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Posted June 1, 2010
Kentucky 2010 NBA Draft Prospect Blog
I really believe we have two of the best NBA Draft analysts writing for this web site. Last year, our guys were in love with Tyreke Evans out of Memphis when many thought the Kings taking him at No. 4 overall was a reach. Evans had a lights-out rookie season and looks like a star in the NBA.
This year, they also loved Evan Turner long before everyone else did, and now Turner is a lock for the No. 2 overall pick. However, no NBA Draft analyst has watched the Wildcats more than I have, and I have a very unique perspective on my Cats and how they will do in the NBA.
John Wall - Point Guard: General managers have wet dreams about drafting a player like Wall at No. 1. He's a consummate pro. He's competitive, he wants the ball in his hands with the game on the line, and he's an unselfish point guard. Wall faced a lot of zone defenses in conference play this year that slowed him up, but he eventually figured out that the only way for him to beat the zone was to defer and create for his teammates. Wall will be a better pro than college player because he will never see zone, however, I worry about him going to Washington with no talent around him.
What Wall needs to work on: I must be the only person to criticize Wall's defense and three-point shot release. Wall was the worst defensive player in college basketball last year - easily. He looks absolutely disinterested and just lets players go right by him as he goes for a cheap steal. Maybe this is just basketball immaturity and he'll grow out of it, but he just didn't look like he cared about playing defense last season. He was terrible. Wall also needs to quicken his release on his 3-point shot and do a better job of getting his legs into the shot more as opposed to jumping four inches off the ground. Wall has an absolutely lethal pull-up jumper that reminds me of Kobe, but he never uses it.
What will Wall be in the NBA: A superstar. Bill Simmons from ESPN.com was dead-on when he said Wall is a cross between Derrick Rose and Dwayne Wade. Wall scores at will around the basket, has a very good shooting touch, and knows how to set up his teammates. If Washington isn't a playoff contender in two years, then everyone in that organization should be fired. Wall makes everyone on his team better.
Demarcus Cousins - Center: Kentucky fans really annoy me when they defend Cousins just because he is a teenager. Go watch any high school basketball game, and you won't find players cursing at their head coach. Deep down, I believe Cousins is a good person, but he has a little bit of Rasheed Wallace in him. Cousins is probably the most offensively talented big man to come out since Shaq, and he might be even better than Shaq on the low block in terms of ball handling and shooting touch around the basket. I absolutely love Cousins' rebounding ability and offensive talent, but the questions about his maturity and work ethic are very legit. Cousins is a terrible free throw shooter, but with his shooting touch he should be a 75 percent guy from the line - he's THAT good. One thing I love about Cousins is his shot selection. He is an underrated passer down low. Like I said earlier, he has an elite shooting touch that I just can't rave about enough.
What Cousins needs to work on: He has zero face up-game; not that he really needs it because he's so big, long and strong. Cousins has outstanding footwork and low-post moves, but it would be nice to see him add a 15-foot jumper to his arsenal. Cousins also tends to get in foul trouble, but this should get better with age.
What will Cousins be in the NBA: I have no idea. He plays extremely hard on the court and he is super-tough (after getting his front tooth chipped in a game, he returned within 10 minutes this year) so I don't think he is Derrick Coleman. This said, money changes the way athletes perform sometimes. Cousins could be a Hall of Famer if he wants, and I think he has more pure talent than even John Wall. If Cousins can keep his head on his shoulders just enough, he can easily average 20 and 10. However, I think he is a bit of a punk and you shouldn't listen to the Kentucky fans who will defend him to the death.
Patrick Patterson - Power Forward: I'm not a fan of drafting raw players with upside because not only do they rarely work out, but for two years of development you get absolutely no production out of a project. This is why I'm a Patterson fan. He has an all-court game. He has range out to 22 feet with a very nice stroke. When he gets involved on the post, he can devastate you with a drop step or a nice baby hook. Patterson is a very good rebounder and defender. Most importantly, he cares about winning. Patterson will be an immediate contributor in the league and I think he deserves to get drafted in the top eight picks.
What Patterson needs to work on: Sometimes, Patterson defers way too much on offense and needs to be more selfish (see Kentucky at South Carolina). He can become invisible because he is too much of a good teammate. Patterson also needs to improve his free throws as he only shot 69 percent from the charity stripe last season.
What will Patterson be in the NBA: He will be a solid starting power forward, but he doesn't have star-potential. I don't like the people who give prospects crap because they lack upside due to having a very polished game, and that's not why I'm being critical of Patterson here. He just wasn't always dominant at Kentucky. To me, Patterson will be a Carl Landry-type presence in the NBA. He'll be good, but he won't be an All-Star. Patterson could be excellent depth for a team such as the Kings or Clippers.
Daniel Orton - Center: Any team that drafts Orton in the lottery will end up regretting it. There was absolutely no reason for Orton to declare for the 2010 NBA Draft, as he likely would have been a top-five pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. He simply isn't ready for the NBA. When Orton was on the floor, Kentucky played 4 vs. 5 on offense. He got too excited and had absolutely no shooting touch, but this improved in the postseason. I love Orton's defense, shot blocking ability and rebounding, but he's just a notch above Hasheem Thabeet offensively. There were rumors that John Calipari was glad Orton declared for the 2010 NBA Draft as he has a bit of an ego; Calipari once sent Orton to the locker room during a timeout, which shows he really hated the guy. Also, Orton's father was a headache and so Orton just might not mentally be ready for the NBA because he's very overconfident.
What Orton needs to work on: Anything and everything in terms of a low-post game and shooting touch. Orton is a good ball handler, but if it isn't a one-foot gimme then he was completely incapable. He's also ridiculously foul prone and seems to have a low basketball IQ.
What will Orton be in the NBA: At best, I think Orton can be a solid center, but he will probably be nothing more than a backup. I think Orton might be more of a headcase than Cousins.
Eric Bledsoe - Point Guard: When Bledsoe was on, he played like a top-10 pick. When Bledsoe wasn't on, he played like he wasn't even good enough to make a roster. Bledsoe is very tough; he has excellent athleticism; and he made some very clutch shots for Kentucky. However, he's a turnover machine, he might not be a true point guard, and he's an extremely streaky shooter. There's a lot I love about Bledsoe, but there's a lot I hate too.
What Bledsoe needs to work on: Point guard skills, decision making, defense, and basketball IQ... and I'm probably forgetting 10 other things.
What will Bledsoe be in the NBA: I have no idea, and that's why Bledsoe will not get drafted in the top 20 picks. He's a complete uncertainity, and NBA general managers aren't going to roll the dice on a point guard who didn't even play point guard last season. I think Bledsoe is more of a combo guard in the mold of Ben Gordon, but it remains to be seen whether he will ever be polished enough to be a consistent starter.
@Mark C. I was going to point out to Walter that people can actually travel and most people attending games don't live within walking distance of the stadiums. A 4 or 5 hour drive to go see a game is absolutely nothing. It's only 8 regular season home games each season after all.