Draft Day is 13 days away and there has been a plethora of movement, momentum, and shuffling since our last Mock Draft posted on 5/23/07. Pre-draft camp has shut down and individual/group team workouts featuring draft hopefuls are in full effect. The 2007 NBA eligibles are auditioning years of basketball dedication with the single-minded intent of having the red, white, and blue NBA shield stitched to hoop attire that is worth bundles of United States greenbacks.
This year’s NBA Draft has easily been the most anticipated Draft in decades due to a phalanx of talented ballers coupled with the game’s global popularity. The drive to Draft Day is “lamborghini-ing” to the finish line after starting off in a Winnebago.
At the forefront of the anticipated Draft day hijinks is the HoopsAddict.com Mock Draft updated after a variety of input ranging from Orlando Pre-Draft camp coaches, attendees/observers of individual player workouts, and our coveted insiders.
The final Mock Draft featuring 2 rounds will hit cyberspace on 6/26/07. To the masses seeking an updated Mock before the aforementioned final, this is for you. Thanks for your readership and interaction. Much appreciated. Onward to the Mock.
1. Portland Trailblazers- Greg Oden 7-0 Ohio State: Oden’s maturity and ability to not take himself too seriously counterbalances his stupendous basketball abilities. Maybe this is why Oden, who has the coordination of a world class boxer and the dexterity/nimbleness of a gymnast, never “tripped” when some basketball pundits claimed he was just a 7-foot clod. No sweat … Oden is a seasoned soul and the day Portland won the lottery the Blazers reported a 2.5 million dollar increase to revenue the following day based on ticket sales. Oden, who has withstood with admirable aplomb the many jokes regarding his “Old-en” facial features, recently shared the best joke he has heard regarding his countenance. During a Big Ten road game last season a heckler bellowed, “Hey Oden, how was World War II?” Oden laughs at that line, yet the stoic no-nonsense manner with which he shadows the paint will have Portland’s Rose Garden packed with anticipation.
2. Seattle Supersonics- Kevin Durant 6-10 Texas: The challenges of being a prodigy has entered the world of Kevin Durant. Sports prodigies like Tiger Woods, Mike Tyson (youngest heavyweight champion), Pistol Pete Maravich, etc., find life outside their dedicated sports field initially challenging. Durant, who is still a teenager, dedicated a sizeable portion of his youth to honing his skills and has reaped the benefits, making him a top-two planetary pick for NBA Draft Day 2007. Durant, who has been on a rollercoaster ride with his agent plucking down endorsement deals, missed a few trips to the gym which manifested in his poor combine scores at Pre Draft Camp. Oh, the business side of KD. The world that exists outside the rectangular basketball court when playing for fun/love is an internal search since big business pursuits envelopes one everywhere when entering the NBA as a prized commodity. Durant’s challenge after the big payday is to keep the competitive hoops fires ablaze while having more loot imaginable even before inking a player contract. Durant is not burnt out by any means and lighting up the scoreboard in Supersonics gear will be proof evident.
3. Atlanta Hawks- Brandan Wright 6-10 North Carolina: Hawks General Manager Billy Knight’s draft formula is to select the best player available, and in his eyes that’s Brandan Wright. Knight also subscribes to the philosophy of always draft a good “big” over a “small”. Although the Hawks need for a point guard is profound, GM Knight ascertains with pick 11 he can address his lead guard needs while reinstituting Atlanta’s Air Force with the selection of Wright. Wright and Josh Smith are 82-inch-tall southpaws that will render an aerial assault on the rack this coming season at home, away, and yes Mr. Allen Iverson practice!
4. Memphis Grizzlies- Al Horford 6-10 Florida: Marc Iavoroni is in the commander’s seat on the Grizzlies bench and as a former NBA power forward that flanked a frontline of Moses Malone and Julius Erving the Grizz’s new coach understands the value of drafting the best power forward on the board in Al Horford. Horford is a walking double-double and has right-now effectiveness as a post-up and face-up scorer. Tito’s son can handle the rock/pass and is deceptively more fluid than his game style visually appears. Horford, like his fellow Gator Boys, is a winner and will excel in Tennessee.
5. Boston Celtics- Joakim Noah 6-11 Florida: After imbibing the sour taste of not attaining the 1st or 2nd pick, the Celtics have dialed in their focus for a player that has length/size, competes, possesses high energy, has multiple skills, leadership qualities, talks on defense, understands winning, coachable, has hidden intangibles, and can sell tickets. These attributes are personified in the leader of the two-time NCAA champs, Florida’s Joakim Noah. Noah represents all the virtues of Celtic lore that Boston legend Red Auerbach won 9 championships with as a coach. Noah has the fire and game that translates to wins. Noah’s passion is not theatre and his skills are suited for the NBA Eastern Conference. Joakim is a solid pick for Doc and Danny.
6. Milwaukee Bucks- Mike Conley 6-1 Ohio State: Who’s running the show in Milwaukee? The answer: Mike Conley. The Bucks are safe here at #6 drafting Conley whose only suspect skill is a consistent perimeter shot. Conley has an elite “stop and go” dribble drive that allows him to navigate his way to either an assist or hoop with unparalleled consistency. Conley has always played at the highest level of competition at every stage of his career and not only has been successful but also arguably the best player on the floor. Smooth operator Conley, who plays with the poise of a safecracker, is the right move for Milwaukee’s embattled front office.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves- Jeff Green 6-9 Georgetown: In the words of rap lyricist/actor LL Cool J, Jeff Green’s individual team workouts can best be described as “Doing it, doing it and doing it well.” Green, the Big East tourney MVP and team player, regained lost momentum stock-wise due to his Final Four performance in which he deferred his tantamount skills to a “In the best interest of the Hoyas” role-player disposition. Green’s Final Four was no indication of his basketball body of work that has potential stardom written all over it. Green is a gritty, distinguished, talented forward that would be magnified opposite KG.
8. Charlotte Bobcats- Corey Brewer 6-8 Florida: Michael Jordan is on the draft clock and has hired Rod Higgins as General Manager to help escape the ghost of Kwame Brown hovering over his past NBA executive decisions. Sam Vincent is the ‘Cats’ new oncourt boss and the front office consensus selects the gifted “Big Game” Brewer to offer a goodwill basket of hoop treats for North Carolina’s fan base. Brewer is an explosive transition phenom that can fire from long range. “Big Game” can defend on the perimeter and has the timing of a Swiss watch when the game-breaking play is demanded. MJ snares Corey and lights up a stogie afterwards.
9. Chicago Bulls- Spencer Hawes 7-0 Washington: The City of Broad Shoulders has put their collective low-post scoring woes on the offensive gamesmanship of Hawes. Young Spencer, with his scoring radar from in and out of the painted area, allows Scott Skiles to have better spacing and floor balance for the bombs-away Bulls. Hawes, playing opposite of Ben Wallace while also receiving Wallace’s solid mentorship, can arrive in Chi-town with less pressure for a lottery pick. Hawes can shoot the pill and that will be his intent the first moment he hits the Berto Center training camp.
10. Sacramento Kings- Jason Smith 7-0 Colorado State: Questions abound for the Sacramento Kings. Who will be the next Kings coach? Will they trade Ron Artest? Is Mike Bibby still in the fold? Right now Bibby and Artest are still in Sacramento and odds are likely they will remain Kings. Moving the talented Artest (hard to duplicate in a trade) and Bibby (contract size) might not be reasonable. With the combustible tenure of Eric Musselman over, Sacto selects the multi-skilled, high-velocity Jason Smith. Smith has a neverending motor and a perimeter game so loved at Arco. Yi Jianlian is another safe bet, yet Smith’s NBA athleticism exceeds Yi’s and his talent is Western Conference ready made. Sacramento needs youthful, athletic, and dual-position talent in the front court, something Jason and the Arco-nauts can start to turn around.
11. Atlanta Hawks- Acie Law IV 6-4 Texas A&M: Hawks Coach Mike Woodson, who played for Bobby Knight at Indiana, is old school. Woodson’s current boss, General Manager Billy Knight, has each one of them looking for point guard chivalry roundballed at the table with the selection of Acie Law. Kevin Durant, who played repeated one on one’s against Acie when the two were gathered in Los Angeles for the John Wooden College Player of the Year ceremonies, stated, “Acie beat me every time.” So Law, who rules the point guard position with an iron fist, shoots with a feathery touch and gets his teammates involved before scoring deliberations have been given the sword to arm the Hawks with an outstanding floor prince.
12. Philadelphia 76ers- Yi Jianlian 7-0 China: Such is the depth of the 2007 NBA Draft when the largest continent’s best non-NBA player is here for the hiring at celestial number 12. Sixers GM Billy King is high on Yi and is the beneficiary of Yi’s skills with this pick. Yi, who has had Eastern conference teams run up frequent-flyer miles to Los Angeles for workouts (due to his reluctance to travel to team sites) has performed well in this structured environment. Questions about Yi’s age, adjustment to the NBA game, familiarization with the United States, and stamina for a far-reaching Association season is why he’s a top 12 pick and not top 5.
13. New Orleans Hornets- Nick Young 6-6 USC: The Hornets return to Bourbon Street and Nick Young provides the intoxicating offensive game necessary to sober up New Orleans scoring woes. Young by all accounts has shot not less than a whopping 80% on perimeter shooting drills at every level of workout he has participated. Young is anything but restless in the open floor due to his zeal at approaching the fiberglass with hostile intentions. Hornets Coach Byron Scott has a lot in common with fellow LA native Nick Young – tough, witty, and highly productive Pac-Ten players who were/are NBA bonafides.
14. Los Angeles Clippers- Julian Wright 6-9 Kansas: Los Angeles starts anew in the frontcourt by teaming Wright with Elton Brand. Julian has unusually good quicks for his size and a nice bushel of complementary offensive skills built on a solid foundation of fundamentals. Wright, as is his draft selection, is a14-karat find and aids the Clippers in their bid to move Corey Maggette. Clippers owner Donald Sterling will yield to moving his favorite player since Maggette’s sterling silver has less value than Wright’s gold. Julian Wright and Elton Brand in the Clippers front court puts LA’s second team back in the playoffs and out of the lottery.
15. Detroit Pistons- Rodney Stuckey 6-4 Eastern Washington: Hall of Famer Joe Dumars, who serves as the Pistons President of Basketball Operations, knows the value of playing with a triumvirate of excellent guards. Dumars has commandeered the Pistons to 1 NBA championship and 5 consecutive Eastern Conference Finals and as a player teamed with fellow executive and Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas and Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson as an imposing guard trio that won 2 NBA titles. The odds of re-signing Chauncey Billups to backcourt with fellow All-Star Richard Hamilton is the strength of Detroit bas—ket—ball!!! Enter the third member of the Pistons backcourt, a well-oiled turbine named Rodney Stuckey. Dumars can’t help seeing the days of the Bad Boys by drafting Stuckey who can play each guard position with precision. Chauncey and Rip need reduced minutes while Coach Flip Saunders cannot only flip the script by drafting Stuckey, Coach Flip can possibly “flip the flip” of falling short in the Eastern Conference finals.
16. Washington Wizards- Al Thornton 6-9 Florida State: The Wizards can address two needs by drafting the ACC’s leading scorer. The Wiz need small forward depth and frontcourt athleticism. Current Wizards Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, though All-Stars, are not the equal when it comes to the explosive athletic talent Thornton can manifest. Big Al in Washington’s hoop gear can allow Butler to play at two guard. Coach Eddie Jordan can create huge matchup problems by employing Thornton, Jamison, Butler, and Arenas on the floor at the same time. Nice.
17. New Jersey Nets- Josh McRoberts 6-11 Duke : Quick question. Who’s the starting power forward for the New Jersey Nets? In 2007-08, Nets brass hope Josh McRoberts can supplant lead-footed Jason Collins, who has been the Nets starter by default. McRoberts has NBA 4-man skills and abilities that are overall better than any Nets PF’s currently on the roster. Josh has quick hops and was improperly used by Duke Coach K in his final season in Durham. McRoberts can bang the glass, face up from either elbow with consistency and, in what may be a shock to many, fill the lane opposite Jason Kidd. McRoberts also has a decent array of post moves and sound defensive closeout principles. The NCAA seemingly always sends Duke to tournament play in the Meadowlands and now the Nets draft their own Blue Devil.
18. Golden State Warriors- Devon Hardin 6-11 California: The NBA talent evaluators and Warriors Head Coach Don Nelson have many commonalities and this fondness: the love of athletic superiority. Devon Hardin with his escalator hops and exquisite shot-block timing fits in with the Warriors’ needs and approach. G-State has plenty of offensive firepower yet were exposed for their lack of size against the Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals. Hardin has soared up the Draft boards with his workout exploits and top choice physical gifts. The uptempo Warriors’ current centers, with NBDL shuttle player and former first round pick Patrick O’Bryant and veteran Adonal Foyle, do not mesh with Nelson’s cardiovascular massacre system. Hardin and Latvian Andris Biedrins would straighten the Warriors frontline backbone.
19. Los Angeles Lakers- Javaris Crittenton 6-8 Georgia Tech: The franchise Kobe Bryant is ticked off! Kobe studies the roster of Portland and Seattle and sees top picks heading to the Northwest while visualizing his chance of Lakers championships a fond memory as the West reloads. Bryant peeks at the Mavericks, the newly crowned Spurs, the Suns, and Jazz with solid rosters and excellent coaching. Kobe analyzes the talented Warriors and Rockets teams affirmed with youth and sound bench depth. Bryant detests the Lakers’ future and publicly pines for the return of former GM Jerry West. Needless to say the Lakers reclamation project starts with someone who can play opposite Bryant and that’s Crittenton. Welcome to Kobe’s domain Javaris, who can provide LA what their current roster of guards can’t: someone who can succeed opposite Bryant. In the age of Javaris the Lakers get an excellent tall point guard that would give Coach Phil his best LA backcourt since Ron Harper and Kobe Bean Bryant. Crittenton is the choice over Sasha, Smush, and Jordan.
20. Miami Heat- Thaddeus Young 6-8 Georgia Tech: Young is on record as saying if he’s not a top 14 pick he’s back to the ATL to suit up for the Yellow Jackets. T-Y in Miami gives the Heat their most energetic small forward prospect ever. The Heat, swept in the playoffs, were exposed as having severe weakness on the perimeter from the forward slots, and Young’s skills opposite Dwyane Wade is an epic merger. Young would bring Miami the needed big-time talent so lacking athletically in the frontcourt. Thaddeus game is armed with huge athletic traits and refined basketball techniques.
21. Philadelphia 76ers- Gabe Pruitt 6-4 USC: The big draft day continues for Billy King. After snaring Yi Jianlian with the 12th pick, Mo Cheeks gets uptempo backcourt depth with the Trojan’s “Do It” Pruitt. Pruitt is a calming influence in the backcourt and his stylish game has panache. Yet Pruitt is not all flash: he can orchestrate the half-court set and deliver the correct pass to each teammate’s offensive sweet spot. GP also has the courage to defend without leaning back. Pruitt competes soundly on either side of the half-court line. Gabe Pruitt would allow Coach Cheeks various backcourt lineups with his adroit capacities.
22. Charlotte Bobcats- Morris Almond 6-6 Rice: Expect the Bobcats to be busy draft day with trades since they have plenty of similar young talent that is getting overloaded via the draft. Michael Jordan is getting away from the Bickerstaff era by wiping out most vestiges of Bernie’s personnel moves. MJ knows the value of having a long-range shooter who can score at ease and that’s what Rice’s Almond exhibits. The wing-heavy Bobcats can use their varied talent in trading for a veteran player (need specific) since the drafting of Brewer and Almond upgrades the team speed and specified skill packages.
23. New York Knicks- Marco Bellinelli 6-6 Italy: Knick front office chief Isiah “Zeke” Thomas fills an important missing link in NY’s attack, consistent long-range shooting. Zeke drafts Bellinelli who will wow the Madison Square Garden faithful with his behind-the-arc marksmanship. Bellinelli is Europe’s best shooting guard prospect since the late Drazen Petrovic and has the mental makeup to be unfazed playing in the bright lights of Broadway. Marco will arrive and showcase his well-rounded abilities on the NBA’s biggest stage.
24. Phoenix Suns- Rudy Fernandez 6-6 Spain: Welcome to the desert sun, Rudy Fernandez. The Suns will have to shake up their squad a little bit since breaking thru to the NBA finals has been a failure despite regular season glory. Robert Horry in the Conference semi’s hammered Steve Nash to the floor near the Spurs bench, a move that sprung Boris Diaw and Amare Stoudemire on to the playing surface. Boris and Amare by course of their actions had to sport street clothes the following game due to league rules. Big Shot Bob delivered his best shot via the Nash takedown since he hit a buzzer beater against the Kings when suited up as a Laker several seasons ago. Back to Rudy and the Suns. Fernandez can play the 2 and 3 spots effectively and has fleet feet to compete with the run-and-gun Suns.
25. Utah Jazz- Daequan Cook 6-5 Ohio State: Cook represented himself well at the pre-draft camp and fills the needs for Jerry Sloan’s 2-guard woes. Utah is a team on the rise by virtue of an unexpected appearance in the Western Conference finals that features an outstanding point guard and a vigorous front line. Jazz off-guard Gordon Giricek has Jazz fans seeking the days of Jeff Hornacek and Derek Fisher is best served as a backup to Deron Williams. Cook in Utah has the opportunity to form a strong long-term backcourt opposite Williams. Daequan has polished perimeter perception that equals increased scoring opportunites for Coach Sloan.
26. Houston Rockets- Jared Dudley 6-8 Boston College: The Rockets have hired Rick Adelman as head coach and Elston Turner as his top assistant coach. Rick and ET are intent on guiding offensive missiles at NBA opposition from the home city of NASA. Houston currently has two binary stars aligned named McGrady and Ming. Forward Juwan Howard has been traded for guard Mike James, so the space frontiersman Dudley fits perfectly. Dudley, the reigning ACC player of the year, did not flame out and courageously attended the pre-draft camp where he Jared were the consensus choice as the combine’s best player. Coach Adelman likes players that have versatility and Dudley provides stellar talents to the Rockets galaxy.
27. Detroit Pistons- Tiago Splitter 7-0 Brazil: Joe Dumars’ heart does not pump kool-aid. Where some hoop aficionados circulate Papa Smurf blue-powdered ade thru their aorta, fear (false evidence appearing real) does not move Joe D. Dumars refused to mortgage the Pistons’ future by signing Ben Wallace to a gargantuan contract and Detroit last season had the Eastern conference’s best record and participated in the conference finals. Splitter, who can’t play in the NBA until 2008-2009 due to his current contract, is right up Dumars’ alley for draft selections. Splitter would be splendid as the Motor City’s key cog of the future.
28. San Antonio Spurs- Derrick Byars 6-7 Vanderbilt: The silver-and-black-clad Spurs, with one of professional sports’ best monikers, have closed out another NBA Championship. Congrats! When gauging the aging Spurs roster, forward talent the likes of Derrick Byars is a rarity this late in the draft. Byars, who plays best against the strongest competition and does not cower in the clutch, is a seasoned/talented character guy who’s right at home in the Spurs’ team makeup. Byars would be a most excellent complement to Gregg Popovich’s lineup and could challenge for the starting small forward position.
29. Phoenix Suns- Aaron Gray 7-0 Pittsburgh: Aaron Gray had solid performances at the NBA pre-draft camp and has NBA spot starter and solid backup as a rookie written on his game. Gray has appreciated skills and, compared to some centers currently in the league, Pennsylvania native Aaron belongs. Gray is playing like a player that has plenty to prove and his hoops IQ is upper level. Gray will carve out a 10-year-plus career with his newfound commitment to fitness.
30. Philadelphis 76ers- Nick Fazekas 6-11 Nevada: Billy King closes out round one with a consensus first-team All-American in Fazekas. King’s draft bonanza of Yi Jianlian at 12, Gabe Pruitt at 21, and Fazekas at 30 is the best overall on draft day. Fazekas is also passionate about dropping in the draft and has been very effective in a multitude of team workouts, which is squashing his skeptics. Fazekas’ game may lack the aesthetics, yet he is very gifted and his hoops resume supports the aforementioned. Hoop on, Nick … your game is more than NBA credible.