The first of many.
1. Wizards: John Wall (6-4/195; PG; Freshman; Kentucky)
A very easy choice that Washington won't ever be chastised for making. Seeing how he meshes with Gilbert Arenas in the backcourt will be interesting, as Agent Zero can now comfortably move to the off-guard spot, where he has less responsibility. Wall will also be key in luring free agents to D.C., which might prove to be a major twist in the impending free agency extravaganza.
2. 76ers: Evan Turner (6-7/210; SG/SF; Junior; Ohio State)
A perfect fit. With more than $28 million owed to Elton Brand and Samuel Dalembert next year, and Marreese Speights proving to be a promising young talent, the Sixers had been prepared to be forced to draft a big man with what was supposed to be the 6th pick...only to have Naismith Trophy winner Evan Turner - the best shooting guard in the draft - fall right into their lap and fill the only hole in their lineup.
3. Nets: DeMarcus Cousins (6-11/270; PF/C; Freshman; Kentucky)
Need I enumerate the reasons why Cousins, and not Favors, is the pick here? Probably, so here goes.
- The Nets don't want to win 12 games again. That's a virtual impossibility based on the cap space they have, but Favors wouldn't be able to contribute much next season, or even the season after. Cousins averaged 25.7 points, 16.7 rebounds and 3 blocks per 40 minutes for an Elite 8 team.
- The Lakers' domination has demonstrated what a team can do when they have two giants capable over dominating in the post on both ends. Cousins has 1-2 inches and 40 pounds on Favors.
- Not only is Cosuins capable of dominating, but he he really wants to every time he steps on the floor. Favors was criticized throughout the year for sleepwalking and being too passive. Cousins wants the ball on every possession and knows what to do when he gets it. He tears down boards and swats shots with enthusiasm. He's extremely passionate, and brings a winning attitude.
New Jersey was likely devastated when they lost the top pick, but Cousins might turn out to be an even better fit than Wall.
4. Timberwolves: Wesley Johnson (6-7/205; SF; Junior; Syracuse)
This is a relatively easy pick that many are making too much of a fuss about. It's simple. The Timberwolves have two double-double machines who both stand 6-10/260, and neither is older than 25. They don't need Favors or Cousins, should one of them slip. The Wolves made just 5 threes per game last year, and Wesley Johnson is a lights-out shooter with the ability to defend three positions. He's their man.
5. Kings: Al-Farouq Aminu (6-9/215; SF; Sophomore; Wake Forest)
With three talented young big men (Carl Landry, Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes), I think the Kings will either have to trade one of their young centers or reach for a swingman. Aminu is not the jump-shooter the Kings need to ease Tyreke Evans' offensive load, but he would add much-needed toughness to a relatively frail lineup while filling a major gap in the starting lineup.
6. Warriors: Derrick Favors (6-10/245; PF; Freshman; Georgia Tech)
Here's the perfect fit for Favors. Due to the inconsistent play of past lottery picks Anthony Randolph and Brandan Wright, the Warriors have a big hole at the 4. Favors is stronger than both those guys, is a better defender, and would fit perfectly in Don Nelson's uptempo offense.
7. Pistons: Cole Aldrich (6-11/245; PF/C; Kansas)
The Pistons have plenty of guys who can score, and are dying for a true center (shockingly, Kwame Brown was not the answer). Aldrich is a fantastic shot-blocker and rebounder with NBA length and invaluable experience, and could start immediately.
8. Clippers: Ed Davis (6-10/225; PF; Sophomore; North Carolina)
They'll pray Aminu falls to them, as they have a gigantic hole at the 3, but if he should be selected by the time they're on the clock they will likely look for the forward most compatible with Blake Griffin and Chris Kaman. Because center DeAndre Jordan has been surprisingly productive off the bench, a power forward would be the best fit, and Davis is athletic enough to potentially play with their franchise big men. A top-notch shot-blocker and rebounder, Davis would add needed intensity to a lineup that consists mainly of scorers who don't care to do much else. Gordon Hayward could be an upset pick here.
9. Jazz: Greg Monroe (6-11/247; PF/C; Sophomore; Georgetown)
Suffering elimination at the hands of the Lakers for the third year in a row should finally impress upon the Jazz the importance of legitimate size in the post. A terrific passer with refined post moves and an impressive basketball IQ, Monroe would be a perfect fit in Jerry Sloan's system.
10. Pacers: Ekpe Udoh (6-10/240; PF/C; Junior; Baylor)
Lacking athleticism and toughness down low since the days of Antonio and Dale Davis, Udoh's awesome length and shot-blocking ability (3.7 per game) should certainly pique the Pacers' interest.
11. Hornets: Hassan Whiteside (7-0/235; C; Freshman; Marshall)
The Hornets lack depth down low, and are terrible at defending the paint. Hassan Whiteside, the 7-footer whom NBADraft.net predicted would be the first pick in the 2011 draft earlier this year, averaged 5.4 blocks as a freshman. David West has just one year left on his contract, making the prospect of adding a potentially dominant big man such as Whiteside even more appealing.
12. Grizzlies: Gordon Hayward (6-8/200; SF/PF; Butler)
Losing Rudy Gay is a very real possibility at this point for Memphis, who last year had the league's second lowest payroll. Hayward would be a decent replacement, and even if Gay should remain put, the kid who almost beat Duke with a half-court shot at the buzzer would immediately become their top scoring option of the bench.
13. Raptors: Daniel Orton (6-10/255; PF/C; Freshman; Kentucky)
The Raptors drafting a big man is a virtual certainty at this point. Orton boasts tremendous size and an NBA-ready physique, and his defensive tenacity would complement Andrea Bargnani's scoring prowess nicely.
14. Rockets: Donatas Motiejunas (7-0/215; PF; Lithuania)
The Rockets will go for the best player available, and Motiejunas simply has too much potential to pass up. If Yao doesn't return in time he could be very valuable.
15. Bucks: Patrick Patterson (6-9/235; PF; Kentucky; Junior)
Milwaukee is terribly thin down low, and Andrew Bogut is the only big man who's remotely intimidating. Patterson is tough, NBA-ready, and has a very refined offensive game that he didn't get to flash too frequently playing for an extremely talented Kentucky team.
16. Timberwolves: James Anderson (6-6/210; SG; Junior; Oklahoma State)
The Wolves will take the best available player here in Oklahoma State's James Anderson, who dominated the Big 12 and possesses all the tools necessary to succeed in the pros.
17. Bulls: Paul George (6-8/210; SG/SF; Sophomore; Fresno State)
After losing Ben Gordon, and then John Salmons, Chicago has recognized the importance of landing a reliable backcourt companion for Derrick Rose. They are apparently enamored of George, a top-shelf athlete with a picturesque jumper.
18. Heat: Luke Babbitt (6-9/225; SF/PF; Sophomore; Nevada)
The Heat have needs at nearly every position, so it's hard to imagine them zeroing in on any particular one when they know they likely won't be able to find an immediate starter this late. Babbit averaged 21.9 points in 37 minutes per game for Nevada, and on Nash-like shooting percentages, hitting 50% of his shots, 41.6% of his threes, and 91.7% of his free throws.
19. Celtics: Avery Bradley (6-2/180; PG/SG; Freshman; Texas)
The absence of a backup point guard, combined with the possiblity of Ray Allen not re-signing, means it's time to go combo guard hunting. I think Willie Warren would thrive with some veterans keeping him in line, but they're more likely to go for Bradley, the #1 rated recruit in the 2009 class (yes, higher than Wall) according to ESPN, who despite playing off the ball at Texas can handle the point and has proven to be a lockdown defender.
20. Spurs: Xavier Henry (6-6/220; SG; Freshman; Kansas)
No way Henry falls any further. A standout as a freshman, and one of the most NBA-ready guards regardless of age, Henry would inject a ton of energy into an aging rotation.
21. Thunder: Damion James (6-7/225; SF; Senior; Texas)
Tough on both ends of the floor while boasting superior athleticism and a rapidly improving offensive game, James could be the versatile sub Oklahoma City needs.
22. Trailblazers: Eric Bledsoe (6-1/190; PG; Freshman; Kentucky)
Andre Miller is getting old, and doesn't even have a backup at this point. Bledsoe, who would have been a top 10 pick had he stayed at Kentucky another year, is the typical Prtichard steal.
23. Timberwolves: Larry Sanders (6-11/235; PF/C; Junior; Virginia Commonwealth)
It's hard to imagine the T-Wolves drafting three players again, but should they keep them all, Sanders would provide some shot-blocking assistance and a spark off the bench.
24. Hawks: Solomon Alabi (7-1/251; C; Junior; Florida State)
In their series against the Magic in which they were swept and lost by an average of 25.3 points, the Hawks were seriously overmatched down low, forcing Dwight Howard to miss just four shots in the entire series. The threat of Josh Smith coming from the weak side to occasionally block a shot is no longer sufficient. Alabi has steadily improved over the course of his career at FSU, and really knows how to wield his huge frame on the defensive end.
25. Grizzlies: Elliot Williams (6-4/180; SG; Sophomore; Memphis)
The Grizzlies are getting ready to shake up their backcourt, and have little depth at both guard spots. Williams, who in two years in college played under Coach K and Coach Cal, is capable of scoring consistently in the NBA right now and could bring the ball up the floor once in a while.
26. Thunder: Jerome Jordan (7-0/251; C; Senior; Tulsa)
In need of a starting center, the Thunder will likely wait until the off-season to get their man, but are so stacked that they can afford to take a chance on a prospect like Jordan whose length, athleticism, and willingness to work on every aspect of his game suggest that he could one day become not just a starter, but a star.
27. Nets: Dominique Jones (6-4/205; SG; Junior; South Florida)
You want to know why the Nets won so few games last season? Simple. Nobody could consistently hit an open jumper. Enter Dominique Jones, as lethal a scorer as any in college basketball last year (he dropped 46 on Providence, 37 on Pitt, and 30 on Syracuse), who could erase the Nets' nightmares of Keyon Dooling continuously missing wide-open shots from 11 feet out.
28. Grizzlies: Kevin Seraphin (6-9/258; PF/C; France)
With so little room on the roster, Memphis will likely find someone they can stock overseas for a couple years. The raw but promising Seraphin would still be in good position if encouraged to stick it out in his native France for a bit longer.
29. Magic: Willie Warren (6-4/199; PG/SG; Sophomore; Oklahoma)
The Magic will almost certainly take a guard with this pick, and I think they would be foolish to pass on Willie Warren. The Oklahoma combo guard had a terribly rough sophomore campaign, but a team with so little to lose should only see the positives in a player with superstar potential. Look, this team is so deep that Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson, forwards who could start on a lot of teams, never even see the court, so if worst comes to worst, they wouldn't have to feel bad about not playing Warren should he screw up again.
30. Wizards: Luke Harangody (6-7/240; PF; Senior; Clemson)
They're set at both guard spots with Wall and Arenas, and filling out the front line will be a real challenge. Seeing how Al Thornton rarely wants to pass, Andray Blatche rarely wants to play defense, and JaVale McGee struggles to maintain his focus at times, they'll want sometime who's dedicated, who gives his all every single possession. Harangody won't come close to replicating the stats he posted in college, but he's averaged at least 20 points in each of his last three seasons and plays like his life depends on every rebound.