<font face=""Arial Black""><div align="center"><font size=""5"">FIRST ROUND</font></div></font>
[imgl]http://img165.imageshack.us/img165/4545/portlandnq5.png[/imgl]1) Portland Trailblazers – Greg Oden
Ohio State - Center - 7'0", 257 lbs.
28.9 mpg, 15.7 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 0.7 apg, 3.3 bpg, 62% FG, 63% FT
The Blazers aren’t fooling anyone when they say that they’re still undecided about whether to choose Oden or Durant. As talented as Durant is, Oden being the #1 pick has pretty much been a forgone conclusion since he was a high school sophomore. Durant may be more individually talented, but big men as talented as Oden come around far less often as talented wings like Durant do.
[imgl]http://img165.imageshack.us/img165/4878/seattlecd8.png[/imgl]2) Seattle Supersonics – Kevin Durant
Texas - Small Forward - 6'10", 215 lbs.
35.9 mpg, 25.8 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.9 spg, 1.9 bpg, 47% FG, 82% FT, 40% 3pt
This pick is more of a #1b than a #2. Durant should really change the face of the franchise, and who knows, maybe he’ll even inspire enough enthusiasm from the local community to keep the team in Seattle. Despite testing very poor athletically at the recent Orlando Predraft Combine, Durant is actually one of the most athletic players in the draft. He has the body of a young Kevin Garnett, and the game of a young Tracy McGrady.
[imgl]http://img101.imageshack.us/img101/6058/atlantaqc6.png[/imgl]3) Atlanta Hawks – Al Horford
Florida - Power Forward - 6'10", 244 lbs.
27.8 mpg, 13.2 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.8 bpg, 61% FG, 64% FT
Assuming that this pick is going to be shipped to Minnesota in exchange for Amare Stoudemire, Horford is the ideal for the Timberwolves after losing Kevin Garnett. As Horford’s former University of Florida teammate Joakim Noah says, he’s the “total package,” a player with size, strength, and athleticism who can defend and rebound. Even if the Hawks kept this pick, they’d likely select Horford, despite having a bit of a logjam at the four position already. GM Billy Knight has shown in the past that he’s not one to draft based on team needs.
[imgl]http://img505.imageshack.us/img505/483/memphistl9.png[/imgl]4) Memphis Grizzlies – Mike Conley, Jr.
Ohio State - Point Guard - 6'1", 175 lbs.
31.6 mpg, 11.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 6.1 apg, 2.2 spg, 52% FG, 69% FT, 30% 3pt
This is when the draft starts to get interesting. Brandan Wright is probably the best player available, and Mike Conley, Jr. addresses the Grizzlies’ biggest need, yet management seems to be very high on Joakim Noah. Each player really has about an equal chance of being selected here at the moment, but we’re going to go with Mike Conley, Jr. here. The Grizzlies know that underlying factor for offensive success is dribble penetration. Teams who can consistently get into the paint are victorious, and it starts with your point guard.
[imgl]http://img505.imageshack.us/img505/6503/bostonny2.png[/imgl]5) Boston Celtics – Yi Jianlian
China - Power Forward - 7'0", 246 lbs.
- Stats Not Available -
Jianlian has hurt his own stock by refusing to workout with most teams, including several in the lottery. To Jianlian and his agent, it’s more important to wind up in the right situation than it is to wind up being picked the highest. Boston has been given the go-ahead by Jianlian’s agent to pick him, but apparently this pick is being heavily shopped to teams like Golden State and Sacramento, who may be looking to move up and snag him. Golden State seems to be coming on the most strongly at this point, apparently putting Jason Richardson and their #18 pick on the table.
[imgl]http://img165.imageshack.us/img165/4093/milwaukeeeu5.png[/imgl]6) Milwaukee Bucks – Brandan Wright
North Carolina - Power Forward - 6'10", 200 lbs.
27.4 mpg, 14.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.8 bpg, 65% FG, 57% FT
The Bucks really like Al Horford, Yi Jianlian, and Mike Conley, Jr., but if all three are gone by their pick, then they’ll likely take Brandan Wright. Even though they don’t necessarily need another four with Charlie Villanueva already on the roster, Wright’s too good to pass up on if he slips all the way to #6. His talent is off the charts for someone with his size, length, and athleticism. Corey Brewer would be another possibility here though, because he would fill a team need, giving them the perimeter defense they sorely lack.
[imgl]http://img165.imageshack.us/img165/9867/minnesotadl5.png[/imgl]7) Minnesota Timberwolves – Spencer Hawes
Washington - Center - 7'1", 244 lbs.
28.9 mpg, 14.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.7 bpg, 53% FG, 76% FT
It’s been a rumor for a while that Minnesota has promised Spencer Hawes the #7 pick after favorable workouts against Joakim Noah, and even though it may not be true, it’d make a lot of sense if it were. The Timberwolves’ roster is lacking in size, especially with Kevin Garnett likely leaving on draft night, and they could use a legitimate starting center more than any other position. Hawes is one of the few great freshmen like Brandan Wright and Thaddeus Young who were overshadowed by the play Kevin Durant and Greg Oden this season. The fact of the matter though is that he’s the best offensive post player in the draft outside of Greg Oden, and that’s saying a lot considering that he’s only nineteen years old. He’s a throwback whose advanced footwork makes up for his lack of strength, allowing him to contribute on the NBA level even before he adds more weight to his frame.
[imgl]http://img505.imageshack.us/img505/8507/charlottevh2.png[/imgl]8) Charlotte Bobcats – Corey Brewer
Florida - Small Forward - 6'8", 185 lbs.
28.7 mpg, 13.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.9 spg, 48% FG, 72% FT, 34% 3pt
The Bobcats are a likely candidate to trade this pick to the Suns, but if they keep it, Corey Brewer would be the ideal pick for them. They need help on the wing more than any other position, especially defensively now that it looks like Gerald Wallace could be skipping town in the free agency. If the Suns do wind up with the pick though, then Brewer is still the likely pick if on the board. He doesn’t fit in with them offensively, because his jumper’s not on par with the rest of the Suns, but defensively he’d be able to contribute from day one.
[imgl]http://img165.imageshack.us/img165/3637/chicagouv8.png[/imgl]9) Chicago Bulls – Joakim Noah
Florida - Power Forward - 7'0", 223 lbs.
25.9 mpg, 12.0 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.8 bpg, 61% FG, 66% FT
What makes a successful draft for most picks is the opportunity to play for the right coach and system. Noah will thrive in the Bulls system because he can focus on the same role he played at Florida. At Florida Noah didn’t have to score to contribute, and he won’t have to in Chicago either. He can do what he does best, which is fight for loose balls, rebound, defend from the weakside, and provide a spark for his teammates when he’s on the floor. Noah should be able to give the Bulls some minutes at PF and C. With PJ Brown retiring a lot of minutes become available for both Noah and Tyrus Thomas to compete over.
[imgl]http://img511.imageshack.us/img511/5804/sacramentoxc3.png[/imgl]10) Sacramento Kings – Jeff Green
Georgetown - Small Forward - 6'10", 228 lbs.
33.3 mpg, 14.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.2 bpg, 51% FG, 78% FT, 38% 3pt
The Kings could use pretty much anything this year, and so they’ll likely just take the best player that’s available when they pick, which in this case is Gerald Green. He doesn’t satisfy an immediate need, but if Ron Artest gets dealt like he’s expected too, then Green can step right in and fill his void. Not many players in this year’s draft are as NBA ready as Green. He doesn’t have the high ceiling of a player like Julian Wright, but he’ll be able to contribute right off the bat.
[imgl]http://img101.imageshack.us/img101/6058/atlantaqc6.png[/imgl]11) Atlanta Hawks – Acie Law IV
Texas A&M - Point Guard - 6'4", 186 lbs.
33.9 mpg, 18.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 5.0 apg, 1.1 spg, 50% FG, 78% FT, 46% 3pt
The Hawks apparently don’t feel like they’re that far out of the playoff race in the East, so that may keep them from taking Javaris Crittenton, a player who’s years off from reaching his potential. Instead, Law IV is a player who can come right in and command the respect of his teammates. This is also a pick that is being shopped heavily. The talk of a potential trade for Jarrett Jack has died down, but this could also potentially be the point in the draft where Phoenix moves in.
[imgl]http://img511.imageshack.us/img511/4071/philadelphiagd3.png[/imgl]12) Philadelphia 76’ers – Julian Wright
Kansas - Small Forward - 6'9", 211 lbs.
27.6 mpg, 12.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.3 bpg, 55% FG, 61% FT
While Wright doesn’t necessarily fit a need for the Sixers, who are in desperate need of help in the frontcourt, he’d be too hard to pass up on if he slipped all the way to #12. He has arguably one of the four or five highest ceilings in the draft, and if the Sixers can’t find a trade partner, they could always play him at the four, where he spent most of his time in both high school and college. At 6’9”, 220 lbs., he has the height and length to play in the post on the next level, but he’s still too weak to be as effective as he would be if he played out on the wing.
[imgl]http://img505.imageshack.us/img505/7356/nohmv2.png[/imgl]13) New Orleans Hornets – Thaddeus Young
Georgia Tech - Small Forward - 6'8", 210 lbs.
29.6 mpg, 14.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.3 spg, 48% FG, 74% FT, 42% 3pt
The Hornets will likely loose Desmond Mason to free agency, so they’ll need to fill the void he leaves, but they have enough money to go out and get a replacement shooting guard as a free agent. It’s probably more important for them, in both the shot and long-term, to get a backup for Peja Stojakovic, whose back has proven to be a recurring, nagging injury that makes it hard for him to get through an entire season without missing long stretches on the IR. As the former consensus #4 ranked recruit in the class of 2006, Thad Young was largely overlooked this season by the national media due to Georgia Tech’s struggles, as well as the attention drawn by freshmen Kevin Durant and Greg Oden, but he’s got every bit as much potential as any player in the draft. An explosive 6’8” wing who shot the ball from downtown at a 42% clip his freshman season, Young’s only real deficiencies lie in his inexperience.
[imgl]http://img505.imageshack.us/img505/5040/lacju9.png[/imgl]14) Los Angeles Clippers – Javaris Crittenton
Georgia Tech - Point Guard - 6'5", 194 lbs.
31.3 mpg, 14.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 5.8 apg, 2.0 spg, 45% FG, 78% FT, 36% 3pt
If Javaris Crittenton is available here, he could be the ideal pick for the Clippers. Even though Acie Law IV is more experienced, Sam Cassell’s probably got at least two good years left in him, so the Clippers don’t necessarily need a point guard immediately for anything other than a bench role, and as a result, they can afford to bring a project like Javaris Crittenton off the bench for a few years while he develops. Crittenton’s college career ended on a sour note, so expect him to carry a chip on his shoulder once he enters the NBA. Having a roster of talented scorers, will take a lot of the pressure off Crittenton and he won’t be forced to shoulder the scoring load like he dealt with at Georgia Tech. Crittenton can focus on setting up his teammates, push tempo, and choose his spots on offense.
[imgl]http://img165.imageshack.us/img165/4600/detroitpu6.png[/imgl]15) Detroit Pistons – Rodney Stuckey
Eastern Washington - Combo Guard - 6'5", 207 lbs.
33.3 mpg, 24.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 5.5 apg, 2.4 spg, 45% FG, 85% FT, 27% 3pt
While at one point it looked as if the Pistons needed to add depth in the frontcourt with this pick, it now appears as if both Chris Webber and Antonio McDyess will resign, so their biggest need at this point now becomes backcourt depth, especially with Carlos Delfino recently being shipped out of town to Toronto. Stuckey’s not only the best backcourt player available here, but there have also been rumors for a while now that the Pistons have promised Stuckey the pick, a rumor that’s been fueled by Rodney Stuckey recently getting a green room invite for tomorrow’s draft.
[imgl]http://img165.imageshack.us/img165/1489/washingtongk6.png[/imgl]16) Washington Wizards – Nick Young
Southern Cal - Shooting Guard - 6'7", 206 lbs.
33.2 mpg, 17.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.4 apg, 53% FG, 79% FT, 44% 3pt
The Wizards need a center that can score more than anything, but the options available at #16 aren’t worth drafting. Nick Young is not only the best player available at this point, but he’d also fill their next biggest need, depth on the wing, as the Wizards stand to lose Deshawn Stevenson, Jarvis Hayes, and Roger Mason in free agency. Nick Young matured this past season at USC with his shot selection and decision making. He didn’t try to force his offense and learned how to take what the defense gave him. Young did a fantastic job of balancing his scoring along with playmaking for teammates, and that’s exactly what the Wizards need out of their draft pick this year.
[imgl]http://img511.imageshack.us/img511/8320/njnod9.png[/imgl]17) New Jersey Nets – Josh McRoberts
Duke - Power Forward - 6'10", 240 lbs.
35.3 mpg, 13.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.2 spg, 2.5 bpg, 50% FG, 66% FT
The New Jersey Nets have been searching for a frontcourt presence since Kenyon Martin and his rickety knees hobbled to Denver. With the 17th pick in the draft, the New Jersey Nets go with size and talent by selecting Josh McRoberts. He recently signed with an agent after an impressive workout with the Nets. Rumor is he might have a promise here, and it could be the ideal situation for him. Jason Kidd is still healthy and running the point, and he has shown the ability to get the most out of the athletic forwards. Kidd made Kenyon Martin look like an All-Star, made Mikki Moore look like an NBA player, and should be able to get the same results with McRoberts.
[imgl]http://img511.imageshack.us/img511/7008/gswby2.png[/imgl]18) Golden State Warriors – Al Thornton
Florida State - Combo Forward - 6'7", 221 lbs.
31.2 mpg, 19.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 0.7 apg, 1.5 spg, 1.1 bpg, 53% FG, 79% FT, 44% 3pt
Thornton would be the ideal fit for the Warriors. He’s a guy who brings the physical strength that the Warriors lacked in their series with the Jazz last season. He’s quick and athletic enough to play out on the wing for most teams, but he’s strong enough to play in the post in Nellie’s system, like he did in spurts in high school. At this point in the draft, Thornton’s also just too good to pass up based on talent alone, as the former All-ACC First Team forward could go as high as #6 to Milwaukee.
[imgl]http://img511.imageshack.us/img511/4397/lalwh4.png[/imgl]19) Los Angeles Lakers – Jason Smith
Colorado State - PF/C - 7'0", 233 lbs.
30.2 mpg, 16.8 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.6 bpg, 58% FG, 77% FT
The Lakers are a likely candidate to trade their pick, as there is widespread speculation the Lakers could end up dealing this pick to acquire Jermaine O’Neal, but still, their second unit was abysmal for much of last season. They were constantly outplayed, and weren’t sure where the offense was going to come from off the bench. Without confidence, the second unit played with indecision and inconsistency, so it wouldn’t be unfathomable that they kept this pick and went for frontcourt help with a player like Jason Smith or Tiago Splitter, especially with Brian Cook likely leaving the team.
[imgl]http://img511.imageshack.us/img511/355/miamiqc0.png[/imgl]20) Miami Heat – Derrick Byars
Vanderbilt - SG/SF - 6'7", 220 lbs.
31.4 mpg, 17.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.4 spg, 46% FG, 71% FT, 37% 3pt
The Heat are only a shell of their 2006 championship team and could use a bit of everything, but with Eddie Jones, James Posey, and Jason Kopono all possibly leaving during free agency, the safest route for them to go would be to pick up one of the talented wings that’ll be around at #20, like Derrick Byars. Even though the Heat already have the more athletic Dorell Wright on their roster, Byars is more ready for NBA play than Wright is at this point and has a grasp of the game fundamentally that Wright will probably never have, which is the most evident on the defensive end, where Byars excels more than any other wing in this year’s draft outside of Corey Brewer.
[imgl]http://img511.imageshack.us/img511/4071/philadelphiagd3.png[/imgl]21) Philadelphia 76’ers – Glen Davis
LSU - Power Forward - 6'9", 295 lbs.
35.0 mpg, 17.7 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.1 spg, 48% FG, 71% FT, 35% 3pt
Big Baby’s stock has skyrocketed as of late, as he’s shown up taller, leaner, and more athletic than most expected him to be. With the Sixers’ need for low-post scoring, Glen Davis would be a decent fit in Philadelphia. He’s only 6’8”, yet he has the strength and agility necessary to be an effective force on the glass. With both Davis and Dalembert in the frontcourt, the Sixers will have one of the best rebounding frontlines in the league.
[imgl]http://img505.imageshack.us/img505/8507/charlottevh2.png[/imgl]22) Charlotte Bobcats – Daequan Cook
Ohio State - Shooting Guard - 6'6", 203 lbs.
19.7 mpg, 9.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.0 apg, 45% FG, 70% FT, 42% 3pt
The Charlotte Bobcats will look for value with their second of two first round picks. They have a lot of money to spend on free agents this summer for immediate needs, and will continue to develop their core of young players. With new head coach Sam Vincent taking over, he will want savvy players, who move well without the basketball and play with an edge. Daequan Cook would probably land in the lottery if he stayed a year at Ohio State, so drafting him with their late first round pick should pay dividends in the long run for the Bobcats.
[imgl]http://img165.imageshack.us/img165/6711/nykwg0.png[/imgl]23) New York Knicks – Wilson Chandler
DePaul - Small Forward - 6'8", 230 lbs.
31.7 mpg, 14.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.4 bpg, 45% FG, 65% FT, 33% 3pt
With Chandler canceling all of his remaining workouts after he worked out in New York, the rumor is that the Knicks have promised Chandler their first round pick. Even though Chandler was projected as a second round pick before this alleged promise, his status was more due to most “experts” lack of knowledge about him, as he played for 20-14 DePaul and seemed an unlikely candidate to declare early. He’s got all the raw physical tools that make mid-first round picks like Thaddeus Young and Nick Young so intriguing, but he’s a much worse shooter and is still very raw on both sides of the ball.
[imgl]http://img505.imageshack.us/img505/7077/phoenixiw9.png[/imgl]24) Phoenix Suns – Marco Belinelli
Italy - Shooting Guard - 6'6", 200 lbs.
- Stats Not Available -
If the Suns can’t package their two late first rounders, then they’ll likely go international with at least one of the picks. They’re looking to cut down the team payroll to avoid the luxury tax, so drafting a player like Marco Belinelli, who can continue playing with his international team for a while, would be a good move for them to make in the long-term. The Suns’ swingmen aren’t exactly the youngest players in the NBA either, so in adding Belinelli, they’re adding someone that could be the future replacement for players like Raja Bell or Shawn Marion.
[imgl]http://img505.imageshack.us/img505/8992/utahrh5.png[/imgl]25) Utah Jazz – Rudy Fernandez
Spain - Shooting Guard - 6'6", 172 lbs.
- Stats Not Available -
After Utah’s re-emergence in the playoffs, the Jazz don’t need to add much to their roster become a top dog. There is one problem right now though, they are lacking rosters spots and cap space. Last year Utah addressed the perimeter defense by drafting Ronnie Brewer, so they need an offensive minded guard to rotate in. So Kevin O’Connor and the front office grab the streaky Spaniard, Rudy Fernandez, with confidence. With resigning Dee Brown and C.J. Miles on Utah’s mind, they probably will plan on keeping Rudy Fernandez overseas for awhile. Sloan usually doesn’t play rookies anyways, so waiting for him should be no problem.
[imgl]http://img511.imageshack.us/img511/248/houstonlc6.png[/imgl]26) Houston Rockets – Nick Fazekas
Nevada - Power Forward - 6'11", 240 lbs.
30.3 mpg, 20.4 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.5 bpg, 57% FG, 85% FT, 43% 3pt
With Juwan Howard recently being dealt to Minnesota, the Rockets are in need of a power forward who can come off the bench for Chuck Hayes, who the Rockets also risk losing as a restricted free agent this summer. They also need another shooter on their roster, as Head could be on his way out, and both Battier and Snyder aren't that great at shooting the longball. With that said, they can address both of those needs if they stretch for Nick Fazekas, a player who most project as a early-to-mid second rounder. Fazekas' stock has been killed by his apparent lack of athleticism, but he had one of the most amazingly productive collegiate careers of anyone in the draft, averaging 20.4 ppg and 11.1 rpg for a Nevada Wolfpack team that only lost five games all season long.
[imgl]http://img165.imageshack.us/img165/4600/detroitpu6.png[/imgl]27) Detroit Pistons – Sean Williams
Boston College - PF/C - 6'10", 235 lbs.
32.2 mpg, 12.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.4 spg, 5.0 bpg, 55% FG, 70% FT
If he can stay clean, Williams would be an absolute steal here, but the fact that he’s been given multiple chances to reform yet has still never cleaned up makes you think that he’s not exactly enthusiastic about changing his ways. If there were one team that he’d be a good fit on though, it’d be the Pistons. Not only would it be great for him to be an environment with a lot of experienced veterans who play team-oriented basketball, but he’ll also fit right into the Pistons’ defensive scheme, as Williams is one of the most dominant shot blocker in the draft, with arguably better instincts than the top overall prospect, Greg Oden.
[imgl]http://img165.imageshack.us/img165/2609/sasod8.png[/imgl]28) San Antonio – Aaron Gray
Pittsburgh - Center - 7'2", 271 lbs.
28.2 mpg, 13.9 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.7 bpg, 57% FG, 55% FT
A few weeks ago, it looked like the Spurs would likely use this pick to draft another European like Rudy Fernandez or Marco Belinelli, but with Fabricio Oberto's recent announcement that he's going to opt for free agency, the Spurs now need to address their backup center position. Gray is not going to be the next great big man, but he's more than capable of playing a Greg Ostertag-ish role on the next level, something which could really be useful to the Spurs, who lack considerable frontcourt depth.
[imgl]http://img505.imageshack.us/img505/7077/phoenixiw9.png[/imgl]29) Phoenix – Tiago Splitter
Brazil - Power Forward - 7'0", 240 lbs.
- Stats Not Available -
This may seem a little low for Splitter, but the reality is that with his contract concerns, he may fall as far as the second round. Based on talent alone, he's probably a late lottery pick, but his buyout will likely leave him in Europe for a year, meaning that whoever drafts him has to be a team who doesn't need immediate help in the draft, like Phoenix. Although Splitter is a limited scorer, his size, athleticism, and skillset are ideal for the run and gun Suns. Splitter has the athleticism to keep up with the rest of the Suns on the break as well as the size, bulk, and toughness to provide some inside presence against larger frontlines. Splitter won’t be a franchise big man for the Suns but he can step right in immediately and help with defense and rebounding from day one, shoring up the Suns’ two biggest weaknesses.
[imgl]http://img511.imageshack.us/img511/4071/philadelphiagd3.png[/imgl]30) Philadelphia – Morris Almond
Rice - Shooting Guard - 6'6", 215 lbs.
33.4 mpg, 26.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.2 spg, 48% FG, 85% FT, 46% 3pt
The Sixers are actively shopping this pick, but if they keep it, then they'll likely go with the best player available here. There's too much perimeter talent available at this stage for them to reach for a big man like Kyle Visser or Kyrylo Fesenko in the first round, especially when they have the #38 pick coming right around the corner. With that in mind, Morris Almond, Marcus Williams, and Jared Dudley can all find themselves being picked here, but we went with Almond, who will instantly compete for minutes with Kyle Korver and Willie Green at the two-guard spot, giving the Sixers a surprisingly intimidating rotation of scoring-minded wing players.