By Chris Ekstrand
June 13, 2007
Chris Ekstrand's Mock Draft (cont.)
Pick Team Pos. Player School/
Class Ht. Wt.
16 F/C Tiago Splitter Tau Ceramica (Spain) -- 6-11 232
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.
17 G Rudy Fernandez DKV Joventut (Spain) -- 6-5 185
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.
18 G Rodney Stuckey Eastern Washington So. 6-4 205
One of the better-kept secrets in college basketball the last two years, the explosive Stuckey can play both guard spots and has an NBA-ready body. He averaged better than 24 points per game both seasons and he has the reputation of being able to finish plays at the rim. It's difficult to imagine the Warriors drafting anyone without superb athletic ability.
19 F Jason Smith Colorado State Jr. 7-0 230
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.
20 G/F Alando Tucker Wisconsin Sr. 6-5 205
He has a big-time heart and the Heat can use a burst of youthful enthusiasm and joie de vivre. Tucker is more of a slasher than a shooter, but he knows how to find the basket and would offer the Heat a totally new look and contrast to their catch-and-shoot players. Since he scored a lot of points in the post in college, there is a question about his adjustment to the NBA.
21 76ers_30.gif"> G Derrick Byars Vanderbilt Sr. 6-7 220
Byars is a scorer more than a shooter, but he might have a more complete offensive game than Philly's mid-first-rounder of last year, high flier Rodney Carney. As a senior, Byars showed real leadership. He has the versatility to fit in with almost team and could surprise some NBA observers by contributing right away.
22 G Javaris Crittenton Georgia Tech Fr. 6-5 185
The Bobcats would love to have a big guard they can groom to play behind and perhaps alongside Raymond Felton. Although he is far from a finished product, Crittenton is one of the very 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.
23 F Thaddeus Young Georgia Tech Fr. 6-8 210
After it became clear that Jared Jeffries didn't have the capability to be a step-up offensive player when Quentin Richardson was out with his chronic back problems, Isiah Thomas began thinking about a scoring small forward. Young has got the stroke to become a scorer at the NBA level, although his handle and court judgment will require some teaching by the Knicks' staff.
24 C Ante Tomic KK Zagreb (Croatia) -- 7-1 225
The Suns would rather not bring in multiple first-round picks in the same year, so picking the best center prospect, albeit a young one, after Oden makes plenty of sense for them. Tomic, 20, needs time for his 7-2 body to mature to the point where he can battle in the NBA paint. The Suns will let him mature in Europe for a year or two before bringing him into the fold.
25 G Arron Afflalo UCLA Jr. 6-5 195
The Jazz could use another shooter to make teams pay for double-teaming Carlos Boozer down low. Afflalo is just the type of tough, smart, straight-arrow type of personality tailor-made for a Jerry Sloan team. With the more athletic Ronnie Brewer giving the team another look at this position, a shot-maker like Afflalo would prove a good complement.
26 G Gabe Pruitt USC Jr. 6-4 178
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 G Morris Almond Rice Sr. 6-6 215
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, you rarely hear NBA teams mention his name as a first-rounder. That won't matter much if David Stern mentions his name on draft night.
28 G Marco Belinelli Climamio Bologna (Italy) -- 6-5 180
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. The sooner he comes to the States, the sooner the Spurs start grooming Manu Ginobili's understudy.
29 F Wilson Chandler DePaul So. 6-8 210
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 with which the Suns have had 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.
30 F Herbert Hill Providence Sr. 6-10 240
The classic late-blooming big man, Hill came a long way as a fifth-year senior, averaging 18.1 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocked shots. The Sixers are likely looking to replace or upgrade what they got from Steven Hunter last season, and Hill should be able to play spot minutes right away.

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