Let me first say two things: I have no sources and any predictions made by bloggers without sources or first-hand knowledge is really just taking the things you hear on sports talk radio or read on SI.com and repurposing with your name on it. We are a mere seven hours away from the NBA Draft, which is actually an evening of TV that I annually enjoy. That’s because I am familiar with most of the names, it’s only two rounds, and I actually understand what makes a decent NBA 2-guard a lot better than an All-Pro defensive tackle (even though I do watch a lot of the NFL Draft each year, but that’s because I’m a dork).

You get to hear the draft-day lingo that only matters on the day of the draft: upside, long, height without shoes (how many NBA games have been played without shoes? Can’t they just measure everyone wearing the same brand of shoe?), wingspan, motor, character issues, athleticism (or the dreaded “more of a spot-up shooter” label if you are white even though you might have Chris “Birdman” Andersen athleticism), college range vs. NBA range, NBA body, basketball IQ, “more of a project” (which means you are from France and you will play in the European League until you’re 25 and then you’ll come over to a training camp and get cut), and need (as in our shooting guard sucks so we are going to draft this average shooting guard above these better power forwards because our PA guy need someone to announce in our starting line-up next year).

So in lieu of the mock draft followed 24 hours later by the “Winners and Losers” column where columnists rate that draft “value” in terms of where guys were drafted as to where they thought they would be drafted 24 hours before the draft to determine which GMs should get raises or fired in the months before their picks play, I give you my 2010 NBA Draft bold predictions.

Player Who Will be Drafted a Lot Sooner than Most Experts Think: Damion James, Texas. Each draft has about 5 All-Stars and another 7 solid NBA starters in addition to the All-Stars. Smart GMs after about the 1oth pick start looking for players who can be part of their rotation (i.e. who can come off my bench for 10 minutes a game and contribute from day one). James is one of those guys with his defense and rebounding, and some GM will be smart enough to say I’ll take a proven four-year guy from a solid conference who is a team guy instead of trying to hit the lottery on another guy with upside (who even if he achieves said upside will do so in year 3, right as he is parlaying that into a big contract with someone else).

Player Who Will Be Drafted Later than Experts Think: The dreaded Brady Quinn of this year’s draft who sits in the Green Room with a cell phone that won’t ring and no more chicken wings for him and his family to enjoy since the catering stops after 9 of the 10 guests have been drafted with the first 10 picks. This guy is Cole Aldrich, Kansas. I’m not even sure he’s coming to NYC (cancel the flight if you can), but this year’s class is full of “long, athletic, skilled power forwards with wingspans and upside” and Aldrich is “short in socks, a step slow, and was in college long enough to no longer really have upside.” Larry Sanders, Daniel Orton, Hassan Whiteside, Abisi, all of these guys will go before Aldrich.

Guy I would take a chance on early in the second round: Sherron Collins, Kansas. He’s a leader on a winning team, takes the big shot, you need him to score, he scores; you need him to pass, he assists. A guy who is a step slow and an inch short of what NBA GMs see as a contributing point guard, I’d say that results outweigh that and he was the best player on the best team in the country for much of the college season.

Random Thoughts: After the sixth pick, the draft gets overshadowed by discussion of potential trades of expiring contracts for teams trying to free up money to sign LeBron and other free agents. Think about this for a second: Miami traded a player and the No. 18 pick for the No. 32 pick just to get away from Daequan Cook’s $2 million salary and having to guarantee the first-round salary. Tayshaun Prince (Detroit), Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich (Bulls), and others will all be rumored to be traded eight times apiece during the five-hour broadcast…I hope Gordon Hayward gets drafted into a great situation where he won’t be looked upon to score 15 points per game from day one. Somewhere as high as Utah at No. 9 or as low as Boston at No. 19 (if they keep the pick and Hayward slides). With the slotted rookie salary scale, you want to get drafted as high as you can, but if Hayward gets by Utah and the Pacers (I can’t believe they would pick him), if I was Gordon I would want to slide right by New Orleans, Memphis, Toronto and some of those other spots…Maybe all this talk of the Pacers trading their pick for any respectable point guard is correct, or maybe they’ll take the best power forward remaining and try to trade an expiring contract for a point guard later. But, I think they take Eric Bledsoe at No. 10 and label him as the point guard of the future and justify it as he was playing behind Wall and couldn’t show the nation all his point guard abilities.

Finally, is there a situation more bleak than Cleveland? With each passing day, it is more evident that LeBron ain’t coming back. You tied up most of your salary cap on Antwan Jamison mid-way through last season, you have a roster of role players making too much money, you have no coach, your GM ran for the hills so your owner could promote his assistant as a puppet, and you have no picks in this draft. LeBron is the best player on the planet because he is a 40-win player. The difference between him at small forward for the Cavs and Jamario Moon starting at small forward for the Cavs is literally 40 wins. And next season might just prove it.

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