Exactly one week after the 2010 NBA champion is crowned in tonight’s Game 7 between the Lakers and Celtics, the 2011 season begins with the June 24 NBA Draft.
Since our last mock draft, one projected Lottery pick pulled his name out of consideration (Lithuanian center Donatas Montiejunas), while other players projected to go a lot later in the first round have jumped into Lottery consideration. This updated mock is a combination of what we think teams should do, and what we think they will do:
1. Washington — John Wall, PG, Kentucky
The only question now is whether Wall or Stephen Strasburg will be D.C.’s biggest sports celebrity for 2010. Nothing against our Dime #57 cover guy, but we might have to go with the redhead. Strasburg is an ANIMAL, and D.C. fans don’t already hate his Washington Nationals.
2. Philadelphia — Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State
There’s been a swell of support (internally and externally) for Derrick Favors going here, but when it comes time to pull the trigger, we think the Sixers will make the safe pick in Turner.
3. New Jersey — Derrick Favors, PF/C, Georgia Tech
Favors or DeMarcus Cousins? There hasn’t been a big-man debate at the Draft this close since LaMarcus Aldridge vs. Tyrus Thomas. (For whatever reason, Hasheem Thabeet vs. Jordan Hill lacked a certain intrigue.) Oddly enough, although Favors’ game is closer to Tyrus’ when he came out of LSU, he’s more pro-ready than Cousins.
4. Minnesota — Wes Johnson, SF, Syracuse
Word out of Wolves camp is they’ve locked in on Johnson, who would be their second straight Lottery pick out of Syracuse.
5. Sacramento — DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C, Kentucky
And yes, the Kings PR office is nervous about the possibilities of Tyreke/Cousins being the faces of the franchise: two 20-year-olds with not exactly spot-free pasts in a town that isn’t exactly bursting with extra-curricular activity.
6. Golden State — Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown
The Warriors have tried and failed before with skinny bigs (Brandan Wright), but Monroe is solid. At the Chicago combine he weighed in at 247 pounds, more than Derrick Favors (245), Patrick Patterson (240), Cole Aldrich (236) and Ed Davis (227). And Monroe can run.
7. Detroit — Ekpe Udoh, PF, Baylor
His stock is rising with every workout. Although when you’ve got Kwame Brown and Chris Wilcox on your roster, taking another highly-touted big man can be understandably scary.
8. L.A. Clippers — Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest
The only position where the Clips aren’t solid. Aminu and Blake Griffin could be this year’s Darren Collison/Marcus Thornton breakout rookie tandem.
9. Utah — Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas
We hear the Jazz are giving him Curtis Borchardt’s old locker.
10. Indiana — Gordon Hayward, SF, Butler
The Pacers need a point guard, and are shopping this pick in trade talks for Ty Lawson and Darren Collison. If the Pacers keep the pick, it’s tough to see Larry Bird passing on local hero Hayward.
11. New Orleans — Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina
Kentucky junior Patrick Patterson is ready to contribute right away and seems like the perfect David West understudy, but the sophomore Davis brings a more athletic element to the table.
12. Memphis — Avery Bradley, PG, Texas
Think of what Kyle Lowry brings to Houston as Aaron Brooks’ backup, and we can see Bradley filling that role behind Mike Conley, with potential to win the starting job someday.
13. Toronto — Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky
Insurance for Chris Bosh’s inevitable departure.
14. Houston — Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall
College basketball’s leading shot-blocker as a freshman can be a beast in a few years. Whiteside can keep up when the Rockets use their fast lineup, and learn some post moves working with Yao.
15. Milwaukee — James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State
If John Salmons leaves and Michael Redd can’t recapture his All-Star form, the Bucks need another backcourt scorer next to Brandon Jennings. Anderson has three years’ Big 12 experience and can play right away for a playoff team.
16. Minnesota — Xavier Henry, SG, Kansas
The Wolves have a little more time to develop a guy like Henry, who left KU after his freshman year and has enough raw talent to be an All-Star in a few years.
17. Chicago — Luke Babbitt, SF/PF, Nevada
He’d become immediately irrelevant if the Bulls convince LeBron the grass is greener on their side, but not like any Chicago fan would care at that point.
18. Miami — Paul George, SF, Fresno State
Rising up draft boards following an impressive combine and good individual workouts.
19. Boston — Eric Bledsoe, PG, Kentucky
For an NBA Finals team, the Celtics have some major needs. Rajon Rondo needs a legit backup, Ray Allen could leave in free agency, and KG doesn’t have much time left.
20. San Antonio — Solomon Alabi, C, Florida State
Reportedly blew teams away in all the between-the-ears tests, which bodes well if you’re going to play for Gregg Popovich. The Spurs need a young center to bring some energy to its aging frontcourt.
21. Oklahoma City — Daniel Orton, C/PF, Kentucky
The Oklahoma native reportedly canceled several workouts this week, as it’s believed he might have gotten a promise from his hometown team. First drill when he gets to Thunder practice: “Boxing out Pau Gasol.”
22. Portland — Larry Sanders, PF, VCU
Active rebounder and defender is pretty raw, but can learn a lot under Marcus Camby and LaMarcus Aldridge (on offense).
23. Minnesota — Kevin Seraphin, PF, France
With Al Jefferson and Kevin Love in place, the Wolves can afford to take a gamble on a project.
24. Atlanta — Lance Stephenson, SG, Cincinnati
If Joe Johnson is gone, the Hawks will need a big guard to train in his place.
25. Memphis — Damion James, SF, Texas
Four-year college player helps shore up the three spot in case Rudy Gay leaves.
26. Oklahoma City – Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State
Good perimeter shooter measures just under 6-10. Serge Ibaka brings the defense to OKC’s second-unit front line; Brackins can bring scoring.
27. New Jersey — Jordan Crawford, SG, Xavier
Some teams want the 6-4 Crawford to play point guard, but he’s a natural two. Plenty of guys have carved out a niche as a pure scoring SG who are shorter than Crawford, so he shouldn’t have to switch positions.
28. Memphis — Quincy Pondexter, SF, Washington
Another college senior who can help the playoff-ready Grizzlies right away.
29. Orlando — Devin Ebanks, SF, West Virginia
Magic GM Otis Smith said he’s not planning a major roster overhaul following the Eastern Conference Finals disappointment. Ebanks is a good project for a deep, contending team. He doesn’t have to be an impact player right away and has room to grow, but has star potential.
30. Washington — Stanley Robinson, SF, UConn
Experienced senior won’t need as much of a learning curve, and plays defense, something the offense-happy Wizards will need.