With the 2008 NBA Draft less than 24 hours away, NBA teams all over the league are scrambling to get their potential draft choices as well as potential trades worked out and squared away.
Fear not, Kevin McHale and Elgin Baylor, I can help save you from completely obliterating the chances of your respective teams to be competitive for the next decade. I'll be running down picks 1-30 of the first round, just so GMs like you can keep your jobs just a little longer.
1. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls can't go wrong here with either of the two obvious top prospects, Memphis G Derrick Rose and K-State F Michael Beasley. If the Bulls are drafting solely based on team need or talent, Beasley would be the lights-out choice, as the Bulls sorely lack a dominating interior scorer. If the Bulls are drafting logically, however, they need to go with Rose, despite already having all sorts of money tied up in incumbent PG Kirk Hinrich. Chris Paul and Deron Williams have proven that having a dominating point guard running your team is a major advantage and a key to vaulting a team from a high lottery team to a playoff team in a very short time. And since the Bulls roster is already immensely talented and young (they're the second-youngest team in the league), adding Rose could help them bring it all together in less than a year. Personally I like Beasley better as an overall player, but the pick has to be and will be Derrick Rose.
2. Miami Heat
This team is horrible. If they hadn't clearly intentionally completely tanked the last 50 games of the season, maybe karma wouldn't have screwed them out of the #1 pick. Rumors are everywhere that suggest that Pat Riley doesn't much care for Michael Beasley and would prefer to trade the pick or just flat-out pick Jerryd Bayless or OJ Mayo instead. One prominent rumor suggests the Heat will trade this pick along with SG Daequan Cook to Memphis for PG Mike Conley Jr. and the #5 overall pick. If this was really on the table, and I was Pat Riley, I would do this in a heartbeat. Conley was a lottery pick last season, and if you trot out a starting five next season that includes Conley, Shawn Marion, Dwyane Wade, and the #5 pick, you've improved yourself greatly almost immediately. But, if the pick is not traded, the Heat would be brain-dead to not select Beasley. He's the best player in the draft, and he provides them with one of the things they sorely lack...actually, several of the things they sorely lack. I mean, look at that mug in the picture. Would you flop if you were defending this guy? Don't think so. Please take Michael Beasley.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves
This team is run by Kevin McHale, notorious atrocious GM. There's no telling what they'll do here. What they should do, however is quite clear: pick USC G OJ Mayo. With Mayo, they'll be getting a huge upgrade offensively from the 2-guard, as well as a very talented defender. If they can add him to a core that already includes Al Jefferson, Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, and Corey Brewer, suddenly this team looks somewhat formidable on paper a few years down the road. However, they still have Mark Madsen under contract. Bummer. Take OJ Mayo.
4. Seattle Supersonics
This is a really obvious pick if Mayo is already off the board. They have no point guard whatsoever. Luke Ridnour sucks and Earl Watson is a backup at best. Watson isn't even a real point guard, he's a total combo. Freshman Arizona G Jerryd Bayless is the best pick for them. Another possibility would be UCLA G Russell Westbrook, who has drawn comparisons to a more-athletic Rajon Rondo. While he isn't a true point guard, Bayless brings enough to the table to fill the Sonics' huge hole at this position. He's an elite scorer, and at 6-3, has very good size. You can't really go wrong with either Westbrook or Bayless, but I would lean towards them taking Jerryd Bayless.
5. Memphis Grizzlies
There are about a million things the Grizzlies could do here, mostly because they are a terrible team and have a million holes to fill. The only real position they have solidified is the 3, with Rudy Gay. Their frontline at the end of last season consisted of players including Darko Milicic and Kwame Brown. That's how bad they are. They could take anyone from Indiana G Eric Gordon to UCLA F Kevin Love. Because they still have SG Mike Miller and a surplus of point guards currently, they should probably go for a big man. This narrows it down to Love or Stanford C Brook Lopez. I would go with Lopez because he seems to be more of an NBA-caliber player than Love. He's 7-0, runs the floor, and has a very polished offensive game. Love is very talented, but I'm skeptical as to whether or not he's a good enough athlete to make a difference for a long time. Because the Grizziles' front line is so awful, I would take Brook Lopez.
6. New York Knicks
Everyone knows the story of the Knicks, so I won't even go very far into it. Bottom line: they're in the worst situation of any team ever. There, done. Anyway, everyone has been linking the Knicks to Italian F Danilo Gallinari since the Knicks landed this pick in the lottery. I'm not a fan at all of picking Europeans this high, so I'm not sticking him here. Although it seems likely that he will indeed be their choice, the Knicks really should take Russell Westbrook. As I said before, he's freakishly athletic with a developing offensive game, and he is a shut-down defender. He might be my favorite player in the draft. I feel like any team that takes him is getting a very solid contributor for years. However, we're talking about the Knicks. Although Isiah is finally done making decisions, there's no telling if things will turn around for them. They're probably taking Gallinari, but I would jump all over Russell Westbrook.
7. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers have been mentioned in several trade rumors as well, but seem unlikely to be able to get anything done. They should take G Eric Gordon. Elton Brand and Corey Maggette seem to be all-but-gone, meaning scoring will be a necessity for LA to add. Gordon is an electrifying shooter, will great handles and the ability to score himself almost at will. And, because he's only 6-3, people are comparing him to Ben Gordon. Things could be worse. They should probably take Eric Gordon.
8. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks are a team that spent their money horribly on players like Mo Williams and Michael Redd. While Redd is a very, very good player, he is not at all worth the $15+ million the Bucks will be paying him for the next three seasons. The Bucks' situation doesn't appear to be all that bad though, considering the improvement of former-#1 choice Andrew Bogut and the late season emergence of PG Ramon Sessions. Combined with Redd and last year's pick Yi Jianlian the Bucks have a decent outlook. West Virginia SF Joe Alexander, 6-8, seems like a decent pick here. He was a very late bloomer, but really made a name for himself dominating in the Big East and NCAA Tournaments. He's a tough player with developing offensive skills. Big red flag on this guy though: he's white and American, so I'm not sure what to make of this. What white American players have been stars since Larry Bird? Don't drop Mike Miller and Jason Kapono on me. This guy seems different though, so pick Joe Alexander.
9. Charlotte Bobcats
The Bobcats are loaded with former lottery picks. Former lottery pick PF Sean May has battled injury problems, as well as the problem of just not being good. They should be ecstatic if Brook Lopez were to drop into their laps, but if not, they should probably pick up Kevin Love. He's one of the smartest players to come into the NBA out of college in a long time. While not very athletic, his basketball IQ and passing abilities are far superior to almost everyone else in the draft. He's a sluggish defender and an undersized, fat white guy. That's the downside. The upside is that he's supremely talented offensively, and can take opposing power forwards both inside and out. He would be a good fit playing with Jason Richardson and Gerald Wallace alongside Emeka Okafor on the front line. Kevin Love.
10. New Jersey Nets
All indications are that the Nets are not interested at all in actually picking a player here. There are rumors that they will make a trade with Portland that allows the Blazers to snag DJ Augustin. But if they miraculously decide to pick a player here, they should go with LSU PF Anthony Randolph. The most common comparison with Randolph is Chris Bosh, so the Nets could do much worse than taking another Chris Bosh. In my opinion, as long as Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson are both on the team, they're going nowhere. Hopefully they fix that, because it's clearly not working. Anthony Randolph is the pick for them, but expect them to trade down.
11. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers just made this pick much more interesting. Beforehand, all indications were that they would be taking a point guard, as it is the biggest hole they have. However, they just traded Jermaine O'Neal to Toronto for TJ Ford and the 17th pick (and Rasho), so who knows what they'll be planning on doing now. The best thing the Pacers could do would be to add a solid scoring 2 guard. The best player to take for that would probably be Kansas G Brandon Rush, but this seems like a stretch to take him this high. They could possibly snag him at 17. Kosta Koufos, a 7-0 C from Ohio State could be a possibility to replace O'Neal. Koufos is a very talented offensive player, and being a seven-footer doesn't hurt either. Expect Kosta Koufos to go to Indiana.
12. Sacramento Kings
The Kings are drafting a point guard. If they don't they should disband the franchise. They traded Mike Bibby to Atlanta last year, leaving them with...nothing. Recent indications have pointed towards them taking Kansas G Mario Chalmers here. Considering Chalmers is a career backup and second-round caliber player at best, this would be utterly idiotic. The best choice is clearly Texas G DJ Augustin. He's drawn comparions to Steve Nash. What more do you want? He's a very gifted shooter and game manager, although he is a below-average defender. Basically...he's Steve Nash! Take him! DJ Augustin.
13. Portland Trailblazers
The Blazers would love to snag Augustin. That team getting a legitimate PG to go with Brandon Roy and Greg Oden would be unfair. That team would win like 10 consecutive titles...maybe. Don't hold me to that. But they would be good. Anyway, with Augustin off the board here, and no other point guards in sight, they should snag the best player available, who at this point would be Danilo Gallinari. He is only 19 years old, so he should take time to develop. At 6-9, he would be a huge small foward, which doesn't hurt him either. Apparently his feet are stuck in sand when he plays defense, but he has a very polished offensive repertoire, that would complement Roy and Oden very well. Danilo Gallinari should be the choice.
14. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors won 50 games last year, it's almost unfair for them to have a lottery choice, but that's how it worked out. However, the Warriors have about 100 players that are free agents, notably Baron Davis and Monta Ellis. One of the Warriors' most glaring holes is that they lack a solid interior scorer. Kansas F Darrell Arthur is one of the more underrated players in the draft in my opinion, and he would be a nice fit for the Warriors. He is a very good shooter for a 6-9 PF, and he runs the floor and can shoot from a decent range. This would be a perfect fit for Nellie. Darrell Arthur.
15. Phoenix Suns
The Suns will be an interesting team to watch next year, playing for the first time together without Mike D'Antoni or Shawn Marion, and for the first full season with Shaq. What they desperately need is a backup point guard for Nash, so they should probably opt for Mario Chalmers. Earlier I said Chalmers was probably a second-round talent and a backup. Well, the Suns need a backup. And with Nash teaching him, who knows, maybe he can become a decent starter in the future. Chalmers is a very good defender (something that Nash is not), as well as a lights-out shooter, as we saw in the national title game for Kansas. Mario Chalmers makes the most sense for the Suns.
16. Philadelphia 76ers
This is a team on the big-time rise, as we saw in the first round against the Pistons, when they shockingly won two games as a seven seed. They have a fairly full backcourt at the moment with players like Andre Miller, Andre Iguodala, and Willie Green. They have a pretty good frontcourt anchored by Sam Dalembert and Thaddeus Young. They could use some energy off the bench and another frontline player, so they should look into Stanford F Robin Lopez, Brook's twin. While not nearly as polished offensively as Brook, Robin has been described as a solid rebounder and interior defender that brings energy. Plus look at the hair. He's the second Anderson Varejao. Robin Lopez
17. Indiana Pacers (from Toronto)
This is the pick the Pacers picked up from Toronto for Jermaine O'Neal. As I said before, they need a scoring shooting guard, and Brandon Rush is still available, so they should happily take him here. He's a very good shooter and very good defender, and at 6-6, a good sized shooting guard. They'll take Brandon Rush if he's still here.
18. Washington Wizards
They would be lucky to snag Darrell Arthur here if Antawn Jamison leaves, but he's gone here. C Brendan Haywood played much better last season than he ever has before, but that's a low hurdle, because he's just not the answer. I'm not sold on this guy at all, but he would probably be the best available pickup for them, Georgetown C Roy Hibbert. First of all, he's 7-2, he's freaking huge. He runs the floor well and has a surprisingly soft touch around the basket. He's kind of a wuss on the court, so I don't know how he'll adapt to the Wizards' newfound "Crush LeBron James Every Time He Takes A Dribble" philosophy. Should be interesting to see.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs need a lot of help, because they have horrible talent surrounding LeBron. Adding Ben Wallace didn't do anything for me, he is as washed up as anybody. There isn't really anybody left this late in the draft that can be counted on to make an immediate impact and help LeBron right away, so they should take a hard look at Texas A&M C DeAndre Jordan. He's 7-0 with freakish shot-blocking ability and athleticism. He was one of the most highly-touted prospects out of high school in Houston, but had a disappointing first year at A&M. He doesn't have much offensive game to speak of other than being able to jump over people and dunk, but Cavs fans are used to that, so maybe they'll love him. DeAndre Jordan.
20. Charlotte Bobcats
The Bobcats traded for this pick from Denver. This is tough for them, because of what they already have. If they snag Love with their lottery pick, the only decent-sized hole they'd have in the starting lineup would be point guard, which, as we know, is all but empty at this point in the draft. The Bobcats could take a project-type player here, so maybe they'll go with French C Alex Ajinca. He's 7-1 and 20 years old. His stats in the French league were not overwhelming, averaging 5 ppg. This is clearly not a player that is helping anybody out immediately, but the Bobcats don't have many better options at this point.
21. New Jersey Nets
There's a chance this pick could get shipped away in a trade, but it can't be assumed. They addressed this with their first pick, but you can't have enough inside scoring in my opinion, so Rider F Jason Thompson is a decent choice. At 6-11 he gives you great size at the four, and, having played all four years of college, is more NBA ready than some of the other big man prospects. He could come in and make a difference right away.
22. Orlando Magic
The Magic have a gaping hole at center.............just kidding. They need a guard to complement players like Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis. Memphis G Chris Douglas-Roberts seems like a good fit. He was an All-American as a junior, and is a Dwyane Wade type player, in that he takes good shots, has great ability to get to the rim, and shoots a high percentage from the floor inside the three point line. Considering pretty much every other player not named Dwight Howard on the Magic camps out on the three point line, CDR would be a nice change of pace.
23. Utah Jazz
They would like Roy Hibbert to slip to them here, but it doesn't seem likely that he will. They used a first-rounder on Rice sharpshooter Morris Almond last year, but he didn't do anything in his rookie season. Western Kentucky G Courtney Lee is a possibility for the Jazz, because he would bring them the off-the-dribble scoring they have never gotten from a shooting guard. However, in the West, you can't have enough big men. They seem likely to go with either NC State F JJ Hickson or Nevada F JaVale McGee. He's a very talented player with huge upside, and he's 7-0. He could be a few years away, but he could also turn it on sooner than people expect.
24. Seattle Supersonics
The Sonics have tried drafting centers in the first round for what seems like forever. By taking Bayless this year with their lotto pick, maybe they can try something different. A big man makes sense for the Sonics considering they have 1-3 filled by Bayless, Kevin Durant, and Jeff Green (the one not from Curb Your Enthusiasm). Florida F Marreese Speights would be a good pick. At 6-10 245, he's a huge body that could bang around and clean up the messes made by Durant. He also has a frustrating name. Why can't it be Maurice? I feel like I'm writing Tennessee when I'm writing Marreese.
25. Houston Rockets
The Rockets need a backup shooting guard for Tracy McGrady that will also serve as an insurance policy for when T-Mac gets hurt, which happens....uh all the time. Western Kentucky G Courtney Lee would be money at 25, the Rockets would be ecstatic if he fell this far to them. He's a great on-the-ball defender, as well as a very talented offensive player, who many claim to be NBA-ready. This would be a no-brainer.
26. San Antonio Spurs
Let's see, who's the top-rated foreign player left on the board? Whoever it is, they will almost surely be picked up by RC Buford and Co. 6-8 French G Nicolas Batum seems to be the one. Considering half of the Spurs roster is about to be moved into a retirement home, the 19-year-old G/F would be a perfect choice. He's a great athlete and has great size at either the 2 or 3. Brent Barry and Michael Finley don't have much time left, meaning Batum would be a nice upgrade.
27. Portland Trailblazers
They acquired this choice from New Orleans. There's wide speculation that it'll be packaged with other picks to get New Jersey's pick at #10. However if they keep it, Syracuse G/F Donte Greene would work well. He is a very, very good shooter, and at 6-9 this can prove to be a huge asset. Really, Portland shouldn't be allowed to be in positions to get players this talented, because they already have so many on the roster. Greene would just add to their arsenal of young guns.
28. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies took Brook Lopez earlier in my fake draft, but they still have so many bad forwards that they should look to add another here. NC State F JJ Hickson is the one. He's 6-9 and can bang around and score with nice touch around the rim. He's a very good rebounder, but needs work on interior defense. If he can get that ironed out, he will be a very good player to have, and a total steal at #28.
29. Detroit Pistons
Rumors swirl surrounding each of the Pistons marquee four players. There's really no telling what will happen with them, as Joe Dumars vowed to shake everything up following the firing of Flip Saunders. Regardless of what they choose to do, they should get Kansas State F Bill Walker. Despite having seemingly nonstop knee injuries, Walker is a great athlete with good offensive game. He was obviously overshadowed at K-State playing alongside Michael Beasley this past year, but he is a very good prospect in his own right. He missed his entire freshman season and KSU following two ACL surgeries. If not for this, we could be talking about him as a high lottery pick. Another potential steal here...or total crap-out.
30. Boston Celtics
There aren't many holes at all on the 2009 Celtics team, with almost everybody coming back from their championship squad. Because of this, they can basically take a gamble here. Cal C DeVon Hardin seems worthy of such a pick. He's 6-11 and doesn't have much offensive game to speak of, but he's a great rebounder, very athletic, and runs the floor well. His defense isn't great either, but he'll be joining the best defensive team in the NBA, so maybe he can be coached a little.
I know trades are going to ruin this whole thing and make it utterly obsolete, but who knows...maybe they won't.