1) New Jersey Nets- John Wall- PG (Kentucky)
The more that I watch Wall play, I'm struck by the ease with which he plays the game at such a high level. Dominating major college basketball just looks easy for him. I'm thrilled to see how good he can be at the next level.
2) Minnesota Timberwolves- Evan Turner- SG (Ohio State)
Turner is the type of player who can score at will, but chooses to get his teammates involved instead. That is the sign of a real leader, and the type of player who understands how to win basketball games, rather than just putting up huge numbers. He will be a great addition to the rebuilding process in the Twin Cities.
3) Golden State Warriors- Derrick Favors- PF (Georgia Tech)
Like I've said before, Favors has all of the potential to be a great player, but with fewer red flags than DeMarcus Cousins (character) and Hassan Whiteside (lack of polish), who has skyrocketed up draft boards in recent weeks.
4) Indiana Pacers- Wesley Johnson- SG (Syracuse)
Johnson would be a great fit next to Danny Granger on the Pacers' perimeter. Cousins and Whiteside are possibilities here too, but a second scoring option seems like a more pressing need. If Indiana opts for a big man, expect Troy Murphy's days as a Pacer to be numbered.
5) Detroit Pistons- DeMarcus Cousins- C (Kentucky)
Cousins has been the most dominant post player in college basketball this season, and he would be a great fit in Detroit's thin front line. There are character questions surrounding him, but his talent makes him well worth the gamble at this point in the draft.
6) Utah Jazz (from New York)- Cole Aldrich- C (Kansas)
Utah is flush with perimeter options, but very thin up front. Re-signing Carlos Boozer would fix that, but drafting a promising young big man would be a far more cost effective solution. The Jazz will likely consider Donatas Motiejunas, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Hassan Whiteside along with Aldrich here, but of the four, Aldrich is the only player ready to make a significant contribution to a playoff team right away.
7) Washington Wizards- Donatas Motiejunas- PF (Lithuania)
Unlike the Jazz, the Wizards are in no hurry to win right away. Motiejunas is very raw, but he has as much potential as anyone in this draft not named John Wall. His face-up, stretch style would also be a nice compliment to the bruising style of Andray Blatche.
8) Sacramento Kings- Hassan Whiteside- PF (Marshall)
The Kings have two major needs to address this off-season: a point guard and a shot blocker. After Wall, the point guard crop is very thin, but Whiteside has unbelievable shot-blocking instincts. He is definitely a project (Michael Olowokandi comes to mind), but Sacramento has the bodies up front to give him time.
9) Philadelphia 76ers- Xavier Henry- SG (Kansas)
This is a bit of a dream scenario for the 76ers, as they get one of the most complete players in this draft all the way down at number nine. Henry's outside shooting ability and versatility should give Philadelphia a lot of flexibility at the two through four spots.
10) Los Angeles Clippers- Al-Farouq Aminu- PF (Georgia Tech)
Most scouts project Aminu as a small forward at the next level, but I think he is better suited to play the power forward. He does have nice handles for a man of his size, but his best asset may be his rebounding, and his jump shot is absolutely horrendous at this point in his development.
11) Chicago Bulls- James Anderson- SG (Oklahoma State)
Anderson will likely get snatched up in the lottery, as his game has really matured this season. He has shown leadership ability and a willingness to be more than just an outside shooter. The Bulls could really use a shooter, so they may be in the running for Joe Johnson this summer, but Anderson is a nice contingency plan.
12) Houston Rockets- Solomon Alabi- C (Florida State)
Houston has eight perimeter players under contract next season (assuming that they re-sign Kyle Lowry), and presumptive long-term options at the one through four spots (Aaron Brooks, Chase Budinger, Trevor Ariza, and Jordan Hill). They also have an aging center with a history of injury problems, who could really use a breather every now and then.
13) Memphis Grizzlies- Ed Davis- PF (North Carolina)
Davis will probably slide a bit because of his team's struggles and his late season injury, as well as the power forward depth in this draft, but he should still land in the lottery. His motor is a bit of a question mark, but he has all the physical tools to be an All-Star at the next level.
14) New Orleans Hornets- Damion James- SF (Texas)
I've been a huge proponent of James for a couple of years now. He is so consistent and has really assumed a leadership role for a young Longhorns team this season. He has always been a great rebounder, and his offensive game is incredibly smooth.
15) Minnesota Timberwolves (from Charlotte)- Greg Monroe- PF (Georgetown)
Minnesota is loaded with talented power forwards, but Al Jefferson's drunk driving arrest may punch his ticket out of town, and while Monroe might not fill a need, he does provide great value, which was David Kahn's justification for drafting point guard after point guard last season.
16) Miami Heat- Patrick Patterson- PF (Kentucky)
Patterson's rebounding tenacity and surprising face-up game remind me a lot of Udonis Haslem, the long-time member of the Heat whose contract expires this summer. He could re-sign, but Patterson would be a more cost-effective choice with his rookie scale deal at #16.
17) Milwaukee Bucks- Larry Sanders- PF (Virginia Commonwealth)
The Bucks have made a huge surge over the past few weeks, and they find themselves in the thick of things in the "All-it-takes-is-two-strong-weeks-and-you're-the-five-seed" Eastern Conference. They would love to land Monroe or Patterson this late in the draft, but they'll settle for Sanders if it means they get a taste of the postseason.
18) Miami Heat (from Toronto)- Stanley Robinson- SF (Connecticut)
Robinson is the best athlete in this class without question, but his team underachieved drastically down the stretch, which will likely hurt his draft stock. Still, he would be a nice addition to a TBD Miami bench.
19) Portland Trail Blazers- Jan Vesely- SF (Czech Republic)
This seems to make too much sense not to happen. Portland still needs their answer at small forward and they LOVE foreign prospects; so if Vesely drops to them, don't expect them to pass on him.
20) San Antonio Spurs- Avery Bradley- SG (Texas)
Bradley was a trendy pick to sneak into the lottery a few weeks ago, but his lack of a natural position may give teams pause. On the other hand, he is a lock down defender with explosive offensive ability, and he still has a lot of room to grow. The Spurs hit another home run with this pick.
21) Oklahoma City Thunder (from Phoenix)- Ekpe Udoh- PF (Baylor)
Udoh has shown huge improvement since transferring from Michigan to Baylor. He was always a great athlete with good shot-blocking instincts, but his offensive game seems to finally be catching up. He'll be a nice backup option for a team that should be starting Serge Ibaka sooner rather than later.
22) Oklahoma City Thunder- Devin Ebanks- SF (West Virginia)
If OKC keeps this pick, they'll likely take a flier on a foreign prospect like Mario Delas, Alexey Shved, or Artem Zabelin, but a trade here would make sense too. Ebanks has been very underwhelming this season, and his gaffe at the end of the Villanova game on Saturday almost cost his team a very important decision. He certainly has bust potential, but he could also develop into a nice player in the right system.
23) Atlanta Hawks- Gani Lawal- PF (Georgia Tech)
Lawal is the best rebounder in the class, and while he won't wow anyone with his athleticism, he has all the makings of a solid role player behind Josh Smith and Al Horford.
24) New Jersey Nets (from Dallas)- Jordan Hamilton- SF (Texas)
If Hamilton decides to forego his sophomore season at Texas, he would be a good fit for the Nets. He is still raw, but has a lot of potential and could be brought along slowly by playing behind Courtney Lee, Terrence Williams, and Chris Douglas-Roberts.
25) Boston Celtics- Paul George- SF (Fresno State)
George was a trendy lottery pick early in the season because of his myriad physical tools, but his decision-making has been a major sticking point this season. He has hoisted up bad shots far too often as the obvious first option for the Bulldogs. However, the transition to small fish in the Big Three's pond should mellow his quick trigger.
26) Minnesota Timberwolves (from Utah)- Luke Babbit- SF (Nevada)
It's pretty unlikely that Minnesota keeps all three of their first rounders, but if so, Babbit would round out their roster very nicely. He is a solid rebounder and a very efficient shooter with deep range.
27) Memphis Grizzlies (from Denver)- Armon Johnson- PG (Nevada)
It's back-to-back picks for the Wolfpack, as the Grizzlies grab a backup option to Mike Conley, who has done a good job of establishing himself in Memphis over the last half of the season.
28) Orlando Magic- Sheron Collins- PG (Kansas)
Orlando is one of the deepest teams in the league, but Jason Williams can't be counted on in the long-term. Collins is a nice player, who will never be a superstar, but will be a solid contributor off the bench for the Magic.
29) Memphis Grizzlies (from LA Lakers)- Mario Delas- SF (Croatia)
Like the Timberwolves, the Grizzlies have three first round picks, and at least one of them won't be on the roster next year. Delas is a European prospect in the Hedo Turkoglu mold. He has shot 71% from the field and 92% from the line in limited Euro League action.
30) Cleveland Cavaliers- Jerome Jordan- C (Tulsa)
Jordan hasn't shown much growth in his time at Tulsa, but that's another way of saying he's been very consistent. He is averaging 15 points, eight rebounds, and nearly three blocks a game, and would give the Cavs a true center if Shaq and Big Z retire or relocate.