Category: 2012 NBA Draft

What Happened in Vegas

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In case you missed it because you didn’t have NBA TV or didn’t care because it was Summer League, I figured I’d write a quick post for those who just want a summary. Actually, this may not be quick-quick, but far from a dissertation. I figure this is also a good way to head off some common questions I get every day from my followers, since now I actually have some answers to a couple questions I couldn’t answer before. Of course, anything I say good or bad should probably have the, “It’s only Summer League” caveat attached to it.

“What about Paulo Prestes?”

This was one of those things I had no idea about. Since he was taken in the 2nd round in ’09 we’ve heard little about him. Well, here’s the deal. He’s 6-10 and 275 pounds; “plodding” is a good word to describe him. And he spent last season playing in Lithuania.

Last night he put up 5 points, 5 rebounds in 5 minutes, but didn’t see much action until later so the coaches could get looks at other players. Prestes would go on to finish with 9 points and 8 rebounds in 19 minutes of action and 4-7 shooting. However, he started out 1-3 and shot 42% last season in Lithuania, so don’t expect that 4-7 to be the norm.

Prestes did however shine on the glass and as an on-ball defender. He’s big and strong, but he’s by no means a quick player. Some of that he does make up for with his strength and smarts, but quicker opponents may exploit that at the next level, especially if they make him step out. Yet, he was a +8 and could not be moved once he established position.

With 3 fouls in 19 minutes, he would have to enter the NBA as a 3rd string center if those types of numbers held up. Thanks to his shooting he likely could never be higher than a #2 center on a good team. His best case would be if the Wolves brought him along like Nikola Pekovic and give him a year to adjust to the NBA game and then expand his role. He may never be the efficient scorer Pekovic is, but could certainly learn how to move his feet on defense like Pekovic to compensate for his slowness.

All-in-all, I like Prestes. I don’t know if he’ll be here or not, though. And remember, it’s only Summer League.

“Yo, What about Robbie Hummel?”

I think Rick Adelman may wear a Robbie Hummel jersey under his suit this winter. I’m serious; he’s going to love Hummel. Hummel was the shooter that was advertised (3-6; 6 pts), very active on both ends (+13) and the glass (6 rebounds), and showed some passing ability. If Robbie’s knees allow, he could be a potential Wayne Ellington replacement.

“Does Wes Johnson have a pulse?”

Well, I think you have to have a pulse to take 17 shots and only wind up with 16 points. The same player that could only get to the line 32 times last year somehow managed to get four attempts in one game. Shocking, I know. Unfortunately, that’s about where the praise for Wes’ game ends….and this paragraph isn’t even completely positive.

There were times tonight when he realized that he should be able to get to the rim at will against his competition, and did. Then there were other times when he continued to be the same passive player we’ve known. What’s more is his incredibly off-putting body language; give me Irrational Confidence Guy any day.

(If you didn’t watch the game, Wes attempted to post up late in the 4th in the high post but was pushed out by the three point line by his opponent. It was a little funny, but we now know that Wes isn’t very good at the shooting guard, small forward, and power forward positions. If you’ve seen him handle the ball you can imagine how good of a point guard he’d be and if you’ve saw his aborted post-up attempt you can imagine how well he’d do at the 5. Ok, now I’m just piling on. )

“What position is Derrick Williams?”

I answer this question every day, and tonight changed nothing as far as my answer. Before tonight I thought Williams was a power forward, and now I really think he’s a power forward. Yeah, he showed some things that a small forward would do, but his best moments were when he was at work down low. Losing weight has made him quicker, but it didn’t hurt him last night.

Williams still loves the three, but finished 1-4 from there. Derrick Williams is not most effective taking long jumpers, but when he’s aggressive and assertive in getting to the hoop for high percentage shots. Watch any Derrick Williams game, and this is apparent, yet I argue this almost every day.  I don’t know how else to convince people other than to point out he went 4-12 overall from the floor, if they didn’t watch the game.

(Hmm…what position is better suited for players who struggle with the outside game…)

Defensively, he worked hard and stuck with his man, for the most part. One post play bothered me was when Williams forced the defender to kick out and stand straight up while leaving his defensive stance. That is not a good look, but can be fixed. But, he sure could stick Adam Morrison!

Adelman actually joined the broadcast and was asked if he thought Williams could play the 3, to which he replied “No, I don’t. He’s never played it before!” As Jonah pointed out during the game, Adelman sounds like he just wants Derrick to work hard no matter what position he’s playing, even if Adelman isn’t sold on him.

Adelman did say that he is bigger and stronger than most NBA 3’s (I’d bet most power forwards are…), but will need to do the little things to get on the court. Most of this we already know. Ultimately, Derrick Williams can lose all of the weight he wants, but the number on the scale isn’t affecting his playing time, or job security.

The Timberwolves choose you, Robbie Hummel

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Robbie Hummel, the one you want to see win

Oh, Robbie. How I despised you for two straight years as you demolished my beloved Golden Gophers with devastating dagger after dagger from deep throughout your college career.

But Hummel offers something more than just a solid shooting stroke: An admirable story. Hummel, during his freshman year back in 2007, was a strong role player for a so-so Boilermaker team. But through the years, Hummel put in the hard work it took to make a name for himself in a strong Big Ten conference. He became a legit scoring threat by the end of his sophomore season. That hard work ethic made Hummel a team favorite and, ultimately, a leader. He was the guy everyone looked up to and idolized.

But Hummel got bit and bit hard. In February of 2010, during his breakout junior season, Hummel tore his ACL during a game against my Gophers in Minnesota, believe it or not. An ACL tear can be extremely debilitating to a college athlete, and possibly even hold them out of athletics for the rest of their short career. It was a fearful moment for Purdue’s faithful because everyone knew the ramifications.

Well, it didn’t just happen to Hummel once but twice.

After working hard to recover from that torn ACL, Hummel may have stretched his luck by coming back too early and eventually tore the same right knee up again during a practice in October of what was supposed to be his senior season. Fortunately, Hummel was granted a fifth year of eligibility but the news was just a baby step forward in what was going to be an extra long rehabilitation process.

Working even harder than he did to just prove himself in his first two seasons, Hummel returned stronger than ever and ready to go for his super-senior season. He led the Boilermakers to a 22-13 record, and led all scorers with his best season average of 16.3 ppg. He shot 37-percent from three-point land and a solid 83-percent from the charity stripe. It was really the comeback of comebacks from a college athlete in a sport where your ACL makes a serious difference on the court. Many may just have given up in his situation but Hummel knew the talent he possessed and that, if he worked hard enough, he could get drafted someday. And that’s exactly what happened.

You really can’t help but cheer for the guy, even myself. And now, coming to Minnesota, Hummel brings that great story and a wonderful work ethic which creates this sense of a hometown hero type of character, the one everyone wants to see succeed. Seriously, everyone will want him to succeed and make this team.

And that’s exactly what he can do. Hummel established himself as a scoring threat at Purdue, there’s no doubt about that. He carved his niche in the Big Ten as a sniping specialist from beyond the arc. But he isn’t all about shooting it though. At 6-foot-8, Hummel was actually a very active and reliable rebounder through his collegiate years, including 7.2 per game last season. His size also gives versatility to the lineup as a legit 3 or even a stretch 4, which bodes well for when the Wolves choose to go small and spread the court (Hummel could be lethal in the open court, trolling the three-point line).

You have to be real here, though. As much as you fall in love with the guy, a 58th pick isn’t going to be an all-star, or at least it’s not likely. Hummel has the chance to be a solid spot-up shooter off the bench as the 9th or 10th guy in the rotation. He has the skills but you really have to wonder, despite how much work he puts in, how well that knee is going to hold up in a league where the players are much faster and stronger than they were in college. Realism is honesty, even when it hurts.

Again, it’s the 58th pick. I feel as though you can’t do any better than what the Wolves got but don’t expect too much. Just enjoy the story and root for him as if you’ve known him for years. It shouldn’t be that hard.

This draft ain't that bad

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Here, Nick Bullock — Draft Guru — highlights how this draft isn’t nearly as poor as some of the analysts are saying. At least not compared to last year’s. Enjoy!

This is not hyperbole: After every single NBA draft, the experts collectively decide that the 60 players selected are no good.

Seriously, they’re bad. Maybe one will turn into an all-star. A few might be decent No. 2 options on bad teams. The rest are probably bench filler.

But there’s a silver lining!

Next year’s draft class? Just wait, because next year’s draft class is one of the deepest in years—YEARS!

Then the second a few of those college players step on a court the following season, the value of that upcoming draft class tanks faster than a Golden State Warriors team looking to keep its lottery pick. By conference play the class is mediocre. By tournament time it’s pathetic. And by May we are already fawning over the next season’s incoming freshmen.

Of course, some of this can be easily explained. Most future NBA players, about to become college freshmen, look like superstars when they play against high school kids that look like me. But those same players look rather ordinary when compared to their college peers.

Also, draft pundits tend to forget that part of why they initially professed their love for the upcoming draft class was the number of sophomores that decided after their freshmen season that they “wanted to win a national championship” (e.g. Terrence Jones, Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones III). Well guess what? A few of the current freshmen we all expected to be one-and-dones have now decided to give it another year (e.g. Cody Zeller, James McAdoo, Adonis Thomas and Myck Kabongo).

Well, friends, I’m here to buck this trend and tell you that the 2012 NBA draft is much better than the 2011 NBA draft. (Sadly, this has often led me to wake up screaming “MARKO JARIIIIIIIIC!” in the middle of the night.)

Sure, Kyrie Irving would probably be the second pick, obviously not a far drop. But I am fairly confident the Timberwolves’ Derrick Williams would be seventh on a lot of draft boards right now — behind Anthony Davis, Thomas Robinson, Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Harrison Barnes and Andre Drummond. Enes Kanter, the No. 3 pick in last year’s draft, would probably rank 10th this year. Guys like Nikola Vucevic, Iman Shumpert and Chris Singleton (Picks 16, 17 and 18, respectively) would be solidly in the second round. Norris Cole, Corey Joseph and Jimmy Butler (my guy!) would maybe even go undrafted. Yeah, I said it.

Just look a little closer. Norris Cole went at No. 28 last year. A point guard expected to be drafted around the same spot this season? Marquis Teague, maybe Tyshawn Taylor. I don’t think many teams would have selected Cole over Teague or Taylor if they went in the same class.

What about a guy like JaJuan Johnson, who was selected with the 27th pick in 2011? Georgetown’s Henry Sims seems like a good comparison to me, and he’ll probably come off the board in the middle of the second round!

One more: How about 2011’s No. 19 pick, Tobias Harris? A good comparison in my eyes seems to be a forward Jae Crowder, a favorite of a lot of Wolves fans and of mine since he played for my alma mater. But I think Crowder will be lucky if he can slip into the end of the first round. (Maybe MU can provide the 30th pick for the third straight year?)

I realize it’s impossible to know where a previously drafted player would land this year, but if that’s what’s stopping us from speculating, then why even bother with mock drafts in the first place?

What this exercise can illustrate, however, is that the Timberwolves have a very real chance of landing a starting-quality player if they play their cards right — admittedly a big “if” with this organization.

Oh, and just to continue with my theme: If I’m being honest, next year’s draft doesn’t even look that great to me. And we know it’s only downhill from here.

White's promise

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Royce White came to workout for the Timberwolves just last week. The workout went well — not spectacular — but maybe just good enough to tip Kahn’s hand at taking him with the 18th pick of this year’s draft.

Word from ESPN’s Chad Ford is that White, as of yesterday, has cancelled the rest of his workouts with other teams. Ford tweeted yesterday,”He’s pulled out of all remaining workouts and gone silent. Not injured.”

The only explanation for White’s sudden hiatus means that he must’ve gotten a promise from a team he’s pretty happy with in the first round. Draft promises are sticky situations. Who’s to say what opportunities present themselves on draft night in terms of players falling or even trades? Things can change very quickly and that promise your team just made may end up wrecking everything up.

So who’s stupid enough to promise White a selection?

Perhaps it was David Kahn and the Timberwolves.

Since working out here last week, White has been enamored with the idea of playing for the Wolves. Minneapolis is White’s homecity, and there’s almost no better feeling than coming home to play for the team that you idolized and rooted for growing up. White’s workout here was good but his interview was better. Since the workout process started, White has been very open and honest about his anxiety disorder since revealing the truth mid-way through the college season.

Head coach at Iowa State, Fred Hoiberg, has also been outright and truthful about his former player. Hoiberg believes that White’s game is best-suited for the NBA, as long as any coach is willing to buy in to White’s unorthodox style of playing the point as a power forward. And because Hoiberg, a former player and exec for the Timberwolves, has such close ties to Minnesota, there may be some hidden information that he’s given Kahn that no other team has received.

That’s all speculation at this point, even the promise, but there is something fishy going on, even if it’s not with Minnesota. According to Ford, both the Celtics and Hawks have come to like White’s talents, as well as the Warriors. But none of them are in the right position to actually take him, except the Warriors at 7, which may be a little high. Instead, the Wolves, sitting at pick 18, are in prime real estate to take White. So even if that promise came from a team below the Wolves’ pick, there may be a wrinkle in their plans already, unless they plan on trading up for him.

The Wolves really do have a great pick with 18. There are many options available. Trades will be flying and it could surely get moved as a casualty. Or they could stay-put and take a flier on someone with great talent like White and see what he can do; he’s certainly the type of player that, if his head is on right, can replace Michael Beasley’s output plus more. It’s a good time to be a Wolves fan.

Howlin' T-Wolf's Mock Draft 2.0

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Here is the second rendition of our mock. Unfortunately it came before the big trade made between the Wizards and Hornets because that is certainly going to shake the draft up a little bit. Anyways, the final version of our mock series will be released next week before the draft, so wait for that. In the meantime, enjoy this one!

2Ben McLemoreKansasShooting Guard6'5"189 lbs.

Terrence Ross: A chance at wing redemption

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Yet another great post from our draft guru, Nick Bullock. Enjoy the read!

In my last post, I explained why I think former Baylor forward Quincy Miller will likely be the Timberwolves pick at No. 18.

Although I am less than enamored with Miller, I do think he’d be the logical choice given the players I expect to be sitting there for Minny. And I have little concern Miller will be available to the Timberwolves, because he had a dreadful combine and the teams ahead of the Wolves aren’t in dire need of a small forward.

Recently, however, I have seen a couple mock drafts showing Washington swingman Terrence Ross drop to No. 18. Aside from packaging the pick in a trade, this would be my ideal scenario. (I favor Jeremy Lamb, but I expect him to be off the board between Picks 6 and 14.)

My reason for loving Ross is simple: He has a chance to be everything Timberwolves fans, and David KAAAHN, initially hoped Wes Johnson could be. He is a lights-out shooter, a great athlete, a lockdown defender and a perfect complement to Ricky Rubio.

I realize the fear I may have just instilled in all of you by comparing him to Wes Johnson, but if I’m being honest, Johnson’s skill set as advertised is a perfect fit for the Wolves. The problem was that skill set was falsely advertised.

For a shooter — and that’s all Wes is offensively — he sure misses a lot of shots. His true shooting percentage last season was 70th out of 83 qualified shooting guards. (Note: Johnson played 41 percent of the Timberwolves small forward minutes, but John Hollinger’s rankings only listed Wes as a SG).

Also, for a supposed defensive stalwart, he was rather ordinary. If Thabo Sefolosha showed us anything this post season, it’s that there is room in this league for players that contribute zero offensively if they are spectacular on the other end of the floor. Against small forwards last season, Johnson allowed his opponents to record a 15 Player Efficiency Rating (PER), according to That is precisely the league average. Against shooting guards last season, Johnson faired a bit better, allowing an opponent PER of 18.1. But let’s then remember that as a rookie in the 2011-2012 season Johnson played 40 percent of the team’s minutes at shooting guard, where he finished with an opponent PER of 14.3.

But enough said about Wes; this post is about Ross. Let’s address his ability to fulfill the role we once thought would belong to Wes.

Shooting: What I like about Ross’ shot is the rhythm he shows getting into his shot. He has a very simple and repeatable motion. He also uses his legs and gets good elevation, not surprising given the 37.5 inch vertical he recorded at the combine. He also has a very quick release, so he doesn’t need much room to get the shot off.

But what I like best is Ross knows he is a good shooter, so he is often looking for that open three. When he is open in the corner Ross is ready to enter he shooting motion before the ball even reaches him. All of this will make him a great spot up 3-point shooter — something the Timberwolves desperately lacked last season.

To be sure, Ross is capable of scoring in other ways, as well. He has shown a decent step-back move — which has led many an NBA shooting guard to success — and he is good at probing the baseline for easy layups. He is good coming off screens, and his athleticism also makes him quite adept at flying in for put-backs.

Defense: Ross didn’t test too well at the agility and sprint tests at the combine, and the game film tends to reflect this. He also has rather short arms (6-foot-7.25-inch wingspan), so he won’t be the kind of defender to affect shots with his length. The reason why he could be a good defender is because he is very instinctual and tenacious. He has very active hands and his timing is superb, which is part of the reason he averaged 0.9 blocks and 1.3 steals per game as a sophomore at UW. He is a lot like Ricky Rubio in this way, minus the wingspan, of course.

Team fit: Unlike some of the other two guard prospects in this draft (with the exception of Jeremy Lamb and Bradley Beal), Ross plays beautifully off the ball. We all know Rick Adelman’s desire to keep shot creators on the court. Barea, despite his skill running the pick and roll, is incapable of playing without the ball in his hands. Ridnour changed the way he played enough to fit the role, but it was a bit of a square-peg-in-a-round-hole situation, especially at the end of the game, when you know every possession will run through Rubio. The Timberwolves desperately needed someone to pair with Rubio in the backcourt at the end of games who could both slip to the basket (like Wes), hit the open three (like Ridnour), defend the position (like Martell Webster? like no one?) and occasionally take his man off the dribble.

I tend to disagree with the notion that this team needs a starter that can create his own shot. Sure, it would be nice, but only if he plays well with the Wolves’ two cornerstones, Love and Rubio. Also, when you have a passer like Rubio, why take the ball out of his hands?

Although a little slight, Ross is also tall enough to play small forward, and will probably excel in the role when the team goes small.

Negatives: It’s not, however, all sunshine and roses with Ross. He is pretty poor at creating shots for teammates. His handle is average (Wes, anyone?) often leading to turnovers when he drives. And despite his ability to slash to the basket, he averaged just 2.7 free throw attempts in 31.1 minutes per game last season for the Huskies.

But this is what you get when you pick outside of the lottery: flawed players.

At best, Ross could be a more-athletic, cheaper Aaron Afflalo or a more-talented Courtney Lee, a desired offseason target of many Wolves fans, including this one. At worst? Probably Wesley Johnson.

But that shouldn’t stop KAAAHN from making this pick if available. After all, Wes was a good fit. He was just a poor prospect. Picking Ross at No. 18 seems to me like the perfect mix of need and talent.

Predicting Pick #18

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The draft is very special to NBA fans, especially Wolves fans. Even without a lottery pick, the hype is still brewing and the conversations keep flowing. This is a guest piece from Nick Bullock, an experienced sports journalism guru. Like I said, the draft is so special that it needs a special guest. Call Nick our Draft Pundit, and this won’t be his last piece.

When I was asked to share my thoughts on whom the Timberwolves would draft this year, I realized I would first have to take my best guess at all 17 preceding picks.

I know which player I hope the Wolves draft. I have a hunch which player David KAAAHN would land in a perfect world — or at least in his world. And, of course, we all know who will be the No. 1 pick. But I hadn’t thought much about picks No. 2–17.

First, as an aside: I am not Jonathan Givony, Chad Ford or Jerry Zgoda. I have not attended the NBA draft combine. I do not have any scouts on speed dial. All of these picks are based merely on what I have seen from each player. The picks represent what I think each team will do, not what each team should do. Finally, I will not offer an explanation for picks No. 1–17 because this is, after all, a Timberwolves blog.

To the mock draft:

  1. Hornets – Anthony Davis, PF
  2. Bobcats – Bradley Beal, SG
  3. Wizards – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF
  4. Cavaliers – Harrison Barnes, SF
  5. Kings – Thomas Robinson, PF
  6. Trailblazers – Damian Lillard, PG
  7. Warriors – Andre Drummond, C
  8. Raptors – Dion Waiters, SG
  9. Pistons – Meyers Leonard, C
  10. Hornets – Kendall Marshall, PG
  11. Trailblazers – Jeremy Lamb, SG
  12. Bucks – Tyler Zeller, C
  13. Suns – Austin Rivers, SG
  14. Rockets – Jared Sullinger, PF
  15. 76ers – Perry Jones III, PF
  16. Rockets – Arnett Moultrie, PF/C
  17. Mavericks – Terrence Ross, SG

Here we are. And here is what we know:

  • Minnesota desperately needs perimeter scoring.
  • Luke Ridnour is a point guard, not a two-guard, even though he played the position admirably.
  • There is no SG or SF in KAAAHN’s mind; both are simply “wings.”
  • Despite Pek’s quantum leap forward in his second year, KAAAHN still seeks a shot blocking big.
  • Rick Adelman was openly reluctant to do so, but he still gave Derrick Williams 21 percent of the team’s minutes at the three, according to Williams can be considered nothing but an abject failure at the position so far, though I hold out hope that a slimmer Williams may be able to defend the position. Adelman probably lacks such faith.

All of this leads me to think the pick will end up being Quincy Miller, former Baylor small forward. I also have a nagging fear that KAAAHN likes former St. John’s small forward Moe Harkless at this spot.

But let’s focus on Miller. Like his teammate Perry Jones III, Miller never quite lived up to the hype his freshman year at Baylor. He averaged 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in 24.4 minutes per game. He shot 44.7 percent from the field, 34.8 percent from three and 81.6 percent from the line. The 6-foot-9 forward does not appear to be the most explosive athlete, but perhaps this was because he was still recovering from an ACL tear suffered during his senior year of high school.

Miller has a game that leaves you wanting more. He has a pretty good handle for a small forward — something Wolves fans long for after watching Wes Johnson turn the ball over on his every foray into the paint.

Despite a low and slow release, he possesses a relatively accurate jump shot and should be able to hit the NBA three after a year or two. The poor release may not be a huge issue because Miller is quite tall for a small forward.

Miller was able to get his own shot with relative ease at the college level, but because of his lack of explosiveness and average jump shot, I have my doubts as to whether that will translate. He also tends to rely on a bit too much on his pull-up jump shot. It often went in because of his height advantage, but that won’t necessarily be the case in the pros. He also overused a pretty looking drop step that he followed with an up-and-under move to his left, which he shot with his right hand. By the end of the season, defenders keyed on the move, staying home on the second move and forcing him to shoot a contested fade away. Again, he often made it, but he’d be better off using that move to post up smaller forwards and draw them in the air, instead of picking up his dribble off the drive.

Nevertheless, he has the makings of a decent offensive arsenal and should be able to score consistently at the next level. Defending opposing small forwards may be another matter.

Because of his skinny frame he was routinely pushed off the defensive boards while at Baylor. His impressive length (his 9-foot-1 standing reach was fifth-tallest at the combine) will help on the defensive end, but his middling foot speed will likely prevent him from every being more than merely average. Although there is a possibility that could also improve as he distances himself from the ACL surgery.

This is an imperfect comparison, but the way he moves with the ball reminds me of a poor man’s (a very poor man’s) Kevin Durant.

Perhaps, I have been a bit too harsh. I do think Miller could be a third scoring option on a winning team, and a definite improvement at the small forward position for these Timberwolves. In fact, if the draft plays out just as I projected above — doubtful, I realize — this is the pick I would make, not just the pick I expect the Wolves to make.

Most draftniks seem to think KAAAHN would still prefer to move this pick, perhaps packaged with Williams, to bring in a veteran wing. This is the same old song and dance as years past, so I remain skeptical the pick will be moved.

As for the player I think KAAAHN hopes will fall and the player I hope will fall? Well, let’s just save those for a future post.

Howlin' T-Wolf's Mock Draft 1.0

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You’ve been chomping at the bit, haven’t you? We’ve all been waiting for Howlin’ T-Wolf’s Mock Draft series reveal. Well, it’s finally here, and this time Tom and I had some help — or competition — drafting alongside HTW’s newest writer Derek James. There are some reaches and there are some slides but nothing out of the NBA Draft’s norm. We embrace the craziness that is NBA Draftology, and so should you. Feel free to comment on our selections below in the comments section, and remember that this is the first of three total mock drafts dating up to draft day. Enjoy!

(18 Years Old)
ESPN: #1
Draft Express: #1
CBS Sports: #2