Lance Stephenson

Ross Geiger’s 2010-2011 Most Underrated Rookie Team

Eric Bledsoe will be the best of the two Clippers' rookies

PG: Eric Bledsoe, Los Angeles Clippers

Obviously, Bledsoe starts the year off as the primary backup point guard for the LA Clippers. But he’s only just one Baron Davis-injury-away from becoming LA’s starting point guard. While we wish Baron the best for a completely healthy upcoming season, Clippers fans have a lot to look forward to in Bledsoe. At Kentucky, he flew below the radar and was overshadowed by fellow Wildcat John Wall. After Wall was selected first overall in the 2010 draft, Bledsoe was the definite best available point guard in this year’s draft class. He’s got the size, strength, quickness, and a springy step to his compliment his on court play. Often compared to Marcus Banks, I believe NBA scouts set the bar pretty low for Bledsoe as I see him easily being able to surpass Banks’s career.

Pacers coaches will have to keep a close eye on Stephenson

SG: Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers

Despite his demeanor and off the court troubles, Stephenson’s game is very underrated. He proved that this summer in Orlando Summer League as he showed his potential at both the point guard and shooting guard positions. If not for his off-the-court behavior, Stephenson is a definite lock as a first round pick. While he didn’t overly impress anyone at the college level, Stephenson’s style suits the NBA level of play better. Already in legal trouble even before the start of his rookie season, Stephenson’s NBA career remains in question. But one thing’s for certain, behavior aside, Stephenson is absolutely a second round steal that could become a very successful player in this league.

Pondexter's game will definitely be elevated behind the play of CP3

SF: Quincy Pondexter, New Orleans Hornets

To begin the season, Pondexter likely will be buried deep on the Hornets’ depth chart, but by the end of the season watch him find some minutes. With the Hornets’ offseason acquisition of Trevor Ariza, Pondexter’s best bet is to battle for time at the shooting guard position. His competition for backup time is Marco Belinelli, a player who seems he just can’t transition his promising Summer League games to the NBA’s main stage. After getting a good look at Pondexter in Las Vegas, I like the potential I see in him becoming a solid pro.

Caracter is in a great spot with the back-to-back champs

PF: Derrick Caracter, Los Angeles Lakers

Coming off a very impressive and productive Las Vegas Summer League performance, Derrick Caracter’s stock has definitely soared. Moving forward Caracter is in a great position with the LA Lakers. They have no expectations for him next season, no pressure to produce, and he’ll be practicing against some of the best bigs in the business: Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Theo Ratliff, and Pau Gasol. Each of these guys can offer experiences, skills, and a give Caracter a lesson on how he can find his niche in the NBA. More likely than not, Caracter will be that young guy that comes in a blowout and goes to work hard, impressing on National TV coverage. He’ll let the world know who he is and what he has to offer in the near future.

Lean, Mean, Shot Blocking Machine

C: Hassan Whiteside, Sacramento Kings

When it comes to Hassan Whiteside it’s all about the “what could be”. He’s been my favorite prospect in the past draft class and continues to keep me wondering how good he actually may become. Going into his first year he’s got a lot of obstacles and challenges that await. I’ve talked with a variety of sources that have seen Whiteside and the majority of them give me negative feedback. But I remain on the other side of the fence with Whiteside. He’s young, he’s unpolished, and isn’t ready to step out on the court for consistent contributions, but he’s going to impress once he gets his chances. The majority of his first year will be spent in the Developmental League where he has a chance to grow as pro and develop his defensive minded game. If Whiteside can learn how to be an effective rebounder to go along with his incredible shot blocking ability, he’s going to be an impressive defensive gem down the road.

This is Part 4 of Ross Geiger’s 7-part Blog Series covering the NBA’s most prominent young players. Be sure to be on the lookout for Part 5 that’s coming soon! In the mean time, follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger.

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Ross Geiger’s 2010-2011 All-Rookie First Team

Wall will be well rounded on the nightly stat sheet

PG: John Wall, Washington Wizards

Believe it or not, as good as John Wall is, his numbers will suffer much like the “Miami Heat syndrome”. With both Kirk Hinrich and Gilbert Arenas on board, his numbers across the board may suffer but that’s perfectly okay. Having two solid, veteran guards around the top pick will help develop his overall game and they should help relieve some of the pressure.

’10-’11 Projections: 17.5 ppg, 5 apg, 4 rpg

Could earn a opening night starting nod

SG: Paul George, Indiana Pacers

After watching the Pacers play in Orlando Summer League, I got to say I thought Lance Stephenson would start, but since then a variety of different things took place. The Pacers acquired Darren Collision, Brandon Rush was suspended 5 games, and the biggest issue was of course Stephenson getting in trouble with the law. After digesting all that took place in the course of just one month, it looks as though Paul George will have a nice opportunity to earn the starting shooting guard spot to start off the season. If George does in fact beat out Dahntay Jones for the starting role, expect to see George put up a fairly decent line. The biggest concern with George is retaining some consistency game-to-game he struggled to keep his shooting touch throughout Summer League, but that’s common among many rookies. If he does in fact earn a 1st Team honor at the end of the season, his numbers won’t overly impress you but his value to his team’s success could play a big factor if the Pacers make noise next season.

’10-’11 Projections: 9.5 ppg, 5 rpg, 1.5 apg

Wolves must make room for Johnson to join the starting lineup

SF: Wesley Johnson, Minnesota Timberwolves

Even with the offseason addition of Martell Webster and Michael Beasley, the Wolves will find time for their top pick in Wesley Johnson. Say so long and farewall to former Wolves lotto-pick Corey Brewer, he’ll remain on the trading block until someone bites. Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if David Kahn ends up packaging Kevin Love along with Brewer. Earlier this summer Love told the media he didn’t feel appreciated in Minnesota and he may continue to feel that way if Beasley turns his career around with the Timberwolves. Look for Kurt Rambis to move Beasley to the power forward position, allowing Johnson to operate in the starting small forward role.

’10-’11 Projections: 11.5 pgg, 5.5 rpg, 1.5 apg

Monroe will shine in Detroit, could be the overall team difference maker

PF: Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons

Quite possibly my pick for the 2011 NBA Rookie of the Year, Why? There’s no doubt Greg Monroe will be in the Pistons’ starting five next season. Preferably at the power forward spot, but with Charlie Villanueva on board, it may force Monroe to move to the center. But nonetheless, Monroe was very impressive in Las Vegas Summer League and looks to be a NBA-ready force that can make big contributions during his rookie season. If Monroe can live up to my words, the Pistons might not be so bad after all.

’10-’11 Projections: 14.5 ppg, 7 rpg, 4.5 apg

Cousins will answer all questions on the floor, no need to ask him any

C: DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings

Although the Kings frontcourt is filled with talent, DeMarcus Cousins is the cream of the crop. His size, strength, talent, and potential are unmatched in the post. Much like Tyreke Evans, Cousins should find success as the newest member of the Sacramento Kings. Definitely will be in the Rookie of the Year discussion at the end of the season.

’10-’11 Projections: 16 ppg, 6 rpg, 1 apg

This is Part 3 of Ross Geiger’s 7-part Blog Series covering the NBA’s most prominent young players. Be sure to be on the lookout for Part 2 that’s coming soon! In the mean time, follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger.

The Dilemma

This is not a story about the Indiana Pacers, but allow me to set the scene.

For much of the 2000s, the Indiana Pacers were a force. They were full of hard-nosed guys and talented guys that combined to compete annually for the Eastern Conference Crown against teams like the Pistons. Jermaine O’Neal got most of the publicity as the best player, and Reggie was still there, but it was guys like Jamaal Tinsley, Stephen Jackson, and Ron Artest that gave the Pacers that hard-nosed mentality. They were not the most likable guys, but they won, and they did it their way.

One night in Auburn Hills, things were going to plan. The Pacers had beaten the Pistons down that night and had demoralized them. The result was Ben Wallace shoving Ron Artest followed by the most well-known part of the story. The fire sale of “low-character” players ensued. So did losing. Guys like Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy and most of the other players on the roster were brought in for talent, but with a premium on being high-character. Now whether there is some racism here about white guys being higher character is not part of this discussion, though it is certainly worth a look elsewhere. More likely is that the front office felt this team would appeal to the fans more. Either way, it is beside the point. The Pacers descended into mediocrity, finishing 9th in the East several times without any real chances at moving up. The good guys on the team were not getting it done.

Fast forward to this year’s draft. The Pacers changed course and instead of making the “safe” pick like Tyler Hansbrough, the Pacers most notably went with big-upside-guy Paul George and Lance Stephenson, the talented scorer out of Cincinnati. They both played fairly well in Summer League, but especially Stephenson. It looked like the Pacers had finally taken some risks and they were going to pay off. Stephenson had some off-the-court issues, but if he produced on the floor and stayed out of trouble he would be worth it.

This week, Stephenson was arrested in Brooklyn for pushing his girlfriend down the stairs. The “low-character” tag was sticking, but if he goes out and puts up great numbers and helps the team win, I think, sadly, that no one will care about his issues.

So we reach the question we are here to discuss. Would you rather have a team full of assholes that wins or a team full of great guys who lose? It is a simple question with an answer as elusive as Gale Sayers in the open field. This is a question that can be applied throughout sports, but the Pacers just seemed to display it well. These are clearly not the only types of teams there are, but it is simply an exercise in contrasting the two poles. So where does the answer lie? Both are flawed, but which is better for the franchise?

Success

The edge here obviously goes to the Bad Guys here. I mean, it is right in their title. They win and the Good Guys do not, so that is pretty cut and dried. However, the picture gets cloudier when you look long term. The flaw behind the Bad Guys success is that if they hit a rough patch, no one is willing to give them a break because they are not liked. The players are forced to realize that the fans are rooting for the success, not them individually and no player with character issues likes that. It is a flaw, but not one that can undo the clear fact that one team wins

The Fans

Nothing says "low-character" like shaving your bad rap label into the back of your head

If you win the Championship, all is forgiven by the fans. However, anything short of that and the fans will not be satisfied with guys who don’t seem to care even though they win games. You could see it start to happen in Indiana with the Pacers before the Malice at the Palace sped the process up. The people liked to see the team win, but yearned for someone to throw their support behind, and it was becoming increasingly hard to do when hearing about Jamaal Tinsley’s strip club escapades, Stephen Jackson’s wild west parking lots, and Ron Artest’s general insanity. The fans appreciated the winning, but since they did not have a title, it was not enough. The Bad Guys fell short.

However, the Good Guys do not do much better. When the Bad Guy Pacers were bad guys, people still went to the games and kept money and enthusiasm flowing into the franchise. The Good Guy Pacers lose AND do not put seats in the seats. However, the fans no longer had to hear about all the scandals and on that alone, so it seems the edge goes to the Good Guys here.

Think of it a little like bandwagon fans vs. real fans. Bandwagon fans are fiscally important to every franchise, but will be gone the second the team starts to lose, just like the Bad Guys. After all, bandwagoning starts with winning, and in our little scenario, that is the territory of the Bad Guys. The real fans will never leave, but will also not bring in all the extra cash provided by winning. The edge goes to having the bandwagon fans available, even though we all know they are sniveling suck-ups. Yeah, I said it.

Basically, the fans say they like the Good Guys here, but they always seem to go for the Bad Guys. Score one for them.

Money

Again, the Bad Guys seem to coem out on top here. They might not be the most likable guys, but they can certainly market winning. The Good Guys can support the local scene and be great people, but that does not change the progress on teh court. It is noble work that does not pay off in quite the ways teams would like. The Bad Guys put people in the seats, rack up the advertising involved with winning and take advantage of far more endorsements. The Good Guys do the more meaningful work, but it does not help them in the Money category.

Intangibles

It feels like a blowout, so let’s throw the Good Guys a bone here. They are always the guys labeled “that one missing piece” and the team guys that help things run smoothly. The Bad Guys are the guys the fans groan about when the front office brings them in to complete the team and the Good Guys are the guys that fans salivate about and players look forward to playing with. Ron Artest was one of those rare exceptions where the missing piece was not a high-character guy, but that can be attributed to the structure provided by Kobe and Phil Jackson. The intangibles swing in favor of the Good Guys.

The Catch

The epitome of the shortcomings of the Bad Guys

By my count, that is Bad Guys 3, Good Guys 1, and that 1 is in a less important area than the 3. However, those scores only really make a difference in a vacuum where nothing ever goes sour or things do not happen off the court. I have to admit that the Bad Guys are better for a franchise by every measure so far and if it were just about the things above, I would sacrifice the appeal of the Good Guys to win.

However, here’s the catch. Every franchise that relied on the Bad Guys has fallen hard. The U seems to show this most perfectly. They were a well-oiled football machine that did everything we talked about above to help the franchise. They built a decent program into a machine like few had ever seen. Then, they fell. The program went from the pinnacle to the doldrums, and it was not just on the field. The community was somewhat ashamed of the antics of the players in hindsight, and they realized that nothing they had gotten used to was sustainable because there was not enough character in the locker room. All these programs that depend on the Bad Guys too heavily come crashing down and leave them almost worse off than when they started. In theory a team full of low-character guys could bring in high-character guys to help balance it out, but it seems like franchises do not do that. It is almost like once they choose the low-character guys they have to go all the way with it. They inevitably do, and they inevitably fall. So while the Bad Guys seem to have the advantage, they are not a solution in the long term at all. The Good Guys are certainly frustrating, but they will not lead to a complete collapse.

It really comes down to the question of if you think it is more likely to find Good Guys who can win or Bad Guys who can keep it under control. So which way do we lean between those two flawed groups? You tell us.

Ross Geiger’s NBA Mock Draft 3.0

1. Washington Wizards- John Wall, Kentucky

Oh how a year changes things.

2. Philadelphia 76ers- Evan Turner, Ohio State

3. New Jersey Nets- Wesley Johnson, Syracuse

4. Minnesota Timberwolves- Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech

5. Sacramento Kings- DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky

6. Golden State Warriors- Ekpe Udoh, Baylor

7. Detroit Pistons- Ed Davis, North Carolina

8. Los Angeles Clippers- Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest

9. Utah Jazz- Luke Babbit, Nevada

10. Indiana Pacers- Greg Monroe, Georgetown

11. New Orleans Hornets- Gordon Hayward, Butler

12. Memphis Grizzlies- Paul George, Fresno State

13. Toronto Raptors- Cole Aldrich, Kansas

14. Houston Rockets- Patrick Patterson, Kentucky

15. Milwaukee Bucks- Xavier Henry, Kansas

16. Minnesota Timberwolves- Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati

17. Chicago Bulls- Avery Bradley, Texas

18. Oklahoma City Thunder- Damian James, Texas

19. Boston Celtics- James Anderson, Oklahoma State

20. San Antonio Spurs- Craig Brackens, Iowa State

21. Oklahoma City Thunder- Kevin Seraphin, France

22. Portland Trail Blazers- Hassan Whiteside, Marshall

23. Minnesota Timberwolves- Larry Sanders, VCU

24. Atlanta Hawks- Solomon Alabi, Florida State

Kentucky is well represented in the 1st round.

25. Memphis Grizzlies- Daniel Orton, Kentucky

26. Oklahoma City Thunder- Elliot Williams, Memphis

27. New Jersey Nets- Jordan Crawford, Xavier

28. Memphis Grizzlies- Dominique Jones, South Florida

29. Orlando Magic- Devin Ebanks, West Virginia

30. Washington Wizards- Quincy Pondexter, Washington

31. New Jersey Nets- Keith “Tiny” Gallon, Oklahoma

32. Miami Heat- Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech

33. Sacramento Kings- Ryan Richards, England

34. Portland Trail Blazers- Stanley Robinson, UConn

35. Washington Wizards- Willie Warren, Oklahoma

36. Detroit Pistons- Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky

37. Milwaukee Bucks- Jarvis Varnado, Mississppi State

38. New York Knicks- Terrico White, Mississppi

39. New York Knicks- Trevor Booker, Clemson

40. Indiana Pacers- Da’Sean Butler, West Virginia

Butler was the heart of WVU, and he now goes to the city where Butler University plays ball. Coincidence??? Yes.

41. Miami Heat- Armon Johnson, Nevada

42. Miami Heat- Dexter Pittman, Texas

43. Los Angeles Lakers- Greivis Vasquez, Maryland

44. Milwaukee Bucks- Samardo Samuels, Louisville

45. Minnesota Timberwolves- Nemanja Bjelica, Serbia

46. Phoenix Suns- Thomas Heurtel- France

47. Milwaukee Bucks- Dwyane Collins, Miami

48. Miami Heat- Tibor Pleiss, Germany

Radford is also represented...

49. San Antonio Spurs- Art Parakhouski, Radford

50. Dallas Mavericks- Latavious Williams, USA (D-League)

51. Oklahoma City Thunder- Derrick Caracter, UTEP

52. Boston Celtics- Manny Harris, Michigan

53. Atlanta Hawks- Sylven Landesberg, Virginia

54. Los Angeles Clippers- Sherron Collins, Kansas

55. Utah Jazz- Jon Scheyer, Duke

56. Minnesota Timberwolves- Artem Zabelin, Russia

Looks like Kahn is going to steal Zabelin from Prokorhov

57. Indiana Pacers- Ben Uzoh, Tulsa

58. Los Angeles Lakers- Alexey Shved, Russia

59. Orlando Magic- Mikhail Torrance, Alabama

60. Phoenix Suns- Lazar Hayward, Marquette

Hey, Phoenix! DRAFT ME!!!!!!!!

Ross Geiger’s NBA Mock Draft 2.0

With the 2010 NBA Draft  just 2 weeks away, I give you my updated NBA Mock Draft 2.0. A lot has changed since my first mock draft: NBA Draft Combine was held, team scheduled workouts are underway, and player evaluations have improved. For the past two weeks, I’ve been staying up on my research of the top prospects: from their completed workouts, interested teams, to all the rumors. From everything I’ve compiled through the web, daily newspapers, magazines, and of course my own sources here’s how I feel this year’s NBA Draft will shakedown if the draft were to be held tomorrow. Enjoy!

1. Wizards- This pick is going nowhere, John Wall will be a Washington Wizard next season, I can assure you that.

Selection: John Wall, Kentucky

2. 76ers- As I mentioned in my mock draft, the 76ers aren’t 100% certain they’ll hold onto this pick. There’s definitely a possibility that the #2 pick could be sent away if I the trading partner is willing to take on Elton Brand and his long-term contract. Unless Brand is included in a deal, I see Philly keeping the pick, don’t see them involving Iguodala unless they’ll receive a high 1st round pick in return.

Selection: Evan Turner, Ohio State

3. Nets- There has been some outside interest from around the league regarding their 3rd pick in this year’s draft but as of now don’t expect any deals involving the pick to happen.

Selection:  Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech

That's Right DeMarcus, you're draft stock is rising

4. Minnesota Timberwolves- Minnesota is all but satisfied with this pick and are exploring their options on moving up as well as out of the draft with their fourth pick. With two other first round picks in this year’s draft, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get rid of the 4th pick if the right deal was on the table. The fourth pick is definitely available to all teams, if the price is right. If they don’t move the pick, I now see the Timberwolves selecting DeMarcus Cousins here at #3. Many would scratch their head to where exactly he fits in, but let’s not forget the Wolves kept surprising us last year, stocking up with point guards in each of their three first-round picks. They shipped off one of them in Ty Lawson and I see the selection of Cousins allowing them to ship off either Kevin Love or Al Jefferson (the more likely to be moved).

Selection: DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky

5. Sacramento Kings- Each year it seems like nobody has a clue what the Kings organization has up their sleeve on draft night and once again the NBA world is kept pondering their options here. What I can tell you is that the Sacramento Kings have no interest in trading this pick. The question that remains unknown is whether or not they’d select Greg Monroe over DeMarcus Cousins. While Cousins is regarded as the player with most potential, Monroe is the safe pick who reminds Sac-Town of a young Chris Webber. I see Sacramento not rolling any dice and taking the safe pick with Monroe.

Selection: Greg Monroe, Georgetown

A sign & trade deal could point Wesley Johnson in a different direction come July

6. Golden State Warriors- If Wesley Johnson falls to the Warriors here at #6, there’s no chance they’ll pass him up. But I’m going to throw you a Oakland-like Zito curve ball to ponder, could the Phoenix Suns do a sign-and-trade Amare Stoudemire to Golden State in exchange for Wesley Johnson. No truth behind this happening, but I like the proposition. Amare gets his max contract with a good fit in Golden State, while the Suns get a nice piece to move towards the future with, just saying.

Selection: Wesley Johnson, Syracuse

7. Detroit Pistons- While the Pistons have been reportedly aggressively trying to move up into the 4-5 range, I just don’t see it happening unless they strike a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves. I wouldn’t have the slightest idea what the Pistons would be willing to offer and what the Timberwolves would be willing to accept but I’d say Rodney Stuckey and/or Tayshaun Prince would be included in any deal. If Detroit doesn’t deal, expect them to take Al-Farouq Aminu. He’s a young, up and coming small forward that allows them to continue to shop Tayshaun Prince who they’re more than willing to get off their hands.

Selection: Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest

8. Los Angeles Clippers-Lots of hype around the Web say the Clippers are hot on Gordon Haywood and that isn’t a surprise to me. He’s versatile, he’s a winner, and could pan out to be a great pick, even here as high as eight. I find their interest in Hayward comical because I see a lot of Mike Dunleavy in Gordon Hayward as an NBA prospect. Hayward will definitely be mentioned inside the Clippers draft room when on the clock but in the end I see them passing on him and going with Xavier Henry instead.

Selection: Xavier Henry, Kansas

9. Utah Jazz- ESPN’s Chad Ford wrote that the Utah Jazz have been high on Luke Babbit longer than most and they’ve continue to remain high on his potential. But do I really see them using their 9th pick on Babbit? Absolutely not, maybe this is just my own bias here, being that I’m not high on Babbitt as a top ten pick, but I see the Jazz going power forward. They know they’re losing Carlos Boozer this summer so why not go with a power forward with high potential to back-up the new starting power forward in Utah, Paul Millsap? I see Jerry Sloan and the Utah Jazz taking none other than Ed Davis as big with a high potential and basketball intellect.

Selection: Ed Davis, North Carolina

10. Indiana Pacers- Maybe the scenario is too perfect but if Gordon Hayward is still on the board, we all know the talk will be how in the world could Indiana pass up on him? I see them buying into the idea of selecting him for a variety of reasons. Not only will he help sell seats and be a great fit building toward the future, but it gives the Pacers the ability to unload Danny Granger. I remain high on the idea that the Timberwolves will strike out in snagging restricted free agent Rudy Gay and will elect to trade for Danny Granger. Pacers then get either Kevin Love or Al Jefferson in return which replaces departing free agent Troy Murphy (after next year) and they’re future finally gets on the right track.

Selection: Gordon Hayward, Butler

N.O. could be a perfect fit especially as Whiteside draws the Tyson Chandler comparisons

11. New Orleans Hornets- The Hornets could go any direction outside of drafting a point guard at the eleventh position. But of all their immediate needs, I see them selecting a center with this pick. With Okafor everything but impressive in his first season with the Hornets, it’d be wise that they take the opportunity to draft a big man to develop. If there was a time to do it, the time is now. This year’s draft at pick #11 offers a variety of attractive centers that could potentially blossom into stars. The three top candidates for this pick if they decide to look inside would be Cole Aldrich, Hassan Whiteside, and Daniel Orton. Though it’s pretty clear that Aldrich is the most NBA-ready center to step right in to contribute I see the Hornets drafting on overall potential and athleticism. With that being said, I see New Orleans taking Hassan Whiteside, a prospect often compared to Tyson Chandler type player around the basket. Last time I checked, Chris Paul played pretty well with the real Tyson Chandler, maybe Whiteside can tandem to do much of the same down the road. But there is some definite concern, it has been reported that Hassan Whiteside and Daniel Orton both got schooled recently by Rockets center (& former Hornet draftee) Hilton Armstrong, take it for what it’s worth. I know that hearing that kind of concerns me, but I’m still a buyer on Whiteside’s potential.

Selection: Hassan Whiteside, Marshall

12. Memphis Grizzlies- I don’t hear much drift out of the Memphis Grizzlies camp but credible sources around the league have said that the Grizzlies are set on selecting Luke Babbitt if he happens to fall into their hands at twelve. Personally, I don’t like the pick nor Babbitt as an NBA prospect, but this is the same team that drafted Hasheem Thabeet 2nd overall last year.

Selection: Luke Babbitt, Nevada

How is he not a perfect fit in Toronto if he falls to them at #13? Can he play for the Maple Leafs too?

13. Toronto Raptors- With Chris Bosh departing, drafting a power forward is a must for the Toronto Raptors this year.  Or do they? Last year Toronto signed their former first pick Andrea Bargnani to a 5 year, $50 million dollar extension. If Cole Aldrich is still on the board, I see them picking him in a heartbeat; they’d not only select the most NBA-ready talent, but add toughness at the center position. This selection is also key in allowing Bargnani to move over to the starting power forward position. Obviously losing Bosh will be a huge loss, but having the ability to take Aldrich with the 13th pick should help Raptor fans restore some sort of optimism looking towards the future.

Selection: Cole Aldrich, Kansas

14. Houston Rockets- Even after acquiring Jordan Hill near the deadline last season, the Rockets need to invest in drafting another power forward to turn too next year. I see their man being Ekpe Udoh at #14. Udoh bring the long, defensive minded power forward they’d love to have down low. Never underestimate Rockets GM Darryl Morey and his “numbers” system, Udoh might solve his math problem with what to do at the 14th pick.

Selection: Ekpe Udoh, Baylor

15. Milwaukee Bucks- If all goes as planned in this mock draft, the Bucks are left scratching their heads on what to do here with this pick. All of their favorite prospects have been taken, not one of them has slid down to them at the midway point of the draft. Even I, as someone who covers the Milwaukee Bucks am left confused on what to do here with Ed Davis, Hassan Whiteside, and Xavier Henry off the board. So I see them taking the best available player which at this point is easily Paul George. While George is labeled a small forward, I think the Bucks would experiment with placing George at the shooting guard position since it’s such a slight change as far as the Milwaukee Bucks offense is concerned. George could very well end up being a blessing in disguise for the Brew City, could it be two straight years of successful draft picks for the Milwaukee Bucks?! We’ll have to wait and see….

Selection: Paul George, Fresno State

Ross Geiger’s 2010 NBA Mock Draft

2010 NBA Mock Draft (1 Month before Draft Day)

Wall definitely holds all the "Wizardry" that's needed to become a star in the NBA

1. Washington Wizards- John Wall

One of the most hyped up draft picks in recent history, John Wall has a lot challenges awaiting him in D.C., but behind the luck of Mr. Abe Polin’s championship ring Wall is everything the Wizards organization could ever ask for. Skills aside, his marketability alone will help change the face and image of the Wizards’ franchise as it moves forward from their past nightmare of a season. While I feel as though, Wall maybe a little overhyped, my only concern with his development are those influences around him. Being so young is great, but the Wizards must keep a close eye out on Wall, keeping him on his steady path towards being successful. Wall in Washington offers a variety of challenges on and off the basketball court, hopefully he can keep a level head, stay smart, and can continually grow as a professional. With Gilbert Arenas and Josh Howard on board, the smartest thing the Wizards could do is go grab a long-time veteran point guard that can lead Wall by example. A great example of this can be seen with the Chicago Bulls going out and grabbing Lindsay Hunter when the Bulls drafted Derrick Rose, a player Wall is often compared too.

This Year's National Player of the Year

2. Philadelphia 76ers- Evan Turner

It’ll be interesting to see what shakes down next season in Philly. Turner very well could be the key to the 76ers being able to make some trades. Many are already pondering whether or not Turner and Andre Iguodala can coexist together. While I think they can definitely work together I wouldn’t be surprised to see Philly keeping Iguodala out on the trading block. One team that really stands out as a possible trading partner would be the Memphis Grizzlies. If the Grizzlies are unable to resign Rudy Gay, they may be interested in acquiring Iguodala, a player so similar to Gay that it wouldn’t be a completely change in offensive strategies next year in Memphis. The 76ers can’t go wrong with drafting Turner, from his overall potential to the decisions he immediately allows the franchise to make, this great situation for both Turner and the 76ers.

3. New Jersey Nets- Derrick Favors

So what if the New Jersey Nets weren’t rewarded with the first overall pick for their horrendous play last season, this very well could be a blessing in disguise. Drafting Derrick Favors is the best fit for New Jersey anyways. Drafting Wall would’ve led to having to make a tough decision on Devin Harris’s future with the franchise, Favors on the other hand, helps them avoid the unneeded headache. He’ll compliment Brook Lopez very well and gives them a drastic improvement at the power forward position. For Favors there’s not a better situation available, if all goes as planned he should be a starter from jump. He’ll be given plenty of minutes and will have the chance to gain valuable exposure and experience; Nets fans should be looking forward to the progression he’ll make immediately. Looking down the road, I like Yi Jianlian being my sixth man off the bench, a foreigner whose not always consistent but should be much better off not having to deal with as much expectations. Derrick will do both the Nets and Yi a big Favor (pun intended) even as a rookie.

4. Minnesota Timberwolves- Wesley Johnson

With the Timberwolves under the leadership of General Manager David Kahn, you never quite know what to expect on draft night as we all found out this past year. Despite what many mock drafts around the Web suggest, I’m not so sure the Timberwolves take Johnson here. Even before NBA draft workouts, my gut tells me not to count out the Timberwolves selecting DeMarcus Cousins. Whether or not Kahn decides to pull the trigger on Cousins depends on how patient he’s willing to be. Earlier this past season, the Timberwolves and Pacers came extremely close on deal that would’ve sent Al Jefferson to Indiana in exchange for Danny Granger. Cousins is often compared to Al Jefferson in terms of size and abilities. It’s not out of the question that Kahn selects Cousins, then attempts to pull the deal for Granger offering up Al Jefferson and Corey Brewer. This trade would immediately improve both teams, the only road block that may stand in the way is Pacers forward Troy Murphy. But for the Timberwolves, adding Cousins and Granger instantaneously makes them no laughing matter next season. Don’t forget that the sooner the Timberwolves become successful, the sooner Ricky Rubio may decide it’s time make the move over to the join the team. But that’s a lot of speculation on my part and until the draft talk continues to heat up I’ll stand pat with the majority of mock drafts and take Wesley Johnson here at number four.

Whichever team takes Cousins must monitor the amount of times he calls to order pizza

5. Sacramento Kings- DeMarcus Cousins

The last thing the Sacramento Kings need is another young big man, but unfortunately for them, the best players availiable are in face big men. Sac-Town will choose between taking DeMarcus Cousins or Greg Monroe here at five. With the Maloof brothers all to familiar with gambling owning their luxurious Palms hotel in Las Vegas, I got to say they’ll go with Cousins. His definitely the risky selection but I see his overall potential too hard to pass up. As Jason Thompson continues to develop, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to take Greg Monroe here, even when he’s by far the safest pick. You cannot have Thompson coming off your bench, especially now that they have sixth man of the year candidate Carl Landry after the trade with Houston. If Cousins can live up to his potential, stay in shape, and improve his game the it’s scary to envision what Sacramento’s future may have in store with the combination of Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins.

6. Golden State Warriors- Greg Monroe

Monroe has arguably has the highest basketball IQ out of all the projected lottery picks. After snagging the very intelligent basketball player in Stephen Curry in last year’s draft, it makes perfect sense to put Monroe alongside their future point guard. The two would work very well together, having too very young and wise talents inside and outside. If Anthony Randolph can bounce back from injury, the Warriors future big three can consist of Curry, Randolph, and Monroe.

7. Detroit Pistons- Cole Aldrich

The Pistons desperately need a big man and Cole Adrich is the next best option left on the board once Cousins and Monroe are off the board. A good shot blocker, Aldrich can continue to help Detroit basketball have a strong defensive presence down low. This year the Pistons went with Ben Wallace as their starting center and Big Ben has just never been the same since deciding to leave Detroit to sign with Chicago a few years back. Aldrich is Mo-Town’s new future at the center position.

8. Los Angeles Clippers- Al-Farouq Aminu

Considering that the Clippers traded away Al Thornton, it makes me feel much better predicting them to take Aminu here at number seven. I realize they have Travis Outlaw and I’d fully expect him to fulfill the team’s starting role, but Aminu will be their work in progress. I see Aminu being a instant energy guy coming off the Clipper bench next season and a guy you can count on taking over in the next couple years to go along with Blake Griffin

9. Utah Jazz- Patrick Patterson

With the likely departure of Carlos Boozer, Patterson would be a nice addition to the Jazz young core group of guys. The Jazz main concern will be his ability to knock down the open mid-range jump shots that are very important in the two-man game with Deron Williams. But Patterson’s lack of a NBA ready jumpshot should be the least of Utah’s concerns, he posses a lot of intangibles you just can’t teach. He has soft hands and even more importantly a high basketball IQ, something that will go a long way with Head Coach Jerry Sloan.

The Pacers most likely regret trading away Jerryd Bayles, their 2008 draft pick, Bradley has the same type of game as Bayless

10. Indiana Pacers- Avery Bradley

While Xavier Henry most likely is the best player availiable on the board, they Pacers don’t need another shooting guard, they need somebody to fill the void at the point guard position. Bradley isn’t close to ready to handle the starting duties, but can be immediate spark plug the Pacers are missing. One of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, Avery won’t help them improve in that department but in the NBA if you cannot play defense, you can always try to out score opponents. Avery has a knack for putting the ball in the basket and can contribute some points off the bench.

11. New Orleans Hornets- Xavier Henry

The New Orleans Hornets had a very successful draft night last year, adding Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton both whom raised eyebrows throughout the league with their rookie season performances. Henry is a deadly shooter who can do all the things Morris Peterson isn’t able to do anymore. This young prospect has the size and strength to play both the shooting guard and the small forward position which is extremely valuable to the Hornets. Next season they’ll look to play point guards Paul and Collison at the same time and being able to place Henry in that small forward can help both of the Hornets’ penetrating point guards tally up some assists with his perimeter game.

12. Memphis Grizzlies- Paul George

The issue isn’t whether or not Rudy Gay decides to stay because George will be a work in progress throughout his entire rookie season. But his upside is worthy of being selected at number 12. He’s long, athletic, and has a quick release on his shot. If selected by the Grizzlies, he may find a few spots minutes to prove his rookie worth but don’t expect to see him out on the floor much more than Suns fans saw Earl Clark this season.

13. Toronto Raptors- Donatas Motiejunas

With Chris Bosh leaving soon, the Raptors definitely need to add a big man here. Though Ed Davis and Ekpe Udoh remain on the board, I see Bryan Colangelo intrigued by the Motiejunas who has all the potential to make him a steal at pick 13. Always the biggest concern with young international players is whether or not they’ll be able to fully transition their games to the NBA style of play. In Toronto, Motiejunas has best chance to transition his game moderately fast with a team consisting of many international sensations with the likes of Jose Calderon, Hedo Turkoglu, Marco Belinelli, and Andrea Bargnani (the player Motiejunas is often compared to).

Whiteside's Size & Length is Unmatched

14. Houston Rockets- Hassan Whiteside

Unfortunately it looks as though my favorite draft prospect won’t be available when it comes time for the Milwaukee Bucks to be on the clock. The Houston Rockets would get a steal here if Whiteside happens to fall into their laps at 14. I start salivating just hearing the comparisons of Whiteside being a young, raw talent that is comparable to Marcus Camby. He would be a good fit in Houston due in large part that he won’t be expected to contribute much his rookie season. So if you’re an NBA fan looking to catch a glimpse of Whiteside, get to the game when the gates open up one and half hours before game time, you can be sure he’ll be putting in a lot of work in pregame workouts. If Whiteside pans out to be just 70% of the player he has the potential to become, this selection will be well worth it.

15. Milwaukee Bucks- Ed Davis

While I’d love to see Bucks General Manager John Hammond and the Bucks attempt to trade up for the rights to Hassan Whiteside, I see them ultimately sticking with their pick here at 15. That pick is looking like it’ll be Ed Davis, the power forward out of North Carolina. My favorite description of Davis can be seen on NBADraft.net where these words fall under his strengths section: “live” legs, high motor, excellent touch, and tremendous footwork for his age. Then one last description on Davis drops louder than a bomb in the eyes of anybody who understand the Milwaukee Bucks team mentality: He “does not have a superstar attitude, he has a workman’s approach to the game that is refreshing to see.” The Bucks will love every bit of that characteristic, the thought of developing two gym rats in Brandon Jennings at point and Ed Davis down low could definitely be something to look forward to in the future.

16. Minnesota Timberwolves- Ekpe Udoh

Udoh can help add to the Timberwolves strength down low. He’s a tremendous shot blocker and should end being more of a defensive minded player in the NBA. Udoh could learn a lot practicing with Kevin Love and Al Jefferson on a daily basis.

Anderson's Stroke is a Thing of Beauty from the Outside

17. Chicago Bulls- James Anderson

Could end up being of the better steals in the draft if he does slide past the lottery picks. Anderson brings the outside shooting presence that the Bulls lacked all season long from the perimeter. Don’t sleep on the Big 12 player of the year who averaged 22.3 points last season, he offers a lot of upside, and would fit in nicely in Chicago.

18. Miami Heat- Damion James

Considering that Heat only have five players under contract next season, the possibilities at this pick are endless. The Heat’s hope is to sign a big name PF/C and hope to also persuade Dwyane Wade to remain with them as well. So I’d see the Heat looking to add a small forward with high energy. Big 12 Conference’s all time leading rebounder fits the profile and is one of the more athletically gifted talents available in this draft. The Heat wouldn’t go wrong with taking James here at 18, even when many NBA analysts may find this a little too high for James.

19. Boston Celtics- Larry Sanders

Who knows how many more seasons Kevin Garnett’s knees can handle. Sanders is a very late bloomer who never played organized basketball until the 10th grade. A very strong defensive player, Sanders could learn a lot from of the best defensive power forwards in the business in Garnett. He has a lot of room for growth and could end becoming a very solid player in this league.

Hayward may rock a very similar black and silver jersey soon in San Antonio

20. San Antonio Spurs- Gordon Hayward

Though I must say it’s hard picturing Hayward in a Spurs uniform, I think he’d be a nice pick here at 20 for the Spurs. He provide a little bit of everything and could potentially be a huge boost of the Spurs bench. With Richard Jefferson, all but impressive after his first year with the Spurs, Hayward might find a fair amount of time to play. If I’m Gregg Popovich, I love having to young talents in Hayward and DeJuan Blair to turn too off the bench.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder- Luke Babbitt

We’ll just have to wait and see how Babbitt’s future pans out in the NBA but if it’s anything like it’s projected to be, the Thunder have find another great piece that fits with their future. Babbitt at 6’9 is a lethal shooter with the ability to play both the small forward and power forward positions. For his own sake, he better prepare to play the power forward position with Kevin Durant occupying the majoring of the small forward minutes. Realistically, if Babbit lands in Oklahoma City I see him being a bonafide sixth man that could potentially be a sixth man award candidate down the road.

22. Portland Trail Blazers- Kevin Seraphin

It’d be silly for Portland to even consider any prospect outside of the power forward and center positions. With their luck with injuries, they could always improve their support system down in the paint. The popular options here are Solomon Alabi and Daniel Orton, but I see Blazers General Manager Kevin Pritchard taking his chances on Kevin Seraphin, the young product out of France. Already having Nicolas Batum on board, Seraphin would have French companion to help aid his adjustment to the NBA if the Blazers decide to bring him over to play next season. Seraphin’s upside is worth the gamble as the first round gets into it’s later selections.

There's No Debate: Stephenson Definitely Has the Size

23. Minnesota Timberwolves- Lance Stephenson

Once again you must pop the question, do you go best player available or do you go immediate needs? I see the Timberwolves opting against taking the best player available (either Orton or Alabi) and rather choosing a shooting guard. Heading into the NBA Draft Combine I would’ve put Elliot Williams ahead of Lance Stephenson in my rankings, but after missing the NBA Draft Combine due to injury, Stephenson jumps him in my book. It was very costly time to get injured and allowing teams to get a look at you in the pivotal pre-draft camp is so important for anyone’s draft stock. But in the long term, Stephenson is the more promising player of the two shooting guards, he’s got an NBA ready body who’s a guy that needed one more year of college to fully blossom. Depending on what happens during free agency, Stephenson may have a outside chance of starting next season for the Timberwolves if they’re willing to endure another long losing season.

24. Atlanta Hawks- Willie Warren

The Hawks have so many questions left unanswered at the shooting guard position, what will all pan out with Joe Johnson? Nobody has the slightest idea but the chances of Atlanta holding onto him looks all but promising. With that being said, they need to look at drafting a shooting guard with this pick. I see Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford becoming the Hawks starting shooting guard next season so he’ll need a backup. Warren has an NBA ready body and has the offensive skills to be a highly productive scorer in the future. He’s a very interesting prospect who was listed as a lottery pick in many mock drafts before last season.

25. Memphis Grizzlies- Daniel Orton

Both Orton and his agent will finally be relieved to know he’ll be coming off the board in the first round after being a guy who fell way past where he’s currently projected to be drafted (in the high teens). This is a great pickup by the Grizzlies here with the 25th pick and Orton hopefully can develop his game having to defend Zach Randolph each day in practice.

26. Oklahoma City Thunder- Armon Johnson

Not very well known, Johnson could very well be a big sleeper in this year’s draft class. He’s quick and crafty which could be the perfect player to back up Russell Westbrook. While Eric Maynor will still find his own opportunities to find minutes at the backup point guard slot, Johnson will give him a run for his money next season.

27. New Jersey Nets- Solomon Alabi

His size alone is very intriguing, but he’s a work in progress. If the Nets are willing to gamble, stay patient then this is a wise pick with Alabi being one of the best available here at 27. If not, expect the Nets to go get a better-known college player like Devin Ebanks.

Wait is that John Wall? No folks, that's the 6'1 Eric Bledsoe

28. Memphis Grizzlies- Eric Bledsoe

He was very much hidden behind the play of John Wall last season with Kentucky and I definitely feel Bledsoe may be one the this year’s best keep late first round secrets. He’s very athletic and has the strength that allows him to absorb contact while finishing around the rim. Nice backup to Mike Conley next season and he could potentially take over Conley’s starting job in the coming years.

29. Orlando Magic- Elliot Williams

This highly explosive young shooting guard needs to improve his perimeter shooting, but has the leaping ability you just can’t teach. A year under the wing of Vince Carter could really benefit Williams during his rookie season and it’s worth the Magic taking him here this late in the first round.

30. Washington Wizards- Gani Lawal

Much like Eric Bledsoe, Lawal was hidden behind Derrick Favors this past year at Georgia Tech. While still raw, Lawal has a lot of potential to become solid down the road. Wizards need some help in the frontcourt and Lawal is the best available.