Monday, June 30, 2008

"Cuando te toca, te toca" ~Spanish Proverb

(When It's Your Time, It's Your Time)

The best team won Euro 08 by playing the best football. And they were the best team precisely because they played the best football. It wasn't their physical size or their experience or their resolve to avoid defeat that propelled them to the top. And, it surely wasn't their unflinching and dogged attention to defending that won it for them either. This wasn't the San Antonio Spurs. Or Italy. Of course, the Spanish had all of those one-dimensional qualities (except for size) in spades but it wasn't any singular thing that did it. They were just more talented and they just played harder and smarter throughout the run of the tourney. And their determination and fortitude were matched by a degree of creativity and improvisation that showed why proper football (as opposed to American football) is referred to as "The Beautiful Game."

It sounds simple but it a rare thing for a major sporting event to end this way.

In the 2004 edition of this same Euro tournament the Greeks shocked the footballing world with an audacious run to the title. They put ten men behind the ball at almost all times and counterattacked their way to an upset win over Portugal in the Final. The Greeks showed steely nerve and rock-solid confidence in grinding out 1-0 victories (which is the score that saw them through the quarters, semis and the final) but no one was confusing them with being the very best team in Europe. They were just the team who game-planned their way through a six-match competition. They employed a type of "negative" football that sought to negate their opponents advantages in skill and pace by slowing the game to a crawl. And it worked. This same tactic saw Italy all the way to the World Cup title in 2006 and has earned the Azzuri the reputation of being a "tournament team." Whether or not that (the idea that they are built for grueling, hard-to-watch, foul-and-flop-filled victories rather than flowing artful displays of the beautiful game) is true it can go without saying that such a game-plan turns off casual fans in this country with the same exactitude as a midweek NHL game hidden on that VS channel.

Of course, one team's style and previous body of work should not gift them a title or disqualify them from it. The Italians rightfully won the 2006 World Cup. The Greeks courageously won the 2004 Euro. The St. Louis Cardinals surprisingly won the 2006 World Series (despite an 83-78 regular season record). To take nothing away from the legitimacy of these titles, there is a marked difference, especially in international football, between a team going out to play their own game and a team going out to stop another team from playing theirs. And the problem (or not, depending on were your allegiance is) is that this "negative" footballing works. It allows teams like Bolton in the English Premiership to give fits to an intricate passing side like Arsenal. In the NBA it also has something to do with the fact that the Phoenix Suns never made it past the San Antonio Spurs under Mike D'Antoni in spite of the fact that their free-flowing style of play was far and away the most visually pleasing to watch during those seasons. Were the Suns unable to get over the hump because they just weren't as good as the Spurs or because the Spurs were content to deploy a bulldog like Bruce Bowen or Robert Horry to slow the game down like the Greeks in Euro 04?

In a sporting world increasingly obsessed with an "any given Sunday" ethos it is increasingly rare to see a highly entertaining competitive tournament among world-class sides where the classiest side in the world wins out. In fact, the very idea of the best team just winning seems almost unsportsmanlike. We are bred to respect a victory born of grit and guile (see Boise State in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl) more than one born of supreme skill and consistency. The phrase "may the best team win" seems more like something that an arrogant and likely cheating Zabka-esque villian, with a shock of blond hair and weightlifting gloves, snidely says to the underdog hero before the climactic contest in a John Hughes-era movie than it does an honest desire to see a team (like Spain in Euro 08) actually win on the merits of being the best. Moreover, in a world of small-market versus big-market teams and college football/basketball recruiting controversies - where the accumulation of talent is uneven - it can seem like a cop-out to root for the more talented teams to win. We usually don't want the best team to win.

The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is built on just this sort of intrigue. Most fans can't wait for the "better" teams to be beaten by the lesser ones. We revel in the Cinderella-run of a team like George Mason in in 2006 even though that costs the basketball-watching public a chance from seeing a UConn/Florida matchup in the Final Four that would have pitted the region's #1 team against the team that would go on to win the NCAA tournament. Similarly, even casual sports fans took notice when Fresno State recently pulled off a shock win in the 2008 College World Series. The Fresno State Bulldogs won their game's most significant trophy after wrapping a season during which they lost 29 games. Yes, they did win the College World Series but, no, they're not the best that college baseball has to offer. Not even close. But that doesn't not make them champions.

Thankfully Spain was able two satisfy seemingly disparate desires with the Euro-clinching 1-0 win over Germany yesterday in Vienna. They were the best team by leaps and bounds and they were not one of the traditional powers. Not really. They were the perennial underachievers who had not lifted an international trophy in 44 years. The were the also-rans. They were forever the bridesmaids. The were the buddy who you would let hang out with your girlfriend when you're not around because you know he wouldn't have it in him to try anything. The Spanish were always talented and artful but seemed to lack the cutting edge when it counted most. They were diminutive play-makers who excelled at the club level but were destined to be muscled off the ball by larger players from Italy and Germany and England and France when the game was in the balance.

And, in the Final when the more physically imposing German side lined up across the pitch? The Spanish never flinched. There wasn't a single Spanish player who lost his composure when German midfielder Michael Ballack seemingly lost his mind from the moment he saw his own blood and went stomping around the field in Vienna begging to be sent off with each late challenge and needlessly dirty foul. While Ballack whined to the officials and recklessly flew around the field the Spanish just moved the ball from side to side, dominating possession. They played with greater strength and confidence. They were playing positive football and they were playing to win on their terms. After a while the identity of their opponent became inconsequential. They were playing the Spanish way. They were playing beautifully. I fully expected Germany to net a goal at some point during the match but never doubted that Spain would have had the wherewithal to go atop again. They were almost always in the ascendance (save about ten total minutes throughout the match) and Fernando Torres was too strong and too fast for the defense and the passes sent on to him were too incisive and too direct to be parried away before he could run on to them.

With a night's sleep since the Final it seems that Spain's dash through Euro 08 was even more dominant than we gave them credit for as it was unfolding. The Spanish were one of only three teams (along with the Netherlands and Croatia) to win all three matches in the group stage. And, they were the only side to win each game that they took the field in. Well, the penalty shootout win over the Italians is actually considered a tie by FIFA. With the Spaniards tying Italy in the game itself and then advancing on penalties. But, anyone who watched the game knows the Spanish deserved the win and were the better team in that clash. By far. The Spanish also scored the most goals in the tournament, netting 12 in six games. They took the most shots (111). They took the most shots on goal (61). They had the tournament's leading goalscorer, David Villla (4). They had the tournament's assist leader, Cesc Fabregas (4). They also were fouled more than any other team (107). And, they committed more fouls than any other side (108). They had more assists (11) than any other team. On the other end of the pitch they conceded the fewest goals per game in the tournament, allowing .5 per contest, and had the tournament's most impressive goalkeeper, Iker Casillas (Italy's Buffon may still be the best in the world but Casillas' showing in the penalty shootout makes him the class of this tournament). And, not surprisingly they placed the most players on the All-Tournament team, with nine representatives. And, of course, the Spanish side was led by the Euro 08 Most Outstanding Player, Xavi Hernandez, who plays his club ball for Barcelona. The total team effort was so thoroughly impressive that when talking about this team Xavi is perhaps the fourth or fifth name that comes up in any discussion.

Most indicative, in my opinion, of the Spanish domination and strength was the fact that they placed 4 midfielders on the All-Tournament team (along with two strikers, two defenders and the team's goalkeeper). The one and two touch passing between the bevy of midfielders in the center of the park was mesmerizing. Whether you were watching from the comfort of your sofa or were an opposing player trying to get a foot in on the ball, you were mesmerized. Each star had his moment to shine. Not only does this show the depth of talent currently in the national side but it speaks to the way in which these players were deployed by coach Luis Aragones. It was refreshing to watch a skipper successfully using his roster after watching a bewildered Raymond Domenech squander the French team's chances with his mis-picked lineups and ill-timed substitutions and Phil Jackson do his part to submarine the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals. I mean he played Chris Mihm! In the Finals. Against Paul Pierce (pictured driving by a statuesque Mihm), Kevin Garnett and the Celtics!

Entering Euro 08 the number of Spanish midfielders was considered a weakness by some. Who would pair with whom? How would the egos of those not in the starting eleven affect the rest of the squad? These were rational questions given the mercurial nature of top-flight athletes. Remember Scottie Pippen pulling himself from that game in the 1994 Eastern Conference semifinals when he realized that he wouldn't get the final shot for the Chicago Bulls? Or Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf shocking his countrymen by pulling himself from the team before this tournament because he was not assured a starting role? There was no such dissension amongst the Spanish players. Fabregas eagerly took to his super-sub role and was a game-changer from the bench. Meanwhile, Marcus Senna, the soon-to-be 32-year-old Villarreal player, was the least sexy choice (when compared with Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas) and least Spanish (he was born in Brazil) to deputize in the center of the pitch but he proved an inspired choice by Aragones. Senna held his team's shape at all times and disrupted the opposition's best player while his fellow midfielders spread themselves about and made frequent forays into the attacking third of the field. In fact as this team turns its sights southward towards South Africa and forwards towards 2010 it is Senna who will be the hardest player to replace.

Even including the relatively ancient Senna, Spain was the second youngest team in the tournament (Russia was the youngest). With so much going for them they are perfectly poised to either regain their reputation as underachievers at the World Cup in two years time or to start a run of dominance that will go on for the duration of this generation's (the Cesc/Torres group who should be together through the 2014 World Cup) international careers. At the very least, they will have lifted the Euro 08 trophy and pushed the needle of world football back towards the beautiful and away from the tactical.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Around the Internets

Post-NBA Draft Edition

For team grades and overall draft reactions check out the stylings of Ball Don't Lie!.

And, here's silver-est lining of the combustible rain cloud that is Stephen A. Smith:


All seemed well in the Twin Cities and then without warning there was devastation, the taste of vomit and Kevin Love where there had once been optimism and O.J. Mayo.

The worst part about this video is realizing that someone with straight A's and a summer job helping the homeless likely didn't get into Stanford because of this guy.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Rooster

A Rare Alternate Take of Alice in Chains 1993 hit song "The Rooster"












Ain't found a j to
Beat mine yet
Eyes burn with stinging
Sweat
Seems every path leads me to the
Garden
Coach And dad, shared a household pet
No. 6 pick was no safe bet
The fans boo me on the podium.

Yeah they come to boo The Rooster
Yeah here come The Rooster
You hope he ain't no Frederic Weis

Walkin' 6-9 tall Italian man
They'd booed me in my new homeland
Stephen A. screamed me questions
about 'bout my ball
Got my skills 'gainst
Draft-bust death
Bargnani's breathin'
His dyin' breath
David Stern, please won't you help
Me make it through

Yeah they come to boo the Rooster
Yeah here come the Rooster
You hope he ain't no Frederic Weis

Why Don't You Tell Me How You Really Feel?

How Real Fans Feel About the Newest Italian in NY

It's true. The reaction in the Garden last night when NBA Commissioner David Stern announced the Knicks had drafted the little-seen-on-these-shores Italian basketball prodigy Danilo Gallinari was a long and lusty "BOOOOOOOO". It is true. That happened. But, I think that most fans were just caught in the heat of the moment and faced with a player that they had never seen before and whose name they can't spell or pronounce. I really think that given some time, even just a few hours, Knicks fans will come to love this high upside small forward from the boot-shaped peninsula jutting into the Mediterranean.

To test this theory I hit the pavement earlier today to find some real folks in and around New York City and ask them how they really feel about the city's most recent Italian immigrant. Here's what they had to say:

Name: Mario
Occupation: Plumber
Lives: Bayside, Queens
Reaction: "I couldn't be more excited about this guy if I had fireballs coming outta my fists and a dragon parked on the corner! Ya know what I mean? But seriously. This paisan is long, athletic 3 who knows how to fill up a box score like I know how to unclog the Princess's pipes. Ya know what I'm sayin'?"

Name: Tony Soprano
Occupation: Waste Management Consultant
Residence:North Caldwell, NJ
Reaction: "Well. I mean, first of all, it is an honor to see a fine Italian boy doing good for himself today. It's hard out there for Italians to come to this country. No one is going to give you anything. You gotta take it. And, you know, this Gallinero, he's a good kid, from a decent family. He's not another one of these...he's not a...he's a not a thug or some hoodlum with a bling and a posse that I can't bring my own son to watch. When they play against the Nets in East Rutherford. This Danny is a good kid. His father was a ballplayer and he's growing just like his ol' man. That how it's supposed to be in a strong family. With Italians."

Name: Famous Ray
Occupation: Owner of a chain of pizzerias
Residence: 34 Mulberry Street, New York City
Reaction: "Oh, I just cant-a-believe it. New York City now has the "il Gallo" of Milan. In America! To play the basketballs. He will eat a free dinner in restaurant every night he come by."

Name: Il Popa
Occupation: Peter's old job
Residence: Vatican City, Rome
Reaction: "I haven't seen anyone with this much determination since my youth in Germany."

Names: Fernando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti
Occupation: Laborers
Residence: Recently relocated to 183rd and Bathgate in the Bronx from Massachusetts
Reaction: "With a boy so young you must pray that being thrown in to the money in America doesn't corrupt him. That he doesn't let himself forget his people who are being abused in this place."

Name: Luigi
Occupation: Plumber (retired)
Residence: Luigi's Mansion, Westchester, NY
Reaction: "My elder sibling telephoned the mansion as soon as the Knickerbockers selected this young fellow. Mario was prattling on about his upside potential, something called second jumpability and his importance to Italian Americans. To be honest, I stopped following basketball after I left the family business. It all seems a bit provincial to me. With the teams hailing from various locales. I prefer to spend my leisure time attending auctions of fine art -which is what brings me to Manhattan this fine Friday - or golfing at the Westchester Country Club, which, of course, would never had admitted me had they seen my swarthy plumbing brother. Heavens no! They must never meet him."

Name: Mike Piazza
Occupation: Professional baseball player (retired)
Residence: Chelsea
Reaction: "If this guy can buckle-down and work hard. Mmmmm. Buckle-down. Hard. Um, if this young sculpted man-child can do those things night after night after night then he is going to have a great time in this city. Trust me. There's no better place to be an Italian than in New York. Everyone opens up there arms to you. Especially in my new neighborhood. I'd be happy to show him around. It can be lonely to be a famous handsome young man in this city. That's why us Italians have to stick together. Close together. Danilo, call me. Please."

Names: "We're just a few guys out. That's all"
Occupations: "Don't worry 'bout it. Let's just say the rent is paid in cash and on time."
Residence: "Somewhere that you ain't never been to. And you won't ever go to, if you know what's good for you."
Reaction: "I ain't never heard a no Gallinari. You guys heard of any Gallinari out of Milan? No. Alright then, why don't you just forget ya ever even asked us about Danilo since none of us ever even known the guy. Or his old man. Capiche!."

Well, I think that WWOD? got to the bottom of this one. There are some New Yorkers that are definitely eager to welcome Danilo Gallinari to the Knicks.

"With the No. 6 Pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks select......Danilo Gallinari"



The Player: Dalino Gallinari
Age: 19
Height: 6 feet, 9 inches
Weight: 212 pounds

Position: Small Forward, but capable of spot-minutes at shooting guard or power forward depending on the matchups.

Previous Team: Olimpio Milano in the Italian Series A, which not coincidentally, perhaps, is the team that Mike D'Antoni spent 13 seasons playing for and where he played with Danilo's father. These two guys (D'Antoni and the elder Gallinari) were also roommates while they were teammates. So, I mean it's within the realm of possibility that maybe, just maybe, Mike D'Antoni knows Mrs. Gallinari and that after a crazy night of drinking Chianti and riding mopeds around Milan that our new Knicks coach illegitimately fathered the team's newest player. I mean, it's possible. And, when his friend and teammate found out about this adulterous rendezvous between his girl and his point guard he flew into a proper Milanese rage and threatened to kill his then-teammate and roommate and the Knicks current coach. But before the revenge murder was consummated, D'Antoni made the elder Gallinari an offer he couldn't refuse: He promised him that if he spared his life and pretended that this incident never took place that he would ensure a future job in the National Basketball Association (in America!) for the unborn son. Done and done.

Nickname: "Il Gallo," which translates to "The Rooster" or "The Big Cock." Seriously.

The Hoops History: Gallinari was born on August 8, 1988 in Sant'Angelo Lodigiano, Italy. He's 19-years-old. Yet he's been a professional basketball player since 2004. He was only 15 years old when he first took the floor for one of the minor league clubs in Italy. Since his father had been player and young Danilo was recognized as a prodigy at such a young age he has had the spotlight on him the entire time. He was picked/drafted (I'm not totally sure how this stuff works in the Italian League) by Armani Jeans Milano before the 2005-2006 season. He joined one of their second division affiliate, Edmes Pavia in LegaADue, but was called up to the Big League club during the following season to play in the Italian Series A championships and one of the European cups. Apparently, Gallinari made a phenomenal first impression. Even having played only half a season in his top-flight debut he was nominated as the Best Italian Player of the Series A championship. The following year he didn't disappoint in his first full campaign and was awarded the Euroleague 2007-2008 Rising Star trophy. And, now he's headed to the NBA, to New York City and his 20th birthday.

The Highlights: "Oooh, wow, oh wow, what a basket."


The Reaction At the Garden:



WWOD?'s Reaction: Even though this has become the Year of the Point Guard, small forward was the position I wanted the Knicks to target with the sixth pick in the NBA draft. Admittedly, I wanted that small forward to be Joe Alexander out of West Virginia University. One of the reasons I didn't want the club to reach for a guard who might be able to play the 1 is that the Knicks have a point guard next season in Stephon Marbury who is probably the best-case-scenario for the combo-guards in this draft that would still be on the board after Derrick Rose and O.J. Mayo were picked. So, I wanted an athletic small forward who can get up and down and spread the floor in D'Antoni's offense.

Nevertheless, I couldn't stop from talking myself into the idea of selecting Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless when UCLA guard Russell Westbrook was called up by David Stern to pick up his Seattle Sonics cap in the four slot. Based on this week's WWOD? NBA Blogger Mock Draft I really thought that Seattle was going to snag Bayless, who is the non-Rose/Mayo elite guard (and, perhaps mistakenly, I don't include Augustin in the elite category, I see him a rung just below Gordon, Bayless and Westbrook, who in turn are a rung below Mayo who is in turn a rung below Rose) that I think stands the best chance of becoming a legit point guard in the Association.

Somehow in the two minutes immediately prior to the No. 6 pick Baylesss actually managed to leap-frog Gallinari in my internal rankings. Which didn't really make sense since I did not want Knicks GM Donnie Walsh to bow to popular opinion by going with a guard. So, even though I actually (sort of) got what I wanted I was still disappointed when David Stern paused and then read the Knicks pick aloud. I didn't feel like booing along with everyone else in the Garden when Gallinari ascended the podium to shake hands with NBA Commissioner David Stern. But I did feel that hollow, fake-smiley depression one (or, maybe just me) feels after unwrapping that last present on Christmas morning to find that it's just a pair of sensible slacks. I mean, you totally needed some slacks. They look nice, they're not pleated (which is good since you hate pleated pants) and you think they'll even fit. And you've also received close to a dozen other useful and above-average presents. But you still just feel a little let down. You say thank you. And then you're just sort of sad. Partially because Christmas is over and partially because no one got you the perfect gift.

Still, in spite of my post-Christmas-morning melancholy I really like this pick. It's the right spot on the floor. Gallinari has spent half of his teenage years distinguishing himself in European leagues stocked with grown men. He 6-9 going on 6-11. He can shoot threes and get to the rim. I'm a little concerned about his hops based on the footage I've seen but you have to assume that he's still growing into his still growing body and he will become more fluid once he stops getting taller and heavier.

Another reason to like this pick is that it goes against the trend that had most other General Managers convincing themselves that they could turn shooting guards into point guards. There is no alchemy that will transform Eric Gordon into Derrick Rose. Thankfully, Donnie Walsh is smart enough to know that. Furthermore, D'Antoni's offense needs wings who can shoot and run and cause mismatch problems just as much as it needs a special point guard. And, if the big knock on Gallinari is that he might not immediately be able to defend at this level then he'll fit in fine with the players currently on the Knicks and the players that D'Antoni had coached in Phoenix.

Ultimately, I fully realize that a huge part of my choice of Alexander over Gallinari as the most-desired small forward was my familiarity with former and my having never ever actually seen the latter play. I watched Alexander play in the Big East all season long, watched him play in the Big East tournament and watched him beat Duke in the NCAA tourney. I haven't followed Gallinari. I don't know much about him that I haven't learned since last Tuesday. So, my joy is tentative. But it is joy nonetheless. And, if a guy who sometimes gets sad on Christmas can feel joy about a NBA draft pick then it must be pretty good.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The 2008 WWOD? NBA Blogger Mock Draft

While counting down the minutes until ESPN's NBA draft guru Chad Ford released the fourth iteration of his NBA mock draft a few weeks ago, I was struck by a moment of inspiration. I was standing on the edge of my toilet hanging a clock, the porcelain was wet, I slipped, hit my head on the sink, and when I came to I had a revelation! A vision! A picture in my head! A picture of this!

I saw a bright and shiny world free of Chad Ford's bright and shiny smile. I saw a loose confederacy of sports bloggers reveling in our collective obsession. To make this Ford-less dream a reality I've conducted the 2008 WWOD? NBA Blogger Mock Draft with the help and patience of the many fine writers devoted to sports blogging around the US of A (and oddly enough a Suns blogger in Italy). This blogger mock draft runs like the real-live NBA draft happening Thursday night, with each team's or city's blogger making a draft pick in the same order (determined by the draft lottery) that the real-life team officials will do so.

It always seemed to me that most of mock drafts were created by monolithic know-it-all voices and therefore have nothing to do with the real draft, which involves constituencies from every NBA city who live and die (and are employed by) their team and don't care if it makes for a better story if Player Z plays in City Y. Well, it seemed like that until now.

In the immortal words of Pete Venkman, "I love this plan. I'm excited to be a part of it." And I hope you are too.

Part One: The "Lottery" Picks

#1: Chicago Bulls, represented by C. Casson of Bull Riding:
The Pick: Derrick Rose, out of the University of Memphis
The Reason For: I have seen plenty of good scorer's and I do believe Mike Beasley will be one, but the hardest positions in the draft to cover are the center and point guard position. Derrick Rose is a truly unique point guard with extraordinary athletic gifts. They simply don't make them like Derrick Rose too often.
The Pick Bull Riding doesn't want: To say I don't want a player on my team is harsh because as long as they're bringing something to the table on both ends of the floor, than I'm happy. If anything, I wouldn't want a guy who isn't going to come in and leave it on the floor every night, which is a rarity in today's game. You just don't find guys too often anymore, that you can say at the end of a game, "OK, that guy came out here and did everything possible to try and get his team a win."

#2 Miami Heat, represented by The South Florida Fan Blog:
The Pick: Michael Beasley, out of Kansas State University
The Reason For: This decision was pretty much like clockwork (though I fully expect the Heat to make the clock work for all its seconds). Prevailing wisdom has Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley as the premier players in this draft, so we were content to take whichever one remained. Though Rose would have been a better fit, we are quite pleased with Beasley, whose mammoth freshman performance at Kansas St. dwarfed even Kevin Durant's highly publicized showing last year in the same conference. Sure, Beasley has a quirky personality. So what? That should just make the Madden 2009 games with Udonis Haslem all the more invigorating!
The Pick The South Florida Fan Blog doesn't want: O.J. Mayo.
The Reason Against: Unlike Beasley, there are some legitimate character issues at play here. This, from a guy who takes pleasure in emulating black holes, considers himself a Hollywood starlet, and puts the shade in shady characters. No thanks.
The Blogger and the Blog: I'm ASponge of The South Florida Fan Blog, the voice of the eloquent (if we deserve such an epithet) fan for all Miami-area sports teams.

#3 Minnesota Timberwolves, represented by TwolvesBlog.com:
The Pick: O.J. Mayo, out of the University of Southern California
The Reason For: After Beasley and Rose, O.J. is undoubtedly the most talented prospect left. The Wolves would be out of their minds to pass on him.
The Pick TwolvesBlog doesn't want: Brook Lopez
The Reason Against: He may as well be called "Bust" Lopez. There's no way he's worth the #3 pick.
The Blog: TWolvesBlog.com is the most-visited Timberwolves website on the internet. We feature multiple daily updates with all the latest Wolves news and original articles, as well as podcasts and a very active forum community.

#4 Seattle Supersonics, represented by SonicsCentral/Save Our Sonics:
The Pick: Jeryd Bayless, out of the University of Arizona

The Reason For: While there are conflicting reports out there that would have the Sonics selecting Brook Lopez, Russell Westbrook, or Eric Gordon the odds on favorite still has to be Bayless. The Sonics are in need of a point guard who can mesh with young stars Kevin Durant and Jeff Green. Furthermore the lack of aggression and penetration on the part of their guards has been a big factor in their terrible play in recent years. Bayless is a natural fit but the Sonics could go several directions and should select best player available. The flexibilty of Durant and Green will allow the pair to play any combination of the 2,3, or 4 positions and the new draft choice should be able to find a role in the offense no matter what position they play. PG However remains the biggest single need on the roster.
The Pick SonicsCentral doesn’t want: Eric Gordon
The Reason Against: At 6'3 he lacks the height to be an effective shooting guard in the league and with a top 5 pick teams should be wary of drafting players who lack the physical tools to be dominant at their position. If the Sonics are infatuated with Gordon they should trade down to acquire him in the 6-10 range.
The Blogger and the Blog(s): I am Brian Robinson and I operate SonicsCentral and am a co-founder of Save Our Sonics, attempting to retain professional basketball. Over the last 5 years I have been accredited media for the Sonics, developed strong organizational relationships, appeared on hundreds of sports and news radio shows nationwide as well as television appearances. Additionally I served as a developmental consultant for tmobile.nba.com. As the co-founder of SaveOurSonics I have worked closely with and against team ownerships and the league corporate offices, represented the fans in testimony before the Washington State Legislature, and assembled more than 10,000 members to SaveOurSonics, conducting multiple events including a courthouse rally of more than 3000 Sonics fans this month.

(and, since the Sonics fans need to be heard now more than ever, I decided to let them pick twice. Sort of)

#4 Seattle Supersonics, represented by SeaTown Sports:
The Pick: Jerryd Bayless, out of the University of Arizona
The Reason For: Jerryd Bayless would be able to be a significant contributor right off the bat. The point guard situation in Seattle is bad. Luke Ridnour has been horrible ever since Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis left. Earl Watson isn't the floor commander a point guard needs to be. Bayless and Kevin Durant would form one of the top young backcourts in the NBA.
The Pick SeaTown Sports doesn't want: Kevin Love.
The Reason Against: Believe it or not, Jerryd Bayless isn't the consensus pick, and in ESPN's Chad Ford's latest mock draft, he has the Sonics taking Love. Although he is one of the most NBA-ready and the most fundamentally sound players in the draft, the Sonics would make a big mistake by taking him. The Sonics can't draft a player in the front line when their back court needs the most help. Besides, Kevin Love is almost a clone of Nick Collison in my opinion.
The Blogger and the Blog: Kevin Cacabelos Senior Editor/Writer at SeaTown Sports.

#5 Memphis Grizzlies, represented by 3 Shades of Blue:
The Pick: Kevin Love, out of the University of California, Los Angeles

The Reason For: Who can utilize a "slow white guy with weight issues" better than Memphis, one of the fattest cities in America (BBQ Nachos rule!) that already employs the "running in wet concrete" stylings of Darko Milicic and Jason Collins? Besides, just think about how much mileage fans of other teams will get out of the frontcourt pairing of Rudy Gay and Kevin Love. In all seriousness though, Kevin Love is exactly the kind of player that the Grizzlies have been missing over the past few years -- a tough, fiery competitor with a wide range of skills who will exploit every advantage he is given.
The Pick 3 Shades of Blue doesn't want: Danilo Gallinari.
The Reason Against: As hard a time as Memphis will initially have in accepting a "slow, fat, white guy" as their top draft choice, if you go with a "white European whose game is predicated on finesse" to that mix so quickly after the Pau Gasol fiasco, then there is liable to be a riot in downtown Memphis. It's not that I don't think that Gallinari is talented and skilled (because he is), but he's not what most Grizzlies fans are looking for at this point, even if he turns out to be the next Dirk Nowitzki.
The Blogger and the Blog: Joshua Coleman and 3 Shades of Blue.

#6. New York Knicks, represented by What Would Oakley Do?:
The Pick: Joe Alexander, out of West Virginia University
The Reason For: I'd like to say it wasn't just that NCAA Tourney game against Duke. But that wouldn't be totally true. I'd like to say that it wasn't just that Big East tourney game against UConn. But that wouldn't be entirely true either. And, most of all I'd like to say that my rationale for making this pick has nothing to do with something as predictably foolhardy as "tremendous upside." Alas, all three of those things are largely behind this pick. With my March man-crush Derrick Rose off the board and the two players that I would have been unable to pass, Beasley and Mayo, gone as well I can't help but tap Alexander. Some would say it was a reach but with Milwaukee poised to nab him two picks later I don't think so.

This thought process all started when I saw highly touted Italian player Dalino Gallinari slotted into the Knicks spot by the preeminent Chad Ford in his initial mock draft. To be honest, I liked the idea of getting a steal (which any risk/player ends up being if you're right) at the small forward position. The Knicks have been looking for a star at the #3 spot since Bernard King's knee injury. Most importantly, I agreed with Chad Ford that the Knicks should go away from the point guard position once we missed out on Rose or Mayo. There are two reasons why the Knicks should draft a small forward (barring a trade for the two PGs already mentioned). The first is that all the other top-ranked guards in this year's draft class are combo guards whose ships have had their profiles lifted by the rising waters surrounding Derrick Rose in the NCAA and Chris Paul in the NBA. Those two made the point guard position sexier than it's been since Isiah and Magic were starting the All-Star Game. Those two are "true" point guards and always have been. Those two are not shooting guards in point guard bodies. And, neither is Steve Nash, who ran D'Antoni's offense in Phoenix. But, you know who is a combo guard? Stephon Marbury. And a pretty darn good one, actually. If that's what we're looking for (and, in the long term, it is most decidedly not) then we're all set.

Forgetting about Marbury (if just for one sweet moment), it was thinking of Nash that made me finally settle on Alexander. Thinking about Nash made me realize the second reason the Knicks should not draft a point guard. Mike D'Antoni never developed a young point guard in Phoenix, he signed Nash as a free agent after the Mavericks figured out he was too old. Not to win MVP Awards. In fact, one of the point guards D'Antoni actually drafted in Phoenix, before trading him away, was Nate Robinson. Incidentally, D'Antoni's Suns also drafted Rajon Rondo only to trade him as well. So, this is a long way of saying that I don't think D'Antoni's strong suit (or main interest) is developing point guards even if he is a great point guard coach. I think he wants to bring in someone like T.J. Ford (or not, but you know what I mean) or just see what the PGs already on his roster can do with his offense. I think what he really needs unique athletic freaks like Shawn Marion to run his offense and I think Alexander is just that sort of explosive player.

Also on the plus side of the ledger for Alexander in D'Antoni's book, he went to West Virginia University (in D'Antoni's home state) and speaks Mandarin (D'Antoni is bilingual as well). Those two things should have gotten him in the Knicks coach's good graces. And, if those two things don't then the fact that his dunks are youtube gold and competitive spirit has been the only thing more impressive at pre-draft workouts around the league than his freakish athleticism.

And it's this athleticism that puts Alexander ahead of my Gallinari, the Italian small forward that Ford decked out in orange and blue all month long. These two guys play the same position are about the same height and are high upside guys. The knock on Gallinari is his athleticism. The knock on Alexander is that his handle and long distance shot need to be more consistent. Well, I think you can't teach Gallinari's deficiency while Alexander has years to hone his. Therefore I go with a small forward with two first names. Yup, another thing that I shouldn't like about him. Except I do.
The Pick WWOD? doesn't want: Any player in the draft listed 6-10 or above. That means Kevin Love, Brook Lopez, Deandre Jordan, Alexis Ajinca, Kosta Koufos, Anthony Randolph or anyone else whose height was a virtual lock to get them this far (to the draft) since they were 15 years old.
The Reason Against: If the Knicks are drafting a player who needs some polishing then I don't want him to be a plodding seven footer or a willowy pivot who needs to put on weight or even an overweight and undersized post player. So I don't want these guys. I want agile, springy and strong dudes who can move around and want to run right over other peoples faces. I want the guy who claimed his team was going to beat Duke in the NCAA tournament and who told a reporter in Detroit that he was the best prospect in a star-studded workout. I want Joe Alexander.
The Blog: If you blogged here, you'd be home right now.

#7 Los Angeles Clippers, represented by ClipsNation:
The Pick: Eric Gordon, out of Indiana University
The Reason For: If Elton Brand (very likely) and Corey Maggette (a possibility) both return for next season, the Clippers four best players will be front court players. Meanwhile, their projected starting point guard (Shaun Livingston) has not played basketball in almost 17 months, and the collection of journeymen points who ended the season on the roster (Brevin Knight, Dan Dickau and Smush Parker) are something less than awe-inspiring. As for the other guard spot, Cat Mobley will turn 33 before the start of the season and is coming off the worst season of his pro career, and there aren't any other shooting guards currently signed. So while the old saying goes that you draft the 'best player available', the Clippers needs in the backcourt would seem to be an overriding concern. Fortunately, Eric Gordon may well meet both criteria. A great perimeter scorer with almost unlimited range and an incredible first step, possessing the body of an NFL linebacker, Gordon actually tested out as MORE athletic (better in sprints, agility tests, jumping ability and strength) than the supposedly super-athletic Jerryd Bayless and Russell Westbrook at the Orlando pre-draft combine. So he's big, he can score, and he's a great athlete. In addition, he was projected as high as the top three of this draft as recently as February. So what happened? A wrist injury and a coaching scandal at Indiana contributed to a dismal last month to his college career. The Clippers are hoping that those issues are long behind him, and that he can be the explosive perimeter scorer they've lacked for so many years.
The Pick ClipsNation doesn't want: D.J. Augustin
The Reason Against: Point guard is arguably the Clippers' bigger need, and it's highly unlikely that Gordon can make the transition to NBA point. But, DJ Augustin, the best pure point guard left on the board, is a stretch with the seventh pick. And while he would no doubt be an improvement over Brevin Knight, the idea of two point guards under 6 feet tall is a little hard to take. Livingston at 6'7" mitigates that problem of course, but the Clippers must fact the possibility that he could still be a long way from playing. I just don't think you can have your top two point guards both be height-challenged.
The Blogger and the Blog: ClipperSteve of ClipsNation.com.

#8 Miwaukee Bucks, represented by The Bratwurst:
The Pick:Russell Westbrook, out of the University of California, Los Angeles
The Reason For:Westbrook is the best player available at this point. The Bucks despite having two guards under long-term contracts, clearly could use another good guard rotation. With John Hammond and Scott Skiles in town, I think Michael Redd and Mo Williams both have a decent chance of falling out of favor for not playing hard. That said, maybe drafting a guard motivates Redd and Williams to work hard.
The Pick The Bratwurst doesn't want: Brook Lopez
The Reason Against: With no other rebounder in the starting five outside of Bogut, it's a little dangerous to take a weak rebounder/strong scrorer with a shoot happy backcourt.
The Blogger and the Blog: Jeramey Jannene of TheBratwurst.com

#9. Charlotte Bobcats, represented by Queens City Hoops:
The Pick: Brook Lopez, out of Stanford University
The Reason For: As long as he's better than Nazr, I'm happy.
The Blog: Queen City Hoops.

#10. New Jersey Nets, represented (sort of, but without their consent) by NetsDaily:
The Pick: Danilo Gallinari, out of Italy
The Reason For: Some fellow who goes by the handle of Dumpy over at this blog says that the Nets would ideally draft Westbrook or Gallinari at this spot.
The Blog: Like I said, this pick was gleaned from my readings over at NetsDaily. No one from the site ever returned my emails nor did anyone from the only other Nets blog I found (the one that really didn't want Gallnero).

#11. Indiana Pacers, represented by Indy Cornrows:
The Pick: D.J. Augustin, out of the University of Texas
The Reason For: The Pacers desperately need a point guard who can lead the team and, well, actually play. Augustin may have some size limitations but he knows how to lead a team from the point, pushing the ball into the hands of scorers as well as running the pick 'n roll in the half court.
The Pick Indy Cornrows doesn't want: DeAndre Jordan
Why: Despite his physical gifts I'm a little leary of his drive to be a great basketball player. He's young and his game is immature so maybe in time he'll be great but the Pacers need help now. Going the project route hasn't worked out lately.
The Blogger and the Blog:Tom Lewis aka Cornrows.

#12. Sacramento Kings, represented by Sactown Royalty:
The Pick: Anthony Randolph, out of Louisiana State University
The Reason:: There's a 1-in-2,000,000,000,000.5 chance he becomes the greatest of all-time.
The Pick Sactown Royalty doesn't want: Trent Plaisted. Really, I'm breezy besides that.
The Reason Against: Becuase he's Trent Plaisted, man.
The Blogger and the Blog: Tom Ziller and Sactown Royalty.

#13. Portland Trailblazers, represented by Sean from OregonLive:
The Pick:Brandon Rush, out of the University of Kansas.
The Reason For: Working with the best of what's left on the board, the Blazers elect to bring in the most versatile player on both ends of the floor. After working out for the Blazers last weekend, GM Kevin Pritchard openly stated his affinity for players who come out of big programs (and it doesn't hurt when that player recently won a National Championship at KP's alma mater). The Blazers are already loaded at the small forward position with Martell Webster, Travis Outlaw and James Jones, but Pritchard sees Rush's versatility as allowing him to contribute at positions 1 through 3.
With the addition of both Greg Oden and Rudy Fernandez to the mix, the Blazers don't need someone to make a major splash immediately, although, as KP has stated, Rush will be able to step in a contribute immediately. And head coach Nate McMillan has shown he's immune to rushing (pun intended) rookies into playing time. Pritchard has also made it clear he would like to add speed and defense to the backcourt rotation, both of which Rush will bring.
The Blazers are entering a championship window and a long-term project (like many of the big stiff left) are not in Portland's plans. Pritchard is a man who likes to stack his assests and with the 13th pick, adding another asset to the mix gives the best GM in the league another weapon and further his Prtichslapping of the association.
The Blog and the Blogger: Sean Meagher covering the Blazers over at OregonLive.

(and just because most people I know can't get enough Portland Trailblazers anaylsis they will be awarded to two picks. Sort of.)

#13. Portland Trailblazers, represented by Deceptively Quick:
The Pick: Brandon Rush, out of the University of Kansas
The Reason For:He brings length, athleticism, winning, and perimeter defense. He is competent enough offensively to keep the opposition cognizant of his existence. These types of adjectives are commonly applied to humans described as "critical role players," and such humans seem to help win championships. When you conceptualize NBA Brandon Rush, think Tayshaun Prince-ish (assuming a hopefully similar personality conducive to NBA productivity) with a less disturbing silhouette and a more hilarious hair cut. For a team like Portland that already has foundational franchise players in place, such an addition seems a natural complement.
Of course, all this lacks the flair of what we come to expect from a Kevin Pritchard draft. Nonetheless, Rush is a healthy option that will likely be available should a sexy trade or seven not materialize on draft night. Watch and discuss.
The Blog: Deceptively Quick brings you Blazers news and more from the Finnish Underground. Or something.

#14. Golden State Warriors, represented by Fear the Beard:
The Pick: Donté Greene, out of Syracuse University
The Reason For: The Dubs need somebody who can get the job done in the paint on both ends of the floor. Greene is a tremendous athlete with nice upside, especially given the peculiar demands of Nellieball. He's developing a tough inside game and he has the athleticism and length to be a difference maker on defense. He's only 6'9", but he's got a standing reach of 9'0"; that helps a lot in a league where leaving your feet means a foul and some of Nelson's well-charted rookie pine. Plus, he can run. And he's got a nice stroke. The Pick Fear the Beard doesn't want: The other reason we want Greene is because we don't want to draft another guy named Kosta to play for the Bakersfield Jam next season. Although we would love to hear Jim Barnett's first "Kosta to Kosta" joke sometime in the middle of the third quarter of the first pre-season game, having two dudes named Kosta on the squad would feel kinda strange. Like bathing in borscht.
The Blogger and the Blog:I am Daniel Turman. I wrote this on the subway. Guthrie Dolin and Matthew Meschery also contributed to this logic and our decision. We are Fear the Beard.

PART 2: THE REST OF THE FIRST ROUND

#15. Phoenix Suns, represented by the Sons of Steve Nash:
The Pick: Mario Chalmers, out of the University of Kansas
The Reason For: For once the Suns will draft a player they can use and not simply pick some talent and ship him somewhere else for future picks or cash considerations as they did with Loul Deng, Rajon Rondo, Sergio Rodriguez and Rudy Fernandez.
The Suns' biggest needs are (1) find a back up point guard to play at least 15 minutes a game; (2) add some defense to the team and (3) find someone who can play right now, as the Suns are looking at a 2-year window. Plus Chalmers reminds a bit of Terry Porter, solid defender, good shooter and ready to play with a 3-year experience at a top-level program like Kansas. So, Mario, welcome to the Valley!
The Blogger and the Blog: Steve Fan of Sons of Steve Nash.

#16. Philadelphia 76ers, represented by The 700 Level:
The Pick: DeAndre Jordan, out Texas A&M University
The Blogger and the Blog: Enrico founded The 700 Level, a Philadelphia-based sports website for those who love their Philly sports but don't take things too seriously.

#17. Toronto Raptors, represented by Raptors HQ:
The Pick: Alexis Ajinca, out of France
The Blog: RaptorsHQ isn't simply a spot for stats and updates though, the HQ prides itself on its great community of readers who make the site what it is.

#18. Washington Wizards, represented by Bullets Forever:
The Pick: Maureese Speights, out of the University of Florida
The Reason For: Outside of Kevin Love, Maureese Speights looks good. He's the third-best rebounder of the [big man] group, behind Love and Jason Thompson, who played in a small conference. He's also a very efficient scorer (62 TS%) with his back to the basket, and that'd add a really nice dimension to our second team. He doesn't get to the free throw line enough, and he turns the ball over more than I'd like, but his rebounding strength and ability to score efficiently outweigh those concerns. He's also young, so he might be our best chance of getting a true impact big in the middle of the first round.
The Pick Bullets Forever doesn't want: Just say no to Robin Lopez.
The Reason Against: His rebounding, which I thought was a strength, is a major red flag, and he turns it over even more than Speights.

#19. Cleveland Cavaliers, represented by Cavalier Attitude:
The Pick: Chris Douglas-Roberts, out of the University of Memphis
The Reason For: Anyone who watched the Cavs-Celtics series knows that Cleveland has defense and rebounding down. They just need somebody other than LB to put the ball in the basket. CDR does that, and he's versatile in how he does it. His high basketball IQ would allow him to fit in almost right away. He doesn't fill a positional need for the Cavs, but he helps them get more scoring from the supporting cast, which is what this team sorely needs.
The Pick Cavalier Attitude doesn't want: Kosta Koufus
The Reason Against: Cleveland's frontcourt is known for being way too soft. Way too soft. Even after losing to the Cavs in the '07 ECF, Detroit players thought that the Cavs were still too soft despite beating them. You won't hear them say that about the Spurs or Celtics. Koufus is finesse, and the Cavs need strength up front. I'd take Marreese Speights here, but he went a pick earlier to the Wizards.
The Blogger and the Blog: Amar Panchmatia, senior writer at Cavalier Attitude.

#20. Charlotte Bobcats, represented by Queen City Hoops*:
The Pick: Darrell Arthur, out of the University of Kansas
*Queen City Hoops previously selected Brook Lopez with the ninth pick in the draft.

#21. New Jersey Nets, represented (again, sort of) by Nets Daily:
The Pick: Roy Hibbert, out of Georgetown University
The Reason For: Just like the eleventh pick in this mock draft, this choice of Hibbert is based on the views of some fellow by the moniker of Dumpy over at NetsDaily.

#22. Orlando Magic, represented by Believing in Magic:
The Pick: Kosta Koufos, out of THE Ohio State University
The Reason For: Orlando is in need of a bigger point guard, a more dynamic shooting guard and a big man to compliment Dwight Howard. From a value perspective, Koufos is a steal for Orlando. His versatility on offense and size should give Orlando one of, if not the most formidable big man combo in the NBA for years to come. As polished as Koufos is on offense already, he will only get better and he has the ability to draw defenders away from Howard in the post.
The Pick Believing in Magic doesn’t want: With players that are left on the board, I would hate to see the Magic select Bill Walker from Kansas St. In this draft, Chris Douglas-Roberts is off the board but if he is available at 22, I think it would be a huge mistake for Orlando to select him. Both players are G/F’s who are athletic and have a lot of potential, but neither one would fit in Orlando’s system, despite both players filling a need.
The Blogger and the Blog: I am Brendan Sonnone, writer for Believing in Magic and Jaguars Journal at MVN.com. I also have contributed to dozens of other websites, including AOL.com and About.com, as well as Scout.com. Sports journalism has long been a passion of mine, and I am pursuing my dream of becoming a sports journalist at the University of Central Florida. I have lived in Orlando for most of my life and have grown up with the Magic and am forever dedicated to them, through good times and bad. Covering the Magic has been an excellent experience and the more I write about them, the closer I feel to the team, which is all any fan can ask for.

#23. Utah Jazz, represented by my best guess (because this team has fewer bloggers than Salt Lake City has people of color):
The Pick: JaVale McGee, out of the University of Nevada
The Reason For: In the run-up to the draft all you heard about was how they were going to take Hibbert. And, I don’t think that was just a PR move to make them seem, um, you know friendlier to large African Americans. I think it is the truth and that they want a big. They’ve got no interior presence from the center position. Okur can be great for stretches but he is a jump shooter and the lesser Collins brother is, well, he is the lesser Collins brother. Since Hibbert is off the board already I awarded them the next biggest thing. And a guy who has lived in Nevada and might be vaguely prepared to live in Utah.

#24. Seattle Supersonics, represented by SeaTown Sports:
The Pick: Serge Ibaka, out of The Congo
The Reason For: A solid talent at the power forward position. He will be able to improve and develop his game overseas. The Sonics will bring him over to the U.S when there is a roster spot available
The Pick SeaTown Sports doesn't want: Jason Thompson.
The Reason Against: Underdeveloped at the center position, while Swift, Petro, and Sene are all already under developed.
The Blog: SeaTown Sports also selected for the Sonics earlier in the draft at the 4-spot.

#25. Houston Rockets, represented by The Dream Shake:
The Pick:Courtney Lee, out of Western Kentucky University
The Reason For: Because there is no way this actually happens. If Lee is still there I will do cartwheels tonight. He's 22 and not some 1 and done guy that won't contribute for 2 more years. The Rockets have 3 needs, 1. Get a new PG, 2. Get a SG/SF that can spell TMac and Battier and 3. Get a suitable backup for Yao, someone that can learn, help now and be traded later if we can't sign them. Lee addresses need 2 very well. He's 6'5 so he has decent size and has a good shot. Hell, he even can shoot free throws, something we at the Dream Shake really appreciate (See Tmac this year and any Chuck Hayes shot). He's not a fantastic ball handler, but I just lived through the Luther Head era, so he'll probably look like CP3 in comparison. I think I would really like the Courtney Lee era, maybe Tmac will even give him some of his old pointers on getting to the hole
The Pick The Dream Shake doesn't want: Anyone that is French, even if Tony Parker comes into the draft, no freaking thank you! I just do not want anything to do with projects from countries that wave the white flag whenever they get a chance. Or those that don't get that while Eva Longoria is hot, she's 10 years older than you and you are a millionaire basketball player and can bang just about anything you want.
The Reason Against: If I have to explain that to you I'll have Tommy come back there and hit you on the head with a tack hammer...
The Blogger and the Blog: Lee Grammier is a Rockets and Houston sports fan for life (Also, Hook 'em Horns!) and can be found at The Dream Shake.

#26. San Antonio Spurs, represented by WWOD?*:
The Pick: Nicolas Bautum, out of France
The Reason For: He's young and quick (which they desperately need) and and French (which they clearly love) and probably already super-tight with Tony Parker. He also stopped working out or answering calls from other teams after working out with the Spurs.
*Since there is only one legit Spurs blog out on the Interwebs and I couldn't track the writer(s) down.

#27. New Orleans Hornets,** allegedly*** represented by At the Hive:
The Pick: Robin Lopez, out of Stanford University
The Reason For: In reading up on what the Hornets need I noticed that some sort of physical front court presence was a high priority. If Hilton Armstrong is out of fashion in the Big Easy then Lopez should be in. He could end up being a steal at this point in the first round and is a strong guy who knows through and through that he is on the floor to get rebounds and hustle. The bizarre symbiotic division of labor that he and his brother has instilled a knowledge of his role into him and as long as their isn't some weird twin-inferiority complex that we don't know about then he will be perfectly suited to contributing to a good team off the bench.

And, still to come....
#28. Memphis Grizzlies, represented by 3 Shades of Blue
#29. Detroit Pistons, represented by Pistons Podcast

And, in doing what I'm about to do I may create a paradox and tear the fabric of space and time (see, I knew this had something to do with a flux capacitor): I'm posting the Celtics No. 30 pick before posting the two immediately before it because, well, because it's already 6 PM, I don't have the other two picks yet and the C's pick (the last of the round) is a well-thought through pick that should be available to all those draftniks undoubtedly reading this as they watch the events unfold tonight. Hopefully neither the Grizzlies nor Pistons reps are planning on snagging this kid. I think not and that's ultimately why I felt it was not a hell-worthy trespass to post slightly out of order.

#30. Boston Celtics, represented by Green Bandwagon:
The Pick: Ante Tomic, out of Croatia
The Reason For: Not to be obnoxious but I was a little busier this year watching the Celtics dominate opponents and take names later. As a result I'm not as up to date with the draft prospects as I should be. However, that's not to say I did not cram for this mock draft. First there are Boston's needs – a back up point guard with handle and a back up center, particularly if P.J. Brown decides to retire. Unfortunately, Ben Q. Rock of Third Quarter Collapse explains how rare it is to get impact players in the bottom third of the first round. Taking in consideration the fact that point guards and centers take a while to develop and a roster that is built to win now means Boston's chances of filling its holes through the draft are not good. That's why it may make sense to follow Chad Ford's recent prediction and draft Ante Tomic. As Ford noted he could continue to develop in Europe and join the C's in a couple of seasons. Furthermore, the Celtics would draft their first Croatian since Dino Radja. This is exciting for several reasons.
1. I can call him the Croatian Sensation. No losers there.
2. If Tomic joins the team and it does not work out he could still reenact the Radja/Todd Day fight with a player to be named later. Tomic could even go as far to say, "I do not like this 'player to be named later.'"
3. In yet another ode to Radja Tomic could demand a trade to a team located in a warm weather city and someone within the Celtics organization could pull a Rick Pitino and quip, "We explained to him that it's not Club Med." Scratch that. Not cool.
The Pick Green Bandwagon doesn't want: The other Lopez brother if he falls that far, which to be fair he is not expected to do.
The Reason Against: Well for starters I don't even know his first name. And even though he is praised as a hustle player that does the dirty work he terrifies me.
The Blogger and the Blog: Jim Weeks grew up in Massachusetts. He runs Green Bandwagon and though he has no reason to and expects to be mocked, still believes in Gerald Green.

**At The Hive and the Hornets still get their pick in this draft because the draft pick wasn't moved until after this draft had begun. You see, once we crossed the threshold into the 2008 WWOD? NBA Blogger Mock Draft then we were no longer bound by the realities of your real world. Got it?

***Because the clock was winding down and certain mock drafters were not available (or, rather, still humoring me as they had been kind enough to do for the past few days) I made this pick on behalf of the At The Hive. I did my best to make the choice based off their own opinions on their own website. But they may totally disagree, all the same. If time permits I'll get their actual pick in place.