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Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Final mock draft

ESPN.com

ESPN.com projects the first round of the 2004 NBA draft.

(Editor's note: This draft was constructed prior to Wednesday night's Mavs-Wizards and Suns-Bulls trades.)

1. Magic SELECTION
Emeka Okafor
PF | 6-10, 257 | Connecticut

Why? We're going with Emeka Okafor today but there is strong movement that the pick will end up being Dwight Howard. There is actually suspense before the first pick is made which is new for an NBA draft. But, Howard could end up being the next KG and that could be too good to pass up. Okafor is the safer pick for next season but Howard has the potential to be a star.

2. Bobcats SELECTION
Dwight Howard
PF | 6-10, 240 | Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy

Why? Either way the Bobcats will be happy. ESPN Insider Chad Ford's best guess is, given the most recent revelations, that Okafor falls here. However, Howard is the type of player that a team can build a franchise around. That's what the Bobcats are looking for. Then again, the order of the first two picks will go back and forth all day and into draft night. As for 2:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Howard felt he was headed to Charlotte after talking with ESPN.com's Andy Katz in New York City.

3. Bulls SELECTION
Andre Iguodala
SG | 6-7, 217 | Arizona

Why? The Bulls may trade this pick. But if they keep it won't be a surprise to see Iguodala in Chicago. He could be a Scottie Pippen clone. He's versatile and he would be a hometown favorite. His parents were holding up three fingers in NYC on Wednesday. They believe he's going No. 3, but they don't know where.

4. Clippers SELECTION
Devin Harris
PG | 6-3, 175 | Wisconsin

Why? This is a tough one. We've heard Ben Gordon and Shaun Livingston here as well, and all three have a certain appeal. But Harris is the most ready to play the point, while Gordon is the most explosive scorer in the draft and Livingston has the most upside. It comes down to Harris being ready next season. But Livingston has the potential to be the star in this year's draft a decade from now. But Mike Dunleavy might not be interested in waiting.

5. Wizards SELECTION
Luol Deng
SF | 6-8, 225 | Duke

Why? Once again, this pick is fluid. Deng could slide past the Wizards. This could be a case where Washington goes with the best available player. Indiana is interested in moving up here. The Wizards would prefer to move out and a guy like Al Harrington would be good trade bait. If the Pacers wind up picking here, look for Livingston to land in Indiana.

6. Hawks SELECTION
Shaun Livingston
PG | 6-7, 186 | Peoria (Ill.) High School

Why? Again, Livingston has more potential than anyone in the draft. He does things already at his size that no one else can do. Patience will be the key. In the end, ESPN Insider Chad Ford believes the Hawks will be better off with Livingston than Howard in the long run.

7. Suns SELECTION
Ben Gordon
PG | 6-2, 192 | Connecticut

Why? Remember, Phoenix could be dealing this pick. And, if Gordon slips this far he will have trade value. Gordon would be a steal at this spot.

8. Raptors SELECTION
Luke Jackson
SG | 6-7, 212 | Oregon

Why? This year's "Luke" out of Eugene has moved up more than anyone else in the draft. The Raptors love him and the word out of Toronto is that they'll take him if he's there. Still, it could be a smokescreen. With so many teams trying to move up in the draft to get Jackson, saying that you want him suddenly makes you the team everyone has to deal with in trade discussions.

9. 76ers SELECTION
Andris Biedrins
PF | 7-0, 240 | Latvia

Why? Remember the power of the agents with this pick. Bill Duffy has clout. If Biedrins doesn't go to Philadelphia, he won't get past the Warriors, who have promised to pick him at No. 11. That's why he quit working out. But the Sixers claim they like him and know enough about him to draft him without a visit. ESPN Insider Chad Ford smells a bluff to get the Warriors to move up to No. 9.

10. Cavaliers SELECTION
Josh Childress
SF | 6-7, 196 | Stanford

Why? This is a steal if Childress really falls this far. And, remember, there have been plenty of past steals around the No. 9 and 10 picks. Chicago liked him at No. 3 and the Bobcats were in love with him when he they were at No. 4. The Hawks and Sixers are also big fans. If Cleveland can nab him, he'll be the perfect wing guy to put on the floor with LeBron.

11. Warriors SELECTION
Pavel Podkolzine
C | 7-5, 300 | Russia

Why? Podkolzine will go somewhere in the top 15 and the Warriors want a big man. The question is can they live with a player who won't contribute more than seven minutes a half next season. Biedrins is a possibility here ... if he's around. The 7-foot prep Robert Swift is also on the Warriors' radar. The difference is five inches and 60 pounds in Pavel's favor. The Warriors have also scouted the big Russian heavily this year.

12. Sonics SELECTION
Al Jefferson
PF | 6-10, 263 | Prentiss (Miss.) H.S.

Why? This was a tough call. That's why the Sonics are trying to trade this pick. The Sonics do love Jefferson and look at him as more of a face-up scorer than a back-to-the-basket scorer. Nevada's Kirk Snyder is a possibility here, but Seattle is so stocked on the perimeter with Barry (for the time being) and Allen. Rafael Araujo is another name to look for here, but the word is that Seattle is fond of Jefferson.

13. Blazers SELECTION
Kirk Snyder
SG | 6-7, 228 | Nevada

Why? This is another pick that has been rumored to be a promise. And while the Blazers deny any such "promise" has been made to Synder, if he's on the board at 13, he could be a steal. He's one of the best players in the draft. The only reason he's slipped this far is because of position. The point guards and the bigs will probably go early, but after that the talented swing guys (2s and 3s) will get a closer look.

14. Jazz SELECTION
Sergei Monya
SG | 6-8, 220 | Russia

Why? The Jazz have been looking at Monya for a long time. This may be one of the surest picks in the draft. With this pick, the Jazz have made Andrei Kirilenko, a close friend of Monya, very happy.

15. Celtics SELECTION
Robert Swift
C | 7-0, 245 | Bakersfield (Calif.) H.S.

Why? There's a lot of talk that Swift could be going higher -- as high as No. 11. So, if he makes it all the way to 15, the Celtics will definitely not pass on him. This pick has been in the works for months. There is no denying Swift is a raw product, but Boston wants to start young, and they're willing to wait. The C's are OK with him being a couple of years away from making an impact.

16. Jazz SELECTION
Rafael Araujo
C | 6-11, 280 | BYU

Why? Utah gets the center it wants and this pick shouldn't be a surprise on Thursday night. Utah has liked him for a long time. He could also go to Boston one spot higher, but the Jazz have wanted him for a long time. And just because the Jazz got a closer look at him because he was just down the street, which school a player comes from doesn't make a huge difference in the draft.

17. Hawks SELECTION
Josh Smith
SF | 6-8, 220 | Oak Hill Academy

Why? Smith's agent claims this is the lowest the prep could possibly go. And Smith's people believe he could go as high as No. 5. He has been all over the board. He's one of the hardest players to get a read on in the draft. He falls on this board because he doesn't have a true position, and he's not as skilled as some guys. But he's by far the best athlete in the draft and the Hawks can afford to wait as two very good high school players develop.

18. Hornets SELECTION
J.R. Smith
SG | 6-7, 227 | St. Benedict's Prep (N.J.)

Why? Well, the Hornets need a shooter. And while Smith is very raw, he's probably the best shooter available. And this is probably the highest spot he could go in the draft. If the Hornets don't address a backcourt need, look for Kris Humphries to be mentioned.

19. Heat SELECTION
Jameer Nelson
SG | 6-0, 199 | Saint Joseph's

Why? This is an absolute steal for the Heat. They need a point guard, and if the college national player of the year drops this low, Miami will be thrilled. Nelson had a great workout in the desert, so it wouldn't be a total shock to see him go as high as No. 7 to Phoenix. Then again, some general managers believe that he doesn't have the size to be a starting point guard in the league. Everyone likes him, but they like him as a guy off the bench -- as a 6th or 7th man. That's why he slips this low.

20. Heat SELECTION
Sasha Vujacic
PG | 6-7, 205 | Italy

Why? The Nuggets' roster is pretty crowded, so the Nuggets would prefer to take a guy and leave him in Europe for a year or two. Vujacic is the perfect player to do so. Remember, some of Denver's former No. 1 picks couldn't get on the floor this past season.

21. Jazz SELECTION
Kris Humphries
PF | 6-9, 240 | Minnesota

Why? Once again this is a pick that is very fluid, not to mention the third for Utah. So a lot has to happen as projected, and Humphries could go as high as No. 15, but probably wouldn't go below No. 21. The one knock on the freshman Big Ten player of the year is he is a questionable teammate, which could make him slide a bit.

22. Blazers SELECTION
Sebastian Telfair
PG | 5-11, 175 | Lincoln H.S. (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Why? The Blazers might take Telfair at No. 13, but no other lottery team will take him. Other teams are looking at him, such as Denver and Boston. But this deal has been rumored for months. Mo Cheeks loves Telfair, so that's a start. Most coaches wouldn't love relying on a high school point guard in the pros. He'll have a lot of support in Portland.

23. Blazers SELECTION
Peter John Ramos
C | 7-3, 266 | Puerto Rico

Why? Back-to-back picks in Portland bring the long and short of the draft. And while there are some off-court issues with Ramos, it probably won't deter the Blazers from gambling on the big fella. Still, at this point (in this draft), there is a host of names you could put at No. 23. There is also a chance Ramos will go higher.

24. Celtics SELECTION
Dorell Wright
SG | 6-8, 215 | South Kent Prep (Conn.)

Why? This could be the biggest sleeper in the draft. When ESPN Insider Chad Ford saw him play in Connecticut this winter, he reminded him of a young T-Mac. He's two or three years away, but he's a good prospect this late in the draft. Besides, the Celtics have another pick ...

25. Celtics SELECTION
Viktor Khryapa
SF | 6-9, 210 | Russia

Why? With its third first-round pick, Boston must do something to free up roster space. So, since they're not likely going to keep all three picks, it makes sense to take an international guy with their third and final selection. Khryapa stay overseas for now. Now, if the Celtics end up with Swift, Wright and Khryapa, our grandchildren will be the one's that see them develop. Obviously the draft won't be the short term answer to Boston's woes.

26. Kings SELECTION
Donta Smith
SF | 6-7, 230 | Southeastern Illinois CC

Why? Smith has been high on the Kings' list for a few weeks. He's a late bloomer in terms of the draft process. There's a question about how much help he'll be in the next couple of seasons, but the Kings don't expect to get immediate help from this draft.

27. Lakers SELECTION
Anderson Varejao
PF | 6-10, 230 | Spain

Why? If Wright is the best American sleeper, this could be the international player who surprises folks the most in coming years. He's not a real scorer, but his motor runs at 100 mph and he's just a gritty guy. Think Bo Outlaw with Sideshow Bob's hairdo.

28. Spurs SELECTION
Beno Udrih
PG | 6-4, 199 | Slovenia

Why? Udrih was the star of the Chicago pre-draft camp. Has great size at his position and could be, at 22 years old, a steading influence on Tony Parker. He's got a chance to be a solid contributor, but ESPN Insider Chad Ford isn't sure if he'll be better than say a Chris Duhon (who falls into the second round) in two seasons.

29. Pacers SELECTION
Delonte West
SG | 6-3, 183 | Saint Joseph's

Why? Some teams believe that West will become a point guard in the pros. He's quicker and a better shooter than Jamaal Tinsley. Could be a steal if he's able to make the transformation in the league.

Best of the rest: Tony Allen (SG, Oklahoma State), Trevor Ariza (SF, UCLA), Kevin Martin (SG, Western Carolina), Romain Sato (SG, Xavier), and Jackson Vroman (SF, Iowa State).