I have to confess that I didnâ€™t follow the NCAA that closely this year, so I wonâ€™t try and pretend to know enough to come up with my own mock draft. Instead, Iâ€™m basing my commentary on Ian Thomsenâ€™s version in this weekâ€™s Sports Illustrated and will go from there. Why Thomsenâ€™s out of all the ones out there? Because of the very scientific rationale that a magazine foldout in color is a lot more user-friendly than Alt-Tab-ing between frames on a tiny computer screen. (And in fairness, Iâ€™ve always enjoyed Thomsenâ€™s NBA analyses.)
Hereâ€™s who Thomsen has going where:
- Cleveland Cavaliers â€“ Kyrie Irving, Duke PG
- Minnesota Timberwolves â€“ Derrick Williams, Arizona PF
- Utah Jazz â€“ Enes Kanter, Turkey PF/C
- Cleveland Cavalieres â€“ Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania PF/C
- Toronto Raptors â€“ Brandon Knight, Kentucky PG/SG
- Washington Wizards â€“ Jan Vesely, Czech Republic PF
- Sacramento Kings â€“ Kemba Walker, UConn PG
- Detroit Pistons â€“ Bismack Biyombo, Congo PF/C
- Charlotte Bobcats â€“ Kawhi Leonard, San Diego St. SF
- Milwaukee Bucks â€“ Klay Thompson, Washington St. SG
- Golden State Warriors â€“ Marcus Morris, Kansas PF
- Utah Jazz â€“ Jimmer Fredette, BYU PG
- Phoenix Suns â€“ Chris Singleton, FSU SF/PF
- Houston Rockets â€“ Alec Burks, Colorado SG
- Indiana Pacers â€“ Kenneth Faried, Morehead St. PF
First impressions? Kyrie Irving seems to be the overwhelming Number 1 pick in mock drafts all around for everyone except Cleveland who has yet to concede that they’re definitely going with the freshmen guard. If they do, however, he’ll make a good addition to their team that currently has a subpar shooter in Ramon Sessions and the aging Baron Davis at PG.
I was a little surprised to see Brandon Knight ahead of Kemba Walker in Thomsen’s draft, and most of the others out there for that matter. Knight set the Kentucky freshmen record for shooting and 3-point shooting last year. But Walker is the much more polished and mature PG that led the Huskies to a national championship. Besides, Walker averaged only 18 minutes to get a steal or block, while Knight was at over 40 minutes, an indication of each’s ball movement skills.
Bismack Biyombo. Love this story. A Congolese PF/C who left home at the age of 16 to play with the big boys and went through stints with Yemen and Spain and a lot of disinterested scouts before getting noticed.
“Biyombo began playing for Fuenlabrada’s junior team, but he wasn’t satisfied with the competition. He says he called the coach of the third-division team and asked him whether he could practice with that team as well.
The next year, Biyombo ended up playing for both the third- and fourth-division teams. On Saturday, he’d play third-division games and, then on Sunday, fourth-division games. To keep up with both teams, he’d sometimes have to practice four times a day.” ~ESPN’s Chad Ford
‘Nuff said. It would be great to see him go as a lottery pick, and he fits right into the Pistons’ strategy to rebuild its defense this year.
And finally, Kenneth Faried. Thomsen says Faried may not be a starter, but he was the best rebounder in the NCAA and had the highest Player Efficiency Rating. Besides, I read a really great piece on how Faried’s rebounds are a tribute to his mom. Waudda Faried suffered from lupus, a disease that causes the immune system to attack its own organs and tissues, and would tell him from her hospital bed, “You better have gotten your rebounds.” I’m a fan.
Check back later for Numbers 16-30 and more in-depth analysis in the days leading up to the Draft!