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NBA Draft Preview

With Thursday's NBA draft looming, it is time to release my latest and perhaps last mock draft.

I know there are a bunch of mock drafts within the blogosphere, but I am no punk teenager with an affinity for Brandon Jennings.

Nor am I an out-of-touch old man like Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen, who just found out about Tyreke Evans.

I am an unemployed single man in my late twenties and I have very little responsibility other than writing about the NBA Draft, the Cubs and Sox, and the Bulls for various websites.

Enjoy!

1. LAC … Like, duh, dude.

The LA Clippers select Blake Griffin, PF OU.

2. Memphis Grizzlies
The extremely undersized Grizzlies have no legitimate big man, and have an immensely talented backcourt.

Marc Gasol, Darrell Arthur, Darko Milicic, and Hakim Warrick are not legitimate NBA big men by any stretch of the imagination.

And with very little need to add to the backcourt, the Griz's pick seems easy enough.

We all know Thabeet will be a defensive presence immediately and with a nice shot at the free throw line, scouts are hopeful his offense catches up before his 25th birthday.

The Griz may make me look stupid by selecting Ricky Rubio or Jordan Hill, but I have had Thabeet in my top two or three since I saw him a few years back at UCONN.

3. OKC
The Thunder have a strong core (Durant, Westbrook, Green) and would have loved to keep Blake Griffin in state, but that did not work out and they really need help at the 4 and 5 positions.

I have no idea why they want to take James Harden over an immediate future starter in Jordan Hill, but there are strong rumors that suggest they will take him (they really want Thabeet).

Harden will fit nicely at the starting two-guard, as he is a tremendous SG prospect. But Jeff Green will now be playing out of position as an undersized four.

GM Sam Presti will be making a few moves on draft night to solidify the future of the Thunder and he really needs to get some big men in OKC.

4. The Sacramento Kings took big men with their last two first round picks, so the likelihood of them taking an athlete or a point garden are extremely high.

Ricky Rubio, Demar DeRozan, Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry, and Brandon Jennings are all great pro prospects (in that order), and the Kings only have Kevin Martin in their backcourt.

Ricky Rubio is the real deal, and will be great NBA player.

He may come with some extra baggage at first, but all the kid wants to do is play in the same league that Michael Jordan did and win at the world's highest level.

5. Washington
The Washington Wizards made a huge mistake in signing Gilbert Arenas to a ridiculous contract when he is not even the best player on his team.

I have heard they will try to win with their core (Butler, Arenas, Jamison) for one more season, and it will likely land them in the lottery again next season.

They do not have a 2 guard, and James Harden (the only one at the position ready to step in and score this season) is gone.

Jordan Hill is an athletic big man, which NBA scouts love, and is easily the second best big man prospect in the draft.

The Wizards have a really nice frontcourt to build around in the future (McGee, McGuire, Blatche) and Hill will only add to their bevy of big men.

This season or next, the Wizards will try to trade Jamison (for an athletic guard) first, because no one wants Arenas and Butler is not expendable.

6. Minnesota Timberwolves
If James Harden was not such a beast, DeMar DeRozan would be the best SG prospect in the draft.

He is tall (6'7"), extremely athletic (youtube), has a nice mid-range jumper, and started playing his best ball at the end of the season.

He is a legitimate shooting guard prospect and the T'Wolves, who have nary an athlete in the backcourt, would be silly not to take a chance on him.

The Wolves have three first round picks, and this is a great start to their franchise-altering day.
7. Warriors
The Warriors are easily one of the most talented teams in the NBA, but no one ever knows what Don Nelson is thinking.

They have a bevy of small forwards and shooting guards, and their young big men are getting better with increased minutes.

There is no questioning the talent in the Bay Area, but the Warriors do have not had a true point since Boom Dizzle left for LA.

Stephen Curry is the second best PG prospect in the draft and he adds another talented guard to Nellie's roster.

Stephen Curry, PG, Davidson.

8. Everyone's (least) favorite lottery team will be making some moves on draft day.

David Lee is likely to be moved (Portland?) and all NBA teams will want Larry Hughes' last season on his contract (they really do not want Hughes, they just want his contract).

The Knicks love everyone that is good in the draft. I heard they love Stephen Curry, but so do the teams in front of them. I heard they love Jordan Hill—don't we all, silly?

They really crack me up, but they will end up with an extremely talented combo guard—perfect for Coach D'Antoni.

G Tyreke Evans, Memphis.

9. Toronto
The Raptors may be making some moves on draft day.

Rumor has it that they may pick up last season's second overall pick Mike Beasley for Chris Bosh.

What is fact is that they will not need a point guard, having signed Jose Calderon to a long term deal last season.

They will likely lose Shawn Marion and Anthony Parker to free agency which means they will be needing a guard/forward.

Gerald Henderson is a near perfect fit for a team that does not play defense and lacks athleticism with Marion and Parker leaving.

Henderson is smart, has Youtube-worthy athleticism, plays great defense, and will be a good NBA player.

The Toronto Raptors select Gerald Henderson, G/F, Duke.

10. Milwaukee
The Bucks have been rumored to want a point guard, as they will probably let Ramon Sessions walk and have very little appreciation for Luke Ridnour.

Milwaukee will also probably let Charlie Villanueva walk and trade Michael Redd this off-season—the Bucks are obviously rebuilding.

Brandon Jennings is very talented and somewhat arrogant, but most 19 year old millionaires are.

I am not sure how Coach Skiles and BJ are going to coexist, but there is no questioning Jennings' talent.

Milwaukee selects Brandon Jennings, PG, Europe.

11. New Jersey
The Nets are in a tough spot, as their first priority this off-season is trying to find a taker for Vince Carter.

They want to trade VC, and will by season's end—maybe the Rockets will take him for Tracy McGrady's expiring deal.

They have a few nice big men (Lopez, Yi, Boone) and a star point guard, but lack athleticism.

NJ kept giving Sean Williams a chance the last couple seasons, and I think they have had enough of playing that game.

It seems the talent level takes a considerable drop after the 10th pick, but DeJuan Blair will be a good NBA player who will further solidify the NJN frontcourt for the next few seasons.

The New Jersey Nets select DeJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh.

12. Charlotte
The Charlotte Bobcats have assembled a nice team by acquiring Boris Diaw, Vlad Radmonovic, and Raja Bell.

All of those players have bad contracts, but at least they gave Charlotte some legitimate NBA players and put them in contention to make the playoffs.

Ray Felton is likely to get a nice fat contract from a team, perhaps the Bobcats.

But they did draft D.J. Augustine last season. Augustine is a rare NBA commodity, as he is a PG that can shoot.

Charlotte will save some money by letting Felton walk (if MJ was smart he would do a sign-and-trade with Portland).

Coach Larry Brown loves players that can play multiple positions and Chase Budinger can play both scoring guard and small forward.

He will frustrate Brown with the lack of defensive intensity, but Chase has great athleticism, which will allow Chase to become a good defender at the next level.

13. Indiana

Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

The Pacers are building around a good core of Danny Granger, Brandon Rush, Troy Murphy, and Mike Dunleavy.

But Indiana needs another big man but there are not any available that will produce right away.

The Pacers are in a position to take the best player available, or the player with the most potential.

For a kid that did absolutely nothing in college Jrue Holiday is getting a lot of love and hype in the blogosphere.

I've seen him in the top 5, which is insane, and I've seen him around here, which is where he will go (in the 13 - 20 range).

The Pacers select Jrue Holiday, PG, UCLA.

14. Phoenix
The Suns have a bunch of priorities this off-season, and the draft is not the highest.

They want to find takers for Shaq, Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, Leandro Barbosa, and Amar'e Stoudemire.

Basically, everyone on the team making more than $3 million this season is tradeable.

I have heard for awhile that they are enamored with Johnny Flynn, and that they would be very pleased to see his is still there.

He will learn a lot while playing with Nash this season, and they will hand him the reigns as Nash finishes his career elsewhere.

Phoenix selects Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse.

15. The Pistons will be watching Rasheed Wallace, Allen Iverson, and Antonio McDyess play somewhere else next season. They will likely be spending that money on Hedo Turkoglu and Ben Gordon.

This late, teams draft based on potential over need. B.J. Mullens plays a position (Center) where teams will take a player strictly on potential.

Mullens was a great high school player two years ago and may be as good as Greg Oden. This pick is not even close to as risky as taking Darko over ...

Pistons select B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State.

16. Chicago
With Lindsay Hunter getting minutes in the playoffs last season and Kirk Hinrich likely on the way out, the Bulls will take a point guard with their first of two first rounders.

Although this is a deep point guard draft, they start going quickly after the Bulls pick.

The Bulls love Lawson's pedigree and will gladly welcome his character and abilities.

Bulls select Ty Lawson, PG, UNC.

17. The Sixers will be losing Andre Miller to free agency, leaving a void at the point guard position.

Teams typically do not like handing the reigns over to a rookie, but Eric Maynor is different.

He is the most mature player in the draft (the first senior off the board), and has been looked at as a pro point guard ever since he beat Duke a few years back in the NCAA Tournament.

The 76ers select Eric Maynor, PG, VCU.

18. Minnesota
With their second pick in the first round, the T'Wolves are still looking for athleticism. Rodney Carney was the only athlete on the Wolves last season, and he may leave via free agency.

James Johnson is a beast.

Although a sophomore, Johnson is 22 years old and a Karate champ. He compares himself to Charles Barkley and can do a lot of things on the court, including rebound and defend at a high level.

Wolves select James Johnson, F, Wake Forest.

19. Atlanta
The Hawks may be losing Mike Bibby to free agency and have been rumored to be shopping Josh Smith this off-season.

Atlanta had a nice team the last few years, but that may be ending as Joe Johnson is scheduled for a new contract in the 2010.

As of right now Acie Law is not capable of handling point guard duties in the NBA, and Jeff Teague has a lot more potential to be able to lead a team.

It may take a few years, but that is how you draft at the 19th pick.

ATL selects Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest.

20. Utah
The Jazz are likely to lose Carlos Boozer to free agency this offseason, while resigning (and overpaying) for Paul Milsap.

They have nice backcourt depth, and will look to add a power forward or center. Tyler Hansbrough cannot play at center, but he is a nice athlete who can defend the 4 and rebound at the next level.

The Jazz select Tyler Hansbrough, PF, UNC.

21. New Orleans, Terrance Williams, G/F, LOU

They need a lot of help, and he is the best player left in draft

22. Dallas, Wayne Ellington, SG, UNC

Mavs want a point guard, but with none left, they take a sharp shooter.

23. Sacramento, Omri Casspi, Israel.

A franchise that has lead the international scouting scene plucks another gem

24. Portland, Earl Clark, SF, LOU

Wanted: point guard. There re one available, and he is the best player left

25. OKC, Taj Gibson, PF, USC

Thunder was a big man, and Gibson is the one left in a draft that lacks luster this low.

26. CHI, Derrick Brown, SF, Xavier

After grabbing a point guard, the Bulls get best athlete left

27. MEM, DaJuan Summers, SF, G'Town

Summers is a team player, but role player at best

28. TWolves, Austin Daye, SF, Gonzaga

After taking athletes, they select a potential pick

29. Lakers, Josh Heytvelt, PF, Gonzaga

A bad boy big man

30. CLE, Sam Young, SF, Pittsburgh

- another teammate to disappear with the game on the line ;)

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