Somehow, over the past few days, logic and reality seem to have been removed from the process leading up to Thursday night's NBA Draft. But we'll attempt to wade through the smokescreens, misdirection and muddled mess to deliver our best-guess, updated mock draft.
A lot has changed since our first version of the mock draft on the blog after the lottery order was set. Still, plenty has remained the same. Or at least it should have, especially when it comes to how the top of this draft should - and will - play out tonight.
Bank on it. We'll be right - unless, of course, we turn out to be dead wrong. And if that turns out to be the case, then forget this file ever existed. So with the first pick in the 2008 NBA Draft ...
1. Chicago Bulls - Derrick Rose, PG, Memphis: Just like its approach to hiring a head coach, Chicago made this process much more difficult than it had to be. Housecleaning will follow, but Rose is the type of point guard and selfless player who could allow the Bulls to blossom into a serious contender again.
2. Miami Heat - Michael Beasley, F, Kansas State: With two years left on his contract, let's hope Heat president Pat Riley gets this right. Because he probably won't be around to apologize down the line if he blows this pick by gambling with a trade.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves - O.J. Mayo, G, USC: The T-Wolves insist they will get an impact player either here or by trading for a spot later in the lottery. Brook Lopez fits a need, but Mayo is the best player - and biggest star - on the board after Rose and Beasley depart.
4. Seattle Supersonics - Brook Lopez, C, Stanford: First real draft surprise here. Until recently, all signs had pointed to the Sonics going small with Jerryd Bayless. Instead, they go big with Lopez, who also fits a need and adds to a nice young nucleus of Kevin Durant and Jeff Green.
5. Memphis Grizzlies - Kevin Love, F, UCLA: Gritty, skilled post player would slot right into the spot vacated by Pau Gasol in that awful trade to the Lakers. Memphis would prefer Beasley, but Love is a solid consolation prize to team with budding stars Mike Conley Jr. and Rudy Gay.
6. New York Knicks - Jerryd Bayless, G, Arizona: New coach Mike D'Antoni will be tempted to snag Italian star forward Danilo Gallinari because of close ties. But D'Antoni also got a great look at Bayless while coaching the Suns. Bayless would provide a nice transition away from the Stephon Marbury era.
7. L.A. Clippers - Eric Gordon, G, Indiana: Instincts say go with the local product in UCLA guard Russell Westbrook. But conventional wisdom suggests Gordon because his ability to score and light it up from three-point range would far better complement the inside attack of Elton Brand and Chris Kaman.
8. Milwaukee Bucks - Joe Alexander, F, West Virginia: Had him in this spot in the original mock draft and see no reason to move him now. Alexander's athleticism and relentless play give new coach Scott Skiles the same attacking wing play he had in Chicago with Luol Deng and Andres Nocioni.
9. Charlotte Bobcats - Russell Westbrook, G, UCLA: An athletic post presence and point guard depth are the needs, so DeAndre Jordan or even Anthony Randolph could be options here. But Westbrook plays Larry Brown-type defense and would be insurance for the erratic Raymond Felton.
10. New Jersey Nets - Danilo Gallinari, F, Italy: One way or the other, Gallinari is expected to end up in the New York area. But the Nets also are in the market for a big man, which might lead them to Jordan or possibly trading down for Roy Hibbert or Robin Lopez.
11. Indiana Pacers - DeAndre Jordan, C, Texas A&M: Now that the Pacers have addressed the point guard position by trading for T.J. Ford, they must now fill the hole in the middle left by Jermain O'Neal's departure. Jordan lacks an offensive game, but his shot-blocking and rebounding are NBA-ready.
12. Sacramento Kings - D.J. Augustin, PG, Texas: If he's available, this would be a steal for the Kings. With Beno Udrih headed into restricted free agency, Augustin would be a more-than-capable insurance policy who could start as a rookie. If he's gone, Darrell Arthur or Randolph are fall-back options who would fit other needs.
13. Portland Trail Blazers - Darrell Arthur, PF, Kansas: With a young, deep and athletic roster, the Blazers could be looking to trade and pick up a playoff-tested veteran, preferably a deep shooter to free up space for center Greg Oden to operate inside upon his return. Otherwise, Arthur is the best player available.
14. Golden State Warriors - Anthony Randolph, F, LSU: With Baron Davis' situation shaky, the Warriors could use a point guard. But ones worthy of a lottery pick should all be gone. Although his stock has dropped some since the pre-draft camp, the super slender Randolph is an intriguing athlete who could give the Warriors a shot-blocking presence as he develops both an NBA frame and game.