NBA Mock Draft 2.0: Snappy Judgment
Then what, exactly, is the aim of this here NBA mock draft? It's a snap judgment on who makes sense where. No reporter knows anything right now (other than Wall being a prohibitive favorite at No. 1), so this is a good opportunity to use some common sense to figure out some possibilities.
With that, let's dive in and take an early stab at the 2010 NBA Draft's first round.
1. Washington Wizards: John Wall, PG, Kentucky
Despite Gilbert Arenas' magnificently massive contract, the Wizards are required by the laws of physics to take Wall. The concerns about how those two play together hardly matter when you consider Wall figures to be the team's best player since the 1970s. (Michael Jordan wasn't Michael Jordan when he wore Wizards blue.) Welcome to the NBA, Ted Leonsis.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Derrick Favors, PF/C, Georgia Tech
Most teams would take Evan Turner at No. 2, but I see the 76ers addressing the frontcourt. It's not universally accepted that Turner is the best player available next to Wall -- that picked up steam heading into the NCAA Tournament, but it's hardly some serious truth. It's very debatable. Favors is a savory prospect whose perhaps irrelevant connection to Dwight Howard can only boost his stock. Besides, two guards going 1-2 hasn't happened in decades.
3. New Jersey Nets: Evan Turner, G, Ohio State
Mikhail Prokhorov looked seriously angry when Adam Silver announced the Nets had won the No. 3 pick. But if Turner falls, there's a happy ending. Of course the No. 1 pick and Wall was the aim, as it was for all lottery teams. But there is life after No. 1, and in the event the Nets can grab Turner (obviously not a given) all will be well.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves: Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse
Breathe easy, Wolves fans: there's no point guard to pick here. Instead, there is likely one of Favors or DeMarcus Cousins, plus Johnson, a high-flying athletic forward. The Wolves need help everywhere but power forward and (supposedly) point guard. Greg Monroe (the anti-Al Jefferson) and Cole Aldrich could be in play here.
5. Sacramento Kings: DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky
The Kings slipped three slots in the 2009 lottery, and two slots this year. But a great player was available at No. 4 in 2009 (Tyreke Evans), and a great prospect could be available at No. 5 this season. Cousins, if available, would be brilliant next to Evans. The Kings have never been discouraged by supposed bad attitudes, and there's a definite frontcourt opening for Cousins there.
6. Golden State Warriors: Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina
Who knows which way the Warriors will go? I would suggest the answer to that question is "no one." The Warriors can't expect to contend next season (barring a major trade), so a project like Davis at a need position (sorry, lottery picks Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph) could be a fit.
7. Detroit Pistons: Greg Monroe, C, Georgetown
Monroe, a highly skilled pivot in the mold of Vlade Divac, isn't your typical Detroit Bad Boy. But Rodney Stuckey needs help spreading the ball, and the Pistons desperately need a center. (Especially with Kwame Brown hitting free agency!)
8. Los Angeles Clippers: Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest
The Clippers hope to woo LeBron James this summer, but um, ha ha ha. Ha ha. Ha. This draft is top-heavy with livewire small forwards, though, with Aminu neck-and-neck with Wes J. on most draft boards. Few prospects on the board can help the Clippers moe next season, even if Aminu is seen as a bit of a project. Athleticism and energy go a long way on defense, which is where L.A. needs some aid, assuming Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon have clean bills of health.
9. Utah Jazz: Xavier Henry, SG, Kansas
After trading Ronnie Brewer to Memphis, it was believed Utah had a hole at shooting guard. But Wesley Matthews, an undrafted rookie, performed well. Henry is a more traditional two-guard prospect, full of scoring vigor and offensive deftness. He might boost Deron Williams' assists average right from the start.
10. Indiana Pacers: Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas
I tried to avoid it, I did ... but some things just go together. (Note that I don't actually think Aldrich is a bust in waiting. Teams needs rebounding and defense. Roy Hibbert isn't a great rebounder despite his size.)
11. New Orleans Hornets: Ekpe Udoh, PF, Baylor
Udoh surprisingly doesn't stack up well when looking at advanced metrics, but the Hornets have never been confused with a team that cares about that stuff. Unless Julian Wright comes along, N.O. could also use a small forward. But with David West running out of time, a big man looks like a real possibility.
12. Memphis Grizzlies: Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky
Patterson is the closest thing to a veteran in the lottery, and the Grizzlies need contribution at power forward (behind Zach Randolph) to take the next step, assuming a legit, better-than-Conley point guard isn't available. Jay Bilas loves this pick!
13. Toronto Raptors: Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Benetton Treviso
Raptors fans will HATE seeing Motiejunas picked. The Lithuanian big man would be seen as a Chris Bosh replacement, and Andrea Bargnani 2.0. While Motiejunas does play for Il Mago's old team, they aren't that similar, and Donatas would probably be a decent choice here. But, as I said, Raptors fans would burn the town down if this happens.
14. Houston Rockets: Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall
Whiteside, the mid-major mystic with incredible weakside shotblocking skills and strong rebounding numbers, makes perfect sense for the Rockets, despite his project status. Houston needs depth up front so long as Yao Ming wears red, and Whiteside's advanced metrics are fantastic.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Gordon Hayward, SG, Butler
The Bucks nearly won a lottery pick in that John Salmons trade, with the Bulls just barely making the postseason. As it turns out, the Bucks ended up getting No. 15 in exchange for No. 17 (in addition to turning expiring contracts into Salmons, who fueled a solid run). Salmons, however, could be moving on as a free agent. With Michael Redd seeing his end of (basketball) days, potentially, Milwaukee needs to add a perimeter scorer. Hawyard sure can score.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jordan Crawford, SG, Xavier
The Timberwolves continue to require the services of someone who can slash and finish, and Crawford, currently slated for the early second by DraftExpress, can slash and finish. Ask LeBron. Corey Brewer likely isn't a long-term shooting guard, and neither are Jonny Flynn or Ramon Sessions.
17. Chicago Bulls: James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State
The Bulls are less predictable than they get credit for, although the emphasis on scrappy players despite the lack of, err, Scott Skiles, is weird. Anderson is tough and burly, and the team needs to beef up its guard pipeline.
18. Miami Heat: Solomon Alabi, C, Florida State
The Heat have need help in the middle since trading Shaquille O'Neal and losing Alonzo Mourning to retirement. Jermaine O'Neal's minor reversal of fortune was nice, but unsustainable. (See: the Boston series.) Alabi's offense is raw, like 90% of big men prospects. But his defense looked otherworldly at Florida State, and the Heat need a backstop.
19. Boston Celtics: Artsiom Parakhouski, C, Radford
Word up to Belarus. Hell, word up to the Big South conference, too. Parakhouski, a 22-year-old dragon, averaged 21/13 as a senior. Whether that's a small conference mirage or extendable remains to be seen, but the aging Celtics can afford to take a minor risk here with few potential world-changers remaining.
20. San Antonio Spurs: Paul George, SF, Fresno State
Haven't heard of him? Exactly.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Daniel Orton, C, Kentucky
I consider the Thunder taking Orton to be Sam Presti's "Jerryd Bayless pick." Orton gets terrible reviews on his work ethic and smarts. But the team spirit in OKC is fantastic, and peer pressure can be wonderful thing in the right hands.
22. Portland Trail Blazers: Kevin Seraphin, PF, Cholet Basket
In fairness to the Blazers, they don't always stash picks in Europe. It just seems that way. Nicolas Batum came over upon his selection, despite his status as a project. And he contributed right away. The key is in assessing the team's immediate needs. There really aren't any to speak of, assuming Rudy Fernandez doesn't flee, so this season does look like a "stash" opportunity.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves: Eric Bledsoe, G, Kentucky
Minnesota can draft 20 shooters and no one could complain. This team needs shooters. Bledsoe figures to do that well some day soon.
24. Atlanta Hawks: Miroslav Raduljica, C, KK FMP Zeleznik
The Hawks plan to turn the point guard position over the Jeff Teague next season, but I don't think we'll see Atlanta try to find a Joe Johnson replacement in the draft, especially this deep. Big men with potential always pop up in the 20s, though.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Damion James, F, Texas
The Grizzlies love veteran college players. See: Sam Young and DeMarre Carroll in 2009.
26. Oklahoma City Thunder: Avery Bradley, SG, Texas
It's unlikely Bradley will fall this far. If he does, it's hard for any team to justify skipping him.
27. New Jersey Nets: Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State
Brackins is either a future Paul Millsap or a future Ryan Anderson, or something in between.
28. Memphis Grizzlies: Quincy Pondexter, F, Washington
Once again: veteran college players.
29. Orlando Magic: Darrington Hobson, F, New Mexico
The Magic are too deep everywhere, especially in the frontcourt. Hobson was a surprise early entrant, so he needs to drop jaws in workouts to justify his decision. Based on that, I think he has a great chance of sneaking into the first round.
30. Washington Wizards: Larry Sanders, PF, VCU
Who cares who the Wizards pick at 30? They got John Wall!