As the draft hits Thursday, everyone is warning not to believe everything you read this week. My advice is a bit different: don't believe anything you've read ever. Just follow your heart. Follow it ... after the jump, where we unleash our second-to-final mock draft of the season. (The last one will come Thursday morning.)
Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley telling folks he's still attempting to pry Griffin from Mike Dunleavy's grip sounds nice, until you realize how much that says about the perceived drop-off between No. 1 and everyone else. Chris Kaman rumors have never been hotter, by the way.
- 2. Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn
Beyond the Griffin dreams, Memphis has been tied to a few key prospects. Ricky Rubio seems like a lost cause no one but Chris Wallace and the fans (remember them?) really want. Thabeet canceled a Sunday workout, blaming injury. James Harden reportedly sucked on Saturday, and Tyreke Evans is possibly too similar to O.J. Mayo. The trade market surrounding No. 2 has dried up as the Kings have apparently refused to play ball. Tough week in Memphis, with a tough choice coming Thursday night.
- 3. Thunder: Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain
The Thunder snuck in a trip to Los Angeles on Saturday to meet Rubio after a week of speculation the franchise had hired a lawyer to look into the point guard's contentious Joventut buy- out. Smoke begets fire and all that.
- 4. Kings: Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse
There is one available prospect Sacramento's internal forces do not disagree on: Flynn. Some scouts in the organization dislike Rubio, while others bristle at Evans (who isn't particularly charismatic on the court and may not be an effective point guard next to big scorer Kevin Martin). But everyone likes Flynn, an engaging, fearless slasher who will never be as quick as Brandon Jennings or as creative as Rubio, but can be a solid NBA point guard. (If Flynn doesn't go here, he probably slips out of the top nine. Word is he requested to be added to the Kings' crazy point guard workout with Evans and Stephen Curry.)
- 5. Wizards: James Harden, SG, Arizona State
I have a feeling those rumors of a Washington trade will come through, if only because there's no perfect fit on the board beyond ... well, Griffin. Dallas has been rumored to be interested in No. 5; Donnie Nelson said all options are on the table the coming week. We'll see.
- 6. Timberwolves: Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy
Jennings reportedly wowed the crowd at Friday's point guard battle royale during the scrimmage portion ... going up against guys like Flynn, Evans and Holiday. New GM David Kahn apparently hates Randy Foye's game, and Jennings adds some backcourt firepower to help out Al Jefferson and Kevin Love. If nothing else, pray Jennings goes high so we can avoid the cocksure bleating of anti-Jennings analyst Jay Bilas.
- 7. Warriors: Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona
You keep picking thin power forwards in the lottery until you find one who works out, okay Golden State? In all seriousness, Don Nelson has so many starting perimeter players and so little he trusts up front. We all love Anthony Randolph and Brandan Wright, but Nellie ain't in our club.
- 8. Knicks: Stephen Curry, G, Davidson
Curry falling down to New York is the best situation for everyone. Well, everyone but Eastern Conference defenders. And Nate Robinson, who will surely have to find a contract in some other town. Golden State is apparently claiming they'll take Stephen if he's available at No. 7, even though he refused to work out for them. But Nellie knows not to mess with Dell Curry. He knows.
- 9. Raptors: Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis
Toronto is one of the few lottery teams who can pick a player at any position without anyone blinking an eye. Thankfully, Tyreke Evans has no position. It's a win-win! I'm still sussing out whether Evans did enough Sunday to beat out Flynn for Sacramento's No. 4. The answer isn't clear, though we'll likely know Thursday, unless Rubio slips by Oklahoma City.
- 10. Bucks: Jrue Holiday, PG, UCLA
Rumor has it Milwaukee desperately hopes Flynn falls past Sacramento, which should give the Bucks a clear path to point guard salvation. If that doesn't happen, Holiday works. He can caddy for Luke Ridnour for a year before becoming the post-apocolyptic Terrell Brandon we know him to be.
- 11. Nets: DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt
While the Nets do need a bruising power forward, it seems like this pick will be made for Chicago, who would rather have Blair guaranteed than two lower picks. The Nets need some depth, and their dude could be available at Chicago's No. 16 pick.
- 12. Bobcats: Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke
While the double point guard look wasn't bad in stretches last season, Raymond Felton could be out (he's a restricted free agent) and a bit more scoring prowess than Raja Bell is necessary with a frontcourt inconsistent in the ledger. I'm not convinced Henderson will be a 20-point scorer in the league, but when has Michael Jordan every listened to me?
- 13. Pacers: DeMar DeRozan, F/G, USC
Indiana likes Roy Hibbert, one of its 2008 selections. That prevents the choice of B.J. Mullens. (Also, B.J. Mullens prevents the choice of B.J. Mullens.) I'm not exactly where DeRozan fits on the Pacer roster, but then again I'm not really sure where any Pacer fits on the Pacer roster. Mike Dunleavy will miss a few months again, so DeMar should get some valuable minutes. But he doesn't shoot the three well, and Indiana takes a lot of threes. Hmph.
- 14. Suns: Earl Clark, F, Louisville
Is Earl Clark the steal of the draft no matter where he goes? Outside of Rubio, he's the only 2009 prospect who could win the MVP some day. (You think I'm joking ...)
- 15. Pistons: B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State
Legit 7-foot centers don't grow on trees. They grow on mountaintops, and they eat huckleberries and chalk for breakfast. (Detroit has a history of "quasi-promising" players in the mid-first -- see Rodney Stuckey -- so the post-"promise" workout schedule for Mullens with teams picking lower than No. 15 seems more like ass-covering than legitimate auditions.)
- 16. Bulls: Terrence Williams, G/F, Louisville
Here goes New Jersey's target. I think there's a wide understanding that Williams is a really good prospect and deserves to be in the top 10 conversation. But there's also the matter of need, and more teams need big men and point guards than defensive-minded wings. New Jersey can capitalize on that to a) get Williams cheaper, and b) pick up another asset (Chicago's No. 26).
- 17. 76ers: Ty Lawson, PG, UNC
Among the cadre of point guard prospects, Lawson fits especially well in Philadelphia: he can shoot, and he's ready to go at the pro level more than the younger fellows.
- 18. Timberwolves: James Johnson, PF, Wake Forest
- 19. Hawks: Patrick Mills, PG, St. Mary's
This would have been a good year for a lottery pick, given all the point guard talent. Unfortunately for Rick Sund, Mills and Eric Maynor aren't quite of the readiness or quality (respectively) which make Mike Bibby irrelevant. That means three more years of Team Dime in Atlanta, methinks.
- 20. Jazz: Tyler Hansbrough, F, UNC
It's like Romeo and Juliet.
- 21. Hornets: Eric Maynor, PG, VCU
- 22. Mavericks: Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona
- 23. Kings: Derrick Brown, PF, Xavier
Brown will make his second visit to Sacramento Monday. Assuming Thabeet or Hill don't get picked at No. 4, the Kings need another decent big man to round out the young frontcourt. He's a poor defensive rebounder, but has deceptive strength and great length. The Kings aren't afraid to take a player they like too early, even with the No. 31 pick in hand.
- 24. Blazers: Omri Casspi, G/F, Israel
- 25. Thunder: Jeff Pendergraph, F, Arizona State
- 26. Bulls: Austin Daye, F, Gonzaga
If we continue to assume the Nets-Bulls trade, we can assume this is a bit of a steal for New Jersey, as Daye could have been in play at No. 11 if he weren't, you know, Austin Daye.
- 27. Grizzlies: Danny Green, G/F, UNC
If Darrell Arthur and Donte Greene were any indication, this pick will be traded 14 times on draft night.
- 28. Timberwolves: Wayne Ellington, SG, UNC
- 29. Lakers: Nick Calathes, PG, Florida
- 30. Cavaliers: Sam Young, SF, Pitt
Sam Young is six months older than Dwight Howard.