1. Washington Wizards – John Wall, Point Guard, Kentucky – This was the no brainer since he was recruited, really. It is still yet to be seen whether or not he and Gilbert Arenas can play together for 30 minutes much less 82 games, but he was the pick and there was absolutely no way you could pass on him. I criticized the Wizards for trading for Kirk Hinrich but if they are able to trade Arenas and his contract, that could be a great move. Wall is often compared to John Calipari’s point guard product of two seasons ago at Memphis, Derrick Rose, and Hinrich did a great job of allowing him to develop by producing in areas of the game that Rose wasn’t adept in. Wall’s speed and elite athleticism will immediately translate to success in the NBA and his jumpshot should improve with a lot of work, again, just like Derrick Rose. Can’t miss prospect and my early pick for 2010-2011 Rookie of the Year.
2. Philadelphia 76ers – Evan Turner, Shooting Guard, Ohio State – Like Wall, there is a position issue in Philadelphia now with Turner and Andre Iguodala both playing similar games. Each brings the ability to pass, rebound and play defense at the same height and both of them are the kind of guys that are good at almost everything but will never master any part of the game. There are some differences, though. Iguodala is a much better athlete and looks to be a bit stronger and Turner has a better outside shot and has better ball-handling skills. Despite the similarities, Turner couldn’t be passed up and new head coach Doug Collins sounded confident that he would be able to use both guys.
3. New Jersey Nets – Derrick Favors, Power Forward, Georgia Tech – After a day or so of hearing that Wesley Johnson was going to the Nets in a combo that would also bring free agent power forward Carlos Boozer to town, the Nets went with Favors, whom most pegged to go at three. Favors is an extremely athletic big man that should be a nice player in the future and could be half of an extremely potent frontline with Brook Lopez down the line. I’m not sure if drafting Favors means the Nets will be unwilling to offer a maximum contract to Amare, Bosh, or Boozer but he should work out well should he be given the starting job to open the season. He still has a lot of room to grow in order to reach his potential and starting from the get go may speed up that process.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves – Wesley Johnson, Small Forward, Syracuse – The Timberwolves drafted themselves a fantastic young power forward two years ago with Kevin Love to pair with Al Jefferson downlow (though that hasn’t gone over well to this point). Last season, as well all know, they went on a point guard binge (though only one of them is actually going to be on the roster next season). Now, in a very narrow sense, their only need was a dynamic wing player that could score and defend in order to have one of the brightest starting line-ups in the league. Johnson fits the bill. He’s a fantastic rebounder, he create and make his own shot and he has the size and length to develop into a solid NBA defender. He may not look like he can handle opposing small forward like Ron Artest, LeBron or Carmelo Anthony from a strength perspective but I think he can get it done.
5. Sacramento Kings – DeMarcus Cousins, Center, Kentucky – I think Cousins has a shot to be the best player out of this draft class in 10 years (outside of Wall). There’s something about him that, despite his character issues, makes me think he has this gig down. The Kings did end up drafting another center later in this draft and they traded for Samuel Dalembert’s contract a week or so ago, but I think at least one of those guys is going to be traded before the season starts or at the deadline. Cousins has the size and ability around the basket to make a lot of noise in the NBA and I think he will. My only qualm: will Tyreke Evans be able to stop dominating the ball long enough to make the best use of Cousins in the lowpost?
6. Golden State Warriors – Ekpe Udoh, Power Forward, Baylor – After years of drafting headcases and kids who didn’t seem to get “it,” the Warriors have drafted two extremely high character guys in a row with Stephen Curry last season and Udoh this year. The word from Golden State workouts is that Udoh showed up in a suit and said that he wanted to play for the Warriors. In an unconventional system, it will be interesting to see how Udoh develops. Despite the craziness around the team, Curry made it through his rookie season unscathed and Udoh should too.
7. Detroit Pistons – Greg Monroe, Power Forward, Georgetown – The Pistons might be the hardest team in the entire league to figure out. They have a couple of veterans hanging over from their run of Eastern Conference Championships, they have two absolutely horrendous contracts that killed the Pistons chances of signing a decent free agent this off-season (that really may be one of the worst decisions in NBA history to lock up two mediocre players that don’t fit your team for $16 million a year before the summer of 2010 when they weren’t going to contend anyways) and they have a lot of young talent that they haven’t figured out how to use, that is, if they are usable. Monroe is a great passing big man with a lot of talent but he’ll have to earn Charlie V’s minutes to get on the floor.
8. Los Angeles Clippers – Al-Farouq Aminu, Small Forward, Wake Forest – Aminu is a 19-year old, six-foot-nine small forward that has a body that could fit right into the NBA game. Aminu is one of the most athletic prospects in the draft and his tremendous athleticism give him big time advantages when he gets to the cup. As of now, his ability to hit an outside jumper or to create space for one isn’t great but as a defensive project and a fantastic driver, Aminu will step right into the Clippers’ rotation this year and if Rudy Gay or LeBron don’t come to town, he could earn a few starts.
9. Utah Jazz – Gordon Hayward, Small Forward, Butler – This was one of the worst picks in the draft, in my opinion. The Jazz had a chance to grab a lottery talent with this pick and they went with a player that wasn’t in my top 25. Hayward isn’t athletic, will get destroyed by almost any opposing power forward, lacks aggression, which probably doesn’t matter because he can’t finish over top flight athletes anyway, and has a poor assist to turnover ratio. Hayward’s supposed NBA talent is that he is a great shooter which is really funny considering his 29% three-point shooting percentage. If you’re using 83% free throw clip to say he’s a good shooter, please look at Tyler Hansbrough’s numbers.
10. Indiana Pacers – Paul George, Small Forward, Fresno State – I wasn’t sure about this pick when it went down and I’m still wandering why the Pacers went with George, a six-foot-nine small forward when their franchise player is a six-foot-nine small forward. The Pacers needed a point guard and though one with lottery talent was not available, I thought they would do a better job of trading this pick away to get one. George is going to be good, though. I thought he would be a great pick for the Grizzlies to take some of Rudy Gay’s minutes if he left. George is an excellent athlete and shooter from the outside which I suppose will give the Pacers two elite wing scorers at some point, but I still think one of the two is going to be dealt.
11. Oklahoma City Thunder – Cole Aldrich, Center, Kansas – The Thunder traded up to get this pick because Sam Presti was high on Aldrich. They believe he will be a nice defensive player in the rotation that will protect the rim with shotblocking and rebound the basketball. I’m not sure he can bring that to an NBA team. We’ll have to see on him. Not as bad as the Jazz pick but I’m not sure that Aldrich was the guy OKC needed.
12. Memphis Grizzlies – Xavier Henry, Shooting Guard, Kansas – Henry might be a replacement for Rudy Gay, he might be a back-up shooting guard for O.J. Mayo. Either way, with the picks that Memphis had later in the draft, its unclear what they are planning to do with the point guard/shooting guard position. Henry, though, can play and he is a committed defensive player. He plays likes he’s been there before and he has a very nice flow to his game.
13. Toronto Raptors – Ed Davis, Power Forward, North Carolina – Drafting a power forward with a lot of upside doesn’t sit well in Toronto’s attempt to keep Chris Bosh around. Davis has a whole lot of room to improve and before playing a season without any guards around him he was thought to be a top five pick in the draft. Toronto has a bright future with Davis and DeMar DeRozan and there are some other players on that team that could contribute to a playoff team down the line. However, signing Hedo Turkoglu and not making enough of a plea to Bosh will hurt this team’s immediate future.
14. Houston Rockets – Patrick Patterson, Power Forward, Kentucky – Patterson is a great talent and I was really hoping for him to drop one more spot to the Bucks. However, Patterson will be a nice fit behind Luis Scola and he should get a chance to show his dynamic offensive abilities in a nice back-up role this season. The Rockets are now stacked at the forward positions with Ariza, Battier, Jeffries, Scola and now Patterson. Those guys plus Yao Ming, Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin? Solid team. Playoffs for sure. Patterson is going to score in the paint, work on the glass and he’ll contribute defensively with some deflections. Possibly my favorite pick here.
15. Milwaukee Bucks – Larry Sanders, Power Forward, VCU – The Bucks are going to look pretty nice in the East next season. Sanders can play and the Bucks now have a core five of Jennings, Bogut, Maggette, CDR and Sanders. Not to mention the role players they have like Ersan Ilyasova, Carlos Delfino, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. And then there’s Michael Redd if he decides to opt in. Sanders adds to the group because he is an extremely athletic rebounder with a lot of room to grow with his post game. I love where Milwaukee is headed.
16. Portland Trail Blazers – Luke Babbitt, Small Forward, Nevada – The Blazers traded Martell Webster for this pick. It’ll be interesting to see what they saw in Babbitt that made them trade Webster, who I think is a great “three and D” guy. Babbitt is very talented and his shooting ability is much better in comparison to Gordon Hayward which make the Jazz’s selection of Hayward even more questionable.
17. Washington Wizards – Kevin Seraphin, Power Forward – A project, no doubt. He comes over in the Hinrich deal.
18. Los Angeles Clippers – Eric Bledsoe, Point Guard, Kentucky – The Clippers gave Oklahoma City a future first round pick (lottery protected) to draft a player that is basically Eric Gordon. I’m not sure what the Clippers see in Bledsoe that made them give up a possible top 15 pick for him. I think he was a good player and thought he could go higher but not to this team, at least.
19. Boston Celtics – Avery Bradley, Point Guard, Texas – Bradley will show Boston what a real defender at the guard spot looks like. Tony Allen can try and Rajon Rondo may have been named to First Team All-Defense (despite the 100+ blow-bys), but Bradley is a lockdown defender. Kevin Durant evaluated Bradley by comparing him to Russell Wesbtrook. Same size, not quite the athleticism, perhaps a better mid-range game at this point, and the commitment to defense. Oh, the defense. Bradley is young so he might grow an inch or two, which is a plus, but for now, he’s a lockdown guard who will challenge Rajon Rondo in practice and other point guards around the league.
20. San Antonio Spurs – James Anderson, Shooting Guard, Oklahoma State – Anderson was clearly the best available at this spot, but why, San Antonio? After dealing for Jefferson, signing Manu Ginobili to a huge extension and while George Hill is developing as a combo guard? I love Anderson but other than Keith Bogan’s minutes, where will his time come? I think he could have started next season on a few teams and now he’s got a few players ahead of him.
21. New Orleans Hornets – Craig Brackins, Power Forward, Iowa State – Brackins is a versatile power forward that the Hornets can back-up David West with. He can face-up from 12-15 feet, score with a few lowpost moves and he is athletic. At least from the college three-point line, Brackins showed the ability to hit long jumpers as well, which means he has just about as much range as West if he can hit that shot in the pros. The defense has got to improve but with CP3 on his side offensively, his ability to create space will create all kinds of lanes for Paul to use.
22. Portland Trail Blazers – Elliot Williams, Shooting Guard, Memphis – Williams is a fantastic athlete that provide a much less controversial version of the Turner/Iguodala combo in Philly with he and Roy. Roy is the more complete player and Williams will bring superb playmaking ability and a load of potential. We’ll see how he gets used but he may be able to play on the floor at the same time as Roy.
23. Washington Wizards – Trevor Booker, Power Forward, Clemson – Maybe the best athlete out of the power forward crop this year. It will be interesting to see how the Wizards use Andray Blatche after a breakout year but Booker should be a nice back-up.
24. New Jersey Nets – Damion James, Small Forward, Texas – New Jersey should rejoice, James is coming to town. And though he’s not LeBron, he’ll play and he’ll do so at a high level. He’s quick, athletic and he can put the ball into the basket. His release combined with some tricky moves makes his jumper unguardable, so if he has to shoot over the top of or on a power forward after a post move he can do it. He might be the best rookie on the team next season, even with Favors there.
25. Dallas Mavericks – Dominique Jones, Point Guard, USF – If Roddy couldn’t get any minutes, why should we think Jones will? I like him, but he needs to be given playing time just like Roddy in order for this pick to matter.
26. New Orleans Hornets – Quincy Pondexter, Small Forward, Washington – I love this pick. Peja is aging and Julian Wright was given two seasons as a starter and didn’t produce a lick. Pondexter is a hard worker which will look good in the eyes of Monty Williams and CP3 and he is an athlete that can run aside Paul in transition and finish. He isn’t a great isolation player because of his jumpshot, which needs some work, but his first step got him by a lot of defenders in college and he’s the kind of guy that can replicate that in the pro’s. Defensively, he can disrupt passing lanes and play pretty good on the ball defense. I think he should start next season on opening night. Has to, in my mind.
27. Atlanta Hawks – Jordan Crawford, Shooting Guard, Xavier – I though Anderson was the guy for Atlanta because they need someone to replace Joe Johnson but now I’m starting to think Crawford may be a bit better fit. He can hit from anywhere on the court, he can get his jumper off on anybody thanks to a quick first step, and he has very solid ball handling skills, better than Joe’s in my mind. Defensively, he needs the focus and the principles to be beaten into his head but the instincts seem to be there and the body to become a good defender at the two guard is good. The problem: he dominated the ball in college and that’s all Johnson did in Atlanta for the past two seasons, really. Isolation basketball was their downfall. Maybe with a new coach that will change but Crawford needs to become more comfortable with offensive movement.
28. Memphis Grizzlies – Greivis Vasques, Point Guard, Maryland – Vasquez could have been a good second round pick but a guaranteed contract for a team that has a potential all-star at this point (Mayo) and drafted another shooting guard in the lottery? I’m not a fan.
29. Orlando Magic – Daniel Orton, Center, Kentucky – Orton was about to fall out of the first round when a team with the best center in basketball and a solid back-up behind him decided to take him. I think a shooting guard was a better pick here but Orton was their guy. I don’t know if they are going to keep Orton because Dwight is 24 and Gortat is going to be a better back-up but he could turn into a solid player with practice competition like that and some garbage minutes.
30. Minnesota Timberwolves – Lazar Hayward, Small Forward, West Virginia – Another forward for the Timberwolves? *scratches head*