Now that we are less than a week away, this is my 3rd stab at attempting to feel out one of the most up in the air drafts in history. Slowly but surely, this draft has become better and deeper talent wise since workouts began. More players are moving up in stock than those moving down. This is a really, really difficult one to predict since there will probably be numerous trades on draft night, but here we go...
1-LA Clippers-Blake Griffin-This is the only sure pick. The ONLY SURE PICK. That's insane. There is nothing as far as trade rumors go except for maybe LA trying to move Camby, Randolph and Kaman. Griffin will be a Clipper.
2-Memphis Grizzlies-Ricky Rubio-I vehemently believe the Grizzlies will not take Thabeet. I think it's way too early for him and the Grizzlies, IMO, have their center of the future in Marc Gasol. Mike Conley is all over the place and seems to be more of a role player than a future star in the league. Although Rubio's camp is doing their best to avoid Memphis, I still believe they'll take him. It ended up OK for Milwaukee when Yi didn't want to come here. Whether this is who they keep or who they take and trade down, I think it will be Rubio.
3-Oklahoma City Thunder-Hasheem Thabeet-The Thunder really have 2 options in my opinion. If Memphis drafts Rubio, they take Thabeet, if Memphis drafts Thabeet they take Harden. I'm sure they're going to be trying real hard to find out who Memphis is taking because if it isn't Rubio, the Thunder may try their damndest to trade down a slot or two, because Harden at 3 is a little early. In this version though, I think they're taking Thabeet. They need that inside presence and for the Green/Durant forward combo to work, they need a big up front to rebound and defend. Thabeet does exactly that.
4-Sacramento Kings-Jrue Holiday-This will be the first team to move up, if they try to. According to a few readings, they've narrowed their pick, realistically to Holiday, Flynn and Rubio. Rubio went to Sacramento this past week for a workout but came down with strep and the flu and was unable to work out. I doubt they get a chance to see him on the floor before draft night which may leave them hesitant to take him IF Rubio was to fall. That's a big IF though. This is interesting though because according to a number of people, Stephen Curry is the 2nd best prospect in the draft and he won't even be one of the first two or possibly three PG's selected.
5-Washington Wizards-James Harden-This is the toughest pick to peg in the top 5. I seriously doubt they keep this pick. There have been a number of trade rumors including the Wizards trading the 5, McGee, Mike James, and Jamison and get Amare and Ilgauskas in return (where the Suns get the 5, McGee, and James while the Cavs get Shaq and Jamison-that's a tough trade to make though). The other prospects they could likely take are Jordan Hill and Curry which are just as possible, I just think if they have Arenas returning as their starting PG, Harden is the perfect fit and fills a huge need at the 2.
6-Minnesota Timberwolves-Stephen Curry-Not so much a tough team to peg. Every mock draft has them taking Tyreke Evans, but I don't buy it. Curry is a great fit for this team and him and Foye in the backcourt, although lacking defense, could provide some serious shooting.
7-Golden State Warriors-Jordan Hill-Rumor has it Monta Ellis said he'd demand a trade if GS chose a PG. At this point, Curry and Rubio are gone, they could use a little help up front and Hill is the next best option without taking Jonny Flynn or another PG.
8-New York Knicks-Jonny Flynn-The Knicks are another team desperately trying to move up, but who do they even have as bait to move up with? I think the Knicks need to stay put, and pick from whoever falls. Flynn is a leader and would be a great fit for this team. Another option is Brandon Jennings.
9-Toronto Raptors-Demar Derozan-This is probably the closest thing to the next sure pick. Rumor has it, the Raptors promised Derozan they'd take him. I have to believe it, but if Evans is falling, the Raptors may have a last minute discussion about this pick.
10-Milwaukee Bucks-Tyreke Evans-Someone is bound to fall to 10. Whether it's Flynn, Hill, Evans, or Holiday, the Bucks are making out well and winning that coin flip against New Jersey looks so much better now. After 10, the talent seriously drops off. I like Evans in Milwaukee. He's 6'4" with a freakish 6'11" wingspan. Tough on the perimeter, strong drive, strong body...great 6th man.
11-New Jersey Nets-Tyler Hansbrough-I don't really like this pick for New Jersey as their biggest need is small forward but there's no one worth taking here at the 3 with James Johnson stock plummeting. With Sean Williams turning into a headcase and the Nets getting to see first hand why the Bucks handed over Yi in 2.6 seconds, they need another horse downlow. Hansbrough really helped himself with those measurements and could have earned himself top 12 money when he was originally picked to go around 18-25.
12-Charlotte Bobcats-Terrance Williams-This kid has been all over the board. I read a story that the Warriors were seriously considering him at 7, but that's way too high. There's also another story that Williams has some serious headcase in him. He wore different colored shoes to practice and would carry his stuff around school in a Barbie backpack. It's hard to pass on a kid who has big scoring potential though and the Bobcats could use that at the 2.
13-Indiana Pacers-BJ Mullens-This one is just impossible. Chad Ford in his latest mock draft said there's been 10 different names associated with the Pacers, the most popular being Jennings, Blair, Daye and Johnson. I think the Pacers will surprise a lot of people and draft Mullens. They have a big need for a true center and would be an excellent pair alongside Troy Murphy. I doubt this happens, but it makes the most sense to me.
14-Phoenix Suns-Brandon Jennings-I think the Suns would be thrilled if Jennings fell to them, but I'm not sure how Kerr feels about him. Nonetheless, he can learn from one of the best in Nash and be the future PG. He's not ready to come in and start right away, so this is a perfect scenario for him.
15-Detroit Pistons-Austin Daye-I heard a rumor the Pistons could trade the 15 and Amir Johnson for the #25 and cash simply as a money saving move. It's not a terrible idea, it would get them the money to sign two big free agents this summer, but 15 could have some value. If they pick at 15 I expect them to take Daye if he falls to them. Clark and Mullens are other possibilities and possibly even a PG if they're not sure Stuckey is the PG of their future.
16-Chicago Bulls-Gerald Henderson-With rumors that Ben Gordon has been promised a contract that exceeds $11 million per year (can't remember by who, the Bobcats maybe?) I don't think they're going to get him back. If Daye and Mullens are gone, and Henderson falls I think this would be a tough pick to pass up. This is also another team looking to move up even into the top 8. If not Henderson, Earl Clark is a real possibility. If they could, an ideal situation would be to trade Deng to either the Kings at 4 or the Timberwolves at 6 for their pick and keep their #16, then draft Harden and at 16 take Clark, or Daye whichever is available. Can they trust to start 2 rookies alongside such young players like Ty Thomas, Noah and Rose? I think the trade would fall apart if the Bulls demand to keep the 16 though.
17-Philadelphia 76ers-Eric Maynor-The 76ers sit in a perfect spot. Not many teams between 11-16 need PG's outside of maybe Detroit who has bigger needs to fill so they're going to get their chosing from the 3rd tier of PG's. Maynor is the popular pick, I think Lawson is a very real possibility.
18-Minnesota Timberwolves-Earl Clark-This could be a pick the Wolves trade if they try to move up to 2 or 3. If they keep it, they have a real shot at Clark or Daye. Not sure how they feel at drafting another SF though.
19-Atlanta Hawks-DeJuan Blair-Blair's bad knees really killed his draft stock. If the Hawks are confident they're going to get Bibby back (rumor has it, by trading Josh Smith on draft night) they can take Blair who would be a great fit with Horford and Marvin Williams. If it looks like they'll lose Bibby, Jeff Teague or Ty Lawson are the picks.
20-Utah Jazz-James Johnson-If he falls to them, they fill a nice need and have a pretty solid option in the frontcourt with Johnson, Millsap, Okur and Harpring.
21-New Orleans Hornets-Jeff Teague-Many mock drafts have the Hornets selecting a SF. I'm not buying it with their glut at the 3 of Posey, Stojakovic and Wright. They need help up front badly but with Vlark, Blair and Johnson off the board, Teague is their next best option. He could fill the Jannero Pargo spot they had 2 years ago. Rumors were that the Hornets were looking to sign Pargo back, but Teague comes at a much cheaper price with a higher upside.
22-Dallas Mavericks-DaJuan Summers-The Mavericks has some serious options here. Someone is going to fall to them. Summers would be a nice fit as the backup 3 which they havent had for a long time showing when Josh Howard went down last year and they played Kidd, Barea and Terry as their 1-3 for extended minutes. I like Summers here...a lot. I think he could be a really good player and at 22, the Mavericks are getting a steal. This also could give them the opportunity to trade Howard should they decide to do so. I like Ty Lawson here too.
23-Sacramento Kings-Sam Young-A great fit in Sac especially if they're going to try to cut salary and trade Nocioni.
24-Portland Trailblazers-Derrick Brown-It'd be tough for the Blazers to pass on Lawson, and it's hard to see Lawson slipping past 24, but Nate McMillan said right after they lost in the playoffs they'll be looking for a big to backup Aldridge. Brown had some of the best numbers in the workouts, proved to be incredibly strong and did well in workouts. I'd be surprised to see him even be here. The Kings could take him at 23 as well.
25-Oklahoma City Thunder-Ty Lawson-I really don't see him dropping here, he could be as high as 12 and as low as 25, but the Thunder would be ecstatic with this pick. They'd get Thabeet at 3 and a leader PG at 25. What more could they ask for?
26-Chicago Bulls-Chase Budinger-This is for insurance purposes if they can't re-sign Gordon. I like Budinger in Chicago, but Toney Douglas has been pegged as the pick here since the first mock draft.
27-Memphis Grizzlies-DeMarre Carroll-Need some size, Pendegraph is an option here too, but Carroll has a better shot at a career in the NBA.
28-Minnesota Timberwolves-Victor Claver-3 1st round picks means the Wolves are stashing one away at least. This Claver kid is 6'11" which NBA shooting touch. He'd play SF in the league and has a quick first step. Looks pretty nice on Youtube and impressed in workouts in the Reebok Eurocamp.
29-LA Lakers-Nick Calathes-The Lakers don't necessarily need a player to add to their roster and payroll right away. Calathes signed a deal overseas and has a buyout provision after next season and could be great coming into LA in 2010-2011.
30-Cleveland Cavaliers-Danny Green-The Cavs have the chance here to really stretch their pick. They need size badly with Ben Wallace possbily retiring and Varejao opting out of his contract, but Green here is a really good pick. He was a smaller option on the UNC offense, but has defensive lockdown ability, and has NBA shooting range. I love him here.
Early 2nd round picks-Jeff Pendegraph, Wayne Ellington, Darren Collison, Patty Mills, Jodie Meeks, Jack McClinton, and Taj Gibson. There's some really good early 2nd round talent out there. Maybe the Bucks can grab Collison, Mills or McClinton!