1. Will any international players (with no college experience) be taken in the lottery?
Three went in the lottery in ’06 (Bargnani 1st, Sene 10th, Sefolosha 13th), but things have slowed down considerably in recent years. The last time no international player was taken in the lottery was 2000 (Hedo Turkoglu went 16th).
Among the contenders this year:
Donatas Motiejunas PF/C Benetton Treviso. 7-footer who at his best would be like Bargnani or Gallinari – a soft Euro who floats to the perimeter and makes jumpers but can’t defend anyone or rebound against physical PFs. Consensus is that he’s a 1st rounder with a shot at sneaking into the lottery.
Kevin Seraphin PF/C Cholet. More of a power player than Motiejunas, but he’s only been playing since he was 15 and the Frenchman is raw. Seems like a 1st round pick for a team that won’t need to rush him. At this stage, think Ronny Turiaf.
Nemanja Bjelica, SF Serbia. Versatile enough to play 1-4. Just turned 22. As of today, he’s an major, major longshot to go in the lottery.
Next year, one mock draft has three international players going in the lottery.
2. What to make of DeMarcus Cousins?
Posted outstanding numbers in limited minutes last year at Kentucky. Much has been made of his potential for weight and attitude problems. Contrary to popular belief, he did not get dominated by Derrick Favors in high school. (If you’re interested in comparing the two, Cousins is taller than Favors, has more of a wingspan and more of a standing reach.) Cousins’ NBA comparisons run the gamut – Derrick Coleman? Benoit Benjamin? Eddy Curry? (For what it’s worth, we love what we have seen, attitude be damned.)
Pundits have him all over the place (he seems to have no idea or is playing coy). The talent to go 1st? (Won’t happen.) According to David Aldridge (near bottom), the 76ers, who pick 2nd, will work out Favors and Cousins one week before the draft. Or, he’ll be the big slider who becomes a steal late in the Top 10. He is most likely to play center (same size as Kendrick Perkins) and basically everyone picking 3-7 could use a center (the Wolves have Darko, but come on; the Warrios could try Cousins at 4 with Biedrins in the middle).
How does Al Jefferson and DeMarcus Cousins at the 4-5 in Minnesota sound? Slow and immobile, or rugged and burly?
3. Who could be a 2nd round steal?
In the last decade or so, Manu Ginobili, Michael Redd, Gilbert Arenas, Carlos Boozer, Maurice Williams, and Trevor Ariza, among others, have gone from being a 2nd round pick to securing a lucrative contract or becoming an All-Star.
A few names we like this year:
Jordan Crawford, Xavier: Fell in love with him during the NCAA tournament and can see him quickly becoming an instant-offense 6th man. Could be a 1st rounder, though.
Dominique Jones, South Florida: Another scoring machine (46 vs. Providence, 37 vs. Pittsburgh, 30 vs. Syracuse), though he doesn’t shoot as well as Crawford.
Sherron Collins, Kansas: Reminds us of Ty Lawson, the UNC guard who had a promising rookie year with Denver. Shoots it better, but isn’t as strong defensively.
Manny Harris, Michigan: Creative scorer who reminds us a bit of Jamal Crawford (probably because both played at Michigan).
Derrick Caracter, UTEP: The next Boozer? Ha. Not nearly as disciplined. Entitled. Weight issues. Doesn’t seem like the type of kid who is going to be fine sitting. But with the right coach (Phil Jackson? Ha), perhaps he gets his mind right.
4. Gordon Hayward – The Next Adam Morrison?
Did he leave school too early? The budding star led Butler to the title game and everyone (including us, selfishly) wanted him to return to school. But someone must have told him he’s a lottery lock. Hayward is a better defender than Morrison and more athletic, but not nearly as strong offensively. We liken him to Mike Dunleavy, the Duke SF who has posted good numbers in the NBA and made a ton of money, but has yet to get on the floor in the playoffs.
Hayward won’t be anyone’s savior. (He’d probably be a disaster in Toronto, since the Raptors will have no offense when Bosh leaves.) Teams in the 7-20 range where Hayward could be a role player in the near future: Clippers at 8, Jazz at 9, Grizzlies at 12, Celtics at 19.
But is Hayward even a better prospect than Nevada’s Luke Babbitt, who is supposedly soaring up the charts, and perhaps into the lottery?
5. The Timberwolves (4, 16, 23) and Grizzlies (12, 25, 28) each have 3 first round picks. they’ll screw this up somehow, right?
The Timberwolves aren’t remotely close to contending. Unless Rubio shows up next season (not happening) and they can trade either Love or Jefferson and not get hoodwinked (doubtful) they’re at least two years away from being a .500 team. The move: Wesley Johnson at 4 (safe, could be instant starter at SF), and the best SG at 16 (James Anderson of OK State or Xavier Henry from Kansas). At 23 we’d pick an international player to stash, or take whatever player they think is raw but has massive upside. FSU’s Solomon Alabi?
Memphis is a bit more difficult to peg with Rudy Gay’s situation up in the air. And Zach Randolph is on the books for just one more year. Do they like Mike Conley as the PG of the future? We’ll start with a crazy thought: Dealing all 3 first-rounders to the Warriors to move up to 6th and grab Wake’s Aminu, who could replay Gay at SF. (That might allow Golden State the opportunity to trade away Ellis and Maggette and find less selfish young players.) In the event they don’t swing a deal, we like: Patrick Patterson at 12, Eric Bledsoe at 25, Quincy Pondexter or Devin Ebanks at 28.