1. Sacramento Kings: Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma
Griffin declared for the NBA today and has to be the consensus number one pick, unless someone comes out of nowhere this spring, and rightfully so. Sacramento is building their core up and adding Griffin to the foundation of Spencer Hawes and Kevin Martin is definitely a step in the right direction.
2. Washington Wizards: Hasheem Thabeet, C, Connecticut
Oh, what a year can do for some people. Last year, Thabeet was simply a big body with a lot of work ahead of him if he was going to make it. Well, Thabeet did a lot of work last year and also blocked a lot of shots and is the reason he is right behind Griffin.
Washington lacked a true center this year and never established a good inside game. Hopefully, this team can stay healthy next year and be contenders with Arenas, Butler, Jamison, and Thabeet.
3. Los Angeles Cippers: Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy
The choice to go to Italy will never be seen as a good or bad decision, but regardless Jennings is still an unbelievable talent and just a year out of high school. He can do it all and can be very successful in the Clippers system (whatever it is). The reason I say that is because I can see him being the Monta Ellis that Baron Davis used to have, while Eric Gordon is quickly becoming the Jason Richardson that Davis had.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Greg Monroe, C, Georgetown
I watched Monroe this year against Marquette, and man did he show his athleticism and upside. I know the term “upside” is something everyone gets bored of hearing during the NBA Draft, but it really is important and Monroe has plenty of it. With Russell Westrbook and Kevin Durant taking care of the back court scoring, Monroe will come in and be a force right away and only get better as time goes on.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves: Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain
I really have not seen a lot of Rubio, but what I have shows a lot of talent and smarts. He dominated the Olympics and really got his name out there and will add a new dimension to a Timberwolves team that needs a floor leader. Randy Foye is nice but I think I like him more at shooting guard, while Rubio can come in and run the point all day.
6. Memphis Grizzlies: Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest
There are probably better options at this point in the draft, especially at the guard position, but Aminu brings good versatility to the Grizzlies as he is able to play both forward positions. He needs to improve his perimiter shot, but he plays excellent defense and rebounds very well. I always liked what he has done on the court and will join a Grizzlies team that could surprise a lot of people in the coming years with a core of Conley, Mayo, Gay, Gasol, and Aminu.
7. Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry, SG, Davidson
What better spot for the nation’s best shooter than the run’n'gun style of Golden State? Curry will absolutely dominate in this offense and his lack of defense will not be as big of a deal. This year, he showed off his ability to pass the ball as well and is quickly turning into a combo guard, something that is becoming more and more valuable to NBA teams.
8. Toronto Raptors: James Harden, SF, Arizona State
Harden has one of the best NBA bodies in the draft and will likely contribute to whatever team he ends up on right away. I believe he is capable of playing the shooting guard position, and is capable of playing it very well. He needs to become more consistent shooting the ball, but his ability to drive and draw contact is a key to his game. His physical nature will take him a long way in the Association.
9. New York Nicks: Tyreke Evans, PG, Memphis
Right now, Evans is not ranked as the 9th best player in this draft, but by the time the draft rolls around he will be. He needs to work on his jump shot and might not look like the ideal fit for the Knicks, but I believe that if you work on him as a project, he could be one of the best players to come out of this draft. His ability to drive to the hoop and play very good defense warrant a first round pick, and his ceiling is high enough that he should be taken here.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona
Hill finally put everything together this year, and the result was an improved offensive player as well as a freak of nature on the boards and in the lane. His shot blocking ability and tenacity to get after it on defense is second to none, and with some more polishing he could become great. Milwaukee got good work from Luc Richard Mbah a Moute this year, but he isn’t the same long term answer that Hill could be.
11. New Jersey Nets: Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas
No one saw their draft stock rise higher in the NCAA Tournament than Aldrich. He dominated inside and proved that he is capable of playing both the power forward and center position. I believe him and Brook Lopez can co-exist inside and form a very good tandem in the frontcourt for the Nets.
12. Indiana Pacers: James Johnson, PF, Wake Forest
Much like Aminu, Johnson can play both forward positions and has outstanding athleticism. The Pacers are trying to build around Danny Granger and Troy Murphy, and Johnson gives them an inside presence with a lot of (here it is again) upside that could translate into a stud in a few years.
13. Charlotte Bobcats: Earl Clark, SF, Louisville
When I think of Earl Clark I think Danny Granger, and if that is the case than the Bobcats are getting an absolute steal at 13. I got to watch a lot of him this year in the Big East and he is everything people say he is. At the end of spring, I could easily see his draft stock jumping through the roof into the Top 10. He will join Gerald Wallace and Boris Diaw on a much improved Bobcats team that almost snuck into the playoffs this year.
14. Phoenix Suns: Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina
With Steve Nash seemingly having one foot out the door, it is time to find his replacement and Lawson is by far the answer. He led one of the nation’s best offenses that averaged 90 points per game to a national championship and would have been a lottery pick last year. He is extremely fast and also has good size to go with a decent outside jump shot. He is capable of running the floor with Phoenix and will definitely succeed in this system.