By Brian Kubasik and David Wilson
1.) Washington Wizards– John Wall, PG, Kentucky
Wall is a no-brainer here. Anyone who says differently doesn’t understand the excitement that Wall brings to a franchise. Everyone in DC is doing the John Wall dance now, and he hasn’t even been picked yet. If the Wizards pass up on him it would effectively kill professional basketball in DC. An Evan Turner type player can be found in any draft, but a good true point guard is tough to find.
2.) Philadelphia 76ers– Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State
With John Wall off the board here, Evan Turner is the obvious selection. The Sixers would be ecstatic if somehow Wall was on the board, but I don’t doubt that they would settle with Turner. Allen Iverson is on his last legs and Turner can be the new face of the franchise. He can immediately complement Andre Iguodala as the second scorer on the team.
3.) New Jersey Nets– Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech
The ACC Freshman of the Year has tremendous upside and definitely fills a need. Yi Jianlian is definitely not the answer and coupled with Brook Lopez the Nets could have a fearsome post game.
4.) Minnesota Timberwolves– Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse
With Kevin Love and Al Jefferson there is no need for Demarcus Cousins in Minnesota. The Timberwolves need a wing scorer and Johnson is the best available. With Johnson, Corey Brewer could move to a more natural shooting guard position that could make Minnesota an intriguing teams a few years down the road. With three first round picks, don’t rule out an attempt to trade up for Evan Turner though.
5.) Sacramento Kings– Demarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky
There is a significant drop-off in talent after Cousins which makes this an obvious pick. The Kings’ post players are Jon Brockman and Jason Thompson so Cousins definitely also fills a need.
6.) Golden State Warriors– Al Farouq Aminu, PF, Wake Forest
Aminu is pretty much a perfect fit for Golden State. He can run the floor great, which is an asset in the Warriors uptempo offense. He should also help them improve on their abysmal rebounding.
7.) Detroit Pistons– Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown
The Pistons once dominant front line is now pretty much nonexistent; Monroe can help with that. Monroe may be the most skilled big in the draft which helps him make up for his average athleticism. He may not have the highest ceiling, but he’s one of the safest picks in the draft.
8.) Los Angeles Clippers– Xavier Henry, SG/SF, Kansas
The Clippers have a few nice pieces in Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin. They could really use a young pointguard to run the show, but anyone here would be a huge reach. Henry gives them another scorer on the wing and his slashing game complements Gordon’s spot up shooting very well
9.) Utah Jazz– Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas
The Jazz will likely lose Carlos Boozer to free agency, and after seeing what the Lakers did to them down low they need someone who can own the paint. Aldrich may not have the offensive game of a Demarcus Cousins or Derrick Favors, but he is a great defender and a deceptively good athlete.
10.) Indiana Pacers– Gordon Hayward, F, Butler
With the Tyler Hansborough pick last year the Pacers showed they value skilled, fundamental, gritty players over pure athletes. That pretty much describes Hayward, who went to school at nearby Butler. His stock soared after the NCAA tournament and he can do a bit of everything on the basketball court.
11.) New Orleans Hornets– Ekpe Udoh, C, Baylor
The Chris Paul injury may have been a blessing in disguise for the Hornets. Not only did they figure out that Darren Collison is a legit NBA guard, but they got a pretty high draft pick in a draft loaded with low post talent. Right now the top post player for New Orleans is Emeka Okafor. Udoh is definitely an improvement there.
12.) Memphis Grizzlies– James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State
Rudy Gay is likely gone this offseason leaving OJ Mayo in need of a partner on the wing. Anderson is the best guard available and when added to Mike Conley, Mayo, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol the Grizz can compete for the playoffs.
13.) Toronto Raptors-Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina
North Carolina may have disappointed a year ago, but no one doubts Davis’ talent. The odds of Chris Bosh returning to Toronto are slim to none and Davis should serve as an adequate replacement for the perennial All-Star.
14.) Houston Rockets– Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky
Aaron Brooks has turned into a very good NBA point guard and after trading for Kevin Martin at the deadline the Rockets could return to the playoffs in 2011. They will hopefully get Yao Ming back and should go best available here. Patterson fits the bill for that and fills a need at power forward.
15.) Milwaukee Bucks– Donatas Montiejunas, PF, Lithuania
The Bucks were the surprise of the season in large part thanks to a strong backcourt of rookie Brandon Jennings and John Salmons, but before his injury Andrew Bogut was the MVP of the team. If Bogut comes back healthy Montiejunas works as a good complement because of his shooting touch and if he cannot fully recover Montiejunas could slide into the center position.
16.) Minnesota Timberwolves– Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall
Neither Al Jefferson nor Kevin Love are true centers; the same can’t be said about Whiteside. He is huge, standing at seven feet and, while he’s a project on the offensive end, he can help protect the paint in Minny. They addressed their need at wing with Wesley Johnson and the addition of Whiteside gives them two players that could be very solid for them immediately.
17.) Chicago Bulls– Daniel Orton, C, Kentucky
Chicago is considered one of the favorites to land LeBron James and with Derrick Rose at point guard the Bulls could use an inside presence. Orton came off the bench on a loaded Kentucky team, but he is a big time talent and could pair with Joakim Noah to give Chicago a potent front line.
18.) Miami Heat– Damion James, SF, Texas
With the likely loss of Dwyane Wade, Miami needs to find some skilled athletes to put on the wing. James may be the best athlete in the draft and could help fill the large void left by Wade. If he can work on his shot he could end up in a Josh Smith kind of mold, but that’s a huge stretch.
19.) Boston Celtics– Avery Bradley, SG, Texas
Rajon Rondo has proven hes one of the best young point guards in the league, but hes going to need a running mate down the road. Bradley may not be NBA ready right now, but hes extremely athletic and can score the basketball. He’s a guy who could replace Ray Allen down the road.
20.) San Antonio Spurs– Luke Babbit, SF, Nevada
Richard Jefferson hasn’t worked out leaving the Spurs desperate for a small forward. Babbit is the best small forward available and can give the Spurs some much needed three-point shooting ability. He won’t lead the way right away, but the Spurs need some young players and Babbit is a good start.
21.) Oklahoma City Thunder– Solomon Alabi, C, Florida State
Alabi was once regarded as a top prospect in this draft. Then everyone realized he can’t play offense. Still he is definitely worth a look late in the first round as a project player because his defensive ability is undeniable. Serge Ibaka was a surprise for the Thunder this year, but Alabi can provide some insurance for the still largely unproven player.
22.) Portland Trail Blazers– Paul George, SF, Fresno State
George flew under the radar this year at Fresno State, but his upside is undeniable. He could take a few years to develop, but the Blazers have enough talent that they don’t need an immediate contributor.
23.) Minnesota Timberwolves– Kevin Seraphin, PF, France
Because it’s the Timberwolves third pick of the first round, they’ll probably use this pick on a European project player who they can keep overseas (see: Rubio, Ricky). You can never have too many good bigs and that’s exactly what the Timberwolves will hope he can be.
24.) Atlanta Hawks– Jordan Crawford, SG, Xavier
After Joe Johnson’s playoff choke few expect him to be back in the ATL next year. Crawford really broke onto the scene during the NCAA Tournament, but he’d been doing that all year. Crawford has berserk range as was exhibited against Kansas State and can certainly dunk as was exhibited on LeBron James’ face. Plus he gets immediate chemistry by being paired with his cousin Jamal Crawford.
25.) Memphis Grizzlies– Eric Bledsoe, PG, Kentucky
Mike Conley has been a bit of a disappointment since the Grizzlies spent a top five pick on him, so they need some insurance. Some people have Bledsoe going as high as the top 10 and a team with any sort of need at the point cannot afford passing up on a talent this great. At this point, Bledsoe is a gargantuan steal.
26.) Oklahoma City Thunder– Greivis Vasquez, PG, Maryland
Oklahoma City has a ton of young weapons, including young point guard Russell Westbrook. However, they could really use someone to run the second unit. Enter Greivis Vasquez. The emotional Venezuelan reunites with high school teammate Kevin Durant and may be the best passer in the draft. His length creates problems and will never give less than 100-percent effort.
27.) New Jersey Nets– Willie Warren, SG, Oklahoma
Warren was viewed as a potential lottery pick, but after a sophmore season where he and his team struggled he could fall to the late first round. New Jersey didn’t get anything out of the shooting guard position last year and the talented Warren could give them some production
28.) Memphis Grizzlies– Nemanja Bjelica, SF, Serbia
Much like the Twolves, the Grizzlies will be looking for a foreign player they can stash away for a few years. I would be lying If I said I knew a lot about Bjelica’s game, but he is a talented player who could back up OJ Mayo down the road.
29.) Orlando Magic– Terrico White, SG, Mississippi
White showed flashes of dominance his sophmore year and could give some scoring off the bench for the Magic immediately. Down the road he can potentially replace Vince Carter and play next to Jameer Nelson for years.
30.) Washington Wizards– Devin Ebanks, SF, West Virginia
With the first pick the Wizards got their franchise point guard, now with the last pick of the first round they may get a steal in Ebanks. The super athletic Ebanks has the tools to become a lock down defender and has a knack for scoring the basketball.