The needs of NBA teams are a bit outside our usual realm of expertise here at The Dagger, but we're smart enough to ask for help when we need it. We've brought in Ball Don't Lie's Kelly Dwyer to help us out with our mock draft. Kelly handled the team needs and we did our best to fill those needs. Here are picks 1 to 15.
What they need: Washington has the first and last picks in the first round, and even with Gilbert Arenas sticking around for a spell, the Wiz will need help at any position. A proper big man, a scoring point, a slashing scorer with size, a beefy post-up demon; anything helps. And when anything helps, the best player available is usually the best option. Good thing they have the best option in this draft.
Who's available: It might take an executive order from the president to keep the Wizards from selecting John Wall with the top pick. Wall's speed in the open court, defensive potential and ability to finish around the rim makes him a no-brainer at No. 1, even if it means moving Arenas off ball to accommodate him.
The pick: John Wall
What they need: Philly's only pick comes second overall, and though the team is pretty loaded with good, young talent, 27-win teams can always use a little help. The squad is pretty tiny in the backcourt as it stands, with Lou Williams, Jrue Holiday, and Willie Green sharing time at the guard spots. With a forward-heavy roster, and a certain all-world shooting guard likely available at the second slot, the 76ers could walk out of Thursday night a big winner.
Who's available: There was never a whole lot of mystery about this pick, but Philly spoiled what little drama there was by "accidentally" releasing a page on their official website last Friday entitled "Sixers draft Evan Turner." Unless this is the ultimate smokescreen, the 76ers will be getting a playmaking, highly skilled shooting guard who led Ohio State to the Sweet 16.
The pick: Evan Turner
What they need: With the Nets sending Chris Douglas-Roberts to the Milwaukee Bucks for a second round pick, they'll likely have just six roster spots spoken for entering draft night. And yet, with all those spaces to fill, the Nets are pretty set at the league's two most important positions, center and point guard. The Nets need a scoring big to work in tandem with Brook Lopez, and some wing scorers to work around Devin Harris. Any forward will do, especially if it will help the Nets take minutes away from Yi Jianlian and Kris Humphries.
Who's available: Now it gets interesting. Are the Nets floating their interest in Wesley Johnson to force Minnesota to trade up to grab him, or do they really like the athletic, high-scoring Syracuse wing more than power forwards Derrick Favors and DeMarcus Cousins. The guess here is that the selection will be Favors, an athletic power forward with huge upside who will provide the perfect complement to Lopez down low.
The pick: Derrick Favors
What they need: If rumored deals with the Memphis Grizzlies go through, the Timberwolves will have four first round picks to work with on Thursday, used either to bulk up what is a pretty mismatched roster, or to sweeten any offer that would send Al Jefferson (and his large contract) another team's way. The Wolves are deep at the point guard position, and they've plenty of undersized power forwards to go along. But if the best player available turns out to be another big forward, Timberwolves GM David Kahn might end up drafting now, and trading later. Hopefully for another power forward or point guard, which would allow us to make more jokes.
Who's available: If the Nets haven't snapped up Johnson with the previous pick, he'd fill Minnesota's need for a high-scoring wing. If Johnson is off the board or the Timberwolves decide to take the best available talent, they'll take either Cousins or Favors and figure out how to solve the roster overload later.
The pick: Wesley Johnson
What they need: Despite the presence of Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans and a career season from Beno Udrih, the Kings still lack for backcourt depth, and they badly need a pure passer to find looks for the team's solid core of interior would-be scorers. And though Evans did well last season on his way toward a 20-point, five-rebound, five-assist season, the Kings would like to create an offense that doesn't see the ball go through his mitts every time down court.
Who's available: Sacramento would have to reach for backcourt talent if Johnson is off the board at No. 5, so look for them to select a big man in hopes of complementing Carl Landry and Samuel Dalembert. Cousins would be the best low post scorer and defender available here, but Georgetown center Greg Monroe is the best passing big man in the draft and might be a good fit in Sacramento.
The pick: DeMarcus Cousins
What they need: Golden State is a ridiculous mess of a franchise that is in ownership flux, leadership flux from the personnel executive position, and coaching flux from check-cashing coach Don Nelson, who clearly doesn't give a flux. The Warriors are in desperate need of a pure point guard, but that would take away minutes from Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, two point-guard sized shooting guards that are already vying for looks at the hoop. We'd tell you that the Warriors need a versatile big man to defend and crash the glass, but if they found that presence with the sixth pick, would Nelson even play the kid?
Who's available: A troubled franchise like Golden State would be the worst possible place for the combustible Cousins to land, yet the Warriors would surely snap him up if he somehow slipped to them at No. 6. Even if Cousins is off the board, expect Golden State to add another big man to its collection of failed front-court lottery picks. Greg Monroe reportedly had a poor workout with the Warriors, but his passing ability makes him a logical pick.
The pick: Greg Monroe
What they need: The Pistons are overpaid, not very good, and desperate for any type of passing threat; especially an interior presence, or scoring demon. Anything will work with this team, though. Just because you've heard of Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Gordon, Rodney Stuckey, or Charlie Villanueva doesn't mean they should be getting big minutes.
Who's available: The Pistons would likely need to trade up to get Cousins, but Baylor's Ekpe Udoh or North Carolina's Ed Davis could be fallback options if they can't pull it off. Udoh, a former Michigan transfer, blossomed in his lone year at Baylor, displaying a solid mid-range game and the ability to make an impact with his shot-blocking and hustle. Davis showed he can score with his back to the basket at North Carolina, but he'll need to develop a mid-range game at the NBA level.
The pick: Ed Davis
What they need: Los Angeles is actually a very talented team, when healthy, motivated, and/or in shape. They'll take in Blake Griffin this fall, he'd probably go second in this draft as it is, while Chris Kaman and Eric Gordon are a couple of young players that have the potential to be borderline All-Stars. The Clippers will also have over $17 million in cap space, once they've made their lottery selection. Without getting into how the organization will likely screw it all up, the team could use some depth at either wing position.
Who's available: If Wake Forest's Al-Farouq Aminu is still on the board, the 6-foot-8 forward appears to be the most likely candidate to be hit with the Clippers curse. Aminu is an aggressive tweener who defends well and can get to the rim, but his outside shooting and ability to score consistently remain a question mark. Of course, the Clippers aren't exactly lacking for players who like to shoot the ball, so maybe that makes Aminu an even better fit.
The pick: Al-Farouq Aminu
9. Utah Jazz
What they need: The Jazz will finally take in New York's lottery pick, one they traded for over six years ago; and though it won't be in the top five, it might be coming at the absolute best time. 2010-11 might be Utah's best chance at taking a ring, what with this team's older contributors fading slightly. And as it has been for a while, since Jeff Hornacek retired in 2000, Utah has a severe need for wing contributors. Anyone to score and/or defend from the shooting guard or small forward position.
Who's available: A big man with the size that the Jazz covet won't fall to them here, but they'll have a plethora of options at wing. Do they go long-term upside with the raw yet ultra-athletic Paul George? Do they go for a player with proven scoring ability but limited athleticism like Nevada's Luke Babbitt? Or do they go for a combination of the two with either Butler's Gordon Hayward or Kansas' Xavier Henry? Utah is a team built to win now, so Hayward might be the best bet.
The pick: Gordon Hayward
10. Indiana Pacers
What they need: The Pacers need talent. Preferably white talent. Preferable, to the team's executives, would be a talented white man who won't play much due to injury. Uncomfortable bad jokes aside, the Pacers should be in the market for a pure passer who could really help find sound looks for the solid offensive talent that this team actually has. Pacers coach Jim O'Brien is hardly a fan of T.J. Ford at this point (who is?), and was banking on the interior passing skills of center Roy Hibbert for long stretches late last year. Hibbert wasn't half bad at finding cutters, but perhaps it's time to go small.
Who's available: If the Pacers are going to find a replacement for Ford at point guard, they'll either have to trade the 10th pick for a veteran or majorly reach. The next point guard taken in this draft will probably be Kentucky's Eric Bledsoe, and he's nowhere close to being worth the No. 10 pick. That means the Pacers probably have to either sell some tickets with Hayward if he's still available or go for the best player available with someone like Xavier Henry, Ekpe Udoh or Ed Davis.
The pick: Ekpe Udoh
What they need: The Hornets' depth was long suspect until GM Jeff Bower amped up his backcourt by taking Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton in last year's Draft. He now needs to do something about his team's sorry small forward position, alternately the weakest and best-compensated (Peja Stojakovic and James Posey will combine to make over $20 million next season) in the NBA. As starters go, beyond that, the Hornets are pretty set, so the best player available could be a real bonus if Bower gets it right again.
Who's available: The Hornets may not get a surefire all-star with the No. 11 pick, but they will have their choice of a handful of talented wings. Out of the group of Henry, Babbitt, George and Hayward, Henry is the most logical pick here. The Kansas freshman may not be able to consistently create his own shot, but Chris Paul and Darren Collison's ability to get into the lane would set him for plenty of open jumpers.
The pick: Xavier Henry
12. Memphis Grizzlies
What they need: It may have been a fluke, or a sign of things to come. But out of nowhere, Memphis' young core enjoyed a standout season in 2009-10. The team still needs help in the backcourt, it could use another shooter to spell O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay at the wing positions (especially if Gay leaves this summer as a free agent, a distinct possibility if another team makes a ridiculous offer Memphis can't match), and it needs someone to take the reins from Mike Conley at the point. Conley has developed into a passable player, but he's not a starter on a good team.
Who's available: If sweet-shooting wings Henry and Hayward are off the board, their best option could be Fresno State wing Paul George, one of the fastest risers in this draft since the end of the college season. College basketball fans will be baffled at how a wing who couldn't even make first-team all-WAC could become a lottery pick, but George's outside shooting is a strength and NBA scouts like his long frame and athleticism.
The pick: Paul George
13. Toronto Raptors
What they need: After signing P.J. Carlesimo to a big contract as an assistant coach and tossing down the big bucks for Hedo Turkoglu last year, it appears as if money is no issue for the Raptors these days, and it's a bit surprising that they haven't been able to move up in a draft that could net them significant help. As it stands, the squad is desperate for any sort of defensive force, be it on the interior or on the perimeter.
Who's available: The need for a solid defender immediately takes guys like Babbitt, George or Texas guard Avery Bradley off the board, but there are some big men who might be able to make an impact. If Udoh slips this far, he could be an option. If not, Virginia Commonwealth's Larry Sanders would be a good fit. The 6-foot-11 big man is pretty raw offensively with his back to the basket, but he has good length and athleticism and averaged 2.6 blocks per game last season.
The pick: Larry Sanders
14. Houston Rockets
What they need: The worry with Houston, banking on Yao Ming's return, a career year from an in-prime Luis Scola, and Kevin Martin's first full season as a Rocket, is that they'll try for a win-now approach to the draft. If the team does trade up, though, would any player in the top five put these guys over the top? The Rockets need help, on both ends. A knockout point man to find open looks for Yao and push Aaron Brooks into a more suitable third guard role would help, as would any sort of power forward figure to work and learn under savvy types like Yao and Scola.
Who's available: Did someone call for a hard-working power forward ready to contribute immediately? Enter Kentucky's Patrick Patterson, who averaged 14.3 points and 7.4 rebounds as a junior last season. Patterson's not a great defender and his mid-range game needs work, but he's a back-to-the-basket scorer capable of cracking a rotation right away.
The pick: Patrick Patterson
15. Milwaukee Bucks
What they need: With the addition of Corey Maggette, the return of Michael Redd, a trade for Chris Douglas-Roberts, and the potential for John Salmons to sign the contract extension the Bucks have put on the table, the wing position is more or less spoken for up in Milwaukee. But Dan Gadzuric is in Golden State, Kurt Thomas could run elsewhere, and Andrew Bogut will need a backup. So will undersized power forward Luc Mbah a Moute. The Bucks have to go long.
Who's available: Potential backup centers are abundant at this stage of the draft, so it's a matter of finding the right one. Kansas' Cole Aldrich can run the pick and roll and block an occasional shot, Marshall's Hassan Whiteside and Florida State's Solomon Alabi is a shot-blocker with undeveloped offensive skills and Kentucky's Daniel Orton is a physical rebounder with questions about his health and conditioning.
The pick: Hassan Whiteside