Mock drafts are a contractual obligation of all beat writers of major sports — not to mention the biggest waste of typing fingers I can imagine.On Tuesday, for example, at least a half-dozen of the teams picking in the top 10 of the NBA draft were talking about trading up, down or out of their position.
Let’s say half of the rumors are right. Mock draft? See ya.
Then you have that one dopey general manager who thinks he’s so much smarter than everyone else. The guy who takes a player who wasn’t projected anywhere near that pick and, doink, the domino effect takes over.
Is there a team this year that, like Seattle in 2006, will resist all logic and take a Mouhamed Sene 10th overall? Well, both the Clippers and the Knicks are in the lottery, so there you go.
OK, enough stalling.
With blindfold firmly affixed and darts in hand, here comes my air-tight, guaranteed, take-it-to-the-bank 2008 NBA Mock Draft — as long as no one screws it up by trading a pick, or taking someone they shouldn’t.
As long as David Stern doesn’t call the whole thing off to chase down the shoe money Tim Donaghy owes the league:
No. 1: Chicago,
Derrick Rose, PG, Memphis
This would seem to be a slam dunk, but the people in charge of this pick took two months to pick a head coach and then settled on Vinny Del Negro, who has coached as many games as I have. Rose is the best player in the draft, a point guard (bye bye, Kirk Hinrich) and a local product. The Bulls can’t pass on that, right?
No. 2: Miami,
Michael Beasley, PF, Kansas State
Here’s where the trade rumors start. Now that the Heat have figured out Shawn Marion isn’t opting out (The Matrix walk away from $18 million in a sluggish economy? I’m still giggling), Miami would be willing to move down a few spots to pick up some veteran help since the free-agent pool will be too expensive. But I don’t make trades here, so I’ll take Beasley, since Marion probably won’t last the season in South Florida.
No. 3: Minnesota,
O.J. Mayo, SG, Southern California
Uh, oh. We have a Kevin McHale sighting, so anything can happen. The Wolves could use a scoring big man more than a shooting guard. Perhaps McHale trades this pick to Boston for Brian Scalabrine. But Mayo is a potential star, and provides a way to show fans there might be some silver lining to the Kevin Garnett trade.
No. 4: Seattle,
Russell Westbrook, PG, UCLA
If they don’t pull a trade (more than a 50 percent possibility), the Sonics will take a backcourt player from the Pac-10, but it’s not Jerryd Bayless. And while his stock has dipped a bit, Westbrook has been on the rise and will help the Sonics at a spot of desperate need. Still, the Sonics need some veteran help and will be sifting through offers.
No. 5: Memphis,
Kevin Love, PF, UCLA
The Grizzlies should be looking to trade, but that would mean adding talent and payroll, and the outgoing Memphis ownership has no interest in either — ask the Lakers. So Marc Iavaroni will have to settle for Love, who’s no Pau Gasol but is priced right. The Grizz should trade up for Beasley or trade Mike Conley and take Bayless, but they won’t.
No. 6: New York,
Danilo Gallinari, SF, Italy
Bayless is still on the board. He’s got big-time, big-city offensive skills. Mike D’Antoni doesn’t watch a lot of college basketball, but he had to see a few Arizona games, right? But no, all signs point to the Knicks going off the board, er, continent, for Gallinari, who can run the floor and score and has the basketball IQ D’Antoni covets.
No. 7: L.A. Clippers,
Jerryd Bayless, PG, Arizona
Here’s where the Suns come in. If Bayless is still on the board, could they trade No. 15 and Leandro Barbosa for No. 7 and a player (Tim Thomas?). The problem is, with Sam Cassell gone and Shaun Livingston’s future in question, the Clippers need Bayless. And they have seen Barbosa enough to know he’s not a point guard. But we are talking about the Clippers here, so stay tuned.
No. 8: Milwaukee,
Eric Gordon, SG, Indiana
The Bucks would have loved a shot at Westbrook or Bayless, and D.J. Augustin is also a possibility because they really need help at the point. But the Bucks are short of talent everywhere, and Michael Redd could be on the move. Milwaukee went with a public-relations pick last year (Yi Jianlian). Now, they need to go for talent.
No. 9: Charlotte,
Brook Lopez, C, Stanford
The Bobcats probably didn’t count on Lopez falling this far and they already have a center in Emeka Okafor. But either player could move to the power forward spot, and the team that took Adam Morrison two years ago (ouch!) needs more scoring. Lopez is a polished player, but how much better will he get moving forward?
No. 10: New Jersey,
Joe Alexander, SF, West Virginia
The Nets could be the best bet to trade their pick. It’s going to happen. But if it doesn’t, Richard Jefferson is rumored to be on the block and Alexander, who has impressed many in postseason workouts, could fill that spot with the spoils of the Jefferson deal helping elsewhere. Again, think trade.
No. 11: Indiana,
D.J. Augustin, PG, Texas
The Pacers have Jamaal Tinsley as their starting point guard, so nothing else needs to be said. They are getting the third-best prospect in Augustin, but he’s NBA-ready and showed a lot of positives last season when he filled the scoring load for the Longhorns in addition to his floor-general skills. Warning: Any Jermaine O’Neal deal could affect this pick.
No. 12: Sacramento,
Roy Hibbert, C, Georgetown
Yes, the Brad Miller era is limping to a close in Sac-town. And while the Kings could go with two NBA-ready possibilities from Kansas — guards Mario Chalmers or Brandon Rush — Hibbert offers the size they could use.
No. 13: Portland, Anthony Randolph, PF, LSU
The Blazers won’t take this pick. You can book it. Lead-pipe cinch. They were a young team last year, and they already have the best draft class in the league for 2008, with Greg Oden and Rudy Fernandez coming on board from last year’s draft. But rules are rules, and Randolph is too talented to stay on the board. If the Suns want to secure Brandon Rush, they might be calling.
No. 14: Golden State,
Kosta Koufos, C, Ohio State
Would Don Nelson leave a big, international scorer who can run the floor on the board? Not likely. Koufos can do a lot of the things that Andris Biedrins can’t. The Suns will keep their fingers crossed that the Warriors pass on Rush as a replacement for Jason Richardson.
No. 15: Phoenix,
Brandon Rush, SG, Kansas
If the Suns don’t find any takers for Barbosa or Boris Diaw and wind up picking here, they can fill one need with a big guard who can both shoot and defend. If they leave Rush on the board, that means (1) a Diaw deal is in the works or (2) they have their eyes on a veteran shooting guard in free agency.
No. 16: Philadelphia,
Darrell Arthur, PF, Kansas
The Suns will start a run on Jayhawks. The Sixers could use some size to go with all their athletic wings and Arthur can run the floor the way Philly likes to play. Chalmers is also a possibility to back up Andre Miller, but size should win out.
No. 17: Toronto,
Robin Lopez, C, Stanford
Like the Blazers, the Raptors have a ton of young guys and would love to move the pick for some veteran help. But if they draft, the other Lopez twin gives Toronto defense and a shot-blocking presence inside even though he doesn’t score much. He will be even more important if Rasho Nesterovic’s attractive contract is moved.
No. 18: Washington,
Jason Thompson, PF, Rider
The Wizards will have a hole at the four spot if Antawn Jamison opts for free agency, and Thompson is an athletic scorer who gets his points in the paint rather than on the perimeter. The Suns could find another trading partner here if they want a second pick in the first round because the Wizards have the salaries/cap space to make a Boris Diaw trade work.
No. 19: Cleveland, Mario Chalmers,
LeBron James needs a floor general and Chalmers is ready to jump in right away. He can stick the jumper and play defense. The question is whether he can play the point at the NBA level — which he must because of his size. But if Chalmers stays on the board this long, Cleveland will consider it a steal — something else Chalmers is known for.
No. 20: Denver,
Marreese Speights, C, Florida
The Nuggets are a team in turmoil with Carmelo Anthony unhappy about trade rumors and Allen Iverson unhappy about losing in the first round. With Nene’s status moving forward in doubt and Marcus Camby aging, the Nuggets could use the rugged attributes of Speights, a player with an NCAA ring who can help right away.
No. 21: New Jersey,
Alexis Ajinca, C, France
If the Nets can’t move their No. 1 pick, this one is certainly on the move. But since we have them going with Alexander first, let’s think about size inside with the skilled, athletic Frenchman. Are the Suns still interested this late in the draft, with projects like JaVale McGee, DeAndre Jordan and Donte Green still on the board?
No. 22: Orlando,
Courtney Lee, SG, Western Kentucky
After the failed J.J. Redick experiment, the Magic could use a two-guard who can score and Lee is one of the best pure scorers in the draft. Dwight Howard could use some help inside also, but if Lee can score from the outside, those double-teaming Superman will have to pay.
No. 23: Utah,
J.J. Hickson, PF, N. Carolina State
The Jazz can afford to let a young player take his time developing and Hickson has a body like Karl Malone – 6-foot-9, 240 pounds – and is a banger with a shooter’s touch. There aren’t many ready-for-prime-time players at this point in the draft, but Hickson could appeal to Jerry Sloan.
No. 24: Seattle,
JaVale McGee, PF, Nevada
Yes, this is one of the two first-round picks the Suns handed over to the Sonics to take Kurt Thomas’ salary last year. And with two players Phoenix covets still on the board and Westbrook already in the fold for Seattle, the Sonics take yet another big man/project in McGee. One has to pan out eventually, right?
No. 25: Houston,
Donte Green, SF, Syracuse
Green was a player that was on the fringe of the lottery a month ago, but he slipped while several other players at his position moved up. If the Rockets don’t take him, he might be in danger of dropping out of the first round. But the long-term potential is there and the Rockets will be tempted.
No. 26: San Antonio,
Serge Ibaka, C, Congo
Did you expect anything different from the Spurs? Even after Tiago Splitter spurned the Spurs for big money in Spain, taking international players and waiting for them to come of age has worked for a team used to picking this low.
No. 27: New Orleans,
Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG, Memphis
ESPN reported Tuesday night that the Hornets will sell this pick to Portland, and the Blazers are known to covet Serbian center Ante Tomic. But if the Hornets keep the pick, Douglas-Roberts has the shooting and scoring ability to provide a good target for Chris Paul. New Orleans could also go project here, given that the Hornets have some salary issues after this season.
No. 28: Memphis,
Bill Walker, SF, Kansas State
The Grizzlies went big early so now they need some wing help. Walker was compared to Vince Carter but has suffered a series of knee injuries, including a minor one during a draft workout two weeks ago. But Walker is also a player who can produce right away, and if anyone should roll the dice on a guaranteed contract at low numbers, it’s the Grizz.
No. 29: Detroit,
DeAndre Jordan, C, Texas A&M
The Pistons have had good luck bringing along young players, and Jordan has great size and potential to blossom in the right situation. Detroit isn’t going to find much help right away.
No. 30: Boston,
Ante Tomic, C, Serbia
What do you get the team that has everything? If the Hornets don’t snatch him up first, Boston can afford to wait a year for this big project to bear fruit.