Mock Draft (cont.)

Wednesday June 13th, 2007

Chris Ekstrand's Mock Draft -- First Round
16F/CTiago SplitterTau Ceramica (Spain) --6-11232
The Wizards are likely to bring last year's first-rounder, Oleksiy Pecherov of Ukraine, to the NBA next season, so they won't mind if Splitter stays in Europe one more year before joining them for the 2008-09 season. The Brazilian big man is not flashy or explosive, but he is a fine athlete and dependable rebounder and defender who can score enough to keep defenses honest.
17GRudy FernandezDKV Joventut (Spain)--6-5185
The Nets know what they are doing when it comes to evaluating international talent and incorporating it into their team, having had success with Nenad Krstic and Bostjan Nachbar. Fernandez is an aggressive slasher who has improved his perimeter shooting. He has also played in plenty of big games with Spain's world champion national team and as the leader of Joventut.
18GJavaris CrittentonGeorgia TechFr.6-5185
Although he is far from a finished product, Crittenton is one of the few bigger point-guard prospects available this year. He showed that he is a willing and able defender, a big plus in a player this young. His decision-making with the ball will have to improve.
19FJason SmithColorado StateJr.7-0230
The Lakers need more players who can make shots, and Smith fills that bill. He isn't the ferocious rebounder they really need, but he should develop into a threat to score on the baseline after you-know-who drives and dishes. Smith has excellent shooting mechanics and makes few mistakes, and his game is tailored to scoring while facing the basket.
20GDerrick ByarsVanderbiltSr.6-7220
Byars is one of the few players in this draft who appears to be ready to step in and compete right away, which Miami will need if it loses James Posey in free agency as expected. As a senior, Byars showed real leadership. He has the versatility to fit in with almost any team and could surprise some observers with his immediate production.
21FThaddeus YoungGeorgia TechFr.6-8210
Just about every team that has worked out Young believes in his potential to be an eventual starter, but some clubs need help in a hurry. Young has the stroke to become a scorer at the NBA level, although his handle and court judgment will require improvement.
22GMorris AlmondRiceSr.6-6215
Almond was a great player on a team that had no national profile. He was third in the nation in scoring (26.4 ppg) and is a deadly three-point shooter (45.6 percent) who is also adept at getting to the line (8.9 attempts per game). Despite Almond's credentials, he has little name recognition among even ardent college basketball fans. Like Hersey Hawkins, people will know him soon.
23GDaequan CookOhio StateFr.6-6203
After clearing up the frontcourt jumble with a couple of buyouts last season, the Knicks now face big decisions in the backcourt. New York needs a zone-busting-type shooting guard, and Cook could be that in time, although he's not likely to break into the playing rotation right away. Cook is likely a year or two away from playing major minutes.
24GMarco BelinelliClimamio Bologna (Italy)--6-5180
Belinelli experienced a tough season. His jump shot was streaky and his team, usually among the strongest in Italy, failed to provide much support. Still, Belinelli has the size, physical ability and mental approach to eventually be a successful NBA shooting guard. Belinelli has indicated his willingness to join the NBA right away if drafted.
25FJosh McRobertsDukeSo.6-10240
McRoberts wasn't versatile enough to be a savior at Duke as a sophomore, but he has the skill and size to come into the NBA and play a role, especially on a structured team such as the Jazz. McRoberts can handle the ball and pass it down low from the high post, something that should endear him to low-post beast Carlos Boozer.
26GGabe PruittUSCJr.6-4178
The Rockets need some help at the point, and Pruitt offers size as well as a good reputation for creating shots for teammates without accumulating many turnovers. His perimeter shooting dipped a bit as a junior, but he has a number of different ways to score when needed: pull-up jumpers, penetrations into the lane, shooting 80 percent from the foul line.
27 FDominic McGuireFresno StateJr.6-8220
Joe Dumars has made it clear that the Pistons intend to get more athletic next season, and an all-purpose forward like McGuire fits that description. He might not be a great shooter, but McGuire can rebound, pass, block shots, get garbage baskets inside and defend. With all the scorers on board in Motown, McGuire's skill package should be a good fit.
28G Arron Afflalo UCLAJr.6-5195
The Spurs are aging gracefully, but rather than draft another international player who is years away, they could use another shooter to understudy graybeards like Michael Finley and Brent Barry. Afflalo's toughess and smarts are tailor-made for a Gregg Popovich team.
29FWilson ChandlerDePaulSo.6-8210
Chandler is a year or two away from putting it all together on the court, but he is a terrific athlete and can learn to play the style that has given the Suns so much success. If Chandler had stayed in school another year or two, he would likely have been a lottery pick. Instead, an elite team like Phoenix will reap the benefits.
30G/FAlando TuckerWisconsinSr.6-5205
Tucker is out to prove he can make the adjustment from college small forward to NBA shooting guard. He won't be a catch-and-shoot type on the perimeter, but Philly already has Kyle Korver in that role. Tucker is an opportunistic scorer who plays with passion, something the Sixers seek.

Mock Draft Continued

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.