1. Portland Trail Blazers – Greg Oden, The Ohio State University
The clear #1 pick, Oden’s arrival in Portland significantly changes the landscape in the Western Conference. Paired up with last year’s Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy, the Trail Blazers will be able to seriously contend against the powers of the NBA. It will be interesting to see how they play Oden with last year’s #2 pick LaMarcus Aldridge, as it appears both of them play the same position. No matter what, Portland will not pass on Oden.
2. Seattle SuperSonics – Kevin Durant, University of Texas
Though there will be much fanfare with Durant’s arrival, it will be difficult to see if he will dramatically change the win totals for the Sonics. Rashard Lewis is probably gone after this year (especially with Durant’s arrival) and the existing team doesn’t seem able to compete on a regular basis in the Western Conference. Durant will have to play a lot of time in the paint, with Ray Allen bombing away from three point land. How the two exist and play together will be very interesting.
3. Atlanta Hawks – Yi Jianlian, China
After getting pummelled for passing on Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo, the Hawks have to take a point guard, right? One would think, but you have to remember that this is the Hawks we are talking about. They probably want Mike Conley, Jr., but my guess is that they convince themselves that he will be available when they pick again at #11. I know absolutely nothing about Yi, other than he is seven feet and from China. He is supposedly the best international prospect available and the Hawks will bring him in to try to spruce up their fan base (how that will work, I have no idea).
4. Memphis Grizzlies – Corey Brewer, University of Florida
After drafting Villanova point guard Kyle Lowry last year with their second first round selection last year, I don’t think the Grizzlies will be going after another floor general. They do have a good inside presence in Pau Gasol, although he seems to be more discontent by the day. Regardless, Memphis is in need of some perimeter skill and Brewer fits that mold perfectly. He is 6’8″, long, quick, has good three point range and is an excellent defender. He can play the 2 or the 3, depending on who he is guarding and is a born winner (much like the other Florida players). Brewer will contribute immediately for the Grizzlies and they will be more than happy to take him after losing out on a top 2 pick.
5. Boston Celtics – Brandan Wright, University of North Carolina
Still devested after not getting a top 2 pick (which they desperately tried to get after tanking for much of last season), the Celtics decide to take the best player available in Brandan Wright. They wanted Yi, to allow Al Jefferson to play the 4, but with Atlanta taking him at #3, they settle for Wright at #5. Wright is an extremely versatile player and many consider him the best prospect in the draft after Oden and Durant. With a tandem of Paul Pierce, Jefferson and Wright, the Celtics should be able to compete in the weak Atlantic Division for years to come.
6. Milwaukee Bucks – Al Horford, University of Florida
Milwaukee was ravaged by injuries last year and the ability to get someone like Horford should greatly help this team going into next season. With a front court of Andrew Bogut, Horford and Charlie Villanueva, along with Michael Redd and Mo Williams in the backcourt, the Bucks look pretty formidable to compete. They could also look at Mike Conley, Jr. in this spot, but the toughness and low post presence that Horford brings to the table is too much to pass up.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves – Joakim Noah, University of Florida
Minnesota could also look at Mike Conley, Jr. at this spot, but with Randy Foye, Mike James, Trenton Hassell, Troy Hudson, Ricky Davis, Marko Jaric, and Rashad McCants in the backcourt, even Kevin McHale wouldn’t be able to talk his way out of that one. Noah will give Minnesota someone to play alongside Kevin Garnett who is just as intense and plays a somewhat complimentary game to Garnett’s. Noah’s ability to create space while rebounding should take some of the burden off Garnett, who has pretty much been doing everything for the team every year for the last decade. The Timberwolves hope that Noah and Garnett’s intensity will create a sparkplug under the rest of the team, bringing out more than what the underperforming guards have produced the last couple of years.
8. Charlotte Bobcats – Mike Conley, Jr., The Ohio State University
Though Charlotte already has Raymond Felton in the backcourt, Conley is just too good to pass up with the #8 pick. The team could also look at Kansas forward Julian Wright, or Georgetown forward Jeff Green, but many believed Conley to be a top 5 pick, so passing him up here is impossible. Felton and Conley would form one of the quickest, if not the quickest, backcourts in the league, which should allow plenty of low post opportunities for Sean May, Emeka Okafor and Primoz Brezec. Additionally, penetration from either guard will open up the outside for Gerald Wallace and Adam Morrison, the latter of which will be looking to improve on his disappointing rookie season last year.
9. Chicago Bulls (via New York Knicks) – Spencer Hawes, University of Washington
The Bulls are still in significant need of low post scoring and Hawes should be able to contribute on that front immediately. Though he is not nearly as athletic as the other big men currently on the roster (Ben Wallace, Tyrus Thomas), Hawes will plant himself down low and allow for Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich to get more open looks on the perimeter. This is exactly the guy the Bulls wanted and they will be more than happy to select him.
10. Sacramento Kings – Julian Wright, Kansas University
With the uncertaintly surrounding Ron Artest and whether he will be traded in the off-season, Sacramento selects Wright as his replacement. At 6’9″, Wright is extremely long and should be able to provide some defensive agreesiveness that the Kings may lose if they do trade Artest. The team could also look at Georgetown’s Jeff Green, but they select Wright based on his defensive toughness.
11. Atlanta Hawks (via Indiana Pacers) – Acie Law, Texas A&M University
The Hawks were praying that Mike Conley, Jr. would fall to this spot and not surprising, he didn’t. This may be a little high for Law, but as the second best point guard in the draft, he benefits from the Hawks’ misconception on Conley. Law is a big time player who absolutely always wants the ball in his hands with the game on the line. Additionally, he is an excellent floor general, who should be able to find the right spots for Marvin Williams, Joe Johnson and Josh Smith. With Law’s ability to run the point, look for Joe Johnson to significantly increase his scoring, possibly into the top 5 in the league next year.
12. Philadelphia 76ers – Jeff Green, Georgetown University
The 76ers took Rodney Carney out of Memphis last year to fill the void at the small forward position, but he still appears to be more athletic than basketball talented. Green is one of the most versatile players in this draft and should be able to handle the ball, allowing Andre Iguodala to score more. Philadelphia was surprisingly competitive last year, with a roster that looked more like a top 3 lottery team, and the addition of Green should be able to help them sooner rather than later.
13. New Orleans Hornets – Nick Young, University of Southern California
The Hornets seem to be pretty comfortable in every position but shooting guard and Young should be able to slip right into the starting rotation alongside Chris Paul in the backcourt. With Tyson Chandler, David West and Peja Stojakovic up front, Young’s ability to score should take some of the pressure off of Chris Paul, who is a natural distributor and who has had to take some of the scoring load with Stojakovic’s constant injuries and Chandler’s complete inability to do anything but rebound.
14. Los Angeles Clippers – Rodney Stuckey, Eastern Washington University
The Clippers were really hoping that Acie Law would fall to this spot, as they are unsure how Shaun Livingston will be after he returns from his greusome knee dislocation. However, with Law off the board, Los Angeles goes for Stuckey, who has been compared to Randy Foye more times than not. He is undersized as a shooting guard at just 6’4″, but that should be able to give him an advantage over smaller point guards in the league. His ability to get into the paint will help tremendously, as Sam Cassell has certainly lost a step over the past 3-4 seasons.
15. Detroit Pistons (via Orlando) – Roy Hibbert, Georgetown University
Playing with Rasheed Wallace and Chris Webber at the 5, Detroit takes the best big man available with Hibbert, who should have a relatively easy transition into the Pistons offensive and defensive schemes. Defensively he certainly helps this team, who has seemed undersized against bigger centers the past couple of years. Additionally, Hibbert’s troubles on the offensive end should not be a factor, as Chauncey Billips and Rip Hamilton usually take on a load of the scoring, with Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince picking it up if either guard is off. Hibbert’s ability to pass out of the post is also a solid plus, allowing Billups and Hamilton to have more open shots on the perimeter.
16. Washington Wizards – Al Thornton, Florida State University
Though they are perfectly fine at the small forward position with Caron Butler, Washington is forced to take the best player available. They would have LOVED to draft Roy Hibbert out of local Georgetown, but Detroit beat them to it by one pick. The team could also look at Brazilian seven-footer Tiago Splitter, but they are more comfortable with Thornton, who certainly has no problem scoring against whoever is playing him. He could see some time at the shooting guard position, creating quite a big lineup with Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, Butler and Etan Thomas.
17. New Jersey Nets – Jason Smith, Colorado State University
Still looking for a big man to play the 5, the Nets draft someone who fits more in line with Jason Kidd’s style of play than their current offerings. Jason Collins is slower than slow and even Nenad Kristic can bring the pace down a tad. Smith gives the Nets the ability to run more and he can supposedly score from anywhere on the court.
18. Golden State Warriors – Thaddeus Young, Georgia Tech
Always on the move with the ball, the Warriors take the best player available in Young, who should be able to keep up with the likes of Baron Davis, Jason Richardson and Stephen Jackson. He is a little bit of a project, but has tremendous upside and Don Nelson should be able to insert him into the lineup to run and gun, while giving Richardson and Jackson a blow.
19. Los Angeles Lakers – Javaris Crittenton, Georgia Tech
One spot after his teammate, Crittenton also moves out west where he should be able to sit a little before contributing. Jordan Farmar appears to have the point guard spot locked up, but at 6’5″, Crittenton will be able to compete and may eventually start over the slower Farmar.
20. Miami Heat – Tiago Splitter, Brazil
There are a number of questions surrounding Splitter that have taken him out of the lottery and the Heat is more than happy to take him at #20, even knowing that they may have to wait a year before he can leave Brazil. He is an athletic big man, who may be a power forward in the NBA since he is rather thin to play the five. Nevertheless, if he puts on weight and learns as much as possible from Shaquille O’Neal, he should have a solid career in the NBA.
21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Denver Nuggets) – Gabe Pruitt, University of Southern California
Pruit gives the 76ers another athletic option on the floor, to go along with Andre Iguodala and Jeff Green. He is a little undersized to play the 2, but does have the ball handling ability to play the point guard position (see Randy Foye). The 76ers are becoming significantly more athletic and may begin to play the kind of small ball that worked so well in Golden State this year.
22. Charlotte Bobcats (via Toronto Raptors) – Brandon Rush, Kansas University
Picking Rush with the 22nd pick after his freshman year would have been a steal, but he fell a little after having to play with Julian Wright and Darrell Arthur. He already has an NBA body, which will help him backdown smaller or thinner guards, similar to Baron Davis. Rush should be able to see pretty good minutes, as he can come in for Ray Felton, Gerald Wallace and the newly drafted Mike Conley, Jr.
23. New York Knicks (via Chicago Bulls) – Sean Williams, Boston College
Williams has had a number of off-court issues in the past couple of years, but there is absolutely no denying his on-court defensive abilities. Having had two games with double digit blocked shots before he was excused from the team, Williams has an uncanny ability to know where shots are going up and how to attack them. The Knicks are in desperate need of some low post defense, as Eddy Curry and Channing Frye have proven they are completely inept on that side of the floor. Williams could see some good time on the floor as part of an “energy unit” for the Knicks, alongside David Lee and Renaldo Balkman.
24. Phoenix Suns (via Cleveland Cavaliers) – Derrick Byars, Vanderbilt University
At 6’7″, he can play the 2 or the 3, and he also has the ability to score on the run (always a plus when you play with Steve Nash). Byars was not a first round pick until his senior year and a solid showing in the NCAA Tournament solidified his spot in the first round.
25. Utah Jazz – Marcus Williams, University of Arizona
Utah has been struggling at the shooting guard position for awhile and Williams should be able to step in and play that role. He probably could have used some more time in college, but Williams will be able to learn from Deron Williams and Jerry Sloan quite quickly.
26. Houston Rockets – Josh McRoberts, Duke University
Juwon Howard won’t be able to play forever and McRoberts gives Houston a solid body in the paint with an extremely good ability to pass and create for his teammates. He probably could have been a top 10 pick last year, McRoberts stayed in school and struggled in a system that wasn’t completely fit for him. He shoots well for someone his size and should be able to get a couple of looks after Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady.
27. Detroit Pistons – Aaron Afflalo, UCLA
Coming off a horrible championship game against Florida, Afflalo will need to have some pretty good pre-draft camps to get into the first round. He already has an NBA body, which should help him develop the rest of his game. Detroit lacks a viable shooting guard off the bench and Afflalo should be able to fill that void.
28. San Antonio Spurs – Ante Tomic, Croatia
I’ve never heard of this guy, but apparently he is a big time foreign prospect, which seems to fit into the Spurs draft history perfectly. At 7’2″, the Croatian will be able to find some time with the Spurs after a couple more years overseas.
29. Phoenix Suns – Marco Belinelli, Italy
Another guy I know nothing about, he is from overseas, which automatically puts him on the Suns’ radar. He is a 6’6″ shooting guard who loves to shoot the three, which means he could fit in well with the running style of the Suns. He may stay in Italy for a couple of more years, only further soldifying his chances of being picked by the suns.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (via Dallas) – Glen Davis, Louisiana State University
Davis will need to shed some weight, but should be able to do so while trying to keep up with Andre Iguodala, Gabe Pruitt and Jeff Green. He is an extremely talented big man, who can score, rebound and pass. Everything really comes down to whether he can keep his weight in check.