player to Hawes. Which could be beneficial in his development. While Hawes should spend a lot more time in the post then Miller does he's an excellent passer for a big man, much liker Miller. The only other real option here for the Kings is Julian Wright. But if they're keeping Artest Wright doesn't fit.

The Hawks Trade the #11 Pick to Portland for Jarrett Jack
Chad Ford mentioned this as a possibility and I'd say the Hawks have to do it. If not Billy Knight will be hoping Crittenton or Law can be impact players immediately. While Jack has developed into a serviceable point guard and should only get better. This trade makes sense all around as Portland fills their SF slot. Though that makes Sergio Rodriguez their starting PG.

11. Portland Trail Blazers - Julian Wright
The Blazers make out beautifully here if this all happens. They get the SF they're looking for in Wright and don't have to trade Randolph if they really don't want to. Wright much like the other swing men in this draft should be solid defensively from the get-go. His offense can develop as it won't be needed in the early going. With Oden, Randolph, Roy and Aldridge and Sergio should do a solid job running the offense for the time being. Who knows though, maybe Portland spins Randolph for a PG at some point this summer and treks out a young albeit loaded roster that can grow together. I've heard people call Wright Ron Artest without the headache's and while I agree to a point I think Wright can be much better offensively than Artest ever will be.

12. Philadelphia 76ers - Brandan Wright
Talk about a team that needs everything. Outside of Andre Iguodala no one on the roster is really worth mentioning. Andre Miller would be the exception but he won't be apart of the future and could be moving on before to long. Given the youth on the roster taking a "long view" pick such as Wright would be fine. Especially in this spot where his value is high. If he slides as he should I think Philly has to take him here. The potential is there and if he meshes well with Iguodala they could develop into a solid tag-team moving forward. Not to mention Dalembert and Wright up front would be an imposing defensive presence in terms of length. Hate to try and get a jump shot off in the lane with these two roaming.

13. New Orleans - Nick Young
Young is the ideal fit in this spot and from the Mocks I've seen there's a good chance he's going here as well. He should fit in well with Chris Paul and Peja out on the perimeter and leave the Hornets with only one concern, defense. If Young and Paul work well together the two of them and David West would make a nice threesome to go with Peja in the Western conference. If all goes well they could crack the playoffs next year and avoid the fringe where they've spent the last two years. Young's presence alone should put extra pressure on defense's and allow the Hornets to put up points in bunches. Now they just need to address their perimeter defense. Maybe Peja can play some...maybe not.

14. Los Angeles Clippers - Acie Law IV
Their are two situations in the league that I think are ideal fits for Law. This is one of them, the Pistons would be the other. Law will get the opportunity to learn from what of basketballs most experienced point guards. Who also happens to have a similar skill set to that of Law. After Shaun Livingston's injury last season his future remains up in the air. Drafting Law could
provide some stability at the PG spot and a ready-to-play one at that. Cassell isn't far from retirement and it wouldn't shock me to see Law steal the starting job by mid-season. As long as Law doesn't get to crazy with his shot attempts and just facilitates in the early going he should be in good shape. He needs to learn to pass more and his game will be about as good as it can get. He can defend and shoot already. Why in the world would anyone take Crittenton over him right now?

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