By Tom Waterman, WSOE Sports
With Thursday’s NBA Draft offering the opportunity for many teams to get the elusive superstar player they have been missing. I decided throw my hat in the ring and do my own last minute mock draft.
1. Los Angeles Clippers- Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
– Griffin is the consensus number one pick by everyone, and will immediately provide frontcourt stability for the Clippers with his strong rebounding and scoring ability.
2. Memphis Grizzlies- Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut
– While his offensive game may never reach the level of a former Connecticut great, Emeka Okafor, Thabeet should be a strong defender immediately and should continue to get better offensively. Bottom line is that he has too much upside and size to pass up.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder- Ricky Rubio, Spain
– Many people, including myself are still skeptical of Rubio and what exactly he will project to be in the NBA. Personally, I don’t think he will ever be like Steve Nash, but he will certainly be solid player in the NBA. Unfortunately you don’t draft just solid players number three overall.
4. Sacramento Kings- Tyreke Evans, Memphis
– Evans has a ton of upside as both a scorer and as a primary ball handler. Also, Evans should be able to contribute immediately for a Kings team that desperately needs playmakers.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves (Acquired from the Wizards) – James Harden, Arizona State
– Harden is a tremendous shooter and would fit perfectly with T-Wolves who would love to spread the floor and allow their two big men Al Jefferson and Kevin Love to operate in the paint.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves- Brandon Jennings, Playing in Italy
– With Tyreke Evans already off the board, I see this pick coming down to a trio of guards with Johnny Flynn, Stephen Curry and Jennings. The T-Wolves know they are still a few years away and will draft Jennings who could develop into what Stephon Marbury once was for them.
7. Golden State Warriors- Jordan Hill, Arizona
– I really like Hill’s size and his rebounding ability, and he should fit really well with the Warriors and their young nucleus of talent.
8. New York Knicks- Demar DeRozan, USC
– Everyone thinks the Knicks are going to take a point guard. They probably will, but they don’t need one…because Chris Duhon averaged 11 points and 7.2 assists per game last year at the point. DeRozan a very talented wing player would be a much better fit for the Knicks, possibly in a Shawn Marion type role for them.
9. Toronto Raptors- Stephen Curry, Davidson
– I don’t see Stephen Curry being able to handle the point in the NBA, but with that being said I still think he can be an effective two-guard due to his basketball I.Q. and his jump shot.
10. Milwaukee Bucks- Johnny Flynn, Syracuse
– With the Bucks trading Richard Jefferson this week, I know they would have loved to select DeRozan, Johnny Flynn is a good backup choice as he will fill the need of a scoring point guard that has been vacant since Mo Williams left.
11. New Jersey Nets- Earl Clark, Louisville
– The Nets are continuing to add talented big men after landing Robin Lopez in last year’s draft.
12. Charlotte Bobcats- Gerald Henderson, Duke
– This might be a hard selection for Michael Jordan considering he would have to pick a “dookie”, however Henderson is the right choice for a team I see making the playoffs this year.
13. Indiana Pacers- Jrue Holiday, UCLA
– Unlike in previous years where the Pacers have been rather conservative with their draft selections, I see the Pacers picking a player who probably won’t contribute immediately but has a good amount of upside.
14. Phoenix Suns- James Johnson, Wake Forest
– Johnson would be a great value pick here for the Suns who are clearly entering a rebuilding stage after losing top notch players such as Shawn Marion and Joe Johnson, and are now discussing trading Shaquille O’Neal.
Those are my lottery predictions for Thursday’s draft, but those are certainly subject to change if a trade were to occur that would cause a domino effect on the draft and thus make my mock draft useless. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.