Thursday, June 25, 2009
Pick-by-pick predictions for tonight's first round
The trade between the Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks late Wednesday may have shifted the landscape of the draft for one of the more enigmatic players, Brandon Jennings, who many felt was the top high-school talent in the class of 2008.
The Warriors acquired Speedy Claxton and Acie Law from Atlanta for Jamal Crawford. That move means the Warriors are unlikely to go with a guard, and they are now leaning toward Arizona forward Jordan Hill, if he's still on the board at No. 7. If the Milwaukee Bucks don't select Jennings at No. 10, then the one-time Arizona signee and former Italian league player could be headed for a major slide.
The order of the first round could be dramatically altered by trades. And the activity is expected to be quite furious throughout the day. Chad Ford is our official mock draftologist; that's why this prediction will stay put in my blog. But via a number of sources throughout the NBA, here's how the first round could go down Thursday night:
1. Los Angeles Clippers -- Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
The last lock like this was LeBron James to Cleveland.
2. Memphis Grizzlies -- Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut
Coach Lionel Hollins wants a defensive presence, even though Thabeet would have to rotate with Marc Gasol.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder -- Ricky Rubio, Spain
He's too much of a talent to pass up. Rubio has an infectious personality and will thrive next to Kevin Durant.
4. Sacramento Kings -- Tyreke Evans, Memphis
Evans has been the steady climber throughout the draft process. He would fit in quite well with Paul Westphal's system.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves -- James Harden, Arizona State
Assuming the Wolves keep the pick, the choice could be the last player they had in for a workout.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves -- Stephen Curry, Davidson
Curry didn't work out for Minnesota. That doesn't matter. He's one of the top six players in the draft and is an asset as well as a nice replacement for Randy Foye.
7. Golden State Warriors -- Jordan Hill, Arizona
The Warriors need an athletic big now. Hill fits.
8. New York Knicks -- Jrue Holiday, UCLA
Holiday desperately wants to play for Mike D'Antoni.
9. Toronto Raptors -- DeMar DeRozan, USC
The Raptors have been looking for the best athletic wing.
10. Milwaukee Bucks -- Jonny Flynn, Syracuse
The Bucks are going with a point and like Flynn more than Jennings (at least they did Wednesday).
11. New Jersey Nets -- Terrence Williams, Louisville
Williams canceled a workout for the Nets, but his talent is well-liked.
12. Charlotte Bobcats -- Gerald Henderson, Duke
Henderson would be a good fit for Larry Brown with his ability to slash to the basket.
13. Indiana Pacers -- DeJuan Blair, Pitt
Forget about the knee issue; the Pacers will love Blair's work ethic.
14. Phoenix Suns -- Earl Clark, Louisville
Best available talent gets selected here as the Suns continue to rebuild.
15. Detroit Pistons -- Austin Daye, Gonzaga
Daye has been told he won't drop out of the top 20. This is the perfect spot for a clone, in terms of build, of Tayshaun Prince.
16. Chicago Bulls -- B.J. Mullens, Ohio State
The Bulls need another big and Mullens has the potential to be a productive talent in a few years.
17. Philadelphia 76ers -- Ty Lawson, North Carolina
Lawson could be a steal here this low and would give the Sixers the needed assurances at the point.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves -- James Johnson, Wake Forest
The Wolves could move this pick, but Johnson is the next best talent on the board.
19. Atlanta Hawks -- Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
The Hawks would love to see Hansbrough still on the board at 19. He would be a great pick for Atlanta.
20. Utah Jazz -- Sam Young, Pitt
If this occurs, the Jazz get the most value late in the first round. Jerry Sloan would love coaching Young.
21. New Orleans Hornets -- Jeff Teague, Wake Forest
Chris Paul won't like it if a fellow Demon Deacon guard slips past here. Teague would be a great backup to Paul.
22. Portland Trail Blazers -- Omri Casspi, Israel
The Blazers moved up two spots to get their hands on Casspi. No one will touch him before this spot.
23. Sacramento Kings -- Brandon Jennings, Italy
If Jennings slides this far, the Kings won't hesitate to grab him.
24. Dallas Mavericks -- Eric Maynor, VCU
Mark Cuban has someone in mind here. But if Maynor slides down this far, the Mavs can't pass him up, can they?
25. Oklahoma City Thunder -- Jon Brockman, Washington
I love that Chad Ford picked this one and it makes a lot of sense, too. I keep hearing Brockman has an assurance. Remember the Thunder brass used to be in Seattle.
26. Chicago Bulls -- Toney Douglas, Florida State
It would be a great call for the Bulls to get Douglas, a potentially strong backup for Ben Gordon or Kirk Hinrich.
27. Memphis Grizzlies -- Darren Collison, UCLA
The Grizzlies could use another point guard if they go with Thabeet at No. 2.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves -- Jonas Jerebko, Sweden
The Timberwolves will draft a foreign player with one of their four first-round picks.
29. Los Angeles Lakers -- Nick Calathes, Florida
The Lakers don't have to keep Calathes here since he has a deal to play in Greece.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers -- DaJuan Summers, Georgetown
Summers has first-round talent but hasn't always proven he can play at that level. This is a good gamble.