All mock drafts are not created equal. And why would you want them to be? That'd be awful boring, just reading lists of names over and over. At FanHouse, we emphasize the commentary -- so in our mocks we'll (try to) explain why we think certain players fit in their theoretical slots. We will also project our own biases (positive and negative), of course.
At this early stage -- and let's be honest, at every stage -- this is 5% homework, 5% supreme divination, 90% guesswork. (A great endorsement, no?) After the jump, a full first-round mock draft for your
- 1. Kings: Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain
Given Geoff Petrie's draft history, we shou ldn't be surprised if the Kings go with Ricky Rubio at No. 1. Blake Griffin wouldn't be a surprise either. Despite the presence of Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes, the team needs mad help with post scoring and defensive rebounding. But Sacramento needs a star, someone to rile up the sunshine fans. Ricky can do that.
- 2. Wizards: Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma
If Griffin is on the board at No. 2, his selection will be the biggest no-brainer in the history of ... well, the biggest no-brainer since Kevin Durant, at least. Griffin also happens to be the one lottery talent who can almost assuredly help Washington from Day 1.
- 3. Clippers: Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis
Evans exploded as a point guard at Memphis, but he has the size to play the two-guard in the NBA, as well. The Clippers could mix and match Evans with Baron Davis and Eric Gordon, and trade Davis the second his trade value rebounds. (Note: this might come in the final year of his contract, or perhaps later.)
- 4. Thunder: James Harden, G, Arizona State
Harden seemingly killed his stock with a poor tournament performance, and his style isn't tailored to the camp scene. But Sam Presti has been shown to value smart, versatile players who can defend. Harden fits the bill and a positional need at the two-guard between Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
- 5. Timberwolves: Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn
Minnesota absolutely cannot take another power forward (disqualifying Jordan Hill and Tyler Hansbrough), and defense in the middle will be a priority. Thabeet isn't a great rebounder (despite his size), but Al Jefferson and Kevin Love have that locked. Minnesota has enough offensive/defensive holes beyond the PF slot that the team could go many different directions. (Hansbrough was only a small joke.)
- 6. Grizzlies: Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona
Memphis has to go big, and Hill carries the all-important "tremendous upside potential" tag. Hill has drawn some Bosh comparisons, but he hardly seems like a singular savior. But anything would be an upgrade over Darrell Arthur, last year's part-time starter.
- 7. Warriors: Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy
Golden State has reportedly decided Monta Ellis is not a point guard. Well, that only took three years! The Warriors roster is so out-of-whack that it's impossible to tell what they'll need in 2009 or 2013. But Jennings is the prototype up-tempo distributor, and I assume Don Nelson values that more than another combo or some brawn.
- 8. Knicks: Ty Lawson, PG, Carolina
Chris Duhon is a stopgap, Nate Robinson might need a farewell (given his restricted free agent status) and the single position most important for Mike D'Antoni's system is point guard. Lawson obviously has experience running, and plenty of success doing it.
- 9. Raptors: DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt
Toronto has another roster in complete turmoil. Bosh's status is a question mark, but Bryan Colangelo is beginning to seem resigned to a trade. With Andrea Bargnani in place as a center, the Raptors need a brawny, defense-and-rebounding power forward. Blair should rocket up the prospect lists once the world realizes how long his arms are.
- 10. Bucks: James Johnson, PF, Wake Forest
Johnson could be another workout riser. The Bucks represent yet another question mark: it's almost "best player available" territory at this point. But the uncertainty around Charlie Villanueva is greater than that around fellow RFA Ramon Sessions, and the depth up front for the Bucks is worse.
- 11. Nets: Stephen Curry, G, Davidson
A Curry-Devin Harris backcourt might make Lawrence Frank's head explode. (Not a good thing.) New Jersey's bench was impotent this year; Curry would be a preemptive vince Carter replacement, but a boon in the interim as well. All position but PG and C would be sensible here, though.
- 12. Bobcats: Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke
While Curry seems (pre-)destined for Charlotte, Henderson also makes sense. Michael Jordan loves his high-flyers, Larry Brown loves his hard workers, and the 'Cats need a two-guard with scoring power. Desperately.
- 13. Pacers: Terrence Williams, G/F, Louisville
Will Williams actually go higher than teammate Earl Clark? A stronger possibility than you'd think. Potential will never die, but Williams' brand of playmaker is highly respected in the NBA. Even more than giants who can shoot.
- 14. Suns: Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse
A fine draft for picking heirs. You'd think Alvin Gentry would prefer someone closer to Lawson, while Steve Kerr: Unfiltered would go with Jrue Holiday. Flynn seems like a fine compromise. Jeff Teague seems sensible here too.
- 15. Pistons: Austin Daye, F, Gonzaga
Joe Dumars already knows which free agents he'll target in July; his draft pick should tip off the world. Of course, Detroit could -- or should -- be one of the most active Draft Day teams in the trade game. This is a complete guess (as opposed to the rest of this mock, which is a deeply considered meditation on a coming reality). I think Daye's standing will rise over the next few weeks.
- 16. Bulls: Demar DeRozan, G/F, Southern Cal
DeRozan and Evans went into the college season near equals in stature, but Evans' ability to run the point will turn him into a clear capo among the Heirs of Mayo. DeRozan ain't a bad prospect, though.
- 17. 76ers: Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest
In a big point guard draft, Philadelphia should be able to get a fine one at No. 17. Teague, Flynn, Nick Calathes, Jrue Holiday, Patrick Mills ... maybe even Lawson, if his cards fall wrong. Philadelphia has went big the last few years, but the guard depth is falling apart. How is Willie Green still a starter on this team?! (Sorry.) Teague could/should go higher than this.
- 18. Timberwolves: Earl Clark, F, Louisville
Minnesota doesn't even have a general manager yet, so there's no telling how the administration will feel about slotting a power forward at the three, wedged next to Corey Brewer. What 'Sota does with that first lottery pick will obviously impact how this choice is used, unless there's an obvious "best player available" on the board.
- 19. Hawks: Jrue Holiday, PG, UCLA
Holiday could go far higher than this -- he probably should go higher than Flynn, at least. For all Mike Bibby's salvation, the Hawks are still short at the point. But Atlanta needs bodies everywhere.
- 20. Jazz: Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona
Like Detroit, Utah's management should have an idea of how their ideal July will go before making this selection, so best player available could be the name of the game. As C.J. Miles showed in the postseason, the swing spot between Boozer or Millsap and Ronnie Brewer is a weakness, assuming Andrei Kirilenko will at some point move on.
- 21. Hornets: B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State
If anyone offers you odds on "the Spurs will buy the No. 21 pick from New Orleans," you take it. Hear me? You take it. N.O.'s anti-first stance is really odd, considering rookies are by far the most cost-effective performers in the NBA. No financial risk in the teens and 20s ... with the possibility of great production. Cost-cutting teams should be stockpiling low firsts, not selling them. (@Phoenix, three years ago.) Of course, this doesn't mean this particular mocking guess will actually be productive next year. Or ever.
- 22. Mavericks: Eric Maynor, PG, VCU
The one pick that survived the Devin Harris trade! Dallas could go any which way here, including a trade. (I'm guessing not to San Antonio, however.) I see Maynor as a player who will suffer after the Chicago meet-up (maybe falling out of consensus first-round status), but make a late comeback as GMs get frightened by potential. He's the most boggling of the point guard prospects. Rodney Stuckey, or Ronnie Price?
- 23. Kings: Danny Green, G/F, Carolina
The Kings love shooters who can handle the ball. If Sacramento goes big at the top of the draft, expect a play for a point guard here. If there's a targeted PG slotted in the teens, note that the Kings also own the No. 31 pick as a (great) sweetener.
- 24. Blazers: Victor Claver, F, Spain
Claver was injured during winter, badly. But he appears to be ready to stay in the draft. Portland hardly needs size, but Claver's 6'10 frame betrays his perimeter game: he shot 40% from three in the ACB this season. Most expect Claver to fall into the second round because of his injury and some general skill issues (like ball-handling). While that sounds about right, he's too good a talent to pass up in this range if a GM thinks he can work an arrangement to continue his development in Europe or bring him over to contribute quickly.
- 25. Thunder: Omri Casspi, F, Israel
It should be noted that the Sonics franchise always flirted with being the first NBA team to play an Israeli national (what up, Yotam!), and thus break all jersey sales records. Casspi is a versatile forward, almost a bigger but less ... guard-y Rudy Fernandez. (Helpful description there, yes?)
- 26. Bulls: Tyler Hansbrough, PF, Carolina
John Paxson is still making the calls here, right? At some point, whether when Tyrus Thomas gets traded or Brad Miller's legs spontaneously combust, the Bulls will need another useful big man. Aaron Gray does not count. Aaron Gray never counts.
- 27. Grizzlies: Michael Washington, PF, Arkansas
It's unsettled whether Washington will be in a position to stick in the draft; if he does, I could see him as a work-out wonder. Teams will gang up on massive work-outs to save costs as much as possible; that should mean Washington will get an opportunity to go at other prospects, maybe even fellows like Clark and Hill. Washington has a well-developed body, he knows how to play and he could jump a lot of spaces in a short period of time.
- 28. Timberwolves: Nick Calathes, PG, Florida
Calathes should be a first-round pick. He has marvelous numbers in two years in Gainesville. He has that treasured size, a killer jumper. He won't beat Flynn in a dunk contest, but he's a stud prospect this low.
- 29. Lakers: Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky
A younger, smaller Washington. You'd think the Lakers might look point guard here, with Derek Fisher holding up the fort, Jordan Farmar fading and Shannon Brown plugging. No stars. But no vacancies, either, if you assume L.A. would rather keep Brown cheaply than bring in a Darren Collison.
- 30. Cavaliers: Patrick Mills, PG, St. Mary's
Cleveland is just tinkering around the edges. There could some worry about the frontcourt -- Anderson Varejao meets free agency, and Ben Wallace and Zydrunas Ilgauskus inch toward ineffectualness. Darren Collison or Wayne Ellington are the best players left, with special apologies for Gani Lawal (blech), Sam Young (future ACB MVP), my homeboy Nando de Colo and Marcus Thornton.