Pick, Blog and Roll

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

2006 NBA Draft Predictions (aka "Pure Conjecture Report")

Now that everyone else has posted multiple revisions of their own Mock Draft Boards, it's time for me to plagiarize their good work throw down my own thoughts on how things will go down in New York on draft night.

In his short time as Toronto's GM, Bryan Colangelo has rid the Raptors of excess baggage while improving the team's summer cap flexibility with small but incremental gains. With that in mind, I'm speculating that the Raptors will be trading the player they take with the #1 pick. Which is convenient, as it makes for more interesting reading.

Without further ado...

1. Toronto: Rudy Gay **
Bryan Colangelo stated Tuesday that the Raptors would almost certainly hold on to their pick. On the same day, ESPN's Andy Katz reported that Rudy Gay was being considered by the Raptors ... and then not. The choice, according to Katz, is down to two. We've heard "Bargnani" for weeks. And speculation about Aldridge is rampant. Are the reports for real?

Here's the thing: the Raptors want to trade down, and everyone knows it. In the absence of sure-fire superstar talent in this year's draft, I suspect that all of the potential offers for the #1 pick are already on the table. Teams have been frozen in drafts past for fear of losing their guy. That's a danger here, and Colangelo alluded to it the other day in an interview.

Colangelo has scouted Bargnani more than any other GM. And he's seen more of the Italian forward than any other player in the draft. It won't send a good message if the Raptors pass on Andrea Bargnani. He could slide in the right circumstances....

2. Chicago: Lamarcus Aldridge
The Bulls are loaded with studs on the wing and in the backcourt. They need a forward who will contribute immediately. Aldridge is that player.

3. Charlotte: Tyrus Thomas
Before he trademarked #23, Michael Jordan was just an athletic and competitive kid from Carolina who made his mark in the NCAA tournament, oozed with potential, and possessed a strong work ethic. Thomas plays a different position and hails from Louisiana, but that's where the differences end. MJ sees too much of himself in Thomas, which is why he's going #3 to the Bobcats.

(On a related note: Jordan recently admitted that he didn't pay much attention to NCAA games last season. Which is another way of saying that he only took in March Madness, also known this year as The Tyrus Thomas Breakout Party.)

4. Portland: Adam Morrison
The most obvious pick of the draft ... unless something else happens, in which case I'll claim the blog was hacked by ESPN's Chad Ford.

5. Atlanta: Shelden Williams
The rumor mill has been churning for weeks on this one. Williams allegedly has a promise from the Hawks. He's a great rebounder, so he fills a need. It seems high, but in view of the press this has already received, I'm not keen on spending any time conjecturing on whether all clocks in Hot-lanta read 4:20.

(Speculation is rampant that the Hawks are picking for Houston here, and will acquire Williams via the Rockets' #8 in a trade. That's the second time I've used "rampant". I need a thesaurus.)

6. Minnesota: Brandon Roy
Kevin Garnett wants to win now. Marko Jaric isn't cutting it, and Rashad McCants is hurt. Roy fills a need, and will contribute immediately.

7. Andrea Bargnani **
The Celtics are just far enough down in the draft to miss out on the players they most covet. Which is why they'll take Andrea Bargnani, and ship him to Toronto along with a point guard in exchange for Gay and the contract of Alvin Williams. Gay probably isn't the #1 player on Boston's board, but he may be the only one in the top 6 who's selection ensures that Bargnani is still available.

I can also see GM Danny Ainge having interest in Mike James. James is not problem child per se, but his play was a distraction this year in Toronto. Ainge hasn't shied away from controversial players in the past (see: Ricky Davis, Michael Olowokandi, Antoine Walker). Any draft-day exchanges involving James will have to wait until July due to NBA free agency rules.

Picks 8-60
I don't have all day for this. You're trying my patience.

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