The Celtics won't be getting either one of these future superstars.
Just finished watching the 2007 NBA draft lottery on ESPN, and I have to say, it's quite exciting, especially once it gets down to the last few picks. It came down to Seattle (represented by Lenny Wilkins), Atlanta (repped by Nique), and Portland (represented by R.O.Y. Brandon Roy). The Grizzlies (25 percent chance) and the Celtics (19.9 percent) ended up getting the fourth and fifth selections, respectively. Crazy the way it played out. Somewhere out there, Bill Simmons is repeatedly banging his head against a wall, and I don't blame him: there are two franchise players in this draft and Boston will get neither, just like they missed out on TD ten years ago. It's been a looooooooong twenty years for the Celts, and what happened this evening will only make it seem longer.
And now that we have that settled, it's time for my 2007 Lottery Mock Draft, which takes into account the teams' current rosters and their free agency situation:
1. Portland Trailblazers: Greg Oden, C, Ohio State. Initially in this space I wrote that Portland should take Kevin Durant and explained my reasoning as such: they were set at every position except his and they already took a center (LaMarcus Aldridge) at no. 2 last year. I was just about to move on to the next pick when I had an epiphany: basically, that Aldridge is faaaaaaaaaar from being Greg Oden and if it came down to it, they could just trade Aldridge (to someone like Philly for Rodney Carney and the Sixers' no. 11 pick). Even better, they could trade Zach Randolph to Chicago for Ty Thomas, Chris Duhon, and their pick (no. 9). Then go with a young nucleus of Jarrett Jack, Brandon Roy, Ty Thomas, LaMarcus Aldridge, Oden, Duhon, and whoever they get with the number nine pick. That's a nice future. They would still need a shooter, sure, and there aren't many in this draft, but hey ... I'm doing the best I can here.
2. Seattle Supersonics: Kevin Durant, F, Texas. This is an easy choice. Durant is a talent for the ages. If they manage to resign Rashard Lewis, they could go with a starting five of Luke Ridnour and Ray Allen at the guards, Durant and Rashard Lewis at the forwards, and Chris Wilcox at center, with Nick Collison, Earl Watson, and Damien Wilkins off the bench. Then they could just play like Golden State and run, gun, and shoot threes. And even if they don't re-sign Lewis ... they still got Durant !!! The Sonics matter again, for the first time since GP was throwing alley-oops to Shawn Kemp back in the mid-90s.
3. Atlanta Hawks: Mike Conley Jr., G, Ohio State. They're gonna get it right this time, I know it. I can feel it. They aren't gonna pass up on three star point guard prospects in four years. It's not gonna happen. I have faith in Billy Knight. (Now that's a statement you don't hear often. 4. Memphis Grizzlies: Brandon Wright, F, UNC. I've never bought into the Wright hype - there just seems to be something missing with him. Something's not clicking. But scouts hype him as the next Chris Bosh and he won't last past this pick. If he turns out to be what people say he could become, the Grizz will have themselves a star.
5. Boston Celtics: Yi Jianlian, F/C, China. I don't think this is who Simmons was hoping for.
6. Milwaukee Bucks: Julian Wright, F, Kansas. Needs to assert himself more offensively, but he's 6-8, he's athletic, he can handle and he has great court awareness. Compared to Boris Diaw (the good Boris Diaw).
7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Al Horford, F, Florida. Could I see Big Al taking some pressure off of KG, and helping him man the boards and bang bodies down low? Yes, I could.
8. Charlotte Bobcats: Corey Brewer, G/F, Florida. I love this guy. He's a winner and a star. He's like a 2007 version of Michael Cooper mixed with the 1994 Latrell Sprewell. (Really, he should be the guy going fifth to Boston, ahead of Julian Wright, just like Big Al should go ahead of Brandan Wright and Jianlian. But the way these things usually go, the proven commodities ends up going after the unproven ones, instead of the other way around, and we end up looking back at it and laugh at the general manager's for being so dumb. And the GM's never seem to learn.
9. Chicago Bulls: Spencer Hawes, C, Washington. Only 19 but can score around the hoop. They could use someone like that, although he probably won't play right away.
10. Sacramento Kings: Joakim Noah, F/C, Florida. This team needs a spark. Maybe Joakim could rejuvenate Mike, Ronny and Brad with his energy and hustle. Aside from that, he's a good rebounder and defender and is a very unique big man offensively. Maybe he can't score posting up, but he can handle, pass, and run the floor as well or better than any seven-footer to enter the draft in a long time.
11. Atlanta Hawks: Roy Hibbert, C, Georgetown. Seven-footer with some skills.
12. Philadelphia: Al Thornton, F, Florida State. He can score and would complement Iggy well.
13. Charlotte Bobcats: ?. I have no idea.
(I had a little brainfart last night when I put down Charlotte as having the number 13 pick when in actuality it belongs to the Hornets'. You know, they used to play in Charlotte. My bad. So just ignore what's written above. I think New Orleans will take Nick Young, the 6-6 wing from USC, with this selection. He's a guy who kinda came outta nowhere. I didn't even know who he was before the tourney. Anyways, he's skilled and a great athlete, kind of a Richard Jefferson-type, minus the NBA body. He'd make a very nice backcourt with Chris Paul).
14. Los Angeles Clippers: Acie Law, G, Texas A&M. Insurance policy in case Saun Livingston doesn't recover well. And a future replacement for 37 year-old Sam Cassell even if he does.
(P.S. I like Jeff Green and think he will be a good pro. I just couldn't fit him into the top-14).