Let's make a few things clear here. I don't care what the "conventional" wisdom says. So, I will automatically tune you out if that's all your argument comes down to. Like, everyone knows that John Wall is the #1 pick. I know Wall will go first, in almost every possibility, but that doesn't mean I would take him first if I were the Kings. Also, I don't care where guys are listed on Draft Express's mock draft. (Or any other Mock for that matter.) This means several things: 1) I don't care period what other people perceive about players. 2) I really don't care about what other people perceive?
Are these two rules understood? Good.
#1 Derrick Favors
Big men who are A) defensively interested B) efficient (meaning they don't take shots except the one's they can make) C) have the body and youth to improve and D) don't have behavior deficiencies usually get picked #1 overall.
People have generally focused on Favors crappy numbers (12 pts & 8.4 boards are not awful) as a reason to not draft him.
But there are also other facts. 1) Favors played more minutes than Gani Lawal did. I'm curious as to why an under-performing freshman like Favors PLAYED more than the better performing Junior Lawal. 2) Favors & Lawal's numbers are nearly identical. This is probably why Lawal is in the low 1st round/high 2nd round in most mock drafts. 3) The ability to perform at a high level is not likely given Lawal's limitations physically. 4) Favors played at a disadvantage with Lawal around. In otherwords, Favors was asked to play in ways where his game is weakest. Lawal wasn't.
Their is weak spots to Favors game. He's not particularly adept at using his body/athleticism/length to get a score on the block. He certainly needs to improve on his footwork. Defensively is where Favors shines IMO. He can play the perimeter far better than he did in HS (according to Givony), and still has the ability to defend on the block. He isn't a great blocked shot artist (by the numbers), but then again since when is blocked shots the whole measure of defense?
So the question is: Is this about what a player doesn't do, what a player does do, or about anything else? (PUDDING! I WANT PUDDING!)
Unlike Cousins, who I'll address, Favors is not criticized for his "behavior". He's a guy who I think sometimes, unfairly, is expected to show personality and be gregarious. That's not who Favors is (or doesn't come off this way as of now) and it's a mistake ot say that how a guy interviews with the media is a reason to take or not take a player.
Having said that, Favors tends to have a good attitude while not needing the ball (one thing I like), and doesn't pout or not play defense on the other side of the coin. If this seems like Joakim Noah, that's because these were the similar things said about Noah when he came out of Florida in 2007. Question: Would you draft Noah at #2 in this draft?
#2 John Wall
Duh. He's John Wall. Okay, I like his athleticism, attitude, ability to look for others and get them shots, and his physical prowess is something you can't simply teach. I don't think Wall is going to drop past the 1st pick. But I suppose anything is possible. (It is rumored that Wall is a late 1st round selection in the upcoming "Future God" draft.)
#3 Wesley Johnson
I'm quite confused on to put here at the 3rd pick. I like Johnson as a player, and I think he'll be better than Evan Turner long term. (Something just smells funny to me about Turner. I'm just not in love with him.) Still, it seems a bit high to rank Johnson 3rd. But I'm doing it at the risk of the posturing of the Evan Turner contingent.
I like Johnson cuz he measures well, is athletic, can shoot, and is efficient offensively. (Or Johnson was at 'Cuse. Check out his TS% at Iowa St in 2007 & 2008.) All things that would help the Kings. Since the point of the draft is to usually take who the best player is (and that obviously varies from person to person and how much they use hindsight), this will remain a pertinent point moving forward. The one issue I have with Johnson is that he played F in college, and will probably be a 2/3 depending on the matchup defensively. And since not every player who can make a transition from to F to G, this is worth noting.
#4 Evan Turner
I don't know if I would keep Turner, but I'd be willing to trade him for an established player who could help my team. I do like that Turner is relatively efficient despite his high USG rate, and I do like that he rebounded well for a G/F.
Would I want to pair him with Tyreke Evans? Nope, I sure wouldn't. As I say, I'd much rather trade Turner.
#5 Al-Farouq Aminu
Aminu has his share of detractors. He doesn't create well enough for himself offensively, isn't good enough defensively, and didn't always help himself at Wake Forest with his activity level. I get all this. I really do. But Aminu is also a terrific athlete, has a chance to physically mature (he's only 19), and seems reasonably strong with the bench press. (Despite weighing less than Favors, he benched the bar 13 times. Favors 14. Wes Johnson did it 16 times. One note though: Kevin Durant didn't lift the bench press once in 2007. Take this for what it's worth.) That's why I have Aminu 5th if I'm the Kings. The fact is that other than Wall, right now, there isn't going to be a consensus before, during, or after the draft. Because there are so many prospects out there that seem similar in many ways, it's going to be up to each & every team to figure out which player they want.
The thing about Aminu that does scare me is can he create his own offense? Will his ball handling, shot selection, and efficiency improve? Does he have the work ethic? For me though what Aminu does is finish (although not always with authority as Nbrans is already getting ready to point out) using his athleticism, plays hard defense, and will give you a chance to create mis-matches offensively/defensively. That's part of the NBA game, and Aminu very well could be that type of player for the Kings.
#6 Kevin Seraphin
I know this will surprise a lot of people that i have Seraphin this high as in most mock's he's in the 20's. I told you, though, that I don't subscribe to the "conventional" wisdom. Just read his DX profile.
I like Seraphin as he's athletic, a decent defensive rebounder (although I'm not in love with those numbers) and he's a defensive guy. Seraphin is a player who is something of a late bloomer and hasn't quite hit all his strides yet. He needs some work and polish if he is to get better as a player. Is he worth the #5 pick? No, the Kings would be trading down at this point if they were to take Seraphin.
Awhile ago, Jerry Reynolds hinted that the Kings wouldn't likely be taking any European including who was likely going in the later lottery. (I'm certain he was hinting at Donatas Motiejunas. Who is not showing up on this list.) The thing is though that while Seraphin is technically a French Citizen, he's actually from French Guyana which is just a bit north of Brazil. I'm pretty sure living in South America most of his life qualifies him as a South American born player. (Note: The last "South American" taken in the top 10 was Nene in 2002. He was taken 7th and traded to the Nuggets for Antonio McDyess.) If you like reading, Mplax of Canis Hoopus had this to say in depth about Seraphin. (He was talking about taking Seraphin at 23 though.)
The truth is, that I probably have Seraphin 2 or 3 spots higher in terms of production vs potential. The thing is, however, that you have to factor in that size comes at a tremendous cost and will always cost more than any G. Any G, and that includes Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Tyreke Evans & down the line. (Franchise players go higher because teams always need those. But those tend to be the G's that get picked. That's why you see so many Big Men busts in the top 10 of NBA Drafts.) Big men are so rare that every team has to take a risk, quite often too high, on a big who can actually contribute and play down the road. That is why I have at Seraphin at 6.
UPDATE: Unfortunately Seraphin has since had a knee injury that may keep him out of workouts with NBA teams over the next 3 weeks. It's unfortunate given that Seraphin was already expected to miss Treviso and will probably lose any stock/momentum he had up to this point. There is a possibility that Seraphin will put out of the draft due to that he can't work out for teams. (The NBA's rule is you can pull out up until June 14th. The NCAA made the rule that players pull out in May.)
#7 Stanley Robinson
For some reason, I like Robinson a lot and I can't quite explain it. His numbers and potential don't seem to quite coincide at this point. Even though Robinson is a senior and has no more eligibility, there is a ton of questions about his skills and ability to translate them to the NBA level. For me, a 21 year old Senior who had all the up's & downs that Robinson had is a perfect risk for a later lottery team like New Orleans. I like Robinson cuz he has length, athleticism, can shoot the 3 a bit, and was tailor made to play above the rim in the NBA.
Here's some other facts about Robinson I like.He's decently efficient offensively (not at the level Favors or Johnson are but about DeMarcus Cousins level efficient without the shots taken), plays defense, has worked hard to get to the NBA, and is only 21 years old. That's the part that intrigues me most. There is still some level to develop even though he's played 4 years at UConn.
As far as why he sucks, Nbrans, please chime in. Thanks. (Apparently Nbrans doesn't dislike Robinson.)
#8 Larry Sanders
Again, Sanders is a lot higher here than you'll see on mock drafts. He wasn't greatly efficient at VCU (which is not a heavy criticism given he was the main option) and had an excellent rebounding rate. (Which doesn't necessarily mean much given VCU's other players and the league they played in.)
Sanders, though, is a legit 6'9 with nearly the same wingspan and standing reach of DeMarcus Cousins. His rebounding, physical play, and attention level have certainly gotten my attention. I like what Sanders has in terms of long term potential because, like Robinson, he's played 3 seasons and is physically mature.
Here's the part I like best: Sanders improved without Eric Maynor running the PG spot for VCU. Or, at least, he improved offensively.
But there is quite a few negatives too. He lacks lower body strength (and may not be the strongest upper body either as he only did the bench press 7 times) and may not be the most physical player there is out there. So really, that's why he's lower than Seraphin. It's not that Seraphin is so much better than Sanders at this point (probably equals), but that Seraphin has the body to take all the physical banging. (Comparing Seraphin's stats are unwise to anyone elses. European ball, all European ball really, tends to suppress stats across the board.) Sanders, in case any of you were still wondering about Jerry Reynold's sleeper, might be JR's sleeper.
#9 Cole Aldrich
#10 Damion James
I see this being less popular than the other Texas product currently in the draft (Avery Bradley), but James has something that Bradley doesn't do: He would help the Kings get better. At some point, you draft who you think the best player is and say fuck it to worries about position. I think some question would have to be paid how a rotation with Donte Greene, Omri Casspi and James would work on the front line. Having said that, if James is the best player for the Kings, you take him if you trade down. (Don't see the Kings picking James at 5.)
I like James because he's pnysical (the Kings need that don't they?), can board, has nice physical tools, and is pretty much "what you see is what you get". I don't like "all potential" guys like Hassan Whiteside or Daniel Orton. Potential is nice, but production is what matters. I'll take a 4 year senior like James over 2 potential freshman like Orton/Whiteside every time. I suspect most NBA GM's will too. Right now, I can see Stanley Robinson or James fighting to be picked 11th by New Orleans. Both seem to fit a need and may be the BPA in Jeff Bower's eyes.
#11 Ekpe Udoh
I'm not in love with Udoh, and I suspect a team will take a risk on him in the top 10 if they are in love with him. The problems for Udoh, as TZ noted, is that he's inefficient offensively, and didn't wow with his DR%. It's simply way too low. This could be due to Baylor's zone, but I doubt it.
#12 Patrick Patterson
One of the things about Patterson I like is that he's a jack of all trades guy. I'm not sure the Kings need that, but I do know that when you're picking 12th you can't afford to overlook a guy based solely on need either. There is the BPA rule, and it's very plausible that Patterson could drop to a team like Miami, San Antonio or Boston and fit well. (Especially Boston.) He's not a particularly strong rebounder, but he is a reasonably good post player offensively. He's also efficient, and can play at the high post. Plus he plays defense and gives effort. He's a perfect role player off the bench type for one of those teams I listed.
#13 Paul George
I like George at this point if only because he provides a need, is athletic, and could end up becoming better defensively than he was at Fresno State. Obviously this is a lot of projection, but that's why George is 13th and not 5th. He does less things well than many of the higher picks (which is why he's not up farther) and that's why he isn't that high on most mock draft's at this point.
Right now DX has George listed to the Wolves at #23 and that seems right to me. However, down the road, I can see George ending up better than the potential spot he's drafted if he continues to develop.
#14 Greg Monroe
I'm not as big a fan of Monroe as some, but I don't think he's a risk if you were taking the 14th pick. He brings a lot of things that, unlike Spencer Hawes, Hawes did not have at the same age. Monroe is stronger (if you judge this by the press) at the same age, did a better job rebounding while at G-Town compared to Spence's UW year, and has similar abilities with B-Ball IQ/Shooting and the like. However, a stronger a bit more athletic Hawes is not someone I want as a fan. I think Monroe may turn out better in the right system. (I'm not sure what system that is. Maybe Utah, maybe New Orleans if he drops to 11, or Indiana if he drops to 10. Monroe is certainly better than Hibbert I'll say that. But, hey, so is Hawes.)
#15 Donatas Motiejunas
I like Motiejunas skill level as a basketball player. The problem is that he isn't physical (unlike Monroe) and has no real ability to rebound the basketball. There are people who will call him the poor man's Andrea Bargnani. Is that a player you really want? Still, going by the BPA rule, I'd take Motiejunas over Avery Bradley, Devin Ebanks, Eric Bledsoe, Soloman Alabi, Whiteside & Orton and Ed Davis for that matter. (Davis just scares me. I just don't see it with him. If you want a comparison, how about Brandan Wright?)*****
I know I left Cousins off. I know I put a host of players ahead of Cousins. In fact, I put 15 players ahead of Cousins. And you know why? I DON'T WANT HIM! He scares the living bejesuz outta me and that's putting it kindly.
I don't like the following things about Cousins: He's a high usage/maintenance guy who needs a lot of touches to be effective. He pouts somewhat when he doesn't get the ball and keeping his head in the game is always difficult. These types of players are never of a high appeal of me, and if you've ever seen anything I've written about Al Jefferson you would know why. At some point, there is more to basketball than post scoring and defensive rebounding. Both are important, but ultimately there are other parts of the game, too. I just don't see the other "things" with Cousins. Not right now I don't. His conditioning is in question, he didn't do the bench press, and his interview raised many eyebrow's. It wasn't so much how Cousins answered bothered me, but it was the lack of concentration. One moment he's listening and the next he's tuned you out. What's going to happen when you give this kid millions of dollars? That scares me. I also wonder if he has a love of basketball that (like John Wall for instance) has. Before you go saying it's unfair to compare Cousins to Wall, why not? Other people are saying Cousins is the best player in the draft. Cousins is a guy who seems all around the town emotionally and mentally. That's called being unreliable in my book. You want to ask Cousins to play defense when he isn't getting the ball every time he wants it? Do you see Cousins reacting well to criticism that he's missing defensive rotations? Right now I don't.
Having said that, Cousins is the only legitimate top 5 talent I've left off my list and those are some (but not only) of the reason's with Cousins. Others include his below grade efficiency (if you're that big and unstoppable, there's no reason to take 6 3's), his shot selection overall, and why he couldn't play more than 24 MPG. Some of that could be conditioning, but Cousins also enjoyed (like Favors) some foul trouble.
Right now, I'd run away from Cousins like I was Jesse Owens running away from Nazi's, but on Speed. (If you want a more disturbing image, watch Desperate Housewives.) But here is why I would take Motiejunas over Cousins: Motiejunas' selection wouldn't want to make me set myself on fire.******
So let me explain my rankings of how I rank players 1-15. Players who will, in my estimation, help the Kings most. Shocking definition I know.
This explains why I have Aldrich over a player like Udoh and Patterson. (Or Seraphin over Aldrich. I think Seraphin's offensive game will end up better than Aldrich's.) I think Aldrich's offensive game isn't as good as Patterson's (obviously), but I do think his ability to play strong half court defense and hustle will be important to the Kings. By the time you're getting to the 9-15 portions of the list, you're simply picking which poison you prefer. There isn't a great prospect there IMO, and none of those guys (with the exception of Monroe) will be high quality NBA players. All of those guys will end up being role players. Which, of course, there is nothing wrong with that. But at the 5th pick of the draft, you want to get a game changing star if you can. (If it sounds like I'm ripping off Jerry Reynolds, pat yourself on the back and give yourself a cookie. Also, wag your tail.)******
As far as the draft goes, though, there is also the point that there is no "sure" thing. As far as a career goes, Gilbert Arenas is still a better player than John Wall. As much as that seems like sacrilege, Arenas still is a 3 time NBA All-Star. Until Wall achieves that, and surpasses it (as many think Wall will), he's still not achieved more than Arenas has up to this point.
I point this out because I see a lot of people saying someone in the draft is a sure thing (as you would expect). Noone is a sure thing. The NBA Draft is, at best, an exercise in advanced punditry and belief of projecting young talent. At worst, the draft is an exercise in poorly thought out punditry with a lack of access to information.
So while my list may not coincide with the more "public" version of mock draft's, since when does the NBA draft play out that way? Is it guaranteed that the best players come out of the top 5 every year? Nope, it's not. Look at the 2009 draft. Who is your top 15 players at this point? Are they all in the top 15? What about the 1st round? How many 2nd round players would you take? The point here is that the NBA Draft will inevitably make some mistakes. There are players, to quote Jerry Reynolds, who are as good as you thought they were when you drafted them, players who ended up worse after the draft, and players who ended up a bit better than you thought they were at draft time.
So while using hindsight and 20/20 vision to judge the NBA Draft using past years as the purview, I would suggest not jumping aboard the hyperbole train and expecting things to work out the way pundits expect. If that was the case, Manu Ginobili would have been a top 10 pick in 1999, Tony Parker would have been a top 5 pick in 2001, David Lee would be a top 10 pick in 2005, Rajon Rondo would have gone 1st or 2nd, depending on how teams needed Brandon Roy more, in 2006, and Nicholas Batum probably wouldn't have dropped to 25 in 2008 either.
Okay, I'm a quack. And, your point is?