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FORD: He's not a bad kid. He just doesn't know that he has to work at this to get great. But many of these players don't know that. If he gets with the right team and mentor and dedicates himself to becoming a good NBA player — he could do exactly what Dwight does and start dunking over everyone. Dwight is the only player in the NBA with his physical abilities. I understand why you'd shy away from him in the top five, but he's more physically talented than Kwame, Darko or Thabeet. It wouldn't take much for him to have a successful NBA career. He just has to try some. I'll gamble on that.
SIMMONS: Let's remember that line of reasoning when I take Perry Jones five picks too early in about 12 paragraphs. In a vacuum, I'd agree with you on Drummond. Every summer, you smartly hammer home the concept of "tiers" — clearly, Drummond is the last talent in this "potential All-Star tier" before things drop to the Dion Waiters/Austin Rivers/Terrence Ross group. I just think he's the wrong fit for the Warriors specifically. When you have that much baggage already, you can't take a player with that much baggage — it's like crossing the streams in Ghostbusters. If he's sitting there at no. 7, let's hope they trade the pick for everyone's sake.
FORD: Speaking of trades, the Raptors are talking to everyone about trading the no. 8 pick. They hoped it would net a Rudy Gay or an Andre Iguodala. Didn't happen. Now I think they are keeping the pick, saving their cap room and hoping Steve Nash agrees to come there. What the Raptors lack: A guy who can get to the basket at will and finish around the basket. On a team of soft jump shooters, they have no one who can take over the game in crunch time. I think Dion Waiters is the one guy who can do that in this draft, so that's my pick for them. If all of the guards played one-on-one in a tournament, I think Waiters would come out on top.
SIMMONS: I'm in for $2,500 for this tournament. Just tell me where to send the check. Keep going.
FORD: I know Waiters is difficult to deal with sometimes, and I know he needs a better jumper, but there aren't many players in the NBA that can get to the rim against anybody. He could be one of those guys.
SIMMONS: I like the way you're thinking here — if I'm picking in the top 10, ideally, I want someone with at least one world-class skill. For Kidd-Gilchrist, it's athleticism. For Beal, it's outside shooting. For Barnes, it's being friends with Kyrie Irving. And for Waiters, clearly, it's getting to the rack.
Only one thing worries me: You're basically spending a top-eight on someone whose ceiling on a contending team might be "a totally devastating scorer off the bench who can carry your offense for seven-minute spurts." He's kind of like Tyreke Evans in this respect — someone who's overqualified to be a sixth man but really, that's how you'd ultimately win if he was playing for your team. Which is fine, I guess. Everyone needs pieces, and he's a piece. He's just not one of THE pieces.
FORD: Maybe. I think a lot see him as more of a sixth-man scorer off the bench. But there's a little Dwyane Wade in his game, Bill. Right team, right coach that lets him go crazy he can be a better Monta Ellis.
SIMMONS: Let's make sure his cell phone can't take pictures, just to be safe. Moving to no. 9, let's agree that it would be hilarious if Joe Dumars dumped Ben Gordon and took Austin Rivers 24 hours later. We're halfway there. Do it for comedy's sake, Joe D.
Anyway, everyone has Detroit taking UNC shot blocker John Henson even though he's 6-foot-11 but only weighs 216 pounds which means he only weighs six more pounds than Grantland's Dave Jacoby. Who's in good shape, by the way. And probably has a more reliable offensive game than John Henson. The whole thing makes me nervous. I can't think of any super-skinny shot blockers under 7 feet who actually made an impact in the NBA. I thought long and hard about getting kooky and taking Illinois center Meyers Leonard. He's 7-foot-1, he's 20 years old, he's shockingly athletic for a white dude, and it sounds like someone accidentally reversed his name. There's just a lot to love. Then I saw Leonard's ranking on Hollinger's Draft Rater. Ouch. (Can I trade this pick? I can't? Crap.) I'll begrudgingly take John Henson. Repeat: begrudgingly.
FORD: Yeah, the Pistons are screwed. They need a big, athletic center to pair with Greg Monroe, and those guys are so rare, they're never going to get them where they're drafting and don't have the goods to find one in free agency. So they can either (a) take the elite shot blocker who is too skinny to play in the paint, or (b) the big, physical guy with maturity issues who doesn't scream "NBA starter." I'd take Henson, too. But it's by default right now. All the teams trying to trade up don't have athletic bigs to offer, either.
SIMMONS: Plus, the Pistons just gave a future no. 1 pick to Charlotte just so they could flip Gordon's contract on Charlotte for Corey Maggette's Expiring Contract. Anytime MJ just beat you in a deal, you know you've hit rock-bottom. Pistons fans need an uplifting Eminem/Chrysler commercial and they need it now.
FORD: Breaking news: I'm trading New Orleans' no. 10 pick to the Pacers for Darren Collison and no. 26, then taking Austin Rivers for Indiana.
FORD: The thinking: Indiana wants another shooter and a guy who can get to the basket at will. Kevin Pritchard won't care too much about chemistry he'll want talent. I thought about Terrence Ross here, but now I'm thinking Austin Rivers is a Kevin Pritchard type of pick. An alpha dog for a team without an alpha dog. I'm not in love with Rivers, but he might be a good fit here on a veteran team that can keep him in line. As for the Hornets, they need a good point guard to pair with Anthony Davis. I'm just not feeling Jarrett Jack. They could go with Kendall Marshall here — he's an elite passer who sees the floor as well as anyone in the draft. But I think he's going to get killed defensively. Killed. They had a lot of luck with Darren Collison when he played there; since the Pacers have replaced Collison with George Hill as their starter, he's expendable.
SIMMONS: Plus, anytime you can trade down 16 spots to pick up a starter someone else deemed "expendable," you have to do it. I'm just relieved you traded Rivers to any team that didn't have the letters "B-O-S-T-O-N" in it.
Let's shift into "speed round" mode because, frankly, I can't wait to make the two Celtics picks any longer. With the 11th pick, I'm grabbing Terrence Ross for Portland and, more important, for the nitpicking lunatics on the Blazers Edge message board. In a league that's moving in the direction of athletic swing guys who can shoot 3s and play multiple positions, it seems logical to spend a lottery pick on an athletic swing guy who can shoot 3s and play multiple positions, right? You know what else? Lillard and Ross guarantee the Blazers an A-plus in Chad Ford's "Draft-Night Report Card That Always Favors Anyone Who Had Two High Picks" column on Friday. Just give them the A-plus now. Why wait 48 hours?
FORD: Lillard and Terrence Ross. I actually like that. A-plus? Done. You hear that, Neil Olshey? Make it happen. (Actually, I just give A's to the GMs that give me correct picks in my Mock. Just kidding. Sort of wink to any GMs that want to make my mock a little sweeter.) OK, at 12 I was going to take Ross for Milwaukee. But if he's off the board, I'm going to take the other Jones, Terrence. The Bucks are losing Ersan Ilyasova this summer and Jones is intriguing. He's big, he's long, he's athletic, he blocked shots and rebounded at Kentucky, but he also has solid perimeter skills. Think he's a bit of a sleeper pick here. If his body language on the court was better, he'd be three or four picks higher.
SIMMONS: We're on a run of Terrences! I was hoping everyone would keep picking backup centers and push one of the Terrences to Boston, but that's obviously not happening. I'm a Jones believer — played in a bunch of big games, has a definite position, has the right pedigree, and he might even have a little chip on his shoulder that Kidd-Gilchrist went so much higher than him. Good fake pick for Milwaukee.
Did you notice we totally screwed over Phoenix with the 13th pick? They wanted a perimeter scorer — suddenly, only Jeremy Lamb is on the board, someone described by my dad yesterday as "Jeremy Lamb is that the Lamb who always disappeared in big moments for UConn, or is that the other Lamb?" Sounds perfect for the Suns — they're not going to have any big moments for years to come. I'm picking Jeremy Lamb.
FORD: Lamb has limitless talent. Long, athletic and can really shoot it. He looks sleepy and he plays sleepy sometimes. But I just think he was miscast in the leading role at UConn; I liked him much better when he played off Kemba Walker as a freshman. As long as you draft him knowing that, he's a good pick. And remember, we said virtually all the same things about Joe Johnson when he came out.
SIMMONS: You mean the guy the Celtics traded after 50 games? Thanks for bringing that up.
FORD: As for no. 14, the Rockets aren't going to have draft picks here. They are trying hard to trade up. But if they stay here, I'm giving them Draymond Green. He's the centerfold for stat geeks everywhere. Not sure how Dork Elvis could pass on him. He's Shane Battier 2.0.
SIMMONS: There's no way he'll ever be the jockosopher that Shane Battier was and is. I refuse to believe it. Part of me loves Dork Elvis's "Dwight Howard or Bust" strategy, part of me feels like he might be living in my guest room in three months. It's certainly the most exciting subplot of the week — and if you think about it, acquiring the league's best center, making a one-year playoff run with him, then having something like a puncher's chance to sell him on Houston and re-sign him (maybe 25 percent?) isn't much different than tanking an entire NBA season for a 25 percent chance at having Anthony Davis fall into your lap. I like what Dork Elvis is doing. With that said, I'm going to start re-doing my guest room just in case.
My 15th pick (for Philly): Perry Jones III. He's too athletically frightening to dip into the second half of the draft. I just can't accept it. You should not be able to get Perry Jones with, say, the 19th pick. That's just stupid. And yes, I'm fully aware that Jones doesn't have a position, that the Josh Smith Experience probably can't be replicated, and that Jones might be destined for a couple of great Rucker Park moments and that's it.
FORD: Wish I could go with you with PJ3. I've loved him for two years and then got over it when I realized he's just a passive person. He works hard, he's skilled, but he just has no desire to take anything over. He wants to pass the ball and take jumpers. Guys his size just can't get away with it. Coaches will bench him, put him in the doghouse, try everything to motivate him and then realize he just likes to run up and down the floor. If he had any motor, he would be amazing.
SIMMONS: Is it weird that I'm nostalgic for those halcyon days when you would have drooled over PJ3's freakish dropjaw athleticism and taken him eight spots too high? (Thinking.) You're right, it's weird.
FORD: No, it's not weird. I was just thinking, this debate isn't nearly as snarky as in years past. I think we've both sort of figured this thing out. Let's run away and run a team together. What do you say?
SIMMONS: You never saw Hollinger's formula for our back-and-forths? Our level of snarkiness always corresponds directly to the number of unproven foreign players who (a) might be taken too high, (b) have unpronouncable last names, and/or (c) had a career highlight that involved three scouts and a stationary chair. We're suffering through an inexplicable drought for those picks right now, so we're getting along.
FORD: My 16th pick for the Rockets — which we all know probably isn't going to the Rockets — is Quincy Miller. Of the two Baylor guys, he may actually have the better shot of making it. He was higher ranked coming out of high school, has more of a real position in the pros, and has great size and length. I don't think we saw him at anywhere near 100 percent this year, as he was still recovering from an ACL injury. He just has a better motor than PJ3. He's not as athletic, but the way he plays he doesn't have to be. This is another value pick for Houston.
SIMMONS: In the alternate universe in which Houston is keeping those picks, yes. As for the 17th pick, that's easy — Dallas needs to take promising 7-footer Meyers Leonard so he can be part of their inevitable Dwight Howard trade next February or next June. You know, after Deron Williams signs with Dallas and Mikhail Prokhorov banishes Billy King to Siberia.
FORD: Solid pick. If he goes in the mid-first round, expectations get tempered. He needs time and patience, and there will be more of it a little later in the draft. At 18, I have the Rockets (how did I get three Rockets picks??????) taking Marquis Teague. Like Miller, he would've been a Top 10 pick had he stayed in school another year. He's already further along than his brother Jeff was at his age, and I think he has the requisite speed to run with the fastest point guards in the league. Another project, but since the Rockets are just collecting assets, so am I.
SIMMONS: That pick has an Avery Bradley–like feel to it. We'll think he's a bust for, like, a year and a half, and then suddenly it will be like, "Whoa, Marquis Teague! Where did he come from???" Meanwhile, I'm taking Kendall Marshall with Orlando's 19th pick — at the very least, he'll be fun to play with, and Orlando can always hide him on defense with Dwight behind him you know, for that last half-season that Dwight spends in Orlando. I actually like Marshall as a fantasy sleeper if this happens. Has anyone ever guaranteed a fantasy sleeper off a mock draft pick that probably won't happen? I just made history, Chad!
FORD: I'm really torn on Marshall. Love his game as a passer. So many other questions about him. I think he either ends up being really good like Andre Miller or he's UConn's Marcus Williams, who had many similar questions and never did much of anything in the NBA. Not sure there's an in-between for a guy like him.
SIMMONS: Yeah, but Marcus Williams's questions were more like, "If you draft him, will your players have to worry about keeping their belongings locked at all times?" I'm buying Marshall stock. You're on the clock at no. 20 for the Nuggets.
FORD: My real goal here is to strip you of the player you are most hoping slides to the Celtics at 21. My two guesses are (a) Jared Sullinger or (b) Royce White.
SIMMONS: Don't. Don't you dare.
FORD: I'm taking Royce White. Such an intriguing player. Could be the next Anthony Mason. He gets on the right team with a coach that will play him to his strengths. I'm not sure that's George Karl by the way — Karl may kill him — but remember I'm taking White just to make Bill and Danny Ainge angry. Plus, White may be one of the all-time most interesting players the NBA has seen since Bison Dele. Loved that Grantland feature on him. Love that he's the only prospect in the history of the draft to compare himself to John Lennon. Have fun with Sullinger. I'll go ahead and order a welcome gift for him. I sort of like this one. Wonder if it comes in green.
SIMMONS: You took Royce White? You took Royce White???
FORD: I did.
SIMMONS: How could you do that? You knew that was my guy! You knew I built the Royce White "We Had To Build This Bandwagon Because Royce Isn't Crazy About Flying" Bandwagon from scratch just so I'd be in the driver's seat when we took him. You knew I made Abrams write a 6,000-word feature to get the rest of the Celtics fans excited. You knew we just spent the last 7,000 words of this mock draft building toward the moment when I gleefully typed in all caps, "AT 21, THE CELTICS TAKE MY MAN ROYCE WHITE, A.K.A. THE STEAL OF THE DRAFT!!!" You even knew I passed on him at 15, 17 and 19 just so he'd be sitting there at 21. This is the worst thing you've ever done to me, Chad Ford. I'm crestfallen. I'm not even mock crestfallen, I'm legitimately crestfallen.
Can you just take Sullinger? What if I traded you the rights to Charlotte's second-round pick in 2013 that Boston just got because OKC's doctors were slightly shady before the Jeff Green trade — not first-round shady, but second-round shady — to swap 20 and 21? You get Sullinger for Denver, I get Royce for Boston. Come on. Just say yes. Come on. Do it for Morrison's mustache. Do it for Yi's chair. Do it for Darko's everything. Come on.
FORD: Only way I do this is if you give me 21 and 22. Because if I'm taking a guy with a back problem, I'm gonna need a plan B. By the way, I predict this is exactly what Masai does to Danny on draft night. Can't let those promises leak
SIMMONS: I can't give up 22. Take your mock offer and shove it up your mock ass. That's fine, at 21, we'll begrudgingly take the best offensive forward in this entire draft (Jared Sullinger) over St. Bonnie's forward Andrew Nicholson (a.k.a. "Hopefully David West With Deeper Range"). I swore before this mock draft that I would prevent the Celtics from ending up with anyone at 21 and 22 who couldn't have played a meaningful minute in the 2012 Finals. It's unclear if Sullinger could have played even one minute in that series when the words "above the rim" are either a pipe dream or a Tupac Shakur movie for him.
(Hold on, big "having said that" coming up )
Having said that, isn't Sullinger really a much more polished, saner version of Big Baby Davis, only if Baby could score on the low block and rebound more consistently? Don't we have a few years of evidence that Kevin Garnett thrives playing next to someone like that? Maybe the Sullinger experience wouldn't work for every NBA team, but playing that Big Baby role for a slower veteran team like the Celtics? Absolutely. I look forward to getting super-excited about next year's playoff contender — KG (he's coming back, let there be no doubt), Pierce, Rondo, Bradley, Jeff Green, Sullinger, Chris Wilcox, Free Agent X and the 22nd pick that you hopefully won't screw up — for about two weeks, until Green signs somewhere else and it's announced that Sullinger is missing the next 18 months after undergoing radical back surgery. Thanks for ruining my night, Chad. Could you at least nail the 22nd pick for me? And by the way, if you take the Mississippi State head case here, I'm declaring war on Hawaii.
FORD: All right, I just made the order for Amazon. Do they make an XXX size on that back brace?
SIMMONS: (Searching for a comeback.)
FORD: If Sullinger is your guy at 21, then I'm going with Tyler Zeller here with Boston's 22nd pick. Mostly because I want to see what swear words you are and aren't able to use on Grantland. But c'mon. He's gotta be better than Greg Stiemsma. Right? And he can play right away and he runs the floor very well. You gotta like that, right?
SIMMONS: I'm not talking to you anymore.