2010 NBA Draft- First Round (Order Based on my most recent power rankings)
1) New Jersey Nets- John Wall- PG (Kentucky)
The last time I had New Jersey with the top pick, I had them opting for Derrick Favors instead. I still think that will be a possibility because Favors is a much better fit for this franchise, but Wall's talent is too much to pass up. Devin Harris is a good young player, who still has a lot of room to grow, but Wall has all the makings of a superstar. He has good size (at 6'4") and tons of athleticism. Although he has been turnover prone, he has shown good ability to get his teammates involved (7.8 assists per game), while finding time for his own offense (18.5 points per game on 56% field goals and 80% free throws). Wall has also averaged 2.5 steals and .8 blocks per game. Refining his 3-point stroke seems to be the last frontier to superstardom for Wall, who at only 19-years old has plenty of time to work out the kinks.
2) Minnesota Timberwolves- Derrick Favors- PF (Georgia Tech)
Minnesota badly needs a perimeter scoring option, but David Kahn showed in his first draft with the team that he'd put value and ability above team need, especially in the top five. Favors is a freak athlete with an NBA body (6'10" and 246 lbs) and the game to match. In five games at Georgia Tech, Favors has averaged 13.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game on 72% shooting from the field. He is still young, but learning from an NBA great like Kurt Rambis could do him a world of good, and a frontcourt rotation of Al Jefferson, Kevin Love, and Favors would make Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio look very, very good.
3) Utah Jazz (from New York via Phoenix)- Ed Davis- PF (North Carolina)
Scouts are drooling over Davis's potential. He is averaging 14 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks on 70% shooting as a true sophomore and still has a lot of room to grow. Utah will almost certainly lose Carlos Boozer this off-season and Davis would make a very nice replacement.
Personally, in the games that I've seen Davis play, I don't see it. He's a solid player with good touch, but he seems generally disinterested most of the time. He almost always trails the play up the floor, and in the final minutes of a close game against Michigan State last night, he got out-hustled for a rebound multiple times by Draymond Green. He also looked hesitant to challenge shots and nearly threw away an inbounds pass that would have cut a tenuous six-point lead to four in the closing moments.
4) Memphis Grizzlies- Willie Warren- PG (Oklahoma)
Warren has really been impressive in the early season for the Sooners. After playing in the shadow of Blake Griffin last season, Warren has responded as a team leader in his sophomore season, averaging 20 points and six assists per game. He has some troubling stats, particularly his 41.8% shooting percentage and his turnover rate (4.2 per game), but his ability to run the point has turned some heads. The Grizzlies passed on a point guard last year, and if the signings of Allen Iverson and Jamaal Tinsley are any indication, they won't do it again this time around.
5) Philadelphia 76ers- Wesley Johnson- SG (Syracuse)
Johnson transferred from Iowa State to Syracuse and debuted with a splash on the national scene. He led his team to upset wins of Cal and North Carolina in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and has posted 18 points, seven rebounds, 2.3 steals, and 1.7 blocks per game during a 7-0 start. Evan Turner will get a look from Philadelphia as well, but Johnson is a much more accomplished outside shooter, which makes him a better fit next to Andre Iguodala's drive-and-kick ability.
6) Detroit Pistons- Cole Aldrich- C (Kansas)
With Rodney Stuckey, Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon, and Will Bynum in the backcourt and two rookies backing up Tayshaun Prince at the small forward, Detroit will be one of the easiest teams to project come draft time. Aldrich is a good fit because of his mature set of post moves and NBA readiness. He has been steady, yet unimpressive in the first five games for the Jayhawks, averaging just less than 11 points and nine rebounds per game, but after Kansas makes a deep push in March, expect Aldrich's stock to rise significantly.
7) Golden State Warriors- Evan Turner- SG (Ohio State)
Turner has put up eye-popping numbers trough the first six games for the Buckeyes, averaging nearly 20 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists per contest. He is a versatile athlete, capable of playing multiple positions, and has good ball-handling skills. All three of those traits make him a good fit to be Golden State's small forward of the future.
8) Washington Wizards- Greg Monroe- PF (Georgetown)
Washington had high hopes coming into this season with a re-tooled roster and a new coach, but through the first quarter of the season things look pretty much the same in D.C. If things don't turn around, a trade may be on the horizon. If the Wizards land in the lottery and don't make a move, picking Monroe, who played locally at Georgetown seems like a move to put fans in the seats.
9) LA Clippers- Al-Farouq Aminu- SF (Wake Forest)
Aminu looks and plays awkwardly, leading many scouts to deem him a long-term project. Others (like myself) believe that Aminu has a natural knack for the game, which will allow him to contribute while he learns. So far as a sophomore, Aminu has averaged 17.7 points and 11 rebounds for Wake Forest, while improving his shooting percentages in all three categories. He may not be NBA ready, but he has a lot of athleticism and potential, so someone would be smart to snatch him up in the top ten.
10) Indiana Pacers- Xavier Henry- SG (Kansas)
Henry made a huge splash, scoring 27 points in his first college game, and will likely be the third first-year player drafted (behind Wall and Favors) if he decides to enter his name. He has good size (6'6" and 220 lbs) and may develop the skills to play the point guard at the next level. Indiana needs help at both backcourt positions, so they can afford to take a bit of a gamble on Henry at #10.
11) Chicago Bulls- Devin Ebanks- SF (West Virginia)
Ebanks is a long, lengthy player with a lot of ability and upside. He does have some questions surrounding him because of his work ethic and his absence from the Mountaineers to start the season. He is still raw, but could mature into a very effective NBA starter.
12) New Orleans Hornets- Donatas Motiejunas- PF (Lithuania)
Motiejunas had a lot of hype before the start of the college season, but his stock has tumbled for several reasons. First and foremost is the depth at power forward in this draft. With players like Favors, Davis, Monroe, and Aldrich off the board, and other options (DeMarcus Cousins, Craig Brackins, Jarvis Varnado, and Gani Lawal) still available, drafting a hit-or-miss prospect like Motiejunas looks less appealing. Additionally, all the big names are off to good starts, while Motiejunas has little chance to make noise overseas. Another underlying factor may be the looming 2010 free agency class. Teams looking to land a big name player will want leverage such as a big name draft pick on his way to training camp, and while Motiejunas is skilled, he isn't as big of a draw as the players drafted ahead of him.
With all of that said, David West is far from the All-Star that he was one or two years ago, and while I'll stop short of saying he's reached his peak, New Orleans would be smart to add a contingency plan and Motiejunas's ability to stretch the floor would leave the lane clear for Chris Paul to operate.
13) Sacramento Kings- Paul George- SF (Fresno State)
Sacramento would be thrilled to land a player of George's caliber at #13. They have a strong foundation of young players reminiscent of the Trail Blazers of a couple of years ago, and could be a force in the Western Conference with a strong 2010 off-season. Although he is slight of build at this point, he has prototypical small forward size (6'8") and athleticism. He also has the ability to stretch the floor (38.5% 3-point shooting) and defend (2.2 steals).
14) Oklahoma City Thunder- DeMarcus Cousins- PF (Kentucky)
Cousins has some questions about his work ethic, but has a ton of athleticism and can really defend. If Cousins buys in to the team concept in Oklahoma City and develops the way may anticipate, the Thunder could be a legitimate championship contender as soon as 2012.
15) Milwaukee Bucks- Craig Brackins- PF (Iowa State)
Brackins's impressive numbers from last year have come back to earth slightly, but he will still challenge for inclusion in the lottery. He has a great face-up game, a very dangerous jump shot, and he is underrated defensively (1.3 steals and 1.7 blocks per game).
16) Miami Heat (from Toronto)- Jarvis Varnado- PF/C (Mississippi State)
Miami will hope to land a big name free agent to play alongside Dwyane Wade this summer, but no one in the class will have a bigger defensive impact than Varnado. The Mississippi State senior is averaging 5.5 blocks per game, along with career highs in points (14.5) and rebounds (10).
17) Minnesota Timberwolves (from Charlotte via Denver)- James Anderson- SG (Oklahoma State)
Anderson's skills bare a striking resemblance to those of 2009 first-rounder Wayne Ellington, but Minnesota needs a lot of help on the perimeter and adding another deadly outside shooter couldn't hurt. Anderson is averaging 22.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game while shooting over 50% from the field.
18) Houston Rockets- Solomon Alabi- C (Florida State)
Whether Alabi is a replacement for Yao Ming or simply a fill-in to keep him healthy, Houston could use his skills. Alabi has a huge 7'1" frame and not unlike Yao, is remarkably skilled at the free throw stripe, shooting an even 95% this season.
19) Miami Heat- Terrico White- SG (Mississippi)
Quite frankly, White is the best player on the board at #19. He is off to a sub-par start to his sophomore season, but is still averaging 17 points per game for 5-1 Mississippi.
20) Portland Trail Blazers- Quincy Pondexter- SF (Washington)
Pondexter is a local product from The University of Washington and is steadily rising on draft boards because of an unbelievable start to the season. Through five games, Pondexter is averaging 20.6 points and 11 rebounds on 54% shooting from the field and 89% shooting from the line. He may not be the answer at small forward for the Blazers, but he'll certainly make a nice addition to their wing rotation.
21) San Antonio Spurs- Luke Babbit- SF (Nevada)
Babbit doesn't have the athleticism or flash of Richard Jefferson, but he's a smart player with good instincts and he's very coachable. He seems like the type of player that could thrive under Greg Popovich.
22) Minnesota Timberwolves (from Utah)- Chris Wright- SF (Dayton)
Wright is a versatile athlete in the Ryan Gomes mold who could fit nicely into Minnesota's rotation down the line.
23) Memphis Grizzlies (from Denver)- Jan Vesely- PF (Czech Republic)
Memphis has had a plethora of picks in the last few drafts and has young players at almost every position. They make try to package this pick with their other late first rounder to move up and grab a player ready to contribute, but if not, they'll grab Vesely, who has good size and the ability to play up to three positions.
24) Atlanta Hawks- Patrick Patterson- PF (Kentucky)
Patterson is a great value at #24 and has arguably the best offensive skill set of any big man on the Hawks' roster from day one.
25) Boston Celtics- Jerome Jordan- C (Tulsa)
Jordan has quietly put up very solid numbers at Tulsa this season and is the legit 7-footer the Boston could use when Rasheed Wallace retires. He is averaging 16 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks through six games.
26) New Jersey Nets (from Dallas)- Gani Lawal- PF (Georgia Tech)
After passing on Favors at #1, the Nets land the other Georgia Tech power forward at #26. Lawal has less upside than Favors, but has put up similar numbers at this point of the season.
27) Orlando Magic- Kemba Walker- PG (Connecticut)
Orlando is perhaps the deepest team in the league, but turning to Jason Williams at point guard has to be a cause for concern, and considering that Jameer Nelson has sustained serious injuries in back-to-back seasons, it may be time to add a promising backup. After Wall and Warren, this draft is very thin at point guard, so the choice should be between Walker and Sheron Collins here. While neither have abundant size, Walker is lightning quick and has good upside.
28) Cleveland Cavaliers- Larry Sanders- C (Virginia Commonwealth)
Cleveland has the oldest center rotation in recent memory and could really use a youthful defensive presence on the inside. Jordan would have been a perfect fit, but Sanders will do nicely, as well.
29) Oklahoma City Thunder (from Phoenix)- Arnett Moultrie- PF (Texas-El Paso)
The Thunder take a page out of Minnesota and Chicago's book from the 2009 draft and draft the same position back-to-back with Moultrie at #29 following Cousins at #14. Moultrie has far less upside, but will be ready to contribute from day one and be a steadying force defensively for a frontcourt rotation that currently boasts such names as Etan Thomas, Nick Collison, and D.J. White.
30) Memphis Grizzlies (from LA Lakers)- Damion James- SF (Texas)
James is a versatile hybrid forward who is currently averaging 15.4 points and 10.2 rebounds for 5-0 Texas. He'll likely land somewhere in the late first round, and if Memphis keep all three of their first rounders, they'd be wise to grab him.