BY KEVIN NIELSEN
This could be a solid NBA draft but after the Wizards select John Wall with the top pick there could be loads of surprises through out the first round.
There also could be loads of trades as there are some big names on the market and some teams are looking to create more cap space for the impending free agent free for all. There are also a number of franchises that have multiple first-round picks that may be looking to make a deal as well as a number that are looking to get into the first round. Needless to say, Thursday could be an entertaining night for viewers at home.
Here is a quick look at what could happen on Thursday night:
1. Washington Wizards — John Wall (PG – Kentucky Wildcats)No surprises here. Coach Cal and World Wide Wes are sending another top draft pick to the Big Show. Lighting quick with excellent leadership qualities, Wall just needs a more reliable jumpshot and he might be better than former Calipari trainee Derrick Rose.
2. Philadelphia 76ers — Evan Turner (SG – Ohio State Buckeyes)Evan Turner won’t wow you in the same way Wall does but he can play anywhere in the backcourt and on the wing and shows the same leadership qualities. He played point guard for Ohio State but is really a two or a three. There is also talk the Sixers may go big after dealing Samuel Dalembert for cap relief.
3. New Jersey Nets — Wes Johnson (SF – Syracuse Orange)Up until Monday it appeared as though the Nets would draft Derrick Favors with this pick however Favors failed to shine in a workout for the Nets against fellow top prospect DeMarcus Cousins. Why wouldn’t the Nets take Cousins? Brook Lopez. That makes Wes Johnson the likeliest choice here.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves — Derrick Favors (PF – Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets)The Timberwolves are said to be looking to move up in the draft as they can’t love their options here. GM David Kahn ripped Derrick Favors after a recent workout and Greg Monroe and DeMarcus Cousins would not visit Minnesota and work out for the T-Wolves. That leaves Minnesota hoping that Wes Johnson or Evan Turner are not picked ahead of them.
5. Sacramento Kings — Greg Monroe (PF/C – Georgetown Hoyas)The Kings had a bumper draft last year after taking Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi and Jon Brockman. With two more picks in the first round this year, Sacramento could be building a powerhouse. Monroe would add some inside scoring or the Kings could take DeMarcus Cousins who impressed in workouts. Monroe was invited back for a second workout so we’ll give him the nod here.
6. Golden State Warriors — Al-Farouq Aminu (SF – Wake Forest Demon Deacons) The Warriors dealt Corey Maggette on Wednesday for Dan Gadzuric and Charlie Bell. That would appear to make room at small forward for a player like Al-Farouq Aminu or Luke Babbitt. They could also use a true point guard but there are no real options at point guard at this point in the draft. Plus they haven’t had one for two years. Why change now?
7. Detroit Pistons — DeMarcus Cousins (PF/C – Kentucky Wildcats)The Pistons are said to be in love with DeMarcus Cousins and Greg Monroe although both may be gone when they pick at No. 7. They need some fresh blood in the paint and if those two guys are gone they may take Ekpe Udoh or Ed Davis. Rumours abound that Tayshaun Prince is going to be dealt — if that happens they may be looking at a small forward.
8. Los Angeles Clippers — Gordon Hayward (SF – Butler Bulldogs)Gordon Hayward would slide nicely between Blake Griffin and Chris Kaman in the Clippers frontcourt. He has a high basketball IQ with good leadership qualities. The team has plenty of cap space this summer so the Clippers could make some noise next season. Luke Babbitt appears to be another likely option in Lalaland.
9. Utah Jazz — Ed Davis (PF – North Carolina Tar Heels)The Utah Jazz will likely look at adding a big body and a wing player with their two first round picks as Carlos Boozer will likely leave this summer via free agency and Andrei Kirilenko’s contract comes off the books after next season. Davis could add some athleticism to the Jazz frontcourt and help replace Boozer.
10. Indiana Pacers — Ekpe Udoh (C – Baylor Bears)The run on big men continues as the Pacers grab the former Bear. Udoh may not provide the offensive firepower the Pacers really could use in the backcourt however he will fit in nicely next to Roy Hibbert in the team’s frontcourt of the future.
11. New Orleans Hornets — Luke Babbitt (SF/PF – Nevada)With Chris Paul, Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton in uniform, the Hornets have a phenomenal young backcourt. Up front, David West and Emeka Okafor could use a little help. Luke Babbitt could eventually replace Peja Stojakovic at the three although there are some nice alternatives at this point in the draft. Paul may be moved this summer if enough were offered to New Orleans.
12. Memphis Grizzlies — Paul George – (SF – Fresno St. Bulldogs)Memphis needs some a giant dose of unselfishness on the roster as they finished last in the league in assists. That being said, their backcourt is young and they could use someone to back up (and eventually replace) Rudy Gay so George may be the choice. The oddest thing about the team is owner Micheal Heisley will actually make the final decision on who gets selected so it could get strange.
13. Toronto Raptors — Avery Bradley (SG — Texas Longhorns)It’s a big question mark who the Raptors may take. If they can pull the trigger and trade Jose Calderon, look for them to take SG Avery Bradley with the 13th pick. Although the Raptors need some insurance should Chris Bosh bolt for greener pastures, it’s believed Toronto isn’t enamored with any of the bigs that will be available at this slot.
14. Houston Rockets — Cole Aldrich (C – Kansas)The Rockets are not a team that will draft for need but instead tend to take the best talent available. That being said, Houston could use some help up front where Luis Scola is a free agent and Yao Ming is eternally injured. Cole Aldrich is more polished than most players expected to be picked around this area so he would fit the Rockets’ modus operandi.
15. Milwaukee Bucks — Damion James – (SF – Texas Longhorns)Had Andrew Bogut not suffered a horrific wrist injury last season, the Bucks likely would have knocked off the Hawks in the opening round. With Michael Redd, John Salmons, Brandon Jennings and Bogut the Bucks seem to be a team on the way up. If Damion James were available here, the Bucks could get insurance in case Salmons leaves next summer. The Bucks could also use another big body here so Daniel Orton, Larry Sanders or Hassan Whiteside could be the selection as well.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves — Xavier Henry (SG — Kansas Jayhawks)If the Timberwolves add Derrick Favors with their first pick then selecting Henry if he falls this far would make perfect sense with their second choice. Henry did not progress as quickly as some expected in his only season at Kansas but he would work nicely with the young nucleus in Minnesota. After watching Wolves GM David Kahn bumble through the draft last year, who knows what happens here.
17. Chicago Bulls — James Anderson (SG — Oklahoma State) The Bulls could really use a big here but they have loads of cap room this summer so they could address that area in free agency. Anderson would fit nicely in the Bulls backcourt with Kirk Hinrich and Derrick Rose. Jordan Crawford and Elliot Williams could also hear their names called at this point.
18. Miami Heat — Solomon Alabi (C – Florida State Seminoles)When free agency kicks off the Heat will have three players under contract so they can pretty much head in any direction with this pick and fill a hole. Local product Solomon Alabi makes as much sense here as anyone else. Alabi would provide a defensive presence and help on the boards. If the Heat head in another direction, Eric Bledsoe may be chosen to solve the team’s point guard issues. Apparently, the Heat may want to get rid of this pick for further cap space.
19. Boston Celtics — Patrick Patterson (PF — Kentucky Wildcats)The Celtics made the NBA finals but Rasheed Wallace may end up retiring so the team could use a big body to help up front. Patrick Patterson is polished enough that he could help immediately. Larry Sanders or Hassan Whiteside could also go here as well as Damion James from Texas. The Celtics could also use a backup for Rajon Rondo or someone to replace impending free agent Ray Allen so they could consider a backcourt player as well.
20. San Antonio Spurs — Craig Brackins (PF – Iowa St. Cyclones)Word on the street is that Memphis guard Elliot Williams has a promise from either Houston or San Antonio to be selected in the first round. The Rockets pick seems a tad high for Williams and the Spurs could really use a big body or wing player here. Craig Brackins seems like just the right guy to be selected by the Spurs given their draft history.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder — Larry Sanders (PF/C – VCU Rams) The Thunder’s nucleus is loaded everywhere but up the middle. Serge Ibaka is a promising prospect but other than that they need to get bigger. They also have BJ Mullens sitting on the bench but he’s been a bust thus far. The Thunder have a pair of picks in the bottom third of the draft and will likely add a big body or two if they don’t pair up the picks to move up in the draft.
22. Portland Blazers — Eric Bledsoe (PG/SG – Kentucky Wildcats) With the oft-injured Greg Oden starting to look like a bust the Blazers could use some help in the middle however they appear to be looking for a little more offense on the outside to support star guard Brandon Roy. If Eric Bledose falls this far he would likely be quickly scooped up by Portland. Many feel French centre Kevin Seraphin could also be selected with this pick.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves — Kevin Seraphin (C – Cholet, International)After having three picks in the first round for the second straight year and a young nucleus already together, the Timberwolves could deal or sell this pick, or grab a European like Kevin Seraphin to stash in Europe. The Timberwolves could also grab Tibor Pleiss, another European big man or get another guard.
24. Atlanta Hawks — Jordan Crawford (SG – Xavier Musketeers)The Hawks say they will take the best player available with this pick although they do need some insurance in case Joe Johnson leaves as a free agent. Jordan Crawford is one name that could be announced with this pick although if Elliot Williams and Armon Johnson are available they may head in that direction as well. As good a player as Crawford is, question marks lurk about the former Musketeers maturity level.
25. Memphis Grizzlies — Hassan Whiteside (C — Marshall Thundering Herd)Hassan Whiteside could go almost anywhere in the draft. He is a legitimate seven-footer with long arms and great athleticism which should translate well in the NBA. Whiteside might be selected anywhere in the draft from No. 16 until the second round as many have questions about the Marshall centre’s maturity level. Memphis is a young team with nice depth up front which could allow Whiteside to develop.
26. Oklahoma City Thunder — Tibor Pleiss (C – Brose Baskets Bamberg, International)If the Thunder don’t deal this pick, rumour has them working on a deal which would send both of their picks to the Timberwolves to move up in the draft, they may end up taking a European player they could stash overseas to develop for a couple of years. They may also look to add more depth to their young backcourt so Dominique Jones or Greivis Vasquez might be the choice.
27. New Jersey Nets — Daniel Orton (PF/C — Kentucky)Daniel Orton averaged three points and three boards last season at Kentucky. He may also have bad knees and is said to be out of shape. That being said, the kid has as much potential as he does question marks. If he is still available this late, the Nets may grab him even though they have a solid big man already.
28. Memphis Grizzlies — Elliot Williams (SG — Memphis Tigers)Word on the street is that Memphis guard Elliot Williams has a promise from either Houston or San Antonio to be selected in the first round as he cancelled workouts for other teams. The Grizzlies would not need to work out Williams as he played last season in their back yard and might help sell tickets. With three picks they may look to deal one or grab a European here as well.
29. Orlando Magic — Quincy Pondexter (SF – Washington Huskies)Some teams like to bring in player after player for workouts whereas the Magic only bring in a couple that they are interested in. Quincy Pondexter is said to be on the team’s shortlist and would add even more athleticism to a scary squad.
30. Washington Wizards — Dominique Jones (SG – South Florida)The Wizards have the bookend picks at this year’s NBA draft. It would make sense for them to add a running mate for new top dog John Wall. Jones is a scoring machine that would help keep defences honest on John Wall. The Wizards could use help everywhere after blowing up there team last season though.