Official RTC 2010 NBA Mock Draft

Posted by zhayes9 on June 23rd, 2010

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.

I love the NBA Draft.

The Stage Rarely Changes, but the Players Do

There’s something gratifying and enjoyable about seeing the college players that we discuss, watch and evaluate move on from the collegiate game and find a home at the next level. There are no cliffhangers when it comes to the NBA Draft. Barring late summer dealings or undrafted snubs, Thursday will be the day we’ll find out where each of our favorite elite college players are going to play pro ball next winter, almost like watching your kids go off to school for the first time. It’s a grand conclusion to a celebrated (albeit, in plenty of cases, very short) college career and a transition to the riches of the NBA.

We’re all prognosticators and experts on Draft night. Opinions are thrown around as David Stern announces each choice. Emotions are prevalent when your favorite NBA squad picks, those moments and heartbeats before the selection that could change the course of a franchise forever. Or it could be Renaldo Balkman. Either way, Draft night for us hoops nerds is one of intrigue and interest.

Here’s my best shot at forecasting how the first round will play out. As someone that has watched these players intensely at the college level, someone that pays attention to the strengths/weaknesses of each NBA club and has been soaking in all of the Draft info since the Final Four ended in April, I’m honored to bring you the official Rush the Court 2010 NBA Mock Draft (RTC draft profile linked to each name):

1) Washington Wizards – John Wall, PG, Kentucky

The Consensus #1 Pick (WaPo/J. Newton)

This was a lock the moment the Wizards won the Lottery in mid-May, a stroke of unexpected luck for a city on the sports rise and the perfect face of the franchise-type player to lead this team out of the cellar. Wall could pair with a focused Gilbert Arenas in a potent backcourt and the Wiz may even shell out some money to bring in an intriguing free agent wing. He may be a top-five point guard in the NBA in only three years time if the jump shot improves. He’s that skilled and talented.

2) Philadelphia 76ers – Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State

I’m hearing the Sixers front office is enamored with Turner while newly minted coach Doug Collins would prefer big man Derrick Favors. In the end, I see Turner as the surer prospect emerging as the pick, and even the Sixers website prepared for that very possibility last Friday. Philly won’t trade the pick unless some team agrees to take on Elton Brand’s contract, an unlikely scenario. Turner could be the next Brandon Roy, a prospect just too mouth-watering to pass up on.

3) New Jersey Nets – Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse

Nets fans were positively crushed on Lottery night when they lost a chance to nab Wall. An underwhelming workout for Derrick Favors, one in which he was thoroughly outplayed by DeMarcus Cousins, gave the Nets brass pause after it was assumed for months Favors would be the selection at #3. The Nets have needs at both forward spots, so it would make sense for them to peg Johnson here and go after one of the big free agent power forwards with new owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s checkbook- Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer or Chris Bosh.

4) Minnesota Timberwolves – Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech

This is a tricky situation for the Wolves. With Al Jefferson and Kevin Love already in the fold, the last thing Minnesota needs is another power forward. They covet both Turner and Johnson, so it’s extremely likely they try to persuade either Philly or New Jersey to let them move up a few spots in exchange for their pick at #16. It’s rumored the Minnesota brass isn’t too high on Favors, but Cousins has publicly expressed displeasure with playing in the Twin Cities.

5) Sacramento Kings – DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky

Cousins has sent hinted messages that he wouldn’t be too thrilled if Sacramento (or Minnesota or Golden State) calls his name and he’d much prefer to end up in Detroit. The Pistons could very well move up a few spots to grab Cousins, but the workout Cousins just finished in SacTo apparently convinced ownership that his game outweighed any character concerns. I would take Cousins over Monroe (and maybe even Favors) in a heartbeat, and it’s my feeling that the Kings agree even with the recent Sam Dalembert acquisition.

6) Golden State Warriors – Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown

The Warriors could go in a whole bunch of directions with this pick and #6 is a precarious position because I feel as though the top five guys are head and shoulders above the rest. One sure need for Golden State is size. They’d love if Cousins slipped here, but if the Kings pounce I think they settle with Monroe. His passing skills and basketball IQ could work wonders in the run-and-gun Warriors attack.

7) Detroit Pistons – Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina

I would be surprised if the Pistons don’t wind up with either Cousins or Monroe on Thursday. If this scenario plays out, they’d likely trade up to #4-#6 to draft one of those talented big men. But there are no trades in mock drafts. I had them settling for Aminu the last week or so, but since he canceled his workouts in the Motor City, my feeling is that the Pistons have moved on. The next most talented big man on the board is Davis, although his lack of a killer instinct/aggressiveness is likely a concern for Joe Dumars.

8) Los Angeles Clippers – Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest

This is the moment in the Draft where nobody wants to hear their name called for fear of suffering a career-threatening injury. Duck those lightning bolts, Al-Farouq! All kidding aside, the Clips have a definite need at small forward and there’s whispers of a Clippers promise to Aminu. A Davis-Gordon-Aminu-Griffin-Kaman starting five is fairly intriguing.  He’s a top-five draft pick just in talent and ceiling alone- a tremendous leaper with outstanding athleticism and a knack for the backboards.  Gordon Hayward has a chance to land here, as well.

9) Utah Jazz (via New York) – Luke Babbitt, SF, Nevada

The Jazz are infatuated with Monroe, but it’s looking less and less likely he lasts until #9. A team that’s already in contention, they need to lean towards more instant impact than future benefits. I see this ending up as either Patrick Patterson or Luke Babbitt, a highly skilled small forward with a complete game that didn’t get nearly enough publicity playing on underachieving Nevada squads. Patterson could be the pick if they’re convinced Carlos Boozer is history.

10) Indiana Pacers – Ekpe Udoh, PF, Baylor

The Pacers have a need at point guard, but this draft is thin at that position and #10 is a bit of a reach for either Avery Bradley or Eric Bledsoe. If Ed Davis is off the board, look for Udoh to land here. Indiana could use a shot-blocking presence in the post and the lanky Baylor big man is one of my favorite players in the Draft. One of those rare older players that still has loads of upside.

11) New Orleans Hornets – Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky

There’s nada after David West and Emeka Okafor in the painted area (h/t Hubie Brown) so look for the Hornets to go size depth in their first selection of the Monty Williams era. Aldrich could be the choice, but I’d lean towards Patterson as someone who can contribute immediately and features a refined inside-outside repertoire.

12) Memphis Grizzlies – Paul George, SF, Fresno State

The Grizzlies could very well trade up for either Babbitt or Patterson under this scenario, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility they settle for nabbing George at #12 depending on how convinced they are that Rudy Gay is leaving this summer through free agency. Many feel that George could be a Gay type athletic force that is deadly in transition and can stretch opposing defenses.

13) Toronto Raptors – Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas

Chris Bosh appears to be history and it’s painfully clear Andrea Bargnani needs to be playing the 4. Aldrich falling to #13 would be a dream situation for the Toronto brass. He could fill in immediately as a capable NBA center. The Raptors could go in so many directions depending on whether Jose Calderon or Hedo Turkoglu are still on the roster in a few months, but Aldrich would be impossible to pass on here.

14) Houston Rockets – Gordon Hayward, SF, Butler

The National Runner-Up Will Look Good on Draft Night

The Rockets are one of the teams trying to move up in the draft with Hayward as a potential target. Any one of New Orleans, Memphis or Toronto could nab the high-rising Butler hero, so if he drops to #14, Houston will likely pounce. He’d pair nicely with Trevor Ariza on the wings for a Rockets team that gets Yao Ming back in 2010-11.

15) Milwaukee Bucks (via Chicago) – Xavier Henry, SG, Kansas

The Bucks are stable at point guard and center, but wing remains a major question mark. It would be foolish to assume Michael Redd is healthy and ready to contribute by November and some club could outbid the Bucks for the services of John Salmons after his monster second half. Look for this pick to come down to George or Henry, two athletic wings that can shoot and defend respectably. (Edit: The acquisition of Corey Maggette and possibly Chris Douglas-Roberts solves part of the wing conundrum, but I still like Henry to the Bucks as a 2-guard with Maggette playing mostly small forward).

16) Minnesota Timberwolves (via Charlotte) – Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall

With three picks in the first round, the Wolves can afford to select a project at some point. They’d be foolish to pass on Whiteside here- an incredible athlete in the post that will need 3-4 years to develop and mature. It’s not like Minnesota is contending before then anyway. They may also end up trading this pick to move up for coveted wings Turner or Johnson.

17) Chicago Bulls (via Milwaukee) – James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State

Anderson has been pegged to the Bulls for a long time now. He’d be a fantastic compliment to Derrick Rose in the Chicago backcourt coming off screens for open jumpers. If the Bulls hit the jackpot and sign LeBron or Wade, they can just make Anderson their scoring punch off the pine. Perfect.

18) Miami Heat – Solomon Alabi, C, Florida State

Portland is looking for height at #22 and may trade up here if they feel like Miami is keying on Alabi or Orton. Miami needs a center in the worst way with Jermaine O’Neal’s corpse rendered incapable. The Heat could look monumentally different late this summer and Alabi would be a valuable piece in the puzzle as a post presence.

19) Boston Celtics – Avery Bradley, SG, Texas

I think this is the draft where the Celtics focus on finding a backup point guard for Rajon Rondo in the form of either Bradley or Eric Bledsoe. Bradley is already an NBA-level defender so he’d fit seamlessly into Boston’s mindset of defense first, but most scouts believe Bradley would struggle mightily at the next level playing the point. Of course, it only matters what Danny Ainge thinks.

20) San Antonio Spurs – Damion James, SF, Texas

The Spurs see their opportunity to contend for a championship eroding quickly as Tim Duncan continues to age and the torch is being slowly passed to George Hill and DeJuan Blair. Look for San Antonio to draft a player who can contribute right away on a playoff squad. James, a four year player at Texas who averaged a double-double his sophomore and senior seasons, fits the bill to a tee.

21) Oklahoma City Thunder – Daniel Orton, C, Kentucky

With only Nenad Krstic, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison manning the post, the Thunder badly need some more size before they reach that next level. Orton has too much upside for GM Sam Presti to let him go past #21. In his minimal playing time at Kentucky, Orton showed glimpses of being an impact rebounder and shot blocker.

22) Portland Trail Blazers – Kevin Seraphin, PF, France

If the previous few Drafts have taught us anything, it’s that the Blazers are not afraid of taking international players. Seraphin is a strong post player similar to Orton in terms of lacking an offensive repertoire. He has miles of development ahead of him and Portland has the choice to stash him overseas for a few years.

23) Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah) – Jordan Crawford, SG, Xavier

Minnesota could go in a ton of directions with their third pick of the first round. Why not Crawford? He’s a lights out scorer with unlimited range in the Ben Gordon mold and could challenge Corey Brewer and Wayne Ellington for playing time in the Wolves backcourt.

24) Atlanta Hawks – Dominique Jones, SG, South Florida

Faced with the possibility of Joe Johnson finding a new home, the Hawks should target a 2-guard. They’ll certainly have their fair share of options- Lance Stephenson, Terrico White, Willie Warren, possibly Crawford- but Jones is the best of them all. There were few players in college basketball last year that could score with the likes of Jones and he proved it in the Big East.

25) Memphis Grizzlies (via Denver) – Eric Bledsoe, PG, Kentucky

If Bledsoe falls to this point, Memphis has to nab him. They lack a reliable backup point to Mike Conley and Bledsoe might really take off playing out of John Wall’s shadow. He’s got the NBA-ready body and has superb athleticism and physicality. The Grizzles would be committing robbery with Bledsoe this low.

26) Oklahoma City Thunder (via Phoenix) – Larry Sanders, PF, VCU

OKC won’t stop with Orton when addressing their frontcourt needs. Orton and Sanders are both risks with insane upside. The Thunder might bet that one of the two will pan out.

27) New Jersey Nets (via Dallas) – Terrico White, SG, Mississippi

White has as much scoring punch as any player in this Draft. He’s a dynamic playmaker who can star at either guard position. If Avery Johnson can sprinkle in more consistency and basketball IQ, this could be a steal late in the first round that not many people are talking about.

28) Memphis Grizzlies (via LA Lakers) – Quincy Pondexter, SF, Washington

Assuming they don’t strike a deal with Minnesota, three picks in the first round means Memphis can go best player available at this spot. Quincy Pondexter broke out of his shell for a monster senior season at Washington. He’s a 6’6 long body that can get to the rim and has improved his outside jumper dramatically over the course of four years in Seattle.

29) Orlando Magic – Elliot Williams, SG, Memphis

The Magic need some help in their backcourt with the potential losses of Matt Barnes and J.J. Redick. Williams would be a good place to start. He’s a slasher that can get to the rim, force the defense to collapse and find the many Magic three-point marksmen beyond the arc.

30) Washington Wizards (via Cleveland) – Devin Ebanks, SF, West Virginia

With Wall in the fold, the Wizards will remodel their team as more run-and-gun. Ebanks runs the floor like a gazelle and can also help greatly on the boards.

Next five off the board:

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