All year we have kept tabs on the stock of the Top 100 prospects. The list is a reflection of the consensus of NBA scouts and GMs about a player's relative value in the draft.
A mock draft is a different animal all together. In a mock draft, we don't tell you where a player should go but rather what each team in the draft likely would do with its pick.
At this point, very little is set in stone. Expect this mock draft to fluctuate greatly over the course of the next eight weeks.
We still don't know which underclassmen will withdraw from the draft on the May 8 deadline. And we aren't even sure of the draft order yet. We won't know the results of the NBA draft lottery until May 17.
The process of team workouts has just started. Over the next few weeks, the Chicago NBA pre-draft combine, the adidas Eurocamp and hundreds of team workouts will dramatically alter the face of the draft.
Still, we have a pretty good feel for who's going to be in and we do know the lottery odds, so it's time for our first full mock draft of 2011. (If you want to check out what your team would do with the No. 1 pick, check out our Lottery Mock Draft Machine with more than 2,000 scenarios.)
But for now, here's our best stab at a full first-round mock draft, after taking into account team needs.
---------------------------------------------- Wolves - K. Irving PG
Analysis: David Kahn trys to draft Ricky Rubio (because if you draft him twice he has to come) but is subsequently told he has not entered the draft a second time. Stop with the David-Kahn-drafting-a-point-guard jokes and you'll realize ... sixth time is a charm. Yes, Kahn has drafted three point guards and signed another two via free agency in his short, two-year term. But to date, none of them has panned out.
Two of them -- Ramon Sessions and Ty Lawson -- were traded. Ricky Rubio is still hanging out in Spain with no definitive answer on when he's coming to the NBA. Jonny Flynn has been a major disappointment, and Luke Ridnour is not the future of the franchise.
Irving, on the other hand, makes perfect sense for the young Wolves. He has the most potential of any of the guards Kahn has recruited. He also has a high basketball IQ, can shoot (something the Wolves really need) and is a high-character player (another thing they could use).
Cavs - D. Williams SF
Analysis: Williams is an interesting fit for the Cavs. They'd prefer Irving. But if they can't get him, Williams is the guy. If you project him as a small forward, he fits an immediate need. The Cavs still are trying to fill the huge hole left by LeBron James. Williams can't fill it, but he's a terrific talent.
If you project him as an undersized 4 in the mold of David West, he's competing with J.J. Hickson (the Cavs' only other young building block of note) for a spot in the starting lineup. That's not ideal for a team that has major holes to fill, but the truth is Williams is the only other player on the Big Board worthy of a top-two pick.
Raptors - E. Kanter PF
Analysis: Bryan Colangelo has a thing for international players. But that's not the only reason we have Kanter going No. 3. Going into the season, a number of scouts considered him a potential No. 1 pick. Thanks to the NCAA, we never got to see whether he could earn it -- but Kanter has a lot going for him.
He is tough, can play inside and out, rebounds the basketball, and has a higher basketball IQ than most of the kids his age. He's a bit undersized for a center, but his toughness in the paint will be a welcome contrast to Andrea Bargnani's Charmin-soft game.
Wizards - J. Vesely PF
Analysis: The Wizards won the draft lottery last year and brought in a thoroughbred in John Wall. What they need is an athletic forward to run the floor with him. Most Euros wouldn't come close to fitting that bill, but Vesely might be the exception. He's terrific in transition and an explosive leaper -- a rarity for Eastern European kids.
He's been a starter in the Euroleague for the past few years, and while his numbers don't necessarily wow you, his game looks like it will translate better at the next level. A bit of a risky pick, but after Irving and Williams are off the board, all the picks are risky.
Kings - K. Walker PG
Analysis: The Kings have finally come to two realizations in the past year. One, Tyreke Evans isn't a point guard. Two, character and leadership matter. Enter Walker. Not only does he play the right position, but no one in college basketball showed more heart, leadership or a desire to win than Kemba this past season. He has his weaknesses, but he should give the Kings something they really haven't had in a while -- a winner.
Jazz - B. Knight PG
Analysis: The Jazz acquired this pick in their February trade-deadline deal with the Nets. They lost their All-Star point guard Deron Williams in the deal but picked up this pick, Derrick Favors and Devin Harris in return. The Jazz like Harris but see Knight as a potential franchise player down the road.
Knight's freshman season was up and down, but he has a few qualities that make him a terrific fit in Utah. He is big, plays defense, shoots the ball well, and is a great kid on and off the court. He should be a perfect fit with the Jazz.
Pistons - B. Biyombo SF
Analysis: Joe Dumars began building the 2000 edition of the Bad Boys around an unheralded, undrafted big man named Ben Wallace a decade ago. Wallace was raw offensively, but his athleticism, length and aggressiveness on the defensive end set the tone for the Pistons for a decade.
The past few years, the Pistons have lost virtually all of that mojo. Biyombo might be the perfect remedy for what ails them. He has burst onto the scene and could be a risk. But it's hard to find his combination of length, athleticism and motor at this point in the draft. He should be a perfect complement to the more offensive-oriented Greg Monroe on the Pistons' front line.
Cavs (again wtf?) J. Valancinunseisusdihgiurgn PF
Analysis: The Cavs had a lot of luck with another Lithuanian big man a decade ago -- Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Can lightning strike twice? Some scouts believe he's the most talented international player in the draft. But questions about his contract situation in Europe combined with fears that he lacks the elite athleticism he needs to compete in the NBA lower his stock a bit. At this point in the draft, he's worth the risk.
Bobcats - K. Leonard SF
Analysis: The Bobcats are a mess. They have some talent. But they also have huge needs at every position on the floor. Leonard might be a bit of a reach this high, but his game reminds me a bit of a young Gerald Wallace.
He plays with a terrific combination of length, athleticism and motor. While he's not as accomplished a ball handler, he's a better rebounder and shooter than Wallace was at this age. The Bobcats certainly can use both his toughness and his versatility.
Bucks - T. Thompson PF
Analysis: The Bucks have two terrific building blocks in Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings -- but after that, it's mostly question marks. They traded last summer for Corey Maggette and signed John Salmons and Drew Gooden as free agents, and none of them really panned out as expected.
They really could use help at the 2, 3 and 4 positions. I have Thompson here because, of the players on the board, he's the most likely to be a Scott Skiles-type player. He's tough, aggressive and just a beast on the offensive boards. His skill level isn't particularly high on the offensive end yet, but he's a good fit alongside Bogut on the front line
Warriors - T. Jones SF
Analysis: I'm not sure Jones is the answer here. He struggled in the second half of the season, and many scouts wonder whether he's going to end up being a tweener in the mold of Al Harrington or Marvin Williams. But Jones' upside and his versatility make him a potential upside pick at No. 11 -- especially if he shows the ability to play the 3 alongside David Lee.
over it for now, fvcking espn puts lots of pictures in so you cant copy and past the whole article
Analysis: The Jazz have traditionally lacked a scoring athletic slasher in the backcourt. It's been an acknowledged need for years. This might be the year that brings changes. Burks is one of the most athletic guards in the draft. He has a quick first step and is a terrific finisher at the rim. His lack of a consistent jump shot and motor lowers his stock a bit. But at this point in the draft, he's worth the risk.
(0.6% chance of winning lottery)
School: Brigham Young
Analysis: Steve Nash won't be around forever, and if the Suns want to continue to play their run-and-gun style, Fredette might be a great option. Like Nash, he is a dead-eye from long range and has a high basketball IQ.
He doesn't have the ballhandling skills or court vision of Nash yet ... but neither did Nash when he was drafted out of Santa Clara. Fredette's terrible defense raises concerns, but at least he's a fit on a team that has been willing to overlook Nash's weakness in that area for years.
Analysis: Hamilton would be a great get for the Rockets here if he's still on the board. He might be the best pure scorer in the draft. Hamilton has unlimited range and is always hunting for his shot.
His shot selection is flat-out embarrassing at times, but when he gets it going, he's very tough to stop. The biggest question will be whether there's enough shots for both Hamilton and Kevin Martin.
Analysis: The Pacers' two biggest needs are an athletic guard who can create his own shot off the dribble, and a long, athletic big man who can block shots and rebound. Unfortunately neither of those players appears to be left on the board. So the Pacers have to settle for the next best thing.
Morris is more of a hybrid forward who can play both the 3 and the 4, sort of like Danny Granger. His ability to stretch the floor and rebound should be welcome in Indiana -- although I'm sure the Pacers will wish he was an inch or two taller. Boston College's Reggie Jackson is another real possibility here.
Analysis: The Sixers have a ton of talent in the backcourt. But their frontcourt is a mess right now. Thaddeus Young is a free agent and a bit of a tweener. Elton Brand rebounded a bit this season, but his best days are behind him. Motiejunas might not be the answer, but at this point in the draft, he's worth a look. He's an aggressive scorer who can get to the rim. However, his lack of rebounding and defense is an issue.
Analysis: The Knicks really need a center, but you're not finding a terrific option at this point in the draft. Morris might be the best they're going to find. Not only has he proved to be a solid rebounder and shot-blocker, but he has the ability to step outside and knock down jumpers -- a big plus in any Mike D'Antoni system.
School: Washington St.
Analysis: Nick Young is heading into free agency, and the Wizards could use another shooter in their backcourt to complement Wall. Thompson rivals Fredette as the best shooter in the draft and would be a great fit for the Wizards.
(via New Orleans)
School: Boston College
Analysis: The Bobcats, as we noted, have needs just about everywhere. Jackson might be the biggest sleeper of the draft and should be a great fit in Charlotte. He is a terrific athlete, has a ridiculous 7-foot wingspan and shot the lights out this junior season. He has virtually every quality you look for in a modern NBA point guard.
The biggest question I have is whether he'll even be around at this point once he hits the Chicago combine and workouts. I think he could have a Paul George-type rise in this draft. I wouldn't be shocked to see the Bobcats ultimately considering him at No. 9.
Minnesota (via Memphis)
Analysis: Rest easy, Wolves fans. No, we don't have Minnesota taking yet another point guard here. Instead, we have the team taking a point forward. Mirotic is a serious talent -- a versatile forward playing at a very high level in the Euroleague right now.
There are some serious questions about his buyout right now (not sure the Wolves want to revisit this again), but at this point in the draft, he's a great value. If his contract were clean and he could come right away, he'd be a lottery pick.
School: Morehead State
Analysis: The Blazers were very high on Faried last year when he entered the draft and likely would have taken him in the first round. Faried withdrew, however, then came back to have another terrific season.
I find it hard to believe they'd pass on him if he falls this far. He was the best rebounder in college basketball, plays hard every night and brings some frantic energy to the court. A steal at No. 21.
Analysis: The Nuggets have a very bright future, post-Carmelo Anthony. The trade that netted them Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler for Melo might have worked out better for Denver than it did for New York. While the backcourt looks set with Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo, and Nene and Gallinari look like the future on the front line, there's still a need in the frontcourt.
Chandler is a free agent, and the Nuggets might not want to meet his asking price. Harris might be one of the more underrated players in the draft. He can play both the 3 and 4, has a very high basketball IQ and has an NBA body. He doesn't do any one thing at an elite level, but he's one of the most well-rounded players in the draft.
Analysis: The Rockets got a career year out of Kyle Lowry, but is he the long-term answer at the point? I think they'd have to take a hard look at Morris if he's here.
He's different than Lowry. He is bigger and really sees the floor well. His lack of elite quickness and shooting ability hurts his stock a bit -- but some scouts compare him to a young Andre Miller.
Analysis: The Thunder are solid at virtually every position on the floor. But with Jeff Green being shipped off to Boston this year, Honeycutt could come in and bring some depth. Honeycutt isn't as big as Green, but he's a talented, versatile wing with a great basketball IQ. He'd be a great fit in OKC.
School: Florida State
Analysis: The Celtics pride themselves on being a defensive team, and Singleton might be the best perimeter defensive player in the draft. He can guard three positions on the floor, and shut down virtually everything with his length, strength and quickness. His offensive game is a still a work in progress, but that's not going to discourage teams this late in the draft.
Analysis: It's unfair to compare any young European player to Dirk Nowitzki. But after watching Bertans shoot the lights out in the practices of the Nike Hoop Summit, that's how some scouts were referring to him. Bertans doesn't have Nowitzki's size or strength and looks to be a pretty serious project. But long term, he could be a really nice addition for the Mavs.
(via L.A. Lakers)
Analysis: Harper played off the radar for most of the season, but scouts really like him. He is a good athlete, has good size and can really stroke the basketball. He plays a bit like a young Rashard Lewis. He won't take over games very often but is a nice complementary player.
Analysis: The Bulls still miss the explosive scoring off the bench that Ben Gordon used to deliver. While it's a stretch to compare Jenkins to him, it's not totally off. Jenkins can stroke the basketball and was one of the most explosive scorers in college basketball. A sleeper for the late first round.
Analysis: The Spurs have done a good job over the years of finding young international players and stashing them overseas for a few years until they are ready. Noguiera seems like a good candidate.
He's long, athletic and a terrific shot-blocker. He just needs more experience and about 30 pounds of muscle. A few years in Europe should help prepare him.
Analysis: Bogdanovic likely will stay in Europe the next few years thanks to a new lucrative contract in Spain. But he could be an asset for the Bulls -- especially when they already have another pick in the first round.