Anyone can put together an NBA Mock Draft, but how can one stand out?
I could throw in additional scouting information, add fancy graphics, but how would I be able to create an actual unique concept to the mock draft viewer craving something they've never seen before?
And then it came to me. Yearbook Superlatives.
Think about it...
There's a great deal of international talent, but the majority of these players are coming from major college programs, where a tireless, overworked and understaffed group of students brainstorm, plan, and ultimately develop a back-breaking, dust collecting paperweight whose only advantage over a much cheaper & convenient online option is that it just feels lame when someone signs your iPad.
You hear that Yearbook staffs around the country? We just made you cool again.
Below is my first round list, complete with team, fit and what their most likely yearbook superlative would be. I apologize in advance.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel, C - Kentucky
• Why It's A Fit: Struggling interior defense gets a major 7-foot presence who has time to develop behind double-double machine Anderson Varejao (assuming he's healthy).
• Yearbook Superlative: Best Hair
2. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore, SG - Kansas
• Why It's A Fit: Best chance of becoming a star in the league. Great size for the 2-guard position and ability to create his own shot on a team that will need offense.
• Yearbook Superlative: Best Smile.
3. Washington Wizards: Anthony Bennett, SF/PF - UNLV
• Why It's A Fit: Terrific offensive game with a tremendous amount of upside & athletic ability to play both the 3 and 4 position.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to remain on SportsCenter's Best of the Best after a ferocious dunk.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Alex Len, C - Maryland
• Why It's A Fit: Len enters the draft with a ready NBA big's body at 7'1", 255. He is athletic, can bruise inside, and would give the Bobcats/Hornets of the future a legitimate 5 for years to come.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to be mistaken for Andre the Giant
5. Phoenix Suns: Victor Oladipo, SG - Indiana
• Why It's A Fit: Suns get a freakishly athletic, defensive presence at the 2-spot whose offensive game has improved drastically the last three seasons. Off the charts work ethic.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to be president. Plus he'd have a simple campaign slogan of "Pick Vic."
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Otto Porter, SF - Georgetown
• Why It's A Fit: Need for a two-way player at the 3. Safer pick than Bennett with less upside. Immediate starter.
• Yearbook Superlative: Best name to say backwards - "Retrop Otto"
7. Sacramento Kings: Shabazz Muhammad, SF - UCLA
• Why It's A Fit: Kings need a strong-built. Athletic 3 with a great ability to score. Stock has slipped slightly for a once thought Top-5 pick... easy.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to work for Gucci.
8. Detroit Pistons: Trey Burke, PG - Michigan
• Why It's A Fit: Dynamic, floor leader who makes his teammates around him better. Gives opportunity for Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey to make open shots at the 2-spot.
• Yearbook Superlative: Best wingman.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: CJ McCollum, SG - Lehigh
• Why It's A Fit: T-Wolves need a scorer at the 2-spot and while McCollum was a dynamic shot-maker in college, he also was a terrific passer. Pair him with Rubio and that's one hell of a passing backcourt.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to yell bad things at your TV... followed immediately by good things at your TV. "WHY ARE YOU SHOOTING FROM 30 FEET AWAY... AHHH IT WENT IN! SHOOT THAT EVERY DAMN TIME!"
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Rudy Golbert, F/C - France
• Why It's A Fit: Massive 8 ½ foot wingspan, great size at 7'2" and an athletic defensive weapon to pair well with LaMarcus Aldridge.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to have a French spin-off of the Colbert Report. (That's a good "reach" joke because of his wingspan...)
11. Philadelphia 76ers: Cody Zeller, F/C - Indiana
• Why It's A Fit: Zeller has raised eyebrows at the combine with his ability to hit shots from outside. Factor in he's a very good passer and runs the floor as well as any 7-footer. High IQ player.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to be substantially funnier on Twitter than in-person.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kelly Olynyk, PF - Gonzaga
• Why It's A Fit: Can score both in the paint and from outside. Athletic ability to create his own shot. Fills a need in OKC.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to get his hair cut by teammates for rookie hazing.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Michael Carter-Williams, PG - Syracuse
• Why It's A Fit: Terrific size at the one, floor general who can create open shots for Mayo and Dirk on the wings. Good, long defender.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to get ID'd at bars until he's 40. Got to find out what he does to look so young.
14. Utah Jazz: Dennis Schroeder, PG - Braunschweig, (Germany)
• Why It's A Fit: Jazz have a pressing need at the PG spot. Schroeder has exceptional quickness with decent size at 6'2" to be a playmaker.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to be nicknamed after a cartoon character based on his ability to be a "menace" on the defensive end of the floor (see what I did there?)
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG - Georgia
• Why It's A Fit: Bucks lack size in their backcourt. Pope fills a void both at the 2 off the bench when Ellis isn't on the court, or possibly even starting at the 3. Very good shooter who played on a struggling Georgia team.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to name his car the "Pope Mobile"
16. Boston Celtics: Steven Adams, C - Pittsburgh
• Why It's A Fit: Boston needs a bruiser inside to own the paint and the New Zealand big man already has an NBA body at 7'0", 255 pounds. Plus a better touch on his jump shot than most expected.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to earn a Flight of the Concords reference in a TV highlight package.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Mason Plumlee, PF - Duke
• Why It's A Fit: Plumlee's a strong 7-footer with a soft touch around the basket and athletic to run the court well and make shots from outside.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most annoying based purely on his Duke association and nothing more.
18. Atlanta Hawks: Jamaal Franklin, SG - San Diego State
• Why It's A Fit: Terrific athlete with a tremendous work ethic and decent size at the 2 at 6'5". Outside shot could use some polishing but once he gets it... he'll be a solid pro.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to climb Mount Everest because he thinks it would be fun.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers: Giannis Antetokoumpo, SF - Filathanlitikos (Greece)
• Why It's A Fit: Solid 3 with terrific handles, great athleticism and good NBA length. Needs a little more time in the weight room and the jump shot needs improvement.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to have telemarketers screw up his name.
20. Chicago Bulls: Gorgui Dieng, C - Louisville
• Why It's A Fit: Nazr Muhammad might be done (most people thought he was done for most of the year until Noah couldn't play). Factor in Noah's plantar fasciitis and it wouldn't hurt the Bulls to have a solid rotation 5.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to get a tattoo of Rick Pitino
21. Utah Jazz: Sergey Karasev, SF - Triumph Moscow (Russia)
• Why It's A Fit: The Jazz already have Gordon Heyward at the 3, but Karasev is another terrific shooter who could also play the 2, giving Utah tremendous length.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to wear a fur coat & hat out before November.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Dario Saric, SF - Cibona Zagreb (Croatia)
• Why It's A Fit: Smart, skilled passer who can play both the 3 and 4 and help Joe Johnson go back to a more natural 2-spot.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to be the next Toni Kukoc.
23. Indiana Pacers: Shane Larkin, PG - Miami
• Why It's A Fit: Larkin becomes a terrific PG option off the bench and also dropped jaws with his 44-inch vertical at the draft combine. Also a good outside shooter & tremendous leader.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to win a game of home run derby amongst teammates.
24. New York Knicks: Tony Mitchell, PF - North Texas
• Why It's A Fit: With the injuries to Amare and the lack of depth in the front court, Mitchell is a top-10 athletic talent with upside on a team that doesn't need him to be a star right away.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to wear sunglasses during all postgame interviews.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jeff Withey, C - Kansas
• Why It's A Fit: Withey is a very good shot-blocker who gives the T-Wolves a little more insurance if they decide to trade one of their bigs not named Nikola Pekovic. Decent rotation big.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to be confused for a thinner Aaron Gray.
26. Los Angeles Clippers: Allen Crabbe, SG - California
• Why It's A Fit: Crabbe presents a good, athletic shooter who talent-wise, would be the best player remaining on the draft board. Late first round? Might as well.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to earn a "Crabbey Allen" headline if he ever goes off on reporters in a postgame interview.
27. Denver Nuggets: Tony Snell, SF - New Mexico
• Why It's A Fit: George Karl maximizes effort and for a guy who doesn't always play hard, it will be hard for him not to if he wants any playing time in Karl's system. Also good insurance for Danilo Gallinari recovering from his knee injury.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to be auto tuned on a YouTube video.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Lucas Nogueira - PF - Estudiantes (Spain)
• Why It's A Fit: With signs of Tim Duncan beginning to slow down, adding a talented, athletic big could help put the pieces in place to let Tim play out his final few seasons and make way for the Brazilian Baller.
• Yearbook Superlative: Best dunk celebration dance.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Ricky Ledo - SG/SF - Providence
• Why It's A Fit: Remember when GM Sam Presti let that James Harden guy getaway? Ledo can score actively, create his own shot and get to the rim. This despite not playing a game in school due to academic eligibility issues. He'd be in a good situation in OKC.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to not have game-tape at the 2013 NBA Draft.
30. Phoenix Suns: DeShaun Thomas - SF - Ohio State
• Why It's A Fit: Thomas gives Phoenix a versatile 3 where they lack depth and toughness on defense. If Suns are looking to change towards a defensive mindset, Thomas (and Oladipo w/ the projected 5th pick) are two Big Ten guys that can do it.
• Yearbook Superlative: Most likely to give out a fake number.