With the 2010 NBA Playoffs raging on, nearly all basketball fans have honed their focus to LeBron James' elbow, Steve Nash's eye, and the one-sided domination occurring in two of the remaining conference semifinal series.
What's left by the wayside is the impending 2010 NBA Draft and the boatload of promising prospects looking to harvest their game and in a few, select cases, begin to rise to basketball superstardom in the game's brightest light—the NBA.
The best and perhaps most complete NBA-ready talent available, Wall will undoubtedly be the first player selected next month.
Wall met and overcame the Himalayan hype surrounding him entering college and consistently torched the opposition using his incredible quickness, speed, basketball IQ, vision, and ability to get to the basket.
The hype will only continue at the next level as Wall has been described as one of the most talented prospects in the last 10 years. Learning the ropes under an accomplished point guard in Devin Harris and alongside rising big man Brook Lopez will certainly aid him in his ascent to what should be a very successful career in New Jersey.
Turner helped lead the Buckeyes all season despite suffering a scary vertebra injury in the middle of the year (from which he rebounded very quickly and saw virtually no dip in stats).
His ability to score, facilitate will add to a young, promising core of guards in Minnesota and his three years of experience at the college level may help ease the learning curve needed to develop into a capable backcourt player.
Turner's rebounding ability—grew almost exponentially each season in Columbus (4.4 in '07-'08, 7.1 in '08-'09, 9.2 in '09-'10)—even further distances him from other guards. He's also a capable (36 percent this year) three-point shooter, so the T-Wolves would be incredibly hard-pressed to pass on the 2010 Player of the Year.
The Kings are desperate for some kind of backcourt depth, but after Wall and Turner, the guard field begins to get relatively thin. With not much help available in the frontcourt either, Favors gives Sacramento a significant boost in size, athleticism, and rebounding (even though the Kings did crack the top 10 in boards this season).
The Kings have been in neutral since coming just points away from making a Finals appearance in the early 2000s, but adding an athletic rarity such as Favors may finally get them on the path toward once again being competitive out west.
Aldrich is a nice big man (6'11", 245lbs.) from one of college basketball's premier institutions and will immediately shore up a very weak Warriors frontline that ranked dead last in rebounds per game (38.4) and 25th in blocks per game (4.1) this season.
The jury is still out on Warrior project Brandan Wright, and Golden State needs more size to pair alongside developing big man Anthony Tolliver—who had a decent first year (11.7PPG, 7RPG)—and Corey Maggette.
With an ocean-deep pool of big men to pick from, it's anyone's guess as to whom the Warriors will take with this pick (especially if they grab an even higher selection in the lottery), but Golden State can't do wrong with acquiring a much-needed interior presence in Aldrich.
With Gilbert Arenas' future very blurry at best, the Wizards are another team hoping against hope for the ball to roll their way and get a top two pick and a chance at Wall or Turner. With that turn of events highly unlikely and Cousins being the best player available, Washington would be crazy to pass on him.
Cousins is an absolute monster physically (6'11", 260lbs.) and was .2 rebounds shy of averaging a double-double (15.1PPG, 9.8RPG) in his only season in college. While it's possible Cousins benefited from opposing defenses' attention being spread so thin to Kentucky's many weapons, you can't ignore numbers like his.
Power forward Andray Blatche experienced an explosion in production following the Wizards' fire sale this season, and if he can continue that raging pace into consistency, he and Cousins would give the troubled Wizards the beginnings of a very fearsome, physical frontline.
Johnson is a bit undersized weight-wise (198lbs.), especially for a 22-year-old, but his length and ability to hit the outside shot will add a lot to a needy Philadelphia frontcourt that lacks a young swingman.
Johnson was a mild surprise at Syracuse after transferring from Iowa State and lit it up on the court in 2010, averaging 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds while hitting threes at a 41 percent clip.
With most of the squads above Philadelphia already having capable swingmen, Johnson may slip to the Sixers even though he’s widely considered a top-five lock. Johnson can add a varying, effective dimension to an underachieving frontline of Elton Brand, Samuel Dalembert, Jason Kapono and Thaddeus Gibson.
Another team, another massively disappointing group of big men.
Charlie Villanueva was anything but the accurate outside sniper and shot in the arm the Pistons were hoping for, Tayshaun Prince took a gigantic step backward in 2010, and Ben Wallace, Jason Maxiell, and Kwame Brown barely give the Pistons any inside touch around the basket.
Davis would give Detroit the long scoring threat it needs down low. The former Tar Heel upped both his scoring average (12) and his rebounding (9) in his second and final year at UNC, so his ability to attack the boards will significantly help a Pistons team that ranked near the bottom of the league in that statistic.
Aminu has been a steady scoring and rebounding threat during his two seasons with the Demon Deacons. He shoots high-percentage shots and can hit the occasional three (even though he went into a second-half slump from beyond the arch last season) as well.
With a thin field of guards and the Clippers having a promising backcourt duo of Baron Davis and Eric Gordon, Aminu fills a natural hole in L.A.’s lineup.
Getting significant points from the 3 forward is something the Clips will need if their core of Gordon, Davis, and Blake Griffin develops the way they intend it to. With decent length and size (6’9”, 215lbs.), Aminu should aid in getting more offensive production from L.A.’s group of forwards.
This should be a very interesting selection. With Carlos Boozer’s future in Salt Lake City anything but definite (and, again, with a field full of big men), the Jazz would be wise to go with a solid frontline presence. Utah also couldn’t handle the Lakers inside during their 2010 playoff series, so a bolster in that area is needed.
They’ll have a very tough choice to make between Monroe and Baylor’s Ekpe Udoh. They’re almost identical in size and points per game and rebounding output.
Monroe, however, averaged both stats at a higher rate for a longer period of time (Udoh skipped a year in college while transferring from Michigan to Baylor) and comes out of a more prestigious program in Georgetown.
Whatever the Jazz’s choice may be next month, they’ll almost certainly need to address the Boozer situation and will have an abundant group from which to pluck their next project.
As stated earlier, there’s a good chance the Jazz’s and Pacers’ picks could swap, since both clubs are needy in the same dimensions and both Udoh and Monroe are so similar.
Really, the only element Udoh brings to the table that Monroe doesn’t is shot blocking. In his previous two seasons of college ball, Udoh averaged 3.7 and 2.9 blocks per game, respectively. That characteristic of Udoh’s game will help an already effective shot-blocking team in Indiana become even more intimidating on the baseline.
The Hornets are absolutely loaded at guard with Chris Paul, Marcus Thornton, and Darren Collison. They also have a good center in Emeka
Okafor and a very good stretch 4 in David West.
They are, however, slightly undersized and could use another big body to spell Okafor while still keeping the New Orleans interior on lockdown. Patterson is an experienced, well-sized forward (6’8”, 245lbs.) that can score, rebound, and has recently found a bit of a deep touch. If Patterson is even still available at this point in the Draft, he’d be a good fit in NOLA.
Yes, the Grizzlies just drafted a seven-footer in Hasheem Thabeet a year ago, but his rookie season was a disappointment and Marc Gasol became a bright spot for an interestingly scrappy Memphis team.
Outside his height (7’), Motiejunas brings with him miles upon miles of room to grow into another great European big man that can hit outside shots, rebound, and block shots (he hasn’t shown much ability to get tons of blocks every time he’s on the floor, but he’s huge and is only 19 years old).
Memphis would love to pair another tower alongside Thabeet and see how the two and their differing games gel together for the up-and-coming contender in the Western Conference.
With Chris Bosh likely on his way out of Toronto and little depth behind starting center Andrea Bargnani, the Raptors suddenly find themselves in desperate need of considerable size.
Orton brings just that. He’s very impressive physically and contributes a lot more than what shows up on the stat sheet. Also, like Motiejunas before him, he’s very young and has loads of time to develop his scoring touch and rebounding tenacity (a trait that should come naturally to someone of his stature).
Many are projecting Orton to go a few spaces higher than this, but there may not be enough outside of physical characteristics to get him into the top 10.
Whiteside is a great fit to develop behind Yao Ming—assuming Yao can stay healthy long enough to tutor Whiteside into being a deadly NBA center. He’s young, long (6’11”), and has a vicious habit of swatting shots (5.4 per game in his only collegiate season). Sound familiar?
Whiteside would give the thin group of Houston bigs a much-needed shot in the arm whether or not Yao does indeed fall victim to another long-term injury. Even with Yao in the lineup, the Rockets aren’t a good shot-blocking team, so Whiteside’s rejection ability would give them a unique dimension on defense.
As the draft’s next-best guard behind Turner, Henry is a logical choice for the Bucks.
Rookie Brandon Jennings gave every indication that he is the future at point guard for Milwaukee, so Henry’s scoring ability, toughness, and three-point accuracy would make for a very young and lethal backcourt. Veteran John Salmons proved that with a capable scoring guard next to Jennings, the Bucks can become a legit contender in the NBA.
Henry’s a great fit for that mold and would give Milwaukee one of the scariest, youngest cores (along with Jennings and Bogut) in the league.
Another young team with a decent core in Jonny Flynn, Corey Brewer, and Al Jefferson, Minnesota would greatly benefit from Hayward’s length and scoring touch at the 3.
The T-Wolves could go bigger here since their frontline depth basically begins and ends with Jefferson, so Damion James or Solomon Alabi could end up being Minnesota’s pick as well.
Hayward definitely needs to add a little more to his long, wiry frame and improve his side-to-side quickness and mobility, but his offensive ability and scoring talent would give Minnesota a more versatile rotation.
This is an interesting pick. With a very solid guard duo in Kirk Hinrich and rising superstar Derrick Rose, Chicago seems set up top.
They also boast an aggressive and growing frontcourt consisting of Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson. However, with guard depth behind Hinrich and Rose pretty shallow, the Bulls would benefit from selecting Anderson.
He’s a capable (37 percent) three-point shooter who can also distribute, so the growing attention that will be paid to Noah and Rose should give him open looks from which to develop his shooting touch. Anderson can also be a pest on the defensive end as he has a talent for stealing.
Anderson is tall (6’6”) for a 2 guard, so that will become one of his greatest assets at the next level, especially if he’s able to consistently hit deep shots.
Bledsoe is a very athletic 6’1” combo guard that plays with a palpable vigor and has good upside and room to grow. His scouting reviews haven’t been spectacular, but most agree that Bledsoe has great potential and well above-average athleticism.
Miami, like Toronto before them, is dealing with an unclear future regarding its best player, so the Heat would be wise to stock up on a high-profile guard just in case.
Even if Wade does end up staying in South Beach, the Miami group of guards could use more depth. Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers can definitely play, but Daequan Cook has been a massive disappointment thus far.
Boston’s depth behind Paul Pierce isn’t great (Marquis Daniels), and with Pierce not getting any younger, the Celtics should consider grabbing a frontline talent with their pick. James could be that talent. James was one of the several athletes labeled as NBA-ready at the beginning of the 2009-10 season, but was one of the few whose Draft stock remained well throughout the year.
His size (6’7”, 224lbs.), length, athleticism, and very aggressive style of play would blend seamlessly into a Celtics frontline that is known for being one of the roughest in the league. James is also an absolute beast on rebounds (averaged 10.3 in 09-10 and 07-08) and can hit the occasional three.
Sanders is a curious talent who is projected by most experts to be picked slightly higher than this, but should the teams above San Antonio follow the listed course, Sanders would become a very enticing option at No. 20.
He has great speed and quickness for a big man and improved markedly in nearly every aspect of his game since beginning to play organized basketball around five years ago.
While Sanders isn’t as tough or physical as Spurs rookie DeJuan Blair – who had a fantastic first season in San Antonio – his softer game, speed, and ability to score could add an interesting aspect to San Antonio’s offense. Sanders on the break with Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker could cause nightmares for opposing defenses.
Alabi’s size (7’1”, 251lbs.) in itself may be too much for a scary talented team like the Thunder to pass.
OKC, as seen this season, is very solid across the board and has a wonderful young group of skilled athletes, but is lacking a dominant inside presence. Serge Ibaka did a great job during the 2009-10 campaign and is a wonderful shot blocker, but may not be the long-term solution for the Thunder.
If Alabi can hone a consistent scoring ability and grab some more rebounds (he only averaged around six last season), his shot blocking can fit right into an aggressive Oklahoma City defense that showed a late-season knack for swats.
If Ibaka can continue to improve and become a solid started for the ever-improving Thunder squad, grabbing Alabi definitely won’t hurt OKC in getting the size and length to compete on a purely physical level with some of the bigger frontcourts in the Association.
The Blazers are stacked at the guard position and have potential to throw some nasty lineups at people with budding power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. A good, athletic small forward or swingman would greatly benefit Portland, and Robinson is the best available to fill that need.
At 6’9” and 225lbs., Robinson would give Portland even more athleticism down low and would create a deadly, young tandem alongside Aldridge. He has a huge wingspan, is quick for his size, and can finish well around the basket.
Robinson has also been lauded for his defensive ability, which would only bolster an already stellar (94.1 opponents’ points per game this season) defensive unit in Portland.
Seraphin is another physical and athletic freak that, while not ripe for NBA play and still needing a lot of skill work, can add tons to a Minnesota frontline that could dearly use another big body with some talent.
Seraphin is 6’9” and 258lbs. and would give, if nothing else, a more intimidating and athletic body than the T-Wolves’ current center, Darko Milicic.
Seraphin has a huge wingspan and can get up and down both in the air and on the floor very quickly, but his skill in the French league in which he currently plays doesn’t translate to a high-quality NBA player yet.
If the Wolves can develop him in the right way, a frontline featuring himself,
Jefferson, Hayward, and Kevin Love could be the beginnings of contention in Minnesota.
The Hawks’ group of forwards is pretty thin (Marvin Williams, Joe Smith, and Maurice Evans), and even though Joe Johnson may be on his way out of Atlanta, Jeff Teague and Jamal Crawford give the Hawks too much depth to go after Avery Bradley of Texas with this pick.
George is young and needs to put some muscle on his frame (185lbs.), but he has good length, can score (16.8 points this season), and is an unbelievable free throw shooter (90 percent) for an NBA player.
The Hawks definitely have a tough choice to make with this pick, with a couple players with differing skill sets appealing to different real and hypothetical situations for the franchise, but George would be a solid pick regardless of what happens this summer.
In selecting Motiejunas earlier in the round, the Grizzlies have the luxury of stockpiling their already healthy load of guards.
Bradley shot 45 percent from inside the three-point arch this season at Texas, so he possesses a very nice mid-range scoring touch but, at 6’3”, has very average height for a 2 guard and might not be able to get his own shot. Alongside O.J. Mayo and Zach Randolph, however, Bradley would get a good amount of open looks at his effective jumper.
Babbitt is as pure a shooter there is in this Draft, as he puts up a 50 percent clip from the field and a 41.6 rate from three land. The Oklahoma City guard corps is already deep, young, and skilled, so the Thunder would benefit tremendously from picking a forward who can further stretch the floor for Kevin Durant.
The knock on Babbitt is that he isn’t terribly athletic or quick, but those downsides aren’t deal-breakers with his wonderful shot from virtually any range.
Crawford is a definite stretch at this pick, but the Nets need a little more help in the shooting guard slot behind Courtney Lee. New Jersey could go with Oklahoma guard Willie Warren, but his stock has fluctuated drastically over the past year-and-a-half.
Crawford brings an insanely athletic feature to the game (the well-publicized and rarely-seen video clip of his dunk over LeBron James is exhibit A) and can get to the rack easily – almost at will. At 6’4” and 195lbs., he could afford to bulk up a bit, especially since he isn’t a huge factor on the defensive end of the floor.
However, playing alongside Wall, Harris, Lee, and Chris Douglas-Roberts would give Crawford a nice environment in which to harvest his game while making a deadly New Jersey backcourt.
Pondexter is one of the more well-known prospects in this draft, due in most part to his leading the Huskies to the Pac-10 championship in 2010. In a field bursting with forwards of every type, Pondexter is expected to fall to the bottom of the first round.
With an astonishing three first-round picks, Memphis has a lot of flexibility with this pick. With Motiejunas and Bradley already selected, the Grizzlies have an absolute luxury in being able to build depth behind Rudy Gay at the small forward position.
Pondexter is athletic as they come, shoots a very high field goal percentage (53 percent), can hit threes every now and then, and has a great ability to get his own shot off the dribble.
Williams grew into a very solid guard during his only season with the Tigers. He’s a consistent shooter who aggressively drives (albeit almost exclusively with his right hand) and can distribute to his teammates.
He can also shoot the three reasonably well (36 percent), so that fits directly into what Orlando does on a nightly basis.
Williams has a knack for driving and getting to the rim – where he’s shown a relative inability to complete his drive – so that should play well into the Magic developing him into their next shooting guard once Vince Carter’s days in the Association come to an end.
Warren’s stock took a huge nosedive when he decided to return to Norman for his senior season, as his shooting percentages dropped and his responsibility in a Blake Griffin-free offense looked to be too much for Warren to handle.
However, Warren does have a good skill in creating his own shot and breaking down his defender one-on-one. He’s a very quick, athletic guard who shows good tenacity in his driving and possesses terrific natural ability when finishing at the hoop, which is something any team would love to have in its backcourt.
It’s entirely possible Warren drops into the second round, but he may be a good fit in the Wizards’ rebuilding plans, especially if Gilbert Arenas continues to be more of a headache than a producer.