The 2010 NBA draft is top-heavy with instant impact prospects. One noticeable difference about this year's crop is that there are very few international players projected to go within the first 30 picks.
After the lottery, there are still a handful of players capable of contributing immediately, while others are more boom or bust picks.
Here is a pre-lottery mock with all 30 teams projected picks:
With statistical probability favoring New Jersey, Minnesota, or Sacramento here, there isn’t much doubt Wall will be the pick. The Nets will be forced to make a decision about Devin Harris, however. If they can trade him for another solid player, their roster would suddenly become competitive with Brook Lopez, Yi Jianlian, Terrence Williams, Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Wall.
Wall is an exciting, explosive player that makes his four teammates instantly better. Wall is a turbo-charged point guard that can dish, penetrate, and dunk on anybody with authority. His defense is not where it needs to be but with that type of athleticism it’s just a matter of time.
The best all-around player in this draft is versatile Buckeyes junior Evan Turner. He’s a very big 2 guard but has the handle of a 1, the sudden burst of a 3, and the shooting stroke of a top NBA shooting guard. Turner plays just as hard on defense and will be one of the Timberwolves' most accurate free-throw shooters, too.
Along with Jonny Flynn, Kevin Love and Al Jefferson, as well as owning the rights to Ricky Rubio, Minnesota is ready for a playoff run once they add a player such as Turner. I wouldn’t be surprised if they acquired a top 10 point guard for Rubio.
Favors was ranked as one of the top two prospects heading into this season by many publications, but, for whatever reason, he didn’t live up to the expectations. Favors is a stud on the defensive side of the ball and has the athleticism to run the court. With a blossoming offensive game, he’s a couple years away from being considered one of the better young power forwards in the NBA.
The first thing that stands out with Cousins is his NBA-ready body. He has an impressive arsenal of interior post moves to go with his legitimate perimeter game that extends beyond the arc. When he’s locked in—which seems to vary—Cousins is capable of dominating at both ends of the floor. Fortunately, any lack of explosiveness is compensated with his huge wingspan and size.
One of my personal favorites, Johnson is a highlight-reel waiting to happen. Despite his unique ability to carry an offense by scoring many different ways, the former Iowa State transfer loves to man up and play defense. Johnson can jump out of the gym, flying to the rim or crashing the glass. His approximately two blocks and two steals per game shows he might be one of the most NBA-ready players in this class.
Aminu is a lengthy small forward with a developing game that is best from mid-range and in. He’s got nice hops and a Tayshaun Prince-like wingspan (7-feet-4-inches). Aminu can rebound with bigger players on the court but will need to muscle up another 15 pounds, or he will be pushed around inside, as his perimeter game isn’t ready for the pros yet.
After two unfulfilling years in Ann Arbor, Udoh finally began scratching the surface of his potential last season. Leading Baylor to a No. 2 seed in the tournament, the Oklahoma native averaged 14 PPG, 10 rebounds and a gaudy 3.7 blocks per game.
What’s so intriguing about this late-bloomer is that he’s just starting to hit his stride, despite being billed as one of the top big men in the country. Udoh can also bank on his strong showing against elite competition too, including last year’s national championship Duke Team. Detroit desperately needs an offensive and defensive presence in the post, and I’m not convinced this won’t be their best option.
If it wasn’t for a broken wrist in February, Davis would likely have benefited from the steady play he was providing for an otherwise disappointing Tarheels team. There’s no question he will need to bulk up or risk being pushed out of the paint at the will of his opponents. The Clippers could use an athletic shot-blocker who appears to take the game seriously and gives his teammates and coaches an honest effort each time out on the court.
Aldrich should make one of the quicker transitions to the pro game in this draft. He’s a classic Center with an all-around solid game. Aldrich is rugged and tough on defense and can score anywhere the paint to the top of the key. His passing is surprisingly developed and, with Utah needing a true 5, picking this former Jayhawk makes sense.
One of the Wildcats' elder statesmen, Patterson is an all-around solid player. His experience, inside scoring ability, and ability to rebound equate to a promising long-term NBA player as a possible sixth man.
Anderson has one of the smoothest strokes in the entire 2010 draft class. His positioning in various mock drafts range from lottery to an early second round selection. There’s no question about his ability to score from mid-range and beyond.
While the scouting report labels him as more of a smooth 4 than a classic 5. Motiejunas is a talented lefty with quick, advanced beyond his age footwork and a willingness to bang inside, despite reports that he’s all finesse. He’s already a very good shot blocker and, once he muscles up a bit, he could be a top 10 center in this league for the next 10 years.
On film, Motiejunas runs well, displays a solid handle, and appears to have developed some up and under moves in the paint. He does show bursts of intensity, but a couple reports cited occasional lapses in concentration. However, that’s to be expected out of a teenager.
One of the best overall prospects in the class, Hayward is versatile wingman whose intangibles match his physical gifts. He shined for Team USA's Under 19 Team in the summer and completed his ascension up the rankings during Butler’s unbelievable run in the tourney.
Hayward is an intelligent player who plays like a winner. His athleticism, length, and stroke are ready to shine at the next level. While he might be a reach as a top 10 pick, he will be a player that will have proved himself worthy of a selection that high in years to come.
The intriguing part of Monroe’s game is that his relative weaknesses are traits that can be corrected—if he so desires. An impressive scorer both inside and out, Monroe is a very talented lefty with NBA size. He looks like a small forward when handling the basketball, and his repertoire of post moves is advanced for his age. Teams would like to see him bring a greater intensity to the game, mainly on defense. Perhaps an NBA paycheck will make him consider that.
The Rockets don’t have any glaring needs, and while they might consider adding depth at the 2 spot, I think they might consider adding depth to the frontcourt as Yao Ming approaches his 30th birthday and is trying to return from his season-ending foot surgery.
Milwaukee was one of the NBA’s surprise teams last season, finishing second in the central, making the playoffs, and giving Atlanta all they could handle before eventually losing the series 4-3.
Starting Center Andrew Bogut took a big step forward this year but missed the playoffs after an early April injury. The depth behind him is average at best. Adding an intriguing big man like Whiteside not only gives the Bucks much better depth, but he would instantly become their best-shot blocker and one of the top rebounders. He came out of nowhere for the Thundering Herd to propel himself into the middle of the first round.
While the Timberwolves were one of the worst teams in the league last season, they have some solid pieces in place. Their frontcourt of Al Jefferson and Kevin Love is very good. Johnny Flynn had a nice debut season and looks to be their point guard of the future.
George is a versatile swingman who brings a lot to the table at both ends of the floor.
James is a muscular wing with considerable toughness and experience, along with explosive athleticism. With his seven foot wingspan, speed, and near 38-inch vertical, he’s capable of contributing at both ends. He’s able to bring something to the offense and defense, giving the Bulls some talent at the wing.
Orton is a very strong, physical presence underneath the basket. He can rebound, block shots, and move people out of the post. Orton may be a bit undersized, but he should give the Heat some nice size down low.
Williams is a high flyer with the speed and explosion to attack the rim on offense and the quickness and intensity to become a lockdown off-guard defender at the next level.
The Spurs are a very talented, experienced group, but it’s obvious they are an aging team. Warren, a sophomore combo guard appears to be best suited coming off the bench while adding an infusion of youth to the lineup.
Henry may be just 18 years old, but he has the NBA-ready frame of a player in his mid-20s (6’6, 220). There isn’t much not to like about his game, including his physical skills and mental approach. He has big time range and a smooth, slashing style on offense. Defensively, he’s a tenacious defender, guarding his man on the dribble or crashing the boards.
Just like the Thunder, Portland is another young up-and-coming Northwest team ready to take another step next season. With the inside-outside presence of Brandon Roy and Lamarcus Aldridge, along with promising swingman Nicolas Batum, the TrailBlazers could focus on upgrading the Center position with incumbents Marcus Camby and Juwan Howard, who are both aging and limited on both ends of the court at this stage in their career.
Alabi (7’1 240) has the size and desire to be a stalwart on defense, with enough touch around the hoop to become a legit 15 point 10 rebound per night contributor. The Nigerian native posted a near 80 percent mark from the line—impressive for a seven footer.
Assuming the Timberwolves retain all three first round picks, they might consider adding somebody like Stephenson. He may go higher than this, but either way, he’s an extremely strong, quick 2 man with loads of potential. The Brooklyn, New York native can penetrate at will and either finish or draw contact and get to the line. He would be an ideal complement to point guard Johnny Flynn.
While the Hawks reached the playoffs, they were dismantled handedly by Orlando 4-0. With their star player and coach both having fulfilled their contracts, there’s speculation that neither of them will return. If that’s the case, they will need to find somebody to replace Johnson’s scoring. But that would probably come via trade, allowing Atlanta to focus on beefing up its frontcourt, which was exposed against the Magic.
Lawal is a very physical player who can outmuscle or out-jump opponents. While his offensive game is developing, the Yellow Jackets junior has very soft hands.
Chris Wallace and his staff swear last year’s second overall pick, Hasheem Thabeet, just needs time. Well, the Pistons thought the same thing about Darko Milicic. With Ebanks, the Grizzlies would have an extremely lanky, athletic player capable of locking down his man on defense and adding some versatility on offense. Ebanks is one of the more athletically gifted players in the draft.
Crawford showed his scoring prowess during the tournament. He has pinpoint NBA range beyond the arc, but he’s just as likely to take his man off the dribble too. There’s no doubt that Crawford is one of the true scoring guards in this draft. His agility and quickness is impressive, but he will need to ease up his tendency to pass up the open man.
General Manager Sam Presti is already reaping the rewards of excellent personnel moves and has the Thunder primed to be a contender in the Northwest for the next six or seven years. With last year’s addition of James Harden and potentially Crawford manning the shooting guard spot, Oklahoma City will have a dynamite duo to rotate lessening the load on Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
The Nets were despicable last season. It didn’t help matters they were without their young star center Brook Lopez most of the season. Assuming they land their point guard of the future with the No. 1 overall pick, Robinson can come in and add incredible strength and tremendous athleticism to the frontcourt. He hasn’t realized his upside yet but still averaged his best statistical output for the Huskies last year (almost 15 PPG, 8 REB).
The Grizzlies are an explosive scoring team, but they're equally inept on defense, ranking seventh in the league at both. If they are looking to improve their defense, Sanders is as good as it gets in this draft.
He’s a very big prospect (6’10, 240) with an unheard of seven-foot-seven-inch wingspan! Sanders is like a human pogo stick, capable of swatting anything in his area code. He’s improved every year in college and is brimming with defensive player of the year potential.
The Magic are for real, and they’ve begun to establish themselves as one of the best teams in the league. Babbit is definitely talented enough to go 10 picks higher than this, but if he slips, the Magic would add one of the most accurate shooters in the 2010 class, as he finished the year shooting over 90 percent from the line and over 40 percent from three-point range. Babbit gives his coaches everything he has and crashes the boards equally well.
How fitting that the first round begins and ends with a pair of immensely talented freshman from the same team? Bledsoe is a very powerful guard with the desire and quickness to give the Wizards hope at the point. He has surprising range but it’s his ability to blow by his defender in the blink of an eye to penetrate and score or kick out for an open teammate that scouts will love.