We've been running this blog since November. Since that time, we've dissected scores of prospects, produced dozens of lists and provided countless looks at what NBA teams are thinking.
But with a week to go before the draft, it's time for our team to put our collective money where our collective mouth is. It's time for a group mock draft.
So the four writers (Chad Ford, Fran Fraschilla, Ryen Russillo and David Thorpe) and the two editors (Jordan Brenner and Mike Hume) divided up the teams and took on the first round of the draft as if they were GMs.
The only guideline was to pick based on what each drafter would do, rather than what the actual team would probably do.
Here's how it turned out.
The Explanation: Duh.
The Peanut Gallery: Fraschilla's "nice pick" is received by Ford with humor, who responds, "Thanks, I want the GM of the Year award now." Hume urges everyone onward: "Oedipus, who was blind and is dead could see that one coming. Let's move on."
The Explanation: Philly takes the versatile Turner. His high school coach told
me in December that he's the best winner he's ever coached. The guy coached Isiah Thomas!
The Peanut Gallery: Hume astutely pointed out that "Michigan would agree with that statement." Thorpe addressed the high school coach by saying, "Sounds like a great future GM."
The Explanation: Favors will be the second-best player in this draft. NJ is thrilled to add him next to Brook Lopez.
The Explanation: He has the best upside, and he'll get lots of minutes to melt off the fat once we move Big Al Jefferson.
The Peanut Gallery: After taking Cousins, Thorpe takes rapid fire. Fraschilla: "What, no point guards for the Wolves?" Brenner: "Didn't you already raise more red flags on Cousins than you'd find at a Nebraska game?" Ford: "Just what the Wolves need -- a third gravity-bound big man who can't play D and likes to take 30 shots a game." Ouch.
The Explanation: I know he struggles off the dribble, but he will be a nice complement to Tyreke Evans at both ends and can knock down the corner 3-pointer at the NBA level.
The Peanut Gallery: Oddly, it sounds like this. Is that good or bad? You be the judge.
The Explanation: Stephen Curry started a nice trend of adding guys to the Warriors with their heads on straight. We'll continue it by taking Monroe. He helps upgrade the second-worst defensive efficiency team in the NBA, and as a great-passing big man, he should flourish with Curry and Monta Ellis. Of course, if Cousins had fallen here, I would have tried to swap with Detroit.
The Peanut Gallery: Most of the ribbing occurred before the pick was even made. "Quit stalling, Mike," Ford said. "Whatever you do, the guy is screwed." To which Thorpe replied, "Why? Is this the Clippers' pick?"
The Explanation: The Pistons have no size, and while Davis is far from a polished prospect, he'll crash the glass and block some shots.
The Peanut Gallery: Brenner said, "Brandan Wright called from the bench. He's happy to have his twin in the league now."
The Explanation: I am a huge Ekpe Udoh fan here. Plays with high IQ on both ends, no mistakes, big body, no issues off the court. Safe selection.
The Peanut Gallery: Ford takes the cake, reminding Fraschilla, "You can say the same thing about most 25-year-olds who still haven't graduated from college."
The Explanation: I may have tried to get Udoh based on need if/when they lose Carlos Boozer. But since I started this Babbitt thing, he is the selection.
The Peanut Gallery: Thorpe likes the pick, as does Fraschilla, saying, "Love him ... fits right into the Jazz system ... bigger Matt Harpring."
The Explanation: Bedlam in Indy. We're taking a frontcourt player who can dunk. Aminu is a top-five upside guy.
The Peanut Gallery: There's general surprise that Aminu lasted this long. Brenner said, "I can't say anything bad about that pick, except that I had him pegged for the Hornets." Fraschilla points out that "Butler fans would be disappointed, but it's the right choice to stay away from Hayward here."
The Explanation: He's the one guy here I know will make my rotation, and I'm thinking playoffs next season, especially with CP3 with one foot out the door. Plus there's a potential hole at the 3 that Hayward could fill with a little more strength and a steadier shot.
The Peanut Gallery: Thorpe is a big fan, commenting that "if he can shoot the 3, he's going to be a terrific 2-guard."
The Explanation: If Rudy Gay's gone, at least they get his clone.
The Peanut Gallery: Is Fraschilla truly being complimentary or showing off a dry wit? "Nice pick," he said, "Great potential ... team did go 15-18."
The Explanation: Now that the "build-around Bosh" experiment has exploded, Toronto has needs everywhere. With PG Jose Calderon on the block and, methinks, a long rebuild ahead, I'll take Bradley. His ceiling might not be as dazzling as John Wall's Sistine Chapel model, but his leak-free D will get him minutes early and help Toronto's league-worst defensive efficiency.
The Explanation: "Right ... In about three years," Thorpe said. "But I like the pick." So does Brenner, who adds that "he can't be coached any worse than he was at Texas." Rough year for Rick Barnes, folks.
The Peanut Gallery: The other guys were quick to jump on this one. "And we have our first reach of the draft," Thorpe announced. Brenner glanced at the depth chart before asking, "Where will Mr. Anderson play with Kevin Martin, Shane Battier and Trevor Ariza around?" Fraschilla, though, isn't backing down. "I saw him 15 times in three years," he said. "Texas put every guy on their roster on him, including Bradley."
The Peanut Gallery: Ford comes at him ruthlessly, saying, "Didn't Cole Aldrich post better lane agility numbers in Chicago?" Fraschilla hits the slow note as well, while Hume knocks Russillo for even thinking Redd might be healthy. Backed into a corner, Russillo can merely muster, "But they need a wing scorer!"
16. Minnesota Timberwolves (Thorpe): Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas
The Explanation: We had the worst frontcourt rotation in the NBA last year. Now we don't. And the triangle will force both of our guys to lock in every night. We're collecting assets that can be moved later.
The Peanut Gallery: "Hometown boy!" Fraschilla shouts (virtually). Brenner mentions that he thinks Aldrich might actually be underrated as an athlete.
The Explanation: We need a post scorer, but there's none around. We need a shooter, but there also aren't any (that you guys won't laugh at me for taking this high). So I'll continue with my theory that taking a guy you know will make your rotation is always a good thing and grab James, who will play a solid role in this league for a long time.
The Peanut Gallery: This one turns into a writer vs. editor debate. "Big mistake," Ford said. "Take Jordan Crawford. He's Ben Gordon Part 2." Counters Brenner, "I think Crawford has Gordon's shot selection and Jordan's (as in mine) touch. No thanks." [Ed. Note: The editor always gets the last word. Sorry, Chad!]
The Explanation: I'm flipping a coin between our biggest need, a center (Solomon Alabi) and the best player left (Patterson). It's Patterson, who's a Udonis Haslem clone in the making. This gives us leverage on Haslem's new deal as well. At 18, I just want to avoid a Kirk Snyder ... or Cedric Simmons, Joe Alexander, Hilton Armstrong, etc.
The Peanut Gallery: Brenner raises yet another depth chart question, asking, "Won't Patrick just be backing up Amare, Boozer or Bosh?"
The Explanation: They don't need him, but he's the best talent left in the draft. And Rondo doesn't need to keep playing 48 minutes a night.
The Peanut Gallery: Russillo immediately states, "They could use a backup PG. I love the pick." Adds Fraschilla, "Same huge hands as Rajon Rondo and same type of athlete. Needs to learn the position like Rondo."
20. San Antonio Spurs (Russillo): Solomon Alabi, C, Florida State
The Explanation: Thorpe is trying to influence me. I will take Alabi. Eventually they have to put size next to Duncan. I am tempted to go with Daniel Orton, but his knee is messed up.
The Peanut Gallery: "About four years ago in ESPN The Mag's 'NEXT' issue, when he was in high school, we said he could develop into the next Tim Duncan," Brenner said. "Some idiot wrote that. Oh yeah, that was me."
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (Fraschilla): Jordan Crawford, SG, Xavier
The Explanation: I have the two Thunder picks at Nos. 21 and 26 and will take Jordan Crawford here. He's easily one of best scorers in draft, and his attitude improved as the season went on. They can use him off the bench.
The Peanut Gallery: The guys are relentless after this pick. "Order some extra long shorts," Russillo joked. Thorpe mentions that "he'll be great as their third 2-guard behind Thabo and Harden," just seconds before Ford says nearly exactly the same thing. "Love the sarcasm," Fraschilla responds. Ford clearly realizes who we're messing with and says, "Fran's getting ready to make all of us run suicides."
The Explanation: They have so many guards, so I can't justify taking the guy who is clearly the best player left in the draft. But I'm not taking a Euro-stash, either. I like that Brackins can give them some pick-and-pop options off the bench.
The Peanut Gallery: Anticipating the selection of Brenner fave Jon Scheyer, "If he takes Scheyer, I'm going with Matt Bouldin," Thorpe said before the pick. The room is stunned into silence by the brilliance of this choice.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves (Thorpe): Kevin Seraphin, PF, France
The Explanation: Yes! The Wolves need that Euro-stash. Like I said, the Wolves won't have the worst frontcourt going forward. Not at all. Either Kevin can help this season, or he'll come over in a year.
The Peanut Gallery: Ford and Fraschilla, the two guys who have seen Seraphin the most, are oddly silent. That leaves Brenner to attempt to fill the void by announcing that "I don't think anyone from Europe should be allowed to be named 'Kevin.'" Counters his co-editor, Hume, "The editor who has to spell check those names begs to differ. Kevin will do just fine."
The Explanation: I was hoping Seraphin might slip so we could stash him and save some cap room for Joe Johnson (assuming there's a prayer of him returning). I'm going back and forth between Elliot Williams and Pondexter, but I'll take Q-Pon. I think he works hard and can execute in a half-court set. Feels like a safe pick for a playoff contender.
The Peanut Gallery: The response is simple and accurate. "I like it," Thorpe said.
25. Memphis Grizzlies (Ford): Lance Stephenson, SF, Cincinnati
The Explanation: He's got great talent and a questionable attitude. If he matures, watch out.
The Peanut Gallery: Needless to say, adding another player who loves holding the rock to a roster that averaged the fewest assists per game in 2009-10 riles up the room. "They still use just one ball, right?" Hume asked.
26. Oklahoma City Thunder (Fraschilla): Elliot Williams, SG, Memphis
The Explanation: This is a Euro-stash pick, and they'll probably take Tibor Pleiss here, the 7-foot German. But, instead, I will take Williams, who gets to the rim effortlessly.
The Peanut Gallery: "The guy couldn't get off the bench for most of his freshman year at Duke and couldn't knock down wide-open jumpers," Brenner said. "That would concern me."
27. New Jersey Nets (Russillo): Daniel Orton, C, Kentucky
The Explanation: I'll take the most bummed-out guy of the night, Daniel Orton. The questions about his knee are valid -- a lot of teams seem to think he will need a second
surgery. But it isn't about need this far down in the draft, so I'm happy to take him late.
28. Memphis Grizzlies (Ford): Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall
The Explanation:[Ford is clearly worn down by making his third pick for the Grizzlies on the night, his breakdown in his latest mock draft will have to suffice.]
The Peanut Gallery: "You're single-handedly trying to finish off that franchise, aren't you?" Brenner asks. "I'm trying to channel Chris Wallace," responds Ford, dryly.
The Explanation: I'm looking at both Dominique Jones and Hobson (same agent by the way). Jones is the superior scorer of course, but Hobson is a very talented passer and the Magic need that in a big way at the 3 spot. Also, he's a bit of a tough guy to coach, but Stan Van Gundy will have the credibility to reach the kid.
The Peanut Gallery: No one's knocking the 29th pick. Instead, Ford is asked to grade the draft. "Jordan: F; Mike: B; Fran: C; Thorpe: A-; Ryen: B-; Ford: A+." Russillo wonders whether he lost points for Babbitt or Orton. "No," Ford said, "just lost points for spelling your name Ryen instead of Ryan." It's been a long night.
30. Washington Wizards (Ford): Dexter Pittman, C, Texas
The Explanation: At 300-plus pounds, it's like getting two for the price of one.
The Peanut Gallery: Hey, the guy's our draft guru for a reason, right?