Right now I would rank the 2010 class as below-average. The potential at this point would rank somewhere between weak and slightly above-average at this point. I could see as many as 9 impact players in this group. But none is a sure thing and if they all come up short, as is the case more often than not, it will be a very weak draft. The strength of this draft will be the forwards, be they power, combo or small. They’re a strong group that could get stronger if some emerging players keep their current pace. The perimeter players are a weak group. There’s no depth at PG behind Wall. There are a few intriguing SGs behind Turner, but most are the usual upperclassmen suspects.
These rankings are for at this point in the season and should be considered fluid. Think of these rankings like a marathon at the 15-mile mark. There is a group of 4 packed tightly at the front. DeMarcus Cousins has a slight lead and will probably toss a forearm shiver at anyone who tries to pass him. Wall had an early lead, but the others have caught him. Now they’re wondering if he has another sprint in him. The 3 others are surprised to find Turner running with them, but the longer he keeps up, the more obvious it is that he belongs. Aldrich could win the race by default if the top 4 all fade. Greg Monroe has found his stride. I think you get the idea. What I’m trying to say with this stupid marathon metaphor is don’t consider these anything close to a final ranking.
1. DeMarcus Cousins, C Kentucky: Potentially a dominant big man and those guys almost always have to be ranked at the top. I think you’d have to go back to Shaq to find a freshman who scored and rebounded at a pace like this. Now Cousins isn’t the player Shaq was, but he is the most promising prospect in this group at this point in the season. The most impressive thing about Cousins in January was the way he improved the little things in his game. He is missing fewer shots and committing fewer TOs. He still has a little way to go in some areas and isn’t as solid as some other prospects, but his upside is so strong that he has to rank #1.
2. Derek Favors, PF Georgia Tech: With freshmen we’re never quite sure about them until they get it done against the best teams. After struggling in a couple of early conference games, Favors has adjusted and gotten things going again. Come draft day he could become a low-maintenance/high character alternative to Cousins should a team like the Wizards be faced with a decision between the two.
3. Evan Turner, SG-SF Ohio State: Came back early from the injury and pretty much picked up where his POY-caliber season left off. I think we can safely say Evan Turner is for real.
4. John Wall, PG Kentucky: Wall’s RSB40 headed south quickly in January and his efficiency wasn’t too good either. Wall has a ton of talent and could easily get himself back to the top of the draft. He is the top PG by a wide margin. But cracks in his game are starting to show.
5. Cole Aldrich, C Kansas: Starting to get back to where he was and, considering his history, I feel comfortable moving him back into the top 5.
6. Ed Davis, PF North Carolina: Had a rough month. He missed a game with an injured ankle, struggled some with shooting and fouls. It isn’t good for him that his team is underachieving their way to the NIT. The next two months would be a good time for Davis to step up and put this team on his back. The days where he was the young supporting player with great per minute numbers are gone. He needs to step into the role of star.
7. Wesley Johnson, SF Syracuse
8. Greg Monroe, PF-C Georgetown: Might finally be putting it all together. In games against Villanova and Rutgers this month he was dominant. As a freshman his problem was weak rebounding numbers. He seems to have corrected that this year. Early on this season he was struggling to get his FG pct. above .500. In January he hit 59% on 2-pointers.
9. Hassan Whiteside, PF-C Marshall: Whiteside is swatting shots at a rate rarely seen before. At 8.5 blocks per 40 minutes he is up there with the most prolific ever. That number will almost certainly decline as the year goes on, but the fact that he’s doing something at a historic level as a freshman is very impressive. The other numbers are a mixed bag. He is a good rebounder though and that’s a great start. Right now he needs to refine the rough edges in his game. Whiteside is a player with great upside, but any team drafting him should be ready to invest a season or so of developmental time.
10. Robbie Hummel, SF Purdue: This ranking could end up looking silly, as few others even have Hummel ranked. The numbers say this is a good prospect and he needs to start getting some props. Going into the season Hummel needed to show he could score more often. He’s done that, netting over 20 points per 40 minutes and improving his efficiency while doing so. His other numbers are strong enough that calling him a legit lottery pick isn’t a stretch at all. Other than Johnson, Hummel is the only SF out there with no weaknesses.
11. Dominique Jones, G South Florida: Rocketed himself into the lottery by averaging almost 30 PPG in January with little or no decline in his other numbers. Along with James Anderson he has broken from the pack of SGs and emerged as a legit #1 draft pick.
12. James Anderson, SG Oklahoma State: The 3-pointer isn’t falling as often this year, but all his other numbers are improved. Because 3-pointers can be streaky and he has put up a .379 and .408 in previous seasons I’m guessing this is just a cold streak that he’ll snap out of.
13. Paul George, SG-SF Fresno State: George has done everything he needed to do this season including become more aggressive on offense, cut his TOs and improved his 2-point FG pct. He isn’t the scorer that Jones and Anderson are yet, but he might have a higher upside than either.
14. Xavier Henry, SG Kansas: Fell into a nasty shooting slump, about 30%, in January, with his 2-point shots doing most of the bricking. His other numbers are still strong, so for now I’m not going to drop him too far. The problem is he has gone from being the Jayhawk’s first option to the third, so it may take until next year before he gets back to where he needs to be. That’s one of the perils of playing on a loaded roster.
15. Elias Harris, SF Gonzaga:
16. Marcus Morris, SF Kansas: Similar players. Young SFs whose strengths are scoring and rebounding. Both have poor passing and defensive numbers, but are young enough that there is some room for improvement.
17. Dexter Pittman, C Texas: Did not have a good month as old troubles with fouls and TOs returned to plague him. It doesn’t help his case that he gets jerked on and off the court so frequently. Right now Pittman looks like a player who can provide an NBA team with some strong, but limited minutes inside. That’s a pretty valuable thing and it should keep him in round 1.
18. El-Farouq Aminu, F Wake Forest: There are some obvious skills here. The problem is he still isn’t a strong enough inside scorer to play PF at the next level and he’s too TO-prone to play the perimeter. 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, hit an occasional outside shot and is OK on defense.
19. Jarvis Vanardo, PF Mississippi State: The big thing Varnado has done this year is become a more dominant rebounder. He’s probably just an energy player at this point, but that isn’t a bad thing.
20. Kyle Singler, SF Duke: Struggling with his efficiency more so than ever this year. That has been a nagging problem with Singler for his entire career and it is at the point now where I have to concede that I probably had him rated too high for the past couple of years.
21. Epke Udoh, C Baylor: Udoh is a good, multi-skilled player. I’m not buying into him as a lottery pick, because his inside scoring is weak.
22. Solomon Alabi, C Florida State: He’s gotten himself to the point where he meets all the minimum stat levels required for a center prospect. That makes him a backup at this point.
23. Landry Fields, SF Stanford
24. Quincy Pondexter, SF Washington: A pair of PAC-10 seniors who have risen out of obscurity to become prospects in their final college seasons. Whether this is due to hard work on their part or the fact that the PAC-10 is suddenly a mid-major needs to be investigated. Both still have some weaknesses in their games, but both have put themselves in the first round discussion.
25. Luke Babbitt, F Nevada: Babbitt is becoming a force on offense. Enough so that he has to be considered one of the top combo forwards out there. Defense is still substandard, but is much improved over last season.
26. Jamar Samuels, SF Kansas State: The best prospect on this team. So far his numbers are pretty solid in limited minutes. As he gets more PT and K-State continues to be a top 10 force, he could well shoot up in the mocks.
27. Elliott Williams, G Memphis: This transfer worked out very well for the player.
28. Patrick Patterson, F Kentucky: Patterson is having his poorest season statistically, but is actually getting more buzz. This isn’t totally crazy, as his 3-point shot is starting to fall for the first time and that’s an important thing for a tweener forward. But he’s being given way too much respect by the mocks and is certain to slide back into the 15-20 range before the draft.
29. Avery Bradley, PG Texas: Hard to make a case for him as anything other than a prospect to watch. He has PG size, but isn’t anywhere near mastering that position. He has had an occasional scoring outburst, but his overall numbers are weak.
30. Chris Singleton, F Florida State:
31. Damian Saunders, F Duquense: A couple of big SFs putting up impressive numbers in rebounds, blocks and steals. Both need to score more often and more efficiently in order to show they’re something more than another Renaldo Balkman.
32. Devin Ebanks, SF West Virginia: The thing with the great athletes and physical specimens is eventually they have to step up and put up numbers that help their teams become successful. Ebanks is still just another guy with great upside who hasn’t figured out how to turn that into production.
33. Miles Plumlee, PF Duke: He’s only playing 19 minutes per game, but his per minute numbers and percentages are pretty solid. I’d like to see what he could do with more PT, but that doesn’t seem to happen with big guys at Duke.
34. Corey Fisher, PG Villanova: Probably the next best PG after Wall. Fisher isn’t flashy or dominating, but he’s a good, smart player who gets the job done on both ends of the court.
35. Mark Payne, PG-F UC-Davis: As he continues to score often and efficiently and his 3-pointer continues to fall Payne becomes harder to ignore as a prospect.
36. Aubrey Coleman, SG Houston: Scores a ton of points and does so without the high TOs that often accompany such numbers. He’s also a solid defender. His big negative is he just can’t get his efficiency numbers to an acceptable level.
37. Greivis Vasquez, PG Maryland: Checking in with his best season, which is a good thing since this is also his final season. The assists, steals and 3-point shooting are all improved. He’s still an inefficient scorer and that is going to hurt his chances.
38. D’Sean Butler, SF West Virginia
39. Jimmy Butler, G-F, Marquette: Butler has been one of the most efficient scorers in the nation with a 1.95 PPS. He also has solid passing and defensive numbers. He doesn’t score the 20.0 points per 40 minutes that has been a requirement for successful SGs. Since this is his first season as a go-to guy, that might eventually happen.
40. Manny Harris, SG Michigan
41. Trevor Booker, F Clemson: There are some obvious weaknesses here. He’s listed at 6’7” and plays PF. There is some evidence he can play some SF though. Booker is going to be a tough call. I like him so much as a player that it might be hard for me too look at him objectively. His numbers are strong, but at 6’7” and being basically a PF, he’s up against it.
42. Marshon Brooks, SG Providence: Brooks is a player to watch. His numbers are very good, but something doesn’t feel right about them. Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t get to the line enough or maybe Providence plays at a fast pace. More investigation is required with this guy.
43. Damion James, F Texas: In January he had 2 assists and 19 TOs, dropping his season A/TO to 0.33. That would kill him as a prospect. He’s been better in the past, but my concern is that in his role as the lead dog he isn’t looking for his teammates at all.
44. Larry Saunders, PF-C Virginia Commonwealth: Numbers just aren’t all that special considering the level of competition.
45. Jeremy Lin, PG Harvard: Might be more of a combo guard, because his strengths are scoring and defense. He has played some strong games against major conference teams this year, but delivered a clunker in a recent game against Cornell that was for Ivy supremacy.
46. Omar Samhan, C St. Mary’s: One of the few returning centers who has actually stepped up his game. Nothing more than a backup, but should get drafted.
47. Kemba Walker, PG Connecticut: Walker might take another season to put it all together, but there’s reason to believe he’s a pretty strong prospect. The only issue he has is getting his shot to fall more consistently. If he can do that, he’ll become a decent prospect. Or maybe I’m just grasping at straws in a very weak PG class.
48. Jimmer Fredette, PG BYU: Good player. He does all the PG things very well. RSB40 is a tad low and that drops him down some.
49. Willie Warren, G Oklahoma: I’m not on board with the buzz over Warren. His defensive numbers are weak and his scoring is off slightly this year.
50. Luke Harangody, PF Notre Dame: Basically the same player that has been here for 4 years now. Lots of points and rebounds, but the percentages and defense drag him down.
51. Lasan Kromah, George Washington: A freshman I find myself liking quite a bit. He needs to score more frequently, but that has been difficult while playing in a system that balances playing time and opportunities.
52. JaMychal Green, PF Alabama: Hasn’t stepped up the way I thought he might this year. Just a sophomore, Green is looking like a 4-year project.
53. Terrico White, SG Mississippi
54. Jon Scheyer, PG Duke: Numbers have returned to normal after his crazy start. Weak defensive numbers hurt him, but I think there’s still enough here to keep him in the top 60.
55. Klay Thompson, SG Washington State
56. Kim English, SG Missouri: A couple of soph SGs with good size and skills. They both need to start scoring more efficiently before they’re serious prospects.
57. Darington Hobson, PG-F New Mexico
58. Devan Downey, SG South Carolina: Mad bomber, but a willingness to fire away without a conscience is a skill in itself. He also has strong defensive skills for small guy and that makes him more valuable than other small players. He hasn’t been much of a PG this year, but in the past he has put up some stellar passing numbers.
59. Jerome Jordan, C Tulsa: Jordan has always looked like the typical 3rd-string NBA center. Low minutes, sticks around the league a long time due to his height and is often the most joked about player on the team by snarky media types. He is still probably there, but his numbers are down this year.
60. Stanley Robinson, SF Connecticut: Seems like a good candidate for a mention at #60. Solid senior, having his best season, but doesn’t quite measure up in a strong class of forwards.