Making a Mockery of the 2008 Draft

Is it really worth the time to do a mock draft for 2008? Absolutely!

June 23, 2007

By Bryan Armen Graham


Bryan is a basketball editor for and contributes on a regular weekly basis.
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Approach outspoken Florida product and lottery prospect Joakim Noah about mock drafts at your own risk.


"I think mock drafts are a complete joke," Noah told the Charlotte Observer last week. "I heard a couple of guys who make the mock drafts are kids in basements. You read what these guys say and they have no idea what they're talking about."


While most of us pundits know the difference between a power forward and a power drill, Noah makes one valid point. It's true that the mock drafts that will be devoured, scrutinized and dissected throughout the month of June are fun discussion fodder but ultimately trivial pursuits.


Consider Bracketology, college basketball's other popular pseudoscience, as a contrast. The projection of the NCAA Tournament field is a discipline rooted in objective data like the RPI and quality wins, just two of the figures which comprise the nitty-gritty report the committee uses to handpick the teams. Seeding the field is a reductive process governed by six pages of specific principles, guidelines and considerations -- like one rule barring regular-season opponents from meeting in the first round or another prohibiting potential meetings between two teams from the same league before the Elite Eight. In this sense, predicting the field is a process of elimination kind of like a very complicated version of Soduku -- a logic game where the obvious first steps help determine later selections. While there is a "smoke-filled room" element that conspiracy theorists target, the influence of personal opinion on the process is minimalized by design.


Speculating the NBA draft order is the polar opposite: a practical exercise in subjective decision-making. Prospect evaluation is based not on numbers but a front office's personal assessment of a player or a team's needs. And the trickle-down effect as teams react to unexpected picks can spiral an entire set of predictions into turmoil. Scoring a mock draft against the real thing often plays out like an experiment in chaos theory. Just try it yourself and see.


There's a reason why the percentage of correct picks in a good Bracketology projection might resemble Michael Jordan's career free-throw percentage while the grade of an average mock draft might look like his lifetime batting average.


Indeed, until the kids in the basement get promoted to general managers, mock drafts will continue represent an inexact science at best. But that doesn't mean they're not fun. So as this year's draft rapidly approaches, here's a look ahead to the 2008 event and a general idea of what we can expect to see one year from now:


The Lottery


  1. PG O.J. Mayo, Southern California, 6-5, 195, 20 years old on Draft Day `08 

While most recruiting sites grade UCLA signee Kevin Love as the top-ranked college player in the Class of 2008, no one doubts that the mega-hyped point guard across town is the best NBA prospect in the group. Superior handle, instincts and ability to score the basketball in bunches make for a floor general that plays the game with a savvy and court presence beyond his years.


  1. SF/PF Michael Beasley, Kansas State, 6-9, 220, 19 years old

The Maryland native and MVP of this year's McDonald's All-American Game is another player who probably would have gone straight to the pros if not for the rule prohibiting high school players entering the draft. The combo forward's uncommon skill set includes a developed post game, gentle touch around the basket and a shooting range that extends to 25 feet.


  1. PG Derrick Rose, Memphis, 6-3, 180, 19 years old

Many people (including myself) have the Tigers tabbed as an advance pick to cut down the Alamodome nets in the spring. If the speedy Chicago native -- considered a better distributing point guard than Mayo -- can help steer the Tigers to that level of success, don't be surprised to see Rose's stock rise even higher than No. 3.


  1. C Roy Hibbert, Georgetown, 7-2, 273, 21 years old

Hibbert joins guys like Ewing, Mourning and Mutombo as the latest center in the tradition of the great Georgetown giants who returned for their senior seasons to refine their games for the NBA pivot wars. The big man might have been a lottery pick in this year's draft but the allure of winning a national championship in the wake of this year's Final Four disappointment proved too much to pass up.


  1. SF Nicolas Batum, Le Mans Sarthe Basket (France), 6-8, 210, 19 years old

As the volume of international draftees has ballooned over the past decade, a foreigner has been selected in each of the previous six lotteries. China's Yi Jianlian will make it seven years on Thursday night and Batum, a versatile swingman whose breakout performance came at the 2007 Nike Hoops Summit, will extend the streak to eight. Batum pulled his name out of this year's draft even though the Lisieux native would have been a surefire lottery pick, opting to work for a French first division team with the hopes of playing his way up to the No. 1 pick in 2008. Remember the name.


  1. SF Donte Greene, Syracuse, 6-9, 217, 19 years old

With four one-and-done collegians in the first six, are we sensing a trend? The Orange have enjoyed their share of success with freshmen from the Baltimore area in recent years. Another Charm City native with a similar skill set powered the school to its first and only national championship before bolting for a successful career in the pros. Already a gifted mid-range and three-point shooter with textbook mechanics, Greene's athleticism has pro scouts drooling.


  1. SG/SF Chase Budinger, Arizona, 6-7, 190, 19 years old

A freak athlete who can play a variety of positions for the Wildcats, the former national high school volleyball player of the year has drawn comparisons to Arizona legend Sean Elliott. Aspects of his game are NBA-ready today -- such as his 40-inch vertical leap -- but Budinger could use some bulk on his lithe frame before making the jump.


  1. SG Eric Gordon, Indiana, 6-4, 190, 19 years old

As a pure two in the classic power guard mold, Gordon is slightly undersized for the pros but will compensate with his tremendous athleticism. There are no doubts about the Indianapolis native's shooting ability from long-range.


  1. PF/C Brook Lopez, Stanford, 7-0, 240, 20 years old

Lopez is another guy who probably could have made the jump this year but made a sage decision to return to school and refine his game in the Pac-10. More offensively developed than his twin brother Robin, the Fresno native made national headlines with his triple-double -- including an eye-popping 12 blocked shots -- in a blowout victory over eventual Sweet 16 team Southern California.


  1. PF Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina, 6-9, 230, 22 years old

Hansbrough is the classic college superstar whose NBA prospects are no sure thing. A power forward through and through, the Poplar Bluff, Mo., native is undersized to play his natural position in the pros. Thing is, North Carolina's emotional center has never been an overwhelmingly skilled player, depending on intangibles like desire and toughness to take his game to the next level. Whether his fire is enough for the league or gets lost in translation remains to be seen.


  1. PF Darrell Arthur, Kansas, 6-9, 215, 20 years old

The Kansas post man is a ferocious interior scorer and rebounder who should enjoy a standout sophomore season playing for a Top 5 program. Arthur has the foot speed to defend a variety of positions in the pros but could afford to improve his ball-handling to expand his position to combo forward.


  1. PF DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M, 7-0, 255, 19 years old

The Aggies will benefit from the seven-footer's services for one season before the Texas native gets scooped by a team toward the end of the lottery. Jordan combination of sheer strength, agility and nose for the basket have drawn comparisons to former No. 1 pick Dwight Howard.


  1. PG Darren Collison, UCLA, 6-1, 165, 20 years old

Speedy but undersized, Collison will continue to boost his draft stock running the point for the best team in one of the nation's premier conferences. The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., native relies on his explosive first step to create separation and get shot attempts at will -- but NBA scouts have also been impressed with his ability to set up opportunities for the other guys on the floor.


  1. C Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut, 7-3, 260, 21 years old

If the NBA lasts for a thousand years, general managers still won't be able to resist the allure of the raw big man on draft night. And if ever there was a college player destined to be selected higher than his on-court performance has warranted, Connecticut's towering man in the middle is that guy. That's why Thabeet will be selected in the lottery after jumping next spring. Here's hoping for his future pro team's sake that the native of Tanzania can develop some semblance of an offensive game as a sophomore.


Rest of First Round


  1. PG Tywon Lawson, North Carolina, 5-11, 193, 20 years old

  1. C DeVon Hardin, California, 6-11, 225, 21 years old

  1. SF Danilo Gallinari, Armani Jeans Milano (Italy), 6-8, 210, 19 years old

  1. SG Wayne Ellington, North Carolina, 6-4, 195, 20 years old

  1. SF DaJuan Summers, Georgetown, 6-8, 225, 20 years old

  1. SF Brandon Rush, Kansas, 6-6, 210, 22 years old

  1. PF Taj Gibson, Southern California, 6-9, 210, 22 years old

  1. SF/PF Omri Casspi, Galil Elyon (Israel), 6-8, 220, 19 years old

  1. SG/SF Kyle Weaver, Washington State, 6-6, 201, 21 years old

  1. SG Chris Lofton, Tennessee, 6-2, 200, 22 years old

  1. PF Jeff Pendergraph, Arizona State, 6-9, 230, 21 years old

  1. PG Tyrese Rice, Boston College, 6-0, 183, 21 years old

  1. PG Mario Chalmers, Kansas, 6-2, 170, 22 years old

  1. PF D.J. White, Indiana, 6-9, 230, 21 years old

  1. SG Marcelus Kemp, Nevada, 6-5, 210, 24 years old

  1. SG/SF Bryce Taylor, Oregon, 6-5, 200, 21 years old

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