Well ladies and gentleman, the time is almost upon us. The second greatest non-event of the sporting year:the NBA Draft.
Since it's been nearly a week since the NBA Finals ended (9 out of 10 ESPN experts say Lakers, must be true), we all know it's time to start preparing for the 2008-09 season right around the corner.
So, yours truly is here tonight to bring you Round 1 of my NBA Mock Draft.
1) Bulls—Derrick Rose: Yes, I know the Bulls have Kirk Hinrich, and yes, Beasley is also in the draft, but this Rose pick just makes sense to me.
With this pick, Hinrich becomes disposable, and would be attractive for many teams (like...the Lakers perhaps?).
The Bulls can go on to bolster its starting lineup, in particular the frontcourt, through trades. Never hurts that Rose has expressed it's his "lifelong dream" to play for the Bulls.
2) Heat—Michael Beasley: Marion is in his last year of his contract, and if the Heat is smart, should be trade bait this offseason a la Lamar Odom. The Heat has a lot of work to do, and Beasley is a tough defender and could be a great compliment to Dwyane Wade. However, do not be surprised if the Heat trade this pick away for a solid starter and a lower pick.
3) Timberwolves—OJ Mayo: Holy Christ, Randy Foye is a starter for this team? Is there anyone worth a damn not named Al Jefferson on this team? Minnesota needs help everywhere, might as well play it safe with a guard going forward, rather than risking a pick on a big, given the history of bigs often not panning out (Tractor Traylor, Bryant Reeves, Raef LaFrentz, Kwame Brown, and Michael Olowokandi all say hi).
4) Supersonics—Brook Lopez: This whole team outside of Durant is hurting, but I don't even know who the hell Johan Petro is. It's pretty much a coin flip between Lopez and Love; I think Love is more talented, but Seattle needs a natural Center. 7' Lopez vs. 6'9", slightly overweight Love. I'll take Lopez.
5) Grizzlies—Kevin Love: Memphis actually has a good backcourt duo going forward in Conley and Gay. But that frontcourt is in big need of a makeover. Unfortunately for Memphis, every big not named Kevin Love is a real reach at this spot. I'm saying Love for mock draft purposes, but if this isn't Lopez, I would not be shocked to see Memphis deal this pick. Then again, they traded Gasol for a scrap heap.
6) Knicks—Jerryd Bayless: I was going to say Eric Gordon here, until I looked up some stats from their one year in college.
Gordon averaged over 1.5 assists less than Bayless a game, shot a slightly worse percentage, but the two things that really stood out was the 40.7 percent/33.7 percent edge for Bayless in three-pointers, and the better potential at the point.
And lord knows the Knicks want themselves a point guard right now after the two ultimate franchise killers ran into town.
7) Clippers—Russell Westbrook: Once again, I'm passing on Gordon for a player more suited for the point.
The one hang up on Westbrook is his status as a "one-and-a-half" guy, and might pan out to be more of an SG instead of a PG. Either way, he is a top notch defender, and could help the Clippers mediocre defense.
8) Bucks—Joe Alexander: He might struggle to defend at the three in the NBA, but it's a whole lot better then the current SF platoon of Mason and Simmons (why Simmons is set to make almost $10,000,000 next season while I sit in front of a computer blogging about how he should be FedEx'd to Europe in exchange for a bag of balls is another story for another day).
9) Bobcats—Anthony Randolph (aka someone not named Eric Gordon): I sound like a pissed off Illini fan right now, even though I'm actually a pissed off Notre Dame fan.
But, while Gordon could fit in here, Jason Richardson is still locked in for three more years, and the Bobcats still have play room under the cap for next season.
They have to do better than Davidson at Power Forward, and Randolph is the best one available. He'll need a couple $100 meals at Wendy's, though.
10) Nets—Alexis Ajinca: I'm seriously not doing this on purpose, people, this is just once again a poor fit for Gordon, so long as Carter is still horribly contracting the team to death.
I'm apprehensive of Ajinca due to a high bust potential, but he could also develop to be a hell of a player. The lack of experience concerns me, though.
11) Pacers—DJ Augustin: Before I begin, Indiana fans please send all hate mail to email@example.com.
But once again, this is a team not in dire need of a shooting guard. Dunleavy played well in 2007-08, and Travis Diener is not the PG you want going forward. Augustin is the best PG out there, a position Indiana desperately needs help in.
12) Kings—Danilo Gallinari: Please see previous intro sentence, but once again, this is a team where the Shooting Guard is the least of their concerns.
Artest will probably be gone, and Miller might as well in favor of the younger, less pricey Spencer Hawes. With Artest most likely being done in the capital city, Gallinari should be able to fill that void fairly well.
While there is no chance in the world Gallinari will play the kind of defense Artest played, he will be a good second offensive option to Martin, has good strength, and has already played against fairly high level competition in Europe, and played well against them.
13) Trailblazers—Donte Greene: I swear I originally typed Eric Gordon, but then I remembered Rudy Fernandez was coming and remembered this video.
Blazers obviously didn't make the playoffs in 07-08, but out of all the teams who didn't, are in by far the best position with boatloads of young talent (and best of all, they let the Knicks have Zach Randolph, now if only they found a way to unload Raef LaFrentz's mercifully expiring contract, they'd be golden).
With Fernandez, the Blazers have three guys who could become stars in the NBA in Oden, Aldridge, and Roy, and then Fernandez to make them even better. SF is the only place I can see an upgrade seriously needed, therefore Greene makes sense at this spot.
14) Warriors—Eric Gordon: HEYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYO. It's a confusing situation in Oakland, and up to three of their starting five (including Ellis and Davis) may not be coming back.
Jordan from A&M or the other Lopez could go here, but at this point, the question marks in the backcourt plus the talent of Gordon makes him too much to pass up at this spot.
15) Suns—Brandon Rush: Let me just say that I am as stunned as you are that the Suns actually traded for a first round pick instead of shipping it off.
That being said, this team is going to be one of the biggest question marks of the 08-09 season. With two more years and $40,000,000 worth of Shaq left, you have to foresee the near future including him (especially with how much it helped Amare to move to Power Forward).
The biggest hole on this team is at Small Forward. While not the prototypical SF a team would want, Rush could step in and help this team with its current plans.
Then again, it could be a few years before Rush really sees significant playing time, but will likely end up landing Diaw in the list of worst NBA contracts in the near future.
16) 76ers—Robin Lopez: Dalembert played solid basketball towards the end of the 07-08 season, and while still overplayed, is still a manageable center in the long run.
This makes the need for a PF necessary, and since I'm not sure if the 76ers will land the big name PF (cough*BRAND*cough) they need to really be a contender in the East, they should look into the draft to hedge their bets.
And if Dalembert goes back to offensive futility, or the 76ers do land the big name, Lopez could play Center as well.
17) Raptors—DeAndre Jordan: Nesterovic is as good as gone when the 08-09 season ends, and outside of Bosh, the frontcourt of the Raptors is a huge question mark.
Jordan, if developed properly, could be a valuable bench player for the Raptors going forward; definitely not the answer to Andrea Bargnani's average production, however.
18) Wizards—Darrell Arthur: I don't see Jamison on the Wizards' payroll for 08-09, so I figure he's good as gone from Washington.
Once again, I go to the best player available at the needed position; in this case, it's Arthur from Kansas.
While he was wicked inconsistent, he was a solid scorer with Kansas for their championship run (with a very solid 1.29 points per shot attempt), and displayed good lateral quickness and defensive potential. He will probably battle Andray Blatche for playing time.
19) Cavaliers—Courtney Lee: After watching the Cavs come gut-wrenchingly close to upsetting my Celtics using the starting five of West-LeBron-Wally-Big Ben-Big Z, I wouldn't be too shocked to see them use these five for starts in 2008-09.
However, every position outside of whatever LeBron decides to play today needs bolstering for Cleveland to be real contenders, leading me to believe that LeBron would be best served with a knockdown shooter, rather then add yet another one dimensional big to rotate at four and five.
Courtney Lee makes sense here, and was impressive in leading his WKU team to the Sweet 16. Could step in at the two or the three, and may eventually see himself battling for a starting role at either position.
20) Nuggets—JaVale McGee: Nuggets have absolutely no one reliable to spell Marcus Camby during games, and as long as he's the only one playing defense on the Nuggets, that is a huge problem.
McGee is also a very fast seven footer and could fit in well with the Nuggets scoring machine. However, with all the trade rumors flying around with this team, this could change in an instant.
21) Nets—Chris Douglas-Roberts: With the Nets having already addressed their need for a big earlier, they next need to address their weak bench; Trenton Hassell just isn't getting it done.
No. 21 for CDR might be a slight reach, but he can also do a lot to create his own shots. As the second best player on a team just one bricked three away from the national title, CDR has to be seen with some credible light.
22) Magic—Mario Chalmers: Speak of the devil; the man who crushed CDR's dreams ironically will go right after him.
With a very solid frontcourt, anchored by young superstar Dwight Howard, the Magic are set there; their backcourt left a lot to be desired, however.
Chalmers could work his way into the rotation in Orlando, and finally encourage JJ Redick to go to Europe where he belongs.
23) Jazz—Roy Hibbert: Utah could use a defensive presence on the team (as I wait for the obligatory AK47 mentioning).
Shooting guard is also a weak point of this team, but as this stage of the draft, the backcourt has pretty much been sucked dry, unless the Jazz really reached for someone like Kyle Weaver.
The Lakers got what they wanted offensively vs. the Jazz, and until that is addressed, they cannot be expected to compete with the Lakers. Hibbert would be a step in the right direction.
24) Supersonics—Maresse Speights: Sonics already addressed the center situation, but still need help at PG, SF, and PF.
At this point, it's the best forward available; that player is Maresse Speights. He's a few years away from being a real contributer, but isn't that pretty much the summary of the Sonics anyway?
25) Rockets—Ryan Anderson: Luis Scola, while playing decently in 07-08, is not exactly a rock of a franchise. Anderson will bring with him a very good offensive arsenal, and unfortunately, a very suspect defensive game. Don't be surprised if Bill Walker goes here, too, to compete against Battier.
26) Spurs—Kosta Koufos: Holy crap, Oberto is due another $7,000,000 for two seasons?
Spurs need a lot of help at this position to help Duncan; Koufos will have dropped down nicely for them to No. 26 as well.
Koufos could eventually be another Mehmet Okur, however I think passing up a second year at school was a poor choice and will hurt him in the long run. He should go a lot later than a lot of boards have him.
27) Hornets—J.J. Hickson: Hornets would've loved to see CDR or Chalmers fall to this spot, but it won't happen; Hornets will instead look to get a better frontcourt backup to add depth.
Hickson would be the best available player for this purpose, even though he'll be a work in progress, and would be drafted with no real intention to start in the foreseeable future.
28) Grizzlies—Bill Walker: Grizzlies already drafted themselves a solid 4/5 in Love, but still need help at SF. Walker is the best available SF for the Grizzlies to take. To think this and career benchie Crittenton will be all Memphis has to show for unloading Gasol. And they wonder why they've been futile for years.
29) Pistons—Jason Thompson: With the Pistons in limbo, I see no Piston more in the hot seat after the ECF loss to the Celtics than Rasheed Wallace.
Wallace could end up trade bait, and with Ratliff on the way out, the Pistons will need frontcourt bench help.
At No. 29, a relatively untested player like Thompson is a worthwhile risk for the Pistons; if they can help improve his lackluster defense, he could become a solid contributor.
30) Celtics—DeVon Hardin: With how PJ Brown played for the Celtics in the posteason, losing him will be a blow defensively for the C's.
The Celtics have offensive weapons and a solid starting core, they just need someone who can snatch some rebounds and play defense off the bench, Hardin is that player.
If you stayed awake to read all the way to Hardin's description, I am impressed. Be sure to catch the draft on Thursday, June 26, and see what your favorite team does for the future.
PS: Eric Gordon / Hoosier fans can still feel free to hate me for dropping him to No. 14.