2006 NBA Draft Preview

Now that the NBA Draft order is decided, every Internet site that covers basketball and/or the NBA can offer its up to the minute draft preview. At this date, it’s pure speculation, as several underclassmen may choose to return to college when they see they are not guaranteed first rounders (Mr. Afflalo, that’s you) and the individual workouts tend to alter General Manager’s perceptions significantly.

I am one who likes production. And, I won;’ be at any NBA pre-draft workouts anyway, so my opinions are not likely to change much. So, here is my mock draft, based on who I would select with each pick, not who I think the team will actually choose.

1. Toronto: Brandon Roy, SG University of Washington
I’m not sold on anyone in the draft and I’m certainly not sold that the Raptors need another skinny seven-footer. I believe a team in the lottery needs a player who can make a difference and Roy can slide into the starting line-up at SG and provide athleticism, defense and scoring to cmplement Mike James (if resigned) and the Bosh/Villanueva front court. I don’t know if Roy is the best player in this draft five years from now, but I’m confident he’ll be productive. And, at this point, Toronto needs productive more than a gamble.

2. Chicago: LaMarcus Aldridge, PF University of Texas
The Bulls have a nice core; however, its most effective line-up features a 6’3 SG (Hinrich), 6’3 SF (Gordon) and 6’7 PF (Nocioni). Nocioni and Deng provide size on the wing, but Chicago lacks a protypical SG or PF, as Sweetney/Harrington are undersized. If Roy is available, I’d pick him here. If not, I’d go for Aldridge to add size and length to the front court and because when he played hard, he illustrated an NBA game. At 6’11, he can run and block shots and seems to fit with the Bulls style; again, if he plays hard all the time, which Skiles will demand.

3. Charlotte: Adam Morrison, SF Gonzaga University
Bernie Bickerstaff has compiled a nice team drafting proven college players like Okafur, May and Felton and Morrison fills a glaring weakness, giving the Bobcats an outside weapon on the perimeter. Wallace can defend the tougher wing and Morrison can guard the weaker offensive player and use his offensive skills. Bickerstaff is like the NBA’s Billy Beane, drafting proven commodities, not the more enticing, but riskier “potential.” And, all his picks have been solid, if not spectacular.

4. Portland, Andrea Bargnani, PF Bennetton
Honestly, I don’t like anyone in Portalnd’s front court, though I love the Maryland back court (Dixon/Blake) and Telfair (well, what he showed during the summer, not the actual season). Since Portland seems intent on building for the future, I’d take Bargnani, giving the Blazers three 20 year olds to build around, though none seem to fit Nate McMillan’s style.

5. Atlanta, Patrick O’Bryant, C Bradley University
The popular pick here is Marcus Williams, as the Hawks try to make up for passing on Chris Paul last year. However, I can’t see Williams as a top five pick, and I’m already on record proposing an Al Harrington for Rafer Alston deal. If all the underclassmen stay in the draft, I think a decent PG is available when the Hawks pick at #33, and I don’t think a lot separates a player like Williams from a Quincy Douby or Jordan Farmar or Bobby Brown. So, I take my second favorite player in the draft and give the team full of wings an athletic seven-footer to protect the rim.

6. Minnesota, Rudy Gay, SF University of Conneticut
I’m not sold on Gay, as all the UConn players seemed to quit on their season, but there is no mistaking Gay’s ability. And, KG needs help. Gay is as ready as anyone to step in and play and a motivated Gay could easily be the ROY for the T-Wolves.

7. Boston, Randy Foye SG Villanova Boston has a solid line-up, but only one true impact player: Pierce. Wally, West, Perkins, Jefferson, Orien Green, Gomes, etc are nice players, but not stars. Foye is a silky smooth scorer to add back court depth and push the returners.

8. Houston, Shawne Williams, SF Memphis

Let the surprises begin. Sure, everyone has a power forward slotted to Houston. However, the Rockets need an outside shooting complement to TMac and Yao and Williams has a pure stroke in an athletic 6’9 frame. Most have him as a second rounder right now, but after individual workouts, he’ll be a lottery pick.

9. Golden State, Tyrus Thomas PF LSU
The Warriors have drafted big in the last two drafts but return again with Tyrus Thomas available. He provides an athletic shot blocker and a change or pace from their previous two power forward picks.

10. Seattle, Ronnie Brewer SG Arkansas
Seattle has a nice young nucleus, so it is hard to decipher its needs. At once you could argue it has a nice starting line-up or that it could use an upgrade anywhere but at SG (Ray Allen). Brewer is a jack of all trades that hopefully provides some defense off the bench and sees time at the 1-3, giving him value here.

11. Orlando, Rodney Carney SG Memphis
An explosive athlete and deadly three-pointer shooter to add to the young, talented Magic roster.

12. New Orleans, Sheldon Williams PF Duke
Gotta love Chris Paul and David West; if Speedy Claxton stays ( hello Atlanta?), there’s one more. Williams gives the Hornets a defensive, shot blocking presence if and when PJ Brown leaves.

13. Philadelphia, Cedric Simmons PF NC State
The 76ers are tough. They still have Webber and AI, so they remain competitive, but beyond Andre Igoudala and maybe Samuel Delambert, there is not much else to like. Simmons is long and athletic and gets to learn under Webber for one year before taking over.

14. Utah, JJ Redick
SG Duke
Redick is a Jerry Sloan type of player. Utah needs scoring, and a Jeff Hornacek-like player is bound to do well playing for Sloan.

15. New Orleans, Mauice Ager SG Michigan State
Lock down defender with three-point range. Thank you Raja Bell.

16. Chicago, Hassan Adams SG Arizona
Sure, it’s too early to pick Adams. However, Paxson does not go by the book and Adams is a tough as nails, lock down defender who can guard three positions and he fits with the Bulls young core. If Tiago Splitter stays in the draft and is available, I’d pick him here, as the Bulls do not need a lot of tinkering; however, rumor has it he’ll pull out without a lottery guarantee, which is the assumption on which I am preceding.

17. Indiana, Marcus Williams PG Indiana
The Pacers keep searching for the answer at point guard. Maybe Williams is it.

18. Washington, Saer Sene C Belgium
He’s raw, but he is young and is seven feet tall. The Wizards needs some big people and scoring is not an issue. If Sene can block shots and rebound, he may make people forget about Kwame Brown.

19. Sacramento, Hilton Armstrong C UConn
If the Kings want to become a better defensive team, they need a PG who can keep the quick Western Conference guards out of the paint and someone who can block some shots. Armstrong is the first Kings’ shot blocker since Keon Clark.

20. New York, Jordan Farmar PG UCLA
NY still needs a PG. Of course, a lot depends on who it can move, since the entire roster is dysfunctional. Farmar is a level-headed, unselfish player the Knicks need. He’s a Larry Brown type of player.

21. Phoenix, Alexander Johnson PF Florida State
An athletic power forward to serve as Amare Stoudamire’s back-up and insurance.

22. New Jersey, Shannon Brown SG Michigan State
An athletic wing and aggressive defender to provide defense and a scoring punch off the bench.

23. New Jersey, Leon Powe PF Cal
An aggressive rebounder and scorer in the post to complement the skills of Kristic.

24. Memphis, Thabo Sefolosha SF
Another athletic wing and a possible replacement for Eddie Jones is he leaves.

25. Cleveland, Quincy Douby PG/SG Rutgers
Explosive athlete who can shoot and provide valuable minutes off the bench.

26. Los Angeles Lakers, Mardy Collins PG Temple
The big PG Phil Jackson covets.

27. Phoenix, Sergio Rodriguez PG
Creative ball handler and shooter. Sounds like someone else who thrives in Phoenix. May need to stash him in Europe for another year due to a high number of contracts. Or, could be immediate replacement in Barbosa becomes too expensive to retain.

28. Dallas, Gullermo Diaz PG Miami
Explosive athlete who can shoot. Terry is a free agent and as well as Harris has played, he might be too expensive to retain. Diaz is another athletic player who fits with Dallas’ system.

29. New York, James White SG Cincinnati
A player who can defend , he adds athleticism and defense on the wing. With White and Farmar, along with last year’s draft of Robinson, Lee and Frye, the Knicks have a nice young core; if only they could cut all the excess backage stealing minutes for millions.

30 Portland, Marcus Vinicius SF
An athletic wing Portland can leave in Europe for a year since they probably do not have room for three more rookies this year and they also own the #31 pick.

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