The evolution of an NBA Mock Draft while en route to the Big Apple
Standing in line at the Midwest Airlines ticket counter at KCI on Tuesday, I ran into a familiar face.
His name is Tim Dwyer and he’s a senior at Kansas University who writes for the University Daily Kansan. Turns out, Dwyer was heading to New York to cover the 2010 NBA Draft as well, so, naturally, we struck up a conversation about Thursday’s draft.
What we discovered was that, for all of the things we agreed on — John Wall going No. 1 overall, all three Jayhawks being taken, etc. — there were a few others that we didn’t agree on.
And with that, the following mock draft was born. Rather than debating for only our ears to hear, I thought we’d put it down in writing, a sort of day-before-the-big-day look at Thursday’s Draft.
We decided to conduct the draft with one of us making the odd-numbered picks and the other picking the even numbers. We flipped a coin and Dwyer won, giving him the easiest pick of them all — John Wall at No. 1 overall to Washington.
Stay tuned in to KUsports.com throughout the next couple of days for much, much more from New York. There’s a media day with the likely lottery picks — we expect Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry to be there — at 11:30 a.m. today; another event at 1:15 today involving several of the players in town for the draft joining 100 local boys and girls for an NBA FIT clinic at Madison Square Garden. The players will lead the kids through a variety of fitness stations while emphasizing the importance of health and nutrition. And, of course, I’ll bring you much more of the sights and sounds from the three former Jayhawks in the Big Apple (we think Sherron Collins might be coming).
Anyway, here’s what we came up with for the first round, which helped us kill an hour or so of the plane ride to NYC and hopefully will give you a good look at what to expect Thursday night.
1. Washington Wizards — John Wall, G, Kentucky — Dwyer says: “Hands down the best prospect in the draft. Washington’s been locked onto Wall since his season ended with a loss to West Virginia.”
2. Philadelphia 76ers — Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse — Tait says: “At times, Johnson, not Wall, was the best player in the country last year. He’s long, athletic, can score in a variety of ways and, most importantly here, has proven he can be a very good defender.”
3. New Jersey Nets — Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State — Dwyer says: “The Nets would be thrilled if Turner falls to No. 3. He can play both guard spots and small forward in the NBA. Plays the same spot as free agent target LeBron James but the Nets will have a hard time passing on the national player of the year if he’s here.”
4. Minnesota Timberwolves — DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky — Tait says: “The T’Wolves go for a center here but they pass on Cole Aldrich. One reason: athleticism. Aldrich will be a solid player in the NBA but No. 4 is too high to take him, especially when you can get a guy like Cousins, who moves like a guard and plays like a monster.”
5. Sacramento Kings — Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech — Dwyer says: “Favors has been projected as high as No. 2 overall and has the ability to be a double-double guy for a long time. Ga. Tech fell short of expectations last season but Favors did not.”
6. Golden State Warriors — Ekpe Udoh, PF, Baylor — Tait says: “The Warriors have made it clear that they plan to build around last year’s prized pick, Steph Curry. Adding Udoh gives Curry a finisher on offense and a reliable shot-blocker on defense, which should help Golden State get out in transition more.”
7. Detroit Pistons — Greg Monroe, C, Georgetown — Dwyer says: “Blue-collar worker who does a lot of things well, Monroe is one of the best passers from the post in the draft. Never overwhelmed in college but was always a solid producer for the Hoyas.”
8. Los Angeles Clippers — Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest — Tait says: “Aminu’s size helps make up for the loss of Marcus Camby and his offensive skills give Baron Davis and Eric Gordon a much-needed third playmaker. Add into the mix the return of last year’s top overall pick in Blake Griffin and the Clippers are starting to put together a nice lineup.”
9. Utah Jazz — Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas — Dwyer says: “Carlos Boozer’s free agency has left a void in the post for the Jazz and Aldrich is the best big man left on the board. He’ll never dominate offensively but his defensive presence merits a high draft spot.”
10. Indiana Pacers — Eric Bledsoe, G, Kentucky — Tait says: “The Pacers picked up Tyler Hansbrough and Roy Hibbert in last year’s draft. If those two pan out, the Pacers next biggest need is at the point, where only T.J. Ford, A.J. Price and Earl Watson provide a solid but not spectacular corps. Bledsoe, an explosive athlete and aggressive offensive player, would be a nice addition and would push any or all of those guards.
11. New Orleans Hornets — Paul George, SF, Fresno State — Dwyer says: “George has been streaking up the draft boards with impressive performances in his workouts. A freak of an athlete who can also hit the outside shot, George fills a hole at small forward since former Jayhawk Julian Wright has underwhelmed.”
12. Memphis Grizzlies — Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina — Tait says: “Every year it seems like the Grizz find a way to add big guys. This year will be no different. Davis’ length and explosive athleticism make him easy to like and with recent first-rounders Darrell Arthur (Kansas) and Hasheem Thabeet (UConn) struggling so far, Davis may find his way onto the floor.
13. Toronto Raptors — Gordon Hayward, SF, Butler — Dwyer says: “The hero of this year’s NCAA Tournament saw his draft stock soar with an MOP-worthy performance in leading Butler to the national title game in Indy. A versatile big man, Hayward can work inside and also is comfortable on the perimeter.”
14. Houston Rockets — Xavier Henry, SF, Kansas — Tait says: “Call him Tracy McGrady Part II... Kind of. It’s no secret that the Rockets are set inside and at the point guard. What they need is help scoring. Henry can provide that. As an outside shooter, his range will help spread the defense. And if he ever develops his dribble-drive and learns to create his own shot, he could be a nice successor to the McGrady of old. Someday.
15. Milwaukee Bucks — Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky — Dwyer says: “The elder statesman of the UK draft class, Patterson has been on draft boards since his freshman year. His physical presence could help open things up inside for Andrew Bogut, the former No. 1 overall pick, who has yet to become the force the Bucks hoped he would be.”
16. Minnesota Timberwolves — Luke Babbitt, SF, Nevada — Tait says: “Babbitt fills two needs — size and scoring ability. The Wolves are set at the point with Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio (eventually) and Babbitt — 50 percent from the floor, 90 percent from the line and 40 percent from three-point land — provides both players with a nice scoring option in the halfcourt.
17. Chicago Bulls — Daniel Orton, PF, Kentucky — Dwyer says: “Orton was buried behind Cousins and Patterson on Kentucky’s depth chart but showed flashes of first-round potential when he got his chance. Good size and a great motor. The fifth Kentucky Wildcat taken in the first 17 picks could be a steal.”
18. Miami Heat — Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall — Tait says: “The NBA loves big men and Whiteside is one of the biggest. At 7-feet tall, with good instincts, Whiteside becomes the defensive presence in the paint the Heat desperately need.
19. Boston Celtics — James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State — Dwyer says: “Anderson showed his ability as a lethal scorer in single-handedly defeating the Jayhawks in Stillwater, Okla., last season. With a point guard like Rajon Rondo creating for him, and veterans like Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to show him the ropes, it’s almost scary to think what he could do in Beantown.”
20. San Antonio Spurs — Avery Bradley, PG, Texas — Tait says: “It never hurts to add in-state talent and Bradley is definitely talent. In his only season at UT, Bradley only showed us glimpses of what he could do. This kid is crazy talented on both sides of the ball and could be a perfect player to run Greg Popovich’s disciplined system. Think Tony Parker Light, with more athleticism.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder — Damion James, PF, Texas — Dwyer says: “The Thunder will be after someone who can compete for playing time right away and James, a finished product after four years at UT, will be able to do that. He’s an absolute warrior in the paint and can run the floor well for a guy his size, which fits nicely with what the Thunder like to do.”
22. Portland Trail Blazers — Terrico White, G, Mississippi — Tait says: “The Blazers need people who can put the ball in the hole and White, though not a great scorer, shoots it well enough from the outside (35 percent) to be effective. What’s more, at 6-5, he has the ability to create shots in the paint off the dribble. Won’t clog the middle and will complement Brandon Roy nicely.”
23. Minnesota Timberwolves — Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State — Dwyer says: (Big 12 homer alert) Brackins has flown under the radar after his junior season fell short of the standard he set as a sophomore. Still, Brackins is a lottery-type talent who could wind up being a steal this late in the draft.”
24. Atlanta Hawks — Solomon Alabi, C, Florida State — Tait says: “OK, so maybe it’s me and not the NBA that likes centers. Either way, at 7-1, 237, Alabi has fantastic size and enough athleticism to fit in with a fast-paced team like the Hawks. He also shoots the ball better than expected, which could keep the lane clear for Josh Smith and Joe Johnson.
25. Memphis Grizzlies — Jordan Crawford, SG, Xavier — Dwyer says: “Crawford become a YouTube legend when he dunked over LeBron James in a summer league game in 2009. His game extends well beyond the paint though. He’s a lethal shooter and proved it during Xavier’s strong tourney run.”
26. Oklahoma City Thunder — Kevin Seraphin, PF, France — Tait says: “Never seen him play, don’t know a thing about him. But there’s no way — NO WAY — a modern-day NBA Draft unfolds without a foreign player being taken in the first round. David Stern just won’t have it. So here he is. And, at 6-10, 250, his size could help OKC, provided he can play at all.”
27. New Jersey Nets — Quincy Pondexter, SF, Washington — Dwyer says: “Based on name alone, Pondexter should’ve been the No. 1 pick in this draft. Other than that, he’s a four-year guy with great work ethic and leadership skills.”
28. Memphis Grizzlies — Dominique Jones, SG, South Florida — Tait says: “Though still far from polished, Jones showed the ability to score throughout his USF career, something that will benefit the Grizz and their stable of big men.”
29. Orlando Magic — Lance Stephenson, SG, Cincinnati — Dwyer says: “Stephenson’s a total head case but there’s no question about his NBA talent. “Born Ready” underwhelmed in his only year at Cincy but probably was playing with an eye on the pros the entire time.”
30. Washington Wizards — No pick — Tait says: “Since the Wizards landed Wall, they respectfully forfeit their final pick. They don’t need it.”
Wrapping up the first round
Dwyer’s favorite pick: Evan Turner at No. 3 — "He may be even more of a sure thing than John Wall, at least in the sense that you know he won’t be a bust. He was the safest pick in the draft and he has a boatload of upside. It’s not every day you can get the national player of the year at No. 3."
Tait’s favorite pick: Avery Bradley at No. 20 — "Not a great draft for point guards but Bradley could be the best of the bunch, behind John Wall. To get him in the second half of round one was solid."
Worst pick of the draft: Dwyer says: “Ed Davis at No. 12. Grizzlies have a history of picking big men but I think it’s time for them to finally stop. Marc Gasol showed promise and while he’ll never be the force that his brother, Pau, is, he complements Zach Randolph nicely in the Memphis front court. They should’ve added a scorer.”
Worst pick of the draft: Tait says: “Lance Stephenson at No. 29. Too much of a risk — off the court — to give guaranteed money to. Orlando would have done better to add a more experienced, more mature player and then try to take a shot at Stephenson in Round 2 if possible.