NBA Draft 2010: Who's Got the Inside Track on Rookie of the Year?

Jay WierengaCorrespondent IJune 25, 2010

NEW YORK - JUNE 24:  John Wall of Kentucky stands with NBA Commisioner David Stern after being drafted with the first pick by the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden on June 24, 2010 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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After months of speculation, mock drafts, and endless predictions, the NBA Draft is finally completed for 2010.

Obviously, there were some surprises, some reaches, and some steals. So what does this mean for next season?

The key to determining who will be the prospective Rookie of the Year is pairing the right talent with the right situation. Had Kevin Durant been drafted by Cleveland three years ago, would he have had the same chances of winning the award as he ultimately did in Oklahoma City?

Therefore, it is important not just to go down the list of the top 10 players drafted, or the top 10 true talents, but instead weigh the player versus their situation.


The Inside Track

The top overall pick in Washington's John Wall obviously has the talent to contribute right away, and the situation he inherits will allow him to have every opportunity to be a star. However, there is a giant caveat here; what about Gilbert Arenas? They both play the same position, and both need the ball in their hands.

While Arenas is your typical half-court scoring point guard, Wall is born to run. How Flip Saunders handles this situation could be dicey, but the smart money is on Saunders going with the status quo...meaning it will probably still be Arenas' team unless a deal is made, leaving Wall on the outside looking in at the award.

Philadelphia got a tremendous talent in Evan Turner, but we have to also remember that they also got a very strict, defensive-minded coach in Doug Collins. Collins is a true teacher that will make everyone on his roster a better player, but Turner will have to prove himself on the defensive end before he receives the minutes needed to grab the hardware. He also needs to work on his jump shot.

Minnesota may have gotten the best mix of talent and need when they selected Wesley Johnson. He fits their system like a glove and should contribute right away. He is a solid defender, but more importantly, he is a better shooter than Turner. Depending on what Minnesota does with the logjam they have down low, Johnson should help considerably in allowing more spacing for his big men.

The Sacramento Kings feel like they may have their second consecutive rookie of the year in DeMarcus Cousins, and I find it hard to disagree with them. Cousins is the best big man in this draft and could contribute right away. There is a catch, however, as Cousins also has the possibility of being the biggest train wreck in this draft. The true question becomes whether or not the Kings brass wants to babysit their big man.

Detroit needed a big man desperately, and they also needed to regain some of their past toughness. With Greg Monroe, they at least filled one of those needs, as Monroe is a true center. However, his toughness has been questioned in the past and so has his passion for the game. He will have every opportunity to contribute right away, and he will do well to glean as much knowledge as he can from Ben Wallace.

Houston may have gotten the steal of the first round with Patrick Patterson. Patterson is big, talented, and ready to contribute right away for a Rockets team that will be in the hunt for the playoffs. Depending on what happens with Yao Ming, Patterson could find himself in the starting lineup next to Luis Scola.


Needs a Little More Seasoning

There is no denying Derrick Favors' talent and he is definitely stepping into the right situation. But he needs to bulk up and learn to play with his back to the basket if he is going to be a stud at this level. The good news is that Brook Lopez will cause a lot of double teams, meaning Favors can move to the basket on mismatches. This bodes well for a lot of highlight reel dunks, but he is probably a year or two away.

Ekpe Udoh and Ed Davis are in similar situations and they are similar players. Both have a lot of defensive talent, but both need to bulk up and learn to play on the offensive post before they can be taken seriously. As for now, I see each of these two as being Samuel Dalembert-like talents in need of an offensive game.

Al-Farouq Aminu has a ton of athletic ability and defensive skill, but he was known to disappear at times and his focus has been questioned. He could develop into a Shawn Marion type, but he needs more time to absorb the game.

Kevin Seraphin was picked a lot earlier than I expected, but he could become something special in the right system. If Washington turns into a more up-tempo team, I could see Seraphin being a perfect compliment to Wall on the fast break.


And this year's rookie of the year will be: Blake Griffin.

I know, where did that come from? Griffin, last year's No. 1 overall pick, missed the entire 2010 season, and therefore is eligible to be Rookie of the Year this year.

The situation Griffin heads into is ideal. He has a strong banger up front in Chris Kaman and he has excellent guards in Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, and the rookie Eric Bledsoe.

The key to this situation is how well the small forwards play. In order for Griffin to be effective, he will need Rasual Butler and Travis Outlaw (if re-signed) to be strong slashers that can open up the middle of the court. Pair that with Gordon and Davis stretching the defense, and Griffin will be in a position to succeed.

Outside of Griffin, Johnson has the best situation for him to contend for the award. He has the skill to improve Minnesota, and if they are unable to trade Jefferson for some backcourt help, they will likely lean hard on the rookie.

Cousins also figures into this competition, but I think it will go Griffin, then Johnson, and maybe Monroe as an outside flyer.

Regardless, this should be a fun rookie class to watch!