NBA Draft Night

Tonight is Draft Night.

Hoo-ray! I’m a fan of tonight, in that I think it’s the one night that every fan base gets the chance to be excited about something. It’s like a mini version of the build up before first night of the season. Everyone is positive, everyone is hopeful.

For the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on only the top ten draft slots. I am doing this for three reasons:

  • Most everyone I’ve read has said that the real talent of this year’s draft is basically 5-6 players deep (depending on how you feel about Wesley Johnson and Greg Monroe)
  • I honestly think that any picks after 10 are kind of a crap shoot. Sometimes there are guys like Rondo on the board, but generally anyone left after 10 just has to hope they get into a good situation and get to work with quality veterans and/or coaches. Also, sometimes you get guys like Wesley Matthews, who went undrafted before the Jazz grabbed him and turned him into a quality starter (and a guy who held his own defensively against Smoke Monster for a couple games in the Western Conference Semis).
  • The Jazz pick 9th and I’m a homer.

So, here we go, my first ever draft predictions (By the way, go play Draft Pick ‘Em on NBA.com, the company I work for built it):

1st Overall John Wall – Washington Wizards
I watched one of those Sports Science deals on ESPN last night. There was some interesting things shown in said clip, but let it never be said that ESPN is not a hype machine.

John Wall can Leap! He can Shoot! He can pass the ball through an arbitrary little hoop with green lights BEHIND HIS BACK! Let’s watch that again in SLOW MOTION!!! My God, look at how that ball bounces!

All that aside, Wall to the Wizards is a lock. I’ve not read a single mock draft that doesn’t have Wall going number 1, nor have I seen anything to suggest that Wall isn’t the best overall talent in the draft.

Done and Done.

2nd Evan Turner – Philadelphia 76ers
Personally, I’m not totally sure how Turner and Igodala is going to work out in Philadelphia, but Turner seems like the way this pick turns out. Why? Well, Turner probably is the 2nd best player in this draft and Doug Collins likes him.

Word is that Turner is excited with the energy around this Philly fan base. Collins thinks he may need to work on moving without the ball, and there’s always going to be some concern with giving a young player a lot of minutes, but word is that Turner is healthy and ready to start.

It’s still within the realm of possibility that the Sixers try to trade their pick here – I had a chat with a buddy yesterday that culminated in a trade scenario where Philly ships this pick to Golden State for Monta Ellis (25.5 PPG and 5.3 APG) and the 6th overall pick.

Golden State gets Turner to compliment Curry – and resolves their question of will be the principle point of offense there –  Philly gets a quality PG and the chance to grab someone like Greg Monroe with the 6th spot.

Seems like a win-win, but I somehow doubt that’s how this plays out.

3rd Derrick Favors – New Jersey Nets
Maybe the hardest prediction to make here.

I like Favors because I think he’s the best big man on the board, and there’s no guarantee that the Nets can land a front court guy in free agency. From a big picture perspective, though, this pick is really the first look at whatever strategy the Nets are putting together to win the championship that Prokhorov promised to bring home in the next five years.

(Yeah, that still makes me chuckle a little bit too. I’m not trying to be mean, it’s just such a bombastically lofty goal to set. I love it. It’s like the quirky new nerd in high school walking into his first class armed with a lightsaber and an arm tattoo of the elvish inscribed on the ring of power and proclaiming that he. Will. Be taking the head cheerleader to the home coming dance.)

Prokhorov has a master plan, and who the hell knows what it is, but I’m rooting for him.

I still like the prospect that the Nets pull the trigger on Favors, go grab Andrei Kirilenko from the Jazz – AK played for Prokhorov before in Moscow – grab the best PG left on the board with your 27th pick try to find a quality PG, and then bow out of the hunt for 2010 free agents and focus on getting ‘Melo next year.

4th Wesley Johnson – Minnesota Timberwolves
It could well wind up that the T-Wolves flip a coin here. It sounds like they’re basically stuck between Johnson and Derrick Favors. Both give value in different ways, and lord knows that the Timberwolves need help in a number of areas. I think this could be a good grab for the Wolves – and I like the idea of he and Flinn playing together – but to be honest, it’s not entirely clear to me what kind of game plan the Wolves have in general, so…

5th DeMarcus Cousins – Sacramento Kings
Cousins looks to be the clear favorite here, provided that Favors and Johnson are off the board. He did very well at his workout with the Kings, and is currently getting a lot of love from the local media. However this pick, in my opinion, represents the line of delineation between clear and obvious picks and having to weigh risk over reward.

The rumor is that Cousins could turn into a head case, and needs to mature into life in the NBA – on and off the court. Still, he could be a great raw talent, and now that the Kings have Dalembert from the Sixers, they can afford to give Cousins – all of 19 years old – some time to grow up. That’s a luxury that none of the four previous picks are likely to get.

6th Ekpe Udoh – Golden State Warriors
I actually think that there’s only about a 50% chance that Golden State keeps this pick. It sounds like Warriors are eager to trade this pick away along with Monta Ellis, and is talking with a number of teams to do just that. In fact, the Warriors may prove to be the key to a lot of last second movement today, but assuming that everything stays as it is, I like Udoh here.

7th Ed Davis – Detroit Pistons
Davis likes to run the floor, he likes to dig in around the rim, and seems like a good fit for the Pistons. Still, this is another case where the Pistons may not actually be picking here. ESPN reported last night that the Wolves offered Al Jefferson to the Pistons, along with their 16th and 23rd picks for Prince, Wilcox and this pick. We’ll see what happens.

8th Al-Farouq Aminu – Los Angeles Clippers
Another team, another trade opportunity. This time, it’s the Clips talking to Chicago about moving this pick and the 17th pick for Luol Deng. That’s a move that actually makes a good bit of sense in my book, but, again, assuming that all draft slots remain the same, the word is that Aminu is atop the Clippers draft board. Here too, this is a question of risk v. reward as Aminu is considered to be a bit of project, but hey, it’s the Clippers. They can wait.

9th Greg Monroe – Utah Jazz
This, I think, would be Utah’s best case scenario. They loved this guy at his workout. He’s the kind of big body finisher with a high Basketball I.Q. that fits in well with Sloan’s general outlook on all things basketball. He’s a good passer for his size and fights for the boards. He does need to work on the turnovers and hasn’t really proved himself as a jump shooter, but if the writing is on the wall with Boozer (and it is), this is probably the best guy to grow into that role.

Don’t be shocked if the Jazz try to make a move up a few slots to get this guy.

10th Gordon Hayward – Indiana Pacers
If Indy doesn’t make a move up in the draft, and are indeed going to be picking tenth, they may as well pull out a 20 sided die and give it a roll. Actually, let me put it in a different – less obnoxious – way. I kind of feel for the Pacers. There, I said it. Ever since the fight when Artest went into the stands, this team has been struggling. There’s still a small market squad, doing whatever they can to sell tickets, and they had to blow up that team and start over. They had to. There was really no other choice.

Now they’re in a situation where they’re trying to build up with limited resources. They need leadership and they need time. Hayward seems like a good fit them, assuming he’s gets some time to get comfortable in the NBA.

Regardless, it’ll be some time still before the Pacers are a threat. The best they can hope for here is to add one more piece.

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~ by djepperson on June 24, 2010.

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