21. New Jersey Nets - Jason Thompson, Rider, C
New Jersey native Thompson is exactly what the Nets are looking for—with the 25th-ranked offense in the NBA and many of the Nets' current low post players leaving due to free agency, Thompson provides some needed depth and the ability to run the floor with his frame. He doesn't shoot free throws well, at 58 percent, but Diop, Krstic, and Boone all shoot under 50 percent as is.
The Nets need a center that is offensively oriented. JaVale McGee is tempting at this spot, but he puts up similar numbers and strong defense similar to most of the Nets' current big men—who have tons of defensive talent and no offensive gameplan. Thompson will be able to provide offense with his versatility and even his three-point range. He's an intriguing prospect that many teams have shown interest in.
22. Orlando Magic - Chase Budinger, Arizona, SG/SF
The Magic look solid all-around—the only worry is Rashard Lewis's age, but Hedo Turkoglu can take over when he's out, leaving an empty space at SF. With Lewis they have Maurice Evans and Keith Bogans at SG, who aren't the ideal starters for their team.
Budinger is a great shooter and has limited fouls in the minutes he's played, an indicator of disciplined defense. He's conditioned very well from the number of minutes played. Budinger's athleticism has even made him one of the best volleyball players on tour in the U.S. McGee gets passed on again because the Magic already have youth and depth behind Dwight Howard.
23. Utah Jazz – Devon Hardin, California, C
The Jazz are in need of a big-bodied center that doesn't foul too often and can play excellent defense. Mehmet Okur is good offensively, but his and Boozer's foul troubles show the need for a defensive stand in the paint.
McGee is a good consideration here, but he's foul-prone, and the Jazz already commit the most fouls in the NBA. He gets taken advantage of defensively and other than blocking shots he's a horrible defender and lacks explosiveness. He's a great shooter, but in many ways is too similar to Okur. Robin Lopez looks good as well, but he’s a project who has a lot of weaknesses and some defensive issues that could make him a bust.
Devon Hardin is the man the Jazz are looking for—he has an ideal body and size. He provides a mediocre offensive game but excels defensively, using his size to contest and defend shots in the paint.
24. Seattle Supersonics – JaVale McGee, Nevada, C
Finally McGee has found a home. McGee has a great size and frame—with him, Watson, Mayo, and Durant running the floor, this may become one of the fastest and best teams in transition. With Petro, Elson, and Swift being injured and unproductive, McGee is at least a nice change of pace, with star potential if the Sonics can find the means to create it.
McGee excels at driving to the basket and is even able to shoot NBA threes. He is athletic and quick, though he lacks the explosiveness and size to hold his own in the post.
McGee’s versatility, combined with his athleticism, makes him a good pick here. He has upside that a rebuilding franchise can’t pass up, and with six picks in this year's draft there’s little reason for the Sonics not to take a chance on him. He’s likely to be a bust, is turnover- and foul-prone, and is a bad free throw shooter, but he’s the foundation for a transition offense.
25. Houston Rockets - Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis, SG/SF
The Rockets look solid on defense but need more more offensive production, ranking 22nd in points per game. They have great depth at most positions but are looking for a guard to replace Luther Head—who crumbled like a cookie in the playoffs—and spell veteran guards Tracy McGrady and Bobby Jackson.
The Rockets' strongest needs include better FG%, 3PT%, and FT%. This can be provided by Chris Douglas-Roberts with his ability to drive to the rim, exceptional athleticism, and good perimeter shot.
**26. Utah Jazz - Courtney Lee, Western Kentucky, SG/SF
Courtney Lee has very few downfalls and looks exceptional. Questions about his competition in the NCAA were answered with an appearance in the Sweet 16. He's an excellent role player with a great attitude, and he displays veteran skills of timing and patience combined with his fluid movement and jumpers.
With Ronnie Brewer and Andrei Kirilenko at SF (and assuming Kyle Korver is traded), Lee adds a true SG who is a good team player with fundamental skills, allowing Brewer to play at his natural SF position. Lee also adds great perimeter defense with his ability to steal the ball.
27. New Orleans Hornets – Gary Forbes, UMass, SG/SF
The New Orleans Hornets have made solid improvements this year, and drafting a SG would be ideal, but there’s none worth reaching for at this point. They are in a good position to take the best available talent—with Jannero Pargo/Chris Paul and David West/Hilton Armstrong, they’re looking for the best SG/SF available.
Forbes displayed a great showing at the predraft combine in Orlando and was a phenomenal scorer. The stats he put up in the A-10 are the real deal. Here Forbes allows some versatility between Morris Peterson and Peja Stojakovic.
*28. Minnesota Timberwolves – Marreese Speights, Florida PF/C
Speights is taken here because he has already slid down so far and adds some depth to having Kevin Love, Al Jefferson and Kwame Brown (assuming a trade with Memphis) so that Minny can establish a gameplan down in the post.
Speights is the best available player here—he lacks some defensive awareness but comparisons of him have been made to Al Jefferson, though he has a lot to prove to make that a reality. He’s a great finisher and is excellent at picking up rebounds, though there’s questions about his conditioning and understanding of the game.
29. Detroit Pistons – D.J. White, Indiana, PF
The Pistons have made a verbal commitment to White and Hardin. Unfortunately Hardin isn’t available, and so they’ll stick with White because they believe he will be a perfect fit in their system. This is a tough choice, especially with Robin Lopez still available and their biggest need being at center with Rasheed Wallace and Theo Ratliff aging.
White is a solid and aggressive PF who has a decent perimeter game, and he’s great at getting rebounds and scoring on the glass down low. With Antonio McDyess’s age and Jason Maxiell lacking the conditioning to play full-time minutes, this could be a good combination for the Pistons despite passing on Lopez.
30. Boston Celtics – Robin Lopez, Stanford, PF/C
It’s amazing that Robin has fallen this far, but despite being twins, the Lopez brothers are two different players. Robin Lopez’s weaknesses include getting overpowered in the paint, poor FT%, a poor offensive game, being foul prone, and a lack of defensive awareness.
On the other hand, he’s a good offensive rebounder, mobile, able to run the floor, and has good shot blocking ability. He has a lot of work to do to become a better defender and scorer.
Kendrick Perkins isn’t in good enough shape to get the minutes he would like. With P.J. Brown in his 14thyear, and Leon Powe and Glen Davis being just 6'8" and 6'9" respectively, having a seven-footer with potential to come in for Perkins would make Lopez a good fit here and a steal for how far he’s slid down.
* = Minnesota trades C Michael Doleac, 3rd pick, 34th pick to Memphis for the 5th pick, 28th pick and C Kwame Brown
** = Utah Jazz trade SF Kyle Korver to San Antonio for the 26th pick.
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