Mock drafts, over the years, have often turned out to be exercises in futility, no matter the sport. Even the most seasoned professional journalists, the type who can sniff out a lie and sneak a peek at a closed workout, get these things wrong on an annual basis. ... and that's before factoring the inevitable draft-day deals.
That's what makes the SB Nation NBA Mock Draft a treat. It's a labor of love orchestrated by Scott Schroeder, the editor at Ridiculous Upside and an SBNation.com contributor, who cajoles, corrals and threatens our NBA team bloggers into selecting players for the franchises they write about.
And rather than getting the "best player available" talk or the canned "he fills an immediate need" analysis you've surely already read by now, instead you get rationalizations, explanations and early-form love letters. Here in the SB Nation Mock Draft, it's okay to reach for a role player who can't score in the lottery. And why not compare a 23-year-old rookie to Scottie Pippen with a better handle?
So here's our best guess at the first round (or so) of the 2010 NBA Draft. Be sure to let us know how you think we did, and for full explanations of every draft pick, click on the name of the draftee.
Let's get this started!
John Wall is the best talent in this draft. Sure, his numbers in college could have been better. Sure, he and Gilbert Arenas may not be the most ideal fit in the world. But for a team desperately needing that A-list superstar to lead them into the next generation, John Wall is the shot in the arm.
His open-court style is best suited for the NBA game, and while he still needs to work on his pick and roll game and his defensive intensity, all the tools to dominate in both spots are there. His jumper is still a work in progress, but it's also the easiest thing a player can improve, so there's hope there. Most importantly, Wall is a great kid, a leader and a joy to be around, the kind of guy that turns potential malcontents into choir boys and attracts all sorts of great players to want to play with him.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: , SG/SF, Ohio State Buckeyes.
The reigning NCAA POY scores, handles, defends, passes, and supports Drake. Does he have the best jump shot in the pool? No. But he's got a pretty nice form and keeps the defense honest - Or at least honester (yeah) than Andre Iguodala. The combination of -Turner-Iguodala makes me sweat in a good way. Whether or not Turner and Dre can play well together remains to be seen, but since we're in the business of opinions, I'll give you mine: Andre is versatile and talented enough to adapt to basically any role so there's no reason not to give them a try together at the wings. I'm pumped to see what the Bus Driver (Doug Collins) can do with him. Plus, the Villain is a terrific nickname so he's got that going for him, which is nice.
3. New Jersey Nets: Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Selection made by Kid Chocolate, community member at NetsDaily, who offered this analysis:
The player we really want, anyway, is a power forward -- which is what we've been missing since Kenyon Martin left. Derrick Favors has the potential to be a star, and we're going for the home run.and Derrick Favors on our front line? Sign us up.
Selection made by Stop-n-Pop, co-manager at Canis Hoopus, who offered this rationalization:
At the end of the day, 15-win teams cannot be picky about fit and there is no reason on God's green earth that the Wolves should pass on a talent like Cousins. Forget the attitude talk. The guy has legit upper-level center size to go along with some of the best big-man frosh numbers put up in the last decade of college ball. You can't pass that up no matter how loopy the kid may be, especially when you consider that he could be traded down for the guy they really want.
5. Sacramento Kings: Greg Monroe, PF/C, Georgetown Hoyas.
Selection made by Tom Ziller, editor at Sactown Royalty, who explained it thusly:
With DeMarcus Cousins off the board, the Kings turn to the Best Remaining Big Man on the Board, Greg Monroe. It's no secret the Kings have been looking for big men. The team hasn't worked out a top-level small forward or guard yet, and may never. The Kings seem comfortable playing Beno Udrih or Francisco Garcia alongside Tyreke Evans for the time being, and the front office knows the small forward spot is a battle between Omri Casspi and Donté Greene. But the frontcourt is unfinished, with Jason Thompson still trying to prove he can be a full-time starter [and] Carl Landry proving he's best served coming off the bench.
Editor's note: This selection was mocked up before the Kings dealt Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni for Sam Dalembert.
6. Golden State Warriors: Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse Orange.
Selection made by Poor Man's Commish, a crew member at Golden State of Mind who's already comparing him to one of the NBA's top 50 players of all time:
The progression of his stats in all categories from his freshman and sophomore years at Iowa State is astounding. The 7'1" wingspan helps, too, and you can see him take full advantage of his length in YouTube highlight clips. Johnson likes to compare his game to Scottie Pippen's and he epitomized him in that game. However, the only adjustment I'd make to that comparison is that Johnson can slide over to the 2 more naturally whereas Pippen could slide over to the 4, with Pippen's stance a lot more "stand-up straight" than Johnson's lower center of gravity with an attack stance resembling more of a shooting guard. Finally, Johnson has extraordinary vision, can thread the needle, and is an unselfish player who doesn't need the ball in his hands to make an impact on the game.
Selection made by Mike Payne, editor at Detroit Bad Boys, who checks in with this ringing endorsement:
Defense. Rebounding. Shot-blocking. The kind of paint-focused player that gives every other player on his team a better shot from the field. He'll give his man problems, and he'll make the paint deadly territory for driving guards. Is he going to score 20 points a game, is he going to even impact your team's offense in a productive way? No. He's a specialist. His ceiling is pretty much hit his sophomore year. But 10/10 and 2 ain't nothing to cough about, especially on a rookie contract.
Selection made by Steve Perrin, editor of Clips Nation, who doesn't seem to comfortable with his pick:
I have to take Aminu here, but I'm a bit ashamed to say that I think I have to take him because he was the more highly regarded player, and not for a much better reason than that. Certainly, he's got the NBA body, particularly the length and athleticism, and he's much less risky than any of the other choices. Unfortunately, the Clippers really need a three who can hit perimeter shots and spread the floor for Griffin and Kaman, and that is the one thing that Aminu can not do as well as any of the other choices. But he can rebound, he can run, and he can defend, and he seems like a reasonably sure thing to at least be a solid rotation player in the NBA, if not necessarily a star. I'm a little lukewarm on the idea, but I'm picking Al-Farouq Aminu.
9. Utah Jazz: , shooting guard, Kansas Jayhawks.
Selection made by Basketball John, managing editor at SLC Dunk, who calls Henry the best player available:
With Monroe off the board the Jazz front office have stated that they're going to take the best player available despite their glaring need for a defensive big man. Their next favorite target is Xavier Henry.
The Jazz traded away Ronnie Brewer last season because they had a "logjam" at the wing position amongst other reasons. Despite that, they'll take Henry who is said to have one of the most NBA-ready games and bodies in the draft. His outside shooting ability will be a welcome addition to the Utah offense. In Jerry Sloan's system, good passing is a necessity, so Henry should fit the bill.
10. Indiana Pacers: Avery Bradley, shooting guard, Texas Longhorns.
Selection made by Tom Lewis, managing editor at Indy Cornrows, who would actually prefer a trade:
Like the Pacers, I'd prefer using the 10th pick as part of a trade for immediate point guard help and/or more picks later in the draft. Patrick Patterson fits the mold of a perfect Larry Bird/David Morway pick at this spot thanks to his college experience and strong workouts. The problem is, last year they drafted a similar player in Tyler Hansbrough while leaving several point guard options on the board.
So why not go against the grain? Avery Bradley will have to develop into a point guard but the Pacers liked what they saw in his workouts and he has the talent and upside worth taking a chance with the 10th pick. With A.J. Price nursing a severe knee injury and T.J. Ford on the outs, the Pacers have to add a guard to the roster. Plus, the lack of options may force Jim O'Brien to play Bradley despite JOB's reluctance to play young players.
11. New Orleans Hornets: Patrick Patterson, power forward, Kentucky Wildcats
Selection made by At The Hive, SB Nation's Hornets blog:
The Hornets need rebounding bad, but the remaining "bigs" on the board - Ekpe Udoh and Ed Davis - aren't tall or large enough to warrant a selection over Patterson simply for positional fit. Patterson doesn't have much Upside, nor is he extremely Ridiculous, but he is is crazy efficient (1.139 points/poss, best among PFs), plays both ways, probably fits long term (the end is at last in sight for Messrs. Stojakovic and Posey) and ranks very favorably on the Tim Tebow Intangible Scale™.
The Hornets likely won't hit a home run with the eleventh pick but, with Patterson, they won't mishandle a weak shot into their own goal either.
12. Memphis Grizzlies: Ed Davis, power forward, North Carolina
Selection made by SB Nation's Grizzlies blogger, and the man with perhaps the finest pseudonym on the internet, DJ Turtleface:
If there's one player the Grizzlies didn't expect to land in this draft, it's John Wall. If there's another, it's probably Ed Davis, who is a fine consolation prize if he falls this far. Davis might be too raw to be the "impact player" Chris Wallace is looking for this upcoming season -- he doesn't shoot and will get backed down by elite power forwards -- but that's hardly a priority with several NBA-ready scorers likely to be on the board for the 25th and 28th picks.
Davis is one of the few players in this draft that seems guaranteed a true position on both ends, with a huge frame, long arms, and great speed and hops for a power forward. His combine scores and game just scream dominant finisher; Davis should make an Amar'e Stoudemire-esque impact in the poster industry. He'd also finally give Mike Conley a legitimate option in the pick and roll, since he was even able to make North Carolina's horrible backcourt look like decent distributors at times.
13. Toronto Raptors: Paul George, small forward, Fresno State
Selection made by Raptors HQ, where they need talent:
Simply put, the Raptors need more talent and George in our books is the most talented option left on the board. He's got the physical attributes this team craves, can play 3 positions on the court, and is a great kid by all accounts. We had a chance to speak with him last week and his personality seems to be a great fit with this Toronto team.
Yes, he was wildly inconsistent last year and is still quite raw, but this is a Raptor club that needs athleticism, defense and rebounding, all of which George can provide immediately, even if he has a ways to go in terms of other areas of his game. He's not a consistent shooter right now, but as a 91% free-throw shooter last year, this isn't a mechanics issue and under the right tutelage, he should become a very deadly offensive threat.
14. Houston Rockets: Eric Bledsoe, point guard, Kentucky Wildcats
Selection made by Tom Martin, editor of SB Nation's Rockets blog, The Dream Shake:
I think the Rockets will select Kentucky guard Eric Bledsoe, thereby adding a very young and talented player to to their backcourt.
Ha, what a stupid pick. Does he play point guard or shooting guard? Where does he fit in on the Rockets' roster? Y DIDN'T U TAKE UDOH U DUMMY!?!? All of these thoughts popped into my mind upon writing this, and I'll admit, I didn't have Bledsoe going to Houston before Scott e-mailed me requesting my pick this past Saturday night. Each of those questions above will remain unanswered, too. There's no guarantees on the position or roster front. But there are a ton of things about Bledsoe that make him a logical selection for the Rockets. Don't forget: Morey drafted Aaron Brooks when he already had three point guards on the roster back in 2007.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Ekpe Udoh, center, Baylor University
Selection made by Brew Hoop's Frank Madden, who's not worried about one-upping last year's Brandon Jennings home run:
After stealing Brandon Jennings 10th overall in 2009, the Bucks will understandably be hard-pressed to provide an encore on Thursday, particularly from their position in the middle of the first round. But the good news is that the draft does seem reasonably deep, particularly among scoring wings and athletic big men, which also happen to be the Bucks' two most obvious positions of need.
Udoh is admittedly a safe and fairly uninspiring pick, the kind of guy far more likely to become the workman-like fan favorite than the jersey-selling cornerstone. Udoh should provide much-needed depth at both big positions while bringing the sort of complementary skills that can help a veteran team looking to win now. Though his scoring efficiency was notably poor for a man of his size, Udoh also relied more on post and isolation chances than the draft's other bigs, showing off a solid face-up game and a surprising ability to create for teammates as well. Add in his potential as a defender and you have an excellent foil for Andrew Bogut and a nice complement to the Bucks' smallish power forward platoon of Luc Mbah a Moute and Ersan Ilyasova.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves: James Anderson, gurad, Oklahoma State
Selection by SB Nation's Canis Hoopus, who wanted Paul George, but seems happy to settle:
The Wolves have eyes for Paul George, but baring a trade to move up and nab him, they'll have to settle for the Big 12 Player of the Year and the best shooter in this year's draft, James Anderson.
How a scorer of Anderson's caliber fall so far down most mock drafts is beyond baffling to me. The guy had the highest oRtg on OSU with a usage rate above 30%. He had a TS% of 60%. He doesn't turn the ball over and he gets to the line. He has legitimate size for 2 positions in the NBA. He has a mountain of experience with the pick-and-roll. I get that he's not the best defender and not a workout marvel, but there's no reason why someone with his amount of skill shouldn't get a look at this point in the draft.
17. Chicago Bulls: Luke Babbit, forward, Nevada
Selected by SB Nation's Blog-a-Bull, who took time away from dreaming about LeBron James to think about the rest of the roster:
Clearly the Bulls have bigger prizes in mind this offseason than the #17 pick in the draft, and even the six players under contract for this coming season shouldn't feel safe in their chances of returning (outside of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah). But that actually could make this draft ironically significant. Whether the Bulls sign LeBron James, or Chris Bosh, move others to somehow get both...or, more depressingly, sign Joe Johnson to the max: they're going to need bodies to fill out the roster. Ones that preferably can play immediately.
In Luke Babbitt could be invaluable in such readiness, coming from a big-minute (and high-possession) situation in college. And more importantly he comes in with a defined skill: shooting.
18. Miami Heat: Solomon Alabi, forward, Florida State
Selected by SB Nation's Heat blog, Peninsula is Mightier:
Solomon Alabi is the kind of player that the Miami Heat brass love - a physical, hard worker who thrives on the defensive end and the progress he made during his time in college is a big part of why I'd like to see him in a Heat uniform next season. Alabi had a great first year as a redshirt freshman and never took his foot off the gas, gradually improving during his three seasons at FSU.
He can be a major post presence which is another thing the Heat have lacked, something that will help Dwyane Wade get more room to maneuver. Alabi is an athletic 7-footer with a great wingspan and a big upside, and I think he'll be great addition to the Miami Heat.
19. Boston Celtics: Gordon Hayward, gurad-forward, Butler
SB Nation's Celtics Blog weighs in to make the pick here, and keeps things brief:
I'm not sure how he dropped this far but he's too good to pass up. Hayward's basketball IQ is the stuff that coaches dream of and I think he fits a need backing up Pierce on the wing. If someone like this doesn't drop, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Celtics go big with someone like Solomon Alabi, Daniel Orton or Larry Sanders.
20. San Antonio Spurs: Hassan Whiteside, forward, Marshall
SB Nation's Spurs blog, Pounding the Rock, explains their choice:
Whiteside is arguably the 'Best Player Available'. He is a shot blocker, leading the NCAA last year in blocks per game, per 40 possessions, and per 40 minutes. All Spurs fans agree that a shot-blocking big is something we want. He's a good rebounder and efficient scorer as well. His defense isn't great, but this draft pick is for depth, potential, athleticism, and the future. I guess the other two serious contenders for C are Daniel Orton and Larry Sanders. Most of our bigs are currently on the shorter side of 6'10" so I'd prefer 7'0" Whiteside to 6'9" Sanders. I'm picking Whiteside over Orton for his shot blocking.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Seraphin, power forward, France
SB Nation's Ridiculous Upside takes the baton for this pick, and explains:
As someone with absolutely no affiliation with the Thunder or the city of Oklahoma (Do I have to say city here? sounds redundant), I take great pride in selecting Kevin Seraphin for the millions and millions of Thunder fans reading this. My first instinct was to go Hassan Whiteside here, but since the Spurs grabbed him, Seraphin is the guy. For these reasons:
- He's foreign
- He's high character
- He's got worlds of development left in him
- Serge Ibaka is from France
- He's probably better than Byron Mullens.
At 6'10 and a chiseled 258, Seraphin is definitely a project. But the Thunder probably aren't drafting anyone to step in right away, so it's all good. I think they pay the Frenchies their buyout, get the kid to learn some post moves, and make him a stud along the lines of a stronger David West. His defense is already top-notch for a 20-year-old and his willingness to learn and improve in only his 5th year of basketball is something Thunder fans (myself included) will be able to see very quickly.
22. Portland Trail Blazers: Larry Sanders, power forward, VCU
Dave from Blazersedge explains why Portland goes conservative if they stay in this spot:
The huge caveat here is that the Blazers will either want to trade up or out of this spot. Seeing as there are no point guards left worth taking at this spot we'll go the conservative route and take Larry Sanders from VCU.
A little bit of post play and rebounding from that position would fit in fine with this roster and there's no pressure on him to develop instantly. Craig Brackins and Solomon Alabi are possible alternatives.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jordan Crawford, guard, Xavier
We welcome Canis Hoopus once more to explain this one:
Really? We get DMC, James Anderson, and Jordan Crawford? I doubt that the Wolves keep their late round picks, but if they do, keep an eye out for guys like Lance Stephenson, Charles Garcia, or Jordan Crawford.
New Wolves Assistant GM Tony Ronzone loves to talk about tough players (both in mind and body) and both Crawford and Stephenson got this designation along with being invited back for a second workout with the team. The Wolves are clearly in the market for a big shooting guard/wing player (or two...or three) who can put the ball in the basket and Crawford fits the bill.
24. Atlanta Hawks: Damion James, guard-forward, Texas
From our Atlanta Hawks site, Peachtree Hoops, comes the explanation:
It doesn't register on the Wow-O-Meter, but the Peachtree Hoops philosophy is to grab the best player available. We were hopeful that a few bigs would fall further (Whiteside, in particular) and we did look long at the Wildcat project, Daniel Orton, but went with the best player we felt was left on the board as well as a guy that can help the Hawks immediately in Damion James.
James brings more NBA ready game to the Hawks than the players left, is able to score inside and out which, presumably, makes him a good fit in Larry Drew's new offense. He's likely a better fit behind Marvin Williams at the 3 than Maurice Evans, but may be duplicating things should Josh Childress decide to play out his qualifier. In any case, James is the best player left on the board, and we're happy to add him to our playoff rotation.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Quincy Pondexter, guard, Washington
From our Grizzlies blogger, DJ Turtleface:
I think the Grizz turn to Quincy Pondexter, who scouts might be criminally underrating. DraftExpress.com found that Pondexter is one of top 5 most efficient small forwards in almost every facet of the game, and Dexter proved to be especially good at both mid-range jumpers and finishing at the hoop.
You've also got to love Pondexter's growth -- the kid has improved noticeably every single year of college. Many draftees supposedly have unlimited upside, but if they don't work to improve, what good does it do? Quincy went from a raw athlete to proficient, seasoned scorer in 4 years. His free throw shooting bumped up 14%, which takes a lot of boring shots late after practice. He might not be able to shoot NBA threes off the bat, but if there's anyone I trust to work hard to learn how it's Dexter.
26. Oklahoma City Thunder: Gani Lawal, forward, Georgia Tech
SB Nation's Thunder blog, Welcome to Loud City, explains the choice here:
For one thing, Lawal is insurance for Seraphin. There's a good possibility Seraphin will stay overseas for one or two more years, and the Thunder will want someone to work on now, just in case. Another reason to draft Lawal at this point is because he's more of a PF/SF, meaning that he could slide down to the Small Forward slot and back up Kevin Durant. Even if it is just a few minutes of mop-up duty.
Personality-wise, he fits in perfectly. As noted in our preview of him, he is a highly disciplined player who gave opposing college teams fits. He is also used to playing in a more up-tempo offense, as the Thunder like to do sometimes. And who could argue about his work ethic? His stats improved every single year, and not because of more minutes or touches. All in all, Gani Lawal is the safe pick.
27. New Jersey Nets: Willie Warren, point guard, Oklahoma
Our Nets blog, Nets Daily, makes the case for Warren:
He had a down year, but Warren was considered a lottery pick a year ago.
At this range in the draft, odds are you're just getting a rotation player, so why not go for a guy who has the most potential? Last year Oklahoma had a lot of problems and chemistry issues, and I wouldn't be surprised if those were the cause of the dip in Warren's production. He could return to that lottery pick form he had as a freshman.
28. Memphis Grizzlies: Terico White, guard, Ole Miss
One more time, we welcome the terrifically-named DJ Turtleface:
Lots of Tigers fans won't be happy with me, but I've got to grab local high school legend Terrico White over collegiate star Elliot Williams. Theoretically they're both filling the same position -- backup point guard -- so it should be best player available. If it were that simple, I'm probably taking the lefty slasher Williams.
It's not that simple, though, because Memphis has the very particular problem of a criminally undersized backcourt. Mike Conley is barely big or tough enough to cover Earl Boykins, and O.J. Mayo gets punished by increasingly taller and taller wings at shooting guard. Adding Elliot Williams doesn't change much, but Terrico White's lanky 6'5" frame and 6'9" wingspan should get in front of guys like Stephen Jackson and Kobe Bryant while OJAM bullies smaller true points.
29. Orlando Magic: Grievis Vasquez, guard, Maryland
Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post takes the torch for this Terp:
Essentially, Vasquez fits the Magic's biggest positional need--Jameer Nelson is the only point guard the Magic have under contract for next season--and has the skills to be a good fit. Sure, there are red flags, such as the turnovers, lackluster individual defense, and prior track record of tall point guards in the NBA. However, Vasquez's ability to run an offense seems genuine, and interesting. Additionally, his willingness to take big shots could be a plus, especially with an expert coach like Stan Van Gundy on hand to help his at-times iffy shot-selection in those situations.
Though I prefer Quincy Pondexter in this spot, he's off the board. Yet Vasquez is not a terrible consolation prize. He has a chance to make a solid, immediate contribution to the Magic.
30. Washington Wizards: Trevor Booker, forward, Clemson
We started with Bullets Forever, and we'll end with them, too. Take it away...
They've desperately needed a second-unit player that can score points in the post for years now, and Booker fills that void even if he is a bit undersized.
Huh. Short, sweet, and to the point. I like it. Annnnnd... That brings us to the end of the mock draft. With that, enjoy the real draft tonight, and remember: For some, these memories will last a lifetime.