June 27, 2009

Who is next year's No. 1 NBA draft pick?

At the College Basketball Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college basketball coverage staff for his opinion about a topic in the sport.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin went No. 1 in the 2009 NBA draft. Who do you think will go No. 1 in the 2010 draft? As it turns out, John Wall was a popular answer.

After watching Derrick Rose this season, how can you pass on John Wall? He will have every opportunity to star at Kentucky under John Calipari. He has unbelievable speed, he's an elite ballhandler and he can defend and rebound. Calipari will have a team capable of making a Final Four run, and Wall will have the keys to the team. He'll have to show he's capable of keeping veteran Patrick Patterson happy as well as some other elite freshmen. It will be interesting to debate Wall vs. Derrick Favors, especially after the guard-heavy draft this year. Or maybe we'll wonder if a big man such as Cole Aldrich will be the top pick. But I think when it comes to draft day a year from now, the choice will be Wall.


I think North Carolina forward Ed Davis will be the No. 1 guy. Davis was a role player on the Tar Heels' national title team this past season, but he will be the Heels' go-to guy next season. Look for him to add 10 or so pounds and also get stronger, which will make him even more attractive to scouts. Davis would've been a lottery selection this year, but he wisely chose to return for his sophomore season. He doesn't have much of an offensive game yet, but that doesn't matter to the NBA when it comes to big men. Davis is athletic, a beast on the boards, a solid defender and can run all day. Plus, he has a pedigree: His dad, Terry Davis, played for more than a decade in the NBA, and he had no offensive game at all. Kentucky guard John Wall and Georgia Tech forward Derrick Favors are the incoming freshmen most likely to also be in the mix for the No. 1 spot, while Kansas big man Cole Aldrich is the college "veteran" most likely to go first. But look for Davis to grab the coveted top spot.


Some reports said that, had he been eligible, John Wall would've been the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft, so it's hardly a stretch to predict he'll be the top pick a year from now. Wall will be one of the fastest point guards in college basketball when he begins his freshman season at Kentucky this fall. And at 6 feet 4, he has the kind of size and length to make NBA scouts drool. Right now, the No. 1 spot seems like Wall's to lose. There's always the chance he could struggle at Kentucky - either on the court or off of it - and wind up slipping in the draft or returning for his sophomore season. If that happens, look for players such as Ed Davis (North Carolina), Cole Aldrich (Kansas) and Derrick Favors (Georgia Tech) to contend for the No. 1 slot.


NBA teams clearly aren't shy about taking point guards with little college experience early in the draft. Three of the first four picks in the 2008 NBA draft were point guards Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo and Russell Westbrook, who had a combined four years of college experience. That's why my best guess for the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA draft is another one-and-done point guard: Kentucky's John Wall. Wall, the No. 1 prospect in the 2009 recruiting class, doesn't figure to stay at Kentucky for long. In fact, he probably would have been one of the first two or three players selected if he were in this year's draft. NBA scouts seem to love young point guards who played for John Calipari. After Rose won the Rookie of the Year award with the Chicago Bulls this season, Memphis' Tyreke Evans became the second straight Memphis point guard to get taken in the lottery after playing just one year for Calipari. Look for Wall to continue the tradition. If Wall has the kind of freshman season that's expected, NBA teams will be lining up for his services just as eagerly as they were pursuing Rose last year.



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