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Sunday, May 19
Updated: Monday, June 10, 10:49 AM ET
Yao may land with Rockets
By Andy Katz

The two worst teams during the 2001-02 season didn't get the first pick Sunday. But together, they could easily still get two of the best players in the draft.

Houston, which beat the odds to win the overall No. 1 pick, is likely leaning toward Yao Ming. But that would leave players like Duke's Jay Williams and Mike Dunleavy (if he remains in the draft); Kansas' Drew Gooden; Connecticut's Caron Butler; and Maryland's Chris Wilcox for the league's worst -- the Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls.

The draft order was set Sunday in the NBA draft lottery, but there could be plenty of trades of these picks between now and June 26 -- not to mention the first day of training camp. But ESPN.com provides an early indication where a number of scouts see some of the players heading at this stage of the process. This is the first of three mock drafts ESPN.com's Andy Katz will provide. The second Mock Draft will come after the Chicago pre-draft camp (June 5-8) and the third will be held the day before draft night.

1. Houston: Yao Ming, 7-5, C, Shanghai Sharks (China)
The Rockets desperately want a big man out of this draft and are in the position to take the tallest of them all. Houston liked what it saw when they witnessed Yao in China and in Chicago earlier this month. The city of Houston and the chance to play with point guard Steve Francis definitely intrigue Yao's reps. Yao would be the first foreign professional to be drafted No. 1 overall.

2. Chicago: Jay Williams, 6-2, Jr., PG, Duke
The Bulls actually won by getting the second pick behind Houston. They were torn on who to draft and this could make the decision easier for them. Williams is the better fit for the Bulls and is clearly a better player than Jamal Crawford. He would be a big hit in the Windy City and help a young team mature fast with his go-to guy mentality.

3. Golden State: Drew Gooden, 6-10, Jr., PF, Kansas
This is a tough call for the Warriors. They could go with Mike Dunleavy or Chris Wilcox, but the early favorite might be Drew Gooden. He would be the local favorite after growing up in the Bay Area. Gooden would add to a developing team that keeps getting younger, but desperately could use another scorer.

4. Memphis: Mike Dunleavy, 6-9, Jr., SF, Duke
If Dunleavy stays in the draft, and doesn't go 2 or 3, he won't get below the Grizzlies. Jerry West is a fan of the family and taking Dunleavy would likely mean some changes on the roster. Shane Battier could move positions and trading Stromile Swift might not be out of the question. Dunleavy would certainly be a fit next to Battier on a team with Pau Gasol -- three of the top talents in the last two seasons.

5. Denver: Caron Butler, 6-7, So., SF, Connecticut
The Nuggets need a little bit of everything, but getting a small forward is high on the list. Butler could go anywhere from 3 to 6, but if Dunleavy and Gooden are gone then Butler would make a lot of sense. His game is ready-made for the NBA because he can score from everywhere on the court and he loves to go to the offensive glass.

6. Cleveland: Chris Wilcox, 6-10, So., PF, Maryland
Getting an athletic forward is a must for the Cavs and if Wilcox were on the board then he would be in Cleveland. Wilcox won't slip too far, especially with his upside as a power player who can run the floor and finish. If Gooden were to drop then he wouldn't get past the Cavs, either. Putting Wilcox with PG Andre Miller would be tough to stop.

7. New York: Curtis Borchardt, 7-0, Jr., C, Stanford
The Knicks coveted Yao, but the conspiracy theorists will have to clam up for another year. New York slid back to its rightful place. But it might not be that bad if Borchardt is on the board. The Knicks need a center and Borchardt is ready to produce in the post and block shots at the other end -- and he comes without the baggage Yao would bring. Getting a point could mean Dajuan Wagner, too -- if he's on the board.

8. L.A. Clippers (from Atlanta): Dajuan Wagner, 6-2, Fr., PG, Memphis
The Clippers get this pick from Atlanta in the Lorenzen Wright deal, and if Wagner is on the board, he's a natural for them to select. Wagner would fit in perfectly with the upstart Clippers who were on the verge of a playoff berth. Wagner is one of those players who would be too good to pass up if he's still available at No. 8. The Clippers can deal with the consequences of trying to make it work if they can get Wagner. If any of the power forwards drop -- like Wilcox -- then they would work, too.

9. Phoenix: Nikoloz Tskitishvilli, 6-11, SF, Benetton Treviso (Italy)
This is a critical draft for Phoenix after the Suns helped the Eastern Conference with Tony Delk and Rodney Rogers doing wonders in Boston; Cliff Robinson a hit in Detroit; and Jason Kidd the Eastern MVP in New Jersey. Taking Tskitishvilli is a risk, but the buzz on him is as hot as any player in this draft. He didn't play in the European Final Four, but that didn't discourage teams from coveting the 19-year old Georgian, who can stroke jumpers from all over the court.

10. Miami: Qyntel Woods, 6-8, PF, Northeast Mississippi CC
Taking Woods would be a gutsy decision by Pat Riley and Randy Pfund. He's not the typical Riley-type player, considering he's still a raw talent. But he's a scorer, maybe the best scorer remaining on the board. The Heat needs a small forward and Woods would fit the Heat needs if he were available.

11. Washington: Jared Jeffries, 6-10, So., SF, Indiana
Michael Jordan isn't going to take a questionable player like Amare Stoudemire, but Woods could be intriguing if he gets this low. The consensus would be Jordan wouldn't go European, either. Jeffries is the next best talent on the board. He's still a tweener and the Wizards have done well with another thin player in Richard Hamilton.

12. L.A. Clippers: Amare Stoudemire, 6-10, PF, Cypress Creek (Fla.) H.S.
The Clippers' true lottery pick will depend on what they do at No. 8. If they go small at eight, then they'll likely go big at 12 and they could easily trade one of the two picks. If they go big, don't be surprised to see them take Stoudemire. He's got value, but he's also the kind of player the Clippers have done well with recently. They are one of the few teams that has handled the inexperienced talents and stuck with them. Taking Stoudemire, like when they drafted Darius Miles, wouldn't be a reach.

13. Milwaukee: Marcus Haislip, 6-10, PF, Jr., Tennessee
The Bucks will go with the best available talent at No. 13 and that could be Haislip, Chris Marcus, Frank Williams or Maybyner "Nene" Hilario, who they haven't seen yet. The Bucks could use another power player inside and Haislip is a shot-blocker and developing offensive talent. If the Bucks want a backup to Sam Cassell, then Williams could get the nod.

14. Indiana: Frank Williams, 6-3, PG, Jr., Illinois
The Pacers are set at nearly every position, but could use more help on the perimeter. Getting a backup to Reggie Miller would be the right call and that's why Kareem Rush could be a possibility. But Jamaal Tinsley could use some help and Williams could end up being the carbon copy -- a pure point who slides in the draft, but ends up having a stellar rookie season.

15. Houston: Bostjan Nachbar, SF, 6-8, Benetton Treviso (Italy)
The Slovenian forward is seeing his stock soar over the past few months. He's a shooter who loves to get out on the break and would do well with Francis at the point. The Rockets could go for a global draft if they get Yao at No. 1 and then Nachbar at No. 15. Getting a big man and a shooting small forward, even with Eddie Griffin and Kenny Thomas on the team, would give the Rockets even more needed offense.

16. Philadelphia: Melvin Ely, PF, 6-10, Sr., Fresno State
Ely could move up in the draft through workouts, but he won't last too long in the middle of the first round if he doesn't. He's got the power game and the mid-range perimeter game. The Sixers have been banged up in the frontcourt and could use a player like Ely. He's more reliable than Chris Marcus would be at this pick and probably a safer choice than Kareem Rush.

17. New Orleans: Maybyner "Nene" Hilario, 6-9, PF, Vasco de Garna, Brazil
Nene is becoming one of the hottest names in the draft. He's got the long arms, the shot-blocking skills and the finishing touches to score around the basket. He's a player who could jump up into the back end of the lottery. If he doesn't, then Nene wouldn't slip too far. The Hornets are aging up and at times ineffective up front. They could use another raw talent to back up this crew.

18. Orlando: Dan Dickau, 6-0, PG, Sr., Gonzaga
The Magic covets a point guard and the list includes Williams, Dickau and Fordham's Smush Parker. The first two make sense while Parker doesn't after they didn't get a true playmaker last season when they drafted Jeryl Sasser. Dickau is an experienced point who could work well with Mike Miller, Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady.

19. Utah: Chris Marcus, 7-1, C, Sr., Western Kentucky
The Jazz is aging at point and power forward, but are still working on trying to get last year's draft pick -- Raul Lopez -- out of his Real Madrid contract. That issue might not be resolved in time, which could put the Jazz looking bigger in this draft. If Marcus were on the board then he would be hard to pass. He has had injury problems, but is still a mammoth presence in the middle and can alter shots defensively.

20. Toronto: Chris Jefferies, 6-7, SF, Jr., Fresno State
The Raptors are intrigued by Jefferies, one of the more versatile players in the draft. He can play shooting guard or small forward and is one of the top defenders on the ball or off in the draft. He's back from a knee injury that took him out of the final 13 games of the season. His workouts will be key to whether or not he goes this high or even higher.

21. Portland: Kareem Rush, 6-6, SG, Jr., Missouri
The Blazers are always hard to figure on draft day. If Ely were to drop, then he would be an cinch for them considering their affection for Jerry Tarkanian's players. So, too, would Jefferies. Rush makes sense because of his ability to score, and if he had to, he could play some small forward. Players like Juan Dixon, Predrag Savovic, Carlos Boozer and Sam Clancy are also possibilities.

22. Phoenix: Jiri Welsch, 6-6, SG, BC Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia)
The Czech combo guard could go higher. If the Suns go with Tskitishvilli in the lottery then taking Welsch wouldn't be a reach to give Phoenix an all-Euro draft. Stephon Marbury's injury, although not something that is going to keep him out of the lineup, makes drafting a guard a higher priority. Scouts say Welsch is next best on the list.

23. Detroit: Predrag Savovic, 6-6, SF, Sr., Hawaii
The Pistons desperately need a shooter after failing to make perimeter shots against the Celtics. They could have a few choices here with Rush a possibility if he slides. Taking Juan Dixon wouldn't be out of the question, either. Neither would Tayshaun Prince. But Savovic could be an intriguing pick. Scouts say his stock is rising and he's getting a lot of workouts lately because of his ability to make shots. He could really climb after working out in Chicago, too.

24. New Jersey: David Andersen, 6-10, PF, Kinder Bologna (Italy)
The Nets are fairly loaded at every position and have a great shot to get to the Finals. This could be a tough choice with the possibilities of Carlos Boozer, Juan Dixon, Sam Clancy, Tayshaun Prince, Dan Gadzuric and Rod Grizzard still on the board. But the Australian Andersen is gaining ground among some scouts as a legitimate first-round pick, even though he didn't play as well in the European Final Four as he did during the season. He can make the 15-footer and score around the low post.

25. Denver: Rod Grizzard, 6-8, SF, Jr., Alabama
Grizzard's stock shouldn't drop too much after injuring his knee. He's still a first-round talent who can score and run the floor with the best small forwards in the draft. He's a very suspect 3-point shooter, but could play some as a big guard if the Nuggets do in fact draft Butler in the lottery. This pick could also be shipped considering the Nuggets need plenty of help. If Rush were to slip this far he could be a natural and taking Juan Dixon if he's still around isnt out of the question.

26. San Antonio: Tayshaun Prince, 6-9, SF, Sr., Kentucky
The Spurs could use another athletic scorer and Prince is another lanky talent, but taller than Charles Smith. Prince could easily go higher, but if he's on the board the Spurs probably won't let him pass. They could also grab another big if they need and looking at Carlos Boozer or Sam Clancy isn't out of the question, either.

27. L.A. Lakers: Juan Dixon, 6-3, PG, Sr., Maryland
Savovic could be a factor, so too, could Clancy, Boozer or even Oregon's Freddie Jones. Jones is one of the tougher players to place with the chances that he could go anywhere from 15 to out of the first round. Dixon is another hard call. He's talented to go in the first and is a gritty defender, makes shots and is a winner -- all of that adds up to being on the defending champs. He might not be a true point but he can handle the ball.

28. Sacramento Kings: Carlos Boozer, 6-9, PF, Jr., Duke
The Kings could go in a number of directions with the last pick of the first round. They'll likely grab the best player available and if Boozer somehow drops this far then he won't get to the second round. He has worked out well, but he might get caught in a numbers game and be unable to climb higher. If he goes to the Kings then he'll end up winning in terms of being on the right team, albeit for a lower price.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com. He covers the NBA draft for ESPN.com and ESPN.

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