The only certainty in basketball would seem to be Shaq being traded in the last year of his contract and Blake Griffin becoming Dunleavy’s latest challenge in making athletic ballers look pedestrian.
The 2009 NBA Draft is just hours away and Griffin is the only lock. After that, it’s a massive game of toss up. Let’s examine a few mocks and their picks for the Lakers at number 29.
Raptors Rapture Mock 8.0 - Austin Daye, Gonzaga, 6-10/192, SF/PF (sophomore)
Austin is a local guy who attended Woodbridge High in Irvine before heading north to play for Mark Few. He’s a good player in transition and his jumper is getting better by the day. Daye’s biggest concern is his frame – can you say Shaun Livingston with three more inches?
Lake Show Take: He’s a project and will not find many minutes if Ariza and Odom return. He looks like another Brian Cook but with a much smaller frame.
DC is an Inland Empire native who attended Etiwanda High en route to Westwood. He’s got blazing speed and a nice court savvy. Four years under Ben Howland have made him tough but he’s going to have to put on a few more pounds to handle going up against guys like Deron Williams and CP3. Collison’s offense is limited – as most Howland prospects are. His jump shot is awkward and he’s going to have trouble getting his shot off in the NBA.
Lake Show Take: Collison’s best bet is to study another Pac-10 point guard, Aaron Brooks, if he wants to see the type of player he can be. I don’t see Darren being a good fit for the triangle and he’s sure to get lost in the shuffle of Laker point guards that includes another former Bruin, Jordan Farmar.
Nugg Love NBA Mock - Patrick Mills, St. Mary’s, 5-11/175, PG (sophomore)
Mills made a name for himself as a member of Australia’s national team where he gave Redeem Team members J-Kidd, Deron Williams and CP3 fits with his quickness. Mills is true lead guard but he’ll have to add more range to his jumper after shooting just 33% from the NCAA arc.
Lake Show Take: Mills could end up being a very solid point guard for years to come in a Rick Brunson kind of way. Other than that, it’s doubtful that he’ll crack the Laker rotation but he’s got a basketball IQ that fits in well with what Phil Jackson likes.
Howard the Dunk Mock 2.0 – Marcus Thornton, LSU, 6-4/194, SG (senior)
Marcus is known as a shooter even though his number might not reflect it. He dropped 21 a night during his senior year and has NBA range. Not much of an athlete and his defense might be the biggest hole in his game.
Lake Show Take: This a truly “thinking outside of the box” pick by the HTD. Thornton looks like another Joe Forte as an undersized two guard but he’s got some tools that could translate at the next level. I don’t see Marcus cracking the first round.
NBA Draft.net – Toney Douglas, Florida State, 6-2/183, PG/SG (senior)
Douglas is not a true point guard nor does he have the size to play at the two in the NBA. His resume is impressive as he was named ACC defensive player of the year and was runner up for player of the year. His 21 points a night and 44% shooting are eye catching but how will he translate to the NBA? On the surface, he looks like a good guard for the triangle.
Lake Show Take: Douglas is the perimeter defender that Fisher isn’t any longer. If he can add a few pounds he could be a younger version of D-Fish, but that’s a reach.
Dime Magazine - Taj Gibson, USC, 6-8/214, PF (junior)
Gibson is very undersized compared to NBA power forwards but he’s a deft shot blocker and a solid rebounder. Taj was the heart of USC basketball the last three years. He’s a high character player who will be great for the locker room.
Lake Show Take: Gibson must continue to develop his face up game which is already pretty good. If Kupchak decides to not bring back Josh Powell, Gibson would be an adequate replacement filling in on occasion when the front line is in foul trouble.
Slam Online - Jeff Pendergraph, Arizona State, 6-10/240, PF (senior)
Jeff played with UCLA’s Darren Collison in high school, so he’s another SoCal native in the Laker wheelhouse. Pendergraph is athletic and active. His weakness is how raw his offensive game is and his defense will need to improve to guard NBA low post talent.
Lake Show Take: Pendergraph is a project but would benefit from working with the Laker staff. He’s not going to set the NBA on fire but he’s a nice asset to bring off the bench for occasional spurts.
Heisler is reaching a bit with this one, but his logic makes sense. Calathes has already signed to play in with Panathinaikos in Greece. The thinking is that the Lakers can let him develop instead of adding another body to the backcourt.
Lake Show Take: Calathes is a good shooter with legit point guard skills. Playing in Greece will only help him become NBA ready as he’s not yet up to the task of getting any minutes in Phil’s rotation.
While all these picks have their benefit, the truth is this Laker team is locked in for next season if by some miracle Odom, Ariza and Shannon Brown return and Sasha Vujacic departs. Most are predicting that the Lakers will move their first round pick tonight and could possibly use their two second round picks to maneuver as well.