Commentary

Chad Ford's Mock Draft, Version 5.0: Picks 1-30

Originally Published: June 17, 2008
By Chad Ford | ESPN.com

Now that the deadline has passed for prospects to withdraw from the NBA Draft, we know who will be available on June 26.

Two players who have been in our previous first-round mock drafts -- Chase Budinger and Ty Lawson -- withdrew on Monday.

That won't affect the top of the draft, but those two withdrawals have opened space for players toward the latter half of the round.

A more significant development is the movement this past week based on workouts both in the U.S. (such as the huge, 21-team workout hosted by the Golden State Warriors over the weekend) and abroad at the Reebok Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy.

Several players, including France's Alexis Ajinca, West Virginia's Joe Alexander and Kansas' Brandon Rush, are moving up the board, while a few others, including Texas A&M's DeAndre Jordan, Nevada's JaVale McGee and Kansas State's Bill Walker, appear to be sliding.

With more and more information (and misinformation) flowing in, here's our best educated guess, based on conversations with numerous NBA team sources, about how the draft might play out next week.

Remember, this mock draft is not a report of what I think teams should do. Rather, it's our best information on what they will do. To see our ranking of the best players in the draft, see our updated Top 100.

CHAD FORD'S MOCK DRAFT
PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

Chicago

Derrick Rose
Position: PG
Height: 6-3
Weight: 196
Age: 19
School: Memphis

The skinny: The Bulls finally pulled the trigger on a head coach -- but we have a hard time believing that Vinny Del Negro will have a major influence on whom the Bulls choose to draft.

With so much confusion in Chicago about whether owner Jerry Reinsdorf or GM John Paxson calls the shots, inevitably there are conflicting reports about whom the Bulls will take at No. 1. Though the majority of people I've spoken with believe Derrick Rose will be the pick, some insist Michael Beasley will be the Bulls' choice. The Bulls, for what it's worth, continue to maintain that they haven't made a decision and will let the process play out the next few days.

My money is still on Rose, but I'm not as confident as I was a week ago that he'll be the pick.

PICK
TEAM
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VITALS

Miami

Michael Beasley
Position: PF
Height: 6-8
Weight: 239
Age: 19
School: Kansas State

The skinny: The Heat continue to wait and hope that somehow Rose will fall to them at No. 2. Or do they?

One source close to the process says Pat Riley thinks Rose is a bad fit in the backcourt with Dwyane Wade, because drafting Rose would give Miami two athletic slashers who (a) are subpar shooters and (b) would have to try to share the ball. That source insists the Heat are bluffing about their interest in Rose in the hopes that Beasley falls to them at No. 2.

That contradicts everything I've been hearing the past month -- but the source is credible enough to be taken seriously. Still, I don't think Beasley is the type of player Riley usually appreciates.

So I still say that, assuming Miami is keying on either Rose or Beasley, if the Bulls take the player at No. 1 whom the Heat want (presumably, Rose or Beasley), Plan B appears to be taking O.J. Mayo or trading the pick.

The Heat will travel back to Chicago this weekend to watch Mayo again, and there's a strong chance that Mayo will visit Miami in the next week.

The team also has heard several trade offers for the No. 2 pick, with the Memphis Grizzlies' offer of the No. 5 pick, Mike Miller and Kyle Lowry being the best so far.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

Minnesota

O.J. Mayo
Position: SG
Height: 6-4
Weight: 200
Age: 20
School: USC

The skinny: The Timberwolves remain the most difficult team at the top of the draft to peg.

As of Sunday, the word out of Minnesota was that the team will draft O.J. Mayo or Michael Beasley -- whichever is on the board. Though Mayo doesn't fit a need, he likely would be the best player available (if Beasley is gone), and that appears to be swaying Minnesota in his direction.

A lot of trade talk surrounds this pick. The Knicks, Clippers, Bucks and Trail Blazers all have tried to maneuver to get this pick. The Bucks may have the best chance if they offer Yi Jianlian or Charlie Villanueva as part of a package.

The other wild card appears to be Italian prospect Danilo Gallinari, of whom Minnesota thinks highly. Sources say the Wolves will get a workout with him this week.

PICK
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VITALS

Seattle

Jerryd Bayless
Position: PG
Height: 6-3
Weight: 204
Age: 19
School: Arizona

The skinny: The SuperSonics need backcourt help. Since Derrick Rose appears certain to be gone at No. 4, the next best prospects, O.J. Mayo and Jerryd Bayless, are Seattle's likely targets. Sources say the Sonics are leaning heavily toward Bayless, even if Mayo remains on the board.

Bayless is an excellent athlete who can really shoot. And of the many combo guards in the draft, he 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.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

Memphis


Kevin Love
Position: PF
Height: 6-10
Weight: 255
Age: 19
School: UCLA

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 wouldn't be surprised to see the Grizzlies move up to No. 2 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.

PICK
TEAM
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New York


Russell Westbrook
Position: PG
Height: 6-3
Weight: 192
Age: 19
School: UCLA

The skinny: The Knicks want a lead guard who can push the ball and hit an open jumper. Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo and Jerryd Bayless 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.

But a Suns source told me that D'Antoni wasn't a huge fan of Gallinari's game when he was shown some tape during the season, which has made me seriously reconsider that forecast.

In the past two mock drafts, I've had two different guys in this spot -- D.J. Augustin and Anthony Randolph.

But after talking to the Knicks, I would say the two guys who now appear to stand out are Russell Westbrook and Joe Alexander.

Westbrook already worked out in New York, and I hear he was impressive. The team liked the way Westbrook handled himself on the court. His length, speed, athleticism and defense wowed them. And he shot the ball better than expected.

Alexander is a superathletic forward who has competed very hard in workouts. That's attractive to teams, but he still has some issues -- in particular, in terms of his basketball IQ, which he still needs to develop.

So this week, Westbrook is our choice. But we reserve the right to change it (again) next week.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

L.A. Clippers

Eric Gordon
Position: SG
Height: 6-3
Weight: 222
Age: 19
School: Indiana

The skinny: The Clippers have been trying to move up in the draft to get O.J. Mayo or Jerryd Bayless. If they can't, they have an interesting decision to make. 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.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

Milwaukee

Joe Alexander
Position: SF
Height: 6-8
Weight: 220
Age: 21
School: West Virginia

The skinny: It's tough to project the Bucks right now. New GM John Hammond is ready to make changes, but of what kind?

Milwaukee's biggest need is at small forward, which has led to talk of the Bucks' drafting either Danilo Gallinari or Joe Alexander.

Gallinari is a point forward who can handle the ball and hit the midrange jumper -- and he 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 problem for the Bucks is that Gallinari is refusing to work out for them, and some feel he's a duplication of Yi Jianlian.

That leaves Alexander, a high-energy forward who impressed Hammond and new head coach Scott Skiles with his toughness and grit. Alexander is still a work in progress, but if he figures things out he has a chance to be really special.

PICK
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Charlotte

Brook Lopez
Position: C
Height: 7-0
Weight: 258
Age: 20
School: Stanford

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 to the 4 full-time. Lopez would be a great complement to Okafor up front.

Another option is Anthony Randolph, who has a lot more upside than Lopez but is primarily a forward.

The other name I'm hearing is French big man Alexis Ajinca. I'm told the Bobcats are big fans of Ajinca, though No. 9 seems high for him.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

New Jersey

Danilo Gallinari
Position: SF
Height: 6-9
Weight: 212
Age: 19
Country: Italy

The skinny: The Nets are looking to make major changes this summer, perhaps via trade, so it's especially tough to project what they'll do with their draft picks.

New Jersey is set in the backcourt with Devin Harris and Vince Carter. The Nets are also set at small forward with Richard Jefferson, though sources say he's on the trading block.

What they need is a talented big man. If the draft plays out as projected above, the Nets will have their choice of two: Danilo Gallinari or Anthony Randolph.

On paper, Randolph looks like the right choice. He is athletic and versatile with a huge upside.

But sources say the Nets are fans of Gallinari and believe he can be a Dirk Nowitzki-type forward. Gallinari's readiness to play now doesn't hurt his chances. Given that Gallinari's agent Arn Tellem told teams that he was pulling Gallinari out of the draft if he didn't get a commitment in the top 10 picks, I think this appears to be the most logical place for Gallinari to land.

One dark-horse option is Ohio State's Kosta Koufos, who has been outplaying more highly rated big men at virtually every workout.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

Indiana

D.J. Augustin
Position: PG
Height: 6-0
Weight: 172
Age: 20
School: Texas

The skinny: The Pacers have eyed two point guards -- D.J. Augustin and Russell Westbrook -- for a while. Augustin has already come in for a workout, and Westbrook will visit soon.

If the Pacers were forced to choose between the two, I think they would lean toward Westbrook, who has more upside. His athleticism, defense and ability to penetrate would be welcome in Indiana. If he ever were to develop a rock-solid jump shot, he could be a star. But according to the projections above, Westbrook won't be available.

That leaves Augustin, who's an excellent fallback option for the Pacers. Augustin is a better floor leader than Westbrook and a better perimeter shooter, and he's more ready to step in and play right away. He should be an excellent fit there.

The Pacers could also go another direction if they can move Jermaine O'Neal for a veteran point guard such as T.J. Ford or Kirk Hinrich. In that case, Kosta Koufos or a similar prospect could be the choice.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

Sacramento

Anthony Randolph
Position: PF
Height: 6-10
Weight: 197
Age: 18
School: LSU

The skinny: If Randolph is still on the board here, the Kings will have to pull their trigger. They have a pretty big hole at the power forward position, and Randolph is one of the five best talents in the entire draft, in my opinion. If they were to team him with high-scoring guard Kevin Martin and an up-and-coming center in Spencer Hawes, the Kings would have the makings of a nice young core.

Roy Hibbert is the dark horse here. Last year, Sacramento had Hibbert ranked ahead of Hawes on its draft board. I've heard rumblings that the Kings would consider taking him at No. 12. Though I don't think they would pass on Randolph, if he's gone, don't be surprised to hear Hibbert's name called.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

Portland

Brandon Rush
Position: SG
Height: 6-7
Weight: 205
Age: 22
School: Kansas

The skinny: It seems unlikely the Blazers will actually keep this pick. They are loaded with young players and have a history of activity on the trade market. GM Kevin Pritchard is already burning up the phone lines. I think either he'll package some of his young players with this pick and move up in the draft to get a more solid prospect or he'll trade the pick for a veteran.

In case they do keep the pick, the Blazers have been eyeing Joe Alexander and Russell Westbrook. If both are gone, look for them to tap the next best small forward.

In that scenario, I think they would lean toward Brandon Rush, even though Donte Greene may have a little more upside. Rush can play the 2 and the 3, is ready to step in and play right now, and would give Portland another shooter and an excellent defender.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

Golden State

Kosta Koufos
Position: C
Height: 7-1
Weight: 265
Age: 19
School: Ohio State

The skinny: The Warriors are at a crossroads. The team has a plethora of free agents this summer, including Andris Biedrins and Monta Ellis, 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?

By all accounts, Koufos has been excellent in workouts and could have become a top-five pick had he waited until 2009. Golden State has taken several big men in recent drafts, but it will probably be drafting for talent, not need -- and Koufos' combination of size and offensive skill should be a nice complement to Biedrins' defensive and rebounding prowess for the Warriors.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

Phoenix
(via Atlanta)

Donte' Greene
Position: SF
Height: 6-9
Weight: 221
Age: 20
School: Syracuse

The skinny: The Suns are looking for a college veteran like Rush who can step in and play the 2 and the 3 for them next season. But if Brandon Rush is off the board, Greene appears to be the next best thing given his size and shooting ability.

Greene needs to get stronger and gain more experience, but his upside makes him tough to pass on at this point in the draft.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

Philadelphia

Marreese Speights
Position: C
Height: 6-10
Weight: 245
Age: 19
School: Florida

The skinny: The 76ers are 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, though so far he doesn't have the same conditioning or motivation.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

Toronto

Robin Lopez
Position: C
Height: 7-0
Weight: 245
Age: 20
School: Stanford

The skinny: The Raptors need size, toughness and rebounding in the middle in the worst way. Though Robin Lopez doesn't project as a great scorer in the pros, he's a big, rugged player who could solidify the Raptors' front line. Alexis Ajinca is a possibility here.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

Washington

Darrell Arthur
Position: PF
Height: 6-9
Weight: 216
Age: 20
School: Kansas

The skinny: The Wizards could lose free agent Antawn Jamison to free agency this summer. In case they do, they might want Arthur, a player who, in a lot of ways, is Jamison's clone -- a face-up 4 who runs the floor and can score in a variety of ways.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

Cleveland

Roy Hibbert
Position: C
Height: 7-2
Weight: 275
Age: 21
School: Georgetown

The skinny: The Cavs need help inside and are hoping that Koufos falls to them. If doesn't, they'll have a tough choice to make. Of the players projected to be available, Hibbert is the most ready to step in and help right away.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

Denver

Alexis Ajinca
Position: C
Height: 7-1
Weight: 240
Age: 20
Country: France

The skinny: The athletic big man from France has been wowing teams in workouts -- so much so that this projection might not be high enough.

He looks like a good fit for Denver. The team needs size, and Ajinca has fared well against the other "upside" bigs in workouts.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

New Jersey
(via Dallas)

DeAndre Jordan
Position: C
Height: 6-11
Weight: 250
Age: 20
School: Texas A&M

The skinny: If the Nets go with the basketball IQ of Gallinari with their first pick, they can gamble on raw, athletic upside with their second pick in Round 1. Jordan's combination of size and athleticism makes him a very compelling pick this low in the draft. Had he stayed in school another year, he might have become a high lottery pick.

PICK
TEAM
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VITALS

Orlando

Courtney Lee
Position: SG
Height: 6-5
Weight: 200
Age: 22
School: Western Kentucky

The skinny: It's no secret that the Magic have been looking for a 2 guard. If Brandon Rush is gone, they'll have their choice between Courtney Lee and Chris Douglas-Roberts. Lee is the better shooter, while Douglas-Roberts is more of a slasher. We hear that of the two players, Lee is Orlando GM Otis Smith's favorite.

Another possibility here is Rider's Jason Thompson, as the Magic also really need additional size in the paint.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

Utah

JaVale McGee
Position: PF
Height: 7-0
Weight: 241
Age: 20
School: Nevada

The skinny: This would be a disappointing drop for McGee. Though he has enormous upside, he's struggled in workouts, and teams think he's a project that could take a few years to develop. The Jazz are always on the lookout for size and upside, so this one seems like an easy call if McGee lasts this long.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

Seattle
(via Phoenix)

Serge Ibaka
Position: PF
Height: 6-10
Weight: 220
Age: 18
Country: Congo

The skinny: Expect Seattle 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.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

Houston

Nicolas Batum
Position: SF
Height: 6-8
Weight: 210
Age: 19
Country: France

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.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

San Antonio

Mario Chalmers
Position: PG
Height: 6-2
Weight: 170
Age: 22
School: Kansas

The skinny: The Spurs have been looking for a backup point guard for Tony Parker, and you won't find a guy with more grit and experience than Chalmers. He should be able to step right in and play minutes for the Spurs.

PICK
TEAM
PLAYER
VITALS

New Orleans

Chris Douglas-Roberts
Position: SG
Height: 6-6
Weight: 195
Age: 21
School: Memphis

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. He should be able to step in and contribute right away.

PICK
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VITALS

Memphis

J.J. Hickson
Position: PF
Height: 6-9
Weight: 240
Age: 19
School: NC State

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. If Hickson had stayed in school for another year, he would've been a potential lottery pick. He's a steal here.

PICK
TEAM
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VITALS

Detroit

Jason Thompson
Position: PF
Height: 6-11
Weight: 250
Age: 21
School: Rider

The skinny: The Pistons need size in the middle, as they lack a true center. Thompson put up huge numbers at Rider and has a combination of skills and upside that will be tough to pass on here. Two other names to listen for are D.J. White and Bill Walker.

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VITALS

Boston

Ante Tomic
Position: C
Height: 7-2
Weight: 237
Age: 21
Country: Croatia

The skinny: This low in the draft, the Celtics aren't likely to get a player they can use right away. Tomic has great upside and can continue to add strength in Croatia for the next few years until he's ready to play in the NBA.

Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.

Chad Ford

Senior Writer, NBA Insider