NBA MOCK DRAFT 2008
NOTE: When its close between guys, I'm going to have the team pick the player I think they SHOULD take, not who they're rumored to take. In the case of Rose, there are just too many reports saying he's going to Chicago to refute though.
1) Chicago - Derek Rose - The Bulls love Derek Rose and want to pair him with Ben Gordon. It'll be a great match cause Gordon's jumper is wet, but he has zero court vision. Rose on the other hand has a wack jumper, but handles well and is unselfish. He's a big guard who's super athletic, strong, and has a great first step. He can handle in traffic, and is strong enough to finish. Rose also has a pretty good mid-range game, perimeter defender and is strong enough to withstand bigger guards posting up as well. The area where I think he's overrated is court vision. People are comparing him to Jason Kidd, Chris Paul, and Derron Williams. Rose has done nothing to warrant those comparisons to guys who have a sixth sense. Rose doesn't have that. He's adequate, much like a Rajon Rondo or a young Chauncey Billups or an old Stephon Marbury (young stephon had the yo-yo handle and could thread the needle).
Rose is not a pure point guard and I think people are fooling themselves if they see him in that mold. He really didn't come on till late in the season and as we saw in the championship game, his best moments came when he looked for his own shot first. He over thinks and doesn't have the ability to see things before they unfold a la Nash, Paul, or Kidd. People are comparing him to Kidd because when you watch them play, they are similar. Very strong, fundamentally sound, and they make the game look easy. Derek Rose plays within himself and doesn't force things, which is good, but he's not going to dominate with his play making ability like the upper echelon guards.
NBA COMPARISON: Stephon Marbury post-KG - very similar body build, strong to the basket, can score on anyone, slightly above average jumper. I say post-KG Stephon because at GT and Minny, Marbury had the wicked handle and really gave AI a run for his money in college. The problem was Stephon became Starbury, never shared the ball again, and well, you know the rest... Marbury actually had better court vision than Rose coming out of GT, but Rose has a better head on his shoulders. If you just compare their skills, I see a lot of Marbury in Rose, which is dope. You just hope the similarities don't extend to the ol' noggin.
2) Miami - Michael Beasley - Whether Miami keeps this pick or not, its going to be Beasley. He has a lot more value than Mayo because some teams see him as a power forward and he had the more productive college season. I like Beasley a lot and he would fit in Miami alongside Wade and Marion offensively, but defensively, Beasley is probably going to need a big imposing, glass eating, center alongside him. It's hilarious when commentators say, "Beasley is going to be a great rebounder, just look at how he ate up boards in college!" Look, we've seen tons of guys like Drew Gooden or Kenny Thomas come out of college as great rebounders, but without that extra inch and 15lbs, their quickness advantage is negated in the pros. Beasley will get probably 8 rebounds a game. For a power forward, that's average. He's also not going to block shots at the rate he did in college and he's a on-the-ball defensive liability. There are skinny guys like Odom, Bosh or Jermaine O'Neal who have rebounded and blocked shots well in the NBA, but they have a lot of lift and length. If you're short like Elton Brand or David West, you need to have a strong base, long arms, and be quick off the floor. Beasley probably should play small forward where his size is an advantage. Forwards are much bigger these days and he's quick enough to match up. He doesn't have the bulk in his base to play power forward unless he's on a team like the suns who just don't play d and look to outscore you. Even if he does play power forward and is succesful against 2/3 of the teams in the NBA, you don't want to be one of those teams who gets to the playoffs and realizes your PF is going to get dunked into the hoop by Carlos Boozer or Rasheed Wallace. Look at Nowitzki, no defense, no rings.
NBA COMPARISON: Carmelo Anthony - Beasley compares favorably to Carmelo Anthony. Both are very crafty scorers, versatile, and can play inside-out. Like Melo, Beasley will be a perennial all-star player, but at least early on, his defense will probably hold his team back. Then again, you never know how a player will respond to the NBA. Some see it as a challenge and ameliorate their weaknesses early on such as Dwayne Wade. Beasley, if cast as a small forward, doesn't have any flaws he can't change. That's why I compare him to Melo as well. His first two seasons, Anthony took a lot of bad shots and barely averaged 2 assists. Under George Karl, he really learned how to play team offense and is now a top 4 or 5 scorer in the league. His defense is slightly better, but its more a lack of effort and conditioning than anything. If Beasley and Anthony choose to improve their defense, they are physically capable. Its all mental for these guys.
3) Minnesota - O.J. Mayo - Not a great fit for Minnesota which already has a slew of SGs, but most other years, OJ is a #1 pick so you gotta take him here. Of anyone in the draft, he probably has the most upside, even above Rose and Beasley. Mayo is slightly undersized as a 2-guard at 6'4", but he has a retarded vertical and gets a lot of lift on his jumper. No one's going to stay with his first step and he can finish over anyone so size is only going to be an issue defensively. BUT, Mayo shows a desire to play defense and does it well. He's tough on the ball and plays the passing lanes well. OJ also has good range out to 3 and in a strange way is very J.R. Smith like in his perimeter game. He looks to shoot, raises up, takes some dumb shots, but they go in. The biggest question with OJ is attitude and whether he's willing to play team basketball. But, this is where some commentators have done well recently to point out a slight media bias against OJ because of his high school antics and recruiting himself to USC. He grew up in the second half of the season and its not like anyone learns anything from Tim Floyd. With proper NBA coaching, I think OJ took a hit to his ego last year in NCAA and is ready to work now. He's not a point guard, he is a wing who has above average handle and vision.
NBA COMPARISON: JR Rider - I'm gonna go back a little bit for this comparison. Take Rider's off-court or even on-court shenanigans out of the picture and the two are very similar players. Mayo definitely has more handle and versatility, but he is strong, fast, and explosive like Rider. They both had above average perimeter games and could yam it on anyone. Both players can also post up despite average to below average size due to athletic ability and lift on the jumper. Rider also wasn't bad defensively, but they just play similarly to me. I also see a little bit of JR Smith in Mayo. Maybe its the acronyms for first names, but honestly, they got similar games.
4) Seattle - Kevin Love - ESPN and a lot of other sites are projecting Brook Lopez here, but that would be a huge mistake. Kevin Love is the 4th best player in this draft and he fills a need if you slide Collison over to Center or play him as a back up at both spots. Collison isn't a starter in this league anyway and Seattle has young big men like Petro and Swift to develop already.
Why bring in another guy like Lopez who doesn't exactly fit in the offense. Love can fit on any team. He has the wide body to rebound, tested much better at the combine in the shuttle, bench press, and vertical leap, PLUS, he's shown more of a willingness than anyone to improve his game since the season ended. He's dropped 15 pounds and has a lot more explosiveness. I love this guy's game and he could end up being the best player out of this draft because he knows how to play and has just enough athletic ability to get it done. In Seattle, he can play in the low post, he could play the elbows and have Jeff Green/Durant running some princeton style cuts, and he can also step out to 3, drag a big man out and spread the floor. It also would be smart for Seattle to trade out of this spot for a true point guard such as Kirk Hinrich. A lot of people have elevated Russel Westbrook and Jered Bayless into the top 5, but I don't buy the hype on those guys. Neither is a true point guard and Westbrook will not be able to penetrate as well in the NBA because people don't respect his jumper. Lastly, if they want to leave the draft with a guard, Jerryd Bayless is a freak athlete and proven scorer who can step in immediately cause his skills translate to the NBA game. If he comes on board, perhaps Jeff Green plays a little point forward and Durant would occasionally slide to 3 so Earl Watson can play PG and Bayless would stay at 2, where he's more comfortable.
NBA COMPARISON: Charles Barkley - I don't throw around this name haphazardly. He's my favorite player and possibly human being of all time, but Love has a very similar game. Equally fat, equally explosive in a freakish way, and has a ton of moves in the post. Since Barkley left, fewer players have utilized the turnaround baseline fade that he patented. Most guys are long enough and relase very high a la Rasheed Wallace so they don't have to fade, while others like KG just leap over you. But, because Love is a little shorter, he has developed a sick spin and fade on the baseline that was on displayin the final four. He does Barkley proud with the outlet passes, eating the glass, and his affinity for stepping out and taking 3s when he should have his fat ass on the block. Late in his career, Barkley chucked a lot of bad 3s, but its all part of the legacy now....
5) Memphis - Jerryd Bayless - The Grizzlies' primary need is a low-post scorer, which makes their trade of Pau Gasol even more retarded last year. But, they are set at point guard and small forward. Kevin Love would have been perfect here, but in my mock, he's off the board. I think any of their other spots are upgradable. Mike Miller is a top 10 scoring threat at SG, but he's always a defensive liability and injury risk. Darko was a collosal bust because he still thinks too much offensively and doesn't play with instincts. Great help defender, rebounder, and shot blocker, but even his on the ball defense is suspect. I think the Darko experiment like the Kwame Brown one should be over. Their best hope is that Marc Gasol comes over this year and is the real deal. They will be tempted to reach and take Brook Lopez to fill a need, but he would negate the athleticism and effectiveness of both Conley and Rudy Gay. I say they trade up using Mike Miller to grab Love or sit tight and take Jerryd Bayless to pair with Conley in the back-court. They would be an explosive duo and alongside Rudy Gay, Hakim Warrick, and Darko Milicic, they could really get up and down the court. This team's biggest need though remains a low-post scoring threat, which Lopez is, but Bayless is the far superior talent and Lopez won't be able to get up and down the court with the other Grizzlies. The second scenario if they want to take an equally high rated player that can replace Mike Miller's shooting ability and provide more versatility, Eric Gordon would be a great pick.
NBA COMPARISON: Monta Ellis - Like Monta Ellis, Bayless is an off the meter athlete with a crazy handle. He definitely has point guard skills, but it doesn't come naturally for him and he's much more effective off the ball where he can slash and cut. He's going to break a lot of dudes down off the dribble and poster big men. The question is if he will take his defense to another level and continue to develop his jumper.
6) New York Knicks - Eric Gordon - For the record, I love the Knicks, but I'm about to bash them because this team is a mess. Gordon would be a steal for the Knicks. Unless you can draft a team identity, this is the best available player for the Knicks. Everyone is replaceable on this squad and probably the only guy you'd want to keep is David Lee. Funny thing is, he's the one guy they're shopping. But, they're stuck with Curry, Crawford, Randolph, Richardson and Marbury. Depending on what they do with Marbury, either Crawford or Marbury will start at the point. Yes, Eric Gordon duplicates a lot of what Crawford does, but he's a lot more polished, athletic, and willing to play in a team game. Jamal Crawford is dope, he rocks the half moon with a fade, but he has no concept of team basketball and plays matador defense. He's best cast as a sixth man. Plug in Gordon who can get his own shot off the dribble, step out to 3, and create on the break. He's a black hole offensively, but you know that coming in and you build around it. In a D'Antoni offense, you take your first open shot anyway so he fits. He'll be fine in NY, he's got a lot of swagger, he's a showman, and he's gonna break a lot of ankles.
NBA COMPARISON: Mitch Richmond and Ray Allen - You look at this guy and you say, the brotha looks like Mark Jackson, but plays like Mitch Richmond. I love the t-shirt under the jersey, but its gonna have to go in the NBA sadly like his cousin Ben Gordon had to give it up. A lot of other sites have compared Gordon to Richmond and its close, but I think he's actually more like Ray Allen where he has sneaky athleticism. Gordon (40") actually had a higher vertical than Bayless (38") and also bench pressed the bar 15 times which is very impressive for a freshman guard. This guy is an athletic freak, but like Ray Allen is content to shoot picture perfect jumpers. He's got a great jumper, but I'd like to see him work harder on offense and take it to the rack. Even though he is an explosive leaper, he should work on more core strengthening because his body balance is weak which is why he sometimes doesn't finish over the top but instead lays it in. He needs to yam it in the "Association."
7) Los Angeles Clippers - Joe Alexander - As much as I'd love to see Alexander go to Milwaukee and sing Chinese Karaoke with Yi Jian Lian (Alexander was born in Asia, speaks Mandarin, Ni Hao Bai Ren! translation: "What up white boy!"), I think the Clippers should pull the trigger on him. They may or may not move Maggette, but even if he stays, play Maggette at 2, move Mobley to the bench where he belongs and play Alexander at the 3. He has so many skills, super versatile, explosive athletically and has experience playing on the perimeter and on the block. I love that he knew he projected as a small forward in the NBA but did what Huggins wanted him to do and played the 4 in college. You want a guy like this on your squad and honestly, this is probably the greatest draft for white boys since Larry Bird came through. Love AND Alexander? Maybe there's vitamin and protein enriched mayonnaise out there leading to all this newfound athleticism in the community? lol.
NBA COMPARISON: Richard Jefferson - Both are versatile, team oriented, guys who can post, cut, score off the dribble and play defense. Neither is exceptional at any one thing but a very solid contributer everywhere. Alexander is taller and more athletic than Jefferson plus he has more range on the jumper. He's a great value at this point in the draft and can come in on day one and contribute.
8) Milwuakee Bucks - UPDATE! There was a trade after I did this mock, but the below analysis still applies. I said that Bobby Simmons should be a bench player and well, now he's with the Nets and the Bucks have a legit SF and move Yi Jian Lian who never wanted to be in Milwaukee in the first place. They should have traded Villanueva though, who is not defensive minded enough to play PF. With a Jefferson in the fold, look for the Bucks to take a PF instead so they have some insurance for Villanueva. Lopez is the best available big, but he is too slow to play PF. DARRELL ARTHUR should be the pick. Good face up PF who will complement Bogut well.
Danillo Gallinari - Its a tough choice between Gallinari and Westbrook, but I go Gallinari here because Mo Williams has played well even though he's not a pure PG and Bobby Simmons should probably be a bench player. Gallinari can help further spread the floor and also can put the ball on the floor. He's soft on the glass and from what we've heard doesn't play much D, but he will fit in and round out a very nice front court rotation for the Bucks who can match up with almost anyone. This is a very deep team that just needs the right leadership.
NBA COMPARISON: Mike Miller - sweet shooting, good handle, averse to defense. I can't say much more cause I've only seen highlights of this guy so unlike the other analysts out there, I'm not gonna BS you.
9) Charlotte Bobcats - Brook Lopez - Lopez fits on this team and Larry Brown's going to get the most out of him. He couldn't have gone to a better situation and he'll also make life easier for Okafor now. Lopez will be the primary offensive weapon, you have your slasher and jack of all trades in Gerald Wallace, a super scorer in Jason Richardson (even though he takes bad shots) and a developing young point guard who can't hit the side of a barn. I think Lopez helps improve the game of every single one of these guys. Okafor can concentrate on boards/defense, Felton has a safety valve to dump the ball into, and Richardson can play a lot of two-man game with Lopez who has shown a decent 10 to 15 footer. Lopez's biggest weakness - tenacity will be masked by Okafor much like it was aided by his brother at Stanford. Lopez is clumsy with the ball and a lot of rebounds and passes slip. He is also too reliant on the left block and needs to develop a drop-step or turn around on the right side as well. But, he is big, strong, and has a good touch for a big guy.
NBA COMPARISON: Zydrunas Illgauskas - both players are clumsy, look like they're about to fall apart, but consistently get the job done. Z is stronger and has more versatility, but Lopez is slightly more mobile and has a better drop-step/spin move. If Lopez stays focused and doesn't go Big Country AWOL, he'll be in the league a while. The most important thing for him now is to make his first move fast cause he will get the ball stripped otherwise. He doesn't have very strong hands.
10) New Jersey - TRADE - they have now acquired Bobby Simmons and Yi Jian Lian. As funny as it is, the Bucks were probably positioned to take Gallinari and he now fits more into New Jersey's plans, but they already have Bostjan Nachbar who does a lot of the same things. I'm gonna stick with my Koufus pick below. They could still use a scoring center to complement Yi and Gallinari is duplicative.
Kosta Koufus - New Jersey is in a strange situation cause they have players at every position that are legit NBA starters, but they could all be upgraded. I find it funny some people have Russell Westbrook here when he's an exact duplicate of Devin Harris: a fast, athletic PG, who can't shoot and doesn't really have a killer handle to break you down. DJ Augustin isn't better than either Harris or Marcus Williams (who should be starting). If Eric Gordon or Joe Alexander dropped, I think they should take them cause Vince could be on his way out any day, but as is, Koufus is a great pick. He fits well with the Nets and their style of play which is still a strange princeton-hybrid, but should probably change more with a full off-season without Kidd. Koufus has a lot of skills, he can take a big man off the dribble, face up for a bank shot, and he is developing a tougher low post game. He's going to get pushed around a little his first year, but he has a great frame to build on and could be dominant someday. He works hard, knows how to play, and I don't think there's much risk with him.
NBA COMPARISON: Tim Duncan - Don't get me wrong, he won't produce at that level, but he plays like Duncan. He has a myriad of moves, likes to face-up, and uses the reverse pivot well. He also has a nice touch on his baby hook and is developing around the hoop well. He needs to put on muscle and get some power moves, but he has a nice array as is. Biggest problem is he brings the ball down too frequently and can play small.
11) Indiana Pacers - Roy Hibbert - Yes, I'm a G-town fan and yes, this is high, but we could see a surprise if Koufus is gone. The Pacers could have gone for Russell Westbrook here, but instead opted for TJ Ford and unloaded a huge contract, which was smart. They are set at 1, 2, and 3 with Ford, Dunleavy, and Granger. Ike Diogu moves into the starting line up and he'll be great. He's strong, rebounds, scores in bunches and is highly underrated. Darrell Arthur is also on the board and most scouts like him better, but he doesn't fit with this team. Arthur like Diogu is shorter and he also likes to face up. Indiana has enough guys like that and Hibbert would be a better fit. The knock on him is that he's lean and doesn't play with power, but he's consistently improved every year of his career and had a great season. He didn't perform well in the tournament, but Hibbert just has those games. What you can say about him though is that he finds ways to contribute rebounding, defensively, passing and he'll be able to put in 10 to 12 points a game. They can run offense through him because he sees the floor and is a great passer for a big man. He is physically lean, but he is stronger than people think and gets the job done.
NBA COMPARISON: Yao Ming early years. Like Yao, he is too light, slow with his first move, and gets the ball stripped. But, also like Yao, he's a student of the game and always looking to improve. He is a great passer, good free throw shooter, and has a great touch for a big man.
12) Sacramento Kings - Russell Westbrook - They could go PF here with Darrell Arthur, but I think this is the better pick since they have Shelden Williams to develop now. I think NBA analysts give up on prospects too early and Williams has something in the tank. Westbrook gives the Kings a defensive minded, athletic PG to pair with Kevin Martin and its a good fit much like Rose with Gordon in Chicago. A lot of people have Westbrook rising up the boards because of Rondo's performance in the playoffs but COME ON. You were the same people who said Rondo couldn't get it done cause of a wack jumper and on any other team, you'd be half right. Rondo and Westbrook will both struggle when teams can sit back and double his teammates, but if your team has shooters to spread the floor, they'll take it to the rack or play pick and roll and get isolated on a big guy. Again, like Rondo, Westbrook is limited and unless he develops a jumper won't be an all-star, but he will get the job done. You just need to build the team so that the rest of the squad can score and draw double teams.
NBA COMPARISON: Rondo
13) Portland Trailblazers - Mario Chalmers - This is a little high, but I think the Blazers will do the smart thing and take Chalmers over Augustin. He is a more team oriented guard and has more range on the J, plays defense, and doesn't need shots. Augustin is a score-first guy and the Blazers have a good thing going with the team chemistry. You don't want to upset that. With Oden coming in and Roy already established, you don't need another scorer. You need a caretaker who can knock down shots. He isn't a point guard who's going to break down the defense and create, but he's good enough to get the team into the offense and hit open shots.
NBA COMPARISON: Rafer Alston - He's nowhere near as flashy as Rafer on the playground, but in the NBA, Rafer is very consistent, gets the team where it needs to be and hits open 3s. He also plays good defense and Chalmers does that even better, while also shooting a higher percentage. If you want someone who's similar athletically, maybe look at Antonio Daniels, who also has a so-so handle, but plays team basketball.
14) Golden State Warriors - Brandon Rush - This is a good fit for Rush. The biggest knock on this guy is that he fades in games. He has had injuries that robbed a little explosiveness, but he's still an above average athlete with great size and a lot of versatility. He has great range on the jumper, a good handle, and a little post game. He can take his man off the dribble and is a prototype swing man. He knows how to play and is a willing defender, but just isn't assertive enough on offense.
NBA COMPARISON: Mentally, he's a lot like Lamar Odom. Physically, he's like Scottie Pippen. He really has it all, but he's very passive and probably won't ever be a superstar. If he is in the right system with good coaching, he'll be an all-star, but its up to him.
Posted by Eddie Huang at 6/26/2008 12:55:00 PM