No. 1 Portland Trailblazers
Greg Oden C Ohio State
The conservative approach calls for 35 year old center Greg Oden. Although he’s clearly not the more polished of the top two players in the draft, Oden appears to be the consensus No. 1 pick. Personally, I’d take Kevin Durant, who’s proven that he can carry a team on his back and has an NBA ready arsenal of moves with a nasty competitive streak Oden has yet to show. If the Blazers bomb this pick, the Sam Bowie blunder will come back to life. At this point, it’s hard to imagine they can go wrong with either Oden or Durant. It feels similar to Olajuwon/Jordan in 1984. There’s a good chance both of these players barring injuries will be Hall-of-Famers.
Best case scenario: David Robinson
Worst case scenario: Sam Bowie
No. 2 Seattle Supersonics
Kevin Durant F Texas
The long line of great Seattle Centers includes Ervin Johnson, Jim McIlvaine, Patrick Ewing (right before his knees buckled and he fell over), Vladimir Stepania, Johan Petro, Robert Swift, and of course the great Saer Sane.
There’s no way Seattle can screw the draft up this time, luckily for them. There are no awful centers to choose from because Durant will drop into their lap. Even if Rashard Lewis leaves, which he will, considering he will eventually be a poor man’s Durant, Seattle’s lineup may look something like this.
PG: Luke Ridnour
SG: Ray Allen
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Nick Collison
C: Insert terrible past draft pick
Even with no one at center, that’s a formidable scoring lineup that can shoot and run the floor. Defense, of course is a whole different question.
Best case scenario: Dirk Nowitzki
Worst case scenario: Lewis or Glenn Robinson
No. 3 Atlanta Hawks
Al Horford F Florida
With the No. 3 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, the Hawks select Chris Paul. Wait no, do over, the Hawks select Deron Williams. OK, can’t do that either anymore. In Billy Knight’s defense, maybe he didn’t know they needed a point guard. I mean Tyronn Lue defended AI in the 2001 NBA Finals, although AI famously stepped over him and glared at his body on the ground. If the Hawks could work out a deal for Luke Ridnour, they’d finally make a good move, but I can’t figure out why the Sonics would want to trade Ridnour and leave Earl Watson as the starting pg.
Best case scenario: Elton Brand
Worst case scenario: Drew Gooden
No. 4 Memphis Grizzlies
Mike Conley G Ohio State
As great as Jerry West is as a GM, he did inexplicably reach for Troy Bell and Dahntay Jones. Even with West gone, the Grizzlies will reach for Mike Conley, who will be a decent but unspectacular NBA point guard. On the bright side, he’s a pass first guard who can get in the lane and can finish with floaters. On the down side, he has to drive because he can’t shoot. With great shooters on the perimeter and Greg Oden down low, Conley’s job at Ohio State was significantly helped.
Best case scenario: Tony Parker
Worst case scenario: Eric Snow
No. 5 Boston Celtics
Yi Jianlian F China
The knock on Yi: experience. So he didn’t play at the college level, but he held his own at the World Championships, drawing praise from Dwight Howard. This kid is not just a workout wonder. He’s actually played in big games unlike Darko or Skita. The key for the Celtics will be, can they provide the right support group to make Yi feel comfortable? Why not take a page out of the Red Sox book and bring one of Yi’s teammates from China along and make him the 12th man? Okajima has proven to be not just Dice-K’s boy but also a reliable bullpen presence and that might not happen in Yi’s case but his production will increase. Remember how homesick Dirk was at first with the Mavs?
Best case scenario: The small forward version of Yao
Worst case scenario: Skita
No. 6 Milwaukee Bucks
Jeff Green F Georgetown
Assuming the Bucks resign Mo Williams, they’ll be looking for depth and athleticism. Bobby Simmons will be returning from injury, while Charlie Villanueva and Andrew Bogut continue to develop nicely. Jeff Green’s numbers at Georgetown don’t do justice to how good he really is because of the Hoyas style of play. He’s a do it all kind of player and will be able to contribute right away.
Best case scenario: Antawn Jamison
Worst case scenario: Jared Jeffries
No.7 Minnesota Timberwolves
Brandan Wright F North Carolina
Let’s assume for the purposes of my happiness that KG is traded to the Lakers and the T-Wolves are in full rebuilding mode. Wright’s tremendous upside potential is as high as anyone else’s in the draft. So what if he can’t shoot from past 5 feet and looks skinnier than Tyson Chandler. Kevin McHale will have all the time in the world to wait since he’s not looking at another playoff run for the next decade. Now that they finally have a draft pick, there’s nothing else to do except draft a bust.
Best case scenario: Chris Bosh
Worst case scenario: Keon Clark
No. 8 Charlotte Bobcats
Joakim Noah F Florida
How much pull will Michael Jordan have in regard to who the Bobcats choose? Let’s hope for the Bobcats sake, Jordan will be gambling on something other than the NBA draft. If I were Bobcats management, I’d buy him a plane to ticket to Vegas for Thursday night at 7 Eastern. If they follow the trend of their recent drafts, you can bet they’ll take a proven college player off a winning team. Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer both fit that philosophy. If Gerald Wallace resigns, Noah is the pick, if he leaves, they go with Brewer.
Best case scenario: Dennis Rodman
Worst case scenario: Stromile Swift
No. 9 Chicago Bulls
Spencer Hawes C Washington
If any team needs to trade their pick, it’s the Bulls. With a young nucleus of Hinrich, Gordon, Deng and Thomas, along with Thabo Selafosha and Chris Duhon, and a solid role player in Andres Nocioni it’s time to trade Ben Wallace for a proven veteran to put this team over the top. Subscribing to the theory that teams get better the longer they play together might actually be a good idea in this case as well. If they must draft Spencer Hawes would be a good fit. He’s a little soft, but his post moves are as developed as any big man in a long time.
Best case scenario: Rik Smits
Worst case scenario: Joel Przybilla
No. 10 Sacramento Kings
Julian Wright F Kansas
Wright’s stock has been plummeting recently, but his versatility and energy could provide a spark for a team desperately in need of one. If they move Ron Artest, Wright could be in the starting lineup before long.
Best case scenario: Andre Iguodala
Worst case scenario: Josh Childress
Food for thought:
Eight freshman left school early for the NBA draft after the first full year of the minimum age rule in the NBA. It’s safe to say that the majority of those eight would have left after high school. Kevin Durant, Greg Oden, Brandan Wright, Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young would all have left and Mike Conley, Dequan Cook, and Javaris Crittendon would all have considered leaving as well.
By comparison, only two freshman, Tyrus Thomas and Shawne Williams left after their freshman year in last season’s draft.
Think the Darko and Skita have scared off suitors. Only one international player is projected to go in the top 15 picks and four or five are projected to go in the first round.
Three went in the top 13 last year and six in the first round. Ten more went in the second round.
Three also went in the 2005 draft (including Andrew Bogut) and six in the first round.