As June comes to an end, we reach the first phase of the NBA off-season, the Draft. While not as deep as some other drafts, the 2010 class provides us with five or six players who are head and shoulders above the rest, and a bunch of “role players” to follow.
Teams like the Wizards, Sixers and Nets will be looking to fill holes in their roster with franchise players, while teams like the Clippers and Hornets will be trying to add role players who can help get them back to the playoffs or in Utah’s situation, add a player who can help push them to contender status.
That being said, one thing I’ve always wanted to do is put together a Mock Draft like the ones you see all over the internet, because I’ve always felt like I could be a better GM than those making the picks. Sometimes the obvious pick is the best pick, yet every year we see GM’s talk themselves out of picking the right player for the guy with more “upside”. Below you will find all 14 lottery picks and what I think will happen as draft night unfolds. And now to the stage, David Stern.
“With the first pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards select…..”
1. Washington Wizards – John Wall (Kentucky) –
In a pick that should surprise absolutely no one, the Wizards will take John Wall number one in the 2010 NBA draft. The Wizards are hoping that Wall is the first piece in a quick rebuilding process that will see them go from league laughingstock to perennial playoff contender.
The Wizards hope that taking Wall will make them a more appealing team to free agents this summer, as they are one of a few teams with the money to sign a max free agent. Teaming Wall with embattled guard Gilbert Arenas in a potent scoring back court to go with youngster Andray Blatche up front should give the Wiz a promising core to begin with and maybe put them in the hunt for a Rudy Gay or Joe Johnson signing.
2. Philadelphia 76ers – Evan Turner (Ohio State) –
This is when the draft starts getting interesting. Since the NCAA basketball season ended, everyone has had John Wall and Evan Turner as the top two players in the draft. However once the lottery was settled and the Sixers wound up with the second pick, there were rumblings they would take Derrick Favors over Turner.
However after Favors went to Philly for a work-out, rumors started to swirl that the Sixers and more specifically coach Doug Collins weren’t impressed by what they saw. Thus, Turner is the pick and the correct one at that. While he may not mesh well with Andre Iguodala, he is a perfect running mate for last years pick Jrue Holliday for years to come. Also Iguodala becomes expendable and the Sixers could flip him in a trade for a more needed position, such as center where they are suddenly thin after trading Sam Dalembert.
3. New Jersey Nets – Derrick Favors (Georgia Tech) –
The more I read about what the Nets want to do, the more inclined I am to think that they will take Wes Johnson at the small forward and try signing Carlos Boozer/Amare Stoudemire/Chris Bosh to fill their need at power forward. But let’s be realistic, none of those three have the Nets on top of their wish-lists.
Because of this I believe more and more the Nets will take Favors with this pick, even if he had a bad workout with New Jersey. The Nets will take Favors to team up with Brook Lopez in their front-court of the future and hope they can sign the King of all free agents, or even convince Joe Johnson to join their young line-up.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves – Wesley Johnson (Syracuse) –
This brings us to the first pick that is a complete guess, and that is Johnson to the Wolves. Minnesota is just as likely to trade away this pick as they are to actually use it, as they have had discussions with the Pistons and Rockets among others who are trying to move up.
There is a lot not to like about this pick. First, Minnesota is basically taking a player they are not too high on because the only guy they really want (Evans) will be gone at number two. They have not had much success with drafting small forwards (Corey Brewer anyone?) and are now drafting a 22-year-old senior who didn’t even dominate in college, like most seniors you would draft this high are expected to do. There is a quiet belief amongst people that Johnson has reached most of his potential. Add all that up and this has all the makings of a bust pick.
5. Detroit PIstons via Sacramento Kings – Demarcus Cousins (Kentucky) –
And we have our first trade of the Mock Draft! The Kings were looking at Cousins and Greg Monroe, but were not sold enough on either to pull the trigger at five. The Pistons meanwhile are the team most in love with Cousins, exploring trading up with anyone who will listen to try and nab him. In the Kings they find a trade partner, sending Tayshaun Prince, Jonas Jerebko and the number seven pick to the Kings for Francisco Garcia, Carl Landry and the number five pick.
The move opens up a spot inside for Cousins to step in right away and adds a solid shooter in Garcia along with an underrated forward in Landry. The Pistons get their man and add some good role players as well in a win-win for both teams. Cousins attitude and work ethic have been questioned, but the Pistons believe they can make him into the All-Star he has potential to be.
6. Golden State Warriors – Greg Monroe (Georgetown) –
With the Warriors being well, the Warriors, they are nearly impossible to predict in this draft. They are more likely than not going to use this pick on a big man that can help them, and in their running offense there probably isn’t a better fit available than Monroe, the sophomore from Georgetown.
Monroe has all the tools to be a versatile forward in the NBA, and the fact that he is 6’11 definitely helps. By all accounts, his basketball IQ is off the charts and he has the skills to step in right away and start. While Anthony Randolph may be run out of town soon, the idea of sliding Monroe to the small forward to start with Randolph, Monta Ellis and Steph Curry might be too much for the Warriors to pass on. Or they could take a completely different player here, who knows with the Warriors.
7. Sacramento Kings via Detroit Pistons – Xavier Henry (Kansas) –
Now we get to why the Kings would make that trade with the Pistons. Sending Garcia to the Pistons suddenly opens up the two-guard spot for Sacramento, assuming that Tyreke Evans will be playing point guard in the future for the Kings. Who better to put next to him than a dead-eye shooter like Henry?
As a high school senior, Henry was the top-rated player in his class, and for good reason. Although he only showed flashes of that potential in his lone season as a Jayhawk, it is clear that Henry is an NBA-ready rookie who has the stroke to make defenses pay attention. His shooting ability could open up the lane for the defending Rookie of the Year Evans, and the open shots Evans will get him should make him a valuable asset to Sacramento.
8. Los Angeles Clippers – Al-Farouq Aminu (Wake Forest) –
Like the Warriors, the Clippers are another team that could go any different way with their pick. LA’s other team could draft Ed Davis, or Ekpe Udoh for a big off the bench, or they could look at Gordon Hayward or Luke Babbit to fill their need at the three. My money is that they take the multi-skilled Aminu.
The sophomore out of Wake Forest would have been a lottery pick had he come out last season, but waited one more year is now a top-ten lock. Should he slip to eight, the Clippers will be very excited. He fills a hole at the three and could step in to play immediately.
9. Utah Jazz – Luke Babbit (Nevada) –
Okay get out all of your stereotype jokes about the Jazz drafting yet another white player, I know I made the same jokes, but once you’re done you’ll realize that this is a good pick by the Jazz, I think. Babbit is a guy who not many people know much about, playing at small school Nevada and not being a name you heard much during the college basketball season.
However he is a good small forward with a nice shot who has three-point range. He has a very soft touch and because of that is a guy that can be a consistent 10-15 points a game. While Babbit is a smart player who should be able to score, he won’t wow anyone with his athleticism. But knowing Jerry Sloan and the Jazz system, they will be sure to highlight his strengths while working around his weaknesses.
10. Indiana Pacers – Eric Bledsoe (Kentucky) –
And now we have the biggest reach of the lottery, the Pacers selecting John Wall’s back-court partner at Kentucky in Bledsoe. It’s no secret that the Pacers have been shopping this pick, trying to get any point guard they can to lead their team. At the end of the day they will end up taking Bledsoe, the best point guard left at this point, even if it is 6-8 spots too high.
While playing in Wall’s shadow in Kentucky, Bledsoe was not really able to show his ability as a point guard. However all the reports coming out of the draft combine and even team work outs say that Bledsoe has been one of the best guards on the court at all times. He might needs a couple of years to fine-tune his team running skills, but Bledsoe is physically and mentally NBA-ready. Even though this is a reach for Indiana, it’s still a good pick long-term.
11. New Orleans Hornets – Gordon Hayward (Butler) –
Before these picks actually take place, the Hornets could look like a completely different team. Rumors are swirling that the Nets are offering Devin Harris and the number three pick for Paul, and that other teams are trying to grab Paul with high lottery picks. The odds are this won’t happen and the Hornets are going to need to draft players to put with CP3. Despite already having Peja Stojakovic at the small forward position, Hayward is a great pick here for New Orleans.
The former Butler Bulldog is a great shooter who can help space the floor for the speedy CP3 to drive and kick to. While not being the best defensive player in the draft, Hayward makes up for his lack of athleticism with hustle and playing as hard as anyone else on the court. He proved in the NCAA Final against Duke that he can play well on a big stage and should be able to consistently produce for the Hornets not too far down the road.
12. Memphis Grizzles – Paul George (Fresno St.) –
For the second straight year I see the Grizzlies making an upside pick and grabbing the great unknown from Fresno St. George is not a player many people heard about at all during the NCAA season, and has been generating a lot of buzz since the combine and in private work-outs.
Some people question what a player who wasn’t even a first-team all-Conference pick in the WAC is doing in the lottery, but scouts rave about his deep range and quick release. He can literally shoot from anywhere on the court, and is able to fill the lane on the run for highlight dunks, a void the Griz may be trying to fill should they lose Rudy Gay to free-agency this off-season.
13. Toronto Raptors – Ekpe Udoh (Baylor) –
With what seems like the imminent departure of Chris Bosh to free agency, the Raptors will be looking to take a big man in the draft as insurance. Cole Aldrich and Patrick Patterson are options here as guys that can step in right away, but if Udoh slips this far it’s hard to see Toronto passing on him.
Udoh will be able to step in and provide a defensive, shot-blocking presence for the Raptors, which is something they haven’t had for a while. It will also allow the Raptors to slide former number one pick Andrea Bargnani over to the power forward position should Bosh leave for greener pastures.
14. Houston Rockets – Cole Aldrich (Kansas) –
The final pick of the lottery will be more a need pick than anything for the Rockets, who plan on returning to the playoffs again this season. That plan of course hinges on the health of their All-Star center Yao Ming, who missed all of last season with a leg injury and whose status for this upcoming season is still relatively unknown.
Aldrich is a big who can step in and help the Rockets should Yao come back slowly or even get re-injured. He is a capable rebounder and shot-blocker who might not wow you athletically, but is big enough to make his presence felt. Offensively he is okay when he can face up on his defender, and should be able to provide a couple of points here and there in the Rockets grind-it-out offense.
Belal Abdelfattah is BSO’s newest writer and comes from a long background in sports writing at the Sports Authority Blog and The Block Radio. You can follow Belal on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/belal_a