2009 NBA Mock Draft Version 3.0 + Updated Consensus

The draft is just a few days away, so it’s a good time to take one final stab at mocking the first round of this draft. I’ll continue to update the consensus draft this week, but this will be my last attempt at predicting what will happen this Thursday.

First, let’s take a look at the most recent consensus. Chad Ford released the most recent version of his mock draft today, NBADraft.net also updated today, while DraftExpress updated their mock yesterday.

Now I’ll go, pick by pick, through the first round, taking the consensus into account while also throwing in my $0.02 here and there.

The Clips have shown no signs of trading away their opportunity to draft Blake Griffin. There is much fluidity with the next few picks, but the Oklahoma product is pretty much guaranteed to be the first pick. The Clippers will then (reportedly) try to move Zach Randolph or Chris Kaman, though it might be wise to move forward with Kaman and Griffin in the front court, Baron Davis at the point, and Eric Gordon and Al Thornton on the wing. Randolph is going to be tough to move. (I still can’t believe that Mike Dunleavy traded for him last season.)
Pick: Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma

The consensus says that Hasheem Thabeet will be the pick and I don’t disagree, even though he just pulled out of a workout with Memphis due to a shoulder injury. DraftExpress thinks that Memphis will go with James Harden and move O.J. Mayo to the point, which they say is his natural position. I don’t know that they’ve given up on Mike Conley yet, so I think they will go big with this pick. Their biggest need is at power forward, so trading down and drafting Jordan Hill is a possibility. But if they stand pat, Thabeet could very well be the pick, even though he doesn’t seem to want to play in Memphis.
Pick: Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn

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NBA consensus mock draft (6/16)

Chad Ford and Draft Express updated their mocks, so it’s a good time to take another look at the consensus. I also added Rotoworld’s most recent mock to the equation, and added a column (“consensus”) that makes a pick if two or more of the mocks agree on a player.

A few random thoughts…

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Oklahoma City explores its options

Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman had this to say about the current trade winds in the NBA…

With just 10 days remaining until the June 25 NBA Draft, one league source said there has been an unusual silence around the league regarding substantial trade talks. The source said the economy is likely the culprit, with the majority of teams primarily interested in shedding high-dollar contracts.

“Dumping contracts is going to be the principal thing in this draft as far as trades go,” the source said. “You’re not going to see pick-for-pick (trades). You’re going to see pick and bad contract for pick.”

Outside of the run of the mill free agents, I think there might be a few big names changing teams this summer, but my bet is that they’ll mostly be the second-tier stars with bloated salaries. The playoff teams that are willing to spend won’t shy away from adding the salary given that the player may be the missing piece to the championship puzzle.

In another column, Mayberry discusses the importance of different positions in the NBA…

Nine of the 10 teams that finished the season ranked in the top 10 in opponent scoring made the playoffs. The common denominator: all had an interior defender or shot-blocker at the center position. (Nine of the 10 teams that finished at the bottom 10 in opponent scoring missed the playoffs. All but two — Chicago and Phoenix — lacked a difference-maker defensively at center.)

But on the flip side, with its roster under construction, the Thunder isn’t in a position to draft for need. Many observers around the league think the Thunder should select the best player available, regardless of position and in spite of Oklahoma City’s gaping hole in the middle.

“A lot of teams feel it’s way more important to have a Brandon Roy than a center,” said the scout. “A guy who can run the high pick-and-roll, get to the free throw line, make plays for others. It’s not even close. You’re dead in the water if you don’t have that guy.”

The Thunder pick third, so they’re likely looking at Ricky Rubio, Hasheem Thabeet and James Harden. The Rubio/Harden decision comes down to what the team has planned for Russell Westbrook. Is he the point guard of the future (as Chad Ford keeps reporting)? If so, it doesn’t make sense to draft Rubio. If they feel that Westbrook is better suited for off guard, then a Rubio/Westbrook backcourt could also be formidable. I’m guessing that the Grizzlies are going to go with Thabeet at #2, so OKC may very well have to make this decision later this month.

2009 NBA Mock Draft Version 2.0

It has been about two weeks since I published my first mock draft, so it’s a good time to check back in with all the news and rumors and take another stab.

Like I said in the intro of my first mock, it’s tough for me to make predictions about what teams will do because I’m constantly thinking about what they should do. These are obviously two very different things.

For this go-around, I’m going to try something a little different. I’ve compiled the picks for four mock drafts from sites that I respect — ESPN (Chad Ford), Dime Magazine, DraftExpress and NBADraft.net — and then I’ll provide my own picks taking their picks into account, to form some sort of consensus.

Let’s get on with it…

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NBA free agency and draft rumors

Charlie Villanueva is open to joining the Cavs, and given the current state of the economy, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the best he’ll be able to do is a deal at the mid-level (~$5.8 million). The Bucks first have to decide whether or not to make the qualifying offer (~$4.6 million) and they may elect not to in order to avoid going over the luxury tax threshold (~$71 million, and could drop). Without Villanueva (and Ramon Sessions, who is also slated to become a restricted free agent), the Bucks’ payroll is at about $61 million with only eight players under contract. Villanueva would give the Cavs a good matchup for Rashard Lewis. Both players are slender power forwards who can shoot the ball, though Charlie V isn’t known for his defense.

– UFA Andre Miller doesn’t have a problem with the Sixers’ hire of head coach Eddie Jordan. The Sixers are over the cap but well under the luxury tax, so I’d expect them to sign the 33 year-old to a one- or two-year deal in the $6-7 million range. He is unlikely to get that on the open market, but Portland is a team with cap space that could use his leadership.

– Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo plans to keep Chris Bosh and try to surround him with better players, unless the talented power forward expresses serious doubts about re-signing. By sending Jermaine O’Neal to the Heat for Shawn Marion (and his expiring contract), the Raptors have about $10 million in cap space heading into the summer. While that may not be enough to land someone like Carlos Boozer, it is enough, coupled with the team’s mid-level exception, to add two or three pretty good players to the roster. How about Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva/Chris Andersen? I’d expect the Bosh rumors to heat up next season if Toronto struggles again early on.

– Hoopsworld says that there’s a rumor making the rounds that the Thunder might take DeMar DeRozan #3. This sounds a little fishy to me because everything I’m seeing shows DeRozan slipping a little after poor agility and sprint tests at the combine. James Harden has the better standing vertical and is just 1.5″ off of DeRozan’s max vertical. Harden also beat DeRozan soundly in the agility and sprint tests and is the much more polished offensive player at this point. DeRozan is 1.5″ taller, but Harden has a higher reach because he has a longer wingspan.

– With Jonny Flynn and Jrue Holiday climbing the draft charts, Ricky Rubio is suddenly open to interviews and workouts with teams picking #2 to #4, which includes Memphis, Oklahoma City and Sacramento. Rubio apparently didn’t play very well in his season finale, and his camp may be worried about him slipping out of the top four if those teams in question find a guy they like better.

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