SLAM Mock Draft 2: 10-20
Now out in paperback!
by Ben Collins
This sentence sounds like something a housemate says when you return home to see that he or she has rummaged through all of your stuff, displaced it and poured over the area where it used to be with six bags of non-perishable foods and antiques: there is an explanation for all of this, just wait until tomorrow.
Here’s section 2 of the Mock. And sorry about your stuff.
10 – Sacramento Kings – Yi Jianlian (C, Guangdong Tigers) – For all the talk of conspiracy in the NBA from David Stern to Stu Jackson, I think we’re finally onto something. I see it as a perfect storm of events all leading up to one crucial, seemingly spontaneous but, in truth, masterfully planned moment:
1) Yi, after refusing to work out with anyone but Harvard’s Brian Cusworth in the weeks leading up to the draft, exposes that he is probably years away from consistent production and slides from the third or fourth pick down to ten to the Sacramento Kings. 2) Yi initially draws in record crowds and TV ratings for a team that finishes fourth in the Pacific but is unable to stay on the floor long enough for fans to stay interested. 3) The Sacramento Kings move to Las Vegas. 4) After years of planning and unprecedented patience, in a moment long awaited, Yi is seen on YouTube at a Bellagio craps table screaming the phrase, “Bring Daddy new pair shoe!”
I do see Yi slipping a considerable amount because he really didn’t play against any actual competition and this is the biggest red flag you can throw. He also started working out for teams in the late teens and early twenties, so his agent is petrified of something. This happened to Pavel Podkolzin a couple of years ago. Same exact thing – didn’t man up against anyone his size and he slipped to 20th when he was supposed to go, at worst, 10th.
This could be both the best and worst thing to happen to the city of Sacramento. If he’s at least OK from the outset, then it’s a major marketing coup for a city that most of China doesn’t know even exists. If he sucks, they’re stuck with bad contracts, Kevin Martin and Nutty McLockerroomcancer (Ron Artest), will blow it up at midseason and move to Vegas in two years so the Maloofs can be 20 again. It’s a risky pick, but you probably have to make it.
Vitals: 7’0”, 230 lbs. 22-years-old. He’s been in California for a couple of months getting adjusted.
At best: A Dirk/Yao combo. Gritty in the post, but can step back and take big men off the dribble.
At worst: Pavel Podkolzin.
Most likely: I don’t think anyone will ever trust him enough to give him the ball around the free throw line, so I can see him doing what Darko did last year for years on end.
11 – Atlanta Hawks – Acie Law (PG/SG, Texas A&M) – Just watch this.
I’ve heard broadcasters make the case consistently, scream it on TV because you can’t just talk nowadays, write it in print and calmed down and whisper it on the radio, longingly, like it’s romantic somehow: Robert Horry should be in the Hall of Fame.
I see their point. I even concede the romanticism of having some guy who consistently performed this pedestrian act of hitting a jumpshot when other superstars don’t have the intrepidity to do it and fold under self-imposed pressure. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I definitely see where they’re coming from.
But some of those people who vouch for Robert Horry to be in the Hall of Fame don’t think Acie Law is going to be a good pro.
So watch that video and tell me how it’s even possible that we have analysts like that in this world, the walking contradictions that they are. Because, one way or another, one position or another, there is always room for a guy like that in whatever League I’m running.
Vitals: 6’4”. 186 lbs., 22-years-old, Senior
At best: Gilbert Arenas
At worst: Delonte West (and I like Delonte West)
Most likely: Antonio Daniels or Derek Fisher. How is no one else seeing these comparisons?
12 – Philadelphia 76ers – Julian Wright (SF/PF, Kansas) – As it has already been established that Billy King has balls, we delve deeper today.
Billy King is omniphobic.
Billy King duct tapes his windows. Billy King hates artsy movies. Billy King will not try sushi. Billy King still calls them “freedom fries.” Billy King takes off his shoes twice at airport security checkpoints just to be sure someone didn’t put a bomb in the heel he could not immediately detect. Billy King dry heaves when he hears Celine Dion songs on the radio. Billy King hates Shavlik Randolph because he thinks that Shavlik is in the country illegally. “Who else,” he thinks, “snaps his knee in half in practice without clearing it by the coach first? A guy who doesn’t pay taxes, that’s who.”
Billy King just doesn’t draft foreign. So if you were expecting him to go foreign with any of his three picks and stash them overseas, which is probably the logical thing to do if he doesn’t trade up, quit that nonsense immediately. He never has and never will. All of his players went to an American school at some point, Louis Williams is the only one who didn’t go to college and all except Sam Dalembert is American-born.
So I’ve got him pegged with the ultimate All-American (in high school and college), Julian Wright. He may not have an NBA position, but it’s the East! Make your own damn position for God’s sake. He really could help out with Andre Miller at the helm. He’s long and very powerful and nowhere near done filling out yet (he’s only 20, a mere sophomore not returning). Very adaptable – he was one of the headiest players on a young Jayhawk team last year – and his jumpshot looks to be coming into its own at the same pace of Andre Iguodala’s. Which is the only timetable they’re on in Philly now.
Vitals: 6’9”, 211 lbs., 20-years-old, Sophomore
At best: Good question. It really depends on how he fills out and what he decides to do with himself – he’s a lot like Tyrus Thomas in that regard. I hate the Diaw comparisons. He’s not that good of a passer and he’s tougher in the post. Karl Malone without the turnaround is about right.
At worst: The Atlanta Hawks version of Boris “ohmygodwhereamI?” Diaw
Most likely: A bigger Trenton Hassell with some awareness on offense
13 – New Orleans Hornets – Nick Young (SG, USC) -
How many times can a group of people whisper the phrase, “please don’t end up like Kirk Snyder?”
Well, we’re about to find out. The Hornets are presumed to be locked into Young (rumors point to them liking Rodney Stuckey, but I call shenanigans). He’s a shooter, he’s athletic and has leadership abilities, which makes Nick Young to Byron Scott what Justin Timberlake is to 14-year-old girls. He even has Nick Young posters on his wall, which, admittedly, we’re a little weirded out by, too. But it’s nice to see coaches getting excited about their draft picks again, huh?
Okay, maybe excited was the wrong word.
Vitals: 6’7”, 206 lbs. 22-years-old, Junior.
At best: Michael Finley
At worst: Devin Brown
Most likely: Stephen Jackson without the sick gun rack.
14 – Los Angeles Clippers – Javaris Crittenton (he swears to God he’s a PG, Georgia Tech)
When I used to do mock drafts that read more like mock drafts and less like memoirs that accidentally reveal biases of past experiences of the three teams I’ve been a fan in my lifetime (Mavericks first–always Mavericks first–Celtics, Magic in the Shaq/Penny days), when these mock drafts had actual information first and opinion second, which people would read and take as somewhat credible for some reason, when the folks at DallasMavericks.com were far too good to me and let me write things that I knew nothing about, when I was spoiled by Josh Howard and jaded by nothing but still seemed it, I had this one unfailing flaw:
The Magic drafted this guy once. He was this shooting guard with some ability to see the floor and a little bit of athleticism. He wasn’t really a shooting guard because he couldn’t, say, shoot. At all. To save his livelihood. Couldn’t in college, couldn’t anywhere else. His shot made Antoine Walker’s trajectory look like the Grande Arche. So, being 6’6”, and having played basketball all his life, they decided they’d make him into a point guard – by that I mean they called him a point guard and he remained the same – and waste a lottery pick on him. As expected, he was miserable.
I’d quit with the bitterness, too, but the Magic did the same thing again with Reece Gaines and he’s bounced around the league so much he probably has vertigo at this point.
From then on, if there was a tall point guard, you were Jeryl Sasser. 6’4”? Too tall. Jeryl Sasser. Kirk Hinrich (yes, this actually happened)? Too big, too much of a shooting guard. Jeryl Sasser. Chris Kaman? Eh, who cares, Jeryl Sasser.
And so this went on. Kirk Hinrich, was the opposite of a bust. He’s the only untouchable player on probably the best team in the East, actually. I was generally O.K. with bust calls (Devin Harris shouldn’t have gone fifth and not ahead of Luol Deng), but this was inexcusable, and, after the fifth cease and desist order, I vowed to never include Mr. Sasser’s name in a mock draft again.
Then this Crittenton kid came up. And, honestly, I have no idea if he’ll be a bust. I have no idea because I was busy paying attention to the only prospect who was thought to declare this year, Thaddeus Young, in the two times I saw Georgia Tech this year. I’m sure he’s all right.
He had a breakout game against an underrated Florida State team, even if he practically opened a home business from the three-point line (3-for-9) and had high assist totals all year. He’s a big, lanky score-first point-guard and it doesn’t look like Shawn Livingston’s knee is going to be un-sideways anytime soon, so the Clippers must get a practically identical player ASAP!
It’s medium-risk, high-reward here. There’s nothing better than a big point guard who can guard the two because you can then afford to go after a smaller, quicker two-guard with defensive deficiencies.
I apologize for any biases, Javaris. Those in your position previously had to go and ruin it for everyone. And by those I mean him. And by him I mean Jeryl Sasser.
Vitals: 6’5”, 197 lbs. 19-years-old. Freshman
At best: Shawn Livingston/Kevin Johnson
At worst: Jeryl Sasser
Most likely: Your guess is as good as mine. But if there’s a happy median, it’s probably Damien Wilkins.
15 – Detroit Pistons – Al Thornton (PF, Florida State)
Quick, fun Celtics futility story for you guys. (I really love this team. I honest-to-God love the team and the people in the organization, but I have to tell this story.)
Back in the M.L. Carr era, where there was still something a little bit disconcerting about the team being horrendous all of a sudden, the team brought in then-Virgina Union grad Ben Wallace for training camp. They loved his athleticism and his toughness and I’m sure they loved his hair because they had to have. But M.L. Carr told him he should be playing the wing, that he had a jumpshot unpolished and dribble-drive moves that were unsuitable for most human eyes to bear witness. And they cut him.
Ha ha. Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha.
So that happened. Al Thornton, who was a power forward in college, averaged 19.7 points and 7.2 rebounds because he was a force in the paint and almost painfully athletic. He’s 6’7”, but his wingspan is 7’1’. Please, whatever team drafts hi, don’t spend too much time pushing him to the three. He may be versatile enough, but let the kid tear stuff up anywhere because you could really hamper someone this good.
(By the way, somebody asked about this earlier, I’m not ranking this based on how much I like players. I’m ranking this based on how I think this thing will shake out. Otherwise this guy would be top-8 easy.)
Vitals: 6’7”, 221 lbs. 23-years-old, senior.
At best: Did I already talk about Tyrus Thomas? Oh. I like the Shawn Marion comparisons a lot.
At worst: He never gets a chance and is a mediocre three.
Most likely: A whole lot like Josh Smith.
16 – Washington Wizards – Thaddeus Young (SF, Georgia Tech) – Former SLAM Diary keeper Thaddeus Young, who, if you didn’t know, kept a diary for SLAM, is a rangy small forward and might be the best raw athlete in the draft. When he’s not writing diaries for SLAM, he’s busy being 6’8” and 210 lbs.
This plugging thing is really cramping my style. Gilbert Arenas must have it really, really hard.
Hey, what a segue! Gilbert Arenas must have it really hard — on the court, too! Yeah, Stuart Scott, it’s not so tough. Boo-yah, see? I did it. Sounded convincing, even. Style uncramped.
Arenas has no long, athletic wings. DeShawn Stevenson? Relegated to jumpshooting. Plus, he’s peacing out at the end of his contract next year so he can start selling used cars to make up for that three-point contest with Gilbert. Antonio Daniels? A point guard – an athlete, but still a point guard. Jarvis Hayes doesn’t play and is grounded as it is. Caron Butler is a machine on both ends, but the load he carries is too heavy to be a runningmate on a fast break. And Andray Blatche is getting a full mid-level exception from somebody else this summer – the Nets, we hear – so why not get the same level talent and equal athleticism for a quarter the yearly salary?
This team needs some help at the five, so it could be Jason Smith. But I heard he didn’t bring his typewriter to his workout. Tsk tsk.
Vitals: 6’8″, 210 lbs. 19-years-old. Freshman
At best: Tayshaun Prince
At worst: Ndudi Ebi
Most likely: Josh Howard. I think he’s going to end up being one of the best players in this draft.
17 – New Jersey Nets – Jason Smith (PF/C, Colorado State)
The Nets will pick Smith (if he’s here) or Sean Williams here, but we’ll get to Sean Williams later. Oh lord will we get to Sean Williams later.
This whole process – this workout process – I’m convinced, is this massive bout of frustration that was created to make GMs, lined up against the wall of these practice facilities, so confused that their brains start pouring out of their heads like handguns in Sebastian Telfair’s glove compartment.
For example, from today’s Boston Globe about Sean Williams. “But before the first ball is thrown, or the first shot taken, or the first foot moved, Williams says to the gathered masses, ‘How y’all doing? My name is Sean Williams.’ He then shakes the hand of everyone in attendance with the exception of one person — his mother, Audry. She gets a kiss.”
Nowadays, this is what a scout can get of that: “Certifiable Sean Williams is a sweet guy now? He brought chocolates? We have to draft him now. Did I see him kiss his Mom? He kissed his Mom? Like a peck or did they make out? I can’t take the risk. Jason Smith it is. Tell Rod Thorn it’s for ‘Oedipal reasons.’ He’ll know what I mean; we had the same talk about Doug Christie.”
The scariest part of all of that? He hasn’t even touched the damn basketball yet.
Anyways, Jason Smith is not crazy. Jason Smith did play for Colorado State in the, um, (…), c’mon Google, (…), (……….) Mountain West. But Jason Smith’s agent brought cookies to the workout. Even if he averaged 17 and 10 last year against smaller competition and his team didn’t make the NIT. But you should see this kid do a weave! And his footwork is awesome!
This, by the way, is how Eli Manning got drafted first. I read it in the New York Post, so it has to be true.
Scout 1: I’m sure Eli Manning has good footwork when he’s ballroom dancing, but when he’s on the football field…
Scout 2: Eli Manning has good footwork when he ballroom dances?
Scout 1: Well, I’m not sure Eli Manning has good footwork when he’s ballroom dancing. It was like, you know, a metaphor or whatever. I’m actually not even sure Eli Manning has ever ballroom danced.
Scout 2: But maybe he has. That’s, uh, that’s minus-10 points on the chart for the ballroom dancing.
Scout 1: Yeah, why is Eli Manning ballroom dancing? Shouldn’t he be working on his footwork?
Scout 2: Yeah, he should be sorting that out. Maybe he should try ballroom dancing.
And then they decided to draft him.
Vitals: 7’0”, 233 lbs, 21-years-old, junior.
At best: He will not be in the League in three years
At worst: He will never be in the League.
Most likely: He will not be in the League in a year.
18 – Golden State Warriors – Rodney Stuckey (SG, Eastern Washington)
I know where this all started and I feel very, very smart for it. The day after the lottery, Chad Ford threw together one of those eerily-instantaneous-almost-too-instantaneous-yes-we’re-insinuating-he-had-this-done-pre-lottery mock drafts like five minutes after the lottery occurred. In it he had Rodney Stuckey paired up with Detroit at 15 and the logic below it, in one of those blurbs that make this mock draft look like the friggin’ Fountainhead, read something like this:
“I think Detroit would take a strong look at Rodney Stuckey here because he just looks like one of those players that Detroit likes – a smaller guard who can create off the dribble. But, really, I have no sources. Seriously, don’t quote me on this. Just shootin’ from the hip. Honestly, please don’t, this is sheerly circumstantial. Please stop quoting me! Put that pen down! I have Ron Artest on speed dial!”
But, alas, this reach, which even he admitted was a reach, caught fire through the power of ESPN and it was learned today Stuckey was invited to the green room when Thaddeus Young declined. He could go as high as 13 to New Orleans.
Now, because we’ll never go another draft again without hearing Dwyane Wade comparisons, he’s getting lots of links to the Gold Sidekick. Forget the fact that he went to Eastern Washington, he’s a big 6’4” athlete (and part-time shooting guard) who has a good midrange game and slashes. And he looks mighty cool doing it. Scary how much power the Worldwide Leader wields this day and age, huh?
Really, though, should be the consummate Warrior. This is what they wanted Dajuan Wagner to be last year before whatever happened to Dajuan Wagner happened to Dajuan Wagner.
Vitals: 6’5”, 207 lbs. 21-years-old. Sophomore
At best: Dwyane Wade!
At worst: Unless the NBDL gets a TV deal, we may never know.
Most likely: A bigger Flip Murray
19 – Los Angeles Lakers – Daequan Cook (SG, Ohio State) – This will be hilarious.
This draft looks to be eighteen-deep, in terms of picks with value. The first 18 will go in the first 18 slots in one order or another and then it’s a crapshoot. And this is when the Lakers, the only team who needs value now, will pick.
Or, as Sam said to me the other day, this is when “the Lakers pick whoever Kobe decides to pick.” They will select the first person who looks like he will bring immediate help and it looks like all of those people will be gone by one pick ahead of them. Oh the irony.
In this case, the Lakers will reach on draft night for an immediate help, a knight in shining armor that will whisk Kobe away to his Championship castle on horseback, someone who looks to be a quick life-saver.
What he’ll probably get is some floaties so he doesn’t drown. This pick will be a reach if everyone is gone, it’s just a matter of which player they’re lunging after. I think Jared Dudley could be a real help, but that’s too much of a reach. Alando Tucker and Derrick Byars, too.
Cook can score in bunches and should be able to do it on the pro level, even if he is a volume shooter. They still can’t find a guy who can hit a 17-footer in LA, so this may be their guy.
But if nobody falls, Mutoni might have a new blog Thursday night because no one will even remember who Renaldo Balkman is.
Vitals: 6’6”, 200 lbs. 20-years-old. Freshman
At best: Joe Johnson
At worst: Omar Cook. Maybe they’ve shunned their fates of being masters of the culinary arts.
Most likely: A more unselfish Bobby Simmons
20 – Miami Heat – Derrick Byars (SG/SF, Vanderbilt)
There are a lot of GMs who are afraid of passing on the next Josh Howard, so this is what they do:
1) Look for players with long arms.
2) Look for small forwards who rebound exceptionally well
3) Look for players with a jackknife floater in the lane
4) Look for players with enough dignity to do a commercial with Marquis Daniels about their braces
5) Look for players who got a combined 610 on their SATs.
The characteristic they often forget is that Josh Howard was ACC player of the year at Wake Forest and his body and mind NBA-ready at 23-years-old.
Derrick Byars is a 23-year-old, NBA-ready SEC Player of the Year. Draw your own conclusions.
The Heat want a point guard, but all of the first round point guards will be long gone at this point. They’re either trading up, trading down, reaching for an undersized Aaron Brooks or going elsewhere.
Vitals: 6’7”, 215 lbs. 23-years-old. Senior.
At best: A big, heady wing with active hands, like Andre Iguodala.
At worst: A big, fumbling wing who is too touchy, like Ira Newble.
Most likely: A big, heady defender who has a place in this league, like Shane Battier.