The second round of the NBA Playoffs is under way and soon the NBA's second season will be in the past and the NBA offseason will begin.
Even though there won't be any LeBron James dunks, Kevin Durant scoring streaks, and Kobe Bryant game-winning shots, this year's NBA offseason will not doubt bring that same excitement; from the draft to a free-agent pool filled with future Hall-of-Famers.
When June 24, 2010 does arrive the 2010 Draft-Class will be introduced to the NBA in one of the world's grandest stages, Madison Square Garden. The class will feature a profuse 77 underclassmen led by the projected No. 1 overall pick, John Calipari's most recent one-and-down phenom, John Wall.
Wall is just of many underclassmen and one of many palyers in the draft with loads of potential. The New Jersey Nets are the odds on favorite to win the coveted No. 1 overall pick. The Nets finished a league's worst 12-70, but there is hope in the Nets organization. With Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia's richest man, holding the majority ownership of the franchise, the Nets will have no problem in pursuing expensive and good players.
Prokhorov, a 6-foot-7 basketball fanatic who played as an amateur, won't settle for having 12 wins a season and an embarrassing product on the court. Besides this offseason's free agency, the draft is another way to make sure your team can win more than 12 games this season.
With a 25 percent of chance of winning the NBA Lottery, the Nets are in prime position to select a player that can have an immediate impact on the team. It seems every 2010 Mock Lottery has point guard John Wall as the No. 1 no matter what team does win the number one overall pick. Set to be the next Derek Rose, Wall indeed might be the best overall player in the draft, but is he really the best choice for the New Jersey Nets.
John Wall is no doubt the draft's most talented player. He is the next "Big Thing" and with the recent success of Derek Rose at the NBA level, it seems like you would be a making a big mistake by passing up on him.
When you look at the Nets Roster it seems that they already have a pretty good and young point guard in Devin Harris. Wall is definitely no shooting guard, so it seems evident that anybody who does pick him will have him play point guard.
While the Nets have Harris they don't have much for a point guard after him; there is journey-men Keyon Dooling, and youngster Chris Quinn. So, an addition of Wall could give the Nets a solid point guard in their second unit. But, how long do you expect to Wall to play backup to Harris.
Harris just finished his 6th season, his third with the Nets since joining them during the 2007-2008 season after being traded away by the Dallas Mavericks for Jason Kidd. Harris, whose play is among the top point guards in the NBA, is still a work-in-progress as far as shooting goes. This past season he shot just 40 percent from the field, 27 percent from the three-point line, and only 79 percent from the charity stripe.
He and Wall are pretty much identical in terms of what they do on the floor. Both are long and lean, relying on their athleticism to help them get into lanes and puttting pressure on the defense to step up; allowing for the both of them to find open teammates.
Wall is certainly capable of being a superstar in the leauge and becoming one quickly like Rose. However, if you are New Jersey, do you really want to draft a player that you basically already have. If the Nets do get the No. 1 pick and do take Wall with it, I can't imagine Harris being around in the long-term. They will need Harris in the beginning because he is a proven NBA point guard, but once Wall is ready to take the reigns Harris' time would likely seem over in New Jersey.
Wall is not the only elite-underlcassmen expected to go early; heck, he isn't even the only Kentucky underclassmen expected to have his name called early on June 24.
Currently, Kentucky's freshman power forward DeMarcus Cousins is expected to also be taken in the top ten. The only downside to Cousins seems to involve his maturity and mental focus. While his raw talent, size, and stregnth allowed for him to be one of the most dominant and consistent big man in the country this past season. But, his inability to stay focused for an entire game is a cause of concern.
However, he is not the first one-and-down player to have his mental prowess be questioned, and I think after a year with Calipari and NBA coaches in control of him, that weakness will be quickly taken care off or he will be a bust and on the outside looking in. Not that it will happen overnight, or that it has to happen that quick, but his composure will be refined.
The Nets, who already have a solid young center, Brook Lopez, could give him a solid teammate to help on both offense and defense. At 6-foot-11 and with 7-foot-6 wingspan, Cousins has a knack for getting into the passing lanes, while contesting and altering shots. His length allows for him to quickly cover anywhere in the frontcourt and will clean up on the boards.
On offense, despite weighing a hefty 280 pounds, Cousins has remarkable foot speed and a great first step that allows him to get to and finish easily around the rim. He has also shown the ability to step outside and deliver on open jump shots. That wingspan of his makes it virtually impossible for defenders to guard his jump shot just and he can shoot it over just about anybody.
So, lets say the Nets to do get the No. 1 pick and do take take a player from Kentucky that isn't named John Wall, then Cousins will be that player. The Nets lineup looks pretty nice with Cousins in it. Devin Harris at the point, Courtney Lee at the 2, Chris Douglas-Roberts/Terrance Williams at the 3, Cousins at the 4, and Lopez holding it down at the 5.
I think that group would get more than 12 wins, don't you?
After Cousins, the next best available power forward for the Nets to consider is Georgia Tech's Derrick Favors.
Other than the simple fact that I am from Atlanta and love Georgia Tech basketball, Favors impressed this past college season and I feel he is NBA ready.
With an uncanny ability to leap out of the gym, run the floor with great speed and purpose, and a ball-hawking menace on the glass and on defense, Favors can be an electric player for many years to come.
What puts Cousins higher than Favors is his jump shot and conditioning. Favors has lots of work to do on that jump shot and he often appeared tired at the end of games, meaning his conditioning was fair.
Unlike Cousins, at 6-foot-9 and 246 pounds Favors is a true power forward and could give the Nets a pretty solid lineup and play nicely with Lopez.
Now, if the Nets, who only won 12 games, aren't thrilled on adding a one-and-down to their roster, there is another big man that brings something none of the afore-mentioned players bring, experience.
Greg Monroe spent two years at Georgetown before deciding that he was ready to take his game to the next level. Monroe, who is drawing comparisons to the Los Angeles Lakers' Lamar Odom, has a huge upside.
The left-handed big man learned how to handle the ball and be the primary decision maker as a Hoya. John Thompson III had his Princeton offense go directly through Monroe. He can face up defenders and put the ball on the floor, or work down into the past. The jump shot is there and he has shown enough touch and range to attempt from the college three. He also runs the floor well and has the strength to finish in congestion or when there is contact.
His 7-foot-2 wingspan also makes him an opposing force on defense. He improved his rebounding ability in his sophomore season, averaging 10.2 a game, and also getting 1.6 blocks and 1.7 steals per game.
During his time as a Hoya, Monroe always had a passive approach to the game. He was not a guy that looked to dominate or takeover, but would just take what came to him. This may not have been Monroe's fault or his decision since Princeton's offense does call on you to play team basketball. Also he is purely left-handed. He has much work to do on improving his weaker right hand.
I think that the Nets, based on their current roster, would benefit the most by adding a player that can play the four or five for them. But, all the hype on Wall makes it near impossible to not take him. I mean, they could go ahead and get him and use him as trade bait for another player.
Who knows. I will be glued to the TV on June 24th to find out.