We all do it, right? It’s the end of your team’s season, they have either been eliminated from playoff contention or been eliminated in a less than thrilling fashion in the playoffs, by for example, waking three sleeping giants in Celtics jerseys. July 1st seems to be the date that begins the changing of the NBA – the date that free agency begins. Although you can only play the “What if” game of where LeBron is going, who Bosh will sign with, and whether DWade stay. Before you drive yourself insane, just ask Danny Ferry (Cavs GM).
However, before LeBron can start really looking for a mansion on South Beach (yeah I said it), the NBA draft is coming. Remember all of these guys were a part of the draft once, so you have to pay some attention to which players your team can select, and who may possibly be a contributor on the way to an NBA championship.
Lottery Draft order projected statistically.
- New Jersey Nets: John Wall/Kentucky – After being arguably the best in college basketball for an entire season, he will rightfully go first overall.
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Evan Turner/Ohio St. – The most NBA ready player in draft, could be the best out of the draft if health allows him to be.
- Sacramento Kings: DeMarcus Cousins/Kentucky – Cousins is not the usual fit for the Kings and its owners (the Maloof brothers), but he is the only real post threat in the draft. Add him to a nucleus of Tyreke Evans and Jason Thompson and you have the first team in Sacramento to sniff the playoffs since Vlade Divac was flopping in the purple and black.
- Golden State Warriors: Derrick Favors/Georgia Tech – Had Favors put up the numbers that were anticipated when he arrived at GT, the Nets would be selecting him first overall. Although Golden State will be a good fit, Favors will be able to run the high paced offense the Nelly loves to utilize.
- Washington Wizards: Wesley Johnson/Syracuse – A freak athlete who can score. The Wizards cannot afford to let a talent like Johnson slip past them.
- Philadelphia 76ers: Ed Davis/North Carolina – Davis seems to be one of the players who left early to keep from suffering completely if the NBA bargaining agreement keeps the 2011-2012 season on ice. Davis is going to be Samuel Dalembert’s replacement after his contract expires. Additionally, look for the 76ers to try and unload Elton Brand on draft day for either money, another first round pick, or a sign and trade.
- Detroit Pistons: Cole Aldrich/Kansas – Aldrich is a spitting image of Paul Davis, the former Michigan State center who was a sound, tough rebounding big in college, but that’s pretty much where the story ended. Aldrich lacks the footwork of other big men in the draft and is going to struggle when he can’t go over the top of defenders.
- Los Angeles Clippers: Al-Farouq Aminu/Wake Forest – An athlete who can and hopefully will develop a perimeter game to play alongside Blake Griffin. Aminu is going to be a tougher version of Al Thornton, who never turned out the way the Clippers expected before they sent him packing.
- Utah Jazz: Greg Monroe/Georgetown – Georgetown being upset in the first game of the big dance did not help Monroe’s stock, but the Jazz will lose Boozer and will realize that Mehmet Okur is not a center. Monroe possesses phenomenal footwork and can stretch the floor, and if big men could ever win the rookie of the year award, he would be the leading candidate.
- Indiana Pacers: Ekpe Udoh/Baylor – A fantastic shot blocker, he will play alongside an emerging Roy Hibbert, and with the NBA’s stars relocating, the Pacers could be in playoff contention come April.
- New Orleans Hornets: Daniel Orton/Kentucky – Orton has the least playing experience of all prospects in the entire draft. He has NBA size, but with unproven skill. He will become the mid-season bandage when Okafor goes down with an injury, again. Orton will benefit playing with CP3, and scouts believe he has the talent to be the best big man out of Kentucky, eventually.
- Memphis Grizzlies: Patrick Patterson/Kentucky: A physical specimen coming out of college, he is sound fundamentally and can contribute at the power forward position right away.
- Toronto Raptors: Hassan Whiteside/Marshall – Whiteside will be drafted just in time to go to Bosh’s Bon Voyage party, maybe as Turkoglu’s plus one? Whiteside can block shots, score around the basket, and rebound. Look for Dwight Howard comparisons throughout his entire career.
- Houston Rockets: Donatas Motiejunas/Lithuania – This guy gets the label of highest bust probability. He is another thin seven footer who will refuse to rebound and put up 5 too many threes a game.
- Milwaukee Bucks: James Anderson/Oklahoma St. – Attacks the basket really well, put up a lot of points in college, and could complement Jennings really well. NBA fans will continue to Fear The Deer!
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Gordon Hayward/Butler – The last chance of having the next “Great White Hope”. Hayward can shoot the ball from almost anywhere on the court – lucky for Duke.
- Chicago Bulls: Xavier Henry/Kansas – Regardless of what moves are made in the off-season, Chicago is going to take the best talent available and someone who can run with Rose. Henry couldn’t be a better fit.
- Miami Heat: Eric Bledsoe/Kentucky – Playing in John Wall’s shadow at Kentucky, Bledsoe did not receive the publicity he deserved. He is an NBA ready point guard who will fill the Heat’s need of a ball handler and distributor.
- Boston Celtics: Damion James/Texas – Doc Rivers is going to steal James from the Spurs, who pick right behind them. A hard nosed defender who can make stops and be a spark off the bench. He’s the pick because of the possibility the Celtics could lose Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Tony Allen.
- San Antonio Spurs: Larry Sanders/VCU – Sanders can block shots and has the frame to become a dominating post presence. Let the mastermind better known as Mr. Popovich get his hands on him and you have the frontcourt of the future with Sanders and Blair down low.
- Oklahoma City: Solomon Alabi/Florida St. – The Thunder learned their lesson the hard way when a team lacks decent big men. Unfortunately, they are not getting that in Alabi, who comes with the buyer beware warning due to his raw talent and what looked like genuine clumsiness around the basket in college.
- Portland Trailblazers: Kevin Seraphin/France – With Nicolas Batum becoming a larger role in the Blazers rotation, Portland will take the chance on Seraphin. The Blazers will likely allow him to play one more year overseas and then use him as a post defender, praying he won’t collapse like every other big in Portland.
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Luke Babbitt/Nevada – This being the T’wolves third pick in the first round, this is potential trade bait to a team like Memphis who covets Babbitt’s scoring and rebounding ability.
- Atlanta Hawks: Quincy Pondexter/Washington – This is a steal for Atlanta. Pondexter could either replace a possible departing Joe Johnson or give Marvin Williams his pink slip, and either way, Pondexter will have a bright future in the NBA.
- Memphis Grizzlies: Avery Bradley/Texas – This is probably the biggest slide of the first round, due to Bradley’s lack of scoring ability right now. If he finds a way to score, then the Grizzlies will have made off like bandits with a guy who could easily be a lottery pick.
- Oklahoma City Thunder: Paul George/Fresno State – Another great athlete who can score, giving the Thunder a fourth or fifth scoring option.
- New Jersey Nets: Devin Ebanks/West Virginia- A perimeter defender with the height of a big man. His jump shot is less than questionable, which is why he is still available this late.
- Memphis Grizzlies: Terrico White/Mississippi – The possibility that Rudy Gay may be leaving forces the Grizzlies to take someone who can put up points. White can do just that.
- Orlando Magic: Willie Warren/Oklahoma – The second coming of Courtney Lee to the Magic. Warren’s questionable attitude at Oklahoma is the reason for such a fall, but the Magic are the big winners after such a painful loss in the Finals.
- Washington Wizards: Darington Hobson/New Mexico – Will be looked at as a reach, but his ability to lead the Lobos to such a great season gives him a great upside with good scoring ability.
After the glory of the first round has gone, there are a few real players that could make a difference when drafted. The second round sleepers are: Dominique Jones/USF, Jordan Crawford/Xavier, Stanley Robinson/UConn, and Lance Stephenson/Cincinnati.