Everyone has an opinion about the upcoming draft and I'm no exception. This year is particularly scary for us Hawks fans, because we essentially have the "pressure" of picking first, since Oden and Durant are givens at the one and two spot... so ALL EYES will be on how the Hawks manage (or mismanage) their two first round picks (at #3 and #11).
Making the assumption that there won't be any trades and every team will make its appointed pick, what follows are the mock drafts (well, the lottery picks) as predicted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and ESPN, with commentary from plezWorld:
- Portland Trailblazers
AJC: Greg Oden, C, Ohio State - No one passes on a dominant 7-footer who can anchor a title contending team for the next decade. Not even Portland.
ESPN: Kevin Durant, SF, Texas - For his killer instinct and excellent workout for the team.
plez sez: You gotta go with the big man, Greg Oden (C, Ohio State). With one hand, he basically secured his team's spot in the national championship game. And a mobile, athletic 7-footer like Oden comes around once a decade, you can't pass this one up!
- Seattle Supersonics
AJC: Kevin Durant, F, Texas - Ranks right up there with Michael Jordan as one of the best consolation prizes in draft history.
ESPN: Greg Oden, C, Ohio State - This is a no-brainer! This is the easiest pick in the entire draft.
plez sez: This is an automatic pick, when David Stern takes the podium for the Number 1 pick, he should just stay up there and announce the second pick.
- Atlanta Hawks
AJC: Yi Jianlian, C, China - The intriguing possibilities involved with this 7-foot physical specimen, both on and off the court, are too great for the Hawks to pass up.
ESPN: Al Horford, PF, Florida - Considered the third best prospect in the draft after a great season (with a second national championship) and a great workout.
plez sez: Although, it would be great to have 1 billion additional Hawks fans (in China), the Hawks need a real NBA player, like Al Horford. His father, Tito Horford, also played in the NBA. And remember, Yao Ming (Houston Rockets) still hasn't gotten his team out of the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
- Memphis Grizzlies
AJC: Al Horford, F, Florida - Grizzlies get a draft day surprise in the ready-to-play Horford, the player they had rated No. 3, thanks to the Hawks' gamble.
ESPN: Mike Conley, Jr., PG, Ohio State - He's a really good point guard with lots of upside (since he left Ohio State after only one season) and he led his team to the national championship game.
plez sez: If the Hawks do as I say, then Mike Conley will be available for the Grizzlies. If not, I won't be able to see who the Grizzlies are taking because I will have thrown something BIG and HEAVY at my big screen TV!
- Boston Celtics
AJC: Jeff Green, F, Georgetown - Green's versatility and maturity are too much to pass up for a team needing to provide Paul Pierce with immediate assistance.
ESPN: Corey Brewer, SG, Florida - Another player from Florida's two-time national championship team.
plez sez: Paul Pierce is going to need some help, I imagine the Celtics will probably be trading this pick away as part of a deal to keep Pierce around. But if they keep it, they'll take either Brewer or Yi Jianlian (the 7-footer from China).
- Milwaukee Bucks
AJC: Brandan Wright, F, North Carolina - He is two or three years away from providing the type of help a pick this high should, but his upside is too much to pass up.
ESPN: Jeff Green, F, Georgetown - Since Yi Jianlian has said that he won't play in Milwaukee, I guess they have to take the best available talent.
plez sez: Green was a bigger factor for Georgetown than Wright was for UNC... I'd go with Green!
- Minnesota Timberwolves
AJC: Spencer Hawes, C, Washington - Kevin McHale sees a whole lot of himself in Hawes, the most offensively skilled big man in this draft.
ESPN: Yi Jianlian, C, China - He has the most value of anyone on the board (so they could always trade his rights), and we all know they're trading KG at some point.
plez sez: I'd go with Hawes out of Washington, I don't know if the Minneapolis is on the list of cities that Jianlian will play for.
- Charlotte Bobcats
AJC: Corey Brewer, F, Florida - The Bobcats have continue to build with experienced talents from winning programs, players like Brewer.
ESPN: Brandon Wright, F, UNC - Big upside and North Carolina pedigree.
plez sez: Six of one, half a dozen of the other... I would pick Joakim Noah.
- Chicago Bulls
AJC: Joakim Noah, C/F, Florida - Pair the fiery Noah with Tyrus Thomas on the frontline and the Bulls are ready for a decade's worth of deep playoff runs in the East.
ESPN: Joakim Noah, C/F, Florida - Another guy from the two-time national championship team.
plez sez: If Noah is available, this would be the best pick, but for some reason, I don't see him lasting until the 10th pick.
- Sacramento Kings
AJC: Al Thornton, F, Florida State - If Ron Artest gets moved in a trade, the Kings will already have his replacement.
ESPN: Julian Wright, SF, Kansas - Lots of potential.
plez sez: With the Kings in the same division as the Spurs, Mavericks, Suns, Rockets, and the same state as the Lakers and Warriors, they will be bringing up the rear in the West for the next 10 years... so it doesn't matter who they pick. My favorite pick for this spot is Thaddeus Young from Georgia Tech.
- Atlanta Hawks
AJC: Mike Conley Jr., G, Ohio State - The Hawks get smooched by lady luck just like they did on lottery night and get their top rated point guard after the rest fall in love with the big guys.
ESPN: Acie Law IV, PG, Texas A&M - Considered by many to be the best point guard in the draft.
plez sez: Being the homer that I am, I would hope that the Hawks use their second first round draft pick on a local product, Javaris Crittendon, who played both high school and college ball (Georgia Tech) in Altanta. And he's mentioned in the same breath as Conley and Law.
- Philadelphia 76ers
AJC: Javaris Crittenton, G, Georgia Tech - Move over Louis Williams, Crittenton fills the 76ers need for a quality understudy to veteran point guard Andre Miller.
ESPN: Al Thornton, SF, Florida State - One of the few forwards who can come into the NBA and play right away.
plez sez: If the Hawks do what I say, then Acie Law IV should be available for the 76ers.
- New Orleans
AJC: Nick Young, G, USC - The only thing the Hornets don't have is ultra athletic running mate for Chris Paul. The dynamic Young fits that bill.
ESPN: Spencer Hawes, C, Washington - If he's still available, you can't pass on an offensive minded center for the Hornets.
plez sez: If Hawes is still available this late in the draft, you have to go with the big man.
- Los Angeles Clippers
AJC: Acie Law IV, G, Texas A&M - The Clippers need a security blanket in case Shaun Livingston doesn't make a full recovery from knee surgery.
ESPN: Nick Young, SG, Southern California - Best available.
plez sez: If Acie Law IV drops this far, I'd be surprised.
plezWorld's last word: Thaddeus Young (F, Georgia Tech) will be a Top 20 selection; I have him as a forward who is in the mix with Jeff Green and Brandon Wright.
And if I'm even half-right with my selections, I may've found my second career! *smile*