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Mock draft: Tandem approach to sorting out prospects


The NBA Draft is set for Thursday.

NBA Draft 2011

Our NBA crew will have it covered from every angle.

But nobody knows the college players better than our college basketball columnists. So Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman spent way too much time earlier this week alternating picks and emails until they completed the first round of a mock draft. They didn't predict what teams will actually do as much as detail what they would do if they were in charge of the teams. Goodman picked first. Parrish picked second. The first two picks went exactly as they'll go Thursday -- and then it got interesting.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving, Duke
Goodman: I'm not sure there's a franchise player in this draft, but Irving will be a top-10 point guard in the league before long, and the Cavs need a high-character guy to build their franchise around. Irving is a no-brainer here for me over Derrick Williams or one of the foreign bigs -- who Cleveland can get with the No. 4 pick.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Williams, Arizona
Parrish: With Irving off the board (correct pick, by the way), the smart move for Minnesota is to select Williams. He has a nice blend of size and skill to succeed at power forward. He's also a winner with no obvious character flaws. He'll make an impact with the Timberwolves as soon as next season. He could be a star.

3. Utah Jazz: Enes Kanter, Turkey
Goodman: If I'm Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor, I'm doing my best to get out of this spot -- unless Derrick Williams slips. I'm going to try to move to No. 2, where I could take Williams, or maybe down, where I could get a future pick and either a point guard who slips or a wing. However, if forced to draft here, I'm going with Kanter, considering Mehmet Okur's health is in question. With Devin Harris in the fold for the next couple years, one thing I won't do is reach on one of the point guards.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania
Parrish: You just ruined Cleveland by taking Kanter third because the Cavs really need Brandon Knight to go there. So this is a bad turn of events. But Cleveland should still think long term and big and take Valanciunas -- a guy some believe might actually be a better prospect than Kanter. Problem is, Valanciunas will almost certainly play in Lithuania next season and won't come to the NBA until 2012-13. But that wouldn't bother me as much as taking an inferior prospect here would bother me. So Valanciunas is the pick. But I wanted Kanter.

5. Toronto Raptors: Kemba Walker, Connecticut
Goodman: Toronto needs a point guard desperately, so the debate here is between Knight and Walker. Knight might be the better perimeter shooter, but Walker is the better overall player -- and he has all the intangibles. Plus, he's a winner. And I like guys who have won championships.

6. Washington Wizards: Jan Vesely, Serbia
Parrish: Poor Brandon Knight. Passed over twice in the top five by teams who could use a point guard, and the team drafting sixth obviously does not need a point guard. I'll take Vesely here. He's full of potential and can run the floor well, and running the floor well is important considering John Wall is in charge.

7. Sacramento Kings: Brandon Knight, Kentucky
Goodman: I'm not sold on Knight being the answer, but if I'm Geoff Petrie, I'm going to take him and try to hire John Calipari once I can Paul Westphal. I figure the best shot is to stockpile ex-Calipari players -- and now I'll have three of them with Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and Knight.

8. Detroit Pistons: Tristan Thompson, Texas
Parrish: Thompson is an example of an elite high school prospect who was also good in college and has no obvious height or athleticism issues for his position. Those guys almost always work out at the NBA level, so Joe Dumars would be wise to snag the one-and-done standout from Canada, pair him with Greg Monroe and start building back toward Eastern Conference relevance.

9. Charlotte Bobcats: Nikola Vucevic, Southern California
Goodman: Michael Jordan's Bobcats just need talent. I thought about taking Kawhi Leonard here, but I've got Tyrus Thomas -- and the two are similar. So I'm going to surprise some people and go with the skilled 7-footer. He can really score from all over the court, and he would help Charlotte on the glass.

10. Milwaukee Bucks: Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State
Parrish: I think you just let Tyrus Thomas move you off a pick, which is hilarious on about seven different levels. But thank you. Because I'll gladly take Leonard here. In terms of upside, he might be one of the best five prospects in this draft. If I'm Milwaukee, I'm thrilled you took Vucevic (even though I like Vucevic) and let Leonard slide.

11. Golden State Warriors: Chris Singleton, Florida State
Goodman: New coach Mark Jackson wants to change the culture (translation: get his new team to actually start defending a little). No better guy to add than a long and talented forward who loves to defend.

12. Utah Jazz: Jimmer Fredette, BYU
Parrish: You knew I wouldn't let my boy slip past here, right? What we've learned, I think, is that Jimmer really needs Knight to go third to Utah to get a point guard off the board early. That would allow Walker to go fifth to Toronto, then Jimmer could reasonably go seventh to Sacramento and play with Tyreke Evans. As it is, the Jazz make out here. They get Kanter early in the lottery and Jimmer late. There will be lots of pressure on him to contribute immediately, but I think he'll handle it nicely and perform well at the NBA level, as I detailed earlier this week.

13. Phoenix Suns: Marcus Morris, Kansas
Goodman: The Suns need a young and athletic wing -- and that's exactly what you get with Marcus Morris. The question remains whether he can guard a small forward, but he would get in the rotation immediately.

14. Houston Rockets: Bismack Biyombo, Congo
Parrish: (Note to Goodman: Everybody in the draft is young. Being that way doesn't set Morris apart in any way.) I almost took Biyombo at No. 8. I'm certain Daryl Morey will be glad I didn't. Biyombo has too much upside to pass on late in the lottery of a weak draft. He has to develop, sure. He's only 18. (Young!) But he could develop into something really, really good.

15. Indiana Pacers: Markieff Morris, Kansas
Goodman: Good luck with Bizzy. My daughter has a higher skill level and she turns 8 in a few months. The Pacers like Marshon Brooks here, but I like Markieff Morris. Big, strong and skilled. And just as young as his twin brother.

16. Philadelphia 76ers: Jon Leuer, Wisconsin
Parrish: This might be a reach, but at this point there are no consensus standouts. The Sixers need frontcourt help. Leuer can provide it, and as long as Elton Brand works around the rim, Leuer can step away and be a good 6-foot-10 shooter in the league. Again, it's a reach. But I'll take Leuer over what's still available.

17. New York Knicks: Josh Selby, Kansas
Goodman: Your love for Bo Ryan never ceases to amaze me. I've got a terrific pick for the Knicks here in Selby. He's a roll of the dice, but the potential reward is certainly worth the risk. Sure, he had a train wreck of a season as a freshman at KU, but he's a top-10 talent in this draft, and I'll take my chances with Chauncey Billups tutoring the athletic guard.

18. Washington Wizards: Klay Thompson, Washington State
Parrish: Thompson is a steal here. Unlike your boy Selby, he has good size for his position. Unlike your boy Selby, he actually performed well in college.

19. Charlotte Bobcats: Reggie Jackson, Boston College
Goodman: I took Vucevic for the Bobcats earlier and they could use an explosive and athletic guard to go with him. Jackson, who played down the street from me for the past few years, is tough, and his skills are more suited to the NBA than college. M.J. will be thanking me down the road if he listens to me on this one.

20. Minnesota Timberwolves: Alec Burks, Colorado
Parrish: I'll go best available and grab Burks. That would give Minnesota two top-10 talents despite picking second and 20th. Not bad. David Kahn, as you know, has done worse.

21. Portland Trail Blazers: Kenneth Faried, Morehead State
Goodman: The Blazers need some toughness along the frontline and someone to do all the garbage work. Faried isn't Dennis Rodman, but he'll get after it -- especially on the glass.

22. Denver Nuggets: Tobias Harris, Tennessee
Parrish: Harris could be long gone by now come Thursday night, but he's still available here and worth taking. Good kid. No bad habits. Incredibly versatile. I'm not sure how much he'll help next season, but I bet when we look back in five years, there won't be anywhere close to 21 players from this draft who turn out better.

23. Houston Rockets: Jordan Hamilton, Texas
Goodman: He's a mess defensively, but he can really score despite not being overly athletic. The Rockets need guys who can put the ball in the basket, and Hamilton would be a nice complement to Kevin Martin on the wing.

24. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kyle Singler, Duke
Parrish: Why not get another combo forward to play the role Jeff Green used to play? Singler is skilled, polished, a winner and ready to help in the playoffs next season. At this point for this team, he makes perfect sense.

25. Boston Celtics: Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA
Goodman: Not exactly the model of toughness, but there's no shortage of talent -- and give him a year with Kevin Garnett and he won't be such a you-know-what.

26. Dallas Mavericks: Nikola Mirotic, Serbia
Parrish: The Mavs don't need immediate help, obviously, and they probably couldn't get any here anyway. So the smart move is to take a foreign player and let him stay overseas for a couple of years, develop, then try to make an impact down the road. Mirotic provides that. And he won't take a roster spot next season.

27. New Jersey Nets: Chandler Parsons, Florida
Goodman: The Nets have Deron Williams and Brook Lopez and not much else. Parsons gives them a long, versatile and cerebral guy who can come right in and help after four years in Gainesville.

28. Chicago Bulls: Marshon Brooks, Providence
Parrish: The Bulls need someone who can score so Derrick Rose doesn't have to score so much. Here's one thing I know about Brooks: He can score.

29. San Antonio Spurs: Justin Harper, Richmond
Goodman: The Spurs are old and unathletic. Period. They need someone with some bounce. Harper fits here.

30. Chicago Bulls: JaJuan Johnson, Purdue
Parrish: The Bulls would rather package their two first-round picks to move up or use one of them in a trade for a veteran, and I suspect one of those things will happen. Either way, with what's left on the board, if I'm picking 30th, I'm taking Johnson. Great college player. Nice length. Could use some weight, obviously. But I don't know why teams aren't higher on him. I mean, he's only a year older than the Morris twins.


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