The SLAM Mock Draft: 1-9

by Ben Collins

I waited until the end to write this blurb because I knew this would happen.

In the hours it took me to write this, it’s already an anachronism. It’s flawed. It sucks. It’s old. I might as well be listening to Devo at this point.

Joakim Noah skipped a workout with the Bucks. That probably means Danny Ainge, like a complete moron, showed a latent disregard for both this team and this monstrous column and gave him a promise at number five. It’s broken. He’s stupid. I’m stupid. We’re all stupid.

It amazes me how anyone gets any mock draft done with any analysis of their picks this time of year without something happening. You would have to stock up on disgusting amounts of caffeine, quit your job, and cherish your computer so much that you would stay up all night and watch the sunrise with her.

You would effectively be the kid we all made fun of. I’m suddenly OK with being archaic.

So enjoy this mock draft from the past. There will be a VH1 show called I Love The June 20, 2007 Around 3 P.M. coming out tomorrow and this column will be the lead story. Michael Ian Black will long for it. “And he makes fun of My Super Sweet 16,” he’ll say. “2006 wants its joke back.”

We apologize in advance. Because even the apology will be old by the time it gets to you.

The rest of the first round tomorrow.

1 – Portland Trailblazers – Greg Oden (C, Ohio State)

I watch a lot of MTV. It’s unhealthy. I think Parental Control is the first time we’ve ever been able to bridge the gap between archaic 1400s arranged marriage rituals and trashy girls with low self-esteem. I was perusing TrueHoop today and found a dilemma I think I can help.

Kevin Pritchard wants you to believe he’s thinking about taking Kevin Durant. Really. Honest. Stop laughing.

“Look at the first half of Durant’s game against Kansas,” Pritchard said. “Watch that game and tell me it’s an easy choice.”

Maybe he is worried after all.

On My Super Sweet 16, this happens all the time. Spoiled, filthy-rich-but-somehow-still-tasteless girls are put out in front of a lot of cars and told to pick one. They can’t decide between a Lexus and a Hummer so they decide to cry about it.

I’m not calling Kevin Durant a Hummer, because that would both completely undervalue him and also read exponentially dirtier than it should, but in terms of net worth, you can’t pass up the Lexus in this situation.

He’s having buyer’s guilt. Too bad he can’t sob in his prom dress in the arms of his oil tycoon Dad like everyone else.

We’d say more about Oden, but I’m pretty sure that’s what issue 110 is for.

Vitals: 7’0”, 257 lbs. 19-years-old. Freshman.
Most accurate portrayal on the Internet: Here.
At best: Shaquille O’Neal at his peak or the obvious Bill Russell comparison
At worst: Can he be bad? I’m not sure. A bigger Nene, probably.
Most likely: Shaquille O’Neal. Somewhere in the new fantastic four of great centers with Dwight, Yao and Amare.

2 – Seattle Supersonics – Kevin Durant (SF, Texas)

There are three blogs in this world that think that Kevin Durant is going number one and we’ve taken our meds this morning, so we’re not one of them. Let’s break these down point by point.

The Hardwood is one: “They don’t need Oden.” Go get ‘em, sister! You don’t need no man! We’re all just full of wants!

– “They have LaMarcus Aldridge, Zach Randolph, Raef Lafrentz, Joel Pryzbilla, and Jamaal Magloire.” Jamaal Magloire is a free-agent. You know, for the record. And you can have the two before them if you want them, really.

“The last thing they need is another big man.” Yeah, the last thing they need is a career center that has the potential to be a top-5 player at the most coveted and dominant position on the court. Not to nitpick, but I just don’t understand how you justify picking Durant here without actually mentioning his qualities. It’s not a need thing, here. You can’t afford it.

Sports Overload is another: “In 1984, Portland took Sam Bowie 2nd ahead of no other than some kid out of UNC named Michael Jeffrey Jordan. How’d that turn out?”

I’m just going to quote Russ’ tantrum from yesterday: “GREG ODEN ISN’T SAM BOWIE, HE’S AKEEM OLAJUWON. If I read Sam Bowie’s name ONE MORE TIME in connection with this Draft, I’m gonna snap. I’m gonna be Superfly TNT—the guns of the Navarone. STOP IT.”

The Big Lead, a big name around these parts, even picked Durant about a month ago over at the AOL Fanhouse, but said essentially the same as the two prior.

If you’re going to say why Kevin Durant should be the first round pick, someone please mention how good this kid is and can be. Someone please say he looks like Dirk Nowitzki but much, much better at 19. Someone say he’s the most fluid player at 6’10” you’ll ever seen. Someone please say something, anything that doesn’t compare him.

Because he is incomparable and — you’re all right — we should start treating him that way. But he’s still not the first pick.

Vitals: 6’10”, 215 lbs. 18-years-old (seriously), Freshman.
Most accurate portrayal on the Internet: Some Blazers fans want you bad.
Best case: Better than Dirk Nowitzki. And I still think he’s the best player in the game right now.
Worst case: Darius Miles.
Most likely: He’ll unravel into a superstar in the T-Mac/Dirk mold.

3 – Atlanta Hawks – Al Horford (PF, Florida)

This is where most mock drafts say something like, “this is where the draft really begins,” or “this is where the magic happens,” but that sounds like the first thing the ex-quarterback of the high school football team says when he takes his first step into his houseboat, so this sentence is just going to have to do. Sorry.

A lot of people are saying that Billy Knight can’t afford to not take a point guard. He passed on Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Raymond Felton, Jarrett Jack, Delonte West, Rajon Rondo, Jesus Christ… the list goes on. Mike Conley is on the board, he’s obviously the guy.

But no! You don’t get it! Billy Knight has balls! He doesn’t feel the need to conform to the practices of modern society. He’ll draft a shooting guard. He’ll draft ten shooting guards. Don’t keep testing him. Don’t make Billy Knight pick Glen “Big Baby” Davis, because Billy Knight will pick Glen “Big Baby” Davis. And he’ll make him play point guard every game for 48 minutes. That’ll keep the weight off.

If Billy Knight needed a point guard for the last five years and had the picks available to take an all-American one for four of them, what makes you think he’s going to start reaching now?

He’ll take the best talent available, whether he thinks it’s Brandan Wright or Al Horford. The last time he drafted for position, when he picked Shelden Williams last year, he got about a dozen good games out of a guy who he thought would start every day immediately. Horford adds size, leadership and a great all-around game and is probably the third best player in this draft.

Quick story: I was sitting next to a guy this year at a Celtics game who worked for Sports Illustrated, and we figured out a way to rig the stats monitor so we could watch the Sweet 16. The whole time the guy was raving that he looks better than Durant and maybe better than Oden. He said these exact words, “I think he could be the best player in this draft class.” Sure, I started trying to smell if there was alcohol on his breath, but I’m (94%) positive that there wasn’t. There are people (or person, at least) out in the world who believe that. He has the ability to be a star if they find one person on the team who can throw him a lob pass.

Vitals: 6’10”, 244 lbs. 21-years-old. Junior.
Most accurate portrayal on the Internet: Joakim Noah, who is competing for some of the same draft slots as Horford, would like you to maybe consider drafting him instead.
At best: Elton Brand
At worst: Drew Gooden
Most likely: Zach Randolph, but minus that whole “disgrace to the game of basketball” thing.

4 – Memphis Grizzlies – Brandan Wright (PF, UNC)

I hear the Grizzlies had a spectacular, the-end-of-the-movie-Crossover (I never saw it, but I can assume Person A mixes up some rival d-bag, Person B, whom he has never previously been able to mix up)-esque battle between Jeff Green and Nick Young in a workout the other day. How did they schedule such an awesome workout? Is that workout available for birthday parties? I have a cousin that would be very interested.

Anyways, it’s between Wright and Young and I think Wright wins it because he’s two years younger and more post-oriented than Green is. Wright is in a good position because he developed post-moves in pre-school when all of the other kids were taking naps. He’s had the tools forever, he just needs to bulk up and a team is going to need to wait. Which just sucks. That said, this core could look very good with Gay and Pau, as long as Gasol can still play when he’s in his early-30s and they can swipe a free agent next year.

But will Pau hold up? If he can’t hold up, does that mean they pick Jeff Green? If he can’t hold up but they pick Brandan Wright anyway, does that mean they trade Pau? Where would they trade Pau? Can Chris Wallace survive a rebuilding? What was that other basketball movie I was thinking of?

Oh, He Got Game. That’s what that was.

Vitals: 6’10”, 200 lbs. (RED FLAG!) 19-years-old.
Most accurate portrayal on the Internet: A Bill Russell-esque Block on Youtube:
At best: Amare Stoudemire if he becomes very good friends with the fine folks at GNC
At worst: LaMarcus Aldridge circa 2006 forever.
Most likely: People sure love the Chris Bosh comparison, but he doesn’t scream first option on offense to me. He’ll be very good with a slashing two-guard.

5 – Boston Celtics – Corey Brewer (SF, Florida)

I really like my friends back home. Honestly, I do.

We often play poker. Sometimes they come over for hours on end and we scream at the incompetent nitwitted eight and nine-year-old kids of 1994 who somehow can’t figure out the Shrine of the Silver Monkey on Legends of the Hidden Temple (“THE BASE HAS THE FEET ON IT YOU IDIOT! SWEET CHRIST, ALL BIPEDAL THINGS HAVE FEET ON THE BOTTOM!”). One of my friends has a brooding habit, deep from within that is immune to all conscious expulsion, to still play with crane machines at Papa Gino’s and not leave until he gets that friggin’ thing out of there. We’re taking him in for tests tomorrow.

So take a second a pray. To Jesus Christ, Allah, Acme God Inc., just pray that Danny Ainge trades this pick. Or else at least 2/3rds of my friends in the great state of Massachusetts will follow through with their suicide pact, like a cult except a lot less peaceful, and pass in the name of the Curse of Len Bias.

I’m working under the assumption that someone else–the Timberwolves, the Suns, the Lakers, a team without that many young, very athletic 2-guards who will have very nice NBA careers—will make this pick in place of the Celtics.

And so should you, Danny. So should you.

Vitals: 6’8”, 185 lbs. (Look, 2007 NBA Draft, I’m not saying you have an eating “problem,” but…) 21-years-old, Jr.
Most accurate portrayal on the Internet: This isn’t about Corey Brewer at all, I just want you to see every Celtics fan’s reaction immediately after the draft lottery. Some of the fastest photoshop jobs ever.
At best: I like the Mini-Marion comparisons. I can definitely see that happening. If he’s on an up-tempo team, don’t be shocked if he becomes something like that without as much work on the boards.
At worst: Name someone really athletic who is tragically mediocre. Travis Outlaw. Yeah, that’s good.
Most likely: Josh Childress but with better moves off the dribble.

6 – Milwaukee Bucks – Mike Conley (PG, Ohio State)

I think this team really likes Horford and I think they’re probably trying pretty valiantly to trade up to three and get him. He fits very well next to Bogut and this team is surprisingly not that far away from major contention.

But since someone has to make a pick here, I’m stuck. It’s either Green or Conley and the son of the brand new super agent has such a wide range in this draft, from 3-11, it’s hard putting him anywhere. Green is probably the better player and is a lot more NBA-ready. But if the Bucks stay where they are, they played better small all year with Bell and Redd and Mo Williams.

Oh man, Mo Williams is a free-agent. That would be a clear tip-off from the organization that they don’t expect him back. Maybe I should switch this to Jeff Green.


Vitals: 6’1”, 175 lbs., 19-years-old, Freshman.
Most accurate portrayal on the Internet: There’s one guy who doesn’t want you to go pro but he’s not gonna elaborate. This reads like a “give me all your money” bank heist note.
At best: Chris Paul. At least that’s what we hear, but could it be because they’re both 5’11” point guards who had very good college runs?
At worst: Your dime-a-dozen Earl Watson who is quick and does very little wrong, but nothing spectacular.
Most likely: I like the TJ Ford comparison, but he’s not other-worldly at seeing the floor. Yet.

7 – Minnesota Timberwolves – Spencer Hawes (C, Washington) – When 76ers GM Billy King talked with the Philadelphia Daily News, this came out: “King said Hawes reminds him of throwback players like Bill Laimbeer and Kevin McHale.” Uh-huh. Still…not…buying it… I keep hearing that this is a promise, so way to go Kevin McHale! You got your man! The one that Billy King seems to think physically looks like you!

(If he doesn’t go here, he probably won’t go until 12 to Philly. Because this is an enormous, disgusting reach.)

Vitals: 7’1” and, get this, 230 lbs. I’ve roasted marshmallows on sticks bigger than that. 19-years-old. Freshman.
Most accurate portrayal on the Internet: Just, seriously guys, stay away.
At best: Uh, Bill Laimbeer and Kevin McHale, we guess.
At worst: Joel Pryzbilla before he started renting all of those “How To Get Coordinated in Two Weeks!” videos from Blockbuster.
Most likely: Let’s see. He has post moves and is sometimes aggressive. He can shoot a 15-footer. He’s rail thin. My God he’s… he’s… Shawn Bradley reincarnate!

8 – Charlotte Bobcats – Jeff Green (SF, Georgetown) – There are two options as to what your last conversation about the Bobcats entailed:

1) Someone in the conversation, either you or the person or people you were talking to said the phrase, “They have a nice, young team” at some point.
2) You have never had a conversation about the Charlotte Bobcats.

They do have a “nice, young team.” Lots of good, young talent making practically nothing. They’ve never really messed up a draft pick because, with how high their picks are, they’ve never truly had an opportunity to. They have an ample amount of complimentary pieces to a big star.

On draft night, they’ll collect another one–either Jeff Green or Corey Brewer, we’ve been hearing. Then they’ll wait and keep waiting for their ultimate piece, whatever it is, somewhere down the line, when their players are old and gray and tied down to lofty contracts to get them to stay in the state of North Carolina.

And some day, someone will look back and say, “man! They had all those nice, young pieces” and you’ll say, “I know!” and you’ll wonder what went wrong. They were playing by the NBA’s cap and waiting, with that patient (read: nonexistent) fanbase of theirs.

And I read now that maybe they’re waiting for Gilbert Arenas, just like last year they were waiting for Michael Redd, and Ray Allen the year before that. But sooner or later you have to throw your chips at something, even through a trade, and make some sort of move so those complimentary pieces can compliment something. Because Bobcats are not good enough to help themselves and, in a couple of years, they won’t be bad enough anymore either.

I think we’ve covered Jeff Green enough above. I like him a lot. I think he will be very good. I think he has intangibles. I think he has upside. I think he has (another draft term here). Blah blah blah.

Vitals: 6’10”, 228 lbs., 20-years-old, Junior.
Most accurate portrayal on the Internet: Hoya fans want him back so badly they’re serenading him and playing footsies with his Mom.
At best: Whatever Marvin Williams was supposed to be. Chris Bosh? Huh. Funny. He sure doesn’t play like Chris Bosh. A stronger Josh Howard. That’s better.
At worst: A big, strong small forward who dribbles the ball of his leg like it’s his job. Luke Jackson?
Most likely: Anyone on the Hawks not named Joe Johnson.

9 – Chicago Bulls – Joakim Noah (PF/C, Florida) – I absolutely loathed for a while for one specific reason. This came up the first time I talked to Ben Osborne and man did I sound important. “Their comparisons,” I articulated, in my infinite wisdom, “are almost completely based on physical appearance. It has nothing to do with what type of player they are.”

My example, specifically, was Joakim Noah, whom was compared to Cavs’ center Anderson Varejao at the time. Same height. Same skin tone. Funny hair. They were just looking at profile pictures! I found them out. I was a genius. I would only look at DraftExpress regularly now. “More like,” I’d tell those in the know and they’d keel over laughing at my absolutely hilarious jab. I would do stand-up, but I don’t have time. Remember, I was onto something.

So, evidently, was the rest of the Internet. A couple of days after my revelation, they changed his comparison to something inane that I don’t remember. Now it’s “Tyson Chandler (higher basketball IQ).” Hey, I interviewed that guy for 110! He is much smarter than Joakim Noah, you hear me. For example, he speaks in sentences.

Now, months after my revelation, I can’t help but think. This guy sure as hell plays a lot like Anderson Varejao. Ugly jumper. Shoots like he’s throwing up balled paper in to the trash. He has better handles, but is that ever really gonna come in handy?

So much for theories. So much for an even smarter Tyson Chandler. Joakim Noah is a hustle player. We think. Oh well.

We really like the idea of Joakim Noah. We really do – a guy who can and will do anything for the team and who has every available asset, from rebounding to passing to general fire, except the ability to shoot. Put him in a medium-to-up-tempo offensive system, like in LA, and this kid could be Rookie of the Year. But if a team like Boston or Charlotte picks him expecting him to be a second or third option (or fourth or fifth or sixth) on offense, then that team’s GM should be taken out back and shot.

Vitals: 6’11”, 230 lbs. 22-years-old. Junior.
Most accurate portrayal on the Internet: A Yahoo Answers page from someone who clearly watches a lot of basketball with the title, “Is Joakim Noah good?” Our thoughts exactly.
At best: He has a really high floor and a really high ceiling. At worst, he’s a spark off the bench, at best he blossoms because of his size and athleticism. So we say a more dynamic, unselfish and post-based Jermaine O’Neal. Is that Boris Diaw?
At worst: Mark Madsen
Most likely: A more-skilled and versatile Andy V.