1) New Jersey Nets- John Wall- PG (Kentucky)
This seems to be all but a sure thing at this point of the pro and college seasons. Wall is an unbelievable athlete with undeniable superstar potential. He seems as close to a "can't miss" prospect as we've seen since LeBron James.
2) Philadelphia 76ers- Derrick Favors- PF (Georgia Tech)
Philadelphia vaults Minnesota in the draft order this week due to their ongoing struggle to find a consistent rotation. Elton Brand is signed long term and virtually untradable, and Marresse Speights looks like the long term answer at center, but a Favors-Speights combo would be imposing for years to come. Philly could really use a true point guard (I'm still convinced that Lou Williams is more of a Jamal Crawford-Leandro Barbosa sixth man-type.), but the value just isn't there at #2.
3) Minnesota Timberwolves- Wesley Johnson- SG (Syracuse)
Johnson has continued to build on his impressive start and has worked himself into the top five discussion. While this still may be a bit of a reach, Johnson's blend of defensive acumen and outside shooting ability is exactly what Minnesota needs on the perimeter.
4) Indiana Pacers- Xavier Henry- SG (Kansas)
Henry is right near the top of my draft board because of his NBA-ready body and efficient scoring ability. Indiana took another Kansas off-guard in Brandon Rush two years ago, but Rush's career scoring average of eight points per game leaves something to be desired. Willie Warren is another option here.
5) Golden State Warriors- Ed Davis- PF (North Carolina)
Golden State is stacked in the backcourt but very thin at the three spot and the frontcourt. They could take a look at Evan Turner, Devin Ebanks or Al-Farouq Aminu, but the talent in this draft is found at the power forward spot. I've been a critic of Davis from the start, but he has the skills to develop into a very nice player once he matures.
6) Detroit Pistons- Cole Aldrich- C (Kansas)
Detroit appears to be healthier than they've been all season and just in the nick of time. After scoring just 64 points in a loss to Toronto (one of the league's worst defensive teams) and posting a 0-3 week, Detroit finds themselves all the way up to the number six spot. Aldrich is a great rebounder and an offensive presence on the low block, which would make him a nice fit next to Charlie Villanueva's perimeter-oriented game.
7) Washington Wizards- Devin Ebanks- SG (West Virginia)
You'll find the Washington Wizards team photo in the dictionary next to the word 'enigma'. They've gotten some quality wins (Dallas, Cleveland and Miami), but also had some ghastly performances. I entirely expect one of their Big Three to be traded, and Caron Butler seems to be the likely choice. Ebanks has a huge ceiling and would be a nice replacement down the line.
8) Charlotte Bobcats- Greg Monroe- PF (Georgetown)
Monroe has had a couple of huge games against smaller competition (Butler and Harvard), but he really needs to lead his team deep into March if he wants to land in the top 10.
9) Utah Jazz (from New York via Phoenix)- Evan Turner- SG (Ohio State)
Turner's talent could vault him into the top five if he can be productive after his terrifying back injury, but until teams see him play again, the bottom of the top 10 seems optimistic. Utah could use an offensive-minded swingman who can play both perimeter positions, and Turner fits the bill very nicely.
10) Memphis Grizzlies- Avery Bradley- PG (Texas)
Memphis has a talented young starting five, and drafted backups at all both forward spots and center in last year's draft. They may opt for a small forward if they feel Rudy Gay will walk in free agency this summer, but Bradley would be a nice backup to Mike Conley for the time being and a sizeable upgrade down the line.
11) New Orleans Hornets- Al-Farouq Aminu- SF (Wake Forest)
New Orleans needs help on several fronts. They will likely look at Aminu and Donatas Motiejunas with this pick. While both are solid players, each is considered by some to be a project. The determining factor, though, will be Aminu's versatility. He's long and athletic, and effective on both ends of the floor. Aside from Chris Paul, the Hornets boast a roster of specialists, so a player like Aminu would be a nice addition.
12) Los Angeles Clippers- Willie Warren- PG (Oklahoma)
Warren will likely slide on draft night due to his lack of size and questions about his point guard skills, but the Clippers would be smart to snatch him if he falls to them. He could be another deadly scorer to add to their already potent mix, and adding a former Sooner teammate would be very comforting to franchise centerpiece Blake Griffin.
13) Sacramento Kings- Donatas Motiejunas- PF (Lithuania)
Sacramento needs to find a franchise small forward to complete their rebuilding effort, but short of Paul George, no more three men will even sniff the lottery. Instead, they opt for the best player available in Motiejunas. The Lithuanian power forward appears to be a huge project, but he does have a high ceiling. In 11 Italian League games, he is averaging nine points, four rebounds and 1.3 steals in just over 19 minutes per game. However, he has yet to block a shot, and many scouts question his toughness and his rebounding ability.
14) Oklahoma City Thunder- DeMarcus Cousins- PF (Kentucky)
Oklahoma City has the makings of a very competitive roster, but the need depth at point guard and in the frontcourt. Cousins will likely need time to mature, but he has a lot of upside and could develop into an All-Star.
15) Milwaukee Bucks- Patrick Patterson- PF (Kentucky)
Patterson has been a consistent performer for the Wildcats, and seemed to transition seamlessly to a new coach. He appears to have a long NBA career ahead of him.
16) Chicago Bulls- James Anderson- SG (Oklahoma State)
Anderson scored 28 points in back-to-back games last week, vaulting himself into contention for Big 12 Player of the Year honors. He has fantastic range and would be a great fit along with Derrick Rose's drive and kick game.
17) Miami Heat (from Toronto)- Solomon Alabi- C (Florida State)
Miami would love to team LeBron James or Chris Bosh with Dwyane Wade, but either way, the departure of Jermaine O'Neal will leave the Heat without a true center. Alabi has great size (7'1") and surprising touch at the free throw line (79.6%).
18) Minnesota Timberwolves (from Utah)- Paul George- SF (Fresno State)
Minnesota could use a perimeter slasher or a shot-blocking center, so George and Tulsa's Jerome Jordan are possibilities here. George gets the nod because of his athleticism and upside.
19) Houston Rockets- Jerome Jordan- C (Tulsa)
I have no doubt that Houston will target a true center with this pick. Whether Yao returns to his old form or not, a second 7-footer would really help a Rockets' rotation full of power forwards.
20) Miami Heat- Lance Stephenson- SG (Cincinnati)
Stephenson has good size and flashy skills. He also has some character questions and looks like a "hit-or-miss" prospect.
21) San Antonio Spurs- Dexter Pittman- C (Texas)
Pittman is a local product and a very hard worker. He also has great hands and underrated shot-blocking ability.
22) Oklahoma City Thunder (from Phoenix)- Kemba Walker- PG (Connecticut)
Walker is still an under-the-radar prospect, but I like him a lot. He is extremely quick and provides great energy, which make him the perfect fit as a backup behind a turnover-prone starter with questionable shot selection.
23) Portland Trail Blazers- Damion James- SF (Texas)
Portland has learned their lesson about passing on small forwards who entered Texas in 2007. James doesn't have the upside of a Durant, but he has a very versatile game. He rebounds extremely well for a man of his size (10.8 per game this season and 7.2 or better in each of his four years at Texas) and has increased his scoring average each season.
24) Memphis Grizzlies (from Denver)- Jan Vesely- SF (Czech Republic)
Vesely, like Motiejunas is only 19-years old, and has a lot of growing to do. He has played 22 minutes per game and averaged seven points and three rebounds in 14 Adriatic League games. Many scouts believe he has the athleticism and defensive aggression to become a very solid NBA player after another year or two in Europe.
25) New Jersey Nets (from Dallas)- Larry Sanders- PF (Virginia Commonwealth)
The Nets get a shot-blocking presence on the inside in Sanders, who badly needs to add some bulk in order to be an NBA contributor.
26) Atlanta Hawks- Craig Brackins- PF (Iowa State)
Atlanta lands the steal of the first round in Brackins, a lottery talent with a face up game similar to that of Charlie Villanueva.
27) Orlando Magic- Sheron Collins- PG (Kansas)
Collins is a proven leader and winner with a deadly crossover dribble and a respectable outside jump shot.
28) Boston Celtics- Chris Wight- SF (Dayton)
Wright has good size and a skill set similar to Ryan Gomes when he came out of Providence. Gomes, remember, was drafted by Danny Ainge and the Celtics.
29) Cleveland Cavaliers- Jarvis Varnado- PF (Mississippi State)
Varnado is a terrific shot blocker, but is very raw at the offensive end. Opinions also vary on his rebounding ability, but a player of his caliber is worth a risk at #29.
30) Memphis Grizzlies (from LA Lakers)- Da'Sean Butler- SG (West Virginia)
Butler (along with Ebanks) has led West Virginia to a very surprising 10-0 start, launching him into late first round contention. Butler has good size at 6'7" and the ability to guard multiple positions, as well as a very polished offensive arsenal.