Now that the deadline for underclassman has come and gone we officially know who is in and who is out of the draft. Some last minute withdrawals were Greivis Vasquez and Luke Harangody. With the NBA Finals over the focus in the NBA world switches to the draft. The draft will be held on June 25th. With that said here is my latest NBA Mock Draft.
1. Los Angeles Clippers- Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma
This pick has been a lock since the start and apparently since last year. Even the Clippers can’t screw this one up. Griffin is the consensus top player in what is considered a weak draft. The drafting of Griffin will probably force the Clippers to trade either Zach Randolph or Chris Kamen.
Previous Pick: Same
2. Memphis Grizzlies- Hasheem Thabeet, C, UCONN
This is where the drafts starts to get interesting. The Grizzlies could take Thabeet, Ricky Rubio, or trade the pick perhaps to Sacramento. The Grizzlies don’t have a big need at center or point guard with Marc Gasol and Mike Conely Jr. at both positions but while Gasol is a solid player you don’t pass up a player like Thabeet for him. Thabeet will be a defensive force early and if his offensive catches up he could have a career similar to Dikembe Mutombo.
Previous Pick: Ricky Rubio
3. Oklahoma City Thunder- James Harden, SG, Arizona State
The Thunder would love to have Thabeet fall to them to give them an defensive presence inside but will likely have to choose between Harden and Rubio. The Thunder seem intent on keeping Russell Westbrook at point guard so drafting Harden to play shooting guard seems likely. Harden would give them another scoring punch and plays good defense.
Previous Pick: Hasheem Thabeet
4. Sacramento Kings- Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain
The Kings will be ecstatic if Rubio falls to them at 4. The Kings went into the lottery thinking they would have Blake Griffin but Rubio would be a hell of a consolation prize. Rubio is only 18 years old but has been playing professionally in Spain since he was 14. Also Rubio said he’d be open to playing in Sacramento which can’t be said for Memphis.
Previous Pick: Brandon Jennings
5. Washington Wizards- Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis
The Wizards are a real wild card in the draft. They have to talent to compete now and are looking to trade the pick for a veteran. There have been rumors of Dallas and Boston being interested but nothing serious has come of them. If the Wizards are unable to trade the pick they will likely choose between Tyreke Evans and Jordan Hill. Evans will give them a guard who they can pair with Gilbert Arenas and play both guard sports.
Previous Pick: Jordan Hill
6. Minnesota Timberwolves- Stephen Curry, PG, Davidson
The Timberwolves clearly need help at point guard and there are plenty to choose from. They could go with Curry, Evans, Flynn, Holiday, or Jennings. Curry has been linked to the Knicks since the start of the draft process but has been rising up the boards lately and there is even talk of him going third. Curry and Randy Foye would give the Timberwolves a very formidable back court.
Previous Pick: James Harden
7. Golden State Warriors- Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy
The Warriors are set with Monte Ellis in the back court but he needs a partner. Whether the Warriors want to play him at the point or at shooting guard will determine who they pick here. Brandon Jennings is a traditional point guard who would fit in good in Don Nelson’s up temp system. Jennings gained invaluable experience playing in Italy last year and Jennings has as much potential as anyone in the draft.
Previous Pick: Tyreke Evans
8. New York Knicks- Johnny Flynn, PG, Syracuse
Everyone has been plugging Stephen Curry to Knicks and it seems like a perfect match but there is a chance Curry will be gone in which case the Knicks will have to regroup. If they miss out on Curry, Johnny Flynn would be a great pick. The Knicks are in dire need of a point guard and Flynn was arguably the best in college basketball down the stretch last year. Flynn lit up the Big East Tournament last season in Madison Square Garden and he could be calling it home next year.
Previous Pick: Stephen Curry
9. Toronto Raptors- DeMar DeRozan, SG, USC
The Raptors get lucky here with DeRozan slipping all the way to 9. DeRozan got off to a slow start last year at USC but turned it on once conference play started and showed why he was one of the top recruits in the nation. DeRozan has tremendous athletic ability and has the potential to be an All Star in the league. With Shawn Marion and Anthony Parker headed for free agency DeRozan would fill a big need for the Raptors and play right away.
Previous Pick: Same
10. Milwaukee Bucks- Jrue Holiday, G, UCLA
The Bucks have two big free agents this off season in Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions. Both are restricted free agents but it is likely that the Bucks will lose at least one. If the Bucks lose Sessions Holiday would be a fine replacement. Holiday was a top recruit but struggled to find playing time and produce at UCLA in his freshman year. Holiday has risen up draft boards with good workouts in the pre draft process and could go higher than this.
Previous Pick: DeJuan Blair
11. New Jersey Nets- Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona
The Nets get lucky here with Jordan Hill falling into their lap at number 11. Hill has been projected to go as high as #5 to Washington and if he falls to them in the real draft it would be a steal. Hill improved every year while he was at Arizona and only started to play organized basketball as a senior in high school. Hill will bring energy and rebounding to New Jerseys front line and would team with Brook Lopez to give the Nets a great young front line.
Previous Pick: James Johnson
12. Charlotte Bobcats- Gerald Henderson
The Bobcats took a step forward in the first year under Larry Brown but still need help before they are a playoff team. After trading Jason Richardson the Bobcats created a big gap at shooting guard. Henderson measured in at 6’5 with a 6’10 wingspan impressive numbers for the Duke alum. Henderson really came into his own as a junior at Duke and can play right away, something Larry Brown covets in rookies.
Previous Pick: Same
13. Indian Pacers- Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina
With the influx of point guards available in this draft one of them is certain to fall to the Pacers at 13. The Pacers seem to be set at the other positions with Brandon Rush at the 2, Danny Granger and Troy Murphy at the forward sports, and Roy Hibbert in the middle. The T.J. Ford, Jarrett Jack combo at point has not worked out and Lawson cold step in right away and play. Lawson was lights out in the tournament displaying his leadership and on court.
Previous Pick: Johnny Flynn
14. Phoenix Suns- James Johnson, F, Wake Forest
The Suns could go in a lot of directions with this pick. The could look at a point guard with Steve Nash set to become a free agent next summer or a center like B.J. Mullens if they decide to trade Shaq but they are most likely to take a wing player a la Shawn Marion and that’s where James Johnson comes in. Johnson is a hybrid forward that can play both spots and has a great combo of size and strength. Johnson is also very good in transition making him a good fit in the Suns up temp offense.
Previous Pick: Earl Clark
Check out the rest of round here and check out this other mock draft.