Right now the 2010 draft class is a little tough to gauge. As with recent drafts the strength will be in the freshman class. My feeling is that this class is somewhat below-average. Other than Wall and Henry the guards are a very weak group. The big guys look OK now, but the conference games are starting and that always thins their ranks out. This list is a little scattershot and not exactly a top 60 that’s in a strict order of the ability and future of the players. After the first 15 or so I have players bunched in groups, because that’s where they are at this point in the season. While my guess is that Avery Bradley will move into the lottery and possibly the top 5 by season’s end, his numbers just aren’t quite there yet. I do it this way because the season is early and when the analysis is based mainly on statistics, like this one is, it takes a full season before things really come into focus.
1. John Wall, PG Kentucky: This is a shakier vote than most. Wall has been impressive. He clearly can be dominant when he wants to be. There is one number that concerns me though. If you take out games against small college opponents his A/TO is 1.08, which is unacceptable for a PG. I’ll just throw that out there as something to think about as the conference season gets going. Wall seems good enough that this will get corrected, so it shouldn’t be a concern unless it continues to happen.
2. Ed Davis, PF North Carolina: The question of whether he could handle a larger load has been answered pretty resoundingly. Even while sharing the load with Deon Thompson, Davis has put up monster numbers so far. He also gets good teammate points for holding back and letting a classy senior like Thompson shine a little.
3. DeMarcus Cousins, C Kentucky: I have him as a center, because that seems like his ultimate position in the NBA. Right now Cousins is where Tyreke Evans was last year at this time. He’s clearly a dominant player who the scouts and experts are slow to come around to liking. They warmed to Evans by draft day and now he’s the top candidate for ROY. I expect a similar story with Cousins. Right now his only flaw is scoring efficiency, another similarity to Evans last year at this time.
4. Derek Favors, PF Georgia Tech
5. Xavier Henry, SG Kansas: With these two it is a case of so far, so good. We knew they both came in with high expectations. So far neither has disappointed. Henry has been a bit more impressive taking over the star role on a talented team, but since big men are valued higher I have Favors ahead.
6. Evan Turner, SG-SF Ohio State: Up until the injury, Turner’s numbers were almost impossibly good. He was scoring often and efficiently, passing like a PG and rebounding like a PF. He posted double-doubles against North Carolina, Cal and Florida State, so he wasn’t just beating up on the patsies. He came back early and if he can pick up where he left off he’ll be drafted in the top 3.
7. Dexter Pittman, C Texas: Pittman has made himself into quite a force. He’s damn near unstoppable inside and this year he’s made himself into one of the better shot-blockers in the nation for good measure. I love a prospect like this that is able to make a lifestyle change to turn his career around. This shows an intelligence and adaptability that will serve him well in the NBA.
8. Wesley Johnson, SF Syracuse: I’m not sure where this came from, but just like with Pittman I’m impressed. In two seasons at Iowa State Wesley Johnson was a decent enough player whose scoring was nowhere near efficient enough to consider him a prospect. He transfers to Syracuse and promptly becomes a player-of-the-year candidate. So far this season he’s a dominant player with no weaknesses. One thing to remember with both Pittman and Johnson is they’re both the age of a typical college senior, and they’re less impressive as prospects than a freshman or sophomore with the same numbers.
9. Cole Aldrich, C Kansas: He’s had a somewhat disappointing start. He’s been good enough in that he’s still a top notch rebounder and defender, but his scoring is off this year. Games to watch for him will be with Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma. He’s had some struggles against other prospects and that’s an obvious concern if it continues.
10. Hassan Whiteside, C Marshall: Whiteside is a freshman with raw skills who has been putting up some monster numbers so far. I don’t want to go too overboard on this guy yet, because there are some negatives. He’s 20, so he’s at least a year older than typical freshmen. Marshall has played one of the easier non-cons in the nation with North Carolina the only major college they faced, so his numbers are probably a little bloated. He struggled against the Heels, but he also outplayed Andrew Nicholson, a very good college player and marginal NBA prospect, by quite a bit in an impressive win over St. Bonaventure. The conference games are starting now and within a month or two we’ll know whether Whiteside belongs up with Wall and Cousins or needs to be dropped a few notches because he’s too raw.
11. Jarvis Vanardo, PF Mississippi State: Improved his game across the board so far and has separated himself from other returning PFs in doing so.
12. Kyle Singler, SF Duke
13. Robbie Hummel, SF Purdue: A couple of similar players. Both are multi-skilled junior SFs. Both are good passers and defenders. Both can hit the outside shot and both have struggled to raise their offense to the level that would push them into the lottery. I like both players as pro prospects and feel either one would be a great selection in the 10-20 range of round 1.
14. El-Farouq Aminu, F Wake Forest: A hard player to figure. There are some obvious skills here, but the more his career progresses and he doesn’t put it all together, the more I see another Damion James. That’s what he is right now, a player whose has shown he can rebound but little else.
15. Trevor Booker, F Clemson
16. Patrick Patterson, F Kentucky: Two solid forwards who look like tweeners. Both are PFs by nature, but are a tad small to play there full time in the pros. Both have clearly worked on improving their perimeter games with mixed results. Booker has the better overall numbers, but seems to get the less buzz. Patterson has incredible efficiency numbers, but seen his defensive numbers take a dive with the arrival of Coach Cal and Cousins. In spite of that his stock has improved. Right now I like both better than Aminu, but Aminu still has that youth/length card to play.
17. Elias Harris, SF Gonzaga
18. Devin Ebanks, SF West Virginia
19. Paul George, SG-SF Fresno State
20. Solomon Alabi, C Florida State
21. Avery Bradley, PG Texas
22. Miles Plumlee, PF Duke
23. Greg Monroe, C Georgetown
24. JaMychal Green, PF Alabama
25. Elliott Williams, G Memphis
26. Klay Thompson, SG Washington State
27. Brandon Triche, G Syracuse
28. Kemba Walker, PG Connecticut
29. Tiny Gallon, C Oklahoma
30. Willie Warren, G Oklahoma
31. Willie Reed, PF St. Louis
32. Reggie Jackson, PG BC
33. Lance Stephenson, SG Cincinnati
34. Lasan Kromah, SG George Washington
35. Reggie Moore, PG Washington State
36. Nikola Vucevic, PF USC
37. Chris Singleton, F Florida State
38. Terrico White, SG Mississippi: This group is all freshmen and sophomores. They’ve flashed some serious talent at times, but there’s a weakness or two in their games that needs to be corrected before I’ll consider them serious prospects. Some need to score more efficiently, others need to improve their defensive numbers and some simply need to prove they continue the same production when playing more minutes. Some will improve their stock as the season progresses, while others will fade. They’re all basically in the same boat right now. Young enough that there is still legitimate hope. But they need to step their games up just a tad more.
39. Jon Scheyer, PG Duke: Say there’s this PG for a major college powerhouse who’s 6’5”, has been an extremely efficient scorer for 4 years running, is averaging over 6 APG with an A/TO close to 5 and has defensive numbers that are weak, but not terrible. That would sound like a pretty darn good prospect, right? I guess he would if he also weren’t that skinny guy from Duke who was the 3rd or 4th option on underachieving teams the past 3 seasons. Scheyer isn’t a typical prospect, but he bears watching. He switched to PG for his final year and has found his place. As a low-mistake, pass-first, efficient-scoring PG with good size he seems like a lock for the lottery. I’m a little queasy about pushing too far though. He’s just so atypical for a prospect that it may take another month or so for me to wrap my head around what he exactly is. I’m going to leave him here for now, but he could easily fly up the list if he keeps his play at this level.
40. Mark Payne, PG-F UC-Davis
41. Darington Hobson, PG-F New Mexico: Both players are 6’7” and listed as guards. Both lead their team in assists with an A/TO any PG would be proud of. Both have emerged as solid prospects in the early going this year and merit special consideration because they’re 6’7” PGs. Both are juniors. Hobson needs to improve his scoring efficiency. Payne plays for a small college and that’s always a tough jump to make.
42. Damion James, PF Texas
43. Luke Harangody, PF Notre Dame: Not similar players, but similar situations. Both are seniors whose strongest skill is rebounding, though Harangody’s rebounding is down some this year. Both have inefficient offensive games. For both players their eventual draft position will likely hinge on whether they show they can drill an NBA 3-pointer fairly consistently.
44. James Anderson, SG Oklahoma State
45. Jimmer Fredette, PG BYU
46. Aubrey Coleman, SG Houston
47. Omar Samhan, C St. Mary’s
48. Epke Udoh, C Baylor
49. Landry Fields, SF Stanford
50. Dominique Jones, G South Florida
51. Manny Harris, SG Michigan
52. Nate Rohnert, PG Denver
53. Larry Saunders, PF Virginia Commonwealth
54. Marshon Brooks, SG Providence
55. Jerome Jordan, C Tulsa
56. Damian Saunders, F Duquense
57. Jeremy Lin, PG Harvard
58. Quincy Pondexter, SF Washington
59. Patrick Christopher, SG California
60. Stanley Robinson, SF Connecticut: Juniors and seniors of some ability. They’re all longshots at this point. All, except for Jordan, have started the season strong and bear watching. The problem with juniors and seniors is if they haven’t distinguished themselves in two seasons, they face an uphill climb to get noticed by scouts who focus most of their attention on freshmen and the sophomores who returned. The other problem is the cruel fact that if a player takes 3 or 4 years to stand out, it is often because he’s just not that good. A few of these players will move up quite a bit as the year progresses. Some will pass the group of frosh and sophs listed above the. Others will fall off the list. It is still early in the process.