1. Chicago Bulls (33-49) - Derrick Rose PG Memphis
Even with the news coming today that Rose will visit Miami for a workout, this looks like a slam dunk. If anything, the Bulls likely said, "Listen, you have to go workout for them just to keep everyone happy." GM Jim Paxon says he has not decided, but Rose was reportedly stellar in his workouts and has shown a passion for returning to his hometown.
Rose is the best pure point guard since Chris Paul, and may be the best finishing point guard since Steve Francis. His jump shot leaves a little to be desired, but the Bulls have plenty of shooters. Look for Hinrich/Gordon to be on the move shortly, maybe even on draft night.
2. Miami Heat (15-67) - Michael Beasley SF/PF Kansas State
Dwyane Wade has been clamoring for help in the backcourt all offseason, endorsing both Rose and USC G O.J. Mayo as potential picks here. Additionally, Pat Riley appears unimpressed with Beasley—or at least unsure he has the kind of upside his college numbers (superior to 2007 ROY Kevin Durant's) would indicate. That has rumors involving the Heat flying.
If Mayo falls to the Grizzlies at No. 5, the Heat could send Beasley, Blount/ Haslem, and Banks to Memphis for Mike Miller and Mayo. That remains the only likely scenario, as neither the Sonics nor the T'Wolves really have pieces that interest the Heat.
But even in that scenario, the Heat would draft the best player in college basketball last season.
Beasley has a game that compares to Carmelo Anthony's very favorably. Questions about his height seem moot, as he can shoot from anywhere and already has the frame to body inside. His rebounding and scoring would be a perfect compliment to Wade's slashing and Marion's hustle.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves (22-60) - O.J. Mayo SG/PG USC
Brook Lopez's declaration that he would not work out for any team lower than No. 4 in this draft, coupled with Seattle's infatuation with Jerryd Bayless, make this a strange position for the Wolves. Lopez has been tumbling down draft boards ,while Kevin Love seems to really have impressed Kevin McHale and his staff.
The Grizzlies, Knicks, Clippers, and Bucks would all love to trade up to get Mayo—but unfortunately, Minnesota has little to offer other than this pick. The Wolves also have their eye on Italy's Danilo Gallinari, although Gallinari's interest does not appear to be mutual.
Regardless of whether the T'Wolves keep Mayo, the former USC standout seems like the pick here. Teams love Mayo's complete game. He can score as well as anyone in this draft, but also shows a knack for finding the open man while being a facilitator. Mayo also showed his commitment to a team game while showcasing his ability to be a tenacious on-ball defender.
4.) Seattle SuperSonics (20-62) - Jerryd Bayless PG Arizona
Seattle would obviously love to move up and get Rose, but as stated above, they have very little in terms of trade bait. They attempted to dangle Chris Wilcox to Miami for the No. 2, and the Heat seemed disinterested at best.
However, don't count out Indiana's sensational scoring guard Eric Gordon, Brook Lopez, or the new dark-horse favorite Russell Westbrook—all of whom Seattle seems very high on. The Sonics really need some help inside, particularly defensively and Lopez would give them girth, while not necessarily needing a ton of touches to be an asset.
Bayless, though, seems like the right pick. He can shoot lights out, as well as get to the rim. He may not be a true point guard, but he can certainly initiate the offense. The former Arizona freshman would be an excellent fit in Seattle, or wherever the Sonics are headed.
5.) Memphis Grizzlies (22-60) - Kevin Love PF UCLA
The people in Memphis have become enamored with the idea of Love and Conley running the pick and roll in Memphis. Love was spectacular in a workout with the team and has the Grizzlies ready to pounce on the opportunity to select him.
(The aforementioned Heat trade scenario obviously makes this pick Mayo with the Grizzlies getting Beasley and some much needed star-power as well as an inside presence.)
If Love is the pick, he would be great for the Grizzlies. Love has a tremendous feel for the game and an underrated jump shot with range out to three-point territory (He shot better than just about every prospect Memphis had in according to one report). He could set screens for the Conley to get loose, throw alley-oops to Rudy Gay and Hakim Warrick, and find shooters like Mike Miller for open looks.
6.) New York Knicks (23-59) - Russell Westbrook PG UCLA
New Head Coach Mike D'Antoni may have wished he went to Chicago after the Bulls pulled the No. 1 pick, but he can still get his point guard at this point in the draft. Gallinari says he will only play in a major city like New York (New Jersey apparently suits him as well) and D'Antoni played with Danillo's father Victorio Gallinari in Italy.
However, Donnie Walsh does not seem as impressed with the lanky Italian, and may opt to get a real point guard instead of a 6'10'' player capable of playing like a point guard.
Russell Westbrook was a combo guard at UCLA, but when Darren Collison went down, Westbrook filled in and led the Pac-10 in assists. He is strong and athletic, with a quick first step, and can fly up and down the court. His ballhandling could use some work, but he plays outstanding defense on and off the ball—something the Knicks desperately need.
7.) Los Angeles Clippers (23-59) - Eric Gordon SG Indiana
The Clippers have serious uncertainty surrounding this off-season. Their presumed point guard of the future is just resuming basketball activities, their best wing player will opt out, according to his coach, and their best low-post player is recovering from injury and could opt out as well.
That means while one team in LA looks to rebound from a Finals loss, another will be looking for find an identity for 2008. The Clippers would like to have multiple picks in this year's draft, but also want to move up and nag Beasley. I have previously outlined a trade that could work between the Clippers and Heat, but nothing appears imminent.
That means the Clippers could stick with No. 7 and take who Jay Bilas called "the most explosive scorer in the draft." Not just a shooter, Gordon can get to the basketball and finish with either hand. He will spot up, pull up, step back, and shoot just about any way a person can. With Corey Maggette likely out the door, Gordon would provide a scoring punch from the wing.
8.) Milwaukee Bucks (26-56) - Joe Alexander SF West Virginia
New GM John Hammond and coach Scott Skiles will look to make an impression in their first draft as a duo. Both new to Milwaukee, they share a desire to build with fundamentals and defense, something we saw with Hammond in Detroit and Skiles in Chicago.
The Bucks have shown an interest in moving up, as well as potentially adding picks. Michael Redd and/or Mo Williams seem to be available, but a package would have to be substantial, particularly given the hefty salaries of each.
Alexander has been shooting up draft boards since he declared, and tested as one of the top athletes in the Orlando pre-draft camp. He plays solid defense, and is a great on-ball shot blocker for a wing player. His jump shot is fluid with range out to the NBA three point line, and his pull-up game is practically unguardable for a man his size. Alexander would be an ideal fit in Milwaukee.
9.) Charlotte Bobcats (32-50) - Brook Lopez C Stanford
This is the point of the draft where things get a little dicey. The talent level drops off, and the rest of the players available could have wildly varying grades based on system and needs.
The Bobcats love Russell Westbrook as a combo guard and Charlotte has the pieces to potentially move up to get him. You can bet Michael Jordan doesn't want his personnel career to be remembered as the "one who drafted Kwame Brown No. 1 overall."
Lopez would give the 'Cats some much needed size and strength inside. Other than Emeka Okafor and Nazr Mohammed, the Charlotte frontcourt could use a serious upgrade. The former Stanford big man has good feet and a soft touch out to 15 feet. He brings a competitive fire and plays fundamentally sound. He could bring some much needed scoring to a team that is, at times, offensively challenged.
10.) New Jersey Nets (34-48) - Danilo Gallinari G/F Italy
Just because the Nets just made perhaps the biggest trade in their history, giving up Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd to Dallas, doesn't mean they're done dealing. We have heard Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter in trade rumors, and the Nets appear to be ready to give Devin Harris the keys to the car.
If Gallinari falls this far, he would be a steal for New Jersey—one of Gallinari's preferred destinations. (Note to Richard Jefferson, keep your phone by you on draft night).
Gallinari went from a 6'5" point guard to a legitimate 6'9" point forward with a cerebral game and deft passing sense. Not overly athletic, the 19-year-old Italian can get off the floor and finish strong at the rim. He looks like the type of player who can grab a defensive rebound, start the break, and find the right player—something which would allow Devin Harris to really show off his offensive game as a scorer, not just a facilitator.
11.) Indiana Pacers (36-46) - D.J. Augustine PG Texas
Larry Bird makes this pick a serious mystery. Bird has said he wants to add picks in what is a very deep draft. Jamaal Tinsley, Jermaine O'Neal, and Marquis Daniels all appear to be available for the right price.
The Pacers under Bird have loved to draft athletes. That is why it makes perfect sense that Anthony Randolph's name has continually come up in connection with the Pacers. His stock as been falling of late, but has a serious upside.
With Danny Granger already holding down the small forward spot on this team, the better pick appears to be the lightning-quick point guard from Texas. Augustine has an array of shots from all over the court despite his diminutive height. He can hit runners, floaters, and step backs in the lane, plus D.J. has an outstanding three-point shot.
Perhaps best of all, he takes excellent shots, and has the experience of running a team in pressure situations.
12.) Sacramento Kings (38-44) - Anthony Randolph PF L.S.U.
Even with their point guards of choice gone, this is certainly is not a worst-case scenario for the Kings. Unless the Kings move up, just too many teams need point guards ahead of them for Sacramento to land their lead guard of the future.
Additionally, the Kings would love to get their hands on Joe Alexander, who seems to be the hottest name on draft boards right now. Darrell Arthur would also make a great deal of sense here, as he is drawing comparisons to Antawn Jamison.
Unfortunately for Anthony Randolph, he is falling down draft boards—but don't expect him to fall past the Kings. Randolph has outstanding length with great quickness for a guy who stands 6'10". His game has some Chris Bosh in it, but he will need to put on strength to make that happen. Randolph could be starting in the Kings front court next season.
13.) Portland Trail Blazers (41-41) - Darrell Arthur PF Kansas
If there is a first-round pick absolutely up for sale, it is this one. The Blazers are loaded with young talent, and would like to package this pick to perhaps add a veteran to their squad.
However, the Blazers staff has made it clear that if the right player were to come to them, they would jump on the opportunity to take him. Darrell Arthur may not be that player, but he is arguably the best player left on the board and will likely be in demand.
Arthur dominated a pretty solid Memphis frontcourt in the National Championship game last April, a fact often overshadowed by the late game drama. Arthur has great feet and quickness for a big man, and can hit jumpers out to 20 feet. He has the game to play the three- or the four-spot and would give any team, even the stacked Blazers, outstanding versatility in the frontcourt.
14.) Golden State Warriors (48-34) - Donte Green SF Syracuse
Looking at the players Don Nelson and company had in for workouts, the Warriors don't seem to be very concerned about their lack of size and strength inside. And why would they be? They won 48 games last year and missed out on the playoffs by a hair.
Donte Green, Nicolas Batum, and Brandon Rush all appear to be on the Warriors radar, and while Ohio State C Kosta Kufos has been gaining steam on many boards, the same cannot said for those in Oakland.
Donte Green has shooting range from anywhere in the gym. At 6-10, he is a match-up nightmare for defenses as he can go inside and outside, plus has a developing dribble drive game. Green is a very underrated rebounder and actually boarded at a very high rate, considering how much time he spends shooting threes.
An athletic wing who can rebound and shoot from deep? Sign him up for "Nellie Ball."
15.) Phoenix Suns (55-27) - Brandon Rush SG/SF Kansas
Losing their athletic wing players who could shoot from long range really hurt the Suns last year. New coach Terry Porter would love to get a versatile guard like Brandon Rush. The former Jayhawk can play the two or three, and at 6'7'' can rise up over smaller guards and shoot over the top with great consistency.
Rush can defend multiple positions and doesn't need many touches to be a factor. The Suns love this kid and he would be a perfect fit with Nash, Bell, and Barbosa in the backcourt.
16.) Philadelphia 76ers (40-42) - Kosta Koufos C Ohio State
The 76ers just drafted a big man with shooting range last year in Jason Smith, but his lack of consistency kept him on the bench much of the year. Even with Smith, Philly's frontcourt has entirely too many holes, with the only true center being Samuel Dalembert.
Koufos has a solid offensive game, with a pure jumper out to 18-20 feet. He can even step out and hit from deep. He will be a bit of a project, but his ceiling is as high as any big man in this draft. He could be a great find for a Philadelphia team looking to build on last season's playoff appearance.
17.) Toronto Raptors (41-41) DeAndre Jordan C/F Texas A&M
Toronto boasts one of the most balanced rosters in the NBA. With shooters, distributors, and talented big men, the Raptors can play all styles of offense, as well as defend.
If they have one weakness it is toughness inside. Having seen Dwight Howard's dominance in the playoffs, the Raptors could opt to grab a man many compare favorably to Howard. DeAndre Jordan has a huge frame and uses it well to rebound, block shots, and throw down ferocious dunks.
At this point, his game is predicated on hustle and Jordan has less polish than some of the other bigs in this draft. But with no true center on their roster, the Raptors could hope Jordan learns a few offensive tricks with their All-Star Bosh, giving the Raptors some punch inside.
18.) Washington Wizards (43-39) - Marreese Speights PF/C Florida
Agent Zero could be gone. So too could Antawn Jamison. The Wizards would still have Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson, and have to guard Dwight Howard and Al Horford in their conference—not to mention big bodies like Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Chris Bosh and the plethora of scoring bigs in the East.
Speights has an NBA-ready body and boasts a game that is as close to NBA-ready as you can get in a 19-year-old center. The 6'10", 245-pound Speights has quick feet and solid low-post moves for a sophomore. The Wizards haven't had a big with this much scoring ability since Chris Webber left town.
19.) Cleveland Cavaliers (45-37)- Nicolas Batum G/F France
LeBron James' teammates get killed by the media and fans for not supporting the King enough. However, LeBron has a pretty talented crew down in Cleveland. What they lack is a wing with some explosion to his game not wearing No. 23.
A lottery pick a few months ago, Batum's subpar season in Europe has him moving down boards. Watch him play, however, and you'll think you're watching Rudy Gay. Batum has an explosive game and can attack the rim with ferocity. You can see how smooth the game comes to him and he plays a smart, controlled game despite his athletic talent.
Batum could probably play the two, three, or four next to LeBron—and would give the Cavs another option on the wing.
20.) Denver Nuggets (50-32) – Mario Chalmers PG Kansas
The Nuggets' pick will ultimately come down to how badly they believe they need a point guard to run their team, with Iverson and Anthony already in place as the primary scorers. The Nuggets haven’t had a real point guard in quite a while.
Chalmers will give them defense and tenacity, something they sorely lack. Chalmers can hit pressure shots, as we’ve seen, but he won’t need to with AI and ‘Melo.
The Nuggets haven’t really tipped their hand on this pick, working out equal part guards and bigs. J.J. Hickson, JaVale McGee, and Alexis Ajinca could be the pick of Denver decides to go with low-post help in the first round.
21.) New Jersey Nets (34-48) – Roy Hibbert C Georgetown
Even though Shaq has departed from the division, New Jersey has been soft inside for quite a while now. Nenad Krstic can’t guard players like Dwight Howard or Jermaine O’Neal on the block, and both Seane Williams and Josh Boone are offensive liabilities.
Roy Hibbert gives the Nets a huge presence inside with an extremely high basketball IQ and a solid motor. Hibbert understands his game, and can face up as well as back his man down. He has a nice touch out to 15 feet and can even step back from range.
Hibbert has had his share of foul problems and doesn’t put up the kind of rebounding numbers you’d like to see from someone his size. However, he would be an upgrade in the Nets frontcourt and has good value here.
22.) Orlando Magic (52-30) – Robin Lopez PF Stanford
The Orlando Magic don’t have very many holes on their team. Dwight Howard will shortly become the most dominant inside presence since Shaq. With Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu, the Magic have length—but outside of Howard, no real rebounding presence.
Robin Lopez doesn’t need many touches to have an impact. He has an outstanding motor. He would help with the rebounding and ease inside defensive pressure on Howard, likely opening up the lane. He is a solid interior passer and plays with good fundamentals.
He doesn’t have the offensive game of his twin brother Brook, but his game is meaner and tougher. He could be the kind of grit-and-nails guy this young Orlando team could use to get tougher.
23.) Utah Jazz (54-28) – Alexis Ajinca PF France
With Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, and Andre Kirilenko, the Jazz don’t have what you might call "pressing needs." The biggest issue surrounding this team is the inconsistent play of AK-47, as well as the clouded future of their franchise forward Carlos Boozer, who can leave after next season. (Boozer has shown considerable interest in leaving for Miami, where he has a home.)
Ajinca is not an NBA-ready prospect, but with scouts believe he has the kind of upside to be an outstanding forward in America. The Frenchman will have to get stronger, but really just needs more experience. The Jazz are a contender in the West without him and will be able to give him some time to develop while Deron Williams really develops into their go-to scorer.
I am certainly not sold on Ajinca, but we are hearing he could go as high as the lottery, since teams seem so obsessed with his upside.
24.) Seattle Super Sonics (20-62) – JaVale McGee C/PF Nevada
Scoring points was not a problem last season with Kevin Durant and company. However, they couldn’t guard anyone, and have no real inside presence to speak of.
McGee is a young, wirey prospect with the kind of length that could make Jay Bilas fall over. He has a surprisingly good face up game for a seven footer and can hit out to 15 feet. The Nevada sophomore can also block shots with either hand and is an explosive jumper able to get rebounds and tip-ins with second jump effort.
The Sonics drafted Mouhamed Sene as a developmental big-man prospect, but the 22-year-old Sene hasn’t really developed the way they would like. McGee could start down low for the Sonics as a rookie and have an impact right away particularly with his shot-blocking and rebounding.
25.) Houston Rockets (55-27) – J.J. Hickson PF N.C. State
Carl Landry and Luis Scola were keys to the Rockets success last season, particularly once Yao Ming went down with injury. However, neither is a real back-down low-post scorer. Even Yao’s game is not a true back to the basket center as he uses a number of fade-aways, turnarounds and 15-footers to score. Yao certainly can score on the low-block, but just one low-post scorer is not enough.
The Rockets have shooters like Alston, Battier, and Novak along with a great scorer in Tracy McGrady, but really don’t have a player with the skill-set of Hickson. The N.C. State freshman has an NBA body already and can bully his way in the paint, but also possesses the ability to hit a step back jumper.
Hickson is extremely strong for a 19-year-old and with explosive leaping abilities can really finish strong around the basket. Hickson could bring some added toughness, scoring, and rebounding to a team who could use depth along the front line.
26.) San Antonio Spurs (56-26) – Ryan Anderson F California
The Spurs failed to make it back-to-back championships yet again, and looked slow-footed against the Lakers. (Manu Ginobili's injury certainly didn’t help either.) The Spurs don’t have a real three-point threat right now, and the ages of Michael Finley, Bruce Bowe, and Robert Horry are all big questions.
The Spurs absolutely love Ryan Anderson, and from an offensive standpoint what’s not to love? The 6-10 Anderson shot better than 40 percent from three as a sophomore at Cal, plus 87 percent from the line and almost 50 percent from the floor overall.
Don't be fooled into believing Anderson is just a perimeter big man in the Pat Garrity knock-down shooter mold. He averaged almost 10 rebounds a game in the Pac-10, which had quality bigs like the Lopez Twins and Kevin Love. The Spurs stopped short of guarantying Anderson of a spot, but he should be there and the Spurs will likely pull the trigger if he is.
27.) Portland Trail Blazers F/ Hornets – Chris Douglas Roberts G/F Memphis
With one of the youngest and most talented teams in the NBA, the Blazers were said to be shopping their top pick. However, they just made a deal with Hornets to acquire the 27th pick in an effort to take advantage of this deep draft.
“CDR” was an All-American at Memphis, and was actually their go-to scorer—despite the erroneous assumption by many that it was Derrick Rose.
Roberts has a smooth game and with his great length could be a devastating slasher. His shooting touch was improved last season and he can score in bunches.
Roberts also brings focus and defense on the wing, where guarding guys like Kobe is so crucial in the West. Roberts could be a two or a three for Portland, and give Brandon Roy some help on the wing.
28.) Memphis Grizzlies (22-60) F/ Lakers – Jason Thompson PF/C Rider
Even if the Grizzlies grab a low-post player like Kevin Love or Brook Lopez at the top of the draft, getting Thompson here would be a steal. Courtney Lee would draw consideration, as would Lamont Gordon—but at this point in the draft, most of the quality players left are inside players.
Thompson was a 20 and 12 player at the New Jersey mid-major Rider, and didn’t play against top competition. However, he could be play forward or center in the NBA with a 6'11", 250-pound frame.
Thompson is a bullish rebounder and shot-blocker with strength from either hand. With his back to the basket, he can be tough to handle inside with his power, but his athleticism is just above average.
At 21, you would hope his game would be a little more refined, but with that kind of raw talent and his body, the Grizzlies could have found their center for the foreseeable future.
29.) Detroit Pistons (59-23)– Serge Ibaka PF Spain
Foreign players being over-hyped in workouts have really hurt teams at the top of the draft. However, this late in the first round, the Pistons will have an opportunity to make a change.
Serge Ibake is an 18-year-old from the Congo with a 6'10", 220-pound frame and plenty of room to grow. He is explosive getting off the ground for rebounds, put backs, and alley-oops, but his offensive game is still very limited. His feel for offensive and defensive flows must improve, and as a result Ibaka is not a great passer.
The Pistons frontcourt is ancient and they must get younger inside. Depending on how much Joe Dumars wants to blow up his roster, he could opt for a more NBA-ready prospect like Bill Walker from Kansas State, but he doesn’t really fit on the Pistons unless they are going to trade Rip or Prince.
30.) Boston Celtics (66-16) – Courtney Lee SG Western Kentucky
If there is a team without holes in the NBA, this is it. The NBA Champions are solid in just about every facet of the game, although they go through these strange offensive series where their offense gets a tad discombobulated.
Having played four years at Western Kentucky, Lee is the kind of tough, smart player Doc Rivers could find a place for. He can shoot from distance, but his mid-range game is as good as anyone in college basketball. The Indianapolis native has been a 15-plus-points per game scorer for four years, and averaged 20 as a senior last year.
Coming off the bench to give Pierce and Allen a breather could keep the C’s top scorers fresh for another deep run. Every year a player late in the first seems to give a huge boost to a contender. Courtney Lee has the game to be that player for Boston.
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