by Trevor Freeman
It has been awhile since I have sat down and penned an article about basketball. Too long in fact. However with the NBA Draft upon us, I stayed home all day Sunday to write about one of my favorite events. With my Internet humming and a couple Yuenglings serving as steroids for the side of my brain that needs to be energetic and alive, I got a chance to submit my mock draft.
In my opinion, the NBA Draft is the most underrated sports spectacle of the year. It combines college and pro. Newfound Millionaires getting dappered up and occasionally looking very uncomfortable in a suit (see Adam Morrison). Very, very, tall men hunching down to say hello to David Stern. Every couple years we get the “lone man in the Green Room” spectacle that is always riveting or the second round pick storming out of the crowd to say hello to a startled Assistant Commissioner. All in all it is an experience that is always unforgettable. With that being said and without further ado………David Stern steps to the podium…….
With the first pick in the 2007 NBA Draft the Chicago Bulls select…
1. Derrick Rose, Memphis, PG, Fr.
Rose is a complete no-brainer for the Chicago Bulls as he is a local high school legend who will be an NBA superstar. Rose reminds me a lot of another Chicago area product in Dwyane Wade as he is unselfish but possesses explosive athleticism and the ability to get his own shot. Drafting Rose also makes Kirk Hinrich valuable trade bait for a contender looking to upgrade the point guard position. After watching the Lakers trot Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar out there for an entire playoff run, I cannot see how the Lakeshow wouldn’t at least make the call to Chicago for Hinrich.
The Miami Heat select…
2. Michael Beasley, Kansas State, PF, Fr.
Easiest pick to make in this draft. Michael Beasley was quite simply the most complete freshman in college basketball last year. He dominated on the glass and possessed an offensive game that reminded me of a left-handed Chris Webber.
The Minnesota Timberwolves select…
3. O.J. Mayo, USC, SG, Fr.
My initial impression after watching Mayo’s first half of the college season was the same as everybody else. Adapting the words of Lloyd Bentsen my impression was “I have seen LeBron James and you sir are no LeBron James.” However, when I watched him later in the season his game looked cleaner. Mayo was playing under control and was really stroking the ball. He could have a Ray Allen type career. And if you can draft the next Ray Allen at #3, I think you do it. Besides, the other option being discussed in Minnesota is Brook Lopez and quite frankly I do not think Minnesota fans psyche can handle the possibility of selecting a bust with the third overall selection.
The Seattle Supersonics select…
4. Kevin Love, UCLA, PF, Fr.
Seattle’s GM Sam Presti is cut from the same cloth as a Billy Beane. I think that helps Kevin Love here. Love can walk right into an NBA game and average a double-double. His tremendous passing ability is going to be an asset with a guy like Kevin Durant who is going to average somewhere between 27 and 30 points a game this year. It makes sense.
(Just as a note, kudos to Love’s UCLA teammate Darren Collison for pulling a Matt Leinart and staying in school. It is nice to see guys stick around for their senior year to make sure they hook up with absolutely every girl walking around their campus.)
The Memphis Grizzlies select…
5. Anthony Randolph, LSU, PF, Fr.
I put some simple logic in this selection. I went through every possible pick on the board and figured out which one was definitely going to be the bust. Whoever was the surest bet to be a bust is who I would assign Chris Wallace drafting.
The New York Knicks select…
6. Danilo Gallinari, SF, Italy
I firmly believe Mike D’Antoni has instructed the entire Knicks organization to not talk about Gallinari because he absolutely covets him. Danilo Gallinari is the type European swingman that would flourish in D’Antoni’s offense. He would be the smart pick for the Knicks here and I rarely say that about a foreign player going this high. I like Gallinari. He put up big numbers in Europe.
The Los Angeles Clippers select…
7. Jerryd Bayless, Arizona, PG, Fr.
I watched Bayless more than five times this past college season and there are moments that you do not even realize he is on the court. There is no denying his talent, but this pick is riskier than people think.
The Milwaukee Bucks select…
8. Joe Alexander, West Virginia, SF, Jr.
The Bucks have Yi Jianlian, Andrew Bogut, Michael Redd and Mo Williams so they have parts to work with at four of the five positions on the court. Joe Alexander is their guy here. I thought Alexander was a good college player. I saw him as more of a late first round guy, however the combines have rocketed him up the draft board.
The Charlotte Bobcats select…
9. Brook Lopez, Stanford, C, Soph.
The Bobcats have plenty of perimeter firepower in Ray Felton, Gerald Wallace, Jason Richardson, Matt Carroll, Jared Dudley and the returning Adam Morrison. However their frontline needs help. Lopez is the sensible pick here. Granted, he may turn out to be a stiff and I think I like his brother Robin better. That all being said, I see the Bobcats pulling the trigger on the Stanford big man.
The New Jersey Nets select…
10. Donte Greene, Syracuse, SF, Fr.
Had you checked most mock drafts around January you would have seen Greene in the top five. At #10, Greene is a tremendous value pick as he has the size and athleticism that NBA teams crave.
The Indiana Pacers select…
11. Russell Westbrook, UCLA, SG, Soph.
The Pacers get lucky as I think Russell Westbrook is the most undervalued player in this draft. The UCLA product is an athletic freak that can score in transition, play multiple positions and defend at a high level. Since Eric Gordon is from Illinois originally and only played one season for the Indiana Hoosiers, I do not see the Pacers getting pushed into picking him.
The Sacramento Kings select…
12. D.J. Augustin, Texas, PG, Soph.
This is a total no-brainer as Sacramento needs a starting point guard after trading Mike Bibby. Augustin is the best pure point guard left on the board and can start from day one for the Kings.
(Speaking of point guards, it was nice to see Ty Lawson head back to school along with Wayne Ellington and Danny Green. They join Tyler Hansbrough who had already announced he was staying at North Carolina. With every significant player outside Quintin Thomas returning to the fold, I would be shocked if the Tar Heels lose more than two regular season games next season. They should be incredible.)
The Portland Trailblazers select…
(all of the sudden there is a buzz in the air as David Stern begins to frantically read off of a card.)
“The Portland Trailblazers have agreed to send Martell Webster and the thirteenth pick to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Leandro Barbosa. With the thirteenth pick in the draft the Phoenix Suns select Eric Gordon.”
13. Eric Gordon, Indiana, PG, Fr.
This would be a trade that makes sense for both teams as Portland is in dire need of an upgrade at the point guard spot which Barbosa would be. On the flip side, Phoenix needs to get a younger and deeper. There is no way they are going to win a title with Steve Nash and Grant Hill playing 40 minutes a game in the regular season. By spinning off Barbosa the Suns pick up two young, athletic parts that can immediately jump into the fray and play competitive minutes.
The Golden State Warriors select
14. Nicholas Batum, France, SG
I watched this kid play and he is legit. I cannot explain why his draft stock fell, but luckily for him Don Nelson loves drafting the best athlete available (for better or for worse).
On a side note and this is just me venting, but only the Warriors could win close to 50 games and miss the playoffs. That could only happen to our franchise. What’s funny is that this kind of catastrophe doesn’t even rate on the list of top ten letdowns while it would be near the top for any other franchise.
The Phoenix Suns select…
15. DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M, C, Fr.
Most people consider Jordan to be at least two years away from being a real contributor; however everybody agrees that the talent is there. Phoenix is the perfect team to roll the dice on Jordan. Let Shaq be the grandfather to his eventual replacement. Is there any guy in the league who would relish serving as a mentor to a nineteen year old more than Shaq? His presence would accelerate Jordan’s learning curve and would move this pick from “risky” to “risk worth taking”. On the flip side, he would also have Jordan appearing with him at awards shows and on reality TV within two years. That’s not a bad thing. America likes Shaq. We’d just need to come up with a catchy nickname for DeAndre.
The Philadelphia 76ers select…
16. Darrell Arthur, Kansas, PF, Soph.
Arthur makes sense here for a 76er team that isn’t very far away from being a legit contender in the East. With Andres Igoudala and Miller along with Samuel Dalembert, Rodney Carney and Thaddeus Young the 76ers have a nice core group. All that group is missing is an athletic power forward that can hit the glass. Arthur provides that and a little bit more as he is a very good player facing the basket.
The Toronto Raptors select…
17. Serge Ibaka, Congo, C
I think the Raptors take into account “will this guy be happy in our city” more than any other team in the league. That’s why Ibaka is the pick here. You know he’ll be thrilled just to be in the NBA. Plus he fills a need as the Raptors could use a real center to complement Chris Bosh.
(Just as a note, have you noticed the argument between Andrea Bargnani and Adam Morrison has turned back towards Adam Morrison’s favor despite the fact Morrison had a torn ACL and missed all of last season. Suffice to say, Andrea Bargnani’s sophomore season which included him barely breaking double figures in points per game impressed nobody.)
The Washington Wizards select…
18. Robin Lopez, Stanford, PF, Soph.
As I watched the Wizards go down to Cleveland again in the playoffs, the part I thought they were sorely missing was an energy guy off the bench who would grab rebounds, block shots and holler towards the crowd. The Wizards need somebody to pump the veterans up and do little things to get rallies going. Lopez is that guy. I think he will turn out to be better than his brother Brook.
The Cleveland Cavaliers select…
19. Roy Hibbert, Georgetown, C, Sr.
This is your classic example of an undervalued guy falling into the perfect situation. Last year, Roy Hibbert goes no lower than sixth in the draft. Now after a year in which he was just as dominant statistically he is falling into the mid to late first round, mainly because people have watched him for too long. He is going to be a very solid NBA center and apparently Cleveland loves him. It makes sense because the one thing Cleveland lacks is a low post center that can score with his back to the basket. Enter Hibbert whose biggest strength is his polished low post game.
The Denver Nuggets select…
20. Ryan Anderson, California, PF, Soph.
Something could be up with this pick as there are rumblings that Denver may send Carmelo Anthony and the 20th pick to Detroit for Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince and the 29th pick. If that is the trade on the table it represents and interesting “shuffling of the deck.” While Denver is giving up a little from a pure talent perspective, I think the team has had problems focusing on winning games. Having leaders like Billups and Tayshaun in the fold may help them out in that regard. That being said, I still think Carmelo is going to be a bigger star than he is right now. A change of scenery could be helpful.
The New Jersey Nets select…
21. Jason Thompson, Rider, PF, Sr.
I cannot see the New Jersey Nets passing twice on a local prospect that can help them out from day one. This should be a no-brainer pick for them with their second first round pick.
The Orlando Magic select…
22. JaVale McGee, Nevada, C, Fr.
If McGee can blossom into an Andrew Bynum type big man, it would enable Dwight Howard to slide back to the 4 and give the Magic an extremely young and talented frontcourt. The key word in that last sentence is “if”.
The Utah Jazz select…
23. Mario Chalmers, Kansas, SG, Jr.
This is pick that falls right under the “perfect fit” category. Chalmers could be Jeff Hornacek all over again for Jerry Sloan’s Jazz who are going to be in the thick of the championship race. I like their parts as Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, Ronnie Brewer and Andrei Kirilenko give you a very nice starting five. Millsap provides frontcourt energy off the bench, Kyle Korver is a knockdown shooter (one of the most underrated heists of the year was Utah nabbing him) and I like the veteran savvy you get out of Matt Harpring. Adding Chalmers gives the Jazz the one component they lack which is a knockdown shooter that can handle both guard spots. Plus he is originally from Alaska like Carlos Boozer which has to give you a little more fun from a marketing standpoint.
The Seattle Supersonics select…
24. Kosta Koufos, Ohio State, C, Fr.
The Sonics round out their frontcourt of the future by plucking Koufos. While I thought Koufos was one of those players where the hype exceeded the production, he would fit in well with Seattle. Koufos can stick the medium range jumper and will keep the lane free for Kevin Durant and Jeff Green.
The Houston Rockets select…
25. Gary Forbes, UMass, SG, Sr.
The Rockets are a team that is built to win right now and I think they are going to go for polish. Forbes is as polished a two guard as you will find this late in the first round. He can step in right now and give Houston a quality 15-20 minutes a night.
The San Antonio Spurs select…
26. Brandon Rush, Kansas, SG, Jr.
The Spurs are going to try and reload for the upcoming season by letting Kurt Thomas, Michael Finley and Robert Horry go out to pasture while bringing new complementary pieces to surround Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. This pick is one step in that process. I think the Spurs are going to take whoever they feel is the surest bet on the board. Brandon Rush is the guy I think they will settle on. Rush can step in right now and play Finley’s minutes. In fact, I think Rush could jump into the fray and handle 25-30 minutes a game right now, which would allow the Spurs to rest Bruce Bowen and Manu Ginobili more during the season.
The New Orleans Hornets select…
27. Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis, SF, Jr.
A savvy pick as Douglas-Roberts feels like a Tayshaun Prince level steal if he goes this late in the first round.
The Memphis Grizzlies select…
28. Mareese Speights, Florida, PF, Soph.
I would never draft somebody who essentially got run off of their own college team and whose game is rated somewhere between mediocre and not quite mediocre. But then again, my name isn’t Chris Wallace. I can see him talking himself into the frontline of the future with Anthony Randolph, Mareese Speights and Marc “Fredo” Gasol.
The Detroit Pistons select…
29. Joey Dorsey, Memphis, PF, Sr.
Nobody in the draft has Detroit Piston written all over them more than Joey Dorsey. Between Dorsey and Maxiell the Pistons would be close to reincarnating the Bad Boys.
The Boston Celtics select…
30. Ante Tomic, Croatia, C
The Celtics are going to draft somebody that they can stash overseas for a couple years as they have to invest their salary cap dollars in resigning James Posey and Eddie House. Plus the Celtics are in the enviable position of already having some quality youth in Leon Powe, Glen Davis and Rajon Rondo. In Tomic, the Celtics would be taking a flyer on a 7’1″, 250 pound center that they could let develop on somebody else’s dime. It’s a no-brainer.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me at [email protected]