It's the first week in August and we're talking about the NBA Draft? That's right. It's never to early to speculate on where freshman phenoms will go, or who will select who on draft night. One thing we do know is that another NBA draft will be dominated by underclassman.
Kentucky's John Calipari had a record 5 players drafted in the first round this year. So how does Coach Cal replace them? Yup, you guessed it, bring in more freshman all-stars.
The order of the draft is speculated upon how each team will finish the season next year. Trades and free agency are not factored in. Team needs are opinion based.
This might be a bit of a stretch, but the dude got game. At only 6'0 200 lbs, Pullen has lead the Wildcats to the postseason his first three years in college (2-NCAA, 1-NIT). Assuming Kobe can lead the Lakers to another NBA title and Phil Jackson's fourth 3-peat, the Lakers select at number 30. The aging of Derek Fisher and no confidence in veteran Steve Blake will have the Lakers looking for insurance at the point.
Pullen played the shooting guard position the last two seasons for Frank Martin, but will go back to the point next season. Pullen scored in double figures every game last season and lead the Wildcats to their first Elite Eight appearance since 1988. Pullen and a frontcourt that goes 6-deep is why the Wildcats are a consensus top-5 squad and the team to beat in the Big 12.
Pullen struggles against bigger defenders but can hold his own on defense. His 19.3 ppg, his leadership and unlimited shooting range can't be ignored.
The Boston Celtics are looking for another athletic forward who can eventually replace Kevin Garnett. JaJaun Johnson is as athletic big man as they come. Standing 6'10 2010 lbs he can play the 3 or 4 spot.
Johnson would have been drafted this year had he stayed in the draft. He runs the floor well, can block shots and hit the occasional jump shot. Johnson averaged 15.5 ppg on a team who most thought could make a final four run had Robbie Hummel not gotten an injury late in the season.
He needs to develop more of an outside game and put on weight to be a everyday contributor at the next level.
The new "Big three" in Miami can't win a championship by themselves. Tristan Thompson can provide length and size in the middle. At 6'9 240 lbs Thompson can be a great addition in the post with Bosh and Haslem.
Thompson was rated the 17th best prospect on rivals.com top 150 for the 2010 recruiting class. Described as a "wirey forward with a developing game," Thompson could be solid contributor off the bench.
Thompson needs a go to move, and needs to move his feet better, but his scoring threat in the middle will keep the scouts drooling.
The Dallas Mavericks know that Jason Kidd isn't attacking as much as he used to and Jose Barea is a decent veteran back-up. Kemba Walker could be the answer for the Mavericks at the point.
Walker has handles that resemble Deron Williams and Chris Paul. He can cross-over virtually any defender and doesn't miss open shots.
The thing that Walker has going against him is that he's not active on the defensive end, but Dallas knows they are drafting a player who will hit clutch threes.
Jordan Hamilton is another athletic Texas baller. The Orlando Magic have holes to fill at the 3 with Matt Barnes going to the Lakers and Vince Carter aging.
Hamilton stands an intimidating 6'7 210 lbs and can virtually do-it-all on offense. He was rated the 6th best prospect in 2009 according to rivals.com and the top small forward in the class, and had a solid freshman campaign averaging 10 ppg.
His downfall is that he relies too much on his outside shot, and turns the ball over too much.
The Phoenix Suns lose Amare Stoudemire to the Knicks, but still have Channing Fry and Robin Lopez. Josh Smith from UCLA is a solid post player that knows how to use his size.
The freshman to be is 6'10 270 lbs and demands the ball in the paint. On defense he bodies up opponents and doesn't allow any easy baskets. His game isn't exactly suited for Pac-10 and won't see the same style of hard-nosed basketball as he would in the Big 12.
The one thing Smith lacks is mobility, he relies too much on his size and a guy who is athletic could cause problems for him.
The Nuggets are only one post scorer away from being a legit contender. Renardo Sidney has the size and skills to step in and be the post threat Denver is looking for.
Sidney is a big man and at 6'9 250 lbs has an NBA ready body and can play night in and out. He has baggage after the NCAA found him ineligible for accepting improper benefits.
If Sidney can prove to scouts and teams he's mature, he can have a long NBA career. The questions is: Does the reward outweigh the risk?
The Thunder is another team that really needs a post presence and can play the fast paced offense that Oklahoma City runs. Herb Pope can score against the best in the Big East and is athletic enough to guard multiple positions.
The former highly-touted recruit has a lot of character issues to go with his post game. He was caught on camera punching Texas Tech's Darko Cohadarevic, and was ejected from the game. His offensive game speaks for itself and he was the first Seton Hall player to lead the Big East in rebounding.
Like Sidney, Scouts will be wondering if Pope is worth the risk. Pope is a player who has no limitations on the offensive end and has played against the best every night in the Big East.
The Chicago Bulls have a solid group of players lead by Rookie of the Year two season ago Derrick Rose. The Bulls have Noah and added Boozer in the middle but another solid forward in Trey Thompkins can push the likes of Boston and Miami in the East.
At 6'9 250 lbs Thompkins averaged 17 and 8 per game last season for the Dogs. He was a leader on a bad team who didn't make into the past the SEC tournament. With another solid season Thompkins could push his way farther up the draft board.
The rebounding needs to go up and needs to show teams he can make a turn a bad team into a contender in the SEC.
The Milwaukee Bucks have good players in Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut and pushed Atlanta to 7 games in the playoffs. The Bucks were really pushed around in the post and Kris Joseph can help Bogut in the paint and finally provide hope for Bucks fans.
Joseph was one of the main reasons for the Orange's success last season. His athleticism provides scouts with hope and he projects as a wing at the next level, though he has played mostly power forward for Jim Boeheim.
Joseph needs to work more on his outside game to make it as a wing in the NBA, because at his size he doesn't have the same skill set as a Dejuan Blair (who also is undersized) to play the 4.
The Utah Jazz lose the outside shooting of Kyle Korver and needs another guard to compliment Deron Williams to finally get past the Lakers. Doron Lamb is another freshman phenom for John Calipari and reminds Wildcat fans of Eric Bledsoe.
Lamb comes off a storied high school career where he was one highly recruited player and committed to Kentucky during the Jordan Brand Classic.
Lamb played with Josh Selby at the Jordan Classic and looked like the player who most think will be a solid guard who can score in multiple ways at the next level.
Opponents who can play tough defense could turn the freshman phenom into a turnover machine will have success against Lamb. If Coach Calipari can do with Lamb what he did with Bledsoe, he should be just fine.
The Atlanta Hawks need another forward who can score and play defense like Josh Smith and Al Horford. Wally Judge is another 5-star player who Frank Martin thinks could have a big sophomore season.
Judge is big and physical, and played probably his best game of the season against 1st round draft pick Cole Aldrich. Judge scored 10 points and grabbed 9 boards against the talented Aldrich in Manhattan.
His fouling has gotten him into trouble and kept him off the floor for the Wildcats. No one questions his potential, but can he harness it and be the player that everyone expects him to be every night? That's the question he could answer for scouts this season.
The San Antonio Spurs aren't getting any younger and Tim Duncan isn't the same player he was three years ago. Miles Plumlee is a player who can play against any style of defender.
Most believe his brother Mason Plumlee is a better pro prospect but Miles doesn't mind getting dirty in the post. He could compliment Blair in the post in the coming years for the Spurs, and can play multiple positions. His versatility on offense and defense is what kept Coach K playing him on his national championship squad last season.
His determination and "no one will ever try hard than me," attitude is Tyler Hansbrough esq. and his character will never be a question. If Plumlee can start hitting jump shots he could be a lottery pick next year.
The Charlotte Bobcats were swept by the Orlando Magic last season in the playoffs and had no answer for Dwight Howard. Jayhawks forward Marcus Morris really evolved into a key player for Bill Self last season.
Morris who saw his ppg average grow from 7.4 to 12.8 following his freshman campaign and was up for big 12 player of the year. Morris also got the opportunity to play against the best NBA players at the USA basketball camp after being selected to the USA Select team.
If Marcus Morris can keep improving his game and hitting shots, he will be a no-brainer for a team looking for a forward who can score inside and out.
The Portland Trail Blazers need more scoring at the shooting guard position who can help Jerryd Bayless and Brandon Roy at the Perimeter. Demetri McCamey torched any defender Big Ten teams threw at him last season.
McCamey became a huge player for the Fighting Illini and helped spark an upset of Michigan St. on College Gameday last season. McCamey could have been drafted this year but decided to return to school and improve his draft status for next year.
The driving ability and outside game is much like Deron Williams, but he needs to put as much emphasis on the defensive end as he does on the offensive end.
The Toronto Raptors are really going to miss Chris Bosh and the offense he brought every night. Without Bosh the Raptors will be desperately trying to find someone to replace him and might wait til the 2011 draft to do that.
Chris Singleton is athletic, strong and can absolutely jump out of the building. ACC teams had a hard time trying to stop him last season. At 6'9 and 227 lbs, he projects as an athletic wing in the NBA, though he mostly plays the 4 for Florida St.
The developing outside game of Singleton could be a gem for a team looking for a player like Perry Jones at less of a risk and less money.
The Houston Rockets have a great point guard in Aaron Brooks but might be looking for a bigger stronger guard who can the next Derrick Rose. Nolan Smith has everything you want in a point guard and leader.
Smith was one head of the "three headed monster" for Duke last year. Smith delivered the ball to players who were ready to score and also scored some points of his own. He can drive to the basket, cross-over any defender and hit open threes. He has the experience and knows how to win (i.e. Duke's 2010 National Championship.)
If Houston is willing to put the franchise in the hands of a rookie point guard, it could pay big dividends for the Rockets.
The Memphis Grizzles have good young talent in O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, and Hasheem Thabeet. But Thabeet got demoted to the D League last year and Gay isn't experienced enough to carry the team, but C.J. Leslie could be Michael Beasley without the baggage.
C.J. Leslie has all the tools, skills and qualities that NBA teams look for in players. Leslie is a powerful wing that can score in multiple ways.
It will be interesting to see how the 14th best prospect according to rivals.com does against ACC defenses and how he matches up against Kyle Singler.
The New York Knicks have Amare Stoudemire, and Danilo Gallinari on the front court and up and coming wing Bill Walker, but need a point guard who can distribute the ball as well as hit open threes.
Kalin Lucas was a star for Coach Tom Izzo last season, and helped his team get to the final four. Had Lucas not gotten injured, he might have lead the Spartans to a National Championship and helped him get an NBA contract.
Durability is an issue with Lucas, can he get back to the attack mode he was in before his injury? Can he continue to improve his outside shot? He could answer that question and earn himself a lottery money next year.
Hornets guard Chris Paul was demanding a trade recently because he didn't believe his team had enough good players to make a push at a championship. Adding a player like Josh Selby could dramatically shift New Orleans Hornets basketball.
Rivals.com rated Selby the top rated prospect this past year. Selby showed everyone how versatile he is, and how good he could become at the Jordan Brand classic.
Any team who drafts Selby knows their getting a great player who can score at will against opposing defenses.
Cavalier fans who still searching for someone who can replace LeBron James. No one can ever replace "The King" but Tony Mitchell has great skills and will be an absolute monster in the NBA level if he can get there.
Mitchell might be the biggest risk with the biggest reward out of all the players in the 2011 draft. He may not even make it on campus after some of his transcripts were questioned by the Dallas Morning News after doing investigative reporting. Mitchell can play the 3 or the 4, and can play against anyone.
If Mitchell can make it to campus and be half the player everyone expects him to be, he will have a great career.
The Minnesota Timberwolves might have the best young starting 5 in Flynn, Brewer, Johnson, Beasley and Love. The thing that the T-Wolves lack is experience and depth. The players will get their experience and Tobias Harris can provide depth on the front line.
The Big man from Tennessee projects as a force at the 5 in the NBA, and has all the offensive talent you want in a center. He needs to work on his foot work and drive, but he will have a huge season for Bruce Pearl this season.
Kyle Singler is the last upper upperclassman in the top 10 picks. Singler could have been a 1st rounder last year, but decided to stay in school because he loves college life.
The clippers have Baron Davis, and Eric Gordon on the Perimeter and Blake Griffin in the paint, but adding Singler would be huge for a team always playing second fiddle to that other LA team.
Singler can play multiple positions, plays defense, and can shoot and drive the basketball. Any team who drafts Singler will be drafting a player who knows how to win.
The Pacers need a low post threat to go with Danny Granger, T.J. Ford, Mike Dunleavy and Brandon Rush on the perimeter. Kanter is as skilled as they come.
At 6'9 and 240 lbs, he has shown coaches why he 3rd best prospect in the nation according to rivals.com.
Kanter's game reminds coaches of Bogut and Bynum without the height. He needs to improve his foot work and determination, but he can be a solid forward for the Pacers.
Terrence Jones is another freshman who can play at multiple positions, and the Detroit Pistons could get back to championship form with this guy.
Rivals.com characterizes Jones as "A highly skilled and still growing four man." At 6'8 and 220 lbs he will be a best in the SEC. He will make Wildcat fans say "DeMarcus Cousins? We don't need him. We have Terrence Jones."
Don't expect Jones to stick around for his sophomore season, the dude has an Nba body and offense that compares to Perry Jones.
The Warriors are a struggling franchise looking to build a team around Stephen Curry. Adding Brandon Knight can have the Warriors with two fo the best young point guards in the NBA.
Anyone who has watched Knight play can tell you he's fast, and tell you how athletic he is. He's also a smart guard whose hoping to step right in and fill the shoes left by John Wall.
All indications point to Knight following all other Calipari point guards in the past three seasons by leaving school early.
The Philadelphia 76ers will still be in rebuild mode after the 2010-11 NBA season. Doug Collins needs a guard who can take Allen Iverson's place and distribute the ball to Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala.
Kyrie Irving is another Duke player who is destined to have a stellar NBA career. Irving will learn from one of the best coaches of all-time in Coach K and leaders Singler and Smith will show Irving the ropes.
Only three more players on the list!
Tyreke Evans was the rookie of the year last season and needs a big man next to DeMarcus Cousins if Sacramento wants to even sniff the days of Bibby, Jackson, and Divac.
Harrison Barnes is a big talented athletic forward who will be a stud for Roy Williams and the Tar Heels next year. This summer the 6'8 forward was the MVP of the USA v. the World basketball game and scored 27 points.
Barnes and the next two players are virtually interchangeable at this point.
The Nets didn't win the John Wall sweepstakes this year but still went home with a great player in Derrick Favors. New Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov wants to win a title in the next few years and needs more players to go with Brook Lopez and Derrick Favors.
Jared Sullinger opted to stay in Ohio and become the hometown hero at Ohio St. next year. The 6'8 260 lb behemoth can guard anyone and has skills that will pay the bills if he doesn't get hurt.
Only one player left to go!
This diaper dandy class is lead by ultra athletic big man Perry Jones. Jones can be every bit as good as Ekpe Udoh and then some.
The Wizards will be looking to put talent around John Wall and Jones can be the player that helps turn around Washington. At 6'11 220 lbs he can destroy any defense you throw at him. You play man-to-man and he'll post you up or go right around you. You play zone and he'll hit open shots all day.
Perry Jones has the motor, athletic ability and skills to be one of the greats to play the game.
So how many underclass will get drafted? That answer remains to be seen. I have half of the first round being diaper dandies. One thing is for sure, freshman dominating the draft will continue its trend for years to come.