Posted Tuesday, June 28, 1:28 a.m. NEW YORK- Needless to say, I thought I’d be at the NBA Draft in New York City covering GW standouts Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Mike Hall potentially getting their names called. But alas those plans were foiled. Instead of cashing in the credentials we procured I decided to stick around the draft and cover it from a college perspective alongside Hatchet sports editor Jake Sherman.
Monday marked Day 1 of our coverage, spanning our interactions with players during media day at the Times Square Weston on June 27. Tuesday I’ll be pontificating on the age limit and discussing what this year’s prospects think about it.
High school seniors Gerald Green and Martell Webster were easily my two favorite guys after media day. Both had a great sense of humor, were genuinely humble and were incredibly media-friendly. With all the bad press the NBA has been getting for having selfish and arrogant stars, these two guys certainly have the character, and the star power, to help reverse this image as they come into their own in the league over the next couple of years.
For now – in typical pre-draft form – I’ll offer up a mock draft of roughly where players will go Tuesday night. Given the unpredictability of this year’s draft, and the potential for many trades and unorthodox picks, the final board might be quite different from what you see here.
Andrew Bogut, Utah, Sophomore, Center
With the first pick in the draft, the Bucks will take the 7-foot Australian. Will be a solid pro over a 15-year career and will fill at gaping hole in the middle for the struggling Bucks. Not the star potential of other No. 1 picks but Bogut will no doubt be an outstanding player and a potential all star in the center-deficient Eastern Conference
Marvin Williams, North Carolina, Freshman, Forward
The talented freshman from UNC can play either the three or the four in the pros. Has the highest ceiling of any player in the draft and has off-the-chart athletic ability. Five years down the road, if not sooner, Williams will be a superstar in the league. He can do a little bit of everything and has the character and intangibles to make any team happy to draft him. With Atlanta already stocked at the swingman position with Josh Childress, Josh Smith, Donta Smith and Boris Diaw, don’t be surprised to see the Hawks trade this pick to a team eager to get their hands on Williams
Gerald Green, Hs. Sr., Gulf Shores Academy, Texas, SG/SF
Another pick that is likely to be traded. The next highest-rated prospects are two point guards, but the Blazers already drafted their point guard for the future in Brooklyn playground legend Sebastian Telfair last year. If they keep the pick, which is unlikely given the demand for the top point guards in the draft, look for Portland to draft the swingman scouts compare to a young Tracy McGrady. If the Blazers end up trading down they’ll look to get high school guard Martell Webster from Seattle or High School bigman Andrew Bynum. This pick could easily be in the hands of the Bobcats, Jazz or Lakers by the end of the night.
4. New Orleans
Deron Williams, Illinois, Junior, Point Guard
What Portland does with their pick will determine the draft futures of Deron Williams and Chris Paul. This draft assumes no trades, in which case Williams will fall to the lowly Hornets, who had the leagues second-worst record this past year. While point guard isn’t a glaring need – with the two-headed combo of Dan Dickau and Speedy Claxton functioning well near the end of the year – Williams will be a significant upgrade over their current crop. Williams is a big guard who can pass very well and could work well in a post-up situation. Questions about his speed and athleticism have dogged him. If the Blazers’ pick is traded, it will most likely be for Williams, so this pick could change. If Williams is off the board, the Hornets are very high on Danny Granger.
Chris Paul, Wake Forest, Sophomore, Point Guard
Charlotte will be ecstatic if Paul drops to them here, seeing as how he is easily a top-three talent. ESPN Insider Chad Ford refers to him as the best point guard prospect since Jason Kidd – a tall order no doubt. Paul is lightening quick and directs the offense well from the lane and has an exceptional outside stroke. The local product will put fans in the usually sparsely attended arena in Charlotte. Don’t be surprised if this pick is packaged with the 12th to move up and ensure they can select Paul or even Marvin Williams.
Charlie Frye, Arizona, Senior, Center
The rarity, Frye is a four-year college player so the book on him is pretty well-known. Questions about his intensity and body are raised, but he should be ready to contribute immediately. Can hit a 15-foot jump shot and should fit nicely into the hardworking system of head coach Jerry Sloan. Knicks fans groan everywhere as their target is swallowed up. Raymond Felton is a definite possibility at this point.
Danny Granger, New Mexico, Senior, SG/SF
A classic swingman, Granger is seriously underrated coming out of a lesser-known college program at New Mexico. Will be a big-time versatile talent in the pros and the Raptors are very high on him. Can contribute immediately. Martell Webster is another strong possibility here.
8. New York
Fran Vazquez, Spain, Forward/Center
Vazquez is the highest-rated international player and has been impressive in Euroleague play. Had an unspectacular workout in New York, but Isaiah needs size and Vazquez can definitely be an impact player immediately.
9. Golden State
Hakim Warrick, Syracuse, Senior, Forward
A bit undersized for the four and not skilled enough to play the three, Warrick has drawn some flack for not having a true position. He is a tremendous athlete and has worked hard on his jump shot. By his own admission it still has a ways to go, but his great work ethic and incredible leaping ability – the man can take one step and dunk over a guy – will make him successful in the pros.
10. LA Lakers
Raymond Felton, North Carolina, Junior, Point Guard
The Lakers are trying to move up for Williams, who they believe will be a better fit for Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, but Felton will be a great pick. Jackson also likes to push the tempo and few guards in the league are as quick as Felton up and down the court. Will be feeding Kobe great alley-oops for the next six years.
Martell Webster, HS Senior, Shooting Guard
Webster is a humble and articulate kid with an NBA-ready body and jump shot. Orlando is praying he falls to them here, but if the Blazers trade their pick look for Webster to be off the board earlier. Webster would fit the bill as a bigger guard to pair with Jameer Nelson in the backcourt and could facilitate the trade of Steve Francis. If Webster is gone, Antoine Wright should be the pick here.
12. LA Clippers
Yaroslav Korolev, Russia, Small Forward
Rumor has it that the Clippers have promised they’d take him here. A big-time project at the three but with enough promise to make Elgin Baylor and Coach Mike Dunlevy salivate for the future.
Antoine Wright, Texas A&M, Junior, Small Forward
Wright came in and turned a barren A&M program into a NCAA contender. Being big, strong and having a killer jump shot will make him a steal for the Bobcats this low.
Joey Graham, Oklahoma State, Senior, Small Forward
The small forward exodus continues with the athletically superior Graham. Tested off the charts at the Chicago pre-draft camp athletically and is tested coming from Eddie Sutton’s Oklahoma State program. With Latrell Sprewell set to bolt to free agency, Graham fills an immediate need.
15. New Jersey
Sean May, North Carolina, Junior, Power Forward
May fills the need for a bruising power forward with the departure of Kenyon Martin last summer. Has some experience in an up-tempo environment at UNC and will provide some much-needed frontcourt toughness and rebounding.
Andrew Bynum, HS Senior, NJ, Center
Receiving an extraordinary amount of buzz in the weeks leading up to the draft, Bynum could easily come off the board earlier depending on what the Blazers end up doing. Either way, Toronto would love to have this guy to pair with budding talent Chris Bosh up front. This guy won’t be able to come in and help the Raptors win immediately, but will be a real gem down the line. Jarret Jack is also a potential pick here.
Francisco Garcia, Junior, Louisville, SG/SF
Garcia’s body resembles the recently departed Reggie Miller and his shooting has also drawn some comparisons. The Pacers are only picking this high because Ron Artest jumped into the stands in November. Garcia’s outside shooting will help open things up inside for Jermaine O’Neal.
Roko Leni Ukic, Croatia, Point Guard
Danny Ainge is apparently high on this kid and he has the ballhanding abilities to be a bigger guard to run the offense for Doc Rivers. Don’t be surprised if Boston moves up in the draft with a trade for Paul Pierce.
Julius Hodge, Senior, North Carolina State, G/F
Everyone knows Memphis wants to dump this pick, but if they keep it look for them to gobble up Mr. Intangible Julius Hodge. Hodge has a big heart and the leadership abilities dear to Jerry West’s heart. Martynas Andriuskevicius is also a possibility here.
Ersan Ilyasova, Turkey, Small Forward
Highly touted Turkish prospect has been hampered by ankle injuries that have hurt his draft stock. The Nuggets will keep him in Europe for a couple of years to develop or bring him and put him down in the D-League.
Rashad McCants, Junior, North Carolina, Shooting Guard
The clown of the UNC national championship team will come in and contribute immediately for the Suns, who need some scoring punch off the bench. This pick assumes that the Knicks and Suns will consummate the Kurt Thomas for Quentin Richardson trade.
Johan Petro, France, Center
The monstrous Frenchman is a project at 19, but has the body, athleticism and talent to be a big player in the league. Can learn his craft from Marcus Camby while spending some time in Europe or the D-Leauge to develop a bit.
Chris Taft, Pittsburgh, Sophomore, Forward/Center
No one’s stock has fallen further than Taft’s, who many pegged as this year’s number one overall pick as late as a few months ago. Sacramento will gobble him up and hope he can keep his head straight and fill Chris Webber’s recently departed shoes.
Charlie Villanueva, Connecticut, Sophomore, F/C
The kid could easily go much higher, but questions about his intensity have plagued him since a series of suspect workouts two years ago when he declared for the draft out of high school. Could be the steal of the draft this far, and demanding coach Jeff Van Gundy will keep him straight.
Jarrett Jack, Georgia Tech, Junior, Point Guard
Seattle is looking for a tough, athletic backup point guard and finds a gem in Jack. He has big game experience and will be a solid floor general. Could easily go higher to the Raptors at 16 or even the Lakers at 10 depending on how the picks above pan out.
Luther Head, Illinois, Senior, PG/SG
The star of the Chicago pre-draft camp will slip right into the hardworking mentality of the Pistons. His outside shooting will give them much-needed scoring on the perimeter.
Ike Diogu, Arizona State, Junior, Power Forward
Too bad Diogu had to slide this far, but like most people he could be taken as high as number nine to the Warriors – this draft is crazy like that. Utah doesn’t really need a power forward at this slot, but will be happy with a hard-working good guy who is the best player available.
28. San Antonio
CJ Miles, HS Senior, Shooting Guard
Miles is a few years away, but the recently crowned champs don’t exactly have many holes to fill. Will be available in a few years when their backcourt gets old.
Wayne Simian, Kansas, Senior, Power Forward
Simien has a lot of talent, but his injuries and height have been questioned. With the potential loss of Udonis Haslem, Miami has a need, and the crafty Kansas product will contribute here.
30. New York
Andray Blatche, HS Senior, F/C
The big man is a project, but Isaiah can wait. The Knicks desperately need some youth and athleticism. Will be a fearsome tandem with Vazquez in a few years.