I have always been intrigued by the annual draft for each of the four major sports, sometimes to the point where my preparation for the next one would begin almost immediately after the last pick was announced. In recent years, however, I have not been as obsessed, waiting to post mock drafts until after pro days and workouts have been completed; and 2010 comes as no exception.
Although there is no such thing as a sure thing, it is almost a slam-dunk (no pun intended) that John Wall and Evan Turner will go 1-2 to the Wizards and 76ers, respectively, and Wesley Johnson appears to be headed to New Jersey at No. 3. What happens after that, you might ask? Well, it is my hope that the following predictions will help you make sense of tomorrow night's NBA draft at Madison Square Garden, where commissioner David Stern will welcome sixty men into the National Basketball Association.
1) Washington Wizards - John Wall (G - Kentucky) - The replacement to Gilbert Arenas and the latest in a long line of can't-miss prospects, Wall is deserving of the top spot after his lone campaign in Lexington.
2) Philadelphia 76ers - Evan Turner (G/F - Ohio State) - One may argue that the Sixers don't need Turner since they have Andre Iguodala, but in Turner they get their best potential franchise player since drafting Allen Iverson No. 1 overall in 1996.
3) New Jersey Nets - Wesley Johnson (F - Syracuse) - With a healthy Devin Harris, Johnson will give new coach Avery Johnson two gifted shooters in his lineup on any given night. His game is also more suited to the professional level than anyone else available in this spot, assuming Wall and Turner are indeed gone.
4) Minnesota Timberwolves - Derrick Favors (F - Georgia Tech) - Minnesota wants Johnson and has rejected numerous trade offers to prove it, but in Favors they get yet another young front line player that will blend in nicely with Kevin Love and Al Jefferson.
5) Sacramento Kings - DeMarcus Cousins (F/C - Kentucky) - One more John Calipari product gone, as Cousins gives the Kings their long-awaited replacement for Chris Webber. He is a work in progress, however, and his maturity has been a cause for concern.
6) Golden State Warriors - Al-Farouq Aminu (F - Wake Forest) - Aminu is coveted by the Clippers at No. 8, but he's clearly the best player on the board for the Warriors here.
7) Detroit Pistons - Greg Monroe (F - Georgetown) - I can't see Detroit taking a flyer on Ed Davis after his broken wrist, and having covered the Big East for the last three years, I can personally say that Monroe is ready to take his game to the next level, and a forward that plays like a point guard is hard to pass on.
8) Los Angeles Clippers - Gordon Hayward (F - Butler) - With Aminu off the board here, the Clips take the first reach of the night with the darling of the NCAA Tournament.
9) Utah Jazz - Luke Babbitt (F - Nevada) - Utah craves Monroe, but will take Babbitt if he's not there, since Kyle Korver is not expected to come back.
10) Indiana Pacers - Ekpe Udoh (F - Baylor) - Udoh has amazed in his workouts, and becomes the latest rising star on a front line that includes Danny Granger, Tyler Hansbrough, and Roy Hibbert.
11) New Orleans Hornets - Patrick Patterson (F - Kentucky) - Rumor has it that the Hornets are shopping Emeka Okafor, so they opt to replace him with a dominating rebounder in Patterson.
12) Memphis Grizzlies - Cole Aldrich (C - Kansas) - Even though the Grizz drafted Hasheem Thabeet last year, there is no way they can pass on a big man, thus taking Aldrich.
13) Toronto Raptors - Xavier Henry (G - Kansas) - Another Jayhawk goes here after Patterson is off the board, and even though Henry will spend most of his time in the backcourt, Toronto gets its replacement for Chris Bosh.
14) Houston Rockets - Ed Davis (F - North Carolina) - Davis' injury is going to scare more teams off than initially expected, but Houston will end his freefall.
15) Milwaukee Bucks - Paul George (F - Fresno State) - With John Salmons supposedly opting out, Milwaukee suddenly needs help on the wing, and they get it in George, who has been rising up draft boards lately. George will likely back up new arrival Corey Maggette.
16) Minnesota Timberwolves - Eric Bledsoe (G - Kentucky) - Jonny Flynn will be moved to shooting guard to accommodate Bledsoe, who despite possibly being a reach at 16, gives Minnesota another potent backcourt weapon.
17) Chicago Bulls - James Anderson (G - Oklahoma State) - The next breakout star in the NBA, (and that's a bold statement) Anderson is Chicago's man in this spot, and he'll almost definitely be there for the taking.
18) Miami Heat - Damion James (F - Texas) - Pat Riley has been searching for a replacement for Shawn Marion, and he gets a scorer who was also the Big 12's all-time rebounding leader in college.
19) Boston Celtics - Dominique Jones (G - South Florida) - Boston shakes it up by taking a man who was clearly the most underrated guy in the Big East last year, averaging over 20 points per game on a USF squad he led into the NIT.
20) San Antonio Spurs - Daniel Orton (F - Kentucky) - Let's face it, Tim Duncan is getting older and won't be around forever. Spurs decide to think about the future with this pick.
21) Oklahoma City Thunder - Hassan Whiteside (C - Marshall) - Whiteside could go as high as 11 to the Hornets, but lands in Oklahoma City, who desperately needs a big man.
22) Portland Trail Blazers - Craig Brackins (F - Iowa State) - Portland should start to admit that the Greg Oden decision was a mistake, and this pick would be a step in the right direction.
23) Minnesota Timberwolves - Kevin Seraphin (F - France) - Minnesota can't afford to pay three first-round picks, so if they don't unload any, Seraphin is the guy in this spot. Knicks have been rumored to be interested in this pick.
24) Atlanta Hawks - Quincy Pondexter (F - Washington) - Joe Johnson is likely out in Atlanta, and Pondexter can fill his spot in the lineup adequately.
25) Memphis Grizzlies - Elliot Williams (G - Memphis) - The former Duke recruit that transferred home gets to stay home with Memphis taking him.
26) Oklahoma City Thunder - Larry Sanders (F - Virginia Commonwealth) - After already taking a center earlier, Kevin Durant gets more help up front with the 6-10 Sanders.
27) New Jersey Nets - Lance Stephenson (G - Cincinnati) - Here's another shocker as the Nets grab the Brooklyn standout, a move that will help them two years from now when they open their new arena.
28) Memphis Grizzlies - Avery Bradley (G - Texas) - Bradley could go higher, but he is a good pickup for Memphis, where he could platoon with Mike Conley at the point.
29) Orlando Magic - Jordan Crawford (G - Xavier) - Crawford epitomized my concept of "ABSOLUTE MONEY" with his breakout NCAA Tournament, and his arrival in Orlando should spell the end of the J.J. Redick era. Crawford could also challenge Vince Carter for playing time during the season.
30) Washington Wizards - Devin Ebanks (G/F - West Virginia) - Ebanks may not be what Washington wants in this spot, but he is an all-around player who would help complete the Wizards' starting five.