Welcome to the draft of all drafts. No, seriously, that’s exactly what this is.
Mock drafts this year almost universally begin with a sentence about how weak this draft is perceived to be. Following that, there’s a pessimistic follow up sentence about how it’s the last basketball-related function before the League locks out the players on July 1st.
Then: one sentence to a paragraph on recent draft-related developments.
After that: a few sentences of explanation that justify a draft’s premise and explain its rules. While the draft itself is weak this year, the mock drafts surrounding the 2011 NBA Draft have been exceptionally strong.
In this case, the “rules” of the draft are that I will be counting down the best mock drafts of this season and all time, judged on a very hazy set of metrics, accompanied by pseudo-basketball-announcer-style scouting reports and meaningfully calculated comparisons to best and worst case scenarios. That is, if the drafts that I’m drafting were NBA players.
This is followed by a concession that this mock draft, like all the others, is fun yet ultimately pointless speculation. In this specific draft’s case, the operative word is probably “pointless.”
Finally, there’s a transition like “Without further ado, let’s do some draftin’!”
Honorable Mention: NFL Rough Draft’s “2011 NBA Mock Draft”
Scouting Report: You’ve gotta love NFL Rough Draft’s commitment to all things draft-related. Their willingness to step out of their comfort zone nearly makes up for the total lack of analysis.
Best Case: Herm Edwards
Worst Case: Ellis Lankster
Honorable Mention: Mock Draft Mania’s “NBA Mock Draft 2 Rounds”
Scouting Report: You’ve gotta love analysis like, “The Knicks would love to draft a player like Nolan Smith with this selection here.” It feels like genuine draft night analysis.
Concerns about age (this draft was finished on April 8th, before the deadline for players to withdraw from the draft), accuracy (“Jimmy Freddette”), and coherent finishing ability. A scouting report from the second round reads, “[Rick] Jackson has a great defensive mentality because he is a low post perimeter player who can execute a lot of rebounds when shooting his shots.”
Best Case: “Jimmy Freddette”
Worst Case: “A low post perimeter player who can execute a lot of rebounds when shooting his shots.”
Pick No. 14: NBAdraft.net’s “2012 Mock Draft”
Scouting Report: You’ve gotta love the long-term thinking here. There’s tons of value to be had, but the 2012 Mock Draft still has a long way to go before it’s relevant. Look for them to stash this pick. Nobody wants to bring it along too fast and end up with another analysis of DeShawn Stevenson.
Best Case: Tracy McGrady
Worst Case: DeShawn Stevenson
Pick No. 13: Lola Sports Talk’s “2011-12 Fantasy BBall Draft Mockery”
Scouting Report: You’ve gotta have some concerns about this draft. It’s a Fantasy Basketball Draft during the NBA Finals. I’m not sure what its position in the league is, but the compromising pictures of NBA Stars will contribute for years to come.
Best Case: Josh “J-Smoove” Smith
Worst Case: J.R. “J.R. Swish” Smith
Pick No. 12: The Basketball Jones, “The Jones Live 2011 NBA Mock Draft”
Scouting Report: TBJ’s Live Mock Draft has all the markings of a burn-incredibly-bright-incredibly-fast type, but you’ve gotta love the way it made their readers part of the draft process. The other side of the coin is that people who missed it the first time won’t have the same experience, roughly the same difference as witnessing a 50-point outburst live and watching it on SportsCenter the next day.
Best Case: Nick Van Exel
Worst Case: Sebastian Telfair
Pick No. 11: Chad Ford’s Mock Draft Version 6.0
Scouting Report: After the infamous summer of Darko, Ford has really hit the gym and sharpened his game. It was a real character-building moment that he could’ve shrank from, but didn’t. With up-to-the-minute tweaks and adjustments and the support of the Worldwide Leader, this is a real five-tool draft and will be a steal for any team that is willing to fork over the cash. A potential number-one pick, but you’ve gotta have concerns about the pay-wall.
Best Case: Arvydas Sabonis
Worst Case: Darko Milicic
Pick No. 10: DraftExpress + Yahoo’s NBA Mock Draft 4.0
Scouting Report: You’ve gotta love the teamwork and collaborate-ability of this draft. Givony carries the creative load, as he brings great court vision and draftmakeability, as well as Draft Express’s Top 100 to the table while taking very little off it. Meanwhile Yahoo! is one of the top distributors on the web.
Best Case: Steve Nash
Worst Case: Boris Diaw
Pick No. 9: SBNation’s 2011 NBA Mock Draft: Comparing The Prospects To Current NBA Players
Scouting Report: You’ve gotta love the creativity on display here. While vertical length and athletic verbosity are major issues, the draft’s technique, while one dimensional, is virtually flawless. It’s the kind of thing that can step in and make your team better on day one. In the right situation this draft could be a perennial all-star.
Best Case: Dirk Nowitzki
Worst Case: Kevin Love
Pick No. 8: Freedarko’s “First Annual Memorial Freedarko Dinosaur Draft”
Scouting Report: Flat out, you gotta love the dinosaurs. They’re risky and uncontrollable, but they’re big, they’re strong, and they’ve got the best killer instincts out of anyone in this draft. Plus, they literally tore the combine to shreds.
Best Case: Godzilla
Worst Case: Chris Andersen / The Dinosaurs (tie)
Pick No. 7: Sam Amick’s Sports Illustrated Mock Draft 4.0
Scouting Report: You’ve gotta love the no nonsense attitude Amick brings to the table here. This is a smooth draft with a great motor. There are flashes of greatness (like the video of each prospect), but the draft’s draft value takes a hit since it only covers the first round of the Draft. It’s a safe pick, not a sexy one, but you know exactly what you’re getting when you make it.
Best Case: Marc Gasol
Worst Case: DeJuan Blair
Pick No. 6: HoopSpeak’s 2011 Mock Draft
Scouting Report: Both drafters are tireless talent evaluators with large bodies of work behind them. This might be a relative latecomer, but as a value/upside pick, it’s a sleeper all-star.
Best Case: Paul Pierce
Worst Case: Antawn Jamison
Pick No. 5: SBN’s Collaborative Mock Draft
Scouting Report: This Draft is going to win championships one day. You can’t coach teamwork and coordination like this. Thirty different team blogs came together to create a draft where each pick is taken from the perspective of the team they live for. You’ve gotta admire how unafraid the team bloggers were to shirk the conventional wisdom and take the big shot.
Best Case: James Worthy
Worst Case: Robert Horry
Scouting Report: Grantland’s three pre-draft articles run the floor well, fill lanes, and attack the draft relentlessly. The first examines the teams drafting, their needs, and their draft tendencies in making predictions. The second examines potential lottery players’ best and worst case scenarios and the most telling stat about their careers. The third examines all the potential trade scenarios that could go down on draft night.
It’s a sterling display of supreme athletic verbosity. Grantland’s Big Three bludgeon you with information while making a surprisingly deft use of low-post footnotes. While many of them are of the “No! No! Yes!” variety, you’ve gotta be concerned with how frequently their strong play takes off on tangents.
Best Case: Shaquille O’Neal (1994 Vintage) / Allen Iverson (2001 Vintage)
Worst Case: Russell Westbrook (2011 Playoffs Vintage)
Pick No. 3: Deadspin’s Passive Aggressive 2011 NBA Draft Scouting Roundup
Scouting Report: The PA2011NBADSR’s shot selection and efficiency is off the charts. You’ve gotta love the fact that it’s one of the best drafts around without doing any of its own scouting. That’s rec-league craftiness right there.
While they’ve been known to pick up the occasional technical, especially against opponents they don’t like (see: the 1 on 1 workouts vs. Grantland), you have to love the competitive fire they bring night in and night out. Questions about whether they’ll be a disruptive locker room presence remain, but many scouts I’ve talked to feel as though the PA2011NBADSR will be a vital cog on a playoff team in no time.
Best Case: Scottie Pippen
Worst Case: DeMarcus Cousins
Pick No. 2: Slam Online’s “Home Cookin’”
Scouting Report: You’ve gotta love what Slam Online did here. They turned the whole idea of the draft on its head and what they ended up with is at once old school and revolutionary. Tying players to the cities they were born—or the closest NBA team—created an endless series of questions, match-up nightmares, and conversations.
If you’re looking to fill a need or win now, look somewhere else. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding this draft, beginning with its complete disregard of reality. But its upside is phenomenal.
Best Case: Hakeem Olajuwon
Worst Case: Rik Smits
Pick No. 1: Kissing Suzy Kolber’s Fun With Mock Drafts
Scouting Report: KSK’s Fun With Mock Drafts is a can’t-miss draft pick and when you’re drafting mock drafts, it’s the obvious number one.
There’s only one way to get this good, and that’s through practice and a burning desire to be the best. You draft day and night, always looking for ways to sharpen your draft skills. You analyze old drafts with your teammates and pinpoint ways to do better. You draft anything you can. You draft snack foods to live with forever, fruits for your deserted island, cinema-inspired additions to your home, animals for your personal zoo, celebrity neighbors, celebrities to resurrect, pop culture memes to destroy, historical mysteries, historical events to witness, wrestlers that you’d want to be, talents you’d want to have without working for them, pet peeves, ideal vacations, and more. You draft and draft and draft because when it’s all said and done, you want to go down as the best mock drafter of all time. And you know that like anything else, if you want to be good, you’ve gotta get your reps.
Best Case: Bill Russell
Worst Case: Michael Jordan (on the Birmingham Barons)
—Photo AP/Julio Cortez