Facebook Twitter

Tough to call, but . . .

SHARE Tough to call, but . . .

With so many questions still waiting for answers and two teams — Utah and Boston — trying desperately not to keep their three first-round picks, we offer a mock draft fully aware that events in the next day or so could make a mockery of this forecast.

1. ORLANDO

Dwight Howard, 6-10, F, SW Atlanta Christian Academy

Emeka Okafor is a safer pick, but Howard has loads of potential and figures to develop a better-rounded game. He likes to pattern himself after MVP Kevin Garnett.

2. CHARLOTTE

Emeka Okafor, 6-10, C, UConn

GM and head coach Bernie Bickerstaff is hoping the Magic pass on Okafor, allowing him to make this shot-blocking machine the centerpiece of the expansion Bobcats.

3. CHICAGO

Ben Gordon, 6-2, G, UConn

Bold move picking a point guard for the third year in a row, but Gordon wowed the Bulls at workouts, plus they always can pair him in the backcourt with Kirk Hinrich.

4. L.A. CLIPPERS

Devin Harris, 6-3, G, Wisconsin

Many still expect the Clippers to take Shaun Livingston, who has more potential, but Harris is ready to help them now.

5. WASHINGTON

Luol Deng, 6-8, F, Duke

Powerful body and the ability to play inside and out override any concerns about his underwhelming athleticism.

6. ATLANTA

Shaun Livingston, 6-7, G, Peoria Central High

True point guards are hard to find, and those who see the whole floor from atop a 6-7 frame are almost nonexistent.

7. PHOENIX

Andre Iguodala, 6-7, G-F, Arizona

His breathtaking athleticism and overall game remind some of Scottie Pippen.

8. TORONTO

Pavel Podkolzine, 7-5, C, Varese (Italy)

Huge Russian with nimble feet could give Chris Bosh a hand up front. The problem is Podkolzine looks great in workouts but not so much in games.

9. PHILADELPHIA

Josh Childress, 6-7, F, Stanford

His versatility and ability to create appeal to the offense-deprived 76ers, who can't believe he fell in their laps.

10. CLEVELAND

Luke Jackson, 6-7, F, Oregon

Cavs seeking a shooter who can make defenses pay for sagging off LeBron James, and fast-rising Jackson fits the bill.

11. GOLDEN STATE

Andris Biedrins, 6-11, F, BK Skonto Riga (Latvia)

A big man with a knack for playing defense is a perfect fit for Golden State.

12. SEATTLE

Kirk Snyder, 6-6, G, Nevada

His shot is inconsistent, but the WAC Player of the Year is bursting with talent.

13. PORTLAND

Josh Smith, 6-8, F, Oak Hill Academy

Questionable attitude drops his stock, but some swear he's the best athlete in the draft. Blazers are willing to find out.

14. UTAH

Sergei Monya, 6-7, G-F, CSKA Moscow (Russia)

Strong and experienced, Monya is a solid defender ready to contribute right away. Former teammate of the Jazz's Andrei Kirilenko.

15. BOSTON

Rafael Araujo, 6-11, C, BYU

With Mark Blount on his way out, the Celtics need a big body. At 280 pounds, Araujo is that, and more ready to play than a high school kid.

16. UTAH

Robert Swift, 7-1, C, Bakersfield High

Jerry Sloan has lived for years with Greg Ostertag at center, so breaking in another big lug with raw skills won't be anything new.

17. ATLANTA

Al Jefferson, 6-10, F, Prentiss High (Miss.)

After filling a need earlier in the draft, Hawks go for sheer potential in a high schooler with a man's body.

18. NEW ORLEANS

Peter John Ramos, 7-3, C, Caguas (Puerto Rico)

The Hornets are set at center with Jamaal Magloire, so they can be patient while this 19-year-old project develops.

19. MIAMI

Jameer Nelson, 6-0, G, St. Joseph's

Heat desperate for help at point guard, and Nelson can find shots for his mates and himself. It doesn't hurt that he's built like former Miami PG Tim Hardaway.

20. DENVER

Anderson Varejao, 6-10, F, F.C. Barcelona (Spain)

High- energy Brazilian creates havoc on the court despite limited offensive skills. Nuggets wouldn't mind pairing him with their other Brazilian frontcourt player, Nene.

21. UTAH

Kris Humphries, 6-10, F, Minnesota

Big numbers in his one college season and impressive workouts might land him closer to the lottery. If not, the Jazz happily will snatch him.

22. NEW JERSEY

J.R. Smith, 6-6, G, St. Benedict's Prep (Newark)

Nets mine for a smooth-shooting gem right in their backyard.

23. PORTLAND

Sebastian Telfair, 5-11, G, Lincoln High (Brooklyn)

Damon Stoudamire will be a free agent after next season, and coach Maurice Cheeks likes Telfair as his eventual successor.

24. BOSTON

Viktor Khryapa, 6-9, F, CSKA Moscow (Russia)

Fine shooter who might stay back home for extra seasoning, keeping the Celtics from saddling new coach Doc Rivers with three rookies.

25. BOSTON

David Harrison, 7-0, C, Colorado

Celtics would rather package their extra picks in a trade. If they can't, adding a big man makes sense.

26. SACRAMENTO

Kevin Martin, 6-7, G, Western Carolina

Averaged better than 22 points a game each of his three seasons with the Catamounts.

27. L.A. LAKERS

Dorell Wright, 6-7, F, South Kent Prep (Conn.)

L.A. native has showed in workouts he can shoot and handle the ball.

28. SAN ANTONIO

Beno Udrih, 6-4, G, Breil Milano (Italy)

Nomadic Slovenian is a combo guard who opened some eyes at Chicago camp.

29. INDIANA

Sasha Vujacic, 6-7, G, Snaidero Udine (Italy)

A terrific shooter and ballhandler, can play point and has improved his strength.

Note: Minnesota forfeited its 2004 first-round pick, No. 29, as part of the Joe Smith penalty.