And please consider this promise I'll make: You'll be less likely to "mock" this first projection of June 28's first round than you will my next one, post the June 6-10 Pre-Draft Camp in Orlando, Fla.
And, hopefully, after the draft itself, you'll say to yourself "Gee, he had a little bit of a clue, didn't he?"
Or at least something like that . . .
Frankhoops.com Mock I
1. Raptors, LaMarcus Aldridge (6-10, Texas) Frank Says: For now let's go with a "safe" choice as Aldridge, despite his relatively wiry frame and sometimes passive nature, is the closest thing to a ready-to-play "center-type" in the draft pool. All of the next three players are possibilities. And don't discount a trade for multiple picks or a proven player and a high pick (perhaps even in next year's draft).
Frank Says: This seems the safest choice in the Top 10, assuming Toronto hasn't taken Thomas. If you're really sold on him, you'll call him an Amare Stoudemire-type prospect. If you're not quite as inspired, you'll call him an Hakim Warrick-type prospect.
3. Bobcats, Andrea Bargnani (6-11, Italy)
Frank Says: The consensus is he that he doesn't last beyond the three spot. Based on his reputation, he's hard to believe he will not prove to be a better NBA player than a couple of well-known "next Dirk Nowitzki-types" who came out of Europe recently. But it's also difficult to believe that he will be nearly as good as the real deal turned out to be for Dallas.
Frank Says: Portland can't let this guy slip past this spot. Well, maybe so, if the decision makers for Portland decide Roy is too good and too polished to leave on the board.
Frank Says: Forget "point guard", "shooting guard" or "wing guard" tags. He is the best "guard", period, available. If Atlanta passes on him, the Hawks could be setting themselves up for bypassing a future Rookie of the Year two years running.
Frank Says: Is he the most "talented" player available? Sure, I suppose so, in the classic sense of talent as most think it relates to basketball. But playing hard and consistently, game in and game out, is also a "talent", as well. And that's why he's likely to be available at No. 6.
7. Celtics, Marcus Williams (6-3, Connecticut)
Frank Says: He doesn't have blinding quickness, is almost a set shooter at times, isn't an inspiring defender and doesn't go right much. That being said . . . he's the best playmaker in the draft and will be picked by the first franchise that feels it must draft a "point guard". The guess here is that it will be the Celtics.
Frank Says: He's considered by some to be limited, offensively and athletically. So was another for Blue Devils' power forward named Carlos Boozer, who lasted until the second round in 2002. Live and learn, guys.
Frank Says: If your notion of the best basketball athlete is of the guy who is the fastest and can jump the highest and quickest . . . here's the best athlete in the draft.
Frank Says: How pumped would Seattle be to have a Top Five pick so that they could pick you-know-who from the University of Washington? Oh, well. They can probably get the next-best-thing to Brandon Roy at this spot.
11. Magic, J.J. Redick (6-4, Duke)
Frank Says: The feeling seems to be that Orlando needs a jump shooter. And another feeling is that the John R. Wooden Award winner (2006) and runner-up (2005) is the best of the jump-shooting bunch.
12. Hornets, Hilton Armstrong (6-11, Connecticut)
Frank Says: How much did his stock climb last season and how much will it continue to climb until David Stern starts shaking hands on draft night? Oh my goodness . . .
Frank Says: If he was anything approaching an average jump shooter and free-throw shooter, he could go as early as No. 5. But he isn't, which is why he might still be available a few picks beyond this one.
14. Jazz, Patrick O'Bryant (7-0, Bradley)
Frank Says: Everything about him spelled "project" – until he went for 44 points and 31 rebounds in NCAA Tournament games with Kansas, Pittsburgh and Memphis. Suddenly, the project didn't look as "long term".
15. Hornets, Shawne Williams (6-8, Memphis)
Frank Says: He's a pretty good athlete and a very good scorer. And the longer I think about it, the more I think I'm undervaluing him at 16.
Frank Says: He's a bit undersized as a two guard-type but he gets the kind of lift while shooting that renders a guy's size moot.
Frank Says: He's one of the most versatile players in the draft and will likely play all over the perimeter.
19. Kings, Tiago Splitter (7-0, Brazil)
Frank Says: Some think he's a Top 10 talent but contract (he plays in Spain) buy issues could keep him in Europe for a while.
Frank Says: He had some eye-popping performances (most notably against Shelden Williams and Duke in Durham). His offensive skills are almost sushi-like (raw) right now.
Frank Says: I'm not buying this point guard talk. But he's strong, tough, versatile and a better shooter than his percentages (.596 from the free-throw line, .432 from the field and .307 on 3's) would lead us to believe.
22. Nets, Kyle Lowry (6-0, Villanova)
23. Nets, Aaron Gray (7-0, Pittsburgh)
Frank Says: This spot could be almost any "big", including any of those to come later in this mock first round.
Frank Says: He's been very impressive in workouts and seems to be playing his way into the first round.
25. Cavaliers, Paul Davis (6-10, Michigan State)
Frank Says: A much better athlete and much more polished offensive player than he's been given credit for in some circles.
Frank Says: A marvelous athlete and explosive scorer.
27. Suns, Mouhamed Saer Sene (7-0, Senegal)
Frank Says: Is he better than Patrick O'Bryant somewhere down the road? Maybe.
28. Mavericks, Josh Boone (6-9, Connecticut)
Frank Says: This is going to be all about his individual workouts and his performance in Orlando (if he goes to the Pre-Draft Camp, that is).
Frank Says: He's another player of the "undersized scoring guards", a la Guillermo Diaz and Shannon Brown. He's not the driver/slasher they are, though.
30. Trail Blazers, Leon Powe (6-7, Cal)
Frank Says: Even if he is closer to 6-6 than he is the 6-7 I'm putting him at or the 6-8 he was listed at in the Cal media guide, it's difficult to believe a player as relentless, strong and explosive as he is will not be nabbed in the first round.
Other first-round possibilities include: James Augustine (6-9, Illinois); Mike Gansey (6-4, West Virginia); P.J. Tucker (6-5, Texas); Paul Millsap (6-7, Louisiana Tech); Nick Fazekas (6-11, Nevada); Rudy Fernandez (6-4, Spain); Jordan Farmar (6-2, UCLA); James White (6-6, Cincinnati); Marcus de Souza (6-10, Brazil); Olexsiy Pecherov (6-9, Ukraine); Ryan Hollins (7-0).