NBA Mock Draft 3.0: Rhyme and Reason
Not much has changed as the very top of our mock -- John Wall hasn't been exposed as a cyborg (yet) and Evan Turner continues to drop jaws (even if he won't work out for anyone but Philadelphia). But the winds have shifted on players like DeMarcus Cousins, Hassan Whiteside and Luke Babbitt, thanks to athletic measurements from the Draft Combine and early workouts.
Here is one man's vision -- presented in rhyme and reason -- of what will go down on June 24. Note to limerick enthusiasts: I know my amphibrachs are all over the place. I am not worthy of the OEDILF!
1. Washington Wizards: John Wall, Kentucky
Previously: John Wall
There's little new one could say about why the Wizards should select Wall with the top pick. So, here's a limerick on the subject.
The Wizards will pick Wall number one.
Moving Gil off the ball should be fun.
They will get up and run,
and we know Gil can gun.
Let's just hope Gil doesn't make Flip "pick 1."
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech
Previously: Derrick Favors
There's debate as to whether new coach Doug Collins will have major influence in this, the most important 76ers draft pick since Allen Iverson. There's also debate as to whether Collins would advocate for a big man like Favors over Evan Turner. Who knows? But Collins has reached out to Andre Iguodala, and is focused on improving the team defensively ... which necessitates, one would think, an avoidance of the sort of small-ball a Jrue Holiday-Evan Turner-Andre Iguodala lineup would create. The 76ers still need help up front, and Favors is a great prospect with a great attitude.
3. New Jersey Nets: Evan Turner, Ohio State
Previously: Evan Turner
The hiring of Avery Johnson in New Jersey provides a nice little twist in the Nets' draft planning. Like Collins, the Little General is a defensive-minded, slow-it-down coach. And while I'm a fan of Courtney Lee and Chris Douglas-Roberts, and I assume Johnson is as well, there's no reason to pass by Turner (right) here ... unless the Nets think they can make DeMarcus Cousins and Brook Lopez a top tier frontcourt (which is entirely possible). With Johnson on the sidelines, Devin Harris and Turner could be an explosive if understated backcourt.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves: DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky
Previously: Wesley Johnson
In our last NBA mock draft, I had the Wolves ignoring Cousins and taking swingman Wesley Johnson, filling a need and avoiding a risk. I still don't think Cousins ends up playing for the Wolves, but this has become a coveted pick. It's understandable: the worst prospect available at No. 4 is Cousins, with a minor, minor chance it could be Favors or Turner. That's a good spot to be. Minnesota needs talent, so I'd expect actual players to be involved in a swap for No. 4. Whichever team lands there ought to take Cousins, a beast of a big man whose risk seems outweighed by talent.
5. Sacramento Kings: Hassan Whiteside, Marshall
Previously: DeMarcus Cousins
If you say you know what Geoff Petrie is going to do come June 24, you are either a liar or you are Geoff Petrie. In the case of the latter, hey Geoff!
I, like every other draft prognosticator, am spitballing on the Kings' pick at this point. It's easy to see the Kings nabbing Cousins if he sneaks past No. 4, and it's worth noting that the Kings will be the first team to work out Favors and Cousins together (potentially bespeaking an interest in moving up). But no matter: why is Whiteside here? He reportedly impressed the Kings in a workout against Cole Aldrich, Ekpe Udoh, Daniel Orton and Ryan Richards last week. ... That's all I've got.
6. Golden State Warriors: Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
Previously: Ed Davis
It'd seem to be a choice between Aminu and Wesley Johnson for the Warriors, and I think the ... uh, Josh Smithiness of Aminu wins out over the shooting prowess of Johnson. In other words, Aminu is a true SF-PF tweener, while Johnson looks more and more like a true small forward, or a SF-SG tweener. That's all pretty nitpicky, and the Rashard Lewises of the world have made fools of position assignments in the past. But that's my feeling right now, and I think the Warriors need to err on the big side in this draft.
The race is on, by the way, in the contest to see which of Aminu, Ekpe Udoh and Ed Davis will be the first to have his name butchered by David Stern. Don't rule out a DeeeeMarcus Cousins or HasSAHN (not Has-sohn) Whiteside.
7. Detroit Pistons: Greg Monroe, Georgetown
Previously: Greg Monroe
Johnson isn't falling this far on most mocks, but I cannot see the Pistons picking up a small forward, not with Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko fresh out of last year's draft. Monroe (right) is a nice prospect, and fits a need. He can help Rodney Stuckey as much as anyone in the draft, though it's hard to see Pistons coach John Kuester embrace the Princeton offense Monroe ran at Georgetown. Monroe is largely an offensive prospect, and while Detroit under Joe Dumars is known for defense, the team needs help everywhere.
8. Los Angeles Clippers: Wesley Johnson, Syracuse
Previously: Al-Farouq Aminu
If Johnson slips all the way to No. 8, this is a no-brainer. As such, let's flip open the limerick book once again:
The Clippers are begging for LeBron.
But the pitch has been met with a yawn.
But Geffen is prowlin'
(or so Pete is howlin').
Let's hope this means Don Ster-ling is gone.
9. Utah Jazz: Ekpe Udoh, Baylor
Previously: Xavier Henry
The Jazz have a good bit of flexibility in their mid-lottery pick. That's the real fortune in being a rising playoff team with a pick this high. Xavier Henry would be a good player to take here, although the Jazz have Wesley Matthews at the two-guard. The frontcourt is thinning out, though, with Carlos Boozer a lock to leave, Kyrylo Fesenko exploring free agency and Mehmet Okur entering the final season of his contract. Udoh might not be the perfect sidekick to Paul Millsap, but his defensive skill and intuition would certainly be welcome in Salt Lake.
10. Indiana Pacers: Xavier Henry, Kansas
Previously: Cole Aldrich
The Pacers need help just about everywhere, with Danny Granger the only surefire starter on the roster. Henry's shooting could help open things up, even though the Pacers would probably prefer a ballhandler/playmaker. Honestly, they should have thought about it last summer, when the team took Tyler Hansbrough in the lottery, passing up point guards like Darren Collison, Ty Lawson, Jrue Holiday and Jeff Teague.
11. New Orleans Hornets: Ed Davis, North Carolina
Previously: Ekpe Udoh
If the hire of Monty Williams as N.O.'s coach means one thing, it's the salvation of Julian Wright's career. We forget how young Chris Paul still is, that he can wait for Wright to fulfill his prophecy as a less sane Jeff Green (or sober Thaddeus Young). Davis, to me, fits that New World Order, as a vital third big until David West shoves off into the sunset. I'm not sure Davis will ever be as good as West, but I think he'd fit the established N.O. talent base better than the other prospects available here (assuming Monty can indeed salvage Wright).
12. Memphis Grizzlies: Luke Babbitt, Nevada
Previously: Patrick Patterson
It's still not clear how the backcourt of the Grizzlies will shake out, with Mike Conley perceived as the starting five's weak link, O.J. Mayo's rumored move to point guard on indefinite hold and Rudy Gay entering restricted free agency. Memphis desperately needs Conley to turn the corner or be replaced (whether by Mayo or externally), but there's little in the way of PG prospects beyond Wall to help push that along. Babbitt is a versatile wing who might help Memphis expand the rotation's talent base, though. Patrick Patterson is a popular, sensible pick here, too.
13. Toronto Raptors: Cole Aldrich, Kansas
Previously: Donatas Motiejunas (pulled out)
Pundits peg Aldrich (right) as something between Joel Przybilla and Greg Ostertag. Not a glowing endorsement, that. But isn't someone like Przybilla or Ostertag exactly what a Andrea Bargnani-led team needs? It's fun to laugh at the Big White Stiff as a trope, but there's a reason the Blazers suffered when Przybilla went down last season: he's a useful player. Defense is vastly underrated in the draft, with attention to it coming almost exclusively when teams reach for 7-footers (Hasheem Thabeet, anyone?). Aldrich's rebounding and post defense looks like a Bargnani bailout waiting to happen. It makes sense to me.
14. Houston Rockets: Patrick Patterson, Kentucky
Previously: Hassan Whiteside
The trade of Carl Landry shook up Houston's frontcourt, and the potential free agency of Yao Ming coupled with the restricted free agency of Luis Scola would send things into further confusion. (Hence the reported chase of Chris Bosh.) Patterson's so-called advanced metrics check out (though to assume we know what formulas Daryl Morey is using to evaluate prospects is incredibly naive), and he's a role-player, like almost every other Houston big man not named Yao.
Rapid fire, engage!
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Avery Bradley, Texas
Previously: Gordon Hayward
Bradley is not just a Scott Skiles-type player, but he's a good fit next to Brandon Jennings, even though the combo is pretty small. It'd give the Bucks the league's most agile backcourt (unless the Hornets pair up Chris Paul and Darren Collison), and it'd likely give opponents fits.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves: Daniel Orton, Kentucky
Previously: Jordan Crawford
Wolves GM David Kahn focused on "upside" last year. Has that changed? If not, young and raw Orton might be a target, depending on whether Minnesota chooses, keeps or moves Cousins at No. 4.
17. Chicago Bulls: James Anderson, Oklahoma State
Previously: James Anderson
18. Miami Heat: Damion James, Texas
Previously: Solomon Alabi
The Heat are a complete mystery. The team is as close to clean slate as one can get without pulling a Donnie Walsh Scorched Earth campaign. In this case, I assume the team continues to believe it can pull a superstar coup in free agency, thus focusing on adding a veteran bench player to help the championship run immediately. Or, in order to maximize cap space, this pick could be trade bait.
19. Boston Celtics: Gordon Hayward, Butler
Previously: Artisom Parakhouski
A quasi-religious haiku:
Jesus will move on.
Who knows where The Truth will lie?
C's need wings to soar.
20. San Antonio Spurs: Paul George, Fresno State
Previously: Paul George
We joke that the Spurs like to pick up relatively unknown players (see: George Hill, Ian Mahinmi, Tony Parker, Beno Udrih, even Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola, to a certain extent), but said players also tend to be really talented. They don't all work out, but there's a solid record of success there. George fits the mold ... and also the Spurs needs.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Latavious Williams, NBA D-League (Tulsa 66ers)
Previously: Daniel Orton
No pro team knows Williams better than the Thunder, who run the 66ers. Based on other mock drafts and chatter, this seems awful high, especially considered OKC has another pick in the 20s. But there's a risk another team without immediate needs could swoop in.
22. Portland Trail Blazers: Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky
Previously: Kevin Seraphin
Limerick time (with bonus Emoticon)!
The Blazers? They would typically stash
a Euro, to save spots and some cash.
But the future's unmapped --
The G.M.: he's Pritchslapped!
Instead fans hope for a Paulie Smash.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves: Artsiom Parakhouski, Radford
Previously: Eric Bledsoe
I really hope one of ESPN's myriad on-camera draft analysts forget Parakhouski is a 22-year-old NCAA product and rants about the Wolves picking a raw Euro. I really hope it's Dick Vitale.
24. Atlanta Hawks: Larry Sanders, VCU
Previously: Miroslav Raduljica
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Elliot Williams, Memphis
Previously: Damion James
26. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Seraphin, Cholet Basket (France)
Previously: Avery Bradley
Seraphin may not be able to work out for anyone, but given the number of picks OKC has and how well Serge Ibaka has worked out, this seems like a fit.
27. New Jersey Nets: Devin Ebanks, West Virginia
Previously: Craig Brackins
Lottery potential, second-round production.
28. Memphis Grizzlies: Miroslav Raduljica, KK FMP Zeleznik (Serbia)
Previously: Quincy Pondexter
29. Orlando Magic: Terrico White, Mississippi
Previously: Darrington Hobson
A big point guard to replace Jason Williams and perhaps help replace trade-bait Vince Carter and restricted free agent J.J. Redick off the ball.
30. Washington Wizards: Jordan Crawford, Xavier
Previously: Larry Sanders
Twist the anti-LeBron sentiment a little bit more, D.C.