With the NBA Conference Finals being far from competitive, the most exciting news was last week’s lottery – which found the Washington Wizards – the franchise that arguably faced the most adversity during the regular season – sitting on top when all the dust settled and ping-pong balls dropped.
Second in line was Philadelphia – and it’s safe to say that both John Wall and Evan Turner will be selected by these two teams – but the question remains, where will all the other pieces fall?
In addition to that, where (and how many for that matter) will the handful of Kentucky Wildcats land in this year’s NBA Draft?
Here’s my take on each and every one of those questions… and more:
KP’s 2010 NBA Mock Draft: First Round – Take One
1. Washington Wizards – John Wall (PG, Kentucky)
Wall is freakishly fast and extremely athletic, showing consistent ability to make highlight reel plays. He was the talk of college basketball throughout most of the season, and will likely be the very same if and when he heads to the nation’s capital.
2. Philadelphia 76ers – Evan Turner (SG, Ohio State)
Turner doesn’t just show the talent and ability, but also grit and guts – making it back from a nasty fractured back injury during the regular season. Expect him to the most hyped up talent to play in the “City of Brotherly Love” since Allen Iverson.
3. New Jersey Nets – DeMarcus Cousins (C, Kentucky)
Many draft critics and prognosticators have referred to him as “unstable”, or having off-court red flags, and so on. But with an NBA frame already, plus the ability to put up consistent double-doubles, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the adventurous new Nets owner make sure he’s the pick.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves – Derrick Favors (PF, Georgia Tech)
It’s likely a blessing in disguise that the Wolves didn’t win this year’s lottery – considering the point guard frenzy that went on in Minnesota last year. An inside presence would make the most sense here – and the talented former Yellow Jackets power forward Favors would be a solid add.
5. Sacramento Kings – Wesley Johnson (SF, Syracuse)
Johnson has range and versatility – and with Cousins and Favors already off the board, he would make the most sense with this pick. To succeed in the NBA, he’ll likely need to add some bulk to his 6’7”, 198-pound frame.
6. Golden State Warriors – Al-Farouq Aminu (SF, Wake Forest)
Aminu fits the fast-paced “Nellie Ball” offense quite well due to his versatility and ability to score in bunches. At Wake Forest, he frequently posted double-doubles and was considered by many to be a top ten selection last season – but decided to wait a year before coming out.
7. Detroit Pistons – Cole Aldrich (C, Kansas)
He’s fairly mobile for his 6’11” frame – and with some polish, Aldrich has the potential to provide legitimate assistance to an NBA team on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
8. Los Angeles Clippers – Greg Monroe (PF, Georgetown)
The Clippers were 27th in the league in points per game during the regular season. Adding another presence down low (that can also score) would be a need – and Monroe and his 16.1 PPG (plus 9.6 RPG) last season could result in a talented duo with Blake Griffin – who is returning from injury next season.
9. Utah Jazz – Ekpe Udoh (PF, Baylor)
The Jazz may need someone to step in and replace Boozer quickly – and the best option with this pick is Udoh, who not only has shown that he can be a physical rebounder and shot blocker, but also could easily improve into a quality offensive player, too.
10. Indiana Pacers – Gordon Hayward (SF, Butler)
Many likely think Hayward will not crack the top ten, but his wide-ranged skillset plus the fact that he was a hometown darling during March Madness in Indy makes him a darkhorse to rise up to this slot. Hayward and Butler drew so many comparisons to Bird and Indiana State, plus the movie Hoosiers – so why not keep him around?
11. New Orleans Hornets – Ed Davis (PF, North Carolina
The Hornets were dead last in the NBA in blocks per game – and therefore could use a man down low to wreak some havoc. The 6’10” Davis was a high-energy guy at North Carolina and has both great rebounding and shot blocking skills.
12. Memphis Grizzlies – Luke Babbitt (SF, Nevada)
The Grizzlies – a team set with more talented youth at the guard position – would be better off adding a frontcourt piece, but also was among the worst in the NBA from behind the arc. This is why Babbitt makes sense, a 6’9” forward that hit nearly 43 percent of his 3’s during his freshman year and 41.6 percent from three-point land during his sophomore season.
13. Toronto Raptors – Daniel Orton (C, Kentucky)
Orton – who played limited minutes behind DeMarcus Cousins at Kentucky – is arguably the player in this draft with the most upside. The 19 year-old big man would be a solid fit for a Toronto team that could very well be saying goodbye to Chris Bosh this offseason.
14. Houston Rockets – Donatas Motiejunas (PF, Italy)
He’s a 19 year-old 7’0” kid that has drawn comparisons to overseas NBA talents such as Pau Gasol and former Bulls star Toni Kukoc. But he’s one of those players that likely wouldn’t arrive immediately, which is why a team like the Rockets make more sense – as he’s not an immediate need, but one that could pan out down the road.
15. Milwaukee Bucks – Patrick Patterson (PF, Kentucky)
The Bucks were among the worst in the league in turnover differential, and therefore a well-rounded player that can take care of the basketball makes sense here. Patterson is that type of player – and does a little bit of everything, from rebounding, to blocking shots, to consistent scoring, all while not turning the ball over much.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves – Paul George (SF, Fresno State)
The Timberwolves should continue to use their extra picks adding depth to the frontcourt, and the focus here should be to add more offense. George averaged 16.8 PPG last season, has great range and some have even compared him to stars like Joe Johnson or Tracy McGrady.
17. Chicago Bulls – Xavier Henry (SG, Kansas)
If selected here, the 19 year-old Henry – coupled with Derrick Rose – would put together arguably the most explosive and talented young backcourt in the NBA. Certainly, if Henry is off the board, Chicago could choose to go after James Anderson, or maybe they’ll choose to go another direction and instead go all-in for LeBron James.
18. Miami Heat – Eric Bledsoe (PG, Kentucky)
The Wildcats once had a certain 6’1” guard who needed time to flourish in the NBA – and has done so tremendously, that being Rajon Rondo – surrounded by stars in Boston. Bledsoe could end up being a similar story – stuck behind John Wall in college, but potentially placed around significant NBA talent – perhaps in Miami (depending on how free agency goes for the Heat).
19. Boston Celtics – James Anderson (SG, Oklahoma State)
With the “Big 3” aging, the Celtics should look to add a young talent that could replace Ray Allen, who could be the first to move on (due to free agency). James Anderson is a scoring machine – averaging 22.3 PPG last season at Oklahoma State.
20. San Antonio Spurs – Quincy Pondexter (SF, Washington)
In my opinion, Pondexter is underrated – and has the type of game I can see on a Spurs team. He plays bigger than his 6’7” frame inside, plus is a scrappy playmaker that can also score in bunches (19.3 PPG during his senior season with the Huskies).
21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Hassan Whiteside (C, Marshall)
It would be a wise move for the Thunder to add a young big man to compliment Westbrook and Durant for years to come – and therefore, a guy with upside like Whiteside would be a bargain selection at this point in the draft. If not him, then perhaps Florida State’s Alabi with this pick.
22. Portland Trail Blazers – Solomon Alabi (C, Florida State)
With Greg Oden beginning to teeter more towards being an injury-prone bust than a star, the Blazers should consider taking a talented, raw big man for depth – and Alabi would fit that mold with this pick.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves – Jarvis Varnado (PF, Mississippi State)
Some critics would pipe in and say this is too early for Varnado – but when you look at Minnesota, they aren’t afraid to pick outside the lines. Combine that with the fact that the team was tied for last in blocks per game (and Varnado led the NCAA in that category the last two seasons) – then this pick makes some sense.
24. Atlanta Hawks – Avery Bradley (SG, Texas)
It appears that the Hawks will have a hole left at the shooting guard postion by Joe Johnson, and therefore, a guy like Bradley could be a good fit – with his ability to score, coupled with his suffocating defense and speed that perhaps only John Wall can top in this draft.
25. Memphis Grizzlies – Stanley Robinson (SF, Connecticut)
Robinson is one of the many freakishly athletic players to be recruited by Calhoun and the Huskies. On top of his streaky game and big-time talent, Robinson is also a 6’9” beast that has developed a solid three-point shot, which would be a welcome addition to the Grizzlies.
26. Oklahoma City Thunder – Larry Sanders (PF, Virginia Commonwealth)
Here’s yet another big talent that would fill a hole in the Oklahoma City frontcourt. Sanders – and his 6’10” frame – already has plus-talent rebounding and blocking shots, but is raw and needs improvement on offense, which shouldn’t be a problem for the Thunder, who have multiple scoring threats in place already.
27. New Jersey Nets – Devin Ebanks (SF, West Virginia)
The Nets were one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA last season, and could use a guy with upper-tier rebounding skills, who is also a high-energy player. That’s Ebanks – who is also originally from Queens, NY – not too far down the road.
28. Memphis Grizzlies – Elliot Williams (SG, Memphis)
It would be hard to resist the hometown kid, who also played for the Memphis Tigers last season and averaged nearly 18 points per game. On top of that, he takes care of the ball (1.3 assists per 1 turnover) – which is a stat that the Grizzlies lacked in last season.
29. Orlando Magic – Jordan Crawford (SG, Xavier)
Forget dunking on LeBron and forget the fact that he’s often called too short at his position (6’4”). Crawford can score, and if you saw him in the NCAA Tournament, you would know he hits a lot of clutch shots and makes a lot of plays happen. After seeing the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals, Orlando could use a young and exciting player with this skillset.
30. Washington Wizards – Damion James (SF, Texas)
The Wizards were ranked in the bottom 5 in both assists per game and points per game. John Wall would help both by dishing out the ball, driving to the basket and feeding his teammates. The next addition would be a hard-working, fiery scorer in the frontcourt, and why not James – who increased his points per game every season at Texas (18.0 PPG during his senior year).
*Also posted to my B/R page
Kevin Paul’s second NBA mock draft features some updates and changes from this original posting.