1. Sacramento Kings: Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma
Unlike the NFL, when you have the first overall seed in the draft you go with the best player nine out of ten times.
Count this one as one of those nine times as the Kings grab the best player in the draft in Griffin to tag-team with Spencer Hawes in the front court.
NBA Comparison: Amare Stoudemire
2. Washington Wizards: Ricky Rubio, PG, DKV Joventut
Ever since his Olympics performance against the United States, scouts have been drooling waiting for Rubio to declare for the draft.
Now that he has entered his name, the Wizards can start building around him to get back to the playoffs. Moving Gilbert Arenas to a Dwyane Wade-type shooting guard role will help both players out and make the Wizards that much better.
NBA Comparison: Rafer Alston
3. Los Angeles Clippers: Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona
Hill was one of the most improved players in the NCAA this year and will be rewarded for it in the draft. Hill is an outstanding scorer and and even better shot blocker.
Hopefully Los Angeles can reverse their Lottery luck and start to build a core around Hill, Eric Gordon, and Deandre Jordan.
NBA Comparison: Al Jefferson
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Hasheem Thabeet, C, Connecticut
The Thunder are growing excellent young talent right now with Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Russell Westbrook, but there appears to be a gaping hole at the center position.
Thabeet was the best defensive player in the NCAA last year and if he can add a some muscle to his frame, he will be the next big shot blocker in the league.
NBA Comparison: Sam Dalembert
5. Minnesota Timberwolves: Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy
A lot of people are underrating Jennings because of his decision to play internationally instead of going to Arizona, but do not deny Jennings’ talent for one second.
He excels on his jump shot and getting to the hoop, where he finishes with great power. Minnesota can move Randy Foye to shooting guard to make room for Jennings.
NBA Comparison: Allen Iverson
6. Memphis Grizzlies: James Harden, SG, Arizona State
I am not a huge fan of Harden as I wonder how good he can be without having top end speed. Still, you can not overlook his outstanding ability on jump shots.
He needs to work on creating more offensively and he plays pretty good defense for his size.
His potential is huge and despite having O.J. Mayo, the Grizzlies believe in Mike Conley and will build on more depth in getting Harden.
NBA Comparison: Ben Gordon
7. Golden State Warriors: Tyreke Evans, PG, Memphis
Evans was one of my favorite players to watch this year, and for good reason. He has great size for a point guard and uses it very well getting to the hoop.
He is also able to guard bigger players on the defenders, something Golden State has been known to give up on most nights.
Evans also improved his jump shot as the year went on and will develop it even further in Don Nelson’s system.
NBA Comparison: Dwyane Wade
8. New York Knicks: Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest
Teague is the definition of a combo guard as he has a knack for scoring baskets but also handles the point very well.
He should thrive in Mike D’Antoni’s run-n-gun offense because of it, and with the uncertainty of Nate Robinson and Chris Duhon next year, Teague makes a lot of sense here.
NBA Comparison: Gilbert Arenas
9. Toronto Raptors: Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke
Toronto really struggled to find a steady and consistent shooting guard this year, but Henderson should solve all their problems.
Henderson is unbelievably athletic and a smart player who will benefit greatly from an up-tempo style that he was not able to see while playing for coach K.
NBA Comparison: Joe Johnson
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Johnny Flynn, PG, Syracuse
I don’t know if Flynn will end up going over Ty Lawson in the draft come June, but he should.
Not only did Flynn have a better statistical season (by a hair), but I believe that he is the next big thing to come and has more potential than Lawson
Flynn plays much bigger than he really is and the Bucks could use a starting point guard on a team full of back-ups in Luke Ridnour and Ramon Sessions.
NBA Comparison: Tony Parker
11. New Jersey Nets: Earl Clark, SF, Louisville
Clark is one of the most intriguing prospects in this year’s draft and one of my favorites. I got to watch him quite a bit as he played in the Big East.
From what I can tell he has all the tools. His size matched up with his athleticism is unlike any other player in the draft. If he can focus on becoming a true forward (settles for too many jump shots), his outstanding defense and versatility will carry him far in the league.
NBA Comparison: Josh Smith
12. Charlotte Bobcats: Wayne Ellington, SG, North Carolina
Ellington’s perimeter game is outstanding and he has pretty good size for a shooting guard.
Charlotte lacked a true two guard after the Jason Richardson trade and it never hurts to have a little home-grown talent to bring some people to the stadium.
NBA Comparison: Richard Hamilton
13. Indiana Pacers: Stephen Curry, PG, Davidson
The value that Curry brings falling to number 13 is too hard to pass up.
Curry formed himself into a combo guard this year, taking over point guard responsibilities. This will be a key asset for NBA scouts to see as last year he was more of a pure shooter that did not do anything else very well.
NBA Comparison: Mike Bibby
14. Phoenix Suns: Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina
Lawson will become the heir apparent to Steve Nash and he should thrive in the Suns up-tempo system, somewhat similar to what he played in at Chapel Hill.
Lawson lacks ideal size for a point guard but his combination of speed and strength should make him a very good player in the league.
NBA Comparison: Deron Williams
15. Detroit Pistons: Demar DeRozan, SF, Southern Cal
DeRozan has filled up many a YouTube videos with his athleticism and speed to go with it, but the question is whether or not he can translate that into a solid basketball player.
At Southern Cal, DeRozan had an efficient year and, with so much potential on his side, Detroit should be able to turn him into a stud.
NBA Comparison: Josh Howard
16. Chicago Bulls: Terrance Williams, SG, Louisville
I do not expect the Bulls to re-sign Ben Gordon this off-season, leaving somewhat of a hole at the position.
Williams has the best intangibles and leadership qualities of anyone in the draft and plays excellent defense, which is something the Bulls could use more out of their guards. If Gordon is re-signed by the time of the draft, this pick could easily be Patrick Patterson.
NBA Comparison: Andre Iguodala
17. Philadelphia 76ers: Chase Budinger, SF, Arizona
Budinger has significantly increased his stock since coming out of high school with Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. He has become a much better all around player because of it.
Philadelphia could use depth at the position but would also consider Flynn or Lawson if either of them were to fall this far.
NBA Comparison: Luol Deng
18. Minneosta Timberwolves: James Johnson, PF, Wake Forest
While Minnesota has entrenched their front court with Al Jefferson and Kevin Love, Johnson is a project that can sit and wait in the wings for a few years becoming a full time player.
He flew under the radar all of last year because of Jeff Teague and Al-Farouq Aminu but his athleticism and strength are two great traits that could make him a stellar defender in the NBA.
NBA Comparison: Al Thornton
19. Atlanta Hawks: B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State
Mullens was the top prospect coming out of high school but did not have an unbelievable year at Ohio State. Still, he has a ton of potential that could very easily translate to the NBA game.
He is very raw but has good size and is fluid in the paint and is one of the few true centers that could go in the first round this year.
Atlanta could use some depth behind Zaza Pachulia and keep Al Horford at the power forward position.
NBA Comparison: Sam Dalembert
20. Utah Jazz: DeJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh
If Carlos Boozer is not back for the Jazz, which I do not expect him to be, depth at power forward will be a major concern.
Paul Millsap proved that he is more than capable of starting, but behind him there is little talent on a team that runs on having depth.
NBA Comparison: Paul Millsap
21. New Orleans Hornets: Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU
The Hornets are really lacking at the shooting guard position and Thornton is a project that could stem into something very positive if he continues to work on his game.
He does a great job coming off of screens in offensive sets and even has a decent post game that he can use in the NBA.
NBA Comparison: Ray Allen
22. Dallas Mavericks: Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky
Other than Brandon Bass, the Mavs do not have very man post-up forwards, and that is exactly what Patterson is.
Injuries plagued him but when he is playing good basketball, he is a top-10 pick. He averages close to three offensive rebounds per game and works very hard in the post to fight for rebounds despite still being a very raw player.
He could easily be the steal of this draft.
NBA Comparison: Al Horford
23. Sacarmento Kings: Jrue Holiday, PG, UCLA
After addressing the power forward position, the Kings pick up a big-time project in Holiday. He has the potential to be a starting point guard in the Association but will really need to polish up.
He struggled late in the season but gives good versatility as a combo guard. I would not be surprised at all to see Holiday come back to the Bruins for another year of work in college.
NBA Comparison: Rodney Stuckey
24. Portland Trailblazers: Sam Young, SF, Pittsburgh
Young is one of the most polished players in the draft that can come in right away and get minutes.
He will be coming to a Blazers team that has some of the best young talent in the league, so player that can see the floor from day one will be important.
Young plays great defense and really improved his jump shot this year.
NBA Comparison: Brandon Rush
25. Oklahoma City Thunder: Eric Maynor, PG, VCU
Despite having standout rookie Russell Westbrook, the Thunder have shaky depth at the point guard position.
Maynor benefited greatly from the NCAA Tournament and was one of the most well-recognized names in March.
He is a veteran player and a great leader that can translate to the young Thunder team.
NBA Comparison: Nate Robinson
26. Chicago Bulls: Austin Daye, PF, Gonzaga
Daye is a very interesting prospect that, like most Bulls forwards, will be a project in the making.
The one difference is that Daye is an outstanding defender and very strong in the post. Too many times this year the Bulls were “out- physical-ed” and it cost them points in the paint.
Daye also has a nice mid-range game on offense.
NBA Comparison: Jared Jeffries
27. Memphis Grizzlies: Patrick Mills, PG, Saint Mary’s
Mike Conley showed flashes of starting capability, but just in case he is not the answer for the Grizzles, Mills will be a very good pickup with good value.
Mills takes too many outside shots right now and will need to work on that, especially if he keeps missing them, but over time could prove to be a solid option at the point.
NBA Comparison: Rafer Alston
28. Minnesota Timberwolves: Gani Lawal, PF, Georgia Tech
With three selections in the first round, Minnesota will likely not have three huge needs to address. So, they will either go with the player with the most potential or simply the best player on the draft board.
Lawal’s potential is through the roof as he plays above the rim on most possessions and has thunderous dunks in most games he plays in.
While he is still raw and not mechanically sound, he could be a star.
NBA Comparison: Jason Maxiell
29. Los Angeles Lakers: Darren Collison, PG, UCLA
Just like they did with Jordan Farmar, the Lakers go back to a UCLA point guard and get a great floor leader in Collison.
Staying for his senior year hurt his draft stock but he still produces at a high level and had three Final Four appearances, showing he knows how to win.
Derek Fisher will be 36 and has stopped producing for the Lakers, while Farmar is strictly a backup.
NBA Comparison: Chris Duhon
30. Cleveland Cavaliers: Tyler Smith, SF, Tennessee
The Cavs are in good hands with LeBron James, but injuries to Wally Szczerbiak and J.J. Hickson this year really exposed the Cavs lack of a bench at the forward position.
Smith is definitely a project and there is a good chance he will return for his senior year. Regardless of when he comes out, he has the athleticism to make it in the pros, even if only as a great defender.
NBA Comparison: Tyrus Thomas
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