http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/200...aft/index.html


Ultimate fantasy draft
What if every current NBA player was available?
Posted: Tuesday June 21, 2005 2:14PM;

On June 28, we'll find out whether the Bucks go with Utah's Andrew Bogut or Marvin Williams from North Carolina (the smart money's on the former, though the smarter pick is the latter) as the top pick in this year's NBA Draft, just how far Chris Taft has plummeted, and which teams are wowed by individual workouts (the Raymond Felton indicator) or the traditional currency of the NBA -- potential.

But what if teams weren't drafting just from this year's crop but from every roster in the NBA? Who would go first, and who would be overlooked (hi, Paul Pierce)?

This is the scenario the SI.com editors presented to me, stealing shamelessly from a column estimable NFL scribe Michael Silver wrote a while back. Draw up the mock draft of all mock drafts, they said.

So here's how I see it unfolding in this fantasy world where all teams have had their traded picks reinstated, so as to give each franchise a first round pick. (Disagree? Of course you do. That's what the mailbag is for.) Without further ado, then, here comes David Stern to the podium.

Ultimate Mock Draft
Pick Team Pos. Player

1 PF Tim Duncan
It's not the sexiest choice, but the Bucks make the smart one, passing on LeBron James to build around a true center (no matter what he says) who's selfless, experienced and savvy. Though 29, Duncan's never relied on his athleticism, so he has a good six or seven dominant years left. Build around him and they -- fans, free agents, playoff berths -- will come.

2 SF LeBron James
Continuing a trend -- fetish? -- for small forwards, Billy Knight grabs LeBron, who he can now surround with an assortment of tweeners. Even Atlanta can't screw up this pick. Now all the Hawks need is a new coach, some serviceable players and, oh yeah, fans.

3 PF Kevin Garnett
John Nash will be rolling fatties (at least figuratively) over the chance to shed this franchise's Jail Blazer image and start new. Garnett is the type of dominating, passionate, felony-free player who will bring back the Portland faithful and anchor the team, regardless of who ends up as his coach.

4 SG Kobe Bryant
Yeah, he's selfish, and yeah, he comes with just a wee bit of baggage, but he's perfect for a city like New Orleans. He can create his own fiefdom in the Southeast -- that is, after he runs Byron Scott out of town.

5 SG Tracy McGrady
The Bobcats briefly consider UNC alum Larry Brown until they remember that they're building for the long term, not two years. McGrady is 26 years old, versatile and went to high school in Durham. He'll score a zillion points a game under coach Bernie Bickerstaff.

6 PF Dirk Nowitzki
GM Kevin O'Connor's has a thing for foreign players, and Dirk's the best of the bunch. Now all supercoach Jerry Sloan needs is four dudes from the noon run at the Salt Lake City Y to have a playoff team. If Steve Nash were younger, he might have gotten the call to play John Stockton incarnate.

7 SG Dwyane Wade
GM Rob Babcock thinks long and hard about drafting Nash and bringing home Canada's hero, but Wade is too good to pass up. He'll fill the post-Vince void well, seeing as he can do nearly everything Carter can, plus he actually plays defense.

8 C Shaquille O'Neal
Isiah Thomas could grab Amare Stoudemire, Dwight Howard or some other promising young big man but, of course, he's not going to. It comes down to Allen Iverson (another scoring PG, like the GM himself) or Shaq, both of whom fit perfectly into the Knicks' strategy of selling tickets while selling out the team's future. Thomas takes Shaq, who takes Manhattan (or, as O'Neal dubs it now that he's there, "Man-happenin'") by storm.

9 C Amare Stoudemire
The Warriors search long and hard for a big, unknown foreign power forward to take at the nine spot, just for tradition's sake. Instead, VP Chris Mullin settles on Stoudemire, the big man the franchise has never had.

10 SG Allen Iverson
Before the draft, Jerry Buss tries like mad to trade up so that the Lakers can pick Kobe, but since this is the first round of a mock draft -- and ergo Los Angeles has no players under contract -- it has no tradeable assets. Instead, GM Mitch Kupchak goes for the best Kobe clone, Iverson, even though he seems a poor fit for the triangle offense.

11 PF Dwight Howard
They took him once, they'll take him again, even if GM John Weisbrod is long gone. A 19-year-old budding center with all kinds of upside, he'll be an All-Star within two years.

12 SG Vince Carter
Certainly, there are better choices here -- Jermaine O'Neal, for one -- but Vince just says Clippers. Owner Donald Sterling had to think about OKing the move, considering the contract Carter will no doubt demand, but Sterling can always underpay Carter and allow him to walk come free agency.

13 C Yao Ming
New owner Dan Gilbert wants to make a splash and create buzz so, without even consulting with the GM he doesn't have yet, he picks Yao. In Ming he gets not only a center to construct a team around but an international media draw and fan bait.

14 PF Jermaine O'Neal
He's not Kevin Garnett, but he's pretty close (and younger) and, as it turns out, his game is even more similar to that of GM Kevin McHale, who can't wait to head out on the practice court and start honing O'Neal's jump hook.

15 SF Carmelo Anthony
Needing someone to draw fans prior to the big Brooklyn move, Bruce Ratner gives Rod Thorn the directive to grab the biggest star available. Even if questions remain about his desire, Anthony fits the bill. Fans immediately redub the homecourt "Carmelo Airlines Arena."

16 PG Gilbert Arenas
Mo Cheeks came in to coach Allen Iverson and, by God, he's going to coach a point guard. The mercurial, eccentric Arenas is capable of carrying a team on his back and plays with a fury. Philly fans will love him. At least, that is, until they hate him.

17 SG Manu Ginobili
Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird both know that every great team must have a go-to guy. As he's shown in these playoffs, and during the world championships, Ginobili isn't afraid of anyone, or anything (or histrionics, for that matter). Indy will embrace him as it did Reggie Miller, just switching the two-syllable chant to "Ma-nu, Ma-nu."

18 PG Stephon Marbury
Danny Ainge wants his team to run and has shown he's not afraid of players with questionable pasts. Marbury will run all right, though it might be Doc Rivers right out of town.

19 SF Marvin Williams (UNC)
Jerry West has never been afraid to take a chance. In Williams, he sees a future perennial All-Star who can play either the 3 or the 4, has great character and is fan-friendly.

20 PG Steve Nash
Ever since his days in Jersey with Jason Kidd, coach Eddie Jordan has coveted a savvy, pass-first point guard. Nash may be older (31) and prone to injury, but president Ernie Grunfeld is willing to take the gamble that his presence can help attract top-tier free agents who want to play a Phoenix-East type of game. Being a reigning MVP and international star in a city bristling with international types doesn't hurt.

21 C Andrew Bogut (Utah)
GM John Paxson and coach Scott Skiles argue late into the night about whether they should re-draft Kirk Hinrich, who so perfectly exemplifies their cumulative ethos, then decide they can't pass up a big man to build around. Bogut can pass, rebound and shoot, and has the right temperament to play for the hard-driving Skiles.

22 SG Ray Allen
He's mid-career, but Allen is the best shooter in the league, a model citizen and a clutch playoff performer. Kiki Vandeweghe can construct a team around him -- unless of course, he bolts to Cleveland to construct around Yao -- and George Karl can enjoy the reunion.

23 SF Peja Stojakovic
With both Peja and Brad Miller available, Geoff Petrie has a hard time choosing between his former players. The way he sees it, he guessed right on both players the first time, so there's no reason to look elsewhere now. Eventually, he chooses Peja, who has a bigger upside than the solid, if unspectacular, Miller.

24 SG Ron Artest
Steve Francis is available but coach Jeff Van Gundy wants no part of him and, after having his request to draft "a young Patrick Ewing" denied (Van Gundy argues that fantasy drafts should allow real "fantasy" picks), lobbies Rockets brass to grab Ron Artest, who personifies the hard-nosed style of D he loves. A big gamble, but it could pay off.

25 PG Tony Parker
Coach Nate McMillan's system is predicated on a tempo-pushing point guard, on both offense and defense, and Parker fits the bill. Plus, he's young, has playoff experience and fan-friendly (especially as a Frenchman in Seattle, not far from the Canadian border).

26 C Darko Milicic
Just kidding, though if Joe Dumars believes in him as much as he claims, he might grab him in the second round. Rather, Dumars thinks long and hard about the 30-year-old Ben Wallace but goes with a younger, more offensive-minded big man in Chris Bosh, who'll be a foundation in the paint for years to come.

27 SF Andrei Kirilenko
Coach Avery Johnson loves defense, and Kirilenko affects the game as much as any player in the league. Ben Wallace was a consideration here, but, again, Kirilenko is younger and more offensive-minded, and Mavs owner Mark Cuban loves his international appeal.

28 PF Emeka Okafor
It's been a long time -- 1988 -- since the Spurs didn't have a dominant big man anchoring the lineup. The best available choices at this spot are Zydrunas Ilgauskas (too old, injury-prone), Zach Randolph (not the team player Pop loves), Brad Miller and Pau Gasol. But Okafor provides the intimidating defensive presence, is more physical than Gasol, is younger than Miller and is the type of hard-working character guy who fits with the Spurs' legacy.

29 PF Kenyon Martin
Pat Riley loves the big guys and Gasol is tempting, but Martin sets the defensive tone coach Stan Van Gundy is looking for and plays with the passion Riley loves.

30 SF Shawn Marion
GM Bryan Colangelo gives coach Mike D'Antoni free reign to continue his run-and-gun ways. Jason Kidd (too old) was tempting, as was Rashard Lewis (big man who can shoot and run) and Kirk Hinrich (a point guard to direct the show), but who better to continue the tradition than the guy they already had, Marion, the do-it-all forward?
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I guess I'm a homer. I don't agree with where either JO or Ron is picked, both should be lower.