Here’s an idea we’re totally lifting from Mike Silver at Yahoo Sports – he calls it the “Ultimate Mock Draft.” We decided to do an NBA version. This probably could have waited until the NBA draft in June; perhaps we’ll push it back next year. Silver’s draft operates “under the hypothetical assumption that anyone on earth is available for the taking.” How might the June draft look if every NBA player were up for grabs? Age would probably be the most relevant factor. Sure, Kobe’s a Hall of Famer, but he turns 32 this summer. If you were building a team, would you take him right now over guys like Kevin Durant (21) and Carmelo Anthony (25)? Would Tim Duncan even go in the first round? (Hint: No. But Brook Lopez would!) We had eight point guards in the Top 30 picks, but for team building purposes, old guys like Nash, Kidd and Billups didn’t make the cut. Scoff, rip, or agree after the jump.
1. New Jersey – LeBron James. Lock, no elaboration necessary.
2. Minnesota – Kevin Durant. Are we putting too much stock in his scoring title and age (21)? The kid has yet to win a playoff game … but his ability is undeniable and if you talk to Sam Smith, he might even tell you some GMs would take Durant above Lebron.
3. Sacramento – Dwight Howard. Not an offensive machine (yet), but he’s only 24 and easily the biggest post factor in the league.
4. Golden State – Carmelo Anthony. Turns 26 in May. When Kobe retires – or maybe a year before it – ‘Melo and Durant will battle for supremacy in the West.
5. Washington – Deron Williams. Difficult decision here. Go with proven winners in Kobe or Wade? If Chris Paul hadn’t got hurt, would he be here?
6. Philadelphia – Kobe Bryant. Turns 32 this summer, so we’re probably being generous here. How many good years does he have left?
7. Detroit – Chris Paul. Bit of a steal here coming off the finger injury. Led the league in steals and assists at the age of 22 and 23.
8. LA Clippers – Derrick Rose. Has yet to win a playoff series, but he’s not even 22. Has plenty of time to hone that jumper.
9. Utah – Dwyane Wade. Has proven that with a wingman, he can win a title. Only 28 years old.
10. Indiana – Tyreke Evans. Averaged 20-5-5 at the age of 20. Once he develops a three-point shot, he might be unguardable.
11. New Orleans – John Wall. Hasn’t played an NBA game yet, but if his college game translates to the pros – no reason to think it won’t – think of a Derrick Rose/Tyreke Evans hybrid. Will need to find a jumper, though.
12. Memphis – Rajon Rondo. Not the scorer the other point guards are, but a terrific defender. Three-point shooting and FT shooting are the only red flags. Well, that and ‘how will he look when not surrounded by Pierce, Garnett and Allen?’
13. Toronto – Russell Westbrook. Too soon? He’s like a Derrick Rose in training, and only 21. Has the confident look of a player who could average 20-10 for a decade.
14. Houston– Chris Bosh. Puts up franchise stats (22-10 in three of his seven seasons in the league). Reason he’s here ahead of Dirk? Only 26.
15. Milwaukee – Brook Lopez. Too early? Two impressive seasons (career averages: 15-8), he’s 7-feet tall, and he’s only 22. We give him a slight edge over guys like Aldridge and Jefferson (they all had somewhat similar stats last year) because he’s a bit younger.
16. Minnesota – Dirk Nowitzki. Most deadly fadeaway in the game, money from three and the line. Great value here even though he’s approaching dusk in his career. Turns 32 this summer.
17. Chicago – Brandon Roy. Only 26, he’s a great scorer and does everything well. Has shown flashes of a guy who should go in the Top 10, so he’s great value here.
18. Miami – Stephen Curry. Are we basing too much on one spectacular rookie season? Perhaps. He averaged 17 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds, plus shot 43 percent from deep (7th in the league). He’s also just 22. One could argue Curry should be in the Top 15. [Confession: Have had a man-crush on Curry since his sophomore year at Davidson.]
19. Boston – LaMarcus Aldridge. Has a better offensive game than Dwight Howard. Turns 25 this summer and averaged 17-8 this season.
20. San Antonio – Al Jefferson. If this were done last year at the All-Star break, he probably cracks the Top 15. But all his numbers fell this year. Still, he’s just 25 and seems to have plenty of 20-10 years ahead of him.
21. Oklahoma City – Amare Stoudemire. A bit of an injury concern – only played 79 or more games in five of eight seasons – but still a brute force inside (averaged 23-8 this year) and only 27 years old.
22. Portland – Carlos Boozer. In three of the last four seasons, he’s been healthy and a 19+ ppg and 10+ rpg guy. Turns 29 in November.
23. Minnesota – Danny Granger. Turns 27 today. Might be a bit low here for a 25-point scorer, but it’s tough to judge his career since he’s been surrounded by such garbage.
24. Atlanta – Blake Griffin. The only other guy in the first round yet to play an NBA game. Wouldn’t be surprised if some folks had him as the 2nd big man taken after Dwight Howard.
25. Memphis – Joe Johnson. Clutch scoring machine. Would have had him higher, but he turns 29 this summer.
26. Oklahoma City – Monta Ellis. Bit of a chucker, but a prolific scorer (25 per game; he’s only 24 years old). Surround him with the right parts – a pass-first point guard and a cadre of rebounders, all of whom are patient – and you can build a winner.
27. New Jersey – Andre Iguodala. Has averaged 17+ points, 5+rebounds, 5+ assists for two years in a row. Only 26 years old.
28. Memphis – Brandon Jennings. At 20, he averaged 15 points and five assists and helped a terribly-built team get to the playoffs. Looks like a young Tony Parker.
29. Orlando – Joakim Noah. Blossomed into a 10 point-11 rebound guy with Ty Thomas out of the way. Like his other intangibles (fiery leader, mouthy, fearless).
30. Washington – Josh Smith. Just 24, he’s the best leaper in the league, and a stat-sheet-stuffer (averaged 15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks).
Guys who just missed the cut (mostly due to age):
* Al Horford. Had him in but then yanked him at the last moment.
* Tony Parker. Only 28 and a lock for 18 points, six assists for the next six years.
* Steve Nash. He’s 36 and continues to amaze – 16.5 points, 11 assists, 42 percent shooting from three.
* Zach Randolph. Despite 20-10 ability, he’s 29 this summer and there’s a reason he’s played on four teams in the last four years.
* David Lee. Huge fan. Might have been the first pick of the second round after his 20-11 season.
* Chris Kaman. Turns 28 this month but he’s emerging as a scorer (18.5 ppg last year).
* Jason Kidd. At 37, he averaged 10.3 points, 9.1 assists.
* Tim Duncan. One of the 10 best players in NBA history … but he turns 34 this week.
* Rudy Gay. Easy to forget he’s only 23 and has averaged 19 ppg in the last three years. A more athletic but less polished offensive version of Danny Granger.
* Andray Blatche
* Andrea Bargnani
* Chauncey Billups
* Paul Pierce