With less than 24 hours until this year’s draft, most of the talk regarding the NBA is about which superstar is going to be traded. Just look at some of the names being thrown around as potential trade candidates:
When have you ever seen a list that dramatic when not discussing a year’s all-star game roster? It’s truly amazing and it gives some instant credibility to this year’s draft as many of these potential deals involve first round draft picks this year. With that said, let’s take a final guess at what is going to happen tomorrow in New York:
1. Portland Trail Blazers – Greg Oden, Ohio State
His workout left much to be desired, especially more so when Kevin Durant apparently lit up his workout in Portland. My guess is when Kevin Pritchard said that Durant’s workout was the best he had ever seen, he was simply try to see if Seattle would throw their #2 pick and Rashard Lewis at him just to swap picks so they could take Durant. In the end, Oden has to be the pick; guys like him don’t come along too often. Some say he is Patrick Ewing, some say he is Bill Russell, even others say he is Hakeem Olajuwon. What happens if he is all three in one and Portland passes him up? Not gonna happen. Portland may move Zach Randolph for another pick, as they are now too heavy up front with Randolph, Oden and last year’s #2 pick overall LaMarcus Aldridge (who happened to go to the University of Texas, like another potential #2 pick this year…). There are some very silly rumors out there that the Trail Blazers want a top 10 pick in return for Randolph in order to take Mike Conley, Oden’s teammate for his entire life it seems, I just don’t see it happening.
2. Seattle SuperSonics – Kevin Durant, University of Texas
As mentioned previously, a freshman out of Texas is the #2 pick overall again. What is it about Rick Barnes who turns out these super (skinny) freshman who are ready for the NBA? Despite that point, the similarities end there. Durant would have been the #1 pick in almost any other draft (I can only think of LeBron James going ahead of him), but this year he has to be happy with being #2. He had a fantastic workout in Portland that started up additional rumors that he may sneak into the top spot; unfortunately for KD I think it’s all just talk. Durant comes to a team that already has a legitimate lead scorer in Ray Allen and they will also be the lead negotiators for Rashard Lewis, who just opted out of his contract for free agency. Lewis could be re-signed, but with Durant’s arrival, it’s curious to see if Lewis would even fit. With Ray Allen, Durant will be able to look for his shot, as opposed to feeling like he has to force it and lead the team. Additionally, the Sonics are looking to trade Luke Ridnour for the #11 pick, so you could see a nice young point guard in Seattle as well (possibly Acie Law?). Regardless of how it works out, Kevin Durant is going to be a super-duper star in this league and it is going to be a thrill to watch him over his career.
3. Atlanta Hawks – Al Horford, University of Florida
This might be the most sought after pick in the entire draft (since there is NO WAY Portland or Seattle trade their picks, unless to each other). Horford has clearly distanced himself from the rest of the draft field and there are a number of teams who want to move up to get him. Minnesota is rumored to be the recipient if they move Kevin Garnett to Phoenix, who would then send Amare Stoudemire to Atlanta. Who knows how much credibility this trade rumor has, but boy is it fun to imagine Kevin Garnett teaming up with Steve Nash after having a brutal last couple of years in Minnesota. If the Hawks do keep the pick, they have to take a point guard right? There is plenty of talk regarding Mike Conley, Jr., but the Hawks believe this is too high for the freshman point guard and hope they can pick one up with their second choice, #11 (which has also been rumored to be traded to Seattle for Luke Ridnour). Horford probably has the most trade potential even if the Hawks do pick him, which is why he is the choice here.
4. Memphis Grizzlies – Mike Conley, Jr., Ohio State
The Grizzlies were a playoff team two years ago and followed it up in the 2006-07 season by finishing dead last in the entire league. Many expected Memphis to win the lottery and get a chance at Greg Oden (or at the very least Kevin Durant), but the ping pong balls fell as they have for most years and did not award the first pick to the team with the worst record. As a result, Memphis continues to struggle. There are a number of places they need help and I am not sure point guard is one of them. They used their first round pick last year on Villanova point guard Kyle Lowry, so it’s interesting to see that they are so interested in Conley. Both players are extremely quick, with Conley a better shooter and decision maker, whereas Lowry is a significantly better defender. They are still uncertain what to do with Pau Gasol, who has asked for a trade numerous times, to no avail. Memphis would like to keep their best low-post player, but in the end, they may find the right deal, which makes taking Conley even more bizarre with players like Yi Jianlian available at this spot.
5. Boston Celtics – Yi Jianlian, China
The talk regarding Yi Jianlian is increasing significantly in the past couple of days, with a number of teams trying to move up to take him. A seven-foot center out of China, Yi hasn’t played a single minute against real European or American competition. He competed on the Chinese under-20 team, which is interesting since many people believe he is 22 (the Chinese government lists him at 19). Either way, his workouts have been good (again, not against any real competition) and it’s tough to pass on a seven-footer who may become the Chinese version of Dirk Nowitzki. I haven’t seen much of Yi, but what I have seen is not exactly breath-taking. Boston has tried mercifully to trade this pick, either in a deal to land Kevin Garnett (which he essentially turned down himself) and Shawn Marion. However, Danny Ainge said today that the team will probably keep the pick, which I believe means they will end up taking Yi Jianlian. It’s still unclear what this means for Paul Pierce, as he has grown increasingly frustrated with the direction of the team. They seem to have a good low-post scorer in Al Jefferson, but other than that, there doesn’t appear to be much to help the team win now.
6. Milwaukee Bucks – Jeff Green, Georgetown University
Another pick that is available to the highest bidder as teams try to move up for Yi Jianlian (which the Celtics could ruin), the best fit here is the small forward from Georgetown, Jeff Green. Green considered going back to school for his senior year a number of times, but as soon as he decided to stay in the draft, his stock started rising. He is a pass first player, which should work well with Michael Redd chucking away from three once he is healthy again. Green is extremely versatile and had a very good workout at the pre-draft camp in Orlando. He is much stronger than I ever thought and his ability to create opportunities for his teammates is an unusual quality coming from the forward position. If Milwaukee does keep the pick, they would be much better off taking Green than when they started.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves – Joakim Noah, University of Florida
The Timberwolves may have a good number of picks in this draft if they do decide to ship Kevin Garnett to Phoenix, but at this point the #7 is what they have. Noah is exactly the type of player that Minnesota should team up with Kevin Garnett, which makes the trade scenarios a little disappointing. Noah brings a level of intensity that the Timberwolves have been lacking outside of Garnett for years. His ability to defend either the power forward or center positions fits in well with Garnett, who is forced to help all four of his teammates guarding the basket. I doubt Noah will get Garnett to dance like he does, but I still think they would be solid teammates up front for Minnesota.
I am getting really lazy at this point, so here is the rest:
8. Charlotte Bobcats – Corey Brewer, University of Florida
The best defender in the draft, especially on the perimeter, Brewer should fit right into a team that is chock full of former collegiate champions in Emeka Okafor, Ray Felton and Sean May.
9. Chicago Bulls (via New York Knicks) – Spencer Hawes, University of Washington
The Bulls will try to trade up to get to Yi, but if they can’t, Hawes is the low-post presence that they lack.
10. Sacramento Kings – Brandan Wright, University of North Carolina
Wright was once considered a lock at #3, he falls all the way down to #10 and the Kings are more than happy to stop the slide.
11. Atlanta Hawks (via Indiana Pacers) – Acie Law IV, Texas A&M
This is the smart pick for the Hawks, which means it probably won’t happen. The team is in desperate need of a point guard and after passing up on Mike Conley, Jr. at #3, they make Law the second point guard taken in the lottery.
12. Philadelphia 76ers – Julian Wright, Kansas University
Julian Wright, like Brandan before him, slips far beyond where he was initially projected to go. The 76ers really like Al Thornton in this spot, but if Julian Wright is available, they won’t be able to pass him up.
13. New Orleans Hornets – Nick Young, USC
The Hornets have been targeting Nick Young since the beginning of the draft process, as they really need a legitimate shooting guard to complement Chris Paul. They also like Thaddeus Young here, but I think they go with the hot shooter from Southern Cal.
14. Los Angeles Clippers – Al Thornton, Florida State
Thornton was expected to be gone here and may be the best talent left. With that said, the Clippers jump all over him, even though he may not fit into their plans as well as a point guard would. Irregardless, they cannot let him drop any further.
15. Detroit Pistons (via Orlando Magic) – Rodney Stuckey, Eastern Washington
Another guy who has been targeted by a team from the start, Stuckey brings a solid combo-guard ability to the Pistons, which means he should be able to spell Chauncey Billups (when they re-sign him) and Rip Hamilton.
16. Washington Wizards – Thaddeus Young, Georgia Tech
The Wizards don’t have too many holes to fill and would have gone much further in the playoffs had Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas stayed healthy. Young is an athletic forward who should be able to get good minutes off the bench for the Wizards. They could look at Sean Williams from Boston College with this pick as an upgrade to Etan Thomas and Brendan Haywood, but the off-court issues are too much to deal with.
17. New Jersey Nets – Sean Williams, Boston College
Does anyone else find it weird that he is “Sean Williams from Boston College” even though he got kicked off the team before ACC play even started?
18. Golden State Warriors – Jason Smith, Colorado State
The Warriors are offering this pick and Monta Ellis to move up and take Yi Jianlian, but I am not sure that is going to be enough for the teams picking in the top 10.
19. Los Angeles Lakers – Gabe Pruitt, USC
No one knows what is going to happen with Kobe Bryant, so the Lakers take an athletic wing player who may be able to fit into the triangle offense better than anyone else who is left.
20. Miami Heat – Javaris Crittenton, Georgia Tech
Miami is getting very old and slow at the point guard position (Jason Williams and Gary Payton currently) and Crittenton should fit in nicely, especially given his size. With Crittenton’s arrival, the Heat will be able to play Dwyane Wade off the ball a little more, opening up the floor for both Wade and Shaquille O’Neal.
21. Philadelphia 76ers (via Denver Nuggets) – Josh McRoberts, Duke University
The Sixers are going to try to move this pick (and #30) if they can, but if they keep it, I think they go with the relatively polished Duke product. McRoberts probably would have been a top-5 or top-10 pick last year and didn’t have a great sophomore season at Duke. Regardless, he is an excellent passer for a big man, which will come in handy with Andre Iguodala and Julian Wright on the wings.
22. Charlotte Bobcats (via Toronto Raptors) – Rudy Fernandez, Spain
The Bobcats are looking to trade this pick, as well as the #8 to move up, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Fernandez is a big guard who is able to get to the hoop pretty consistently. He may spend an extra year in Spain, which wouldn’t be the end of the world for the Bobcats.
23. New York Knicks (via Chicago Bulls) – Daequan Cook, Ohio State
Rumors were abound that the Knicks guaranteed a spot to Wilson Chandler of DePaul, but additional rumors say that it was actually the Suns who said they would take him. Isiah Thomas was able to sign Randolph Morris about a week after his last college game at Kentucky and as a result of that signing, he says he might get a little silly with this pick. Cook is the definition of a player who should have stayed in school for at least another year, but there is no doubting that he does have NBA talent.
24. Phoenix Suns (via Cleveland Cavaliers) – Tiago Splitter, Brazil
Splitter may have to stay abroad for another year, which is almost better for the Suns since their roster is pretty much set at this point, especially if they are able to land Kevin Garnett. The seven-footer will make a splash when he gets here, but certainly not a huge one.
25. Utah Jazz – Derrick Byars, Vanderbilt University
The Jazz had a lot of trouble shooting the ball from the outside this year and the Byars pick will be a direct result of that. Though he didn’t come on strong until his senior year at Vanderbilt, Byars should be able to contribute right away off the bench.
26. Houston Rockets – Nick Fazekas, Nevada
Fazekas has worked out well for a number of teams and Houston will use this opportunity to stop anyone else from taking him. He is a good outside shooter for a big man, which should open up the paint for Yao Ming.
27. Detroit Pistons – Glen “Big Baby” Davis, LSU
Big Baby can pretty much go anywhere from the Nets at #17 all the way to the second round, but I think the Pistons will be willing to give him a go. He takes up A LOT of space in the paint, which should allow Rasheed Wallace to take a little break on the defensive end.
28. San Antonio Spurs – Jared Dudley, Boston College
Dudley has played himself into the first round, even if he doesn’t have a real position on the NBA-level. He may be able to play the small forward if he can gain some quickness, but he is definitely too small to play the 4. Some people have said that he could be Bruce Bowen’s replacement, which I think will end up being pretty accurate.
29. Phoenix Suns – Wilson Chandler, DePaul University
As mentioned before, rumors are abound that the Suns guaranteed this spot to Chandler, which is why he stopped working out for most teams. He was certainly no where near anyone’s first round radar at the beginning of this process and without the guarantee rumor, he still wouldn’t be. He is undersized for a power forward and is a little lazy, which would make him a perfect fit for the Scott Layden-era Knicks.
30. Philadelphia 76ers (via Dallas Mavericks) – Marco Belinelli, Italy
After taking two college prospects, the Sixers go international for Belinelli, who will probably stay in Europe for another year. Again, they may try to move this pick with the #21, but if not, look for the Italian Stallion.