With just a few days before the 2010 NBA Draft, there are many uncertainties following the Wizards' making John Wall the No. 1 overall selection. Will Ed Stefanski and the 76ers take the national collegiate player of the year Evan Turner or the highest-rated big man? Will it be Derrick Favors or DeMarcus Cousins? How far will DeMarcus Cousins slide with his character concerns? Whose stock is rising and whose is falling? Among many others, NBA-Draft.com staff will take a look into answering some of the biggest questions surrounding this year's draft.
Who will the Philadelphia 76ers take in the end- Evan Turner or Derrick Favors?
The 76ers General Manager has gone on the record in stating that with the no. 2 overall pick, the team must select the best talent and not draft to fill a specific void. After Turner's workout in Philadelphia this past week, Stefanski was enamored with the former Ohio State Buckeye; as advertised, he shot the ball well from the mid-range and handled the ball in an exceptional fashion in the team's full-court drills. What the front office was pleasantly surprised by was his ability to hit shots from behind the arc. Stefanski was glowing at the thought of surrounding Turner with last year's 1st Round pick, Jrue Holliday, budding-superstar, Andre Iguodala and frontcourt talent like Marresse Speights, Elton Brand, Thaddeus Young and recently acquired Spencer Hawes. He spoke sparingly about the possibility of adding a young, offensively raw, but promising athlete like Favors. Where would he fit in the mix with recent 1st Round picks Speights and Young? Brand is being shopped, but few teams are willing to take on a contract as large and lucrative as his with his production diminishing and age becoming more apparent. And now that the 76ers have acquired a 22-year old talent in Spencer Hawes, Favors is less likely to fit in the team's plans.
How far will DeMarcus Cousins slide on draft night?
There are no questions of the former-Kentucky Wildcat's talent, skills and size, he is arguably one of the most talented players in the 2010 NBA Draft, but he also comes with the most baggage. On a supremely talented Kentucky team that started three freshmen and has five 2010 1st Round picks, Cousins was named SEC Freshman of the Year after averaging 15.1 points and 9.8 rebounds a game. While his talent is undeniable, his behavior is unpredictable.
The questions surrounding his character pre-date his freshman campaign with Calipari and the Wildcats. He was suspended during his sophomore season of high school after getting into a physical altercation with a faculty member during basketball season. To avoid some of the controversy, Cousins transferred high schools, leaving Birmingham, Alabama for Mobile. However, flags were raised on how Cousins ended up at his new school. Through this all, he was one of the top players in his high school class and named a McDonald's All-American during his senior season.
As a freshman at Kentucky, Cousins tried to shed the label cast upon him as lazy and coasting based on sheer size and skill, yet underachieving with his poor work ethic, but he's still under the microscope. GMs and front offices are hesitant to take on a character such as Cousins, not knowing if he will mature or develop the work ethic to succeed- Washington is locked into Cousins' Wildcat teammate, John Wall, with the first overall pick, while Philadelphia is seemingly only deciding between Ohio State guard Evan Turner, the national player of the year, or Georgia Tech big man, Derrick Favors. New Jersey could take DeMarcus Cousins at No. 3, but will most likely take the consolation prize that Philadelphia leaves behind for them. With the number 4 pick, Minnesota has two big men and did not even work out the Kentucky center. At No. 5 to Sacramento is where Cousins has the best chance to be taken off the board. He shot the ball extremely well during his workout with the Kings and GM Geoff Petrie had commented how well Cousins ran the floor after slimming down nearly 10 pounds since the Chicago pre-draft camp last month. If Sacramento passes on him, Golden State, who possesses the sixth overall pick will likely skip him as well as he declined to workout for the Warriors. Detroit, at No. 7 will be Cousins' last stop if he manages to fall this far. He had commented how much he would love to play for the Pistons and anchor their tough style of play.
How many former Kentucky Wildcats will be selected in the 2010 NBA Draft?
The Washington Wizards have made it quite clear, off-the-record of course, that they will be taking the 2009-10 SEC Player of the Year John Wall no. 1 overall. DeMarcus Cousins, the team's 1A to Wall and a fellow classmate, was seen as a potential top three pick, but now that team's are analyzing his character "flaws" and work ethic more closely, his stock seems to be slipping. He could go as early as five now to Sacramento and as last as Detroit at No. 7. It's certain that he will be one of the first names called this Thursday. The next three Kentucky players have been linked to go as early as No. 10 overall to Indiana and as late as No. 21 to Oklahoma City. The trio of Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledose and Daniel Orton were all at one point rumored to be lottery picks, giving John Callipari five players in the first fourteen picks. Patrick Patterson, the lone upperclassman of the bunch, measured in well at 6'9", 240 pounds. In the 2008-09 season, he dominated as a low post presence, but this past season, he was asked to take on a different role, making rooms for Cousins in the paint. He developed a perimeter game, complete with a 3-point shot, some ball-handling skills and better court awareness. He is now seen as the highest rated of the remaining Kentucky prospects. Between Bledsoe and Orton, it's a crapshoot; Orton was a possible lottery selection as well, before suffering a knee-injury and having some front office skeptics analyzing his lack of playing time in college. He could go in the lottery still, but is more likely to drop into the mid-to-late 1st Round. At different points throughout the season, Eric Bledsoe took a step out of Wall's shadow and into the national spotlight. He is an athletic combo guard, capable of running the team's offense or sliding into the 2-guard spot. He can knock down shots from the perimeter or finish the fast-break in a spectacular fashion.
All five Kentucky prospects should be off the board by the 20s in the 1st Round.
Who is the best of the combo guards ranked near the end of the 1st Round?
Dominique Jones, Jordan Crawford, Terrico White, Armon Johnson, Elliot Williams are all solid options that are expected to hear their names called somewhere in the 20s or 30s, but what does each one offer and who is the best of the bunch?
Jordan Crawford of Xavier (formerly of Indiana) may be the biggest name of the group due to his dunk over LeBron James during a summer camp last year. While that may have put Crawford on the map, it didn't help his stock as much as Crawford's 2010 NCAA performance. He shot the bell well this season and lead his team down the stretch, especially during a double OT loss to Kansas State in the Sweet 16.
Coming out of the Big East Conference is South Florida's Dominique Jones. He not a great perimeter shooter but excels at penetrating into the lane and has tremendous scoring ability at that range. He really racks up points in transition, where he can lead the break, looking to set up teammates or finishing the break himself. Despite entering the draft as one of our biggest sleeps, Jones' stock has been steadily improving due to his recent measurements and individual workouts; he measured in at 6'4" with a 6'9" wingspan.
Had Terrico White come out last year, he probably would have been a mid-1st Round pick as he excelled with his size (6'4"), ball-handling and decision-making. With Chris Warren back in the mix, White shifted back to shooting guard and struggled to really get going this season. He had a great weekend out at the NBA combine, measuring in with a 6'9" wingspan, looking smooth during the dribbling drills and shooting drills, but scouts were also impressed with White's physique (3.7% body fat).
Splitting time between the guard spots at Nevada, Armon Johnson's stock ranges anywhere from the early 20s to 35. He was working with basketball workout guru, Joe Abunassar this summer and his tremendous athleticism was on full display. At 6'4", he has great explosiveness and a long, quick 1st step to get by defenders. Even with awkward mechanics, he looked average in drills, but really impressed with his performances in team scrimmages.
Terrico White had the early lead amongst these group members, but as of late Jordan Crawford and Dominique Jones look to be moving up team's boards into the 20s, while White and Johnson should be off the board late in the 20s or early 2nd Round.
Whose stock is on the rise?
One player whose stock has been on the rise as of late is Nevada forward Luke Babbit. In two years with the Wolfpack, the 6'9" Babbit did it all- he knocked down shots from the perimeter, developed nice low-post go-to moves and rebounded the ball at a high rate. He has an excellent motor and a high basketball IQ which some scouts and front offices are just noticing through the many game tapes of him they see. The more GMs continue to watch him, the higher he climbs on their board. He measured in at 6'9", 215-pounds with a 6'11" wingspan. He can certainly shoot the 3-ball and score in the mid-range, but who will he defend at the next level?
Armon Johnson, Babbit's teammate at Nevada, is also seeing his name being tossed around as a combo-guard who can go in the 20s. Front offices are enamored with his athleticism; he posted some of the best marks at the pre-draft camps.
Whose stock is falling?
Several big men's names are slipping down some team's draft boards, specifically two freshmen centers- Daniel Orton from Kentucky and Hassan Whiteside of Marshall. Orton is a strong, physical post presence, who only measured in at 6'10", but posted a 7'4" wingspan. Despite limited playing time in Kentucky's crowded frontcourt, GMs were williing to overlook that fact because they could see his rebounding and shot blocking skills progressing over the course of the year. However, Orton did not test out that well athletically, nor did it help his stock when he came down with a knee injury. Red flag. Orton missed his entire junior year of high school with knee injuries, though this latest one is unrelated. Knee injuries and big men never go well together, so expect Orton's stock to fall as GMs shy away from him.
Whiteside, on the other hand, is injury free, but his character concerns and immaturity have scared some teams away. His one-on-one team interviews are rumored to been horrific. From the sources we've talked to, teams are pushing Whiteside down from late lottery to late-teens and early 20s . What a fall for this 7-footer, sporting a 7'7" wingspan.
Who is this year's diamond in the rough?
To kick-off the 2009-10 college basketball season, we had sophomore forward Devin Ebanks from West Virginia ranked as one of the top ten players on our big board. He had a string of great showings in the Big East Tournament as a freshman, when, combined with his size and athleticism, you could see scouts drooling over Ebanks' potential this season. However, he wasn't able to put it all together in his second-year under Bob Huggins. He didn't shoot the ball particularly well or even score consistently night-after-night, but he does rebound the ball extremely well and play solid defense.
This one-time lottery pick projection has been flying under the radar with some teams, slipping as far back as the early 2nd Round on some draft boards. Despite his so-so sophomore season, Ebanks is going to be a guy that could surprise a few front offices down the road.