Eds. Note: This mock isn’t necessarily intended to predict what teams will do, but to spell out what WE would do at each pick. Some of that is likely to map onto what teams actually end up doing on Thursday, some isn’t. Part 1, which covered picks 1-8, is here.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves – Shabazz Muhammad, SG/SF, UCLA
Patrick J: If the draft were to unfold as we outlined it here, there won’t be any great options left for the Wolves at #9. That said, the Wolves need a shooter and scorer on the wing. Shabazz Muhammad is a shooter and scorer who plays the wing. Most fans hate Shabazz. They don’t like that his dad RON HOLMES (!) forged Shabazz’s birth certificate. They don’t like that Shabazz never collected any assists. They don’t like that Shabazz didn’t play well against the Gophers during the only game most of them probably saw Muhammad play all season long. Me, I don’t care about Shabazz’s age, his Daddy issues, his passing, or his putative attitude problems, which is (at this point) overblown since we don’t know beyond vague RUMINT that Shabazz has any attitude problems. What I do care about is obtaining a scorer who is taller than 6’1’’ and can score without being ball dominant. Shabazz does that in his sleep. He wouldn’t be a great fit for every team, but I think people are selling short the fit he could be on our team.
To close, I will quote RON HOLMES:
“Bazz is going to blow up in the NBA lets team up and blow this thing up!!!” Holmes wrote to a Times reporter in a text message. “I’m going to need a publicist anyway why shouldn’t it be you. We can do some big things together.”
Doesn’t that convince you?
(More of Ron’s Ruminations are here.)
Andy G: SHOTS FIRED!!!!!!!!
Dammit, you just lost us half of our Twitter followers.
(takes deep breath)
Okay, I’m calm.
Shabazz is a touchy subject. Would I draft him at 9, given the way our mock has things played out? First, I guess I have to look at the alternatives.
* ALEX LEN? No thanks.
* Trey Burke? Not unless he’s okay with 10 minutes per game.
* Michael Carter-Williams? I guess he could back up Shved, who backs up Ricky.
If the Wolves don’t have the Zeller or KCP options, things get tricky. The only realistic alternative at this spot is Sergey Karasev. As much as I like the idea of adding another Russian (maybe he could fly over with Snowden? (!)) I’d be lying if I said I thought Karasev would have a better NBA career than Shabazz. I don’t — at least not when dealing with probabilities. Muhammad will be a VOLUME SCORER! but hey, that isn’t the worst thing in the world, especially when you’re sharing a backcourt with Ricky Rubio who will set you up with all of the best scoring opportunities you could imagine. (Exits Hubie Brown 2nd Person Perspective.)
Shit, I guess I’m on board with Shabazz here. As uncool as KCP might be, I’d rather they take him if given the chance. But in our mock scenario, Muhammad it is.
10. Portland Trailblazers – Alex Len, C, Maryland
Andy G: Basically, Portland has no choice but to gamble on the 7’1” frame. They drafted Meyers Leonard last year, sure, but there’s nothing wrong with fourteen feet of DEATH MATCH when: a) both guys are young with upside; and b) nobody quite knows what the future holds in Rip City, especially with franchise big man, LaMarcus Aldridge. Realistically, the Blazers are not drafting a ball-dominant guard with this pick. It’s Dame Lillard’s team. So that means no Burke and that means no Carter-Williams. Len it is.
Patrick J: Concur. Portland would be nuts to do anything other than draft Len if he were available there. He’d fill the main gap in their starting lineup as a natural center–a quality that Meyers Leonard does not appear to have. Clearly neither of us is bullish on Len, given that he’s projected to go as high as #1 overall and we’d put him around #10. He’s never looked good whenever I’ve seen him play, and the comparison I heard somewhere the other day – it compared Len to a *young* Darko Milicic (read: even worse than Darko on the Wolves) – gave me shivers but made me feel better about wanting no part of this guy on the Wolves, especially if it would decrease the probability of matching a Pek restricted free agent deal. Let’s hope someone decides Len is their speed. And who better to stick with the stinky cheese than Portland!
11. Philadelphia 76ers – Trey Burke, PG, Michigan
Patrick J: Given that this mock reflects where WE would pick players and not where they’re likely to get picked, at this point it’s patently clear for those of you scoring at home that neither of us is a Burke fan. That doesn’t mean he isn’t the BPA here. He is, and Phila should draft him. Jrue Holiday is a stud, but Burke is probably destined to be a souped up backup anyway. Drafting at #11, you might not be able to do much better than that (on average), even in a draft better than this year’s.
Andy G: Remember how this was a “golden age of point guards” like three years ago? And remember how there have been even more good point guards that entered the league since it become the golden age of point guards? To be a starting-caliber NBA point guard is — (Joe Biden voice) — a big fuckin’ deal. Ask Jonny Flynn. There’s no shame in being Jrue Holiday’s backup. That sounds about right for Trey.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder – Sergey Karasev, SG/SF, Russia
Andy G: Presti drafts a shooter. Kevin Martin is a free agent, Clay Bennett has a tight budget, and it stands to reason that OKC would like a smooth, shooter/passer type on the rookie scale, standing between Westbrook and Durant for the next four years.
Patrick J: Karasev would be a step in the right direction after typically impeccable Sam Presti made the mistake of a lifetime in prioritizing Serge Ibaka over James Harden and dealing Harden to the Rockets for some pocket litter. Karasev is no Harden, but he has a scorer’s knack, can put the ball on the floor and create, get HIS SELF to the line, and potentially add a lot of INTANGIBLE value to an already stacked OKC roster.
13. Dallas Mavericks – Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
Patrick J: So, the Mavs’ depth chart at point guard looks like this:
Look at their shooting guard position. Mayo will gone. Anthony Morrow? Gone. But it gets worse when you look at their point guard situation. Mike James? Remember him? He was a seriously wanting Wolves point guard back when things were *really* bad. So, suffice it to say that Dallas needs backcourt help. They should take Michael Carter-Williams if he’s available, overlooking the clear negative that Carter-Williams is a hyphenate.
Andy G: Dallas fancies itself a hot free agent destination. Nobody quite knows what Cuban is doing or thinking. MICHAEL CARTER is BPA here, so that sounds like a reasonable pick.
14. Utah Jazz – Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
Andy G: This is actually a nice fit for Utah, and with some upside. Schroeder from Germany wowed scouts whilst playing for the World Team at the Nike Hoops Summit. From ESPN’s profile (Insider):
“Schroeder might have been the big winner of the Nike Hoop Summit week in Portland. He wowed NBA teams all week with his quickness and his scoring ability in the paint during practice, but scouts wondered if he could do it against elite high school prospects like Andrew Harrison. Schroeder delivered. He was fantastic controlling the tempo for the World Team, got to the line whenever he needed and ended up with 18 points and six assists. His play not only elevated him into first-round discussions, he’s now heavily in the mix with Shane Larkin, Pierre Jackson, Myck Kabongo and Phil Pressey for the first point guard off the board after Trey Burke and Michael Carter-Williams.”
That has to sound good to Utah, a team still searching for a lead guard since it dealt Deron Williams to New Jersey/Brooklyn.
Patrick J: Schroeder is a huge value here. He’s got nice athleticism, good defensive instincts, and point guards coming out of Europe tend to have a better all-around feel for the game than their American counterparts, at least in their initial years in the League. Schroeder is drawing Rondo comparisons, but I don’t think that’s quite right. Schroeder is actually MORE athletic than Rondo, but not nearly as strong, and the jury remains out on his playmaking ability. (Rondo’s is exceptional.) Schroeder makes eminent sense in Utah, which doesn’t even have a solid point guard under kahntract for next season. He could thrive there with the Jazz’s behemoth front line to feed.
We’ll have more draft analysis in our next post.