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The Rant

I meant to get this out a few days ago, but fireworks and booze got in the way, so here is the better-late-than-never Gaske's World 2007 NBA Mock Draft! Also, check out my Preview, Coverage and Recap of the NBA Finals.

1. Portland Trailblazers – Ted Skuchas, C, Vanderbilt

Just kidding. Greg Oden, C, Ohio State.

Even though I like Durant better, Oden is the obvious choice. The list of 7-foot athletic freaks who are good guys, intelligent and seem to have a genuine interest in becoming the best player possible is a short one, so passing on a sure thing like Oden would be insane.

2. Seattle Sonics – Kevin Durant, F, Texas

I watched at least part of every nationally-televised game that Durant played this season. Actually, I watched every game with my Dad. Over the phone. If I was missing a game, he would call me. If I thought he might not be watching, I called him and told him to turn on the TV. That should tell you all you need to know about Kevin Durant.

3. Atlanta Hawks – Al Horford, F, Florida

It has been sounding like Atlanta is going to take a mulligan on last year's selection of a power forward and take another one this year. Shelden Williams was an awful selection at #5 last season, especially with Brandon Roy, Randy Foye and Rajon Rondo still available. Horford should be a big upgrade at the power forward position though. It's good to see that they aren't duplicating players anymore like when they drafted Josh Childress and Josh Smith in the same draft to play the same position, then drafted Marvin Williams the next season to play the same position as the Joshes. GM Billy Knight knows that you can only get away with starting three small forwards and two power forwards in video games, right?

4. Memphis Grizzlies – Mike Conley Jr., G, Ohio State

Tony Parker, Part 2. Great at getting into the lane and finishing. Awful jumper. He is a better passer than Parker, though. Also, for anyone who wants to see where Conley gets his athleticism from, check out this footage of his dad.

5. Boston Celtics – Corey Brewer, G/F, Florida

Probably on the same strict no-food-diet as Durant and Nicole Ritchie. Nevertheless, he is a great player. He's quick, jumps out of the gym, plays great D and can shoot from deep. Plus, he seems like a real team player. I can't wait until Danny Ainge selects Brewer and then Paul Pierce re-enacts his own stabbing with Ainge as the new victim. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, Pierce said that he will demand a trade if GM Ainge doesn't get some veteran help by the end of the week.

6. Milwaukee Bucks – Jeff Green, F, Georgetown

Since Bobby Simmons is apparently dead, Milwaukee needs a small forward and Green fits their team perfectly. He can do a little bit of everything and the Bucks are a team that is really only a couple players away from being serious contenders in the East. Then again, every team in the Eastern Conference is that close to being a legit contender in the worst conference of all time.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves – Brandan Wright, F, North Carolina

Once they trade Kevin Garnett, this team is going to have needs at virtually every position, so they will be drafting the best player available. While Wright can appear to be disinterested at times, I think it is more a case of him making it look easy and occasionally getting lost while trying to find his way in tough competition. Also, he has the best hands I've ever seen. We're talking J.P. Pruitt-like hands.

8. Charlotte Bobcats – Joakim Noah, F/C, Florida

I hate him. With a passion. Very annoying on and off the court and gets a pass from every analyst on TV, because he “shows emotion”. Well, giving the crowd the big middle finger is expressing an emotion, too, but that doesn't make it cool. Actually, it is kinda cool when players do that. I don't know where I'm going with this except to bring up a point that a friend of mine made the other day. What does Noah do that Anderson Varejao can't? They seem to be the same player, right down to the wild hair. High energy guys who can defend, but have virtually no other skills.

9. Chicago Bulls – Yi Jianlian, F, China

Apparently, Chicago loves Yi and they need a big guy who can score. Yi tested great in workouts and seems to be totally dominating the one-on-one matchups with chairs and guys a foot shorter than him. Big time risk to be a bust, but I have liked what little I have seen of him. I was really rooting for Chicago to land the top pick, which would have allowed them to draft Durant, trade Nocioni and Deng for Kevin Garnett and complete the worst trade (with Isiah Thomas and the Knicks) of the last 25 years.

10. Sacramento Kings – Spencer Hawes, C, Washington

Hawes has a polished inside game and can rebound. He isn't very athletic, but if you are drafting #10 and can get a better version of Chris Kaman (and one who doesn't look like an axe murderer), then that's not so bad.

11. Atlanta Hawks – Acie Law IV, G, Texas A&M

Billy Knight finally drafts a real point guard, barely resisting the urge to draft another power forward. So far they have passed on Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo and Mike Conley. At least they have Speedy Claxton and Tyron Lue to man the point guard spot. I wonder why this team has been a basement-dweller for a few years now...

12. Philadelphia 76ers – Al Thornton, F, Florida State

Thornton is a great scorer, which is exactly what Philly needs. True, he is old as hell (turns 24 early into his rookie season), but he should provide Philly with what it needs to make a push into the playoffs.

13. New Orleans Hornets – Nick Young, G, Southern California

Big time athlete and shooter. Basically, exactly what New Orleans needs. Well, that and a mayor who isn't completely incompetent.

14. LA Clippers – Julian Wright, F, Kansas

The Clippers, needing immediate help at the point guard position are prime candidates to trade this pick. Perhaps a trade with Portland (who will need a small forward like Wright) that nets them Jarret Jack.

15. Detroit Pistons – Rodney Stuckey, G, Eastern Washington

Everyone seems to have Stuckey pegged for Detroit, so I'm guessing there is something to this. He would be a great scorer to give Hamilton and even Billups a breather once in a while.

16. Washington Wizards – Josh McRoberts, F/C, Duke

The Wiz should be trying to package this pick to get Garnett, but they won't. As ESPN's Sports Guy would put it, this is the “No Balls Association”. Instead, Washington will stand pat, make it to the playoffs and do nothing once they get there. They have given this “Big 3” two years to figure things out and they have plateaued. It's clear that they need a big man who can score inside and defend. Jamison is a nice player, but he isn't what Washington needs and is the one who is going to have to go if this team wants to make The Leap. Especially when you consider that his contract expires at the end of next season and Arenas has already said that he is opting out of his contract then. Garnett would give Arenas a reason to stay- an almost definite spot in the NBA Finals. Can you imagine a core of Arenas, Butler and Garnett? What would it cost them? Probably Jamison, Andray Blatche (sign and trade), Brendan Haywood and the Wizards' first round pick this season and possibly also another one in 2009. Sure, it's a high price, but who in the East could possibly matchup with a lineup of Arenas, Antonio Daniels, Caron Butler, Kevin Garnett and Etan Thomas/Darius Songaila? Again, this won't happen. It makes way too much sense for it to become a reality.

McRoberts though, is a nice player who is going to be a much better pro than college player. Mark that down.

17. New Jersey Nets – Sean Williams, C, Boston College/Reefer U

Williams is arguably the best defensive big man in the draft, averaging about five blocks per game and New Jersey could use some intensity on that end of the floor- especially with Vince Carter playing “Ole!” defense. The one thing about Williams is that he was kicked off the team at BC for smoking up. Getting him and Marcus Williams (of the stolen laptops at UCONN) could be trouble, but then again, it could be OK. The Nets have to do something here, so they might as well roll the dice.

18. Golden State Warriors – Jason Smith, C, Colorado State

The history of big men drafted outside the top 10 is bleak, but he should fit into Nellie Ball perfectly. He is big, can defend and rebound, runs the floor well and supposedly is very athletic. The knock on him is that he is soft, but that could change if he is surrounded by guys like Baron Davis, Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson.

I've got mixed feelings about this guy, though. I could see him being a white Melvin Ely, I'd put his ceiling just above Jeff Foster's.

19. LA Lakers – Javaris Crittenton, G, Georgia Tech

This is another pick that will most likely be traded. Kobe is royally pissed and wants veteran help. Look for this pick to be packaged in order to get either KG or Jermaine O'Neal. Although I've never seen him play, Crittenton sounds like a nice player and would be a great fit for Indiana if they could work a deal out.

20. Miami Heat – Thadeus Young, F, Georgia Tech

Miami desperately needs to get younger and more athletic. Based on the scouting reports, Young is still a little raw, but he is the best player available at this point in the draft and should at least be an upgrade over Eddie Jones, who apparently is a dog, based on how fast he has aged.

21. Philadelphia 76ers – Marco Belinelli, G, Italy

Belinelli is arguably the best shooter in the draft and teaming him with Korver would take a lot of pressure off of Andre Miller, Andre Igoudala and Al Thornton (assuming they draft him). Of course, this pick could always be traded, but I'd still say Belinelli is a safe bet here.

22. Charlotte Bobcats – Derrick Byars, G/F, Vanderbilt

Charlotte needs shooters and defenders on the perimeter and Byars fits that need perfectly. He's another guy who was a winner in college and performed when it mattered, which is exactly the kind of guy that Charlotte likes to draft. If they can get out of this draft with Noah and Byars, then this could be a really really good team in a couple of years. You know, assuming the team still exists. Drawing a couple hundred people to the arena isn't exactly getting it done on the financial end.

23. New York Knicks – Daequan Cook, G, Ohio State

New York is still building for the future, which apparently is a process that just begins to pick up steam after about four years of building. They need a shooting guard and Cook is a very good player with a ton of potential. This will be another good pick for Isiah Thomas and should definitely help get the Knicks into the top 10 of the worst conference ever.

24. Phoenix Suns – Tiago Splitter, F/C, Brazil

They need to cut payroll and they are going to need better interior defense, which is exactly what Splitter provides. Plus, the Suns can leave him to play in Brazil until they have the cap room to bring him over. It just seems like the logical move for them.

25. Utah Jazz – Aaron Aflalo, G, UCLA

Aflalo isn't a great athlete, but he can shoot the ball, which nobody else on the Jazz can do. How does that happen? How can an NBA team be assembled with only one guy who can shoot(Deron Williams)? This doesn't count Giricek- he sucks too badly to let him on the floor. I mean though, even in pickup games, every team by happenstance winds up with at least one player who can shoot from outside. How can you assemble an NBA team and wind up with only a single shooter? Somebody just make me a GM already. PS, Morris Almond is also a strong possibility here.

26. Houston Rockets – Glen Davis, F, LSU

They desperately need more interior help, so Davis is the natural pick. He's quick, he plays hard, rebounds and can score inside. And with any luck, he might be able to keep himself under 400 lbs.

27. Detroit Pistons – Jared Dudley, F, Boston College

Just as the Pistons are aging, they get two picks in a loaded draft. Getting Stuckey and Dudley seemingly puts them back in the hunt for the East title, especially if they can unload Rasheed Wallace for something halfway decent.

28. San Antonio Spurs – Petteri Koponen, G, Finland

The Champs (hell yes!) need a backup point guard and by all accounts, Koponen is a stud. He might be young, but he supposedly has eyes in the back of his head, which is always a good thing. Jared Jordan and Zabian Dowdell are also a possibilities here, and the Spurs should be happy if they can land one of those guys.

29. Phoenix Suns – Herbert Hill, F, Providence

Phoenix will almost certainly deal this pick, but who couldn't use a guy who can score, rebound and block shots?

Philadelphia 76ers – Kyle Visser, C, Wake Forest

This is another pick that Philly could deal, but I think they'd be wise to keep it. They could use some offense inside and almost the whole team is young, so why not let these guys grow together? Miller, Igoudala, Belinelli, Korver, Thornton, Visser and Dalembert is a very solid starting point. You've got shooters, defenders, slashers and passers. Why would they deal any of their picks? They aren't ready to win right now, but if they hold on to these picks and their guys, they could be ready to contend in a couple of years. Of course, they will invariably deal at least one of the picks, then Philly GM Billy King will sign either Mikki Moore, DeShawn Stevenson or Travis Outlaw to a 5 year, $60 million deal. How exactly does this guy have a job still?

So that is the conclusion of the Gaske's World 2007 NBA Mock Draft. Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I despised writing it. Actually, it wasn't that bad to write. Sort of. I'll be back during the draft, doing live updates every 10 minutes or so. See you then... bitches.

The Brief

Things I have learned recently:

- Don't drink while canoeing.

- Don't let Rick on a canoe.

- Throwing fireworks into a fire can be dangerous.

- As can swimming a quarter mile, falling asleep in the sun and having nothing but alcohol all day.

- I'm getting too old for this type of debauchery.