NBA mock draft
|06.02.10 at 6:36 am ET|
The Attack Athletics Center in Chicago hosted various general managers, coaches and team scouts late last month. The assembled individuals tried to gather as much information as possible on 52 of the best college basketball prospects at the annual NBA draft combine. During the two-day event May 20-21, the players were tested on their physicals, group workouts, skills, drills and interviews.
Some prospects had their draft stock rise, while some didn’t participate at all and raised questions. One player that raised eyebrows and interest was 19-year-old Ryan Richards from England. Standing at 6 feet, 10 inches, the forward showed the ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter while being fundamentally sound. After heading into the combine as an unknown, Richards improved his status and looks like an intriguing second-round pick.
Paul George from Fresno State was another player who had eyes on him after playing at a lower-profile college. Like Richards, George raised his stock by showcasing his coveted combination of athleticism and shooting. He appears to be a lottery to mid-first round pick after demonstrating his skills at the combine.
Two players — among many — who declined an invitation for both days of the combine were Al-Farouq Aminu and Quincy Pondexter. While Aminu is projected to be a top 10 pick, Pondexter is on the fringe of being a first-round selection. Though their absence could mean they feel safe in their current project, it could also mean they don’t want to exemplify their weaknesses through drills and workouts.
One player who needed to impress in the interview portion was Kentucky big man DeMarcus Cousins. Coming into the combine with questions about his character, Cousins didn’t fully squash that perception. He answered questions by the media with short and seemingly curt responses. Despite the concerns about his maturity, Cousins demonstrated in his only season with the Wildcats that he can be an immediate factor in the NBA.
With that said, here is the first-round mock of the NBA draft, which will be held on June 24.
John Wall, Kentucky, Fr., PG, 6-foot-4, 196 pounds
Wall is the no-brainer No. 1 pick in this draft. Possessing incredible quickness and athleticism that allows him to drive by defenders in a Rajon Rondo-like fashion, he will give Washington a true point guard to play alongside Gilbert Arenas.
Evan Turner , Ohio State, Jr., SG, 6-7, 214
Turner was the best player in college basketball this past season and is far from just a consolation prize after Wall. With the ability to play three positions with his size, Turner is a versatile scorer who can create his own shot at any time. Think Brandon Roy with the ability to fill up a stat sheet. Though Philadelphia could use a frontcourt player, this is a case of taking the best player on the board — and a really good one at that.
3. New Jersey
Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech, Fr., PF, 6-10, 245
Often forgotten because he wasn’t spectacular at Georgia Tech, Favors could develop into the best big man in the draft. His rebounding and defense are polished as he averaged over two blocks a game, but he’s still getting better on the offensive end. By taking Favors to go alongside Brook Lopez, the Nets will have two potential All-Stars to anchor the frontcourt for years to come.
Wesley Johnson, Syracuse, Jr., SF, 6-7, 206
At age 22, Johnson is older than most lottery picks. That, however, shouldn’t the reason to stay away from the smooth and athletic swingman. Though he doesn’t seem to be a go-to guy, he can be a great complementary player and will be a large piece in the Timberwolves’ rebuilding process.
DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky, Fr., PF, 6-11, 292
Cousins is the player with the most questions surrounding him regarding his personality. Despite doubts about him being a team player, he has some of the best size and skills for a big man in the draft — a combination that makes him a very tempting pick. The Kings, who need help in the frontcourt, would be happy if Cousins fell in their lap at the No. 5 pick.
6. Golden State
Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest, So., SF, 6-8, 216
With shooters and scorers in Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis, the Warriors could use an athletic small forward to complement their backcourt. As an excellent rebounder who runs the floor well, Aminu would fit nicely in a high-tempo offense like Golden State’s.
Cole Aldrich, Kansas, Jr., C, 6-10, 236
Aldrich is a great low post defender with a terrific frame and size. His offensive game still needs work, but his rebounding and defense will give him value right away as a rookie. The Pistons need a scoring presence in the paint, and Aldrich could develop nicely under the tutelage of Ben Wallace.
8. LA Clippers
Ekpe Udoh, Baylor, Jr., PF, 6-10, 227
As a long and talented big man, Udoh is a nice sleeper in this draft, even as a lottery pick. He’s skilled with both his back to the basket and facing up, with a nice outside stroke. On defense, he uses his wing span to bother a lot of shots and averaged nearly four blocks per game last season. After taking Blake Griffin with No. 1 pick last year, the Clippers could add to their athleticism by picking Udoh.
Greg Monroe, Georgetown, So., PF, 6-11, 247
As a dynamic power forward, Monroe would fit well in the Jazz’ system. Utah could lose Carlos Boozer and use its first-round pick to replace him. Monroe is a great passer as a big man and has a finesse game with the ability to score, as well as rebound. He makes a lot of sense being picked at No. 9 by the Jazz.
Patrick Patterson, Kentucky, Jr., PF, 6-9, 240
Patterson is the only Kentucky non-freshman who is projected to be selected in the draft. His scoring numbers went down with the addition of the four one-and-done recruits, but that shows his unselfishness and willingness to win. He plays bigger that his size in the post and has a mid-range jumper that he can use to score outside of the paint. The Pacers could go in many directions with their pick, but adding a power forward is at the top of the list.
11. New Orleans
Xavier Henry, Kansas, Fr., SG, 6-6, 210
How do you try to keep Chris Paul in New Orleans? Get scorers that can help him carry the load on offense. Henry has great size for a shooting guard and is a quintessential scorer with good instincts and a high basketball IQ. He has great range on his shot and could be deadly spotting up with Paul feeding him on the perimeter.
Ed Davis, North Carolina, So., PF, 6-10, 227
Davis has a ton of potential and has shown that he can play, even if it’s been in a limited amount of games. He has a good feel in the post offensively and his length and athleticism make him a presence on defense, where he averaged over two blocks a game. The Grizzlies could use a strong defensive player in the paint as a change of pace from Zach Randolph.
Hassan Whiteside, Marshall, Fr., C, 7-0, 227
With Chris Bosh most likely fleeing Toronto, the Raptors will likely address the center position through the draft. Though he’s gone under the radar, Whiteside is exactly what Toronto needs. He’s an exceptionally long player who rebounds well and averaged a ridiculous 5.4 blocks per game. On a mostly offensive-minded team, Whiteside would immediately inject defense.
Donatas Motiejunas, Lithuania, PF, 6-10, 224
Likely to be the first European player selected, Motiejunas is a typical overseas big man with an outside shot. He won’t rebound or play defense like a post player, but he has the potential to be a solid scorer. Though many teams will stay away from him, Houston has the scouting and assessment ability to pull the trigger on Motiejunas. With Yao Ming often sidelined due to injury, the Rockets need a scoring big man.
James Anderson, Oklahoma State, Jr., SG, 6-6, 208
The Bucks need a scorer badly. What better way to address that need than to select a big-time scorer in Anderson at No. 15. Anderson’s size and shooting range would work well in Milwaukee because even though he might struggle to create his own shot at the next level, he’ll have Brandon Jennings to get him looks.
Avery Bradley, Texas, Fr., SG, 6-3, 180
After taking Johnson with the No. 4 pick, the Timberwolves could take Bradley to obtain a scoring guard. Despite his size, Bradley knows how to put the ball in the basket and possesses a pure shooting stroke with deep range. He doesn’t have good playmaking skills, but with point guards Jonny Flynn and possibly Ricky Rubio, Minnesota won’t need him to create for others.
Paul George, Fresno State, So., SF, 6-9, 214
The Bulls would be very happy if George fell in their lap at pick No. 17. He fits what they need the most: another athletic scorer to go alongside Rose. His outside shooting would be a good fit with Rose driving and kicking to the perimeter, and his athleticism would be a weapon in transition. Even if Chicago doesn’t select George, it’s almost a certainty that the Bulls looks to bolster their offense with their first-round pick.
Daniel Orton, Kentucky, Fr., C, 6-10, 269
Despite not seeing a lot of playing time with Kentucky this past season, Orton has the potential and skills to be an impactful center with seasoning. His numbers are underwhelming, but there’s no doubt that Orton has talent just waiting to come out. Though Miami could go many ways at No. 18, finding a replacement for Jermaine O’Neal, who most likely won’t return, is at the top of the list.
Luke Babbitt, Nevada, So., SF, 6-9, 218
The Celtics aren’t getting any younger, and in a few years they won’t have Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen or Paul Pierce to provide a bulk of the scoring. By taking Babbitt, Boston can develop a big-time scorer under the guidance of the Big Three before they leave or retire. Babbitt has the ability to create his owns shots with an array of offensive moves and can knock down mid-range jumpers and 3-pointers effectively.
20. San Antonio
Damion James, Texas, Sr., SF, 6-7, 227
James has great athleticism and quickness, making him an excellent rebounder and scorer in transition. He is also one of the few seniors who could be drafted in the first round, making him a possibility for San Antonio at No. 20. The Spurs are not shy about drafting older players who have proven they can play, rather than taking projects in need of development.
21. Oklahoma City
Gordon Hayward, Butler, So., SF, 6-8, 211
After he led Butler to the NCAA championship game, Hayward’s stock has never or will ever be higher than it is now. With a high basketball IQ, Hayward is a team player with the ability to score with his shooting. The Thunder are a young rising team and have a core of players who will keep them competitive for years to come. Hayward would be good pick at No. 21 with his ability to find open shooting opportunities with defenses focusing on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Larry Sanders, Virginia Commonwealth, Jr., PF, 6-10, 222
Though his height doesn’t suggest his length, Sanders’ wingspan allows him to play bigger than he really is. His defensive prowess will inject energy into any team and he rebounds well with his hustle and timing. Sanders is limited on the offensive end, but the Trail Blazers have plenty of scoring. With injuries always seeming to hit their big men, the Blazers could use front-line depth and defense.
Devin Ebanks, West Virginia, So., SF, 6-8, 208
Ebanks is a lanky and athletic combo player with the high potential. One cause for concern, however, is that Ebanks didn’t improve much from his freshman to sophomore season. Nevertheless, he has the ability to guard multiple positions on defense and is a good rebounder. His offensive game needs work but he has all the tools to warrant a first-round pick by Minnesota.
Dominique Jones, South Florida, Jr., SG, 6-4, 216
With the probability of Joe Johnson leaving this offseason, the Hawks need to draft a scoring guard. Despite his lack of size, Jones would help the Hawks with his polished offensive game. He can create his own shot, finish at the rim, shoot well from outside and have big scoring outbursts. With his good vision, Jones also can play the point at times but is more fit to play shooting guard.
Armon Johnson, Nevada, Jr., PG, 6-3, 190
A lefty point guard with excellent athleticism and quickness, Johnson could be the second Nevada player drafted in the first round. Though similar to Mike Conley in some areas, Johnson possesses more size and strength, making him ideal for the point guard position in the NBA. He still needs to work on setting up teammates and running an offense, but his ability to create for himself makes Johnson an intriguing pick.
26. Oklahoma City
Solomon Alabi, Florida State, So., C, 7-1, 237
Alabi is a very raw big man with excellent size and potential. His presence in the paint on defense is something he’ll add to any team right away. His offensive game is limited and he doesn’t possess many post moves, but he does have the tools to get better. Being drafted by a young team like Oklahoma City would give Alabi plenty of time to develop while still being a force defensively off the bench.
27. New Jersey
Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky, Fr., PG, 6-1, 192
With Devin Harris being more of a scorer, the Nets will look to draft a point guard, and Bledsoe is essentially the second-best true point guard after Wall in the draft. Physically, Bledsoe has all the characteristics of an NBA point guard with his athleticism and wingspan. Playing with Wall at Kentucky, however, didn’t give him plenty of experience running an offense at the college level. He’ll need to learn how to take care of the ball and create for others, but his potential is evident.
Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech, Jr., PF, 6-9, 223
Playing alongside Favors last season, Lawal saw his offensive numbers drop in his junior year. Regardless, he needs to work on his post skills and is limited offensively. He doesn’t possess a consistent mid-range shot and is a poor free throw shooter, but he has a good motor and finishes very well around the rim. He’s still raw but is a hard worker and has good potential.
Quincy Pondexter, Washington, Sr., SF, 6-7, 215
Another senior who could go in the first round, Pondexter improved his game with four years at Washington. He can guard multiple positions on defense and is a very good rebounder for his size. Pondexter doesn’t have the outside shot that Orlando covets, but his athleticism and hustle make him a good fit for the Magic, who like to get out and score in transition.
Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati, Fr., SG, 6-6, 227
Stephenson fits the case of possibly being a better NBA player than a college player. His game translates well to the next level with a good combination of strength and quickness and aggressiveness in attacking the basket. A lot of questions surround him about his off-court issues and body language on the court, and many feel he could use another year or two at Cincinnati. As a team in rebuilding mode, Washington could draft Stephenson with the idea of having him and Wall develop together.