With the NBA Finals in full effect and the LeBron James sweepstakes as the preferred topic of discussion in the background, not everyone remembers the NBA Draft is also on this month’s schedule. And no one’s to blame, really. Despite the talent the 2010 class holds, the draft has seen better days.
These 2010 guys are out to prove something, though. One won’t know just how great a draft class it will be until years down the road, once these soon-to-be-rookies go on to participate in several All-Star games, win an MVP or simply bust out to play in Europe.
With that disclaimer in play, here is the best the 2010 NBA Draft has to offer.
1. John Wall, point guard, Kentucky
Wall’s undisputedly No. 1. Not only did he help make Kentucky one of the best teams in college basketball last season, he did it as a freshman while averaging great numbers: 16.9 points, 6.4 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. The 19-year-old is a pure point guard with terrific size, speed and court vision. What he needs to improve is his inconsistent jump shot. But other than that, he’s exactly what troubled Washington — owner of the No. 1 pick — needs after such a tumultuous season.
2. Evan Turner, small forward, Ohio State
Averaging 20 points and almost 10 rebounds per game, Turner got to the rim and grabbed misses almost at will in college. He’s an offensive workhorse who can pass while also excelling on defense. His court vision also is outstanding, evidenced by his six assists per game in 2009-10. Just call him Mr. Versatility. It would be interesting to see how much he gets the ball in Philadelphia, which has the No. 2 pick, though. He was the man in Ohio, but he would be Andre Iguodala’s sidekick in Philly.
3. DeMarcus Cousins, center, Kentucky
So Wall didn’t make Kentucky a contender by himself. He had himself a stud of a big man helping him. Standing at 6-11 and weighing 270 pounds, Cousins averaged 15.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per game in limited playing time — mostly because of foul trouble. He’s only 19 years old and has a lot of potential, good and bad. He has great hands and a scoring mentality, but there are concerns about his weight and maturity. There’s no question Cousins has all the tools necessary to be very good in the NBA. The New Jersey Nets, who have the No. 3 pick, would hope he decides to use them.
4. Greg Monroe, power forward, Georgetown
Two seasons at Georgetown was all Monroe needed to be NBA ready. He’s a double-double machine with great passing ability, and he’s a lefty. He can create his own shot but needs to work on his jump shot, a lot. He’s only 20, though, so there’s a lot of potential for the already-skilled big man. He’ll be a nice pickup for Minnesota, if the Timberwolves take him with the No. 4 pick, who could really use the help after going 15-67 last season.
5. Derrick Favors, power forward, Georgia Tech
The youngest player entering the 2010 NBA Draft, Favors was among the top players in field goal percentage (61 percent) during the 2009-10 season. He averaged 12.4 points and 8.4 rebounds in 27.5 minutes per game. He’s a very effective big man with quickness and athleticism. His youth also means his body hasn’t fully developed, though, so he’ll need to gain some muscle to be a difference-maker. There’s nowhere to go but up for Favors, and the Kings (No. 5 pick) will likely take him.
The only certainty in this 2010 Draft, it seems, is that Wall will go No. 1. Turner at No. 2 is also as good a prediction as a Tim Duncan bank shot. Picks No. 3 through 5, however, can be switched around among New Jersey, Minnesota and Sacramento. None of those big men will be immediate franchise saviors. Potential is their main label.