- Chad Ford, Senior Writer, NBA Insider
- 0 Shares
The Orlando predraft camp is over and didn't have a significant impact on our first-round mock draft. But I had the chance to spend a week with virtually every NBA executive and scout in the league and gathered a lot more information about what teams plan to do with their picks.
Still, at this point, you have to take everything with a grain of salt. First, many NBA executives confessed the obvious: They still don't know who they'll take. Second, the misinformation game was being played at a high level in Orlando.
I'm sure more than a few people told me things that were just flat-out untrue. Still, based on nearly 100 conversations over the week, patterns emerge and you can do a little triangulation to figure out the truth.
This mock draft will continue to fluctuate greatly over the course of the next four weeks since hundreds of team workouts begin on June 4.
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: I spoke briefly with Bulls GM John Paxson in Orlando and still believe him when he says he hasn't decided who he's taking No. 1. The Bulls will have both Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose in for workouts and interviews and will be conducting background checks, all of which will play a significant role. So will numerous trade conversations they'll have over the next few weeks.
But after spending some time with both Beasley and Rose on media day, I've got to believe that Rose's serious attitude will strongly appeal to Paxson while Beasley's more carefree approach likely will turn him off. So, for now, Rose remains atop our big board.
The skinny: The Heat want Rose. And watching Pat Riley watch Michael Beasley goof around before the combine on Friday, you have to wonder if he could really stomach Beasley.
Beasley would be a big upgrade over Udonis Haslem long-term and would provide the Heat with a potent offensive weapon and rebounder -- but is he the kind of serious-minded hard worker Riley values?
Yes, he did trade for Shaquille O'Neal, who's known for some of the same levity Beasley exhibited. But Beasley isn't Shaq.
I still think the Heat likely will trade a few steps down in the draft to make a run at O.J. Mayo. He would be an excellent fit in the backcourt with Dwyane Wade. The fact that the two are becoming fast friends as they work out together in Chicago will help the cause. And Mayo has star potential, too.
Or the Heat could trade the pick for veterans to help the team make a playoff run next season. There will be plenty of offers for the pick. The question is, what direction are the Heat heading? Are they rebuilding around Wade or are they trying to compete in the East right away?
In any case, Beasley probably won't fall out of the top two, so I'm leaving him in this spot.
The skinny: This is the most difficult team to peg right now. I made a number of attempts to get something out of the Wolves in Orlando, and frankly, I didn't get much. There's a list of guys they like but little indication which way they'll lean.
The Wolves have a need at center, and Brook 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 this draft, and some scouts believe he's going to be a bust.
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 Al Jefferson.
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 putting Mayo here because he's the best of the group.
The Sonics need backcourt help, and Mayo and 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 who 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 Kevin 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. But if Rose, Mayo and Bayless are off the board, they'll 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 the next two point guards on the board. 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.
The other choice might be to go with the best player available. In my mind, that would be Anthony Randolph.
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. 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 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 may 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: 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 -- Westbrook would be an excellent complement to Raymond Felton.
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.
Other options include Texas A&M center DeAndre Jordan and two power forwards, Darrell Arthur and Marreese Speights.
The skinny:The Pacers have been eyeing Augustin for a while -- but that includes Donnie Walsh, back before he leapt to the Knicks.
If Augustin is gone, Westbrook is an excellent Plan B. He actually has more upside -- his athleticism, defense and ability to penetrate would all be welcome in Indiana. If he ever gets a rock-solid jump shot, he has a chance to be a star.
The Pacers could also go another direction if they find a way to move Jermaine O'Neal for a veteran point guard like T.J. Ford or Kirk Hinrich. If they land a good veteran point guard, someone like Darrell Arthur could be the choice.
The skinny: The Kings are hoping that either Augustin or Westbrook falls into their laps. But if they're not available, Sacramento will likely have to make a tough choice between a number of power forwards.
Of the group, Arthur has the greatest upside as an athlete and a scorer. But he's going to have to improve his rebounding to really make it in the league.
The skinny: Right now it seems unlikely that the Blazers 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 Alexander, who could be the sleeper of the draft. His combination of size, athleticism and shooting ability has GMs drooling right now. His basketball IQ is still questionable, but on a team like the Blazers, his versatility could become an immediate asset.
Donte Greene is also a possibility here.
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 it seems like Jordan has to come off the board. A number of teams are skeptical about Jordan, but most believe he's going to be in the lottery somewhere. At this point, can the Warriors really pass him up?
The skinny: The Suns have a long history of trading their first-round picks, and given their current situation, it wouldn't shock me if they do it 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 may have more upside, but the Suns are in it to win it and Rush should be able to step in and immediately play for the Suns. 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 Speights. He does a lot of the same things that Brand does; he just doesn't have the conditioning or motivation.
The skinny: 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: 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.
The skinny: If 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 may be on the trading block this summer. 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: 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: The Magic need another swingman, preferably one who can shoot the ball. Shooting isn't Walker's forte, but his athleticism and scoring instincts would give the Magic another big weapon.
A year and a half ago, teams were talking about him as a top-5 pick, but an ACL injury stopped that talk. However, I saw him in Chicago recently and his weight is finally down and his explosiveness is back.
The skinny: Is there a better fit for Hibbert than Utah? He needs a team that excels in half-court sets. His size and scoring ability make him an asset as long as you don't ask him to run the floor or play 40 minutes a game.
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. 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 Batum, an athletic swingman who can do just about everything. He still lacks experience, but at this point in the draft, you take the best talent available.
The skinny: We've had an international player here in the last two mock drafts, but after the Spurs lost Luis Scola and might lose Tiago Splitter because of money issues, they may finally go in a different direction.
The team has needed a solid backup point guard, and Mario Chalmers has all the qualities the Spurs look for in a player -- toughness, defense and a winning pedigree.
The skinny: Douglas-Roberts would be a great fit for the Hornets if he's still on the board here. 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 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.
The skinny: The Pistons worked him out last year and liked what they saw. Hardin hasn't developed as expected, but he's still one of the biggest, most athletic players in the draft. His performance at the Orlando predraft camp helped his cause a little.
The skinny: This French big man 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.
Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.
In the wake of the Orlando pre-draft camp, Chad Ford's third stab at how the draft might play out sees Kevin Love rising fast.