NOTE: This edition does not include trades. In our final edition, we will make trade predictions.
1. Washington – John Wall, PG, Kentucky. The last time Washington had the 1st pick, it was in a weak draft and they selected Kwame Brown. This draft is different. Barring injury, Wall will be a franchise player.
2. Philadelphia – Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State. If Wall is 1A, then Turner is 1B. Despite making the pick, expect the 76ers to trade the rights to Turner to either New Jersey or Minnesota.
3. New Jersey – Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech. The physical forward is an impact player at both ends of the floor and can become a 20/10 guy in three years’ time. Favors will need to learn how to stay out of foul trouble.
4. Minnesota – DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky. Let’s face it. Al Jefferson is not a center. Wesley Johnson, who many have tabbed as the pick here, is not a desirable trade piece for Philadelphia. Joe Dumars is desperate to land the big man and may throw everything and the kitchen sink to land Cousins. That said, who wants their garbage?
5. Sacramento – Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown. The Kings now have Dalembert, Thompson, Landry, but their frontcourt remains their biggest weakness. Monroe is the best passing big man in the draft, and perhaps the most complete frontcourt player in the draft.
6. Golden State – Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse. The Warriors love their wing players, and both Johnson and Al-Farouq Aminu are amazing fits. The nod goes to Johnson, who is a better defensive player.
7. Detroit – Epke Udoh, PF, Baylor. Since they drafted every small forward in last year’s draft pool, the Pistons are in an unenviable position. Based on who the Pistons have worked out so far, Udoh is the pick. He’s an athletic 4 who can play 5. He’s 23, which causes concern. If Detroit decides to go in a different direction, Cole Aldrich may be the pick.
8. LA Clippers – Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest. Aminu will not slip past this pick and the Clippers get a steal. An amazing leaper with excellent athleticism and versatility, Aminu could be the best prospect from this draft. The knocks on him are his [in]ability to create his own shot and securing the basketball.
9. Utah – Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina. I’m not in love with this pick, but Davis is the best prospect at a ‘need’ position with the likely departure of Carlos Boozer and the bust that is Kosta Koufos.
10. Indiana - Avery Bradley, SG, Texas. Expect the Pacers to trade down, because they are stocked with young big men and are weak in the frontcourt. If they are lazy or are forced to play their hand, Bradley, who they’d like to convert to the point, is the pick. That said, Bradley had moments when he lacked vision and made bad decisions.
11. New Orleans – Paul George, SF, Fresno State. The Hornets have made no secret that they are in love with George. At 6’9”, he’s taller than the other wing prospects in this draft and is among the most skilled as well.
12. Memphis – Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky. Patterson is an inside-outside threat who had a marked improvement at the defensive end this season. If the Grizz do not re-sign Zach Randolph, then Patterson serves as an insurance policy. Let’s just hope Randolph is not his off-court mentor.
13. Toronto – Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas. The Raptors need a true center. Bargnani played center, but will likely return to his natural position of power forward. Aldrich was a dominant defender at the collegiate level, and can make adjustments to the pro game quickly though it may not come in his first season.
14. Houston – Gordon Hayward, SF, Butler. The Rockets brass have come up and said that they will select the best prospect, even if they are already stocked at the position. Hayward is their man because of his ability to take over a game without having to score points.
15. Milwaukee – Luke Babbitt, SF, Nevada. Babbitt may be the best pure shooter in this year’s crop, and it’s wise to surround Brandon Jennings with as many role players as possible. The jury is out on how his defense will fit into Scott Skiles’s plans.
16. Minnesota – Xavier Henry, SG, Kansas. If the Wolves land Evan Turner via trade or select Wesley Johnson, then they will select Hassan Whiteside. If they do not, they cannot pass up on Henry’s upside and freakish ability. Henry will need to improve his shot selection at the next level.
17. Chicago – James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State. A proven scorer and defender is exactly what the Bulls need. If the Bulls trade down, they may select Gani Lawal, Jerome Jordan or Dominique Jones.
18. Miami – Hassan Whiteside, PF/C, Marshall. This pick is wide open given that Miami will be affected more by free agency than any other team. The rationale for picking Whiteside is that he presents a skill set as a specialist (shot blocking). He is unproven offensively, but that is not a bad thing if he can clean up the boards.
19. Boston – Larry Sanders, PF/C, VCU. With the rumored retirement of Rasheed Wallace and Kendrick Perkins being out of contract, the Celtics need to get replenished down low. Sanders is a shot blocker who’s improved as a 1-on-1 defender. If the Celtics go with Daniel Orton, it may spell the end of Perkins’s stay in Beantown.
20. San Antonio – Dominique Jones, SG, South Florida. Jones is a dynamic combo guard with an NBA body who can create shots for himself in a variety of ways and has been known to have several scoring outbursts. Unfortunately, the tweener label applies.
21. Oklahoma City – Daniel Orton, PF, Kentucky. When a team has two players who take a lot of shots, you need to surround them with role players who can contribute in other ways. Orton fits that bill as a physical defender who can also block shots.
22. Portland – Eric Bledsoe, PG/SG, Kentucky. Portland has a knack for selecting players who other teams want in order to get their guy. I will assume that their guy will be off the board in time for their pick. Bledsoe is among the best on-the-ball defenders in the draft. While not a true point guard, he can develop into one.
23. Minnesota – Solomon Alabi, C, Florida State. Alabi is a proven shot-blocker with a limited offensive profile. Toronto may buy back into the first round to grab Alabi, who has ties with the organization.
24. Atlanta – Gani Lawal, PF, Georgia Tech. The Hawks need muscle and the local product may be the guy to provide it. They, however, can go in many directions. If so, Devin Ebanks may hear his name at this point.
25. Memphis – Elliot Williams, SG, Memphis. Rudy Gay and Ronnie Brewer may leave in free agency, so it may be good to stock up now in case one or both leave. Williams is a scorer, but is also a strong defender despite his small frame.
26. Oklahoma City – Damion James, SF, Texas. James is a hustle player who averaged a double-double for much of his collegiate career in the Big XII thanks to a 7-foot wingspan. To get better, James will need to improve his ball-handling and passing skills.
27. New Jersey – Devin Ebanks, SF, West Virginia. Ebanks is a wiry, physical player who crashes the boards and does not give up on defense. Unless he adds muscle, he will be pushed around when asked to guard power forwards.
28. Memphis – Quincy Pondexter, SF, Washington. A matchup nightmare. That’s what opposing coaches have called Pondexter over the years. Pondexter excels in an open game, but has improved his skills in the half-court set.
29. Orlando – Greivis Vasquez, PG, Maryland. The Magic have only worked out a few players. If they hang onto the pick, then Vasquez can immediately step in at backup point guard, which will be a position of need with Jason Williams and Anthony Johnson out of contract.
30. Washington – Jerome Jordan, C, Tulsa. Slated as a second-round pick until recent weeks, Jordan has impressed teams in workouts with his defensive prowess. His 7’5” wingspan doesn’t hurt either.