The Hornets and the Play-Ifs »
Hornets247 NBA Mock Draft – Rounds 1-4
The writers of Hornets247.com bring you a one-of-a-kind, 8-team basketball league with the common goal of building their respective franchises into the ultimate dynasty.
Intro (by Michael McNamara)
For the past two years, ESPN has decided to fill in the “Dead Period of Hoops Coverage” by unleashing NBA Rank. While I respect the work that goes into something this massive, I always felt there was something missing.
While they do a good job of evaluating and ranking the players at their current stage of their career, the fact is that players are commodities- commodities whose future is more important than their past. Furthermore, these commodities have an actual price. While there is no doubt that Dirk Nowitzki is a better player than Anthony Davis right now, there is room for debate on who is the better commodity.
So in this four-part piece, we set out to determine NBA player’s overall value by throwing them all into a draft pool and giving our eight writers the power to play GM. These GMs must take into consideration both the present and the future, while staying within the rules of the league. The league institutes something that the lockout failed to provide; a hard cap. The cap is set at $65 million and will only increase 2% each year. Also, to prevent teams from loading up on cheap, young players, each GM is only allowed to have three players on their roster who are on rookie-scale contracts. With those parameters in mind, let’s take a look at how the first four rounds went down.
Michael McNamara – Kevin Durant, SF, 23; $16.7 million cap hit
The first pick comes down to Kevin Durant and LeBron James, and I went with Durant for three reasons.
- Age- While I agree that LeBron is unquestionably the best player on the planet right now, I have little doubt that Durant will be his equal by 2015 at the latest. LeBron might be slightly better for the next three years, but give me Durant in years 4-10.
- Contract- I might not even get to keep LeBron all the way through his prime. Fact is that he has player options starting in 2014 and he didn’t exactly show the last team who drafted him loyalty. And even if I do re-sign him, he will command 5 years/120 million, which will cost me six million more per year than Durant is set to earn.
- Fit- I have more flexibility with Durant when it comes to what I can surround him with. Durant can thrive with a traditional point guard or he can play with a score-first point guard. Durant could be the alpha-dog or he can defer. He can play with the ball or off the ball. Basically, he allows me to go best player available down the line without having to worry about chemistry or fit.
Mason Ginsberg – LeBron James, SF, 27; $17.5 million cap hit
I know this pick was the biggest no-brainer of the entire draft, but I’ll go ahead and give some reasoning anyway. As Mac said, it’s Bron/Durant 1st and 2nd in some order; the best two players on the planet, and both far exceed the value that their salaries indicate that they’re worth. I happen to think Mike seriously messed up here; sure, Durant is about 3 ½ years younger than LeBron, but James impacts the game in so many more ways than any current NBA player, including Durant. The versatility of his skill set allows him to comfortably play at any spot on the court apart from center, which will pay huge dividends as the rest of this team is constructed.
Ryan Schwan – Dwight Howard, C, 26; $18.1 million cap hit
Howard was my MVP two seasons ago and he’s still the most impactful Defensive Player in the league, controls the paint, can finish on the pick and roll with vengeance, and has way more skill finishing around the rim than people give him credit for.
Jason Calmes – Anthony Davis, PF, 19; $5.1 million cap hit
There are many superstars, but there is one player ready to both anchor a franchise for the next fifteen years and play today . . . and I just drafted him. Young and raw, Davis is a defensive force in the paint who grew up as a guard. He’s built for basketball, he’s a winner, he’s a champion, he’s just what the Dr. ordered . . . and he’s yet to play a minute of professional basketball.
Strap in, people. It’s going to get rowdy.
Joe Gerrity – Derrick Rose, PG, 23; $15.5 million cap hit
I feel like I just got punched in the gut. First Jason takes the longest amount of time ever spent on a pick, and then he jacks my guy AD. What am I left with? Scraps. I don’t mean to diminish the talent of a guy like CP3, but the reality is that I don’t want to drop my first wad of cash on players who aren’t elite scorers, and are… how can I put this… OLD. You think Paul’s not old? Tell that to his body. Tell that to my body. I’m his age. I know what it’s like to realize that life hurts.
Love isn’t someone I love, Bynum isn’t my cup of tea, and I’m not sure Kyrie has the kill-switch that the greats have. Begrudgingly I take Rose, knee injury and all. There just aren’t any other players his age with the alpha-dog mentality, superstar skill set and freak athleticism (please be OK, knee!).
Andrew Smith – Kevin Love, PF, 23; $12.9 million cap hit
I wanted best available big and with Dwight Howard/Anthony Davis off the board I’m very happy with my pick. Love is a young proven rebounder who can bang on the boards with the best of them, which is why he led the league in REB per game in 2011 and was second to only Dwight Howard in 2012 while averaging over 20 PPG. He’s also the reigning 3 point competition champ, definitely a guy you don’t want to leave open behind the line.
Jake Madison – Chris Paul, PG, 27; $17.8 million cap hit
I have to take the best point guard and former fan favorite here. He may be older than Rose but it’s not like Paul’s body is failing him. He is still excellent on defense but more importantly, Paul excels at getting his teammates open looks and, on a team of All-Stars playing against All-Stars, that will be a difference maker. Everyone on my team will be even better because of Paul.
James Grayson – Deron Williams, PG, 28; $17.2 million cap hit
Had a tough time deciding between Williams and Rondo. I love Rondo’s pure point guard ability, but you have to go with Williams’ combined scoring and passing ability as well. A building block for the future, Williams is the guy to lead the way. If we can just find that big man to go with him…
Team Grayson – Andrew Bynum, C, 24; $16.1 million cap hit
I’ll go with Andrew Bynum here because he can team up with Williams, but it really destroys my cap space. The thing is, you need to have pillars for an organization’s foundation, and Bynum is one of those. He’s young and dying to be a go-to guy. He is the second best center in the league, so I think I’ll take it.
Team Madison – James Harden, SG, 23; $5.8 million cap hit
With shooting guard being the shallowest position in the league, this pick is a no brainer. 21.1 PER, 66% True Shooting, 58.2% eFG and an offensive rating of 125. Harden can also play small forward, and is a solid defender as well. Even better, he’s shown he is a team first player by coming off the bench for the Thunder. He’ll be starting for me, but I love that attitude.
Team Smith – Rajon Rondo, PG, 26; $11.0 million cap hit
James mentioned Rondo’s pure point guard ability at the end of the first round & this will be great when paired up with a forward like Kevin Love. The Rondo/Love pick & pop/pick & roll duo will be deadly. Many of Love’s 3-point shots come from pick & pops, and with Rondo controlling the ball, the defender will have to make a choice – leave Love open for a 3 to help his teammate contain Rondo or stay with Love & leave Rondo one-on-one with an off balance defender. Rondo’s ball handling, penetration, passing, & finishing ability can help any team & make any player better.
Team Gerrity – Blake Griffin, PF, 23; $7.2 million cap hit
Look, I despise the flopping as much as the next guy. I still can’t say no here. Blake’s the best young big left, so he’s the pick. Rose and Griffin leave a bit to be desired in the defense department, but they make up for it on offense and ticket sales.
Team Calmes – Kyrie Irving, PG, 20; $5.4 million cap hit
What’s better than one top pick in the NBA draft? Two top picks in back-to-back NBA drafts. Kyrie Irving brings a Rookie of the Year award to validate his potential. He’s the future of the backcourt to pair with Davis in the frontcourt. This team is set for the future with top stars on rookie deals. Now, let’s work on the present.
Team Schwan – Ryan Anderson, PF, 24; $8.7 million cap hit
There is nothing more deadly than surrounding Howard with a guard that a ballhandler that penetrates and a stretch 4 that makes it nearly impossible to double-team him with bigs that have a hope of defending him. Anderson is the best stretch 4 in the game and proved last year that putting him next to Howard makes your offense hum. Tack that onto a reasonable salary to give me wiggle room later, and Anderson’s my guy.
Team Ginsberg – Lamarcus Aldridge, PF, 27; $13.5 million cap hit
The last remaining surefire all-star post scorer under the age of 28, Aldridge was the obvious choice here. He is one of the top big men in the league, and has the skill set that should allow him to still be dominant even as he enters his low to mid-30s. He’ll make a great small-ball front court pairing with LeBron as well; out of Portland’s four most commonly used lineups last season, the one that produced the best net rating was the one with Aldridge at center. Furthermore, the Blazers gave up a whopping 7.8 points per 100 possessions less with Aldridge on the court, proving his value on the defensive end as well.
Team McNamara – Dwyane Wade, SG, 30; $17.2 million cap hit
Shooting guard is hands down the weakest position in the league. Only 4 players posted a PER over 18.5 last year, and leading the pack by a fairly large margin was Dwayne Wade. He showed this past year that he can play the Scottie Pippen role, and he will be asked to do the same on my team next to Durant. A Durant/Wade combo would likely be even more effective than the LBJ/Wade combo because there is not nearly as much overlap in their games. That is a scary thought.
Team McNamara – Greg Monroe, PF/C, 22; $3.2 million cap hit
Greg Monroe followed up his impressive rookie campaign with a downright filthy sophomore season that nobody paid attention to due to the ineptitude of the rest of the Detroit Pistons. He is a highly efficient offensive player, a fantastic passer, and an elite rebounder who can play in the high or low post. Perfect compliment to a team that has two of the top four wing scorers in the game, and like Durant, his best years are still ahead of him.
Team Ginsberg – Paul George, SG, 22; $2.6 million cap hit
George is a perfect fit with my first two picks. A George/James/Aldridge combo can play the 2, 3, and 4 naturally with an incredible size advantage while still maintaining team quickness. Additionally, they can be a fantastic small-ball core at the 3, 4, and 5, as George’s 6’8” height gives him the ability to strongly defend both wing positions, and we’ve seen LeBron’s effectiveness at the power forward spot. Only three picks in, and this team already has a young foundation that should be able to beat opponents in so many ways.
Team Schwan – Russell Westbrook, PG, 23; $13.7 million cap hit
I have Howard. I have Anderson. Now I need the motor to break down those defenses. Enter Westbrook. Explosive athleticism, incredible ability to get to the hole, and if he’s forced into one of those long jumpers, Howard and Anderson posted some of the best offensive rebound rates in the league.
Team Calmes – Tyson Chandler, C, 29; $13.6 million cap hit
A defensive big man with the highest true shooting percentage in the NBA (by a country mile) would the perfect frontcourt mate for Davis and frontcourt target for Irving. Enter Tyson Chandler and his sub-max deal. Tyson was a key part of a title team, will be a real-life example for Anthony Davis, and will make every player think twice about shots at the rim. Most teams will find it hard to get past the T and A in the frontcourt.
Team Gerrity – Avery Bradley, SG, 21; $1.6 million cap hit
Jason has the team I want, and that makes me kind of hope he gets hit with a hurricane…
At this point I don’t want to spend any money, and I’d like a really young role player to solidify the defense for years to come. Bradley fits the bill perfectly, costing next to nothing. I’ll let the coach of the defending NBA champions explain it for ya– “He’s as good as anybody on the ball in the league, period. He can guard baseline to baseline. He has incredible lateral quickness, as good as anybody I’ve seen.” Plus I love dudes who can stand in the corner on offense and actually make the open three.
Team Smith – JaVale Mcgee, C, 24; $10.0 million cap hit
I have JaVale Mcgee to make up for Kevin Love’s lack of defense around the rim. McGee is a young, talented, athletic center who is a gifted shot blocker, finishing second in blocks per game last season. Although I’ve just taken another big cap hit with Mcgee getting a contract extension from the Nuggets this season, I think it is well worth it when building for the future.
Team Madison – DeMarcus Cousins, PF, 22; $3.9 million cap hit
Okay, yes, he does have raspberries for brains, but he is also a young, cheap true center. How many of those are in the league? Cousins improved in his second year and averaged 21.4 points and 13 rebounds per 36 minutes, posted a PER of 21.7 and cut his turnover percentage down by over 6%. He’ll keep improving and be an anchor down in the paint for the foreseeable future…But yeah, crazy.
Team Grayson – Paul Millsap, PF, 27; $8.6 million cap hit
A young man’s David West, Millsap can be another low-post option who can hit the jump shot. What’s great about Paul is that he’s 21st in the league in PER. For the third choice on the team, I like him at power-forward.
Team Grayson – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, 18; $4.6 million cap hit
Was about to go with Arron Afflalo here but his $8+ million cap hit is quite disastrous. I’m taking a bit of a risk but I’m doing so with a degree of calculation. With the roster I currently have I felt like I needed to plug to hole on the wing. We all know the talent in the NBA at SF, well what better way than to have a defensive, slashing forward. Michael Kidd- Gilchrist is young, but with talent around him he will play up to a high level. I’m hopeful he can turn out to be something like Gerald Wallace, in fact I think he can be better. He’s good, and with the guys around him he can be even better.
Team Madison – Al Horford, C, 26; $12 million cap hit
I think Horford kind of was forgotten due to his injury last season, but prior to that he was playing at an All-Star level. Horford will provide offense in the paint while Cousins develops.
Team Smith – Tyreke Evans, SG, 22; $5.3 million cap hit
It’s about time I take a guy under $10 million. Evans is clearly a risk here, but he is still only 22 and possesses the raw talent to still become very successful in this league.
Team Gerrity – Tim Duncan, C, 36; $9.6 million cap hit
Injured… Injured… Who is injured? Fine, I’ll just go with Tim Duncan. Every team is going to be pretty deep, so there’s no reason to really play him more than 25 or so a night. The big man brings leadership, a post game, and a respectable defensive game to the table. In the playoffs there’s nobody I’d trust more. His salary isn’t great by any means, but less than 10 mil a year doesn’t break the bank for a been-there-done-that champion.
Team Calmes – Mike Dunleavy, SF, 31; $3.75 million cap hit
This may seem like an odd pick at this time, especially with so many “names” still out there. I’m cool with that. Dunleavy’s name may be recognizable, but his play is not well-respected outside of Milwaukee. He’s a good wing player on a good contract, which is exactly what this team needs. With a hard cap, every dollar counts. With Irving feeding Tyson down low and a defensively dominant frontcourt, wing players will not need all need to be able to do it all. Dunleavy provides cheap, efficient scoring without consuming the last allowed rookie contract.
Team Schwan – Stephen Curry, G, 24; $4 million cap hit
The whole premise of this team is to let Howard operate in the middle, Westbook to break things down, and then to surround them with shooters. There’s no better shooter than Curry – and he’s cheap and gives me another skilled ball-handler if necessary. Next draft pick – the Phoenix Suns’ training staff!
Team Ginsberg – Ty Lawson, PG, 24; $2.5 million cap hit
It’s going to take me a while to forgive Schwan for drafting the PG I was fully expecting to fall to me (even though he already had Westbrook on his roster), but replacing him with arguably the quickest player in the league will definitely help me get over it. Lawson may not be quite as good as Curry, but he’s damn close, and much less of an injury risk. As a player who excels at both getting to the rim (thus creating space for his teammates) and knocking down 3-pointers (preventing defenders from sagging/helping off), he is a perfect complement to the impressive versatility of the rest of my roster thus far.
Team McNamara – Ricky Rubio, PG, 21; $3.7 million cap hit
People tend to forget how sensational Rubio was before he got injured last year, and just how good he made that Timberwolves team. He was neck and neck with Kyrie Irving for ROY, a guy who was drafted in the middle of round two. Rubio is an elite passer and off the ball defender who will get this team off and running. When you have Durant and Wade filling the wings, that fast break will be downright unstoppable.
Team-by-Team Breakdown through 4 Rounds
Check back on Saturday for rounds 5-8!
Still trying to comprehend how this was typed: "I have JaVale Mcgee to make up for Kevin Love’s lack of defense around the rim." Good shot-blocking does not mean good defense ... an interior of McGee & Love stands no chance on a nightly basis.
Jason, what were you thinking with Dunleavy?! Why not Kawhi? WHOA Schwan's team is a total winner. Howard + Anderson is just o_O Howard, Anderson + Westbrook is like X_X Howard + Anderson + Westbrook + Curry is just GG, sayonara, good game, adios! So much offensive rebounds to be had for Howard, Anderson because of occasional Westbrook bad games. I think Scwan's really hitting it!!
I know the draft is just half over. One of the teams appears to be angling for next year's #1 draft choice. Who will Calmes put Dunleavy on? He's never been able to guard and, if my memory is correct, has never played in a playoff game. What a strange pick.
From a strategic/chemistry standpoint, I like Schwan's team. Curry, Westbrook, Anderson, and Howard would mesh very well. I like the idea of this segment. Should be interesting.
I like Schwan's team. It's a shame he has so little cap room, because Iggy/Deng would make that a very formidable team
My pick for next year would be Ginsberg beating McNamara in the finals. In 3-5 years I'd have calmes beating mcnamara
I'm liking team Schwan so far ... def. the favorite. with McNamara/Ginsberg tied for 2nd. Schwan is set up so nice with Westbrook-Curry clearing the way for Howard. Hard to argue with Durant or James though and both guys drafted nice around those two. Rubio-Wade-Durant is just filthy.
Interesting to see how bad the depth at sf after Lebron and durant is. Also, Id pick Madison's team to win it all. Two elite play making guards with long range pair with two high level post scorers with decent rebounding? Yeah, no team could match up with that. Get a decent 3 shooting defender and it's unstopable. Cp3 on point and it isn't fair.
I think I like McNamara team just when he pick Durant 1st round and D.Wade 2nd round pure genius and very balance of age and talent. Only problem would be the money in the end unless he finds more young talent at a fair cheap price.