NBA Mock Draft 5.0: Last Gasps
But that won't stop us from guessing! Here is NBA FanHouse's fifth NBA mock draft, setting the apparent stage as of Tuesday, T-minus two days before the big event. We'll have one more mock on Thursday morning, and then full coverage all day.
1. Washington Wizards: John Wall, Kentucky
This is the biggest no-brainer in the history of mankind.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Evan Turner, Ohio State
The Sixers let slip a webpage trying to sell tickets off the able (and recently broken) back of Evan Turner, and despite the last-minute attempts at a smokescreen, it's become increasingly evident that will indeed be the pick. There's suggestion Minnesota could be attempting to knock the 76ers off their feet with a package to land this pick, but I don't see anything like that materializing.
3. New Jersey Nets: Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech
Despite some last-minute flirtation with DeMarcus Cousins and even Wesley Johnson, the Nets have to realize Favors is the best fit and carries the lowest risk. New owner Mikhail Prokhorov wants to win a title within five years, an incredibly tough task. But solidifying a brilliant frontcourt for the future is a nice start.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves: Wesley Johnson, Syracuse
I don't mean to make fun of the Wolves, but isn't this all so hilarious? The Wolves target the one top-5 prospect who will definitely be available at No. 4. They don't worry about bullying Cousins into visiting, the GM rips Favors when he does show up, and they get into any number of weird rumors in the lead-up to draft day. And THEN!, a rumor pops up about the Nets considering Johnson, the aforementioned sure-thing No. 4 pick, at No. 3. I honestly feel bad for the Wolves. Kahn, you have my pity.
5. Sacramento Kings: DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky
Geoff Petrie, the Kings' president of basketball operations, has not been averse to risk in the past; it was he who selected Jason Williams out of Florida at No. 7 in 1998, and who took a flyer on relatively unknown Peja Stojakovic in 1996. Cousins is a different sort of risk, and the stakes for Petrie and for his team are different now. But despite the back-to-back acquisitions of Carl Landry (a post scorer) and Samuel Dalembert (a post defender), the Kings would love to get their hands on a big dude who can do both. Cousins is too good to pass up here, even considering the reputation that follows him.
6. Golden State Warriors: Greg Monroe, Georgetown
Word is Monroe had a mediocre workout in Oakland a few days ago, getting played to a draw by Omar Samhan. But the body of work on Monroe has been strong, and the Warriors have to know that he's the clear best pivot on the board. every indication is that the Warriors will go big, despite the presence of about a half-dozen lottery picks in the frontcourt. (Actually, there are only three: Andris Biedrins, Anthony Randolph and Brandan Wright.)
7. Detroit Pistons: Ekpe Udoh, Baylor
The Pistons seem to really want Cousins, apparently talking to Minnesota about the No. 4 pick in order to snatch him. Monroe would be a good fit, in my opinion, as he could help relieve the playmaking pressure on Rodney Stuckey. But if those fellows are off the board, look toward Udoh, a brawny and smart forward-center with solid defensive instincts and a mid-range jumper. Who knows how he fits in Detroit's famously bizarre frontcourt? John Kuester will be glad to have a body other than Jason Maxiell and ancient Ben Wallace that likes contact in there.
8. Los Angeles Clippers: Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
Aminu could be a superlative defender within a few years, and that'd be a real boon on the next great Clippers team (also known as the first great Clippers team). It didn't go well the last time the Clippers spent a lottery pick on a small forward, with Al Thornton having become a volume scorer who ended up traded before the end of his rookie deal. Aminu is vastly different. His problem is that he doesn't score enough! But with Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin in tow, and Baron Davis willing to shoot from anywhere in the arena at any moment, there shouldn't be too much pressure on Aminu to rack up a lot of attempts.
9. Utah Jazz: Ed Davis, North Carolina
I'm not sure how Davis fits next to Paul Millsap going forward, though Jerry Sloan hasn't been too shy, of late, to play two natural power forwards (Millsap and Carlos Boozer) together for extended minutes. If there's a team need it is at center, with Sloan less than enthusiastic about Kosta Koufos' career and Mehmet Okur potentially missing action at the season's start. But it's hard to justify skipping Davis for someone like Cole Aldrich based simply on need.
10. Indiana Pacers: Xavier Henry, Kansas
The Pacers are looking to trade this pick for a point guard, and I can't say I blame them: a system like the one Jim O'Brien runs needs an engine. But it also needs shooters, and Henry fits the ball better than any other prospect in this draft. Henry is a dynamite scorer who'd give Indiana a real one-two punch in the backcourt. If the Pacers reach for a point guard, it'd be Avery Bradley or Eric Bledsoe. But Henry is the safer pick.
11. New Orleans Hornets: Paul George, Fresno State
Paul George's NBA calling might not quite be Shawn Marion II, but maybe the Martian version of that. George was everywhere on the court for Fresno State; whether that translates from the WAC to the NBA Western Conference is a big question, but he's a nice pick-up this low in the lottery.
12. Memphis Grizzlies: Patrick Patterson, Kentucky
Memphis is truly on the precipice of getting the eighth seed in the West, but a major weakness not named Mike Conley is a real lack of depth. A player like Patterson could shore that up in a jiffy -- he's ready to step in and score, and while he's not great on the defensive glass, he has a Z-Boesque skill on the offensive boards.
13. Toronto Raptors: Avery Bradley, Texas
The Raptors need everything but a sweet-shooting center at this point, with Jose Calderon have joined Hedo Turkoglu is disfavor. Bradley reportedly had a positive workout in T-Dot, and while his NBA development is a real question mark, the signs are positive enough for a team to pick him up in the mid-first. Maybe Bargnani can teach him how to shoot.
14. Houston Rockets: Elliot Williams, Memphis
The Rockets have been awful quiet this draft run-up, reportedly looking to move up into the top 10 but also working out few players. Houston has seen Williams twice, though, and you get the feeling they've been trying to keep it quiet. Smoke, fire, and all that.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: James Anderson, Oklahoma State
If the Cosmic Forces could draw up a perfect draft for the teams' perspective (assuming the Cosmic Forces couldn't clone John Wall), Anderson would land in Milwaukee every time. A solid defender and aggressive scorer like Anderson fits the two-guard hole (assumed to be left by free agent John Salmons) on a Scott Skiles team.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves: Cole Aldrich, Kansas
Can Aldrich really drop this low? There's enough exciting talent and volatility to drop a solid player like Aldrich a dozen spots. If Minnesota hangs on to this pick and manages to pick up Aldrich, it will have an antidote to Darko Fever, a real big man who can rebound and bang in the post.
17. Chicago Bulls: Luke Babbitt, Nevada
Babbitt could (and should) go higher. If not, teams this low will be lucky to nab a player of Babbitt's quality.
18. Miami Heat: Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky
Bledsoe is another solid prospect who is slipping in this particular mock draft, but could go much higher depending on how things shake out. The question Bledsoe will have to answer is whether he can make plays for teammates consistently. Mario Chalmers apparently cannot, and the Heat need help in that category, whether they keep Dwyane Wade or not.
19. Boston Celtics: Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech
Lawal, like Patterson, is ready to step in and contribute as soon as the ball drops. Assuming Rasheed Wallace does retire, Lawal's mid-range shooting can help space the floor for the Celtics more likely to play at the rim. His defense will fit right in with the post-Thibodeau C's.
20. San Antonio Spurs: Tibor Pleiss, Bamberg (Germany)
Not terribly much is known about Pleiss among us plebes in the NBA fandom circles. But rest assured the teams with heavy European scouting operations know all about him. Pleiss, a 7-foot-1 center, is shooting up mock drafts this week.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Seraphin, Cholet Basket (France)
Seraphin hasn't been working out for teams due to injury, but teams have seen enough to know this cat could be a solid power forward in the NBA. Even though the Thunder seem on the cusp of contention, they can wait around for a potential starter in the frontcourt.
22. Portland Trail Blazers: Gordon Hayward, Butler
Hayward isn't likely to slip this far, although the nonsense about a top-10 placement was just that: nonsense. Hayward is similar to Kevin Martin, but lacks the quickness and, at this point, the dead-eye three-point shooting.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves: Damion James, Texas
With three first-round picks, can Minnesota manage to fill all its needs? That's unlikely, and it's a fair bet Kahn will move at least one of the picks. This is a good range for James, a solid player who could help most teams.
24. Atlanta Hawks: Larry Sanders, VCU
Sanders, a springy big man who put up gaudy numbers at Virginia Commonwealth, is another late-first pick who will put up some decent numbers in limited minutes. What more could you ask?
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Greivis Vasquez, Maryland
It seems the Grizzlies are trying to give O.J. Mayo a shot at point guard, which means Mike Conley is disappointing the front office, which means depth at PG is an issue. The Venezuelan Vasquez is a big guard who loves to control the ball and take jumpers. Which means he'll fit right in with the Grizzlies.
26. Oklahoma City Thunder: Hassan Whiteside, Marshall
Whiteside has been tanking down draft boards all month. It seems a given he'll be taken quite low.
27. New Jersey Nets: Willie Warren, Oklahoma
Warren seemed like a potential lottery pick last year, but he stayed with the Sooners. It didn't go well. Warren faces too many questions about his potential and attitude. The risk is lower this far down, and some team will take a chance on him before Pick No. 40.
28. Memphis Grizzlies: Jordan Crawford, Xavier
Crawford is a rangy scorer with athleticism. And, as you might have heard, he can get to the bucket.
29. Orlando Magic: Mikhail Torrance, Alabama
Torrance is exactly the type of point guard the Magic need: a big, powerful playmaker who can defend.
30. Washington Wizards: Daniel Orton, Kentucky
Orton could very well fall into the second round, or he could go No. 10 to Indiana. He's a mystery. That's what happens when you average three points and three rebounds on America's team.