As time progresses, NBA mock drafts are beginning to look more and more like the Top 30 Prospect ranking in Dime #49. The change can be attributed to the NBA Draft Combine measurements, which has propelled James Harden, Tyreke Evans and Earl Clark up the draft board.
1. L.A. Clippers — Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma
Keep the future All-Star, or trade him for a package that may include a future All-Star or two? That’s the only question facing the Clippers. Blake’s hometown OKC Thunder are interested in dealing, but they might have to give up Russell Westbrook in the process, and point guards are just too important these days.
2. Memphis — Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn
Two things vault Thabeet ahead of seemingly perfect fit Ricky Rubio: (1) The big man measured an insane 7-6 wingspan, and (2) Rubio’s people apparently don’t want him playing in Memphis. No need in creating another Yi-in-Milwaukee situation.
3. Oklahoma City — James Harden, SG, Arizona State
Assuming they stay in this spot, OKC lands a solid two-guard who can ease some of Kevin Durant’s scoring load.
4. Sacramento — Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain
From Day One of training camp, Beno Udrih is gonna be walking around with the same look on his face that Matt Saracen had when he found out Voodoo Tatum was transferring to Dillon High School. The coaches can try to reassure Beno all they want, but he knows what’s up.
5. Washington — Tyreke Evans, PG/SG, Memphis
Reports out of D.C. say the Wizards want a guard to put next to Gilbert Arenas. Tyreke can play the one or the two, allowing Gilbert to do the same. And what about DeShawn Stevenson? You can’t see him in the starting five anymore.
6. Minnesota — Earl Clark, SF, Louisville
Shooting up the draft board after the Chicago combine. Measured a legit 6-10 with crazy wingspan. Even with Mike Miller still on board and Corey Brewer coming back from injury, Clark could step in right away and start.
7. Golden State — Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy
Could they use an athletic big man like Jordan Hill? Yeah. But Nellie’s system depends on having a great point guard, and Monta Ellis isn’t even a real point guard, and there are just too many PG’s in this year’s class to pass one up with a Top-10 pick.
8. New York — Stephen Curry, PG/SG, Davidson
No matter what the Knicks PR mouthpieces say about the “guarantee” they supposedly didn’t give to Curry, that story didn’t appear out of thin air. Steph fits with Mike D’Antoni’s pace, and he’ll shoot your face off.
9. Toronto — DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF, USC
They’ve needed an explosive wing who can attack the rim ever since You-Know-Who left town.
10. Milwaukee — Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona
He’s making a significant drop down the board only due to the needs of teams above this spot. The Bucks need a true PF and another tough guy in the paint.
11. New Jersey — Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke
If Lawrence Frank is gonna keep his job beyond 2010, he needs guys other than Devin Harris and Vince Carter who can put the ball in the basket. Henderson can play D, too.
12. Charlotte — James Johnson, PF/SF, Wake Forest
His measurements at the Chicago pre-draft camp move Johnson up the board. No surprise to see MJ go with the Carolina-area product.
13. Indiana — Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse
A strong athlete at the point who makes one of the feuding PG tandem of Jarrett Jack and T.J. Ford expendable.
14. Phoenix — Eric Maynor, PG, Virginia Commonwealth
You’re welcome, Steve Nash.
15. Detroit — Wayne Ellington, SG, North Carolina
Joe Dumars knows what he’s doing; if he can get another Rip Hamilton, he should jump at the opportunity. Ellington is a sensational pure shooter. And he’d benefit so much from learning even more about moving without the ball from Hamilton.
16. Chicago — B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State
If Mullens’ game keeps developing, he and Joakim Noah could be a crazy good offense/defense center combo. Mullens has three-point range and an aggressive scoring mentality when he gets minutes.
17. Philadelphia — Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina
Whether he’s Andre Miller’s immediate replacement or his eventual replacement, the speed demon Lawson fits with Philly’s up-tempo personnel and gives new coach Eddie Jordan’s offense a boost.
18. Minnesota — Chase Budinger, SG, Arizona
The only potential drawback: Budinger grew up in Southern California, then played college ball in Arizona. How will he socially adapt to ‘Sota? This could be the NBA’s first recorded case of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
19. Atlanta — Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest
Somebody’s gonna have to sooth Acie Law’s feelings and convince him that this pick isn’t an indication that he’s been a bust. Good luck with that.
20. Utah — DeJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh
Forget his height; Blair’s long arms and rebounding instinct will allow him to get plenty of boards on the next level. With Carlos Boozer most likely leaving and Paul Millsap assuming the starting PF spot, the Jazz need depth here.
21. New Orleans — Patrick Mills, PG, St. Mary’s
Chris Paul got a first-hand look at the kid last summer when Team USA played Australia. If Mills is still on the board at 21, CP might personally lobby for the Hornets to snatch him up. Question: If the main argument for Ricky Rubio’s potential stardom in the NBA is that he’s proven himself against grown pros, why does no one talk about the work Mills put in on the international circuit? He was often the best player on Team Australia. Shouldn’t that make him a Lottery pick?
22. Dallas — Jrue Holiday, PG/SG, UCLA
Quality backup in case Jason Kidd sticks around. Too inexperienced to start right away, though.
23. Sacramento — Sam Young, SF, Pittsburgh
Tough, plays D, and he can score. The Kings need all three.
24. Portland — Gani Lawal, PF, Georgia Tech
The jury’s still out on whether he’s going back to G-Tech or staying in the draft. If he stays, the Blazers could use his athleticism and rebounding up front.
25. Oklahoma City — Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina
For the first half of Kevin Durant’s rookie year in Seattle, he thrived when Kurt Thomas was basically serving as his fullback/enforcer. Turn Hansbrough loose on the boards and as KD’s personal screen-setter, and he’ll pay dividends. And don’t be surprised if Tyler gets some buckets, too.
26. Chicago — Terrence Williams, SG/SF, Louisville
Any time the Bulls encounter an elite scoring wing, they have to put Kirk Hinrich on him. Not that Hinrich isn’t a solid defender, but it’s always better to have options. Williams’ size (6-6) and strength makes him a better potential matchup for guys like Paul Pierce and Brandon Roy.
27. Memphis — Omri Casspi, SF, Israel
Deadeye shooter can immediately help the second-worst offensive team in the NBA (93.9 ppg). Casspi stuck 45 percent of his threes for Euroleague powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv.
28. Minnesota — Darren Collison, PG, UCLA
Pretty much the polar opposite of Sebastian Telfair as an incoming point guard: Collison is experienced, battle-tested and mature. He’s just not as naturally talented. But he can be a solid pro in the Darrell Armstrong mold.
29. L.A. Lakers — Taj Gibson, PF, USC
WIth Lamar Odom’s free agency situation up in the air and Andrew Bynum’s potential not looking as sky-high as we thought, the Lakers need depth and athleticism in the frontcourt.
30. Cleveland — Jermaine Taylor, SG, Central Florida
Just take the best scorer available. Taylor has a pro body already, and at 6-5, good size for a two-guard. He got buckets to the tune of 26.2 points per game as a senior.