NBA mock draft: Take 5, Round 1
1. Washington Wizards – John Wall, PG, Kentucky: The dynamic point guard visited his future home last week, conducting a one-hour workout for the Wizards. “I said that’s my dream come true growing up to be the No. 1 pick, but they haven’t told me I am going to be the guy, and I don’t know if I’m going to be the guy,” Wall said with a straight face. “I just came out here to work out and try to impress them, and hopefully on draft night they’ll pick me.” Don’t bother hoping, John. It’s a lock.
2. Philadelphia 76ers – Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State: No one can accuse the Sixers of avoiding their due diligence. In a span of four days last week, they brought in Turner, then Derrick Favors and DeMarcus Cousins together, followed by Wesley Johnson. In the meantime, Philadelphia traded center Samuel Dalembert(notes) to Sacramento for center Spencer Hawes(notes) and forward Andres Nocioni(notes). The Sixers actually took on more salary in the deal because they were so anxious to unload Dalembert. Is this a sign they’re prepared to take Favors or Cousins at No. 2? Maybe, but they did get another center in return. For now, it appears the Sixers are still focused on Turner.
3. New Jersey Nets – Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech: There isn’t much doubt the Nets will select Favors – or Turner if the Sixers pull a surprise move at No. 2. Favors and center Brook Lopez(notes) could be a devastating inside combination in a few years. Favors is an impressive athlete who compares favorably in size and leaping ability to Dwight Howard(notes).
4. Minnesota Timberwolves – Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse: Interesting that Derrick Favors worked out for the Timberwolves last week, but DeMarcus Cousins had refused to make the trip as of Sunday. There have been rumors for months that Minnesota will listen to offers for power forward Al Jefferson(notes), which could open a spot for a big man in the lineup. Johnson makes plenty of sense, though, because he could add length, athleticism and outside shooting.
5. Sacramento Kings – Greg Monroe, C, Georgetown: Word is, DeMarcus Cousins had an impressive workout in Sacramento, which might force Kings management to rethink the draft plan. There is a feeling around the league that general manager Geoff Petrie usually leans toward safe picks and strong character. If form holds, the choice figures to be Monroe. Last week’s acquisition of center Sam Dalembert from Philadelphia is probably irrelevant to this pick.
6. Golden State Warriors Ekpe Udoh, PF/C, Baylor: General manager Larry Riley suggested last week the Warriors are a team that needs some power around the basket. If that line is taken literally, Golden State will jump at the chance to pick DeMarcus Cousins or perhaps Greg Monroe if he’s still on the board. Don’t count out Udoh, though. He’s mature, versatile and athletic, and his stock has been rising as he’s toured the league’s practice gyms.
7. Detroit Pistons – DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C, Kentucky: Last summer’s free-agent signings of Charlie Villanueva(notes) and Chris Wilcox(notes) didn’t do much for the Pistons. So expect Detroit to snag whoever is left among Cousins, Greg Monroe and Ekpe Udoh. Cousins comes with plenty of questions, such as whether he’ll control his weight and cut down on outbursts directed at his coach. That’s why there is a good chance he’ll drop to this spot.
8. Los Angeles Clippers – Paul George, SF, Fresno State: The Clippers are still waiting to see last year’s top pick Blake Griffin(notes) in a regular season game. He missed all of his rookie season with a knee injury. George’s stock has been on the rise since draft workouts began and he’d be an intriguing choice for the Clippers, adding an impressive athlete to play on the front line with Griffin.
9. Utah Jazz – Xavier Henry, SG, Kansas: The Jazz traded Ronnie Brewer(notes) last winter and Kyle Korver(notes) is a free agent, so stability at the wing would be a nice add. Henry has the size and athleticism to fit the bill, plus he shot 41.8 percent from 3-point range as a freshman. He was inconsistent at Kansas but might have the talent to become a solid pro.
10. Indiana Pacers – Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina: The son of former Dallas Mavericks power forward Terry Davis has all the tools to be a solid NBA big man. He just had a limited body of work in college. He was a reserve on North Carolina’s title team in 2009 then missed 13 games late last season because of a broken wrist. He averaged 12.9 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks last season when he was on the court.
11. New Orleans Hornets – Luke Babbitt, SF, Nevada: There is a reason the Hornets overpaid for free agent Peja Stojakovic(notes) in 2006: A star point guard such as Chris Paul(notes) should be paired with a reliable outside shooter. Last year at Nevada, Babbitt shot 50 percent overall, 40 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the foul line.
12. Memphis Grizzlies – Gordon Hayward, SF, Butler: The Grizzlies don’t really have an obvious need besides the need to get better. The versatile Hayward should give the bench a lift, assuming restricted free agent Rudy Gay(notes) sticks around. The hero of Butler’s tournament run averaged 15.5 points and 8.2 rebounds last season as a sophomore.
13. Toronto Raptors – Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas: The Raptors must have come to grips by now with the fact that Andrea Bargnani(notes) is not a center. While several big men candidates will be available at this spot, Aldrich appears to be the most polished of the group. He barely played as a freshman, had a big sophomore year and then slumped slightly as a junior. He was measured at 6-foot-9 in bare feet at the predraft camp, shorter than expected, but he did average 3.5 blocks last season.
14. Houston Rockets – Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest: He has the skills to go higher in the draft, although some scouts question his casual demeanor on the college court. Aminu is a large small forward who can play in the post. He averaged a double-double (15.8 points, 10.7 rebounds) last year at Wake.
15. Milwaukee Bucks – Kevin Seraphin, PF, Cholet (France): Even though he’ll be rehabbing a knee injury this summer, the 6-10 Seraphin’s stock seems to be rising. The native of French Guyana is an impressive, long-armed athlete. He played for Cholet in the French league, the same club that produced one of last year’s surprise rookies, Dallas guard Rodrigue Beaubois(notes).
16. Minnesota Timberwolves – Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky: If the Timberwolves choose Wesley Johnson at No. 4, as expected, they might want to add some depth on the inside. Patterson averaged 17.9 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks as a sophomore. When Kentucky’s touted freshman class arrived, he took on more of a supporting role.
17. Chicago Bulls – James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State: The Bulls need a reliable 3-point shooter, and the 6-6 Anderson averaged 22.3 points last season as a junior. One concern is whether he’ll be an effective spot-up shooter. He ran through plenty of screens as the focal point of the Cowboys’ offense.
18. Miami Heat – Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall: Of the players measured at the predraft camp, the 7-1 Whiteside had the longest wingspan. He also averaged an impressive 5.4 blocks as a freshman. Whether one promising season at Marshall can translate into NBA success is anyone’s guess, but Miami could use a center.
19. Boston Celtics – Dominique Jones, SG, South Florida: Ray Allen(notes) is free to leave this summer, so Boston might want to line up another scorer at two guard. The 6-4 Jones nearly carried South Florida into the NCAA tournament, averaging 21.4 points and 8.5 free throw attempts per game as a junior.
20. San Antonio Spurs – Craig Brackins, PF/C, Iowa State: The Spurs could definitely use some reinforcements on the front line. The 6-10 Brackins was touted as a lottery pick after averaging 20.2 points and 9.5 rebounds as a sophomore. He stayed in school and had a disappointing season, but there is always room for skilled big men in the NBA.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Larry Sanders, PF, VCU: Sanders didn’t play organized basketball until high school. That could mean he’s a late bloomer who will continue to improve; it also could mean he was never really excited about basketball in the first place. He averaged at least 2.5 blocks and shot 50 percent from the field in all three seasons at VCU.
22. Portland Trail Blazers – Damion James, SF, Texas: Staying in school four years isn’t popular among draft candidates, but James stepped up as a senior to average 18 points and 10.3 rebounds. His life story is also impressive: He steered clear of trouble even while both his parents spent time in prison.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves – Jordan Crawford, SG, Xavier: After becoming famous last summer for dunking on LeBron James(notes) at a basketball camp, the 6-5 Crawford averaged 20.5 points last season. The Indiana transfer stepped up his game in the NCAA tournament, averaging 29 points in three games.
24. Atlanta Hawks – Quincy Pondexter, SF, Washington: The 6-7 Pondexter bumped his scoring average from 12.1 to 19.3 points during his senior year. His father, Roscoe, was a third-round draft pick of the Celtics in the early 1970s.
25. Memphis Grizzlies – Eric Bledsoe, PG, Kentucky: He might have gotten lost in John Wall’s glare last season, but NBA teams have been impressed with Bledsoe’s workouts. He has the tools to become a solid defender and should continue to improve his outside shot.
26. Oklahoma City Thunder – Tibor Pleiss, C, Brose Baskets Bamberg (Germany): Pleiss says his favorite part of the game is playing defense. Listed at 7-1 and 242 pounds, he averaged 8.5 points and 5.5 rebounds last season in the German Bundesliga.
27. New Jersey Nets – Armon Johnson, PG, Nevada: Johnson has been promoting the idea he’s a pure point guard, but some NBA scouts wonder if that’s true. He has long arms, tested well athletically and increased his assist average to 5.6 last season, so he’s making a good case.
28. Memphis Grizzlies – Daniel Orton, C, Kentucky: There were rumors last week that Orton canceled workouts because he already had a promise in the top 15. His camp denied the stories. After missing most of his senior year in high school with a knee injury, then averaging just 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds as a freshman at Kentucky, the top 15 would be quite a jump.
29. Orlando Magic – Terrico White, SG, Mississippi: Consistency was an issue during his sophomore season at Mississippi. He did average 15.1 points and recorded the highest vertical leap at the predraft camp.
30. Washington Wizards – Tiny Gallon, C, Oklahoma: During his final year at Oak Hill Academy, Gallon took 79 shots from 3-point range and made a respectable 42 percent. That seems odd considering he measured 6-9½ and 302 pounds at the predraft camp. Gallon shattered a backboard at Gonzaga in January.
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