NBA MOCK DRAFT 2007
1) Portland Trailblazers - Kevin Durant F Texas
Should be the pick: Kevin Durant F Texas
First off, the really tricky explanation: why the Blazers actually ARE taking Durant when Oden is the odds on favorite. I think if the Blazers are still trying to figure this out, it's because they are taking Durant. If their new GM wanted Oden all along he should have been drumming up support for him for the last week or so; instead of calling Durant's workout the best he's ever seen. At least wouldn't he leak that they loved Oden and see if any trade offers would come through? It seems too late in the game to still be bluffing like the decision is difficult; so, it seems to me that the decision is tough, which means it's at least 50/50. The GM of the Blazers just doesn't seem like a nimrod to me. I think it's going to be tougher for him to pass on Durant than Oden, I just really believe that. Corollary: Durant is 8 - 1 on Sportsbook to go number 1 overall. Yes, I took that bet. Corollary 2: If your Bob Pritchard (Blazers GM) can you bet on that, maybe he's trying to get Oden's odds better and then bet on him?
For how little I've written on this blog recently, I've squawked about Durant way too much; so I'll make one final case. People have been saying that Oden is more of a "sure thing" than Durant. This claim is untrue. There have been two players in the past 5 years who I have claimed as "unbustable" entering the draft: LeBron James and Reggie Bush. These are guys who have had no chance at becoming below average players in their sport and have a huge chance at becoming all stars. Both LeBron and Reggie had a freakish athleticism, freakish skill and freakish experience. In addition to Reggie being, anecdotally, one of the fastest and shiftiest players I have ever seen on film; he also was a terriffic interior runner, great outside runner, dominant punt returner, dominant kick returner, and a hell of a nice guy who had spent 3 years against great competition in the national spotlight. And Reggie wasn't maybe as amazing as I thought he was going to be in his first year, but he was still a hell of a gamechanger; and still really has no chance to be merely average. LeBron James was a 6'9" 250 pound guard who could run faster than Braylon Edwards. He also happened to be a wickedly good passer, ballhandler and rebounder; and had been dealing with media attention and pressure since his freshman year of high school and didn't even have one really strange incident occur. Both guys could play about 4 different positions at a world class level, having a talent so immense that they could fail at a couple and still become All Pros. Durant is now the third player in that category that absolutely CANNOT BE AVERAGE!!! Durant is 6'9 with a 7' 5" wingspan. He can shoot open three pointers from up to 25 feet at a 40+ percent clip; he can score with either hand from the post; he is an absolutely ferocious and talented rebounder; he is phenomenal at recognizing the double team and Duncan-esque at passing out of it; he shoots 82% from the free throw line; he just averaged 26 points a game in 35 minutes with a point guard who cannot even pass or get him an easy look; he can defend the rim; he can hit mid-range floaters, bank shots, and hooks.
True, Durant does not have LeBron's size, speed, hops, or keen eye for assists. He is, however, already a more versatile scorer, better shooter, better defender, and better rebounder than LeBron was at his age.
That AND, the 3 basketball writers I trust on ESPN: Simmons, Hollinger, and Thorpe ALL have the Durantuala as the clear #1.
2) Seattle Supersonics - Greg Oden
Should be: Greg Oden/Kevin Durant
Easy pick for the Sonics to take whoever is leftover. A quick word about Oden: the guy will obviously be good and defending the rim is a vital component of the new NBA. It seems stupid to knock the next Alonzo Mourning, but that's who I think he will be. Duncan and Shaq were just better coming out of college than Oden is. And it's too bad he wasn't healthy this year to show what he really had. If he does become some sort of Tim Duncan/David Robinson amalgamation it will be something really cool to watch. Too bad for the Sonics who I believe have drafted three project centers in a row in Swift, Saer, and Petro . . .at least they'll finally get one that sticks. Either way, Seattle will still be a few years off from contention no matter who they get.
3) Atlanta Hawks - Al Horford
Should be: Al Horford
Chad Ford tells me the Hawks are taking him, and his guarantees are usually correct.
Horford or Conley, Conley or Horford. Despite Marvin Williams and Shelden Williams early in the draft, the Hawks still don't have a legit post-scorer; and it's easier to get a point guard than it is one of those. You gotta love Horford's all-around game. He's great at scoring down low, passing and knocking down the midrange jumper. A really safe bet.
4) Memphis Grizzlies - Mike Conley
Should be: Conley/Horford
Grizzlies are in a similar situation to the Sonics. Either the Hawks take Horford or Conley, and you take the other one. Memphis needs a point guard and power forward. By the way, their team isn't quite as dreadful as their record. They could run out Conley, Gay, M. Miller, H. Warrick, and Pau Gasol next year. Now, that's not a championship team; but if they can upgrade at Miller or Warrick's spot so one of them can come off the bench, and Gay progresses .. . they could be a tricky opponent.
5) Boston - Joakim Noah
Should be: Traded to the T-Wolves for KG. The T-Wolves would then select Jeff Green
If Boston is dumb enough to keep Jefferson instead of trading him for KG; they have to go with Noah so they can pair someone with Jefferson, who can't pass or play defense, with someone who can do both. A pretty nice find for the Celts, actually.
6) Milwaukee - Corey Brewer
Should be: Brewer/Conley/Wright/Green
Milwaukee is in a tough spot with this pick actually. All the no-brainers are off of the board. I really think Jeff Green should go here, and I would never draft for need this high - but they have Patterson, Simmons, and Villanueval who are all forwards in the Jeff Green mold. They do really need a guard, so I'll go with Brewery. I was wildly high on Brewer until I read Hollinger's column which has Corey ranked very low. But I'm much lower on Brandan Wright. . hate his motor.
7) Minnesota - Spencer Hawes
Should be: Jeff Green (or possibly Wright or Young)
Minnesota desperately needs some players in the front court, and McHale is just stupid enough to choose the player who has bust written all over him. Hawes is going to be a wretched center in the league. NEVER DRAFT A 7 FOOTER WHO COULD ONLY GET 6 REBOUNDS A GAME IN COLLEGE. HINT: THAT MEANS THEY ARE HORRIBLY ATHLETIC.
Assuming they trade KG, they will already have Green, and here would be a perfect time to take a gamble on Brandan Wright.
8) Charlotte - Brandan Wright/Jo Noah
Should take: Rodney Stuckey/Jo Noah
Wright isn't bad value here, even though some say he has been slipping. In most scenarios, Noah would be the guy here (if KG is trade for instance), but if he's not, they won't go for the big Chinese guy opting instead for a huge skilled forward to rinse the taste of that Adam Morrison pick out of their mouths. With Wright, May, and Okafor they have a lot of size and skill for the next 4 years.
9) Chicago - Yi Jianlin
Should take: Brandan Wright/Glen Davis
The Bulls have the luxury of taking a player like Yi and developing him because they are so loaded. At this point, they really can't use another guard with the Duhon, Hinrich, Gordon, Thabo backcourt so full, and their SF position is stocked up with Nocioni and Deng. But they still only have Wallace, Brown, and Thomas on the interior, and they could use a real gamechanger there. Here's the problem, Yi isn't a gamechanger. There is nothing worse than a 7 footer "who can shoot and handle the ball." WHO GIVES A SHIT!!! People think that these people will make good players because of the Duncan, Dirk, KG triumvirate, who have, in some ways revolutionized the 4/5 position. But here's the deal: those guys are great and it has nothing to do with their ablity to "shoot and handle the ball." Duncan is the best post player of our era; Dirk is a PHENOMENAL shooter - one of the best in the game. 90+ from the free throw line 45+ from beyond the arc, rebounds, and is a terriffic mid-range player; and KG's shooting ability and ballhandling ability would mean nothing if he wasn't an athletic freak, hypercompetitive, a great defender, and an absolute beast on the glass. No one cares about a 7 footer who is an average shooter, ballhandler and rebounder cause you know what you have - Donyell Marshall who is 3 inches taller. (This, by the way, is Chad Ford's biggest flaw as an evaluator on ESPN. He overrates any tall guy that can shoot open jumpers and is athletic. The number one thing you need to evaluate any tall guy on is - 1) can he rebound, 2) can he score inside. Only a guy like Dirk can transcend that because he is a freakishly good shooter; and he only became a top 5 player when he 1) started scoring inside and 2) rebounding like a madman.)
If Brandan Wright or Joakim Noah were here, they would take him. But, if not, it should be Glen Davis, and all of Chicago should thank Kevin McHale for taking Spencer Hawes too early. Davis is a much better prospect as he is a big guy that actually, you know, REBOUNDS THE GODDAMN BASKETBALL AND CAN ACTUALLY PASS FROM THE POST. It baffles me that he is not considered a surefire first rounder. I'm really hoping he slips to the Heat at 20.
Granted, they've been bitten by the weight bug before with Michael Sweetney, but pairing Davis with his old college teammate, Tyrus Thomas really helps out their front court.
There's the first 9.