This is my second iteration of the 2008 NBA Draft. The mocks I write are under the premise that “teams should take this guy” rather than “I think they will take this guy.” In most scenarios, those two premises entail completely different scenarios.
I also abide under the pre-conceived notion that there will be no trades. I know that having a year when no trades are made is impossible. I am not in this to predict trades, so I just concern myself with the picks themselves.
A lot of these picks will be made irrelevant if trades are made during the draft or immediately after, but you guys know how it is. I have dissected all 60 picks I think should be made this Thursday; here are 1-30. 31-60 will be coming shortly.
No. 1 Overall Selection (Chicago Bulls): Derrick Rose, Point Guard, Memphis
It’s amazing how the lottery works. Almost all of the time, the team with the worst record doesn’t get the first selection. I don’t get it, but the lottery is another topic for another day. Onto the selection itself.
Rose has got to be the guy here. Beasley will be an outstanding player, no doubt, but point guards like Derrick Rose don’t come along everyday. He will get by his man at will, defend well enough, push the basketball effectively, be a quiet, confident leader on the floor, and keep every player on their toes.
The biggest knock on the Bulls last year was their lack of effort. Players missing practices, and overall just not caring about whether they won or lost. Rose will bring back a work ethic to the Bulls, trying to prove to his hometown Chicago he is worth the number one pick.
Michael Beasley, on the other hand, has a laid back personality that may not suit the Bulls as well moving forward from where they are as a team. Either way, the Bulls can’t make a wrong selection between Rose and Beasley, but Rose is the guy to take here.
No. 2 Overall Selection (Miami Heat): Michael Beasley, Power Forward, Kansas State
Not really much of a question here. The unanimous top two players in this draft are Rose and Beasley. Rose is gone, so you take Beasley.
Beasley has a tremendous skill-set. He will be big enough to bully small forwards trying to guard him away from the paint, and will be too quick for most power forwards to guard. He is a true matchup nightmare. He can finish with both hands in the lane, and is both agile and strong. His defense can improve, but his dominance scoring and rebounding are the appeal, no questions asked.
Questions about his character are valid ones, but I don’t think it will make him any less great on the court.
No. 3 Overall Selection (Minnesota Timberwolves): Brook Lopez, Center, Stanford
Lopez is a big body with above average skills. Kevin McHale could teach Lopez how to vastly improve his skills and give stud big man Al Jefferson some assistance inside.
Jefferson could move to his natural power forward position. This would also take a tremendous deal of pressure off of him defensively. The Timberwolves could also address other needs later in the draft or in a trade.
To me, getting Al Jefferson, their new franchise big man, some help is the most important issue to be addressed at this point. This is a sound pick to make, though not very flashy. Lopez is a legitimate seven-footer with a chance to be a very good NBA center.
No. 4 Overall Selection (Seattle Supersonics): Russell Westbrook, Point Guard, UCLA
If the Sonics don’t end up trading to get Kevin Durant’s best friend Michael Beasley, Westbrook is the pick here. He has tremendous upside as a scorer and distributor and is a lock-down defender—a lock-down defender in a league where lock-down defenders are very hard to come by.
The Sonics don’t have any pressure to be good now, and can let Westbrook develop next to last year’s ROTY Kevin Durant. Westbrook is climbing up most draft boards, and for very good reason. He will at the very least be a difference maker on the defensive end; anything you can get from him on offense is gravy.
No. 5 Overall Selection (Memphis Grizzlies): Kevin Love, Power Forward, UCLA
He has size, instincts, and is an extremely good positional rebounder. His passing is outstanding, and his defense may not be stellar, but it will be solid. The Grizzlies should build around Mike Conley Jr. and Rudy Gay, and drafting Kevin Love is certainly a good start.
He would fit in perfect as a replacement for Pau Gasol, but will be a much tougher player. This pick won’t push the Grizzlies over the hump or anything to that extent, but it will help the Grizzlies push towards respectability at least.
No. 6 Overall Selection (New York Knicks): O.J. Mayo, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, USC
Although it would be a tough maneuver to find enough shots between O.J. Mayo and Jamal Crawford, Mike D’Antoni is maybe the coach to make that work. The Knicks have a need at basically every position, and are in the middle of a complete overhaul.
The best player available to fit the system is the recipe here. Mayo’s explosiveness in the open court can help him fit the up-tempo scheme. He has star potential and is the first step in what will be a tough rebuilding process for New York.
No. 7 Overall Selection (Los Angeles Clippers): Eric Gordon, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Indiana
The Clippers have been looking to get O.J. Mayo, Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, or Jerryd Bayless with this pick. They need help at guard with Shaun Livingston still recovering from a severe knee injury.
Eric Gordon is an explosive, athletic, sharp-shooting guard that will fit well with the likes of Al Thornton, Chris Kaman, and Elton Brand (if he stays that is).
No. 8 Overall Selection (Milwaukee Bucks): Jerryd Bayless, Point Guard, Arizona
The Bucks are pretty mediocre all around, and could go in more than one direction with this pick. Jerry Bayless has been compared to Gilbert Arenas and Monta Ellis and is considered by many to be a future all-star.
I’m not one of his biggest fans to be perfectly honest, as I do not care for score-first point guards. But he does have a quick first step and great athleticism. Bayless also is a decent passer and has legitimate potential at the point, but ultimately, prefers to score.
He also is an underwhelming defender, at least compared to what his athleticism would suggest. Even still, he has the potential on that end of the floor as well. His overall potential and is why I think the Bucks should take him here. This will provide a young talent and some competition for Mo Williams at point guard.
No. 9 Overall Selection (Charlotte Bobcats): Roy Hibbert, Center, Georgetown
This is the most peculiar draft pick in the first round in my opinion. You have a pretty young team with a new coach that pretty much doesn’t play young players. There is no reason to draft a project player here if you’re Michael Jordan.
Larry Brown is concerned with winning now, because he is probably on the phone negotiating his next coaching job right now. My point is that Brown will be gone before that project player is developed, so a more seasoned rookie is the recipe here.
This is undoubtedly a reach to grab Hibbert here, but what else can you do with the situation you have? Hibbert is young for a college senior, and scouts say he has actually improved compared to his senior year at Georgetown.
At the very least he is ten points per game, seven rebounds per game, and six fouls per game, now. And that’s the key word…NOW. If Kevin Love somehow falls here, he is the ideal pick for the Bobcats, but chances are his polished game won’t fall that far, so a “more seasoned” rookie is the only choice you have if you’re MJ.
No. 10 Overall Selection (New Jersey Nets): Danilo Gallinari, Power Forward, Italy
I will start by saying this. I think Danilo Gallinari is the next big European bust. He is not Dirk Nowitzki; he may not even be Andrea Bargnani. He is a very talented offensive player, but he is not a good defender and will probably be soft (like most European players not named Manu Ginobili).
The only reason Gallinari is here is the fact that he will be a top 10 pick. European players are protected by their agents and guaranteed by them they will be taken at a certain spot in the draft. Gallinari would have pulled out if he was not guaranteed a top ten spot in this draft.
The Nets are the team that is most likely to take him, so you try to build around him I guess. He needs to extend his range and improve his defense and rebounding, but everything else he seems at least pretty good at.
No. 11 Overall Selection (Indiana Pacers): D.J. Augustin, Point Guard, Texas
The Pacers have more than one need at this point, but point guard is the biggest. Jamaal Tinsley is getting older, and Travis Diener doesn’t seem like the franchise point guard-type. D.J. Augustin is a very quick, pass first point guard that can lead a team and score when he needs to.
He can be forced into bad shots at times because of his lack of size, but it is tolerable because of his play-making ability. He can also shoot fairly well, which is an important facet of being an NBA point guard now-a-days. He led Texas to a better season last year than Kevin Durant did the year before—that has to count for something.
No. 12 Overall Selection (Sacramento Kings): Mario Chalmers, Point Guard, Kansas
The top five point guards will go very early in this draft. If there is one theory you can count on going into Thursday, that’s it. Rose, Westbrook, Bayless, Augustin, and Chalmers will at the very least go in the top twenty. I believe the Kings need more at the point than Beno Udrih.
A good talent that can challenge for the starting job will help the solid wing duo of Kevin Martin and Ron Artest. Artest isn’t guaranteed to stay, but he most likely won’t opt out of his deal. Mario Chalmers can slash and shoot well, and is an above average defender who will be a spark plug for the Kings.
No. 13 Overall Selection (Portland Trailblazers): Donte Greene, Small Forward, Syracuse
Greene is a very long, athletic forward who can shoot from the midrange, take his man to the basket, defend both the small forward and power forward positions, and rebound pretty well. He is still very raw and needs to continue learning the game, however.
The Trailblazers have talent for now and down the road. Greene would make a good complimentary wing player next to Brandon Roy. If your line-up for the future consists of Roy, Greene, Aldridge, and Oden, along with a solid point guard, I think that may be your team of the future in the NBA.
No. 14 Overall Selection (Golden State Warriors): Chris Douglas-Roberts, Shooting Guard, Memphis
The Warriors are in an uncertain state as of now. Chances are Baron Davis or Monta Ellis will be gone by next year, so a running mate for who is still left will be a need. CDR coupled with either BD or Monta Ellis would be a solid combination. Douglas-Roberts isn’t a future star in my opinion, but I do think he will be a more than solid pro.
No. 15 Overall Selection (Phoenix Suns): Robin Lopez, Center, Stanford
The Suns have officially abandoned the up-tempo game instilled by former head coach Mike D’Antoni. Lopez is a high-motor big man that can rebound and defend well. He also has very good potential as a low-post scorer, which can benefit down the road when Shaquille O’ Neal eventually retires.
For now, Lopez will give valuable minutes off the bench and serve as a highly effective spell for Shaq and Amare Stoudemire.
No. 16 Overall Selection (Philadelphia 76ers): Mareese Speights, Power Forward, Florida
Speights is a big body that can score in the low-post, rebound extremely well, defend, block shots, etc. What’s the catch? He may be a little small to play center in the NBA and his conditioning has been questioned by scouts.
As long as he doesn’t go Vin Baker on everyone, drinking beer and eating more than working out, he has the talent to be a twenty points, ten rebounds per game power forward in the NBA.
No. 17 Overall Selection (Toronto Raptors): Joe Alexander, Small Forward, West Virginia
Alexander is a great talent. Despite that, he is extremely raw and needs to develop his game more. He has a great mid-range jump shot and is athletic enough to finish at the basket in the NBA. Defensively, he could be decent, but he’s so young, it’s hard to tell whether he could master rotations at the professional level.
Alexander is worth the risk as a first round pick. The Raptors can keep him on the bench for a year, or play him right now in their system if they feel he is good enough offensively. Alexander is a very flexible selection for the Raptors, if nothing else, and has good potential for down the road as an NBA scorer.
No. 18 Overall Selection (Washington Wizards): Brandon Rush, Shooting Guard, Kansas
The Wizards are facing a very real possibility in this offseason. They could (and most likely will) lose Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison. It’s either both or none, as Arenas has said he will only return if Jamison does.
If that happens, the Wizards will start Andray Blatche at the power forward position. Blatche will be fine filling in, but the Wizards will have a huge need at guard. At this point in the mock, there are no point guards to take this high.
Brandon Rush is a solid and safe pick to make for the Wizards, as he will most likely start over DeShawn Stevenson at the two guard. The Wizards will also need to solve their need at point guard in the second round, because Agent Zero will most likely not be back. If you’re Washington, you have to prepare for the worst.
No. 19 Overall Selection (Cleveland Cavaliers): D.J. White, Power Forward, Indiana
The Cavaliers biggest concern at this point is keeping LeBron James happy and willing to stay in Cleveland. A project player is not even an option with this pick. Someone who can come in and help right away is the pick the Cavaliers should be making.
D.J. White is a strong post player who can rebound and play excellent defense. Ben Wallace looks very old, and Zydrunas Ilgauskus is above average; nothing more, nothing less. He is another one of those “more seasoned” rookies, and is better suited to play now.
Waiting around for a prospect to develop while LeBron goes to the new Brooklyn team in a year or two will put the Cavaliers back into the basement where they spent so much time pre-LeBron. Put White in a big rotation of Z, Big Ben, Side Show Bob, and Joe Smith, and youth will be effectively injected into that group.
No. 20 Overall Selection (Denver Nuggets): Anthony Randolph, Power Forward, LSU
The Denver Nuggets are a team in shambles. They play absolutely no defense, and are not on good terms with star forward Carmelo Anthony. In my opinion, Melo should be traded. He is a one-dimensional player, who can’t play defense to save his life.
The Nuggets need a new team identity. Anthony Randolph has a lot of potential as a face up power forward, with skills as a rebounder and mid-range shooter. He won’t be Chris Bosh, who he’s been compared to most, but he will be a difference maker at power forward.
His shot blocking will be a force to be reckoned with, but the rest of his defensive game is suspect (reminds me of another Nuggets big man). The difference between him and Camby will be his offense and ability to run the floor.
No. 21 Overall Selection (New Jersey Nets): DeAndre Jordan, Center, Texas A&M
The Nets have gotten effective production from one through three for a long time now, but have never had any big men to compliment that. Sean Williams showed signs that he would be at the very least a good defensive player in the NBA last season, but more is needed at the power forward and center positions.
Jordan has tremendous upside, and if he can be motivated enough, will be a star in the pros. That is the biggest question, however, is his motivation. This is completely an upside selection. I admit that straight-out.
If Jordan pans out, this will be huge for the Nets. Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson are getting older, and the Nets are stuck between the tail end of Carter’s and Jefferson’s prime, and are still developing their young guard Devin Harris.
I’m not sure winning now is as big of a priority for the Nets since Jason Kidd was traded. A project pick is not a problem for a team in the Nets’ situation.
No. 22 Overall Selection (Orlando Magic): Kyle Weaver, Point Guard/Shooting Guard, Washington State
The Magic had a solid year considering all the hype that surrounded the team. The addition of Rashard Lewis last offseason had many feeling they could contend in the east. They lost to the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Semi Finals, so they did pretty much what was expected.
The question now is: How do the Orlando Magic improve from this point on? Kyle Weaver gives the Magic a defender who can play the point and off guard. His height is an asset and gives them depth at guard.
Weaver is a very smart player that will make the offense more efficient and will bother opposing team’s best wing player on defense. Some comparisons to Bruce Bowen have been drawn, I would say those comparisons are fairly accurate. His offense is much better than Bowen’s, however, so he will be the better pro in my opinion.
No. 23 Overall Selection (Utah Jazz): Nicolas Batum, Small Forward, France
Batum’s athleticism has certain scouts raving, but he seems inconsistent in his play. The Jazz have a need at two guard, and Batum is long, athletic, has quick feet and hands on defense, and would be a good back-up to Ronnie Brewer at the two and Andrei Kirilenko at the three.
He is very young, however, and will need to develop his offensive game. But Batum has star potential down the road. This pick will pay off in a year or two.
No. 24 Overall Selection (Seattle Supersonics): Bill Walker, Small Forward, Kansas State
I had the Sonics selecting Russell Westbrook with the number four pick, so point guard should be pretty much set. You also have Durant at the two, so positions three through five need to be addressed.
The Sonics have drafted a number of big men over the last few seasons who have, quite frankly, just not panned out (at least to date). The Sonics have six selections total in this draft, and can afford to go best player available rather than need.
Bill Walker is a big forward that can defend and jump out of the gym. He is strong enough to keep big forwards from bullying him down low, and quick enough to keep most slashers in front of him. There have been serious concerns about his knees, but he has shown lately that he can come back from injuries and still be effective out on the court.
No. 25 Overall Selection (Houston Rockets): Darrell Arthur, Power Forward, Kansas
Arthur is a scoring forward, and that’s about it. He has a good mid-range jumper and can finish at the rim good enough. He and Yao Ming would make a decent inside-outside tandem. He will have trouble getting into their line-up however, with Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes, and Carl Landry at the four spot.
He is the best player available at this point in the draft though, so you can find a way to play the best talent available if that is the draft methodology you choose to use.
No. 26 Overall Selection (San Antonio Spurs): Keith Brumbaugh, Small Forward, Hillsborough Community College
An extremely athletic, hard working lefty that can flat out score. He hasn’t faced good competition but has gotten a reputation for being a hard worker. The Spurs have a need at small forward with Bruce Bowen’s advancing age and Ime Udoka’s mediocrity.
Brumbaugh may need a year, but I think he would fit in with the Spurs' system. I know some of you are saying “Who is this?” but trust me, you will know soon enough. He will make a solid pro. The Spurs are notorious for taking guys in the later part of rounds that most fans have never heard of. They are very much the Patriots of the NBA when it comes to drafting. Brumbaugh will be their next diamond in the rough.
No. 27 Overall Selection (Portland Trail Blazers): Nathan Jawai, Power Forward, Australia
Jawai is a big, physical, low-post player. He is strong going to the basket and could develop dominating post-moves if groomed correctly. Jawai also rebounds and block shots well, and looks like a significantly more mobile Kendrick Perkins.
No. 28 Overall Selection (Memphis Grizzlies): Alexis Ajinca, Power Forward, France
Ajinca has a 7’8” wingspan and stands at 7’1”. He needs to fill out before he will be strong enough to play in the NBA, but his length is certainly intriguing. He also has decent skills around the basket on both ends. The Hornets could use some depth at the four and five, and Ajinca could be a tremendous help.
No. 29 Overall Selection (Detroit Pistons): Davon Jefferson, Forward, USC
Jefferson served as O.J. Mayo’s sidekick in his one year at USC. He is ridiculously athletic and can finish at the rim in a lot of ways. His ball handling is good, and can get where he wants to go off the dribble. Jefferson is a beast on the offensive boards and runs the floor exceptionally well.
He draws a lot of comparison to Richard Jefferson in my mind. I think the Pistons pick up another Stuckey-type steal in this draft if they can get Davon Jefferson.
No. 30 Overall Selection (Boston Celtics): Courtney Lee, Shooting Guard, Western Kentucky
A college senior that draws comparisons to Ray Allen. He most likely WON’T be Ray Allen, but he has a sweet stroke, can slash, and is at his best shooting from the mid-range. That’s very Ray-like if you ask me, and of the Big Three, Allen is probably going to be the first to decline.
This is a sound pick if you’re the Celtics, as Lee will provide bench depth right away. Sam Cassell, Eddie House, Tony Allen, James Posey, and P.J. Brown could all be gone next year, so the Celtics’ bench production has to come from somewhere next season.