Monday , Jun , 25 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

NBA Draft: Who follows Oden and Durant?

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Not since 2003 when the likes of LeBron
James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade were available, has there been this
much anticipation for the NBA draft. Greg Oden and Kevin Durant will go one-
two, but the talent doesnt end there. Floridas big three – Al Horford, Corey
Brewer and Joakim Noah – will all be top 10 picks, and point guard, Mike
Conley, Jr. will be drafted soon after his longtime teammate, Oden goes to
Portland.

Not only is there a wealth of one-year collegiate stars on hand, more juniors
and seniors will be selected in the top half of this draft than in the
previous couple of years. All in all, its a great mix of players, with talent
spread out fairly evenly after the first four or five picks. There also may
not be much difference between a player selected sixth and the one who goes
11th.

With that in mind, its time to get right to the 2007 NBA mock draft starting
off with the obvious choices for Portland and Seattle. There are no odds
listed for those two clubs since its pretty much a given that Oden and Durant
will go first and second, respectively. Betting opportunities are available
for picks three through 11.

1) Portland – The Trailblazers will land their best center since the
championship days of Bill Walton. It might take a couple of years for Greg
Oden to develop his game on the pro level, but he will be a force for years to
come.

2) Seattle – Kevin Durant is not a bad consolation prize as he, like Brandon
Roy of a year ago, is the most NBA-ready player in the draft. The one-year
Longhorn will hit for 20 points or more in his first NBA season.

3) Atlanta – After failing to select a point guard in previous drafts, one
would expect the Hawks to nail down Mike Conley, Jr. However, they do hold the
11th pick and most likely will be able to obtain Acie Law or Javaris
Crittenton at that slot. Look for them to go for Al Horford with the third
pick at the chalky odds of -350.

4) Memphis – With Mike Conley, Jr. available, expect the Grizzlies to jump all
over him with the fourth choice. It will be interesting to see how he does
without having Oden alongside him since high school, but dont forget, there
were many occasions this year when the Buckeyes played better when Oden was on
the bench. Take Conley, Jr. at +170.

5) Boston – This is where the draft could become unstable. The Celtics may be
involved in different types of trades, but if they stay put, GM Danny Ainge is
enamored with Yi Jianlian. Hes the fourth choice behind Corey Brewer, Jeff
Green and the field, so go with him at +350.

6) Milwaukee – The Bucks will have a choice to make at number six. Since
Boston went with Jianlian instead of Green, they will have to decide on either
the former Georgetown star or Corey Brewer. My money is on Green at +350, even
though Brewer will be the much better pro.

7) Minnesota – The Timberwolves pick could revolve around a pre-draft trade if
Kevin Garnett goes elsewhere. Nonetheless, they cant believe Brewer is still
on the board and swoop him up very quickly. Hes the third player in a row at
the generous price of +350.

8) Charlotte – If North Carolina forward Brandan Wright slips past Milwaukee
and Minnesota, and thats the way its looking, the Bobcats will gobble him up
in a heartbeat. Wrights not even listed as a possibility for pick number
eight since he was expected to go much earlier. So take the field as the third
choice at +250.

9) Chicago – The Bulls would love to get their hands on a power forward/center
and theres one waiting right there for them in Joakim Noah. Hell supply some
much needed inside rebounding to help Ben Wallace underneath. Hes also the
fifth choice at the exorbitant odds of +450. This is the best value play in
the top 11.

10) Sacramento – The Kings need tons of help and could go one of two ways –
best player available, which would be Al Thornton, or filling a need
underneath with Spencer Hawes. Sacramento will find it hard to pass up the
explosive attack of Thornton, so take the Florida State forward at the low
odds of +250.

11) Atlanta – The Hawks have their choice of point guards in hometown Javaris
Crittenton or the more polished Acie Law. Crittenton fought the “Law” and the
“Law” won. Take Acie at the favored odds of +175.

12) Philadelphia – The Sixers would love to trade up to get either Green or
Thornton but have to settle on either Julian Wright or center Spencer Hawes.
Since Wrights game may not translate to the next level, GM Billy King goes
big to get some help for Samuel Dalembert and takes Hawes.

13) New Orleans – Not many teams in this draft are in the market for a two-
guard so the Hornets are a shoo-in to pick USCs Nick Young.

14) LA Clippers – The Clippers thought they had their point guard of the
future with Shaun Livingston, but he will miss at least half of next year with
torn knee ligaments. Look for Los Angeles to select whichever point guard
Atlanta doesnt and that should be Jarvaris Crittenton.

15) Detroit – The Pistons need another guard if they cant re-sign Chauncey
Billups, who opted to become an unrestricted free agent and Rodney Stuckey is
the best available talent.

16) Washington – The Wizards select Julian Wright, despite his inability to
shoot at a consistent level.

17) New Jersey – When Richard Jefferson went down last season, the Nets were
left with two offensive options – Vince Carter and Jason Kidd. Look for that
to change with the addition of Georgia Tech forward Thaddeus Young.

18) Golden State – What a wonderful year it was for the Warriors, but
rebounding was a major issue. That will be remedied with the selection of
Colorado States center Jason Smith.

19) LA Lakers – A tall point guard would be a nice addition to the triangle
offense and Petteri Koponen would be the wise choice.

20) Miami – The Heat take the multi-dimensional but soft forward from Duke,
Josh McRoberts.

21) Philadelphia – The Sixers second pick will provide more scoring punch from
the second unit and that will be Rudy Fernandez, although he most likely will
play one more year in Europe.

22) Charlotte – The Hornets love the basketball ability of Sean Williams. Most
teams do, however, were scared off by his dismissal from Boston College.
Charlotte takes the chance.

23) NY Knicks – New York needs a lot to take its game to the next level and
big-time scorer Morris Almond of Rice fits the bill.

24) Phoenix – The Suns like Tiago Splitter if they were sure he would come to
the States this upcoming season, but that may not be the case. Either way,
hes too good a talent to pass up at this slot.

25) Utah – The Jazz need another wing scorer and Vanderbilts Derrick Byars is
their man.

26) Houston – Sean Williams would be the pick if he was available, but hes
not, so the Rockets go for Nevadas Nick Fazekas.

27) Detroit – Boston College has another player that will be a first-round
pick besides Williams and its the versatile Jared Dudley. He will fit right
in with the Pistons.

28) San Antonio – The Spurs have been the most successful team at the draft
the last decade and it continues with sharpshooter Marco Belinelli.

29) Phoenix – The Suns could trade this pick, but if they dont, look for them
to select another Ohio State freshman, Daequan Cook.

30) Philadelphia – With their third first-rounder and the final pick in the
round, the 76ers take Gabe Pruitt.