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Mock Draft Number 1

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For what it is worth, I drafted Jeff Green for the Clippers in the Sporting News Mock Draft.

Widely projected as a top 10 pick, it was of course a surprise that Green was on the board when the Clippers came to the dais.  I was expecting to be choosing from Acie Law, Nick Young, Al Thornton and Thaddeus Young - I had barely looked at Green simply because I didn't think he would be there.  Thornton, Nick Young and Law went 11, 12 and 13 in the draft, and I was left at the last moment with a choice of Thaddeus Young or Green.

As it happens, of all the projected top 10 picks, Green scares me the most.  He just sort of reminds me of Ed O'Bannon.  You know - a guy who is so good at so many things at the college level, that it adds up to an outstanding college player.  But at the next level, he doesn't do any single thing well enough, and consequently he ends up a disappointment in the NBA.

In fairness, Green is in fact a terrific athlete, which could not be said for O'Bannon.  The combine results actually ranked Green ahead of the likes of Julian Wright and Brandan Wright, which was surprising.  So if indeed he were available at 14, the Clippers would be happy to take him.  But it does point out the importance of doing your homework.  When Law and Young were gone (I really thought one of them would be there) I had to scramble.  I took the 'safe' pick in Green - which I hate.

If I'd had any heuvos I would have taken Marco Belinelli of Italy.  I've been following Belinelli since the 2006 World Championships, and the guy can play.  Here's what I said about him on the old blog last August during the Worlds:

This guy scored 25 against the US, and appears to have all of the tools. He can shoot, he can drive, he is long, he is athletic, and he has a serious scorer's mentality. He was hoisting 3's from everywhere, and he actually made some of them. Nobody on the US team could handle him one-on-one.... If Belinelli wants to play in the US, he can be a solid 2. And he's only 20 years old.

He ended up having an off-year in Italy since then, particularly shooting the ball.  After hitting 44% of his Euroleague 3's in 05-06, he only made 32% this season, causing his stock to drop.  He's currently projected in the last part of the first round.  But his shooting form is text-book, and I have to believe that the drop off was more a question of forced shots (something he definitely did a lot of when I saw him in the World's).  Playing on a wing in the NBA, as the third or fourth scoring option, he's not going to get the same kind of defensive attention and can afford to be more selective.  And of course it's nice to have someone who's not afraid to take the big shot when they have to.  At any rate, I believe his stock has fallen too far.  If you want a pure shooter in this draft, I think he's the guy.

Of course, after the Yaroslav Korolev debacle, not to mention another combo guard from the Italian League named Marco, the Clippers will be hesitant to draft a Euro-wing.  But this is really totally different than the Korolev situation - YK wasn't even playing for the 'A' team at CSKA Moscow.  MDsr went way out on a limb and drafted a guy based solely on potential after falling in love with him in a couple of workouts.  Belinelli on the other hand has been a EuroLeague star for several years, as well as the best player on the Italian National team (a team for whom Andrea Bargnani barely played).  At 21, he has years of top level professional basketball under his belt (he's actually been a pro for 6 years, if you can believe that), but is younger than Acie Law and the same age as Green.  

Like I said, if I had the heuvos I'd have taken him instead of Green.  Watch for Belinelli to have a great rookie year wherever he ends up.