#1. Washington Wizards select … John Wall (G, Kentucky)
He’s offering almost everything Derrick Rose did. While point guards often take a back seat to big men with the #1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, there is NO valid reason I can see not to take Wall and build your franchise around him. Of course, this is the Wizards…
#2. Philadelphia 76ers select … DeMarcus Cousins (C, Kentucky)
Pay made an excellent case that, if the 76ers front office decides to keep Iggy, Turner isn’t the right man for Philadelphia with the #2 pick. While there is NO denying his immense all-around talents, I’d be willing to take a chance on Cousins. He has a mean streak that, if harnessed, could produce scary results (especially in a center-starved Eastern Conference). Assuming his fitness is addressed, of course.
#3. New Jersey Nets select ... Evan Turner (G/F, Ohio State)
You don’t get the #1 pick, yet you may walk away with pound-for-pound the best pure talent in this draft. He can help immediately, but shouldn’t be asked to. He is a vital cog, but not a 1A performer for a future title contender. Instead, Turner reminds me of a clone combining some of the best traits of Danny Granger (if his outside shooting improves) and Scottie Pippen (if his defense improves). Scary stuff, right?
Al Jefferson's future in Minnesota isn't set in stone, right?
If not, this pick becomes a true wild-card.
Credit: NBC Sports
If not, this pick becomes a true wild-card.
Credit: NBC Sports
#4. Minnesota Timberwolves select … Derrick Favors (PF/C, Georgia Tech)
I’m not completely sold on the guy, but he offers a lot more bulk than many of the other options at the all-too-popular PF/C position this draft. Current Minnesota-big Al Jefferson may not be a permanent fixture for the franchise, so Favors, as the very least, offers a future replacement. If Jefferson is a T-Wolf for good, I’d jump all over Wes Johnson’s athleticism as a #3 alongside Love and the aforementioned Jefferson.
#5. Sacramento Kings select … Greg Monroe (PF/C, Georgetown)
Utah has to be praying Monroe slips to #9, but he won’t. Monroe is a new-age Brad Miller, who enjoyed quite a bit of success in SacTown during his tenure. While Monroe doesn’t scream “All-Star” to me, he is a great compliment alongside Tyreke Evans and the youthful Kings.
Note: I’d love to swap at #9 with Utah and see Sacremento wait and select Kansas’ Xavier Henry, by the way.
#6. Golden State Warriors select … Cole Aldrich (C, Kansas)
I’m not nearly as high on Aldrich as this pick might entail. However, I think Biedrins (and his contract) should be moved this offseason, if possible. The last thing this team needs is another developing swingman-esque athlete on their roster (Morrow, Maggette, Randolph). I love Wes Johnson’s potential…but don’t like him sitting so much on an already youthful team.
For Johnson to truly become a superstar, he needs an envrionment (and head coach) who can nurture his potential and help enrich his skill-set. If those happen, he's the #2-overall talent in this draft, in my opinion.
#7. Detroit Pistons select … Wesley Johnson (SF/PF, Syracuse)
It’s odd to see Detroit selecting this early, isn’t it? If only they didn’t give out those two deals last year (Gordon/Villenueva especially), they’d be a much bigger player in the Summer of 2010. Johnson has a tremendous upside, but needs steady coaching and stability. He needs to learn how to find his shot off the dribble and NOT fall in love with an inconsistent outside shot. His length alone already allows Detroit to move Tayshaun Prince, as well.
#8. Los Angeles Clippers select … Ekpe Udoh (PF/C, Baylor)
I love this guy. I loved everything he did in the NCAA Tournament. The Clipper have their young nucleus…for now…with Gordon (PG) and Griffin (PF). Nevertheless, the rest of their roster (especially with veterans Baron Davis and Chris Kaman far from locked into the teams’ future), isn’t much to smile about. Udoh is a big body who can split minutes at the 4 with Griffin and bring some muscle into the paint. He also doesn’t need the ball in hands to be a productive contributor. I see a lot of Serge Ibaka in him.
#9. Utah Jazz select … Xavier Henry (SG, Kansas)
Call me crazy, but this guy might be the sleeper of the early-to-mid 1st round. Henry just scratched the surface last year and would benefit tremendously from Jerry Sloan and the veteran-laden Jazz. Imagine if he used his length to play defense. Scary. While replacing Boozer (potentially leaving this summer) may be priority #1 for the Jazz, the 2-guard position in Utah hasn’t been nearly productive enough in recent years. In fact, when has it been since Jeff Hornacek???
#10. Indiana Pacers select … Al Farouq-Aminu (SF/PF, Wake Forest)
I think he may be one of the easiest busts to predict, especially if he goes in the top 5 or 6. Nevertheless, I hope he finds a team that allows him to mature at a realistic pace. He doesn’t need to be in a place like Golden State or Los Angeles, earning minutes based on measurements. Instead, let the Pacers avoid the all-too-easy pick – Gordon Hayward – and give themselves an athletic, high-risk/high-reward piece to their young nucleus.
Are people too easily writing this guy off? I'd be guilty alongside those who already have.
#11. New Orleans Hornets select … Hassan Whiteside (C, Marshall)
CP3 is leaving. Count on it. Nevertheless, Darren Collison may be more than just a stop gap at the point guard position. Then again, is there a point worth of this slot? I doubt it, highly. I know Okafor is there, but let’s be honest…he’s not a center. Never has been in the NBA. So why not take a chance on Whiteside and see if he’s more Andrew Bynum than Saer Sene.
#12. Memphis Grizzlies select … Avery Bradley (SG, Texas)
A high-riser, maybe for only me, Bradley would allow the Grizzlies to make some tough moves on the fates of their young roster. There’s no telling where Rudy Gay ends up and Mike Coley has far from sewn up the point guard position in Memphis. Frankly, I’d be willing to build around Mayo (PG) and work from there. Selecting another untested big, alongside the already-developing Hasheem Thabeet, is a mistake. Take a 2-guard who can play with or without the ball. Zach Randolph’s legal troubles (surprise surprise) may alter this completely.
#13. Toronto Raptors select … Larry Sanders (PF/C, VCU)
Homer, right? Probably. Here come the Ed Davis-lovers. Bosh decides this pick (basically), doesn’t he? Problem is, they won’t know for sure come draft day where Bosh stands. While he’s likely gone (even if it’s a sign-and-trade), the Raptors also need to deal with Hedo and the potential of a large chunk of cap-space available with no free agent to lure. Sanders, who has done as well as any bigs in rookie camps, still has a LOT of work to do. Especially with his attitude. Nevertheless, Sanders has just as many, if not greater, physical tools equal of the BCS-conference draftees many have going before him. He is just scratching the surface, while also performing at a higher level than several bigs who have only been “projected” to perform (Whiteside, Orton, etc.).
#14. Houston Rockets select … James Anderson (SG, Oklahoma State)
He’s my Paul Pierce/Danny Graner/Rajon Rondo/DeJuan Blair of this year’s draft. A guy I know will be a solid NBA pro. Some are superstars and some are glue guys. Nevertheless, each draft has a guy or two that far too many GOOD teams passed over. Anderson could be a star, but won’t be a top 10 (or even top 20???) pick. The Rockets would be wise to get this guy on their roster, no matter if it’s “too early” or not. He’d also earn plenty of minutes, which he might not do going in the twenties.
There are more than a few absent names in this top 14, right? Patrick Patterson, Gordon Hayward, & Ed Davis (below).
Of course, the true story will be told soon enough. 17+ days, to be prices.