Pre-Orlando Mock Draft, v. 1.0: The Lottery
2008 NBA Mock Draft
I’ll update the mock from time to time as the process unfolds but I wanted to get something up prior to Orlando and team workouts. This mock is less a prediction and more a record of what I would do as the GM of each team. Although I anticipate that trades will change the draft order, perhaps radically, my interest is in matching player and team. Therefore I keep the teams in their given draft order but highlight spots where I expect trades.
1. Chicago Derrick Rose, Memphis, PG
Rose is the best overall prospect in this draft. Although Beasley might fill an immediate need for scoring Rose creates scoring opportunities for teammates. And what really moves him ahead of Beasley for my money is his defensive value. I think he’s the 2nd best perimeter defender in this draft (behind Russell Westbrook).
2. Miami Michael Beasley, Kansas State, PF
Beasley is the best offensive talent in the draft. Although he seems more of a mid post than a low post player he gets to the line an impressive amount (.59 FTAs/FGA or 10 FTAs per pace-adjusted 40) and is a beast on the boards (14.6 rebs per pace-adjusted 40).* On the other hand, though I have seen Beasley play only infrequently, he seems like an indifferent defender. Perhaps no franchise is better than Miami though at getting indifferent defenders to exert effort on that end of the floor.
3. Minnesota O.J. Mayo, USC, G
This is obviously where the draft gets interesting. No consensus has emerged on who the 3rd best player in this draft is. Mayo could easily solidify this spot with stellar workouts despite his so-so freshman season. He is very strong, unselfish, and a good defender, all underappreciated aspects of his game that may serve him well in workouts and interviews. He’s also, I think, a better complement to Randy Foye than is Jerryd Bayless. Kevin McHale is close to Mayo’s now-former agent Bill Duffy and has scouted Mayo extensively.
4. Seattle Jerryd Bayless, Arizona, G
Seattle is likely to select whichever of the three top guards remains on the board. Bayless might be the perfect combo guard to complement Durant. Bayless plays well without the ball, shoots a high percentage (.61 TS), and lives at the free throw line (.59 FTA/FGA).
5. Memphis Brook Lopez, Stanford, C
I like Brook Lopez better than many, but I expect him to slide a bit based on workouts. He lacks elite athleticism and has pre-existing back problems, which make him a prime candidate for a slide. What he brings to the table are good footwork and hands. I think he projects to a more-than-competent-but-less-than-All-Star center that provides Chris Kaman-like production.
6. New York Russell Westbrook, UCLA, G
I doubt Westbrook goes off the board at #6. However, none of the remaining forwards (Gallinardi, Randolph, Love, or Greene) after Beasley strike me as having higher upside than Chandler or Lee. I suspect the new brass will try to package this pick with a bad contract (e.g., Randolph, Jeffries, Snacks) and flip it. The player I’d target in a trade down scenario is Westbrook, who has all-NBA defensive potential. If he had any PG skills he’d be a lock for the top ten. I fully expect his stock to rise once workouts start because his athleticism and motor are tailor-made for that process.
7. LA Clippers Kevin Love, UCLA, PF
Love is all over the place in terms of how he’s regarded. Certainly, the gushing about his outlet passing is a bit overdone by his supporters but the concerns about his athleticism are a bit overstated too. Lots of guy that are not cloud-piercing athletes play PF in the NBA. Love does not project to be a primary offensive option because his post offense doesn’t translates all that well, but his emerging mid-range jump shot, his excellent rebounding and interior passing absolutely do. Some teams will not place a premium on such a skill set but Love is perfect for LA, who may very well lose Elton Brand and/or Corey Maggette this off-season. He doesn’t need a lot of shots to provide value and they don’t need another guy who demands the ball.
8. Milwaukee Danilo Gallinari, Armani Jeans Milan, SF
Perhaps the most impressive thing I have seen about Gallinari is that he took free throws on 59% of his FGAs in just under 34 minutes per game. That’s 8 FTAs per pace-adjusted 40. For a teenager without otherworldly athleticism or size that is an impressive feat. Draftexpress compares him to Hedo Turkoglu.
9. Charlotte Anthony Randolph, LSU, F
Larry Brown isn’t going to play any rookie chosen at this spot anyway, so if Randolph is available at this point in the draft it seems wise to gamble on his upside. He has a lot of tools but doesn’t know how to play the game just yet. The best situation for him is one where he can sit and watch for a while (and keep Adam Morrison company).
10. New Jersey Donte Greene, Syracuse, F
I doubt Rod Thorn keeps this pick. He appears ready to blow up that roster. So, I see #10 and 21 packaged to get a player or to move up. Like Randolph, Greene is a high upside forward with size and skill but lacking experience.
11. Indiana Eric Gordon, Indiana, SG
I think Gordon’s skill set translates best to running teams. He is not a Nate Robinson combo guard that can run the point passably. He is more like Ben Gordon (i.e., strictly an undersized SG). Gordon is a shooter that unfortunately shot poorly in the second half of the season (coinciding with the Kelvin Sampson furor). I see him as one of the bigger gambles among the players that appear destined for the lottery. For its part, Indiana’s entire backcourt situation is unstable. So I would not be surprised to see Indiana move down and perhaps target a point guard (e.g., Augustin, Chalmers).
12. Sacramento Darrell Arthur, Kansas, PF
Sacramento has a gaggle of part-time post players (i.e., Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Mikki Moore, Kenny Thomas, Spencer Hawes, Shelden Williams, John Salmons, and Ron Artest). So Darrell Arthur would fill a clear need and is a much better prospect than any of the available centers. He is a solidly built PF who can post up and step out to shoot the mid-range jumper. He can become overly reliant on that jumper as evidenced by a low number of fouls drawn (.29 FTA/FGA). Though talented, he is a bit of a gamble because he disappears for stretches but is probably worth a look late in the lottery for a team desperate for youth in the frontcourt.
13. Portland Chase Budinger, Arizona, SG/SF
Budinger is an uber-athletic wing that definitely should have stayed in school. He runs the floor, plays without the ball, and shoots well but appears to lack the aggressive makeup typical of focal offensive players. He seems more like a late bloomer who will develop into an excellent complementary scorer, much like former University of Arizona and Spurs great Sean Elliot. Budinger doesn’t defend yet, but should work out well enough to get into the fringes of the lottery or just outside.
14. Golden St. Joe Alexander, W. Virgina, SF/PF
Alexander is something of a ‘tweener with an excellent mid-range game and jump out of the gym athleticism. He would work well in Nellie’s fun-and-run system.
Next: The rest of the first round
* Stats from player profiles at Draftexpress.com
Part-time blogger on the Knicks at Knickerblogger.net and Seahawks at FieldGulls.com. In my free time I hang out at the University of South Carolina and occasionally fill thirsty young minds with knowledge about various and sundry things related to consumer behavior and marketing.