As promised, here are picks 15-30 of our first mock draft (Picks 1-14 are here. As always links are to DraftExpress.com):
15. Detroit Pistons – James Johnson, PF, Wake Forest. Everyone knows that the Pistons are in the market for a banger this summer and they’re surely disappointed in this scenario that Blair is already off the board. Johnson is a pretty good consolation prize, though. He’s a hybrid forward that can do a little bit of everything and players like him are enjoying a lot of success in the league these days.
16. Chicago Bulls – Jeff Teague, G, Wake Forest. Like the Pistons, the Bulls are also hoping that one of Blair, Clark or Johnson slips to their spot. Personally, I don’t see it happening, as too many teams above them need size and good big men tend to rise in the draft process, not slide. So they settle for a Ben Gordon replacement in Teague, a sharp shooting combo guard who can really light it up.
17. Philadelphia 76ers – Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina. The Sixers have a choice to make as to whether to pay free agent PG Andre Miller, who’s been the key to their playoff runs the past two seasons, but is 33 years old and will command a large salary on the open market. While it would be a backwards step, we think the Sixers opt to let Miller walk and move forward with Lawson. Lawson, while small, is lightning fast and a capable distributor.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves – BJ Mullens, C, Ohio State. The Wolves have already struck gold with their first pick in Harden. With three picks in the first round and a need for some size up front, they take a gamble on a project in Mullens, a raw but athletic big man with a very nice upside.
19. Atlanta Hawks – Nick Calathes, PG, Florida. With Mike Bibby a free agent and Acie Law appearing to be a bust, the Hawks are in need of some help at the point. While we think Bibby ultimately resigns in Atlanta, Calathes would make for an excellent understudy. He’s a pure point but, at 6’5 with good shooting skills, can spell both Bibby and Joe Johnson. Calathes is a personal favorite and we think he’s going to someday emerge as one of the better players from this draft. If he was a 19 year old European with his skillset who had played against SEC caliber competition overseas, he’d probably be a top 10 pick.
20. Utah Jazz – Austin Daye, G/F, Gonzaga. The Jazz are yet another team that needs help up front, what with their entire front line entering free agency this offeseason. UNC F Tyler Hansbrough feels like a Jerry Sloan type of player, but he’s just not worthy of this pick and the Jazz already have a better version of him on the roster in Matt Harpring. The bet here is that the Jazz bring back Millsap and Okur and take Daye, a super-talented wing who can’t seem to stay healthy or produce they way his talent suggests he should. Still, in a couple of years, he could develop into a version of Tayshaun Prince. Gerald Henderson would also be a good fit here.
21. New Orleans Hornets – Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke. Of course, the Hornets need help up front (Who doesn’t?) considering Tyson Chandler’s physical stuggles and their general lack of frontcourt depth, but this is not the draft for that. Luckily, the Hornets also have a big need at the 2 and Henderson and Louisville wing Terrence Williams are still available. Henderson is a perfect fit with the Hornets as an athletic 2 who can finish in transition, has a developing jump shot, and shows some surprising ability to create shots for his teammates. Chase Budinger would also make sense here.
22. Dallas Mavericks – Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona. Josh Howard struggled to stay healthy this season and, in his absence, the Mavs showed that they’re a little thin on wings. Budinger would be a nice compliment to what Howard and Antione Wright already offer and he’d be good insurance in case Howard has trouble with injuries in the future.
23. Sacramento Kings – Terrence Williams, G/F, Louisville. While the Kings remain devastated that they’ve missed out on Ricky Rubio (unless they do the trade I suggested in Part I of this mock in which case this pick would belong to the Grizzlies), things aren’t shaping up that badly for them. After having shipped John Salmons off to Chicago at the trade deadline for cap space and Andres Nocioni, the Kings get a steal here in Williams, an NBA-ready wing who does everything well except score.
24. Portland Trailblazers – Gani Lawal, PF, Georgia Tech. The Blazers don’t need any more rookies and should be shopping this pick for some veteran help up front or at PG. However, if they’re unable to do so, Lawal is a raw, athletic 4 they could stash at the end of the bench and try to develop.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder – Wayne Ellington, SG, North Carolina. The Thunder chose a defensive anchor over a wing with their first pick. This time, they go for the 2-guard in Ellington, a finesse guy, but one with loads of experience who can rain jumpers from anywhere in the gym.
26. Chicago Bulls – Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina. Back to back Tarheels. Hansbrough isn’t a great athlete, and he doesn’t project as more than a role player at the next level, but he’s all steak. Hansbrough is about heart and grit and he’d make a good addition to the Bulls’ already versatile frontcourt.
27. Memphis Grizzlies – Omri Casspi, F, Maccabi Tel-Aviv. Hakeem Warrick’s a free agent and the Grizz get a versatile replacement in this tough, gritty forward. Pittsburgh F Sam Young would make some sense here as well.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves – Darren Collison, PG, UCLA. Having already selected Harden and Mullens, the T’Wolves now take a floor general to run the show. Collison is a terrific on the ball defender, competent distributor and is ready to help right away. St. Mary’s G Patrick Mills is a possibility here too.
29. LA Lakers – Sam Young, F, Pittsburgh. With Lamar Odom’s and Trevor Ariza’s contracts both expiring this summer, the Lakers get some insurance in Young. Young entered Pitt as an interior player but has expanded his perimeter game to the point that he’s a very capable 3. He’s also a strong defender. I suppose the Lakers could also look at Patty Mills, but he doesn’t have the size Phil Jackson typically covets at PG.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers – DuJuan Summers, F, Georgetown. The Cavs get their Lebron James replacement for when he bolts for the Knicks in 2010.