1) New Jersey Nets- John Wall- PG (Kentucky)
With Kansas' shocking loss to Northern Iowa, Wall's Wildcats are the hands down favorites to claim the title in Indianapolis. His skills are undeniable and his brand is already off and running, so whoever lands this pick would be crazy to look elsewhere.
2) Minnesota Timberwolves- Evan Turner- SG (Ohio State)
Turner's ball handling skills have been sufficient all season long, but his resolve has really been tested through the Buckeyes' first two tournament games. Turner has struggled with his shot and been turnover prone, but his body of work speaks for itself. And, let's remember, he has been playing out of position all season, while achieving All-American status.
3) Golden State Warriors- DeMarcus Cousins- C (Kentucky)
Golden State is a tough team to project for a couple of reasons. They have a lot of needs at the three through five spots, but they've gotten unexpectedly ample production from several D League call-ups (Anthony Tolliver and Reggie Williams, among others). The future roles of these players will have a large impact on the Warriors' draft plans. While I don't know much about either player, I think that Williams has a better chance of sticking in the NBA than Tolliver, thanks to his knack for putting the ball in the basket. Corey Maggette also gives Golden State some options at the small forward, but with Andris Biedrins injured, the Warriors are very thin up front. Cousins is a very intriguing prospect with boundless potential. He does have some character issues, but during the SEC semifinal against Tennessee, one of the CBS announcers offered the following explanation of those problems- "It's easy to forget when you watch him play, but he's only a 19-year old kid."
4) Washington Wizards- Derrick Favors- PF (Georgia Tech)
Favors is a great athlete and has could become an All-Star at the next level. It took Georgia Tech almost all season to realize it, but their team thrived when they ran the offense through Favors. He probably needs more seasoning than Cousins, but he'll be much less of a headache for a team that could really use a break in that department.
5) Detroit Pistons- Donatas Motiejunas- PF (Lithuania)
This is the doomsday scenario for the Pistons. The would love to land either Cousins or Favors, but with both gone, they are left with three options: take the best player available and abandon their need for a big man, reach for Cole Aldrich (the remaining big man who provides the best fit), or take a chance on another foreign big man with the initials D.M. Unfortunately for Pistons' fans, trading the pick or rolling the dice on Motiejunas makes the most sense in this scenario.
6) Indiana Pacers- Wesley Johnson- SG (Syracuse)
The Pistons' pain is the Pacers' gain as Indiana gets the best all-around offensive threat in this draft class. Johnson can have an impact on both ends from day one, and would be a great compliment to Danny Granger on the perimeter.
7) Philadelphia 76ers- Al-Farouq Aminu- SF (Wake Forest)
I still think Xavier Henry would be the best fit for the 76ers, but with his team's early exit from the big dance, his stock is bound to take a hit. Aminu provides the best value at #7, but isn't the outside threat Philly could really use.
8) Utah Jazz (from New York)- Cole Aldrich- C (Kansas)
The 8th pick this year reminds me of the 9th pick last year. Sure, there were still quality players on the board (Brandon Jennings, Ty Lawson, etc.), but the sexy names were all gone, and the crapshoot really got started. Like Henry, Aldrich will likely suffer for his team's inexcusable early exit, but he fills a need for Utah and he's miles ahead of the next center on the board (Solomon Alabi).
9) Sacramento Kings- Ed Davis- PF (North Carolina)
This is an absolute value pick for the Kings, who have zero need at the power forward position, but with no quality small forward or point guard options available, they'll take a bit of a gamble on a high-upside player like Davis. Also, a trade is a very real possibility given this scenario.
10) Los Angeles Clippers- Hassan Whiteside- PF (Marshall)
Like Sacramento, there is no player on the board who fits the Clippers' needs, so they'll likely do something extremely brash, like taking a flier on a guy like Whiteside, who only has three years of organized basketball experience. (Michael Olowokandi anyone?)
11) Chicago Bulls- James Anderson- SG (Oklahoma State)
The Bulls will collectively wet themselves if they get the opportunity to choose between Anderson and Xavier Henry, but given that the teams directly ahead of them have long-term answers at shooting guard, it could happen. Both are very complete players, but Anderson has better range and more leadership qualities.
12) New Orleans Hornets- Greg Monroe- PF (Georgetown)
Like Henry and Aldrich, Monroe really hurt himself in the NCAA tournament. A first round knockout always hurts a player's stock, but especially when it's a big man playing against a 14-seed from a mid major conference. Monroe should have been able to put the Hoyas on his back and carry them through that game. With that said, he does have a tremendous set of skills which should make him very effective at the next level.
13) Houston Rockets- Solomon Alabi- C (Florida State)
I've had Houston making this pick about a hundred times now, but I just don't see what other choice they have. Take a look at the roster- Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry at the point; Kevin Martin and Chase Budinger at the two; Trevor Ariza and Shane Battier at the swing; Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes (Face it, he's a power forward), David Andersen, and Jordan Hill at the four; and Yao Ming an no one else at center. I suppose a trade is possible here or reaching a bit for Jan Vesely, but otherwise Alabi is a no-brainer.
14) Memphis Grizzlies- Devin Ebanks- SF (West Virginia)
I've had Ebanks all over the first round. He was a top 10 pick at the outset, but he missed the first few games, struggled with consistency and production, and found himself in the mid-20's for a time. However, his game has really come together nicely just in time for the Big Dance. The looming showdown between Kentucky and West Virginia could be one of the best games of the year, and it could do wonders for Ebanks' draft stock.
15) Minnesota Timberwolves (from Charlotte)- Xavier Henry- SG (Kansas)
Like 2009, Minnesota uses their first two picks on players at the same position. If they had the second pick again, they'd probably choose to pair Cousins with Henry instead of Turner, but a perimeter rotation of Turner, Henry, Corey Brewer, Ryan Gomes, and Wayne Ellington gives them a lot of options.
16) Miami Heat- Patrick Patterson- PF (Kentucky)
Patterson is a steady and versatile player, who will never be a superstar at the next level, but should carve out a nice niche near the top of Miami's bench.
17) Miami Heat (from Toronto)- Avery Bradley- SG (Texas)
The Texas freshmen are really the wildcard in this draft class. Bradley and Jordan Hamilton both have first round skills and potential, but both could use some seasoning. For now, I'm projecting Bradley to leave and Hamilton to stay, but that situation will be very fluid. Bradley is very strong defensively and has the ability to change a game offensively from time to time.
18) Milwaukee Bucks- Ekpe Udoh- PF (Baylor)
Udoh has done more to help his stock than just about any other player in the country, and he has a chance to build on it in the Sweet 16. Saint Mary's rolled through Richmond and Villanova, but Baylor will provide a new challenge. Keep an eye on the matchup between Udoh and Gael's big man Omar Samhan, as it should determine the winner.
19) Portland Trail Blazers- Damion James- SF (Texas)
James has been a consistent player in his four years at Texas, and Portland could use his steadiness. He is a great rebounder and a good leader with a very smooth offensive arsenal.
20) San Antonio Spurs- Luke Babbit- SF (Nevada)
Babbit is the kind of unheralded player that San Antonio loves to swoop in and grab. He is a good rebounder and one of the most efficient offensive players in the nation. He may decide to stay in Reno for another year, but if not, he's got first round written all over him.
21) Oklahoma City Thunder- Larry Sanders- PF (Virginia Commonwealth)
Oklahoma City is one of the best-built franchises in the NBA right now, but they could really use some depth and shot blocking up front. Sanders provides a lot of length and athleticism, and should be able to make a regular impact defensively.
22) Oklahoma City Thunder (from Phoenix)- Jan Vesely- SF (Czech Republic)
The Thunder get a steal this late in the draft with Vesely, who is very raw, but at 19-years old and 6'11" tall, he has a lot of room to grow.
23) Boston Celtics- Paul George- SF (Fresno State)
Boston will have some huge holes on their perimeter next year, especially if the choose not to re-sign Ray Allen, and George has the potential to be a starter down the line. He needs a lot of coaching on decision-making and shot-selection, but he has all the tools be a really effective NBA player.
24) Atlanta Hawks- Stanley Robinson- SF (Connecticut)
Atlanta could use some frontcourt depth, but Robinson is a great value at this point in the draft, and his athleticism would be a nice asset off the Hawks' bench.
25) New Jersey Nets (from Dallas)- Gani Lawal- PF (Georgia Tech)
Lawal is the best rebounder in this class, and a real pleasure to watch. He would be a stabilizing force near the top of the Nets bench.
26) Minnesota Timberwolves (from Utah)- Quincy Pondexter- SF (Washington)
It's pretty likely that Minnesota will move one of their three picks in the first round, but which one is still a looming question. Accordingly, I'll keep them at #26 where the select Pondexter, a long small forward with a versatile skill set.
27) Memphis Grizzlies (from Denver)- Alexey Shved- PG (Russia)
Memphis would be smart to grab an international prospect with one of their three first-round choices. Shved is a young Russian point guard with great size (6'7") and solid court vision.
28) Orlando Magic- Sheron Collins- PG (Kansas)
Collins' disappointing end to his college career will hurt his draft stock less than his teammates because of the scarcity at the point guard position in this draft. He's probably still the number two PG in this class, but Eric Bledsoe could certainly overtake him with a strong showing late in the tournament.
29) Memphis Grizzlies (from LA Lakers)- Da'Sean Butler- SG (West Virginia)
Butler had a very strong showing against Missouri and will need to do the same against Washington and (potentially) Kentucky in order to get his team to Indianapolis and himself into the first round.
30) Washington Wizards (from Cleveland)- Greivis Vasquez- SF (Maryland)
Vasquez is a very versatile player with a great heart. I expect to see him on an NBA roster next season regardless of his draft position.