NBA Draft forcing major personnel decisions

John Wall is a lock to be the 1st selection in Thursday's draft

John Wall has been the consensus number 1 pick ever since he entered his freshman year at Kentucky. His explosiveness and instincts have put him at a level above the rest of the 2010 NBA draft class. However, with the Washington Wizards holding the 1st pick in the NBA draft there has been a lot of speculation as to what is going to happen at the point guard position. It is not just the Wizards though, a number of other teams with early lottery picks are going to have to choose between future and the present as well as needs and best available.

Washington Wizards. It is no secret that the Washington Wizards have had a lot of off and on the court issues with their players and especially Gilbert Arenas. On the court Gilbert Arenas has shown he can be one of the best players in the NBA as well as one of the best clutch shooters in the league. After receiving a big contract from the Wiz, Gilbert was hampered by injuries but last season was finally healthy. However, he had trouble getting back to his old form. Later in the season, after an incident where he brought guns into the locker room, Arenas was suspended for the rest of the year.

Fast forward to the present. The Wizards have the first pick in the 2010 draft and are no doubt going to select the 6 foot 4 point guard John Wall out of Kentucky. It just so happens that point guard is the position that Gilbert Arenas plays. What are the Wizards to do? The possibility of trading Gilbert Arenas is very low considering the massive amount of money that is still owed to him (Around 95 million over next 5 years), and his play which has been less than stellar to say the least. I think that the best and most obvious decision would be to move Gilbert Arenas to shooting guard and bring in John Wall to play the point. First off, there has always been a lot of criticism to the way Arenas plays point guard as he dominates the ball and mostly creates for himself rather than for teammates. It seems like a move to shooting guard could be suitable for Arenas. However, a problem that this poses is that both John Wall and Gilbert Arenas are players who dominate the ball. Although John Wall is a very unselfish player, he is going to need the ball in his hands a lot. Both Arenas and Wall are unbelievably talented players but meshing together is going to take time and force them to put their egos aside.

Evan Turner is widely regarded as the second best player in the draft

Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers hold the second pick in the draft and are a team that isn’t really being talked about right now. Shooting guard Evan Turner has been the consensus number 2 for as long as John Wall has been the talk of the town. Bringing in Evan Turner is the sensible pick but I also see it as a potential problem for the 76ers. Andre Iguodala is listed as a Guard/Forward, so he can play the 2 or the 3. Drafting Evan would mean an obvious move for Andre Iguodala to small forward. Now the transition to small forward isn’t the problem, rather the problem I see is that Turner and Iguodala are quite similar as players. Both players are slashers that are very good in transition but aren’t great outside shooters. Granted Iguodala is alright from beyond the arc as a career 32.1% shooter from back there, but by no means is he automatic. Evan Turner has a great mid-range game but is also not a polished outside shooter. I just don’t see this team, with their 2 star players being so similar, having great success in the future. A quick note also is that Louis Williams is probably going to see his role diminished as a result of Evan Turner’s arrival.

New Jersey Nets. The new owner for the Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov, has some mighty aspirations for a team that almost set the record for most losses in a season last year. For rebuilding teams, the draft is where it is all supposed to start but the fact that the lowly Nets did not get the #1 or #2 pick this year is causing some major headaches for the front office. The Nets need a top flight wing player but no player of that criteria seems deserving of the #3 pick. That leaves the Nets with probably having to take another big man to complement Brook Lopez. Now taking another big man is not the most terrible thing in the world but it is not ideal. The safest choice would probably Derrick Favours who has all the physical tools to be a great big man but is very raw. The other big man choice is Demarcus Cousins who is slipping in a number of mock drafts because of questions surrounding his maturity and work ethic. Having a two-headed monster could pan out great for the Nets, just look at the San Antonio Spurs when they had David Robinson and Tim Duncan. However, the inability of the Nets to find a franchise wing player in this first draft under their new owner could cause some issues in the future. The Nets do have a lot of cap room this year and there are a number of very good second and third tier free agents out there. With the Nets probably not getting the wing player they need in this draft, it is very possible that an opportunity for immediate success could have the Nets overpaying for lower level free agents.

Demarcus Cousins' draft stock has been falling

Minnesota Timberwolves. Another team with a number of personnel issues are the Minnesota Timberwolves and this draft is not going to help solve those problems. First of all, the T-Wolves made one of the most mind-boggling draft decisions ever last year by drafting two franchise point guards in Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn. Minnesota also has issues up front because the front office has decided that there is no way that the two power forwards Kevin Love and Al Jefferson can play together. There has been a lot of talk over the last few months about dealing Al Jefferson but nothing has happened so far. Like the Nets, the Timberwolves could use a good wing player, but again the question is whether there is one deserving of such an early pick. I didn’t mention earlier that Wesley Johnson is
probably the only guy that could be taken that high, but he may have limited upside on the offensive end. The guy that I would probably peg in that spot if he falls to them is Demarcus Cousins. Cousins is a legitimate talent as well as a legitimate center, which is something the Timberwolves could use. I think that all the talk surrounding his immaturity and work ethic can be changed if he is put into the right environment. This is a guy who could eventually be classified among the best big men in the league and it would be too hard to pass up on a talent like him. What they are going to do with their power forward situation is something we will have to wait and see. Minnesota needs a wing player but could use a center and Cousins fits the bill.

Sacramento Kings. A number of mock drafts have a big man pegged the Kings way but I just don’t see why the Kings would go in that direction given their current situation. The Kings already have young power forwards in Jason Thompson and Carl Landry. In addition to those two they acquired center Samuel Dalembert from the 76ers. Big man is not a need for the Sacramento Kings. After dealing Kevin Martin the Kings are another team in need of a wing scorer but alas there doesn’t seem to be very many quality ones in this draft. The Kings are going to have a very tough decision to make come Thursday evening.

Toronto Raptors. Well, I have to talk about the Toronto Raptors because I am a huge fan of theirs. The Raps have way too many personnel problems to deal with. Their point guard play has suddenly become very average, Hedo Turkoglu doesn’t want to play for them anymore, and who knows what is going to happen with Chris Bosh. In my opinion, the smartest thing for the Raptors would be to try and pick up a true center rather than try and replace Chris Bosh. The Raptors have lacked a real interior presence since Bosh has arrived on the scene and Andrea Bargnani could easily move to power forward. I have seen most mock drafts put Cole Aldrich into the hands of the Houston Rockets who draft at #14 right after the Raptors. Despite his limited upside, I think that Aldrich would be the safest and smartest pick. Like other teams early in the draft the Raptors need a productive wing player. Their first round pick last year Demar Derozan is still developing and as of right now Hedo Turkoglu is still around. Drafting a wing player in this draft would be almost pointless because there is no room on the roster for a wing player to get significant playing time and develop. Cole Aldrich on the other hand can block shots, rebound and play defence, which are none of the attributes that the Raptors had as a team last season.

The 2010 NBA draft class may not be one of the strongest draft classes of all time. Well, they said the last year too. But one thing that is for sure is that more than usual we will be seeing teams in the early stages of the draft having to make very tough decisions in choosing either for need or the best player available.

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