Well, it's about that time again ... time for the first PHSports 2-round NBA mock draft. If you are not yet ready for the draft, then why don't you read Clement's most recent banter in which he defends LeBron James? Also, watch Bloodsport. No specific reason for the latter other than that it's an amazing movie with some of the best fight scenes and perhaps the best theme song ever. Without further adieu, I offer some important themes in this year's draft.
* In short, this is a weak draft - a draft in which you do not want to be making picks in the lottery if you are between picks 3 and 7.
* Teams in need of a contributing point guard who can start in no less than two years will find that type of value as late as the middle of the second round.
* Even if the likes of Cole Aldrich and Craig Brackins had declared for the draft, this draft would still be a weak one for the bigs.
* Since many teams want to avoid paying the luxury tax, they will heavily consider selling their first-round pick for cash considerations. Only in the NBA.
* Playoff teams, particularly those making picks in the late first and trading into the early second rounds will reach 10-20 picks for a lesser player with a specialized set of skills.
1. LA Clippers - Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma. The Clippers are reportedly shopping this pick, but unless they receive the deal of the century, Griffin is their man. Expect the Clippers to shop at least one of their veteran bigs on the cheap to make space for the franchise forward.
2. Memphis - Ricky Rubio, PG, DKV Joventut. Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley prefers UConn center Hasheem Thabeet, but the front office is vouching for Rubio. In this case, I believe Heisley will come around, because Rubio can alter the shape of this team and capitalize upon the existing talent which is conducive to up-tempo basketball.
3. Oklahoma City - Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn. Thabeet needs few shots to make an impact and clogs up the lane, which are two areas of need for the Thunder. That said, I have more doubts than most about Thabeet’s durability and aptitude for playing without the benefit of the zone defense.
4. Sacramento - Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona. One of the highest risers in this year’s class, Hill is still getting better in all facets of the game (physical, mental, skill). He’s a big drop-off from Blake Griffin, but he can step into the Kings starting lineup at the quarter point of the season. In a stronger draft, Hill may have been drafted in the late lottery.
5. Washington - James Harden, SG, Arizona State. Truly a combo guard, Harden is arguably the second-most skilled player in the draft after Rubio. He fills a gaping hole at the shooting guard following a poor season by DeShawn Stevenson.
6. Minnesota - DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF, USC. Last year, the Wolves traded away former USC guard OJ Mayo. This year, they go with DeRozan, who carries a mix of athleticism and skill. As his confidence grew late in the season, DeRozan started to show what recruiting sites expected to see immediately.
7. Golden State - Earl Clark, SF, Louisville. Though the Warriors are rumored to be infatuated with point guard Brandon Jennings, Clark is the better choice, because he’s more skilled, is a very good defender, and he can fill the stat sheet. He can also run the floor really well.
8. New York - Stephen Curry, PG/SG, Davidson. Rumors are abound that a promise has been made to Curry if he’s on the board at pick 8.
9. Toronto - Wayne Ellington, SG, North Carolina. Really, there are two ways the Raptors can go. They can draft Chris Bosh’s replacement or they can draft a shooting guard who can do it all. Enter Wayne Ellington, who came a much better defender this season, in addition to already being an elite scorer who can get points from all areas of the floor.
10. Milwaukee - DeJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh. A brawler. That’s what Scott Skiles needs and that’s the type of player they need to complement Andrew Bogut. If the Bucks decide to go with a point guard, they may select Jonny Flynn from Syracuse or Eric Maynor from Virginia Commonwealth.
11. New Jersey - James Johnson, PF, Wake Forest. Again, if a point guard is taken at the 10th pick, a big man falls. Johnson fits in well into the scheme and can make an instant impact in an up-tempo format.
12. Charlotte - Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke. Though he lacks a solid jump shot, Henderson is aggressive at both ends and has the potential to become a lockdown defender.
13. Indiana - Eric Maynor, PG, Virginia Commonwealth. Needing a true floor general, the Pacers get just that. Maynor can do it all and has one of the nicest floaters from 8 to 14 feet out that you’ll ever see. As a George Mason alumnus and fan, I saw it four years and I’m ecstatic to see it disappear from the CAA.
14. Phoenix - Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse. Speedy, strong and smart. Flynn is the heir apparent to Steve Nash. If Earl Clark, Eric Maynor and Flynn are taken, do not be shocked if the Suns reach for Gonzaga swingman Austin Daye.
15. Detroit - Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina. The Pistons need a pass-first point guard who is cat quick and can shoot when asked to do so. All of these elements will allow the Pistons to overlook Lawson’s lack of height.
16. Chicago - Gani Lawal, PF, Georgia Tech. During the playoffs, the Bulls lacked an interior player who can get easy baskets. Lawal, who is a reach at pick 16, is very talented and has an NBA body.
17. Philadelphia - Tyreke Evans, SG, Memphis. The Sixers have a lot of questions to answer this offseason. The only thing they know is that they want to continue compiling athletes onto their roster. If that’s the case, Tyreke Evans, who even resembled the Big O at times this season, is the best option.
18. Minnesota (from Miami) - Brandon Jennings, PG, Lottomatica Roma. Chances are Jennings’s upside does not allow him to seep out of the top 10. The fact is, he can’t shoot well from deep and he needs to get stronger. That said, Jennings is a great value for a team who can let him grow.
19. Atlanta - Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina. The Hawks have needs in the muscle department as well as at point guard. If one of the top six point guards fall, the Hawks will grab him. I would not be surprised to see Jeff Teague or Jrue Holiday selected here.
20. Utah - Chase Budinger, SG/SF, Arizona. Budinger is a lights-out offensive player who has improved slightly as a defender, but not enough to warrant clear lottery status. Needless to say, he is great value at the 20th pick and will vie for playing time immediately.
21. New Orleans - Sam Young, SG/SF, Pittsburgh. Agile and talented, Young made the most of his abilities while playing in the Big East. After a lifeless playoff appearance, the Hornets need a high character guy and Young fills that need. That said, owner George Shinn will probably sell the draft pick to the highest bidder.
22. Dallas - Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest. The rumor is that Dallas is in love with Nick Calathes, who will be playing in Greece. Here’s the catch. Jeff Teague is a better floor general and can defend, unlike the aforementioned Calathes.
23. Sacramento (from Houston) - Jrue Holiday, PG, UCLA. The “experts” expect Holiday to be selected much earlier. Had he stayed in school for a year, Holiday could have become more consistent in his offensive game.
24. Portland - BJ Mullens, C, Ohio State. Someone had to do it. Since being bantied about by everyone as the #1 pick, Mullens was a dud this season and his bank account will pay for it. Despite having Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla, size remains a need.
25. Oklahoma City (from San Antonio) - Terrence Williams, SG/SF, Louisville. Once again, the theme involves selecting players who can create impact without needing to score. Williams is one of the five best defenders in the draft and his point-forward skills make him an attractive option.
26. Chicago (from Denver through Oklahoma City) - Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU. If the Bulls lose Ben Gordon, they will need a shooting guard to back up John Salmons. Thornton is a multifaceted shooting guard who can break down defenses, connect from deep, and guard on the ball.
27. Memphis (from Orlando) - Damion James, SF/PF, Texas. A late lottery pick at the start of the campaign, James had a shaky junior season – his first without an elite point guard. Though undersized and may have the wretched “tweener” label at the next level, James never gives up on a rebound and has demonstrated the aptitude to defend bigger players.
28. Minnesota (from Boston) - Derrick Brown, SF, Xavier. Another explosive forward, Brown doesn’t mind mixing it up in the paint or stepping back for a trifecta.
29. LA Lakers - Omri Casspi, SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv. One of the most talented young players in Europe over the last two years, Casspi has an inside/outside game that’s more of the finesse and flair style. If Casspi does not get a 1st-round promise, then he will withdraw from the draft as he did last year.
30. Cleveland - Jody Meeks, SG, Kentucky. If you watched any SEC basketball last year, you’ll know that Meeks is a prolific scorer who’s unselfish and is a very underrated on-the-ball defender. He’s the type of player who will not stand in place, which would be a welcomed option for the Cavaliers.
31. Sacramento - Victor Claver, SF, Pamesa Valencia. Claver does not fit the Charmin stereotype that most Spanish players fall into for being soft. He’s also a very polished player, but needs to improve his lateral quickness.
32. Portland (from LA Clippers) - Nick Calathes, PG/SG, Florida. Stash pick here. Calathes will be in Greece for up to three seasons, but he can become a Blazer after one. He can score, rebound and dish it, but does he have the will to win?
33. Washington - Jeff Pendergraph, PF, Arizona State. Serviceable big man who never quits and is crafty like an NBA vet.
34. Denver (from Oklahoma City) - Darren Collison, PG, UCLA. How the mighty fall. The secret has been out. Collison struggles mightily against taller guards and the NBA consists of those. That said, Collison can easily make a roster, because he’s a hard worker, has great quickness, makes good decisions on and off the ball, and has a mid- and long-range jumper.
35. Memphis - DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown. After making a horrible decision to leave school, Summers’s athleticism makes him a very viable option early in round 2. One of the better values thus far.
36. Detroit (from Minnesota) - Austin Daye, SF, Gonzaga. In workouts, Daye is trying to shed the label that he is only a jump shooter. If he can do that, he’ll be selected in the late teens or early twenties. Daye may be the second best pure shooter in this draft after Wayne Ellington. For that reason, if this mock draft involved trades, Daye would have been a first rounder.
37. San Antonio (from Golden State through Phoenix) - Taj Gibson, PF, USC. Gibson adds depth to the Spurs’ frontline. His mid-range jumper and wingspan which results in blocked shots adds value.
38. Portland (from New York through Chicago) - Dante Cunningham, SF, Villanova. One of my favorite players, Cunningham is a coach’s dream. He always works hard, never gives up on a loose ball, plays textbook defense, and plays within himself on offense.
39. Detroit (from Toronto) - Jonas Jerebko, SF, Angelico Biella. Not much is known about the Swede, but those in the know have him going in the early portion of the second round.
40. Charlotte (from New Jersey through Oklahoma City) - Jeff Adrien, PF, UConn. For a team that wants to get physical immediately, Adrien is a great pick. If effective, it will be as a garbage man on the offensive end and as a physical defender.
41. Milwaukee - Patrick Mills, PG, St. Mary’s. Amazing value here. Mills falls due to an injury he suffered at midseason. If he proves that he’s back to fitness, Mills will be a 1st-round pick.
42. LA Lakers (from Charlotte) - Toney Douglas, PG, Florida State. In the triangle offense, a score-first point guard is useful especially if you have that Kobe Bryant guy. Douglas elevated his game to new heights this season and will make some roster this fall.
43. Miami (from Indiana) - Danny Green, SF, North Carolina. A 94-foot player, Green spent last summer adding muscle to his frame to prepare for the rigors of the NBA. To be successful, Green must become more consistent at the offensive end and not let his slumps at one end affect effort at the other.
44. Detroit - Josh Heytvelt, PF/C, Gonzaga. A forward who can shoot… and rebound. He’s no Rasheed Wallace, but he’s not bad.
45. Minnesota (from Philadelphia through Miami) - Tyler Smith, SF, Tennessee. Ridiculous value. There are some excellent small forward prospects who will be selected from the 20s onward. An athletic player, Smith has expanded his game vastly in the last two years.
46. Cleveland (from Chicago) - Leo Lyons, PF, Missouri. If the Cavs have an exodus at the forward position this offseason, they need to continue to bulk up. Lyons had a great senior season and benefited from the wide-open style which Missouri utilized.
47. Minnesota (from Miami) - Jerel McNeal, SG, Marquette. Though undersized at the 2, McNeal is athletic and skilled.
48. Phoenix - DerMarre Carroll, SF/PF, Missouri. A great fit for Alvin Gentry’s up-tempo style, Carroll must limit the turnovers to contribute.
49. Atlanta - Scottie Reynolds, PG, Villanova. Having gone with a big in Round 1, Atlanta turns to another need – the point guard. Reynolds has diversified his game since arriving onto the scene as a score-only point guard.
50. Utah - Robert Dozier, PF, Memphis. Tenacious defender whose wiry frame allows him to defend multiple positions.
51. San Antonio (from New Orleans via Toronto) - Antonio Anderson, SG, Memphis. Great defender whose offensive game is limited to the easy opportunities created by his suffocating defense.
52. Indiana (from Dallas) - Vladimir Dasic, SF, Buducnost Podgorica. At 6’10”, 210-pound, he fits the mold of the classic European player. An upside pick.
53. San Antonio (from Houston) - Dionte Chrismtas, SG, Temple. If the Spurs are to return to form, they must draft specialists. Christmas can make it snow from deep.
54. Charlotte (from Portland) - Vyacheslav Kravtsov, C, BC Kyiv. Built like a brick wall, Kravtsov can turn into a defensive specialist.
55. Portland (from San Antonio) - Rodrique Beaubois, PG, Cholet Basket. The Blazers will likely make this pick for someone else. His enormous wingspan caught the attention of GMs. Beaubois is a bit off until he’s able to make an impact on an NBA roster.
56. Portland - Jon Brockman, PF, Washington. Gritty forward who can flat-out rebound … and score.
57. Phoenix (from Orlando through Oklahoma City) - Bryan Davis, PF, Texas A&M. Athletic forward who was known for effort and defense, and an improving offensive game.
58. Boston - Luke Harangody, PF, Notre Dame. Solid offensive player who can fill a stat sheet, but has displayed matador style defense.
59. LA Lakers - Goran Suton, PF, Michigan State. Phil Jackson wants a winner who will fight for lose balls and play smart.
60. Miami (from Cleveland) - Curtis Jerrells, PG, Baylor. A cat-quick guard who can shoot, but must improve his decision making to be successful.