This just in: Kevin Love up to No. 5!
Well, in theory, anyway.
The mock draft I did on the night of the lottery came straight out of my little head. I’ve talked to personnel guys from an East team and a West team since, so now I have an idea of what they’re thinking, which, as usual, has some surprises.
There are still two big steps ahead: 1) the Orlando pre-draft camp where players will be measured and weighed so that almost everyone listed at 6-10 will shrink to 6-8 1/2 ; and 2) the teams’ individual workouts.
There are always players shooting up the list at the end, especially big players who haven’t been scouted a lot -- like Andrew Bynum in 2005 -- so I’m going to try to anticipate the process.
Derrick Rose, Memphis
Lots of people have Michael Beasley here, but I think Rose is a lock. The Bulls don’t think Kirk Hinrich is really a point guard and have shopped him for months.
The question isn’t whether Rose deserves to be here but whether he’s over-hyped as the next Chris Paul or Deron Williams. I don’t think we’ll see many more young point guards who’ll average 18-20 points and 10 assists, shoot 50% and make 40% of their threes.
Beasley, Kansas State
Said to be a little goofy in high school, but he was great at K-State -- and he worked hard. Lots of people think he’s a 20-10 guy. Some would take him ahead of Rose.
Brook Lopez, Stanford
Almost everyone has this pick and it figures. The Timberwolves have to go big with only one good big man, Al Jefferson -- although Anthony Randolph could also become a factor here.
Here’s a big (6-10) exciting young player few saw, making a late move at the end of his freshman season but missing the NCAA tournament.
Most people have Eric Gordon or O.J. Mayo here, but with Kevin Durant at shooting guard and Jeff Green at small forward, I’m guessing they’ll wind up going big instead. Randolph’s reedy body makes him a year or two away with only journeymen and failed prospects up front; of all the teams who have time to wait, they’re way up on the list.
Kevin Love, UCLA
This is high, he still has to prove himself on the pre-draft circuit, but he has already slimmed down and the Grizzlies like him.
They’re also tired of super-athletic, clueless types like Stromile Swift, whom they once took at No. 2.
6. New York
D.J. Augustin, Texas
He’s really about 5-10 and this is high, but they’re desperate for a point guard.
Augustin is a tough cookie who can shoot as well as run a team, which will please Coach Mike D’Antoni, whose standard of reference is Steve Nash. Best of all, Augustin is a shining-character type, which will make him a pleasant change there.
People are putting the Knicks down for combo guards like Mayo and Gordon or Jerryd Bayless, a shoot-first point guard. The Knicks already have enough of those.
They’d consider Augustin if he’s there but if not, they’re hoping Mayo, Gordon, Bayless or all three drop to them.
Michael Redd apparently wasn’t as gentlemanly with former coach Larry Krystkowiak, with whom he clashed. With young point guard Ramon Sessions playing well at the end, they’ve actually got pretty good players at all positions and can take the best player who drops to them.
Russell Westbrook, UCLA
I said it was loony to put him in the top 10, but every time I talk to someone, he goes higher.
With several teams dying for point guards and not much of a selection, people are stretching. Ray Felton has never shown the Bobcats he’s a point guard and new Coach Larry Brown has no use for scoring points. With Augustin, Westbrook is also considered one of the best young people in the draft.
If Westbrook doesn’t go here, the word is he doesn’t get past Indiana at 11 and Sacramento at 12 with both of them looking for point guards, too.
10. New Jersey
Whatever he is, he’s a terrific athlete, he can shoot and they’re trying to get younger and more athletic.
Danilo Gallinari, Milan
Some thought this skilled power forward could go in the top five but after Andrea Bargnani, skilled Euro-big men are out of favor. Athleticism is said to be an issue with Gallinari but skills -- passing and shooting -- are not.
Robin Lopez, Stanford
Another big man moving up. Not as skilled as his twin but not a klutz. Bigger and works harder than the more talented Darrell Arthur, to say nothing of the much bigger, much more talented, much less motivated DeAndre Jordan.
The Trail Blazers hope to bring in Rudy Fernandez, last season’s No. 1 pick, and are shopping this one along with Jarret Jack, looking for a grown-up point guard.
If you don’t like Alexander here, fill in your own favorite because no one knows.
14. Golden State
JaVale McGee, Nevada
Someone told me this was a good guess so I’m sticking with it.