NBA Draft 2008: Mock Draft
By Ron Jumper
Now that I’ve finished ranking my top 30 prospects, it is time to turn to where they will fall this Thursday. This can be called a Mock Draft, but I’m also going to look at what I think teams should do and not just what I feel they will do. I’ll take a look at new lineups and what impact they could ultimately have. It will be similar to what I did last year, as I used basically the same format. Before I get to the Mock Draft though, I wanted to hit on a few interesting topics concerning the draft.
I have a feeling this will be a very surprising draft, as there appears to be more players than usual that could go anywhere depending on what source you check or who you talk to. Brook Lopez was pegged as the third pick for months, now he has dropped back as far 9 in a lot of mocks. Nicolas Batum, of France, had been generating a lot of buzz for some time, yet now some sources don’t even think he will stay in the first round due to complications with his heart. Russell Westbrook, besides the fact he was a virtual unknown before the season, has continued to generate buzz and it has been rumored he has a “promise” from a top 10 team. Guys like DeAndre Jordan and JaVale McGee could go in the top 10 or fall all the way to the end of the first round. There is much uncertainty with a large amount of prospects, leaving a lot of different scenarios possible.
Something that I think plays a large part in why players can fall much further down the draft board than they expected is really simple when you break it down. Say a player is projected in the 8-14 range, so he schedules all his workouts with teams in this range. Seems logical. However, on draft night, one of the higher rated players at his position falls back farther than expected and it pushes all the prospects at that position back a little bit. Well, the prospect only worked out for teams in the 8-14 range so when it gets to picks 15, 16, 17, and so on, those teams may not feel comfortable drafting a guy they haven’t seen workout in person. It could create a snowball effect and end up costing the young man several draft spots. A perfect example is Carlos Boozer, he was told he was going to go in the 10-19 range. He didn’t work out for anyone past 19, so once it got into the 20s those teams weren’t as familiar with him as they would have liked. As we all know, he fell into the second round and has blossomed into an All-Star. This could happen in this draft, as there is a logjam of “combo” guards: OJ Mayo, Jerryd Bayless, Eric Gordon, and Russell Westbrook. Depending on how things fall, one of these guys could slide further back then expected. All are expected to go in the lottery, but one might slip out and drop a little further than anticipated.
Another timeless debate is whether to draft need or take the B.P.A (Best Player Available). My thought has always been to go with need. The obvious reason is that it addresses a hole in your depth chart or provides something your team lacks (shooting, rebounding, shot-blocking, etc.) but that isn’t all. By drafting a need, you are putting the player in a better situation to be successful. For example, look at last year’s draft. If Atlanta had taken Mike Conley Jr. at 3, then Conley would have played a lot more his rookie season and been much more productive. As for how it actually went, Conley went 4th to the Grizzlies and fought for minutes with Kyle Lowry, Juan Carlos Navarro, Damon Stoudemire, and Javaris Crittenton. If he had been drafted by the Hawks, who really needed a point guard at the time (since then they have added Mike Bibby), he would have started from day 1 and had the chance to develop much faster. I’m not looking at this from the Hawks perspective, as Al Horford and Acie Law IV worked out great for them, but more from Conley’s perspective. The Grizzlies went B.P.A. and, by doing so, Conley may be considered a bust down the road because he doesn’t break out of the logjam of point guards that the Grizzlies currently have. I just think you can hurt your team and the prospect by taking the B.P.A. because the player might not get the best chance to show his talents and break the rotation, which ultimately hurts the team that drafted him.
2008 Mock Draft:
1. Chicago Bulls
PG Derrick Rose, Memphis
I think, when it comes down to it, they will decide to take Rose. He is a hometown kid that wants to be there. I would much rather have Beasley if I’m Chicago, as they still need a player that can score with his back to the basket. I won’t go into it again, but I’ve ranted for years now that they should have taken a skilled big in previous drafts (Lamarcus Aldridge anyone?). Beasley would fit in nicely with a lineup of Hinrich, Gordon, Deng, Beasley, and Noah. They could run and defend, with enough of a balance of outside and inside scoring. The Bulls never seem to do what I think they should though…
2. Miami Heat
PF Michael Beasley, Kansas State
Again, it isn’t that I don’t like Rose but doesn’t Beasley make more sense for Miami? Why would they want a Rose/Wade backcourt? I just don’t think they could play together because both of those guys both have to have the ball in their hands full time to be effective. Meanwhile, a nucleus of Wade, Marion, and Beasley would be pretty solid. Also, I understand that they feel good at 4 with Udonis Haslem, however, is it really smart to pass on a guy like Beasley because of Udonis Haslem? Haslem will never be more than a solid starter, as he has pretty much gotten as good as he is going to get. I would love to have guys like Haslem on my team because of the energy and defense, but passing on a franchise player is another issue.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves
SG OJ Mayo, USC
The Timberwolves have been very hard to figure out. For a long time, it was thought they were leaning towards Brook Lopez. Then some thought they might reach or trade back to take Kevin Love. Now, the thought is that they will ignore need and take the B.P.A. If they took Mayo, I think he would fill a need though. I think the Timberwolves really need a shooting guard and a center, either will do. Most don’t look as shooting guard as a need for them, but I look at their wings players (Marko Jaric, Rashad McCants, Kirk Snyder, Corey Brewer, and Greg Buckner) and I really don’t see anyone there that looks promising whatsoever. Taking Brook Lopez would also be good, as that would allow Al Jefferson to go back to playing power forward.
4. Seattle Supersonics
SG Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
This has been the consensus pretty much from day 1. There have been some reports they might take Brook Lopez, but I think it might just be a smoke screen. Bayless is a great shooter, which the Sonics really need, but will they let him play shooting guard or force him to play the point? To me, that is everything with this pick. If he plays shooting guard, he will combine with Durant to be a scary scoring duo. However, if he has to play point guard, I don’t think Durant will be very happy with his shoot-first mentality.
5. Memphis Grizzlies
PF Kevin Love, UCLA
I hope this doesn’t happen, but I really see it coming true. The Grizzlies rarely do something that I think is smart, and this is no exception. I have Love rated lower than everybody. In fact, I wouldn’t draft him in the first round at all. None the less, at least they are drafting the right position. I would take Brook Lopez here, but what do I know…
6. New York Knicks
SF Danillo Gallinari, Italy
At first, this seemed like the obvious pick, then there was some speculation, and now we’ve come full circle. I just think there isn’t any better way for D’Antoni to transition to his sytem than to draft a guy that would fit in perfectly. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Eric Gordon or Russell Westbrook here either.
7. Los Angeles Clippers
SG Eric Gordon, Indiana
The Clippers need scoring in the worst way and Gordon can flat out score. They also need a point guard, but they are in no man’s land in terms of finding that point guard. They might reach and take D.J. Augustin here, so don’t be too surprised if that happens.
8. Milwaukee Bucks
SF Joe Alexander, West Virginia
There isn’t really a set need for the Bucks, other than talent and maybe a little more athleticism. By all accounts, they seem to really like Joe Alexander and will probably grab him here. I don’ t think he is a good fit for them at all though, as they need more pure scorers on their roster. They need someone to provide some offense besides Michael Redd. It doesn’t matter what position either, as I’m not sold on any of their “projects” on the current roster (Bogut, Jialian, Villanueva).
9. Charlotte Bobcats
C Brook Lopez, Stanford
Keep in mind that Larry Brown is a tough, defensive-minded coach. The Bobcats also want a true center so they can move Okafor to the power forward position, which is a better fit for him. Brook Lopez fits in well with what the Bobcats want, as well as complementing Okafor well in terms of what each brings to the table.
10. New Jersey Nets
SG Russell Westbrook, UCLA
This is a solid pick for the Nets, as they are wanting to be a fast-paced, uptempo team. Westbrook will fit in well in that style. Quietly, the Nets have a great nucleus of young talent with Devin Harris, Marcus Williams, Sean Williams, Josh Boone, and this pick here.
11. Indiana Pacers
PG DJ Augustin, Texas
It is time for a change at the point guard position and this could be a way of doing that. There is also the chance they trade Jermaine O’Neal for a package involving T.J. Ford from the Raptors, so they might not address point guard with this pick. If that is the case, look at Anthony Randolph.
12. Sacramento Kings
PF Darrell Arthur, Kansas
The Kings really like Arthur, even though he doesn’t fit any of their needs. They are in desperate need of a point guard and might even reach for Mario Chalmers here. I think that is too high, though I love Chalmers. Arthus is simply the B.P.A.
13. Portland Trail Blazers
C Alexis Ajinca, France
This one is simple. The Trail Blazers have a nice group of players so there really isn’t anyone here that could step in and contribute right now. With that being said, they will just take the player with the highest ceiling in Ajinca and let him develop.
14. Golden State Warriors
C DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M
We all know the story on him, all the talent and athleticism in the world but a questionable attitude and work ethic. The Warriors need bigs that are athletic and can run the floor and Jordan can do that.
15. Phoenix Suns
SG Brandon Rush, Kansas
Suns need someone ready to play right now.
16. Philadelphia 76ers
PF Marreese Speights, Florida
This is a great fit for both sides.
17. Toronto Raptors
C Robin Lopez, Stanford
I hate this pick, but it will probably happen…
18. Washington Wizards
SF Anthony Randolph, LSU
Randolph drops, Wizards benefit.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers
PF JaVale McGee, Nevada
Great value this late in the draft.
20. Denver Nuggets
PG Mario Chalmers, Kansas
Instant upgrade over Anthony Carter…
21. New Jersey Nets
SF Nicolas Batum, France
Turns out his heart is good to go.
22. Orlando Magic
SF Donte Green, Syracuse
Without question, this guy has big time upside.
23. Utah Jazz
C Roy Hibbert, Georgetown
This just makes sense.
24. Seattle Supersonics
PF Serge Ibaka, Congo
Upside. Upside. Upside.
25. Houston Rockets
SG Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis
A nice scorer and NBA-ready prospect.
26. San Antonio Spurs
SG Courtney Lee, Western Kentucky
Perfect fit for them in terms of style and need.
27. New Orleans Hornets
PF Nathan Jawaii, Australia
A very promising international pick.
28. Memphis Grizzlies
PF Jason Thompson, Rider
He will be better than their first pick, Kevin Love.
29. Detroit Pistons
SF Bill Walker, Kansas State
Great value late in the first round.
30. Boston Celtics
C Devon Hardin, Cal
Safe prospect that should provide depth.
June 25, 2008