NBA Mock Draft

Once each year, college basketball fans and NBA fans come together. The NBA Draft tonight at Madison Square Garden will be a bizarre one without high school players, given David Stern's new age-limit rule. So it's all college kids and foreigners on tap tonight. The Court Jester, who should be running half of these clubs, matches the needs, availability and foolery to predict tonight's first round.

The theme of this year's mock draft season is "who the hell knows."  Trade rumors abound, as do rumors of promises.  I can't remember a draft where six different guys could go #1 or #6 or perhaps even lower.  I guarantee at least one of the top 10 guys picked gets traded shortly thereafter, so watch for the comical cap swapping.  Why basketball players are forced to wear baseball caps with their suits is a question I can't answer, but I'm pretty sure it has to do with money.  Anyway, without further doo-doo, my mock draft based on zero first hand knowledge, lots of web surfing and a few of my own opinions for good measure.  If this exactly matches someone else's out there in land, it is purely a coincidence.  No animals were harmed in the making of this list.

1. Toronto Raptors

Teams as bad as Toronto should always draft the best available player regardless of position, so forget the fact that Bosh and Villanueva are both 6'10" or so.  With the #1 pick, you want to hit a home run, so the clear pick is Greg Oden, who should give them the best front line in the NBA within three years.  What's that?!?  No high school players allowed?!?  Well, that sure sucks for the Raptors.

Andrea Bargnani seems to be the pick, and he would be the first European to go #1.  I'm sure the New York crowd will jeer, though maybe the Italians in the crowd will cheer.  I actually think this is a safer selection than any of the US players.  He is not a young benchwarmer or a workout wonder; he actually is a top player on a top team in a top league.  As a bonus, he is still just 20 years old.  Fine, they aren't getting Yao or Duncan; they also aren't getting Kwame Brown or Olowokandi.  Frankly they should have traded this pick five minutes after the envelope was opened, as using the #1 overall pick in a year when #6 is just as good doesn't do anything but drive up your salary costs.

PS: five of this year's 24 players in the All-Star game entered the league straight from high school, just three of them stayed in college for four years.

2. Chicago Bulls

Don't look now, but the Bulls are on the verge of being back.  They are very young but still made the playoffs this year, albeit with a 41-41 record.  So how come they are picking #2?  Thank you, Isiah Thomas.  The problem is they don't have a single superstar on the roster, with Ben Gordon leading them in scoring at just 16 ppg.  A balanced team of solid players can make the playoffs every year but will never be a serious title contender.  So is there even a future star in this draft?  Maybe, but whoever it is certainly will need a few years to get there.  The potential superstars are Tyrus Thomas and Rudy Gay.  Thomas is still raw, while Gay's toughness, desire, drive and everything else not measured in inches or seconds is open to question.

I think the Bulls decide to get an immediate contributor who still has nice upside and also meets the "when in doubt, go big" theory.  LaMarcus Aldridge the pick.

3. Charlotte Bobcats

The up-and-coming Cats threw a monkey wrench in their own engine by adding Michael Jordan to the ownership group two weeks before the draft and then declaring that he has final say over all personnel decisions.  So who does MJ like?  The physical gifts of Gay?  The all-around game of Brandon Roy?  The offense and swagger of Morrison?  Aldridge, Morrison and Roy all cancelled their workouts, so Gay is the only top guy Michael has seen.

Rudy Gay the pick by default almost; maybe Michael can mentor him into playing up to his ability.

4. Portland Trail Blazers

The only slam dunk selection, if he is here - they are taking Adam Morrison.  A nice fit, as the player most in need of a Queer Eye makeover doesn't have to change his "made for the Pacific Northwest" wardrobe.

5. Atlanta Hawks

The rumor is the inept Billy Knight has made a promise to Shelden Williams to select him here.  Insane of course, as no other team would take the already maxed out, offensively limited, undersized power forward this high.  The other rumor is a sign-and-trade deal with the Rockets, with the Hawks taking Roy here, the Rockets taking Williams at #8 and throwing something else into the deal.  That makes more sense but is still silly.  Amazing how the Hawks screwed everything up by not grabbing the point guard of the future last year.

Hawks fans hope to be filled with joy,
As the draft brings them their favorite boy.
Some want Roy, others dig Foye,
But once again, they are left saying "oy!"

Actually, let's give Knight the benefit of a pea-and-a-half sized brain and say they pick Brandon Roy for the Rockets.

6. Minnesota Timberwolves

This depends upon the Hawks, since Roy may or may not be here.  But I can't see Tyrus Thomas dropping any further; he could easily be another pre-surgery Antonio McDyess.

7. Boston Celtics

Tons of rumors around Team Green, as they seem to want a point guard but don't think the top prospects merit this pick.  Can't believe anything Danny Ainge says, but let's assume that Williams, Rondo and Lowry are all close on their board.  One of those guys is gonna be available much later.  Wildest rumor has them getting Iverson; another is Sebastian Telfair from Portland.  Roy might be here, but they have Pierce and Wally World and Green at the wing.  Trading down makes sense, or Randy Foye even.  Let's say Foye and watch for a trade down.

8. Houston Rockets

Shelden Williams, who they will trade to the Hawks for Roy.

9. Golden State Warriors

No idea.  The Warriors remain a collection of attractive parts that don't mesh.  Personally I would get whatever I could for Baron Davis, but that might not be much anymore.  All they need to compete for a title is Tim Duncan, but I don't think he's available.  #9 seems like an awful spot in this draft, with the surest bets gone and a bunch of potential guys all clumped together.  I like Marcus Williams, but this is not the right environment for him.  So one of the big guys.  Patrick O'Bryant seems the popular choice; Saer Sene would be a ballsy move (I love the kid).  Another direction would be Ronnie Brewer or Rodney Carney if they want to go with athletes ready to play sooner.  Let's stick with O'Bryant but without too much confidence.

10. Seattle SuperSonics

Best players available are wings and PGs, but that is where they are set for years.  Set with scoring wings, they need beef or at least defensive size.  Same choices as Warriors, but Cedric Simmons seems to be gaining momentum.

11. Orlando Magic

When little Jameer Nelson is your point guard, you need size at the 'two,' and that describes two of the best remaining guys.  Toss a coin, I'll guess that they choose Rodney Carney over Ronnie Brewer.

12. New Orleans Hornets

Paul does all their ball handling, a three-point shooter or a big seems the way to go.  Shawne Williams has huge upside as a scorer; Hilton Armstrong never wowed me but fills a need inside; Sene is a longer term project.  My guess is Armstrong, which would be pretty stunning to those of us living in CT who watched lots of UConn games.

13. Philadelphia 76ers

Everyone else has Marcus Williams slipping to them - who am I to argue?  Guys like playing with him, but he did himself no favors by showing up at workouts out of shape while other guys spent the last few months working out like crazy.

14. Utah Jazz

The popular choice was JJ, which is just too predictable for a team known for it's umm, snowy persona.  But his back is a major question mark and Utah is ridiculously image conscious, so even the DUI may come into play.  Karl Malone reportedly loved him in a workout, so I say Mouhamed Saer Sene goes here.

15. New Orleans Hornets

Just realized that Ronnie Brewer is still on the board; maybe not ideal, but let's slot him in here anyway as best available player (usually the best way to draft anyway).  Redick also possible, perhaps the ACC rival backcourt?

16. Chicago Bulls

They supposedly don't like Gordon as a vastly undersized shooting guard, but Brewer just went.  Maybe JJ but let's keep him in the Green Room so Dickie V can rant, and instead get creative with Shawne Williams.  He just might become a big star, which usually can't be said for the 16th pick.

17. Indiana Pacers

They miss Reggie's long distance bombs.  I'm not a fan, but the state known for shooters can't resist J.J. Redick here.

18. Washington Wizards

Rajon Rondo has been all over the map in mock drafts, just like his performance over the past two seasons, but at his best he is very valuable despite an ugly J.  I think he'd make a scarily athletic backcourt with Gilbert Arenas.  Speaking of whom, I take Arenas over Wade for the rest of their careers.  Could score 30 a game for 10 years.

19. Sacramento Kings

A big or a backup point guard for Bibby seem to be the consensus.  I don't know enough about the foreign big men, so let's say it's a point guard.  Jordan Farmar I just can't see this high; Kyle Lowry could really have used another year at Nova but has much more upside.  I tossed a coin; it fell between the sofa cushions; that means the pick is Sergio Rodriguez of Spain.

20. New York Knicks

The most anticipated pick of the draft, as we get to hear the loudest chorus of boos in draft history from the hostile NY crowd.  The dump Dolan guys are meeting at the ESPN Zone to get primed and then marching down to MSG.  If I was working in NYC, I would join them for sure, and I don't even care about the Knicks.  No clue what Thomas will do, but he is fired if he doesn't show "measurable improvement."  Have no idea what that means either, since the correct move would be to play the youngsters pretty big minutes instead of trying to scratch out 35 or 40 wins.  I'd say he goes for an older player with an NBA body who has a chance of helping immediately – Maurice Ager the pick.

21. Phoenix Suns

Hmm, tough to tell what teams not in need of much help will do.  Let's say they get someone who can allow Steve Nash more rest. Whichever point guard the Kings don't take, I like Kyle Lowry myself, and it's my article.

22. New Jersey Nets
23. ditto

With two consecutive picks, the Nets are shopping to move up, but since they haven't yet let's just throw a couple names out there.  Jason "Not A" Kidd is getting long in the tooth, and they'd still to be more athletic up front.  Let's give them a point guard and best available big - how about Jordan Farmar and Alexander Johnson.

24. Memphis Grizzlies

I read they need a point guard, but I don't have any good ones left to give them.  The best available player almost has to be from overseas at this point, so pick one.  How about Thabo Sefolosha, just for comedic possibilities of Tennessee accents pronouncing his name.  Plus he is from Switzerland, a nation also known for great barbeque and rowdy country western bars.

25. Cleveland Cavaliers

They need someone with some skills to score and take some of the pressure off LeBron.  Not gonna get a Randy Foye way down here, so how about Shannon Brown.

26. L.A. Lakers

Ok, really no idea at this point.  Kobe wants to pass more?  Get a guy who can actually score and isn't afraid to pull the trigger.  Quincy Douby is a stud who seemed to make shots from 30 feet whenever I watched him.  More range than JJ - a LOT more.  I'm serious, like five feet beyond where Casey used to launch from.

27. Phoenix Suns

I gave the Suns a guard earlier, let's guess they go for a foreign big who may get stashed overseas.  Marcus Vinicius since he sounds like a gladiator, or emperor even.

28. Dallas Mavericks

Who knows, how about P.J. Tucker to keep the locals happy?  Josh Boone also possible.  So are 20 other guys.

29. New York Knicks

We'll go with Chad Ford's rumor.  The Heat want Guillermo Diaz of Miami, so NY takes him for trade bait.

30. Portland Trail Blazers

Sam Bowie.

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