When do teams get in trouble in the NBA Draft? Well, let's put aside teams that pass on three perennial All-Stars and draft an overhyped foreign player, or teams that pass on a once in a generation talent for the big guy with balky knees. And let's also put aside teams that select two point guards with consecutive lottery picks but pass on two All-Rookie point guards.
Other than that, teams get in trouble when they ignore talented players to reach for a different player all because they think that a certain prospect fits a need.
Need is important, but talent should be the top criteria when putting together an NBA Draft Board.
What do I suggest: do what I do in fantasy drafts. Rank the players, and then put them into groups based on talent—group one is made up of the top players, group two, the second best players, and so on. When it is your turn to draft, look at what players are left in the various groups. For example, if your team wants a center, look for the best available center, but if you find yourself reaching down to group four when there are players left in group two, you are likely making a mistake.
Players are listed alphabetically within each group.
Group 1: Evan Turner, John Wall
Group 2: Al-Farouq Aminu, Demarcus Cousins, Derrick Favors
Group 3: Cole Aldrich, Ed Davis, Wesley Johnson, Greg Monroe
Group 4: Donatas Motiejum, Daniel Orton, Patrick Patterson, Ekpe Udoh, Hassan Whiteside
Group 5: James Anderson, Gordon Hayward, Damion Jones, Xavier Henry
Group 6: Solomon Alabi, Luke Babbitt, Eric Bledsoe, Avery Bradley, Paul George, Stanley Robinson, Larry Sanders, Willie Warren
Group 7: Craig Brackins, Devin Ebanks, Armon Johnson, Quincy Pondexter, Kevin Seraphin, Terrico White, Elliot Wiliams
Best of the Rest: Jordan Crawford, Keith Gallon, Darrington Hobson, Dominique Jones, Jerome Jordan, Gani Lawal, Dexter Pittman, Lance Stephenson, Jarvis Varnado
Now, on to the mock draft...
Pick: John Wall, PG, 6’4"
A no-brainer pick. Wall was essentially the consensus No. 1 pick since the first 2010 mock draft appeared. There may be some people at least raising the question of the Wizards taking Evan Turner with the pick, but Wall will be the selection. With the return of Gilbert Arenas next season, it should make for some interesting practices.
Pick: Evan Turner, SF, 6’7"
The Philadelphia 76ers have to be very pleased to wind up with the second pick after having the sixth-worst record during the season—especially considering the talent of their likely pick, Evan Turner.
Turner is coming off a junior season where he opened many eyes, averaging 20 points, nine rebounds, and six assists while shooting over 50 percent from the floor. The versatile Turner will team with Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodola to give the Sixers a talented perimeter trio.
Pick: Derrick Favors, PF, 6’9"
The New Jersey Nets had to be disappointed not to get the top pick and John Wall—especially since Wall would have likely been pitch No. 1 to a certain free agent. Unfortunately for them, they will have to settle for the third pick. I am not certain about Derrick Favors here, but Favors appears to be the consensus among experts.
The problem with Favors is he is a guy who needs time to improve and that is not the best type of player to select if you want to attract one of the top free agents. With that in mind, if the pick is not Favors, I could also see the Nets going with Demarcus Cousins— one of the top big men, who could be the one to help contribute the quickest.
Pick: Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, 6’8"
I wanted to have the Timberwolves pick a point guard here, maybe even a foreign point guard who won't be available for several years as part of David Kahn's eight-year plan.
But, I think Aminu is the pick. He will join a frontcourt with Al Jefferson and Kevin Love, and if he can make the adjustment to the NBA, it should allow Ryan Gomes to transition into a sixth man role.
Aminu may be the best athlete in the draft, the type of athlete that if he played football, you know Al Davis would be the one drafting him. Whether he can develop a consistent jump shot could be the key to see just how effective an NBA player he can be.
Pick: DeMarcus Cousins, PF, 6’9"
The picture here of Cousins says it all—no one questions his talent, but some may question where his head is at certain times. On a loaded Kentucky team, Cousins still averaged 15 points, and nearly 10 rebounds a game.
But despite those numbers, he still could not shake his inconsistent label or the questions about his stability. If he can put those negative labels to rest, he can combine with another former John Calipari star, Tyreke Evans, to give the Kings two of the top young players in the league.
Pick: Wesley Johnson, SF, 6’7"
Johnson sat out the 2009 season after transferring to Syracuse from Iowa State. Then in 2010, Johnson improved his scoring from 12.4 to 16.5 points per game and improved his field goal percentage from 39.6 percent to 50.2 percent. He can shoot the three, finish at the rim, play strong defense, and rebound for a small forward.
Pick: Cole Aldrich, C, 6’11"
The Pistons went 27-55 last season and had to rely on 35-year old Ben Wallace at center. Those two facts alone could result in the Pistons taking Aldrich who averaged a double-double in both his sophomore and junior seasons before declaring for the draft.
When it comes to the draft, there will be a great deal of talk about "upside." Aldrich is not one of those guys, but he is a player that a team will be able to count on. He also has good shooting range for a center.
Pick: Ed Davis, PF, 6’10"
Davis is an athletic big man with a long wingspan which allows him to play bigger than he already is. He is a work in progress and needs to improve his offensive skills. But the Clippers should be a good fit for him with Chris Kaman and the return of Blake Griffin, allowing Davis enough time to adjust to the NBA level.
Pick: Greg Monroe, PF, 6’11"
The Utah Jazz very well could lose Carlos Boozer this offseason. They do have Paul Millsap, but will also be able to replace that loss by drafting Monroe. The 6'11" power forward from Georgetown can also play the center spot, providing the Jazz with some flexibility.
The only knock on Monroe is that as good as he could appear in one game, he could be almost non-existent the next. But Jerry Sloan should be able to get him to bring a consistent effort, and if that happens, Monroe will be a great pick for the Jazz.
Pick: Ekpe Udoh, PF, 6’10"
Udoh is an athletic shot blocker but needs to work on his offensive game. With that criteria, he should fit in nicely alongside Roy Hibbert with the Pacers, as both need to work on the same areas of their respective games.
Udoh showed major improvement from his freshman to sophomore seasons at Baylor, going from 6.0 points and 5.0 rebounds a game to 13.9 and 9.8, respectively.
Pick: Donatas Motiejumas, C, 7’0"
The first foreign player to go in the draft, Motiejumas has tremendous skills for a big man—he can run the floor, handle the basketball, find an open man, and has good touch. The questions for him are his rebounding and overall strength, and the fact that he is only 19.
Pick: Hassan Whiteside, C, 6’11"
I have seen many mock draft showing Whiteside going No.13 to Toronto to replace Chris Bosh. I don't think he gets that far, as the Grizzlies will grab him at 12.
Hasheem Thabeet struggled as a rookie, so I look for Memphis to take Whiteside. He averaged 13 points and nine boards as a freshman at Marshall and led the NCAA in shot blocking. He does have a lot of areas of his game he needs to improve, but his potential will be too much for Memphis to pass up.
Pick: Patrick Patterson, PF, 6’8"
Toronto may miss out on Hassan Whiteside as a replacement for Chris Bosh, but will not have to look far to find someone else. Patrick Patterson makes sense with this pick as he becomes the third Kentucky player taken in the draft. Patterson may be the better fit as well, as he is much closer to being NBA ready than Whiteside or some of the other power forwards who will likely be drafted ahead of him.
Pick: Daniel Orton, PF, 6’10"
It will be back-to-back Kentucky Wildcats taken, with Houston taking Daniel Orton. With annual question marks surrounding Yao Ming, it makes sense for Houston to find a suitable replacement. Orton fits that bill. He is a more natural center, but can also play power forward in a big lineup, helping the Rockets match up against a bigger team like the Lakers. Orton did not play big minutes or have impressive numbers in his one year at Kentucky, but on almost any other team he would have had a big impact.
On a side note—there likely will be 4 Wildcats drafted in the Lottery and a fifth one also drafted in the first round. Yet, Kentucky failed to even reach The Final Four. Good thing then that so many people seemed to be hyping the UK head coach as the guy to pair with LeBron James to help LeBron finally win that title.
(Bucks have the right to swap their first round pick, No. 17, with the Chicago Bulls' first round pick, No. 15)
Pick: Xavier Henry, SG, 6’7"
The Bucks were the surprise team this year, and would have likely been an even tougher opponent in the playoffs had it not been for the injury to Andrew Bogut. With that being said, the Bucks need to add a player who can contribute right away which is where Xavier Henry comes in. He already has NBA size for a perimeter player and also has NBA range. If there is a downside, it is that he can fall in love with that jump shot, and he will need to work on other areas of his offensive game as his career progresses.
Pick: Gordon Hayward, SF, 6’8"
Raise your hand if you knew about Gordon Hayward before the NCAA Tournament? I certainly did not. But I do now. With their first pick in the draft, I had the Timberwolves taking an athletic small forward in Al-Farouq Aminu.
Now they will take Hayward, whose shooting skills will open things up for a slashing player like Aminu and also for the post game of Al Jefferson. He should also benefit from teams double teaming the post.
Pick: James Anderson, SG, 6’6"
Offense should not be a problem for James Anderson, who was the Big 12 Player of the year in 2010, and averaged over 22 points per game. A great shooter, especially coming off screens, he should love playing with a point guard like Derrick Rose. And if a certain marquee free agent decides to comes to Chicago, Anderson should benefit even more. While offense is not a concern for Anderson, he will have to work on his defense.
Pick: Damion Jones, SF, 6’8"
The Heat have a lot of questions with their roster, many of which will not be answered by draft night, so a pick like Jones makes sense for them. Jones is a tweener, who can play either small forward or power forward. The Heat drafted a player like that in Michael Beasley. While questions continue to surround Beasley's efforts, those types of questions likely will not be asked with Jones. He is a strong, tough, and active player, who will help out on the boards. He clearly put the work into his game during his three years at Texas, and it is that type of effort that should help him once he reaches the NBA.
Pick: Paul George, SF, 6’8"
Ray Allen is 34 years old. Paul Pierce is 32. Even if the Celtics bring Allen back, they need to find some help on the perimeter. Marquis Daniels did not work out as a free agent signing, so Danny Ainge will turn to the draft and take Paul George from Fresno State. George likes to come off screens for his shot, so he should be able to learn from Allen, and he also has been working on his mid-range game, so he should be able to learn from Pierce.
Doc Rivers has shown a tendency to not play young players, mostly raising questions about their defense. That should not be a concern for George as he is a good defender and will likely get better with some coaching from the Celtics.
Pick: Solomon Alabi, C, 7’1"
The Spurs found the steal of the 2009 draft in DeJuan Blair at No. 37. Blair added depth at the power forward position. They will look to do the same in the 2010 draft, finding some help at the center spot with Florida State center Solomon Alabi.
The 7'1" Alabi does need to work on his game, but has shown he is willing to put the effort in, evident by improving his free throw shooting from 68 percent in 2009 to nearly 80 percent in '10. A chance to play alongside Tim Duncan and be coached by Gregg Popovich should only speed up his learning process.
Pick: Larry Sanders, PF, 6’10"
The Thunder have a small forward with a freakishly-long wingspan in Kevin Durant. That is working out pretty well for them. They will hope to find another impact player with a long wingspan in the 6'10" Larry Sanders.
He might not make much of an impact on offense, but Durant should have the scoring covered in Oklahoma City. It will be on the other end of the court where the Thunder really see the value of this pick, as Sanders' defense and athleticism should help him fit right in very quickly.
Pick: Luke Babbitt, SF, 6’9"
The Trail Blazers could use some depth at the small forward position and with Luke Babbitt, they find their man. Babbitt has a nice touch on his outside shot and at 6'9", should also be able to post up smaller players that try to guard him. He does not have to be a great defender by any means, due to his potential on offense, but will nevertheless need to improve in that area as he had trouble on the defensive end in college.
Pick: Avery Bradley, SG, 6’3"
If Bradley is still available at No. 23 for the Minnesota Timberwolves, they have to take him. Yes, they took two point guards last season which has been well documented, but let's be honest—one of those point guards will likely never wear a Minnesota uniform, anyway.
Furthermore, Bradley can float between either guard spot and has lottery-type talent. He is a great defender on the ball, has a solid mid-range game, and can be explosive around the rim. The biggest area he will need to improve on will be his 3-point shot, but if that develops, he will have nearly all the tools necessary to succeed in the NBA.
Pick: Eric Bledsoe, PG, 6’1"
The Hawks thought 2010 was going to be the year they made the leap to the next level. Instead, they struggled to defeat an injury depleted Milwaukee Bucks team and then were embarrassed by the Orlando Magic. Joe Johnson is likely leaving and Mike Bibby really showed his age in 2010. The Hawks will have to look elsewhere to replace Johnson, but can find help at the point guard position with the fifth Wildcat to go in the first round, Eric Bledsoe.
When scouts talk or write about Bledsoe, they do not get very far along before using the word "upside." Whatever upside is, he has it. If the Hawks do lose Johnson, they may need to take a small step back, which should allow Bledsoe a chance to step in right away and develop his much talked about "upside."
Pick: Stanley Robinson, SF, 6’9"
Stanley Robinson is one of those rare players on draft night who actually played four years in college. His numbers dipped from his sophomore to his junior seasons, but he rebounded as a senior, averaging 14.5 points and 7.6 boards on 52 percent shooting from the floor.
Robinson is a good defender on one end and can get to the rim on the other. However, his shooting has been an area that has gone up and down, and if he is going to play small forward in the NBA, he will have to work on that.
Pick: Willie Warren, SG, 6’4"
Earlier in the first round, I had the Thunder taking an athletic player who will help on the defensive end in Larry Sanders. Now, I see Oklahoma City taking guard Willie Warren, a great shooter who has to get better on defense.
Warren played the point in college, but could very well play either guard spot in the pros. That versatility should help him in Oklahoma City, as he can come off the bench to spot either Russell Westbrook or Thabo Sefolosha.
Pick: Kevin Seraphin, PF, 6’10"
Remember when it seemed as if foreign players were all the rage in the NBA Draft? That trend has gone away, and in fact, it has swung in the other direction where foreign players are almost being undervalued.
This should help the Nets, as it allowed Kevin Seraphin to fall into their lap at pick 27. Additionally, by not landing the top spot, the Nets might also find themselves in a spot where they can look long term a little more, instead of trying to find players to step in immediately.
Seraphin played well for the top team in France, in particular with his rebounding, defense, and shot blocking. He is 6'10" but has been measured to have a 7'3" wingspan. Far from a finished product even on the defensive end, he has to really work on developing his offensive game for the NBA. But at pick 27, this would be a great pick-up for the Nets.
Pick: Elliot Williams, SG, 6’4"
With their third pick in the first round, the Grizzlies will take Elliot Williams from Memphis. Another player who can play either the point or shooting guard position, he will likely find his time more as a shooting guard in the NBA.
As a freshman at Duke, he averaged 4.2 points, but then transferred to Memphis, where he scored 18 points a game as a sophomore. He is a left-handed guard who needs to work on his ability to go to his right and finish at the rim.
Pick: Quincy Pondexter, SF, 6’7"
Another one of those rare four-year college players, Pondexter had a solid senior year for Washington, averaging 19 points and seven rebounds. As a senior, he shot 50 percent from the floor, 80 percent from the free throw line, and an improved 35 percent from the perimeter.
He has everything any NBA team could want from a player, except for a jump shot. But going to Orlando, a team that loves to shoot from the perimeter, should help him improve on that skill as well.
Pick: Devin Ebanks, SF, 6’9"
I am sure the Cleveland Cavalier are happy with having traded this pick to the Washington Wizards as part of the Antawn Jamison deal. I mean Jamison did score a whopping 14 points combined in games five and six against the Celtics.
With the pick, the Wizards will take Ebanks. A 6'9 small forward who will need to add some bulk to succeed in the NBA. He is a tough defender who can get to the rim, has a decent mid-range game but needs to improve his overall shooting range. With Ebanks as the final pick of the first round, he and John Wall will bookend the round for the Wizards, a pair of selections that should make the Wizards very happy.
As the final pick in round one, Ebanks' ability to defend should make the Wizards very happy with the 2010 draft as a bookend to the top pick, John Wall.
1. Washington Wizards: John Wall, PG, Kentucky
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Evan Turner, SF, Ohio State
3. New Jersey Nets: Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech
4. Minnesota Timberwolves: Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest
5. Sacramento Kings: DeMarcus Cousins, PF, Kentucky
6. Golden State Warriors: Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse
7. Detroit Pistons: Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas
8. Los Angeles: Clippers: Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina
9. Utah Jazz: Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown
10. Indiana Pacers: Ekpe Udoh, PF, Baylor
11. New Orleans Hornets: Donatas Motiejumas, C, Lithuania
12. Memphis Grizzlies: Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall
13. Toronto Raptors: Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky
14. Houston Rockets: Daniel Orton, PF, Kentucky
15. Milwaulkee Bucks: Xavier Henry, SG, Kansas
16. Minnesota Timberwolves: Gordon Hayward, SF, Butler
17. Chicago Bulls: James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State
18. Miami Heat: Damion Jones, SF, Texas
19. Boston Celtics: Paul George, SF, Fresno State
20. San Antonio Spurs: Solomon Alabi, C, Florida State
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Larry Sanders, PF, Virginia Commonwealth
22. Portland Trail Blazers: Luke Babbitt, SF, Nevada
23. Minnesota Timberwolves: Avery Bradley, SG, Texas
24. Atlanta Hawks: Eric Bledsoe, PG, Kentucky
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Stanley Robinson, SF, Connecticut
26. Oklahoma City Thunder: Willie Warren, SG, Oklahoma
27. New Jersey Nets: Kevin Seraphin, PF, France
28. Memphis Grizzlies: Elliot Williams, SG, Memphis
29. Orlando Magic: Quincy Pondexter, SF, Washington
30. Washington Wizards: Devin Ebanks, SF, West Virginia
Make sure to check out NBA Draft: Top Selections of the Last 40 Years By Pick
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