1. Toronto – PF LaMarcus Aldridge, Texas
The most gifted and NBA ready big man in the draft, and also the only of the elite big men that can play the 5 on both ends of the court. He’s friends with Chris Bosh, and along with Charlie Villanueva, will give the Raptors one of the best young frontcourts in all of basketball. The chances are still good the Raptors will deal this pick, potentially in exchange for #3 and Brevin Knight, where they would take Andrea Bargnani.
2. Chicago – PF Tyrus Thomas, LSU
Simply put, Thomas has the best upside in the draft if you can wait a couple years for his offense to catch up with his defense. Like Emeka Okafor a couple of years ago, should contend for NBA All-Defense honors as a rookie. Absolutely frightening length, explosiveness, and athleticism, and I feel a star in the making.
3. Charlotte – SF Adam Morrison, Gonzaga
He may not be Larry Bird, but Morrison seems like a lock to be an 18-20 point a game scorer in the NBA. Morrison is one of the best mid range scorers college basketball has seen in some time, and is relentless at creating shots for himself, both with and without the ball. Morrison will fit in well with Felton, Wallace, and Okafor … creating one of the best young cores in the NBA for Michael Jordan.
4. Portland – SG Brandon Roy, Washington
Not even the Jail Blazers could screw this one up. I love Roy’s game. He can handle the ball, create his own shot, has good range, and defends all types of players well. A pretty complete combo guard that appears destined to be a helluva NBA player, and one of the safest picks of this draft.
5. Atlanta – SF Andrea Bargnani, Italy
It’s still possible the Raptors take Bargnani #1, as new Raptor GM Bryan Colangelo has long been infatuated with his game. If he’s still here at #5, it’s hard to see the big man deprived Hawks passing on him. Bargnani has constantly been compared to Dirk Nowitzki, and has that kind of upside offensively.
6. Minnesota – PG Randy Foye, Villanova
With Marcus Banks a free agent, and no one of worth behind him, the T-Wolves figure to take either Foye or Marcus Williams off the board here at #6. Foye is a lethal scorer that often gets compared to Ben Gordon, but make no mistake … Foye is a much better floor general and distributor than Gordon.
7. Boston – PG Marcus Williams, UConn
The best passer and true point guard in the draft, Williams seems like a perfect fit for the Celtics at #7 who have a host of scorers, but no reliable point man. Williams isn’t a great scorer, but has good size, and is lethal in transition.
8. Houston – SF Rudy Gay, UConn
Each year one mega-talented player falls to this spot in the draft, and this year it’s Gay … who the Rockets will be ecstatic about taking at #8. Gay could go as high as #3, and is a very athletic small forward that can shoot, and also plays incredible wing defense. Long thought of as a potential #1 pick, Gay struggled in the NCAA Tournament, but still figures to be a great pro in the mold of a more offensively gifted Tayshaun Prince.
9. Golden State – SF Rodney Carney, Memphis
The Warriors need a big man, but will pass on O’Bryant, Sene, and Armstrong here to nab the talented swingman from Memphis. Carney is one of the drafts’ top athletes, and has an NBA ready body. A physical freak that could be an all-star for many years if he learns to play smarter and shore up his game defensively.
10. Seattle – PF Shelden Williams, Duke
There are rumors the Hawks love Williams and will take him five, but I think he ends up falling to the Sonics at #10. Seattle loves to draft readied products, and Williams is capable of probably stepping in and starting immediately at the next level in the porous Sonic frontcourt.
11. Orlando – SG Ronnie Brewer, Arkansas
With Jameer Nelson at the point, and Dwight Howard down low … the Magic will likely look to take a swingman off the board here, and Brewer and Redick are the most likely targets. Brewer cut from the same cloth as Brandon Roy, a very complete combo guard. Brewer is one year younger, and not quite as polished.
12. New Orleans/Oklahoma City – C Patrick O’Bryant, Bradley
O’Bryant is a naturally gifted seven footer who saw his stock rise dramatically during Bradley’s NCAA Tournament run. The Hornets need a center, and while raw, O’Bryant should eventually be part of a nice young core in New Orleans/Oklahoma City along side Chris Paul and David West.
13. Philadelphia – PG Mardy Collins, Temple
Whether or not Iverson stays or goes, the Sixers need a point guard. Collins is local, and despite not being an elite scorer at Temple, projects to be a great NBA player thanks to his size (6’6), strength, defense, work ethic, and basketball IQ. A backcourt of Iverson, Iguodala, and Collins would create all kinds of matchup problems for Sixer foes.
14. Utah – SG J.J. Redick, Duke
Redick is one of the best pure shooters the draft has seen in some time, with an incredibly quick release. His defense and ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim and the free throw line (where he shoots above 90%) have improved greatly over the last couple of years.
15. New Orleans/Oklahoma City – PF Cedric Simmons, NC State
One of the true wild cards of this draft, the 6’9 Simmons left the Wolfpack after his sophomore year, when many felt he could ascend to a top 3-4 pick by seasoning his game another year in college. He’s still raw, but has great talent, length, and rebounding ability.
16. Chicago – SG Thabo Sefolasha, Italy
The Bulls love to roll the dice on foreign players, and the Swiss-born Sefolasha has been rocketing up draft boards ever since a great season in Italy last year. A smart, long, athletic shooting guard in the Josh Howard mold who will help add size to the Bulls backcourt.
17. Indiana – PG Rajon Rondo, Kentucky
At this spot in the draft, the Pacers will likely go with a center or a point guard, and end up taking Rondo, a relentless top of the key defender at the point. Rondo is also arguably the fastest player in this draft, and will provide coach Rick Carslisle a nice change of pace to the aging Anthony Johnson, and oft-injured Jamaal Tinsley.
18. Washington – C Saar Sene, Senegal
Despite a solid post-season showing by Brendan Haywood, it’s clear that the Wizards need to get more big and physical inside. Sene is over seven feet tall, has a vast wingspan, and impressed in a couple of draft camps this spring.
19. Sacramento – C Hilton Armstrong, UConn
Armstrong becomes the third Huskie to go off the board as the Kings add him to their frontcourt here at #19. With Kenny Thomas starting at power forward, and no viable backup to Brad Miller, the Kings need bigs. Armstrong is another one of those kids that would have likely been better served staying in school, but is too big and talented not to develop into a good NBA player.
20. New York – SF Shawne Williams, Memphis
Having traded away #2 overall for the limited Eddy Curry, the Knicks first pick comes here at #20. With holes everywhere except the “overpaid clubhouse cancer point guard” position, the Knicks have to go best available. Which at this point is likely Williams, the talented Memphis swingman who left school after his freshman year.
21. Phoenix – PG Sergio Rodriguez, Spain
Having hit a couple years back on Lehandrino Barbosa from Brazil, the Suns once again go with a foreign point guard with size here. Barbosa learned to play the two this year, and the Suns run and gun style dictates that they have several players that can handle the ball. Plus, Steve Nash isn’t getting any younger.
22. New Jersey – PG Jordan Farmar, UCLA
With the first of their two back to back picks here, the Nets select the heir apparent to Jason Kidd in Farmar. Farmar is just 19, and still lacks somewhat as a defender and a shooter, but is lightning quick, has great ball skills, and appears to be a pretty safe bet to be a starting NBA point guard, even if it takes him a couple of seasons to get there.
23. New Jersey – PF Paul Davis, Michigan State
Also desperately in need of talented bigs, the Nets take the one off the board here that they feel is most ready to contribute today in Davis. The Nets big three of Carter, Kidd, and Jefferson isn’t getting any younger, and Davis gives them a 6’10 player that can score down low. While Davis can score, he’s a little soft and airheaded at times, and that’s why he’s still here at #22.
24. Memphis – SF Marcus Vincius, Brazil
A late riser, and good friend of the Cavs Anderson Varejao, Vincius is a swingman with a plethora of offensive skills. The Grizzlies need guys that can put the biscuit in the basket, and this pick makes a lot of sense here at #24.
25. Cleveland – SG Shannon Brown, Michigan State
The Cavs brass is ecstatic as Brown falls to them at #25. At just 6’3, 200 lbs, Brown is undersized by NBA shooting guard standards, but brings a very complete skill set to the table. Brown is one of the draft’s best athletes, and is very adept at putting the ball on the floor and getting to the hole, defending the top of the key, and also running the fast break … all HUGE needs of the Cavaliers. His ball-handling and outside shooting skills have increased dramatically during his career under Tom Izzo, and some feel he may be able to transition into more of a true point guard over time. The Cavs are going to lose Flip Murray this off-season, and Brown could be an adequate replacement as a rookie, bringing better size and defense to the table.
26. LA Lakers – PG Kyle Lowry, Villanova
Smush Parker was brutal in the playoffs for the Lakers, and is not the type of player that should be logging 40 minutes a night at the point. Here at #26, Lowry is a perfect fit for the Lakers, who could use his ball handling skills for their triangle offense. Lowry is also a very good on the ball defender.
27. Phoenix – PF Josh Boone, UConn
With their second pick in the first round, the Suns go big, taking the talented but raw Boone off the board, making him the fourth UConn first round selection (Denham Brown could make it five). Boone needs to develop an NBA body, but his athleticism should fit in well in Phoenix.
28. Dallas – PG Quincy Douby, Rutgers
Behind Redick, said to be the second best pure shooter in the draft, and also provides the Mavs insurance should they lose Jason Terry to free agency. Douby is one of those guys some people love, and some hate. More of a two than a one, and also is a good defender. Has no conscience shooting the ball, which may be a byproduct of a lack of surrounding talent at Rutgers.
29. New York – SG Maurice Ager, Michigan State
Ager becomes the third Spartan first round pick as the Knicks are happy he falls to them at #29. Ager is a physically strong player that rebounds and defends well for a two. Not the world’s best athlete, Ager still figures to be a pretty good NBA player, and is underrated as a scorer.
30. Portland – PF James Augustine, Illinois A big, strong, polished product … Augustine is projected to be a decent NBA big man, and should help the Blazer frontcourt almost immediately.
55. Cleveland – PF Eric Williams, Wake Forest
Williams is a very strong and physically intense big man that would be a welcome addition to the Cavaliers soft frontcourt. A good rebounder and defender, Williams is also a great character guy and plays balls to the wall every second he’s on the court. At 6’8, he’s a bit undersized for the types of players he’d be asked to defend, and his offensive game and jumping/shot blocking ability is nothing spectacular. However, I’ve always felt there was a place on an NBA roster for Williams, and he appears to be a great fit for the Cavs if he’s still here at #55.
56. Toronto – SF Hassan Adams, Arizona57. Minnesota – PF Pops Mensah Bonsu, George Washington58. Dallas – C Justin Williams, Wyoming59. San Antonio – SF Renaldo Balkman, South Carolina60. Detroit – SF Brandon Bowman, Georgetown