Posted: Tuesday June 21, 2005 2:14PM; Updated: Tuesday June 21, 2005 4:59PM
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On June 28, we'll find out whether the Bucks go with Utah's Andrew Bogut or Marvin Williams from North Carolina (the smart money's on the former, though the smarter pick is the latter) as the top pick in this year's NBA Draft, just how far Chris Taft has plummeted, and which teams are wowed by individual workouts (the Raymond Felton indicator) or the traditional currency of the NBA -- potential.
But what if teams weren't drafting just from this year's crop but from every roster in the NBA? Who would go first, and who would be overlooked (hi, Paul Pierce)?
This is the scenario the SI.com editors presented to me, stealing shamelessly from a column estimable NFL scribe Michael Silverwrote a while back. Draw up the mock draft of all mock drafts, they said.
So here's how I see it unfolding in this fantasy world where all teams have had their traded picks reinstated, so as to give each franchise a first round pick. (Disagree? Of course you do. That's what the mailbag is for.) Without further ado, then, here comes David Stern to the podium.
Ultimate Mock Draft
It's not the sexiest choice, but the Bucks make the smart one, passing on LeBron James to build around a true center (no matter what he says) who's selfless, experienced and savvy. Though 29, Duncan's never relied on his athleticism, so he has a good six or seven dominant years left. Build around him and they -- fans, free agents, playoff berths -- will come.
Continuing a trend -- fetish? -- for small forwards, Billy Knight grabs LeBron, who he can now surround with an assortment of tweeners. Even Atlanta can't screw up this pick. Now all the Hawks need is a new coach, some serviceable players and, oh yeah, fans.
John Nash will be rolling fatties (at least figuratively) over the chance to shed this franchise's Jail Blazer image and start new. Garnett is the type of dominating, passionate, felony-free player who will bring back the Portland faithful and anchor the team, regardless of who ends up as his coach.
Yeah, he's selfish, and yeah, he comes with just a wee bit of baggage, but he's perfect for a city like New Orleans. He can create his own fiefdom in the Southeast -- that is, after he runs Byron Scott out of town.
The Bobcats briefly consider UNC alum Larry Brown until they remember that they're building for the long term, not two years. McGrady is 26 years old, versatile and went to high school in Durham. He'll score a zillion points a game under coach Bernie Bickerstaff.
GM Kevin O'Connor's has a thing for foreign players, and Dirk's the best of the bunch. Now all supercoach Jerry Sloan needs is four dudes from the noon run at the Salt Lake City Y to have a playoff team. If Steve Nash were younger, he might have gotten the call to play John Stockton incarnate.
GM Rob Babcock thinks long and hard about drafting Nash and bringing home Canada's hero, but Wade is too good to pass up. He'll fill the post-Vince void well, seeing as he can do nearly everything Carter can, plus he actually plays defense.
Isiah Thomas could grab Amare Stoudemire, Dwight Howard or some other promising young big man but, of course, he's not going to. It comes down to Allen Iverson (another scoring PG, like the GM himself) or Shaq, both of whom fit perfectly into the Knicks' strategy of selling tickets while selling out the team's future. Thomas takes Shaq, who takes Manhattan (or, as O'Neal dubs it now that he's there, "Man-happenin'") by storm.
The Warriors search long and hard for a big, unknown foreign power forward to take at the nine spot, just for tradition's sake. Instead, VP Chris Mullin settles on Stoudemire, the big man the franchise has never had.
Before the draft, Jerry Buss tries like mad to trade up so that the Lakers can pick Kobe, but since this is the first round of a mock draft -- and ergo Los Angeles has no players under contract -- it has no tradeable assets. Instead, GM Mitch Kupchak goes for the best Kobe clone, Iverson, even though he seems a poor fit for the triangle offense.
They took him once, they'll take him again, even if GM John Weisbrod is long gone. A 19-year-old budding center with all kinds of upside, he'll be an All-Star within two years.
Certainly, there are better choices here -- Jermaine O'Neal, for one -- but Vince just says Clippers. Owner Donald Sterling had to think about OKing the move, considering the contract Carter will no doubt demand, but Sterling can always underpay Carter and allow him to walk come free agency.
New owner Dan Gilbert wants to make a splash and create buzz so, without even consulting with the GM he doesn't have yet, he picks Yao. In Ming he gets not only a center to construct a team around but an international media draw and fan bait.
He's not Kevin Garnett, but he's pretty close (and younger) and, as it turns out, his game is even more similar to that of GM Kevin McHale, who can't wait to head out on the practice court and start honing O'Neal's jump hook.
Needing someone to draw fans prior to the big Brooklyn move, Bruce Ratner gives Rod Thorn the directive to grab the biggest star available. Even if questions remain about his desire, Anthony fits the bill. Fans immediately redub the homecourt "Carmelo Airlines Arena."