(From the FanPosts. -- TZ)
With the Kings currently enduring a seventeen thousand game losing streak and looking like the team we thought they were before they went and got our damn hopes up, I'm sure many an eye has been wandering over to DraftExpress and Chad "Maciej Lampe" Ford's sad and yet often hilarious corner of the Internet to see what's doing with the '10 draft.
Well, I'll tell you what's doing: John Wall is awesome.
Other than Wall? Yeah. About that.
A quick look back at my previous draft posts from '09. In the first one I laid out my draft philosophy, which gives you some perspective on where I'm coming from.
Essentially: PGs must be very quick and either score extremely well or pass extremely well (or both); Wings need to be athletic, handle the ball, and shoot well from outside (on the grounds that you can always find an athletic defender off the D-League scrap heap); Bigs need to have good hands; and most importantly, always always beware the unathletic and/or undersized guys about whom pundits say negative negative negative but they can just flat out play. (Adam Morrison gives much love to his homies in draft bust heaven.)
My second post was a pre-draft ranking, which I will defend to the death. Except for the parts where I was wrong. And before you say it: Jeff Teague. I know. We all know. Let's give it a few years and then we can talk. The rest of the post stands, although I underestimated the ability of Eric Maynor to not only dominate our universe, but also the universes that only he has the power to create.
But enough about '09!! Let's look at '10.
There is one sure thing in this draft. And his name is John Wall. It's not even close. The question isn't whether he's the best prospect in this class, the question is whether he's the best prospect since LeBron. Wall has otherworldly (read: Tyreke-esque) finishing ability, he's a terrific passer, he's got outstanding athleticism, and at 6'4" he creates all sorts of matchup problems at PG. He's dynamite in transition, he is a very good shooter from outside, and he's got quick hands on defense. He's got it all. If there's any knock I could possibly make against Wall it's that I would characterize his first step as "extremely" rather than "lightning" quick (though don't get me wrong, he's plenty quick), he's a bit turnover prone, and he's a bit inconsistent from outside.
But if the Kings get the #1: pick him and don't look back.
Other than that.... lots and lots of question marks. Some definite talent! But question marks abound. ?????? Hear that? ?????????????? Question marks.
Right now, admittedly, it's very early. It's worth mentioning that at this time last year Tyreke Evans looked more like he was auditioning for the And-One team than a future NBA star, so don't take these rankings too seriously. Early early early. Here follows a rough ranking of who I see as the top 21 - ranked by how good a prospect I think they are rather than how well they'd fit with the Kings. Oh, and I haven't seen any of the Euros play so they're not on here. Everyone else I've seen at least twice.
And yes - it's basically arbitrary at this point.
1. John Wall (PG, Kentucky) - We've discussed.
2. Derrick Favors (PF, Georgia Tech) - I know. He's the guy you want the Kings to get. The athleticism! The dunkage! The potential Jerry-isms! Favors is big and can get way up off the floor, and he actually reminds me a whole lot of Blake Griffin as a freshman. Much like early Griffin, his offense mainly consists of getting the ball and trying to dunk it (preferably while destroying the rim in the process), and also like Griffin, he's a disappointment in the shotblocking department considering his size and athleticism. Unfortunately, while he shows some nascent shooting and passing ability, he doesn't exactly have Griffin's relentless motor and kind of tends to drift at times. Also: I'd like him better if he were a little taller. Some definite positives, some definite question marks, and in this draft he'll probably end up #2.
3. Avery Bradley (PG, Texas) - Prepare yourself to hear seven million times over the next six months that Bradley isn't really a point guard and is really an undersized shooting guard and blah blah blah. Don't listen to them. Yes, he's a scoring point with some serious quickness, an impressive pull-up jumper, and good finishing ability. He's also capable of some jaw-dropping passes. Is he a pure point guard? No. Does it matter? No. His job at Texas is to score. He does it well. I think he'll be moving up draft boards before you know it.
4. Evan Turner (SG, Ohio State) - Here's where I feel like the thinness of this draft begins to show. Turner is a very good ball-handler, a good passer, and he's pretty creative getting to the hoop and finishing. He's also an underwhelming athlete and has the lineiest line-drive jump shot since Shareef Abdur-Rahim. I don't really get the hype with Turner, but he's basically the only swingman in this draft who can create his own shot, so............ yeah. I guess that means he's a top 5 prospect in this draft. Also: quickest return ever after breaking his back?
5. Wesley Johnson (SF, Syracuse) - I feel like people are a litttttttle too excited about this guy. On the one hand: Yes, holy crap! New guy bursting onto the scene in Syracuse! On the other hand: Um. You know he's older than Donté Greene, right? Johnson is a very good athlete and has good size for a SF. He's also a good shooter with a high release, and when you combine athlete + good shooter it usually translates to some sort of a role in the NBA. The problem is that he's not very good at creating his own shot and who knows what kind of defense he plays because Syracuse zones. At 22 he's obviously still young enough to get better, but let's not lose our minds here. Carmelo he ain't.
6. DeMarcus Cousins (PF, Kentucky) - When you look at Cousins you'd think he'd be the last person to show up on a "bigs who play like smalls" list. He's huge!! But Cousins is a bit allergic to contact, he'd rather step outside to shoot a jumpshot than bang in the paint, and his athleticism, hustling, and defense leave quite a lot to be desired. I reserve the right to still get excited about Cousins, but he's the type of offensively-minded middling-defending big that currently has us banging our heads against the wall.
7. Ed Davis (PF, North Carolina) - Call me a Davis skeptic. You'll hear a lot of Chris Bosh comparisons with Davis, and I get that. Sort of. Okay, not really. I mean, he's 6'10" and skinny, a pretty fluid athlete, and, uh, he plays in the ACC? Unfortunately he's nowhere near as talented offensively as a sophomore as Bosh was as a freshman, his hands are a little shaky, he doesn't have great touch around the rim, and he's been wildly underwhelming when playing against other good bigs. Is he really that much better than Hilton Armstrong? (ducks)
8. Cole Aldrich (C, Kansas) - A shorter Joel Przybilla with a jump shot. That's basically all you need to know. Well, that, and Mark Cuban has already committed to paying him $80 million in 2018.
9. Patrick Patterson (PF, Kentucky) - I was really skeptical of Patterson last season on the grounds that 6'8" power forwards have a really hard time making it in the NBA. And while Patterson is strong, he still gets muscled around by big power forwards. This season, however, he has done a lot to improve his game. He has really worked on his jumper and can now reliably hit three pointers, in addition to his already-strong post game. This is important, because he can now stretch defenses and go inside/outside on power forwards. He's still a bit of a tweener and might struggle defensively in the NBA, but with the outside jumper he could potentially be a Udonis Haslem-type guy.
10a. Craig Brackins (PF, Iowa State) - Brackins surprised a lot of people last year with such feats as dropping 42 points on Kansas, but this year he looks like he's playing out the remainder of a prison term. The thing about Brackins is that he's got some of the best inside/outside offensive talent in all of college. He can back guys down and score creatively in the post, he can shoot from outside (over 40% from 3), and he can even take guys off the dribble. He's got very good size and athleticism. But this season he's been hanging out on the perimeter, every time he touches the ball he's double or triple teamed because his teammates suck, and he looks like he'd rather die than fail to make the NIT again. And hey, guess I don't blame him there. The skill is still there even though the effort isn't, and even though he's already 22 and his superduper upside potential might be limited, I'm calling draft sleeper.
10b. Ekpe Udoh (PF, Baylor) - One of two transfers that people are a little too excited about (Wes Johnson being the other). Like Brackins, Udoh is already 22 years old, he's 6'10" and athletic and can handle the ball and shoot from outside. He's much skinnier than Brackins and a better shotblocker, but Brackins is more skilled offensively. Both of these guys are pretty good, but age and potential NBA softness will probably push them down into the middle of the first round.
12. Scotty Hopson (SG, Tennessee) - Flying under the radar. Last season Hopson was kind of indistinguishable among Tennessee's seventeen 6'7" guys, but this season he's really putting together his mutli-faceted skills. He's a great ball-handler, he's got good moves to the hoop, he can shoot from outside, and he's extremely athletic. He still lacks some polish, but he's got skills and athleticism in spades. Now that Tyler Smith finally got caught by Sheriff Rosco, look for Hopson to be The Guy at Tennessee and more attention to follow.
13. Greg Monroe (PF, Georgetown) - Monroe has silenced two or three doubters by raising his rebounding numbers this year, but everyone else is busy debating whether he is paper tissue soft or more like down pillow soft. He's reasonably quick and mobile, he's a really good passer, and he has a good midrange game. But he's allergic to contact, he's earthbound, and I still want DNA proof that he's not related to Spencer Hawes.
14. Stanley Robinson (SF, Connecticut) - The athleticism is undeniable, and do my eyes deceive me or can Stanely Robinson now shoot the three? He's still tremendously awkward offensively and he doesn't block as many shots as you think he does (1.4). But with the three point shooting and his athleticism he may now be the defense-and-3 SF roleplayer that every championship team seems to have.
15. Al-Farouq Aminu (SF, Wake Forest) - The good news is that Al-Farouq looks a little more comfortable with the ball than he did last year, meaning he doesn't dribble the ball off his foot or drop passes nearly every posession. But he's still very very far away from having anything resembling an offensive game, he's not strong enough to play the 4 in the NBA, and he has none of the skills you'd want out of a small forward. Other than the whole jumping out of the gym thing.
16. Devin Ebanks (SF, West Virginia) -The latest graduate from the Billy Owens Memorial School of small forwards who can do everything except shoot (notable recent graduates include Julian Wright and Earl Clark). Ebanks has great size at 6'9", he can handle the ball, he can pass, he's pretty unselfish, he's a fluid athlete. But he can't shoot. And I'm sorry, scouts always love these guys, but show me where the Billy Owens "do everything but shoot" mold works. (It doesn't.)
17. Gani Lawal (PF, Georgia Tech) - He's probably 6'7" or 6'8" but holy crap is this guy tough. He can rebound extremely well, he hustles relentlessly, and he has clearly worked on his free throw shooting, which is still ugly but goes in more often. He doesn't have enough offensive talent to be anything but serve as a banging roleplayer, but he should do that job pretty well.
18. Soloman Alabi (C, Florida State) - He's tall. And... did I mention he's tall?
19. Xavier Henry (SG, Kansas) - Wildly overrated. Not a very good athlete, and he has precisely one offensive move: catch and shoot. And he hasn't even been doing that particularly well lately.
20. Willie Warren (SG, Oklahoma) - Not a fan. The athletic gifts are there. The size, brains, and shooting ability are not.
21. Larry Sanders (PF, VCU) - A beanpole shotblocker who has still managed to play well even without the universe-altering powers of Eric Maynor to give him strength. It's hard to imagine how Sanders will make it as a big in the NBA because he's so damn skinny. But 6'10" athletic guys with freakishly long arms don't grow on trees. They just look like they do.
Flame away, fellow draft nerds.