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NBA Draft Preview




| June 24, 2010

NBA Draft PreviewThe 2010 NBA Draft is Thursday, June 24 and is generally the most anticipated event of the entire basketball season. This year's edition features a speedy point guard (John Wall), a versatile swingman (Evan Turner), various talented big-men and other talented shooting guards and small forwards.

This year's NBA Draft is pretty deep on players that aren't necessarily going to start for their teams but should be good enough to be a part of the rotation.


The Washington Wizards, who own the top overall pick, will tip off tonight's Draft selections at around 7:35, with live coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN and the NBA on ESPN Radio. Washington is picking first for the second time since the NBA discontinued territorial picks beginning in 1966. In 2001, the Wizards selected Kwame Brown with the top overall choice. The franchise has made the top pick on two other occasions: In 1961, the Chicago Packers selected Indiana's Walt Bellamy first overall; and in 1962, the Chicago Zephyrs selected Utah's Bill McGill No. 1. The franchise moved to Baltimore in 1963, then settled in Washington, D.C. in 1973. Below are the 15 prospects invited to attend tonight's Draft:

-Cole Aldrich: An early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft. Owns the Kansas school record for blocks in a season (125) and second on the career blocked shots list. Never lost in Allen Fieldhouse, posting a three-year record of 55-0. An AP Third Team All-America as a junior. The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and All-Big 12 First Team for the second straight season.

-Al-Farouq Aminu: An early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft. Honorable Mention AP All-America as a sophomore. Named Second Team All-ACC. Named a Freshman All-America by the Sporting News and was a unanimous selection to the ACC All-Freshman Team.

-Luke Babbitt: An early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft. Named 2010 WAC Player of the Year and Honorable Mention All-America as a sophomore. Named 2010 WAC Freshman of the Year and earned First Team All-WAC honors as a freshman.

-DeMarcus Cousins: An early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft. An Associated Press First Team All-America as a freshman. Named to the John R. Wooden Award All-America Team and was a ballot selection for the 2010 Wooden Award.

-Ed Davis: An early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft. Third fastest Tar Heel to block 100 shots (51 games) behind Rasheed Wallace (47) and Sam Perkins (50).

-Derrick Favors: An early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft. Selected by the media as ACC Rookie of the Year. Named to the Sporting News All-Freshman team. An ACC All-Tournament First Team selection.

-Paul George: An early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft. Named to the 2009-10 All-WAC Second Team. Ranked as one of the top 15 freshman scorers in Division I in 2008-09.

-Gordon Hayward: An early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft. Was named Horizon League Player of the Year as a sophomore. Selected as the Most Outstanding Player of the West Regional.

-Xavier Henry: An early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft. Chosen Big 12 All-Freshman Team and All-Big 12 Honorable Mention in 2009-10.

-Wesley Johnson: An early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft. First transfer student to be named Big East Player of the Year. Named First Team All-America by The Associated Press and the USBWA. Ranked in top 10 in Big East in scoring (16.5 ppg, 10th), rebounding (8.5 rpg, 5th), steals (1.7 spg, 5th), three-point percentage (.415, 7th), blocks (1.8 bpg, 6th), and minutes played (35.0 mpg, 9th).

-Greg Monroe: An early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft. Dished out a career-best 12 assists at Providence, the most by a center in Big East history. Named the Big East Rookie of the Year in 2009 after averaging 12.7 points and 6.5 rebounds.

-Patrick Patterson: An early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft. Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America as a junior. Two-time First Team All-SEC as a junior and sophomore, named Second Team as a freshman.

-Evan Turner: An early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft. As a junior in 2009-10, won the John Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy, Oscar Robertson Trophy, AP National Player of the Year and NABC Division I Player of the Year. Named 2010 Big Ten Player of the Year and Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

-Ekpe Udoh:An early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft. Named an Honorable Mention All-America by The Associated Press as a junior. Named to the All-Big 12 Second Team by The Associated Press as a junior. Named to the Big 12 All-Defense team by coaches as a junior.

-John Wall: An early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft. The Adolph Rupp Trophy National Player of the Year. Set a Wildcat single-season assist record (241).


John Wall will almost certainly be the choice when the Washington Wizards make the first pick in the NBA draft.

Maybe that's the wrong Kentucky kid.

DeMarcus Cousins, Wall's college teammate, said he is the best player in the draft and "it's that simple."

"I am the most dominant, and I believe I am the biggest game changer," Cousins said Wednesday. "I believe I am the best talent in the draft."

Still, don't expect the Wizards to change their minds.


The Philadelphia 76ers are likely to take national player of the year Evan Turner from Ohio State with the No. 2 pick. Turner said he talked about the notoriously tough Philly fans with new coach and former Sixers guard Doug Collins and was told "as long as you play tough, you're a competitor and play with passion, you'll survive here."

Then the confusion starts.

The New Jersey Nets, who had the NBA's worst record but missed out on a chance for Wall when they dropped to No. 3 in the lottery, were believed to be debating between Cousins or Derrick Favors, who have been working out against each other. That was before speculation in the days leading up to the draft that they'd turned their attention to Syracuse forward Wesley Johnson.


No player in the draft has been as debated as DeMarcus Cousins, who has faced questions about his maturity, work ethic and sometimes-fiery temper for years leading up to this day. But his talent has always prevailed, with the 6-foot-11, 289-pounder an imposing presence defensively and a deft post player and shooter on the offensive end.

He was college basketball's most productive per-minute player last year, averaging 15.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in just 23.5 minutes per game. And while the Kings recently traded for Philadelphia center Samuel Dalembert, the notion of coupling him and Cousins with fourth-year forward Carl Landry and third-year forward Jason Thompson would be a drastic improvement in length and toughness for the Kings' woeful frontline.


NBA draft expert Chris Ekstrand believes Ohio State shooting guard Evan Turner, who is likely to be the Sixers' No. 2 pick in Thursday night's draft, would be better served not being the Sixers' top offensive option.

When asked if Turner can be a 20-point scorer for the Sixers, who haven't had one in four years, Ekstrand said, "It'd probably be a bad thing. It'd mean Brand didn't pan out or Iguodala is gone. You want him to be a facilitator and a guy who can score but not your (primary) point producer. ... If he's scoring 25 points in two years, they’re probably still a lottery team. It'd just mean he’s taking a lot of shots."


Combined with good-for-a-point-guard 6-4 height, Wall establishes a high floor with his raw materials. There's no arguing against the claim that he's a standout NBA athlete -- maybe one of the most athletic lead guards ever.

Given his tools, Wall could easily put himself on a path to try to lead the league in scoring. And yet, to the delight of people in Washington, his thought process is all about the team. He thinks pass first. The other Wizards are going to love playing with him.

Which made one front office guy mention Nate "Tiny" Archibald, who led the league in scoring and assists.

"He doesn't just think pass first," says David Thorpe, who has analyzed Wall's game in detail on video, "but he also has the court vision to see all kinds of things."

As for the shooting, Rajon Rondo leads a band of successful guards (along with Tyreke Evans, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Andre Miller, young Jason Kidd and others) who have quelled the notion that all good point guards must be dead-eye shooters.

And that's not to say that Wall is a terrible shooter. He made an OK 32 percent of his 114 college 3s, and 75 percent of his free throws. The numbers aren't good enough, but incremental improvement would make him a solid shooter.

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