This preview will deal with the top 20 picks. Anyone that has watched the NBA draft over the last few years realizes that the last 10 picks in the first round are a crap shoot at best. The analysis here is a combination of what I think the teams will do and what they should do based on their needs.
This year’s draft is deeper than any in the last few years but there is a significant drop off after the 20th player. Look for the bottom 10 to take a lot of foreign players. The top teams in the league are often looking to draft a future player that can develop overseas for a couple of years without costing the team a roster spot or big money. That is particularly true this season because of the potential labor issue coming up in the near future.
Without doubt, John Wall PG Kentucky will be the choice. Some are saying he is the best player to come out since Kevin Durant. I don’t think so. Durant is a well rounded player that gets rebounds, assists and points. Wall will help a weak O develop some consistency.
The 76ers will have D on the floor next season with Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young and Jrue Holiday. None of them are NBA scorers. Some think the team will go with Cousins but my pick here is the most refined O player in the draft–Evan Turner SG Ohio State. He can create his own shot and draw doubles to dish off to an open player.
3. New Jersey
Derrick Favors PF Georgia Tech should be the pick here unless the team trades out of the spot. NJ was the worst team in the league last year with a ton of cap space. If they can get 2 or 3 vets in a deal for this spot they will take the trade in a New Jersey second. Favors has the physical style that the team needs on D and will be a consistent scorer.
The Timberwolves are trying to move up to get Turner. They won’t be able to. So they will go for another more mature wing scorer–Wesley Johnson SF Syracuse. Johnson is 22 and will be reunited with Jonny Flynn.
DeMarcus Cousins PF/C Kentucky is the picture of inconsistent play. He disappears for stretches of a game. But the team needs an athletic big man and he is the best of that category. He is a 1 and done guy that they will have to find a way to light a fire under to get the production that they expect from the 5th pick.
6. Golden State
Greg Monroe PF Georgetown is a perimeter PF that is more finesse than physical. He can’t help the team with rebounding on the wing. But he has great “upside” and that is what will get him picked here.
Al-Farouq Aminu SF Wake Forest will probably be the pick here but I am wondering why. He can’t shoot beyond 6 ft. He is raw as steak tartar but he is athletic and has potential. That is what gets coaches fired faster than anything else.
8. L.A. Clippers
Ekpe Udoh PF Baylor has shot up the draft charts in recent weeks. He is a shot blocking specialist that will score and rebound. I project he will end up being a better player than Monroe or Aminu.
9. Utah (From New York via Phoenix)
There is a noticeable drop off between the top 8 and 9 through about 15. This is where the projecting gets a lot more difficult. I predict that Utah will take Cole Aldrich C Kansas. They need another big man to go with Paul Millsap because Carlos Boozer is a UFA and will leave. Aldrich is more physical than Millsap and will let the latter move to F.
The Pacers would love to trade this pick for a proven vet PG. They don’t have a true starting quality PG on the roster and they will likely lose starting G Earl Watson to free agency. They have the 40th pick and might go PG there because there are no PGs rated high enough to be taken here. I’ll project Ed Davis PF North Carolina. He is a “2 and done” guy that looks better than he plays. He has talent but didn’t get it done on the floor for NC. Some are projecting Eric Bledsoe PG/SG Kentucky but he is not a true PG either.
11. New Orleans
NO would probably take Davis if he is on the board. If not they could go for Luke Babbitt SF/PF Nevada. He is a solid scorer and has the size and strength to play the 4 with the quickness to play the 3.
The Griz could use a PG but like Indy is not likely to take one here. PG Mike Conley has not been bad but has not developed the way the team hoped having taken him with the 4th pick in 07. The big question is what will they do with RFA Rudy Gay? I predict they will resign him to play SF and go with Xavier Henry SG Kansas. That could move O.J. Mayo to PG. Henry is 6-6 and has an NBA body and good shooting range.
Avery Bradley SG Texas is the choice here. At 6-3 180 he is a SG in the body of a PG but has great athleticism, body control and above average shooting range. He can play the PG on D but will let either Jarrett Jack or Sonny Weems bring the ball up the court.
There are a lot of possibilities here. The team might be interested in a C (in case they lose Yao Ming) or SG but the ones they like are gone. I think they go for Gordon Hayward SF Butler. He had a great tournament but he is athletically limited and can struggle to get his own shot. I think he will be a marginal player at best at the next level.
15. Milwaukee (From Chicago)
Patrick Patterson PF Kentucky could be the pick here but a SF could also be the choice. He doesn’t have the size to be a true 4 but doesn’t have the quickness to play the 3. He can shoot and they will need more scoring if they lose SG Michael Redd and the rest of the UFAs on the team.
16. Minnesota (From Denver via Charlotte)
A guy I like better than Patterson is Stanley Robinson SF UConn. He is a true SF with the quicks to play that on both ends of the floor. He is an above average athlete that worked hard on his 3 point accuracy. Most experts have him going later but I like him quite a bit.
17. Chicago (From Milwaukee)
The only question here is who can they pick that will be the biggest draw to bring LeBron James to the windy city? The problem for the Bulls is that they have a couple of limited big men in the starting lineup. PF Taj Gibson is not as athletic as you would like and C Joakim Noah is a head case of the first order. They should be looking for someone like Larry Sanders PF/C VCU. He is a physical blue collar guy that brings it every game. Instead they will probably go for James Anderson SG Oklahoma State. Anderson is a sharp shooting wing man that will protect them if they can’t get LJ and will open up the lane for Derrick Rose.
The rumor is that SG Dwayne Wade will go where ever LJ goes. If LJ goes to Chicago, Wade may not be able to follow. Either way, despite the fact that he has a player option to stay, he will go somewhere. That leaves a BIG hole at SG and the Heat will likely take Eric Bledsoe PG/SG Kentucky. The only problem is that he is too small to play SG on the D end of the floor. He does have a great stroke and will help replace the scoring if Wade goes.
During the finals, the old legs of the Celtics bigs showed. They need to get some young bigs that can stay with quicker opponents. For that reason, I think that Solomon Alabi C Florida St. will be the pick. Alabi has a couple of years under his belt at FSU and is a shot blocker. He needs a lot of coaching on the O end of the floor.
20. San Antonio
The Spurs need a wing man because Richard Jefferson has not worked out. They really like experienced players and will pick Damion James SF Texas. He is a 4 year guy with grit and toughness. He will fit nicely in the Spurs O and help on D.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on
and edits .
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