- Chad Ford, ESPN Senior Writer
- 0 Shares
Editor's note: This mock draft was updated at 7:12 p.m. ET to reflect the latest information we're getting today.
Finally, NBA draft day is here. After weeks of uncertainty, we'll get resolution Thursday night (ESPN, live) in one of the most unpredictable drafts in recent history.
Even at this stage, mock drafts are not an exact science. Less than 24 hours before the draft, the teams drafting at No. 2 and No. 3 still didn't know what they were going to do.
After talking to numerous NBA team sources, here's our latest take on how the draft will play out. Check back later Thursday for updates to the mock draft.
Remember, this mock draft is not a report of what I think teams should do. Rather, it's a forecast of what they are likely to do.
To see how the prospects rank, check out our newly updated
The skinny: With the first pick in the 2008 NBA draft, the Chicago Bulls select
No one expects any surprises on Thursday. Rose has been the popular choice for weeks, and his selection has seemed to be a foregone conclusion for the past two weeks.
I think it's a wise choice. Though Beasley is an offensive beast, Rose gives the Bulls leadership, athleticism, defense and a winning attitude. He'll make everyone in Chicago better and quickly help turn around a franchise in desperate need of a shot in the arm.
The skinny: The Heat have given up hope that somehow Rose will fall to them at No. 2. They've been working the phones for the past few days trying to find a deal that brings them O.J. Mayo and some future cap relief. (In particular, they're trying to move Mark Blount.) As of Wednesday night, they hadn't found a partner.
If the Sonics, Clippers or Grizzlies can't step to the table, the Heat could take Beasley and trade him to Minnesota for Mayo and a draft pick. The Wolves own the Heat's 2009 first-round pick, and I'm sure Pat Riley would like it back.
But if they can't find a trade they like, the Heat will face a tough choice: Whether to grab the guy they want for Riley's system and philosophy (Mayo) or take the superior talent (Beasley).
My gut says that Riley will come to his senses and take Beasley at No. 2. No offense to Mayo, who is also a great talent, but Beasley is the right pick for Miami.
The skinny: The Wolves remain the most difficult team to peg right now.
They continue to cross their fingers that Beasley falls to them here directly or by trade. If he doesn't, they have some difficult decisions to make.
Mayo has the most talent of any player remaining on the board, but he doesn't fill a need -- the Wolves are loaded with young perimeter players.
It sounds like GM Kevin McHale is in love with Kevin Love, but the Wolves think No. 3 is a little high for Love. So do they try to trade down to get him while picking up another asset? If they do, they risk another team might take Love, such as Memphis. But the Grizzlies appear to be leaning toward Eric Gordon at No. 5.
If he slips past No. 5, the Wolves could make a deal with the Knicks or Clippers for a player and some cap relief or a future first-round pick.
The skinny: Seattle GM Sam Presti is notoriously tough to read, but sources say it appears that Brook Lopez, Russell Westbrook and Eric Gordon are in the mix for the Sonics.
Seattle has been talking to other teams about moving down a few spots, with an eye toward drafting one of those three. But with the Knicks' strong interest in Westbrook and Gordon at No. 6 and the Clippers looking at Westbrook, Gordon and Lopez at No. 7, the Sonics could lose out on the guy they really want. So they might just end up keeping their pick.
I think Presti's heart is with Westbrook, but his head will tell him to take Lopez. With recent lottery picks Robert Swift and Mouhamed Sene looking like busts so far, the Sonics have a huge hole in the middle. The Sonics have discussed trading this pick to the Clippers and moving down to draft at No. 7. But as of now, those discussions appear to be dead.
The skinny: The Grizzlies also have been talking trades with a number of teams. Today the talk has centered on a deal with the Nets that would send the No. 5 pick to New Jersey for the No. 10 and a future first-rounder.
If the Nets get the pick, I believe they'll select Kevin Love, though Russell Westbrook also would be in the conversation.
The Blazers are also trying to move up to get this pick. They appear to be targeting Love or Westbrook. The Knicks are still trying to find a deal that works here, too, though it looks unlikely right now.
If the Grizzlies keep the pick, they'll likely choose between Love and Gallinari. Last night we heard that Gordon was in the lead, but with the Clippers moving up, he'll likely be gone. However, Love was always strongly in consideration here as well. He's a great fit in Memphis if they keep the pick.
OK, we've come full circle.
We had Danilo Gallinari going to the Knicks in our first mock draft, but dropped him when a Suns source said that Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni wasn't a big fan. Apparently Gallinari's workout, combined with some research by the Knicks, has changed that opinion. Gallinari has worked out well everywhere, and it sounds like the Knicks are comfortable with him here.
Russell Westbrook is also a strong possibility if he is on the board. Ditto for Eric Gordon. Joe Alexander is the dark horse -- the Knicks' brass watched him work out for a second time and really likes him.
The skinny: Gordon is one of the two guys whom the Clippers covet here. He's a great scorer and should add some real punch to their backcourt.
The Bucks had been leaning strongly toward Joe Alexander, but with Richard Jefferson arriving, look for them to go with a guard. Westbrook is such a dynamic backcourt player I think he'd be a great fit in the Bucks' backcourt. Alexander is still a possibility, and so is D.J. Augustin, but right now it looks like Westbrook.
The skinny: If the draft plays out this way, Charlotte is going to be upset. They had targeted Westbrook, Love and Lopez. None of the three looks to be here.
The dark horse here is Anthony Randolph, who is very high on Charlotte's board, according to sources.
The skinny: The Nets already made one big deal today, getting Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons. Will they make another? Probably not. They have been talking to the Grizzlies about a deal. However, if the above scenario plays out, there will be a guy on the board that they would love.
Alexander, paired with Jianlian, would give the Nets two athletic young forwards to run with Devin Harris.
The skinny: The Pacers may very well go big here, with Kosta Koufos and Darrell Arthur as the targets. But chances are there will be a big man available when they draft at No. 17.
Rush won't be there at 17, though, and he would be a great fit in the backcourt with T.J. Ford. Rush could be the next Joe Johnson.
The skinny: Sacramento will go nuts with excitement if Bayless is still on the board here. With Beno Udrih expected to sign elsewhere, the Kings need a point guard in the worst way and would be thrilled if Bayless or Augustin were to fall to them. Bayless could go as high as No. 4, but he could also slide this far.
Another option for the Kings is Roy Hibbert. He wouldn't be an upside pick, but he could step in right away and contribute. The Kings also are big fans of Donte' Greene.
The skinny: It seems unlikely the Blazers will actually keep this pick. They are loaded with young players and have a history of draft-day activity on the trade market.
As noted above, the Blazers are big fans of Augustin and would be thrilled if he slipped to them here.
Also, the team has been eyeing Joe Alexander and Russell Westbrook and hopes to move up to get one of them -- but so far, the the Blazers haven't found the right deal.
The skinny: Chris Mullin once fell in love with Troy Murphy. He can fall in love again with Koufos here, a sharp-shooting big man who's a pretty good athlete. This pick could also be Donte' Greene or Jason Thompson.
The skinny: The Suns would like to see Rush on the board. But if he's not, they'll go with the best small forward available. Greene isn't ready to contribute, but he does have some Rashard Lewis-type upside.
The skinny: We were hearing DeAndre Jordan's name last night, but a new name has emerged this morning -- that of Arthur. He's actually a great fit in the up-tempo style that Philly likes to run and may be one of the more underrated players in the draft. Philly is looking at several bigs here, but as of this afternoon, it looks like Arthur's the guy.
The skinny: If the Pacers go with a guard at No. 11, they'll try to land a big at No. 17. If Koufos and Arthur are off the board, the Pacers will go with either Roy Hibbert or Robin Lopez.
The skinny: The Wizards seem content to trade their pick. They talked earlier in the day about a deal with the Rockets, but that now looks dead. The Knicks, who like Mario Chalmers, are another team that might make a move for this pick.
If the Wizards keep the pick, they'll probably go with the best big guy available, Robin Lopez.
A dark horse here is Ryan Anderson.
The skinny: The Cavs are hoping to land a big man. But if all of their best options are off the board at No. 19, look for them to address their point guard needs with Chalmers. He's not the flashiest guy in the draft, but his shooting ability and defensive toughness will be welcome in Cleveland.
The skinny: Larry Brown wants Roy Hibbert here. But if he's gone, he'll have to decide between an experienced player like Thompson and a young guy like Alexis Ajinca. Considering Ajinca's great workouts in Charlotte, I'm leaning toward Ajinca.
If the Nets grab a skinny project with their first pick, they might look to add some muscle with their second pick. Hickson is one of the more NBA-ready guys in the draft. Cal's Ryan Anderson is also a possibility here.
The skinny: The Magic need a 2 guard and like Courtney Lee. But they are also very thin up front and could use big bodies to help out in the paint. I hear the draft room is split between Lee and Marreese Speights. At the end of the day, I think they'll go with Lee.
The skinny: The big man from Texas A&M is a project, but he has too much talent to pass on here. He may be a bust, but at No. 23, you've got to take a chance.
The skinny: McGee has tremendous upside. He can run the floor and is pretty skilled. He just needs to get much, much stronger.
The skinny: Speights has too much talent to slip any further in the draft than this.
The skinny: Batum worked out with the Spurs on Wednesday, then disappeared off the grid. His medical reports never came out. His agent didn't return calls. I think the Spurs may have wrapped him up.
The skinny: The Blazers will go international here. They've been
eyeing Serge Ibaka and Nicolas Batum. But Batum is likely going higher.
Ibaka is on the verge of signing a big deal in Spain.
Tomic looks like the safe bet here. The Blazers like him, and he wants to come to the NBA someday.
J.J. Hickson is also in the mix here.
The skinny: The Grizzlies are trying to move this pick, but if they can't move the pick, look for them to take a flier on Anderson, a sweet shooting forward in the Troy Murphy mode.
The skinny: Thompson could go as high as No. 14. He'll also get looks from several teams throughout the first round. But there's no way he'll slip past Detroit at No. 29. He's exactly what the Pistons are looking for -- a skilled big man who can rebound and defend.
The skinny: Of Boston's big three, Ray Allen looks like the one who could use the most help. Chris Douglas-Roberts can step in from day one and become an important player off the bench. His ability to shoot and score would be a big help.
Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.
8dEthan Sherwood Strauss