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Chad Ford's Mock Draft, Version 4.0: Picks 1-30
By Chad Ford
Updated: June 9, 2008
Now that we are one week into NBA workouts, loaded down with combine results and measurements and getting word of GMs becoming very active on the trade front, we're starting to get a slightly clearer picture of what a number of NBA teams are looking for with their pick(s).
Minnesota brought in Brook Lopez on the first day. Indiana looked at point guards D.J. Augustin and Ty Lawson. The Knicks worked out four of the draft's best athletes.
And the first top prospect to work out for the Miami Heat wasn't Michael Beasley or Derrick Rose … it was O.J. Mayo in Chicago on Saturday.
As we move forward, one major deadline looms over the draft: Underclassmen have until June 16 to withdraw from the draft. Most of the top underclassmen have hired agents, meaning they're in the draft for good. But a few potential first-rounders, such as Arizona's Chase Budinger, KU's Mario Chalmers and North Carolina's Ty Lawson, are still on the fence.
While there aren't a lot of major changes in this mock draft, it will likely need a serious adjustment or two on June 17.
Until then, here's our best educated guess, after talking to numerous NBA team sources, about how the draft might play out in June.
Remember, this mock draft isn't a report of what I think teams should do, but what they are likely to do. To see a ranking of players' talent, check out our Top 100.
The skinny:The big news out of Chicago is that the team still lacks a head coach. That drama has overshadowed the Bulls' quest to find the best player in the draft.
While most (though not all) signals still point to Rose being the pick, the truth is we're not hearing much of anything out of Chicago right now. The Bulls need to settle on a coach after whiffing on two high-profile candidates.
School: Kansas State
The skinny: The Heat continue to wait and hope that somehow Rose falls to them at No. 2. If the Bulls take Rose, there are growing signals out of Miami that the Heat will either trade the pick or select O.J. Mayo at No. 2. The Heat were in Chicago on Saturday for a private workout with Mayo and the results were very positive.
If the Heat want Mayo, they have a tough choice. Minnesota and Seattle don't have any tradable assets the Heat want. That would leave Miami trying to cut a deal with Memphis and hoping that Mayo's still on the board at No. 5. It's a risk … but it might be worth it given what the Grizzlies could send back in return.
I'm leaving Beasley here at No. 2 because the most likely scenario remains another team moving up to No. 2 to get him. But I really don't see Beasley wearing a Heat uniform.
The skinny: This is the most difficult team to peg right now.
Brook Lopez was the first guy in to work out for the Wolves. The Wolves have a need at center, and Lopez would be a good fit. Size sells in the draft, and Lopez is the only big man who looks like he's worth a pick this high. However, he doesn't have the upside of many of the other players in the draft, and some scouts believe he's going to be a bust. Lopez shot the ball well in the workout and impressed the Wolves with his skill set. But his very average athleticism might give them pause. Al Jefferson isn't a great athlete either, and it might be tough for the Wolves to have both in the frontcourt.
That could lead the Wolves to roll the dice on a more talented player, such as O.J. Mayo or Danilo Gallinari.
Mayo would duplicate what they already have in the backcourt with Randy Foye and Rashad McCants. But he's better than both of those guys and would give the Wolves some star power alongside Jefferson. It's too early to tell whether his reluctance to work out for them will affect whether they take him or not.
Gallinari is a better fit. The Wolves could use a good small forward. They tried Corey Brewer there last year, but he struggled. Gallinari and Brewer would complement each other well. Brewer is an excellent defender and Gallinari is an offensive genius.
The Wolves appear to be high on all three, but I'm keeping Mayo here because he's the best of the group.
The skinny: The Sonics need backcourt help, and O.J. Mayo and Jerryd Bayless might be the two best options available at the position. Sources say the Sonics are leaning heavily toward Bayless, even if Mayo is on the board.
Bayless is an excellent athlete who can really shoot. Of all the combo guards in the draft, he also has shown the most ability, so far, to run the point. Luke Ridnour and Earl Watson have not excelled at the position in Seattle. So of the first four picks in the draft, this one looks like the closest to a lock.
With one caveat, that is: I spoke with a couple of teams that say the Sonics have called them and made the pick available.
The skinny: The Grizzlies need a big man, and three interesting names could be on the board here. They could go the safe route and take Brook Lopez, gamble a little more and take Kevin Love or make a major leap of faith and grab a player with tremendous upside in Anthony Randolph.
If I were drafting for Memphis, I'd take Randolph, who has a great combination of size and athleticism. He's a proven rebounder at the college level who has a little bit of Chris Bosh in him. He needs to improve his perimeter game and his strength, and he's not completely NBA-ready, but his upside and fit both look good for Memphis.
That said, the strong feeling I got from talking to sources close to the situation in Memphis is that Love is the favorite. His toughness, rebounding and ability to score in the paint are unquestioned -- and he would fit some major needs for the Grizzlies. There are still questions about his athleticism, but he's got talent.
I also wouldn't be surprised to see the Grizzlies try to move up to nab Michael Beasley. They have some pieces that could interest Miami -- namely a gunner in Mike Miller and a point guard in Kyle Lowry.
The skinny: The Knicks want a lead guard who can push the ball and hit an open jumper. Derrick Rose and O.J. Mayo are their top choices, but if they are off the board, New York will have a tough choice to make.
I had Danilo Gallinari here in the first two versions of this mock draft, thanks to his Italian ties with Mike D'Antoni.
However, a Suns source told me that D'Antoni wasn't a huge fan of Gallinari when he was shown some tape during the season, which has made me seriously reconsider that forecast.
The Knicks could gamble on one of another pair of point guards. D.J. Augustin is a great leader, a fantastic playmaker and the closest thing to Steve Nash in this draft. That will be a plus for D'Antoni. Russell Westbrook is also intriguing. He's a top-notch athlete, a tenacious defender and an emerging playmaker.
Westbrook has already worked out in New York, and I hear he was impressive. I had Augustin here in my previous mock draft, but after getting some feedback on his workouts, I think that could be too high.
Given the Knicks' need for talent over position right now, I think they'll take the best player on the board: Randolph. He can play multiple positions on the floor and give the Knicks some much-needed size and length in the frontcourt.
The skinny: The Clippers need a point guard, but given the makeup of their team, they're probably better off finding one via trade or free agency.
With Corey Maggette likely hitting free agency, the Clippers will need a big-time scorer who can shoot and get to the rim. Eric Gordon appeared to be a top-three talent before a late-season slump. He looks like a bigger, better version of Ben Gordon.
The Clippers will also have interest in Danilo Gallinari here. Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy has always loved point forwards, and Gallinari's basketball IQ is off the charts.
The skinny: It's tough to project the Bucks right now. New GM John Hammond is ready to make changes, but what kind? Their biggest need is at small forward, but this is probably too high for Donte Greene or Joe Alexander.
That leaves Danilo Gallinari, a point forward who can handle the ball and hit the midrange jumper -- and has winner written all over him. He's not the most athletic guy in the draft, but his upside might be too much to pass up here.
The other option is to go with Russell Westbrook. One thing Hammond wants to emphasize is defense, and Westbrook could be an excellent addition. He can play both guard positions and be a Leandro Barbosa-style scoring threat off the bench.
The skinny: Brook Lopez could go as high as No. 3 to the Timberwolves. He could get a look from the Grizzlies at No. 5 and the Knicks at No. 6, too. However, he also could slip.
As I wrote from Orlando, a lot of teams are questioning Lopez's upside. Teams love size, but they don't see Lopez as a star NBA player.
The Bobcats have been looking for a big man so they can slide Emeka Okafor over to the 4 full-time. Lopez would be a great complement to Okafor up front.
The other options are DeAndre Jordan, if Larry Brown is willing to gamble, or Kevin Love, if he wants a proven college player who will "play the right way."
The team could also take a point guard -- Russell Westbrook would be an excellent complement to Raymond Felton.
School: Texas A&M
The skinny: The Nets are looking to make major changes this summer, so it's tough to project exactly what they'll do. They are set in the backcourt with Devin Harris and Vince Carter. They're set at small forward with Richard Jefferson, though sources say he's on the trading block.
What they need is a dominant low-post player. They've had some success with Sean Williams and Josh Boone, but neither has the upside or size of DeAndre Jordan. While he definitely is a work in progress, this is the same position where the Lakers netted Andrew Bynum a few years ago.
Other options include Ohio State's Kosta Koufos, KU's Darrell Arthur and Florida's Marreese Speights.
The skinny:The Pacers have been eyeing D.J. Augustin and Russell Westbrook for a while.
Augustin has already come in for a workout, and Westbrook will be visiting soon. If the Pacers were forced to choose between the two, I actually think they'd probably lean toward Westbrook, who has more upside. His athleticism, defense and ability to penetrate would all be welcome in Indiana. If he were ever to get a rock-solid jump shot, he'd have a chance to be a star.
The Pacers could also go other directions if they find a way to move Jermaine O'Neal for a veteran point guard such as T.J. Ford or Kirk Hinrich. If they land a good veteran point guard, someone like Darrell Arthur could be the choice.
The skinny:If D.J. Augustin is still on the board here, the Kings will have to pull the trigger. Their only decent point guard is Beno Udrih, and he's an unrestricted free agent this summer. Augustin's shooting ability and floor leadership would be welcome in Sacramento. The team does still need a 4, but Augustin is too good to pass on here.
School: West Virginia
The skinny: Right now it seems unlikely the Blazers will actually keep this pick. They are loaded with young players and have a history of being very active on the trade market. GM Kevin Pritchard is already burning up the phone lines. I think he either packages some of his young players with this pick and moves up or he trades for a veteran.
If the Blazers keep the pick, it might be Joe Alexander, who could be the sleeper of the draft. His combination of size, athleticism and shooting ability has GMs drooling. His basketball IQ is still questionable, but on a team like the Blazers, his versatility could become an immediate asset.
The skinny: The Warriors are at a crossroads. The team has a plethora of free agents this summer and a veteran point guard, Baron Davis, who wants a big extension. Will they sign everyone or is it time to start thinking about rebuilding?
Either way, at this point, Darrell Arthur should be an excellent pick. Arthur might not have done as well as hoped with his measurements and combine scores, but his ability to score in a variety of ways makes him a great pick at this point in the draft.
The skinny: The Suns have a long history of trading or selling their first-round picks, and given their current situation, it wouldn't shock me if they do so again. The Suns want to win now and have been willing to mortgage the future to do it.
If they keep the pick … Donte Greene and JaVale McGee might have more upside, but the Suns are in it to win it, and Brandon Rush should be able to step in and immediately play. His combination of shooting, athleticism, defense and basketball IQ, along with a newly minted championship pedigree, will make him tough to pass up.
The skinny: The Sixers are still looking for a low-post banger. If they can't get Elton Brand this summer, they'll have to seriously consider Marreese Speights. He does a lot of the same things that Brand does, he just doesn't have the conditioning or motivation.
The skinny: Donte Greene has great upside as a combo forward who can do a little of everything. He's just a little raw. However, his ability to shoot and run the floor make this a home run of a pick this low in the draft. Robin Lopez is another real possibility here.
The skinny: JaVale McGee is another wild card. Long, athletic and skilled, he has huge upside and can fly up and down the court. But his thin frame and lack of position mean he might be a few years away from contributing a lot.
School: Ohio State
The skinny: If Kosta Koufos slips this far, it will be tough for the Cavs to pass on him. He's a very skilled big man who gets up and down the floor really well.
Some scouts compare him to a young Zydrunas Ilgauskas. He needs to get stronger, but he's got great upside for a pick this low in the draft.
The skinny: Marcus Camby is getting up there in age and he might be on the trading block this summer. Robin Lopez's combination of hustle, toughness, shot-blocking, rebounding and size have drawn comparisons to Anderson Varejao. He should be a good fit in the Nuggets' up-tempo offense.
The skinny: Chase Budinger could easily be a late-lottery pick, but he could also slip. Teams love his size and shooting ability but worry a bit about his lack of aggressiveness and defense. At this point in the draft, the Nets will be glad to take the risk.
The skinny: With Carlos Arroyo and Keyon Dooling both hitting the free-agent market this summer, the Magic could hedge their bets with Mario Chalmers -- a sweet-shooting, hard-defending floor leader who can play both the 1 and 2.
The skinny: It didn't come as a huge surprise when Roy Hibbert was among the first players to work out in Utah. The Jazz need size, and Hibbert needs a team that excels in the half-court set. Hibbert would be a great fit in Utah.
The skinny: Expect Sonics GM Sam Presti to use a trick or two from his days in San Antonio and look internationally with his second pick. Serge Ibaka has the talent to be a potential lottery pick someday, but he's still very raw. The Sonics can leave him over in Spain and reap the benefits down the road.
The skinny: The Rockets will have a hard time passing on Nicolas Batum, an athletic swingman who can do just about everything. He lacks experience, but at this point in the draft, you take the best talent available.
The skinny: Tony Parker is the man, but the Spurs have needed a solid backup for a while. Ty Lawson is a super-quick point guard who's going to have to learn how to play more than one speed for Gregg Popovich. However, he plays tough defense and limits turnovers and should be a great fit on the Spurs.
The skinny: Chris Douglas-Roberts would be a great fit for the Hornets if he's still on the board. He is a big-time scorer who excels at slashing to the basket. He also is an excellent midrange shooter and should be able to step in and contribute right away.
The skinny: The Grizzlies need a power forward with some power, and J.J. Hickson, the freshman from North Carolina State, has great toughness and scoring ability inside the paint. If Hickson had stayed in school for another year, he would've been a potential lottery pick. He's a steal here.
School: Kansas State
The skinny: Joe Dumars has a history of taking talented players disregarded by other teams and turning them into stars. Bill Walker looks like a great fit on a team trying to get younger and more explosive.
The skinny: French big man Alexis Ajinca isn't quite ready, but his size, length and athleticism are tough to ignore at this point in the draft. After a year or two in Europe or the D-League, the Celtics could have a sleeper.