Wednesday, November 11, 2009

2010 NBA Mock Draft (Version 2)

(NOTE: Draft order is determined by my most recent power rankings.)


1)    New Jersey Nets- Derrick Favors- PF (Georgia Tech)


The Nets have franchise cornerstones at the two hardest to fill positions- point guard and center.  They also have promising young pieces on the wings (Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Terrence Williams).  The question may be what their long term plans are with Yi Jianlian.  Yi has great size at 6'11", but his game is more suited for a small forward than a power forward.  That size/skill set combination paid huge dividends for Orlando last year, but it is hardly the norm.  Considering the depth at power forward and the star power at point guard in this draft, taking an off-guard (like Willie Warren or Terrico White) or a small forward (like Devin Ebanks) seems far-fetched.  A trade of this pick or Devin Harris is a possibility if it yields a proven scorer with a desirable contract, but if New Jersey holds onto it, it will likely be a big man- Favors, Donatas Motiejunas, Greg Monroe, or Ed Davis.


2)    Minnesota Timberwolves- Cole Aldrich- C (Kansas)


This may be a bit of a reach, but Aldrich is without question a top 10 talent that fills a need for Minnesota.  Kevin Love and Al Jefferson are both more suited to play power forward and Minnesota is painfully thin in the frontcourt.  Love and Jefferson have also each sustained major injuries in the past 12 months, with Jefferson still a long way from full recovery.  If the injury lingers, or is exacerbated, the Wolves will need a long-term answer.  Aldrich is also a hometown kid, meaning Minnesota would have a much better chance of keeping him around long-term than with a typical top 5 draft pick. 


3)    Memphis Grizzlies- John Wall- PG (Kentucky)


If the draft shakes out this way, Memphis will have a various similar decision to the one they made last June.  Through the first two weeks of the season, Hasheem Thabeet looks to be every bit of the bust that many forecasted.  This leaves the Griz with a need to upgrade at point guard and center, and possibly small forward (if they can't re-sign Rudy Gay).  They swung and missed with a 7-foot project last year, and as tempting as Motiejunas is, they won't make that mistake twice (in a row, anyway).  Wall could definitely be gone long before #3, but if he's still here, Memphis will take him and run.  Literally.


4)    Utah Jazz (from New York via Phoenix)- Devin Ebanks-SF (West Virginia)


Utah has cornerstones at point guard (Deron Williams) and power forward (Paul Milsap) and promising combinations of "now and later" at shooting guard (Ronnie Brewer and Wes Matthew) and center (Mehmet Okur and Kosta Koufos), but needs a plan for after Andrei Kirilenko is gone.  Ebanks and Al Farouq-Aminu are the best small forward prospects that figure to be available, and Ebanks is poised to have a break out season.  He has a long, lean body and a game that could resemble Carmelo Anthony's with some polish.  This is an upside pick, and Ebanks will probably be the least prepared of the top 4 to contribute from day 1, but with two picks in the top 10, Utah can afford to gamble.


5)    Golden State Warriors- Donatas Motiejunas- PF (Lithuania)


The 7-foot Lithuanian is too good a fit for the Warriors to pass up.  Assuming that Don Nelson sticks around for a few more years, Motiejunas would fit perfectly in Golden State's system.  At a legit 7 feet, his game resembles that of Andrea Bargnani.  He can stretch the floor with his smooth shooting stroke and is big enough to guard NBA centers.  He is widely considered a project, but Nelson is notorious for bringing young players along slowly, which seems to be another perfect match. Paul George would be another good choice here, as he could provide a nice replacement for Stephen Jackson.


6)    Los Angeles Clippers- Paul George- SG/SF (Fresno State)


The Clippers thought they had found a franchise small forward in Al Thornton, but Thornton's poor start and relegation to reserve has to be a source of concern.  Baron Davis is signed long term, Eric Gordon is a stud at the off-guard, and the L.A.'s other team has one of the most promising frontcourt rotations in the league, meaning small forward almost has to be the focus for the Clippers.  Ebanks has the type of star power the Clippers would like, but George has the potential to be a fantastic player, and coming out of nearby Fresno State, he also has the potential to put fans in the seats.


7)    New Orleans Hornets- Terrico White- SG (Mississippi)


The Hornets need help for Chris Paul and they need it quickly.  They would love to land a dynamic wingman like Ebanks or George, but White is a nice fit as well.  At 6'5", White has the size to guard most NBA off-guards with the quickness and ball handling of a point guard.  He didn't get much media attention as a freshman at Ole Miss, but White is poised to have a break out season, that could see him as the SEC player of the year.  White has a respectable jump shot and the ability to score in bunches.  He has the ability to open up a myriad of jump shots for Paul and sharp shooter Peja Stojakovic.


8)    Sacramento- DeMarcus Cousins- PF (Kentucky)


Cousins is very strong and has good size at 6'11".  The Kings have a good young frontcourt of Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes, but neither is really a defensive presence.  Cousins could fill that void and provide an infusion of athleticism, as well.


9)    San Antonio- Al Farouq-Aminu- SF (Wake Forest)


The Spurs will likely rebound from their poor start, but if they do find themselves in this spot, Farouq-Aminu would be a great fit.  He is an intelligent player with good intangibles, and he does the little things.  If that's not the definition of a Greg Popovich player, I don't know what is.  Farouq-Aminu also has good athleticism and significant upside.


10) Utah Jazz- Ed Davis- PF (North Carolina)


Utah will likely lose Carlos Boozer to free agency this off-season, and if they do, it would be nice to have someone to step in and fill Paul Milsap's shoes.  Davis is a big time talent that has been projected to land as high as #2.  He's a nice player with a well-rounded skill set, but he didn't really wow me last year.  He'll get a chance to prove himself without Tyler Hansbrough eating up all of his minutes, and he'll likely land much higher on draft night, but for now, I'll pencil him in at #10.


11) Washington Wizards- Solomon Alabi- C (Florida State)


The Wizards have a really nice thing going.  They have a new coach (Flip Saunders), depth in the backcourt (Gilbert Arenas, Randy Foye, Mike Miller, DeShawn Stevenson), and quality players in their frontcourt (Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Andray Blatche).  However, despite Brandon Haywood's early success this season, Washington is still a quality center away from being a title contender.  Alabi has great size (7'2") and arguably more defined skills than Hasheem Thabeet had at the end of last season.  DeMarcus Cousins is another possibility here, but you can't teach size, and Alabi is worth a bit of a gamble.


12) Indiana Pacers- Willie Warren- SG (Oklahoma)


Warren benefited from open looks thanks to Blake Griffin last year, and he will likely struggle as the main option this season.  However, his athleticism and shooting range are undeniable.  He was projected as a possible top 10 pick last year, and some have him in top 5 this time around, but I'm not sold just yet.  He would be a good fit for the Pacers, who would probably groom him at point guard.


13) Philadelphia 76ers- Xavier Henry- SG (Kansas)


Henry is one of the most talented incoming freshmen in the country and while many expect John Wall and Derrick Favors to be one-and-done, the jury is still out on Henry.  I suspect that if Kansas makes a deep run into the tournament, Henry will be likely to follow teammates Cole Aldrich and Sheron Collins to the NBA.  Drafting Henry would give the 76ers flexibility with Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young already on the perimeter. 


14) Milwaukee Bucks- Greg Monroe- PF (Georgetown)


Monroe has huge upside and a really intriguing skill set, but he'll have to assume more of a leadership role in order to land in the lottery.  Milwaukee took a gamble with Brandon Jennings in June, and they are already being rewarded.  I expect to see them double-down next time around and try to land another high-upside talent.


15) Detroit Pistons- Craig Brackins- PF (Iowa State)


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.  Brackins is a scrapper, who could learn a lot from a veteran like Ben Wallace.  He is also a good complement to the finesse game of Charlie Villanueva.


16) Minnesota Timberwolves (from Charlotte)- Evan Turner- SG (Ohio State)


Turner is a very versatile player with good maturity who has been putting up strong numbers in the Big 10 since he first walked on campus in Columbus.  The Timberwolves could use an athletic slasher who can score, and Turner is exactly that.


17) Toronto Raptors- Patrick Patterson- PF (Kentucky)


Toronto will have their hands full trying to keep Chris Bosh in the Great White North this off-season, and if they fail, they need a contingency plan.  Patterson may never be the player that Bosh is, but few are.  He does possess a similarly effective face up game, and a strong, albeit slightly undersized body.


18) Oklahoma City Thunder- Larry Sanders- C (Virginia Commonwealth)


The Thunder got a talented center in B.J. Mullens for pennies on the dollar last year, but Mullens is soft and a long way from being a contributor in the NBA.  Sanders, on the other hand, is long and athletic.  He can run the floor and get to the rim and would be a good complement to Mullens if the two were every able to play together.


19) Houston Rockets-Sylven Landesberg- SG (Virginia)


Landesberg should open the 2010 season on the national radar after a very strong, albeit underappreciated freshman season at Virginia.   He could use some extra time to develop his game, but he has good size and a flashy offensive game, and would fill a need for the Rockets if he decides to enter his name. 


20) Cleveland Cavaliers- Jarvis Varnado- PF (Mississippi State)


Cleveland has a plethora of talent on the perimeter and serviceable options on the inside, but let's be honest- Shaquille O'Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas are well past their respective primes, and while Anderson Varejao and J.J. Hickson are good hustle guys, neither one is an intimidating force on the inside.  Varnado would give Cleveland a shot blocking presence and wouldn't eat up shots that would otherwise go to LeBron and company.


21) Portland Trail Blazers- Jan Vesely- SF (Czech Republic)


It may be a cliché to project an international player to the Trail Blazers, but clichés become clichés for a reason.  The Blazers have a very full roster as it stands and while a trade remains a possibility, if the draft were today, stashing a player in Europe for a year or two would be a great option for the Blazers.  Portland is also still in search of their small forward of the future, and Vesely has as good a chance as anyone left on the board.


22) Chicago Bulls- James Anderson- SG (Oklahoma State)


James is the type of pure shooter that would benefit from playing with a slasher like Derrick Rose.  The Bulls have a great young roster featuring the likes of Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas, Taj Gibson, and James Johnson, but what they don't have is a player who can stretch the defense.  Anderson is exactly that type and could be the final piece to the Bulls' puzzle.


23) Atlanta Hawks-Gani Lawal- PF (Georgia Tech)


Jamal Crawford gives the Hawks flexibility in the backcourt, even in Joe Johnson leaves in free agency, so I expect the Hawks to sure up their front line come draft night.  Lawal is a local product and plays a bit like a poor man's Josh Smith.


24) Orlando Magic- Kemba Walker- PG (Connecticut)


Orlando is one of the most complete teams in the league this season, but while Jason Williams has been a serviceable back up point guard so far, he's clearly not the answer in the long term.  Walker showed signs of brilliance as a freshman last season, and will have far more responsibility in his second go-around.  While he is slightly undersized, he has fast hands and is lightning quick. 


25) Memphis Grizzlies (from Denver)- Dexter Pittman- PF/C (Texas)


Memphis has a core of young players but still needs to land their franchise center.  For the second straight year, the Grizzlies play it safe with their choice of a big man in the mid 20's, landing Pittman instead of the high upside, but risky choice, Jerome Jordan.


26) Miami Heat- Jerome Jordan- C (Tulsa)


Miami should be a big player in free agency this summer.  Popular opinion says the Heat will make a run at either LeBron James or Chris Bosh, and hopefully hold onto Dwyane Wade.  In either case, Miami has their 1-4 spots covered with Mario Chalmers, Wade, James or Michael Beasley, and Beasley or Chris Bosh.  However, with Jermaine O'Neal leaving this summer, the center position will be a big question mark moving forward.  Jordan has great size and good potential, although his is widely considered to be a project.


27) Boston Celtics- Tyshawn Taylor- PG/SG (Kansas)


Taylor has serious character issues, but if Kansas makes a run in the NCAA tournament, expect him to seriously consider making the leap.  He is a classic combo guard with good lateral quickness and athleticism, which would make him a good fit alongside (or in place of Rajon Rondo).


28) New Jersey Nets (from Dallas)-Kyle Singler- SF (Duke)


New Jersey has good depth along the perimeter, but could use a pure shooter at the small forward spot.  Admittedly, they could go a lot of ways with this pick.  They could use a backup point guard or even grab another big man, but Singler has great size and range and solid basketball IQ, making him worth a shot at 29.


29) Oklahoma City (from Phoenix)- Damion James- SF (Texas)


James has good size and a very versatile skill set, not unlike Jeff Green.  He could conceivably play anywhere from the off-guard to the power forward at the next level, providing flexibility that seems to be at a premium to the Thunder's front office.


30) Memphis Grizzlies (from LA Lakers)- Alexey Shved- PG/SG (Russia)


Shved is raw, but has combo guard skills and a great frame at 6'6".  International players typically move wildly up and down the draft board throughout the season, so Shved could sniff the lottery or land in the second round, but if he's available for the Grizzlies third pick, I would be surprised if they passed on him.

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