I'm not going to sit here and try to project the entire 2010 NBA Draft. In any given draft, there ends up being only a handful of players who turn out to be great or even very good; and that is if the league is lucky.
That being the case, after researching almost every player projected to be drafted in the 2010 NBA Draft, I have narrowed my focus down to only the players who I feel will go on to have long, productive careers in the NBA, the best of the best.
I call them the "Spectacular Seven."
These players will be projected onto teams where they will fit in nicely. Many of these projections will differ greatly from mock drafts. That is because I am not doing a mock draft.
What I am doing is offering my analysis of where each member of the Spectacular Seven should go based on my estimation of how good he is compared to others in the draft and how much better he will fit in with the team than other players projected to go there.
To get right down to it, teams are being informed that they should not pass on a particular Spectacular Seven member should he be available when it is their turn to select, despite what all the "experts" think.
1) Washington Wizards--Evan Turner, Ohio State
Don't let anybody tell you that John Wall is a better basketball player than Evan Turner. While Wall has one of the greatest hype machines of all time, there is really no difference between the two players.
What separates the two is the needs of the team selecting. The Wizards already have Gilbert Arenas, one of the best players in the NBA, so they have no need for another point guard.
That makes Turner the best available player at a position of need and really makes this selection a no-brainer.
Here is Evan Turner's highlight reel. And another is here.
This is my win-now projection for the Wizards, which is all I have to go by.
I have no idea what goes on in private meetings between team executives and what their plans for the future are concerning Arenas. This projection is based on the Wizards' roster as it is currently constructed.
The Wizards have several nice pieces and are not far away from being back in the playoffs. JaVale McGee has a future in the NBA; other than his defensive rebounding, Andre Blatche is a nice player; Nick Young looks like he's ready to break out at any moment and become a star; and when healthy and not involved in antics from the OK Corral, Gilbert Arenas is one of the best players in the NBA.
That leaves the small forward position as the only hole in the Wizards' starting lineup, which means they should draft Evan Turner and leaves no question about it.
Turner teamed up with the four Wizards mentioned above is a solid, NBA starting five.
All the Wiz would have to do from there is add two more players off the bench to go with Randy Foye and Al Thornton, and they'll be ready to compete with anybody and go deep into the playoffs.
2) Philadelphia 76ers--John Wall, Kentucky
This is another no-brainer selection. The Sixers need a point guard, and John Wall is a point guard, end of story.
With all due respect to Jrue Holiday, Philadephia would be a much better team with Wall at the point and Holiday at the two.
Check out John Wall's highlights.
This pick doesn't take much explaining. Everyone already agrees that John Wall is Bob Cousy, Isiah Thomas, Kevin Johnson, Rajon Rondo, Jason Kidd and Chris Paul all rolled into one; so him "falling" into Philadelphia's lap here at the two spot would make this an easy selection.
I admit that the draft probably won't go in this direction, but this is how the draft should go based on team needs, winning now and real player analysis minus hype.
By the way, I do believe John Wall is a great player.
3) New Jersey Nets--Paul George, Fresno State
This is my first real stretch here. Nowhere have I seen Paul George projected to go this high, but that is why I am the NBA Outsider.
I was this close to ranking George ahead of Evan Turner, but I watched Turner's highlights one more time and decided against it. But it was really close.
Paul George is better than all of the clowns projected to go ahead of him. I've watched their highlight reels and studied their game logs and gathered as much information as I possibly can, and Paul George is just better. It is really that simple.
And the New Jersey Nets should not pass on him when they draft.
The Nets are still a long way away from their glory days in the early 2000s, and no matter who they draft won't change that. The biggest hole in the New Jersey starting lineup is at small forward.
Even with the George pick, the Nets will need to add several more players to get back to the playoffs.
For those of you who think this is too high a position for George to be drafted, check out his highlight reel, where he looks like a cross between Bernard King, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
The most interesting part of George going to New Jersey would be that with George at the three and Terrence Williams at the two, the Nets will create a brand of basketball more exciting than their glory days nearly ten years ago.
For teams which can't win, the least they can do is be entertaining.
4) Minnesota Timberwolves--Wesley Johnson, Syracuse
I'm not going to sit here and waste my time writing about what Minnesota needs to do to win a championship because I don't believe they really want to win a championship.
They had Kevin Garnett in his prime and surrounded him with a championship caliber team only two (2003-2005) out of his twelve seasons there. They then traded him for peanuts and haven't been heard from since.
On the bright side, the Timberwolves do have Jonny Flynn, Kevin Love, Al Jefferson and Corey Brewer; so Johnson would seem to be a perfect fit. The team would then have to solidify the bench and see what happens.
Wesley Johnson looks like Shawn Marion with a jump shot, so I have nicknamed him The Matrix: Reloaded.
Here are his highlights.
6) Golden State Warriors--Hassan Whiteside, Marshall
This may be my most controversial projection, and Whiteside may be the most controversial member of the Spectacular Seven. All that aside, this is who the Warriors should select with their pick.
The most idiotic criticism I have read about Whiteside is that it can't be determined how good he really is because he played in a weak conference against inferior competition.
That dog don't hunt.
I watched LeBron James play one high school game against a bunch of six-footers and knew he was ready to play in the NBA, and I knew it mid-way through the first half.
The competition Whiteside played against at Marshall was much better than the players James played against on national television that night, so I would say he can be judged accurately, despite this so called lack of competition.
The other thing which makes this criticism ludicrous is the fact that Whiteside dominated the competition. Had he been average against average competition, that would be one thing; but average he was not.
Whiteside averaged more than five blocks per game, an impressive number by any measure. He also has a mid-range jump shot, yet critics still question his ability to score and call his offensive game "raw."
I don't see it, but you can judge for yourself by watching his highlights.
The bottom line is this: Whiteside can be only half as good as he was at Marshall and not improve one iota his entire career in the NBA, and he would still be two times better than every center the Warriors have had since Robert Parish.
Whiteside should be the Warriors' pick because he addresses the team's biggest need: defense/shot blocking.
No one in the draft does it better, and the Warriors better not select anyone other than Hassan Whiteside.
9) Utah Jazz--Luke Babbitt, Nevada
I sure do hope that the Jazz don't pass on drafting Luke Babbitt for some of the players I have seen them projected to take. Some of them won't last one minute in the NBA.
Babbitt, on the other hand, may have a long and storied career ahead of him, especially if he winds up in Utah and gets to play with Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer.
Luke Babbitt can score, and anyone who watched the Jazz get their butts kicked by the Lakers knows that what the team needs is someone who can put the ball in the basket, particularly in the last five minutes of the game.
During the final minutes of each of the first two games against the Lakers, Utah had the ball with a chance to take control of the game and change the series.
All they had to do was make a shot, and each time, the shot missed. Or there was a turnover or some otherwise bad execution. Deron Williams also missed a game-winner at the end of Game 3.
I'm not saying Luke Babbitt is the next Robert Horry and will make those shots.
I am saying that with his ability to score and pass and rebound and with him being an outstanding and highly-skilled basketball player, he will fit in perfectly with the team; and there is no one the Jazz should select ahead of him.
Take that into the playoffs and see what happens.
The preposterous criticism I've read about Babbitt is that he won't be able to guard anyone in the NBA. Anyone who puts their mind to it can be a good defensive player.
He may not make First Team All-Defense, but there is no reason why he can't be good.
Even more, for every great scorer at small forward like Carmelo Anthony there is a Shane Battier who can't score.
As for the great scorers like Anthony, other than a few players like Ron Artest, no one can guard them. So Babbitt won't be any different than anyone else in the NBA.
And let's not forget that this guy can score. In time he'll be able to go basket for basket with most of these guys, so at the very least the Jazz will break even in his matchups.
Here are his highlights. Watch for the ankle-breaker at 3:10.
10) Indiana Pacers--Gordon Hayward, Butler
I don't know what's wrong with the NBA. I don't see ten players better than Gordon Hayward.
The funny thing about Hayward is that his projections are all over the place, from top ten to the twenties. I have no idea what all of the questions are about?
Hayward is a baller.
With Gordon Hayward on the outside with Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert on the inside with Troy Murphy and TJ Ford at the point, the Indiana Pacers will be an extremely dangerous team.
They also have the beginnings of a nice bench, and Jim O'Brien isn't a bad coach.
With the selection of Hayward, things will definitely be looking up in Indiana; and the Pacers won't be far away from their glory days with Reggie Miller.
I am sure that Larry Bird has an appreciation for the type of player that Hayward is and may see a little of himself in Hayward, and he almost certainly won't pass on Hayward at number ten.
Here is Gordon Hayward's highlight reel.
15) Milwaukee Bucks--Trevor Booker, Clemson
Truth be told, Trevor Booker is every bit as good as the members of the Spectacular Seven.
The only reason why he wasn't included is because I discovered him after I had already named the group and liked the name so much that I didn't want to change it to the something eight.
He was also projected to go in the second round, and I felt it was too much of a stretch, even for me, the NBA Outsider, to put him where he should be based on my evaluation of his ability.
Since discovering him about a month ago, I see that he has crept into the end of the first round on at least one mock draft.
That being the case, I am more comfortable in projecting him where I feel he should be.
Trevor Booker is a beast, and any team which passes on him is going to seriously regret it.
Here are his highlights.
Watch the hustle play at 2:28 and tell me who wouldn't want this level of effort and desire on their squad.
He blocks shots, rebounds, plays defense, dunks ferociously and competes at an extremely high level. He can also score a little.
Him playing power forward next to Andrew Bogut will revolutionize the entire Milwaukee Bucks' team and the city of Milwaukee itself.
They will no longer be a soft, finesse team which can't defend, or score in, the paint.
Booker is an intimidator who will make opponents think twice about coming down the lane, especially in the playoffs when hard fouls become more common and acceptable.
With a healthy Michael Redd on the outside along with Brandon Jennings, the Bucks would be ready to go toe-to-toe with anyone.
On the Bucks' team website they have a motto which says, "Work Hard. Play Hard."
No motto better captures what Booker would mean to the identity of this team and the city of Milwaukee.
Milwaukee hasn't had this type of presence in the paint since the days of Bob Lanier, and I am sure the city will quickly fall in love with Booker and his hard-nosed style.
I am trying to keep a straight face here, but I can't help but laugh out loud when I see some of the players projected to be drafted highly in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Some of these guys couldn't carry water in the NBA, but some team is going to waste a pick on them; so I guess I have to say something about them.
Here are the players who I have looked at, and though they may be highly drafted, I just don't see it: Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech; Cole Aldrich, Kansas, I'm peeing in my pants with laughter over here; Ed Davis, North Carolina.
Here are the players who didn't blow me away but who I want to see more of before drawing a final conclusion about what type of players they will be in the NBA: Greg Monroe, Georgetown; DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky; Daniel Orton, Kentucky; Larry Sanders, VCU; Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky.
Back to the Spectacular Seven, I am sure they will be receiving all sorts of advice on how live up to their potential become the player everyone expects them to be.
I also have some advice on how to accomplish this, and it is really simple: Go hard!
*I have to give credit to Jeff Fox at SLAM Online here. He was the first person who I saw rank Paul George and Luke Babbitt highly.