Friday, January 15, 2010

HolyBackboard 2010 Draft Look Ahead: January Edition

Back when the inaugural 2010 Draft Look Ahead was published, Portland was 18-12 and in the midst of one of their greatest road trip successes based on quality of opponent and roster health. A little over three weeks later and nearing the mid-way point of the season, the Trail Blazers have actually increased their winning percentage and are now eight games above .500 at 24-16. Help is on its way as Rudy Fernandez returned from back pain, Blake is nearly fully recovered from pneumonia, Jeff Pendergraph has now got a taste of the NBA game, and now it seems like Nicolas Batum could return near the end of January. Chances are the Blazers could make the playoffs and be looking at a pick in the low-mid twenties. But, this team is loaded with talent, too much talent, and if KP targets a prospect, he has the ammunition to get his guy.
  1. SG-Evan Turner: Ohio State

  2. A new number 1! After fracturing his back in early December, Evan Turner returned to the Ohio State lineup and he didn't take long to make his impression felt. In just his third game back from injury, Turner led Ohio State to their first conference road win of the season over then-ranked #5 Purdue in West Lafayette, 70-66. He was simply phenomenal, going for a season-high 32 points, grabbing 9 rebounds, handing out 3 assists, and doing it without one single breather by playing the entire 40 minutes.

    After that performance, Turner shot all the way up to #6 in the latest's 2010 mock draft and is now the 3rd best prospect according to DraftExpress. He is compared to Brandon Roy, and if you have seen him play at all this year, you know that is a pretty spot-on comparison. He is always under control and seemingly can get to the rim at will. On the season, Turner is currently averaging 18.8 points, 10.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists. He's a terrific rebounder, as shown by his 10+ boards a night, which leads me to believe he could play some small forward and we all know how well Roy handles the point, so Evan could play alongside him at the two. A future 3 guard rotation of Bayless, Roy, and Turner would be absolutely lethal.
  3. C-Cole Aldrich:Kansas

  4. Ironically, the date of our first update, Joel Przybilla went down with the same injury Greg Oden suffered in early December, only he tore ligaments around his kneecap which brings up the question if he will be the same player as before? With Portland's Greg going on his 4th injury since the Trail Blazers drafted him in 2007 and Przybilla only appearing in over 70 games four times in his 10 season in the NBA make it imperative to carry three legit centers on their roster. Aldrich is the top center prospect in this year's draft crop and what I love about his game is he knows his role is all about defense and rebounding. He won't come in and expect to take shots away from Aldridge, Roy, or anyone else.
    For the season, he is putting up 10.6 points, 10.4 boards, and his 3.7 blocks per game are good enough for 7th in the entire nation. We mentioned this last update, but there has still only been one game this entire season where he hasn't tallied 3 or more blocks in. Kansas dropped their only game of the season at Tennessee, but don't put any of the blame on Aldrich. He scored 7 points (3-5), pulled down a season-high 18 rebounds, and swatted away 4 shots. If it weren't for how amazing Evan Turner was against Purdue, Aldrich would easily be our top prospect, because he seems like a young Przybilla clone, which could grow with the Blazers through this next decade. NBADraft has him at #12, while DraftExpress has him all the way at #5, so it will be interesting to see where his stock is come June.

  5. PF-Patrick Patterson:Kentucky

  6. Patterson slips just slightly to the #3 player on our Blazers Draft Board, not because he has continued to prove himself as one of the best players on the 2nd best team in America, but due to the fact Jeff Pendergraph has emerged as a quality backup power forward. Right now, he is rated #9(down one spot from last update) and #8 (up 3 spots from last update) on Draft Express and respectively and his numbers have stayed relatively similar over these three weeks and change. Through 17 games, he is producing 16.6 ppg and 8.1 rpg and doing so very consistently as he has only had one game of below double digit scoring.
    With the arrival of Jeff Pendergraph since the first installment of the Draft Look Ahead, the necessity for Patterson goes down quite a bit. But I can't get the thought of a potential Buck Williams type player on our roster out of my head. While they are similar players in stature, Pendergraph and Patterson, Patterson is more athletic, while Jeff has more range on his shot, and they are both pretty even in terms of rebounding. It all could be a moot point though. If Kentucky makes a deep tourney run and Patterson continues his excellent play, he will likely shoot up too high on the draft boards to warrant trading up to acquire him when you consider we already have JP.

  7. PG-John Wall:Kentucky

  8. John Wall has done absolutely nothing to warrant dropping to 4th on our big board. He is by all account everyone's choice for not only National Freshman of the Year, but National Player of the year. Not only is he averaging 17.3 points, 7.1 dimes, 3.8 rebounds, and stealing 2.1 a night, and he is leading the 2nd ranked Wildcats to an undefeated season so far. So why the drop?
    Here is where the realism of the draft board has to come in. Even if a team who has a bonafide star at point guard wins the lottery, they will take Wall #1 or they will trade the pick to a team who is going to take him #1. Portland could trade up for the #1 pick, but at what cost,Brandon Roy? Roy would get the job done, but that would be a very risky deal and would have Rip City in an uproar. Whomever does land wall has a real gem on their hands. He is leaps and bounds above Tyreke Evans and Derrick Rose at the same time in their UK careers. Honestly, I haven't seen a Freshman be able to take over a game in so many different facets of the game, whether it be scoring, distributing, or on the defensive end of the court.

  9. PF-Greg Monroe:Georgetown

  10. Monroe makes his debut on our list mainly because Derrick Favors has been lackluster to say the least, including 7 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 turnovers in their win over Duke. For a player who is supposedly going Top 5 in the draft, he sure hasn't put up the numbers to deserve the status. Also, Willie Warren has been looking like Jamal Crawford, minus the ability to get hot lately. This was supposed to be his year to lead the Sooners back deep into the tourney, yet Oklahoma has a decent 10-6 record with no major wins on their resume.
    It's interesting to see how differently two different scouting sites can evaluate a player. has him going late lottery at #13, whereas DraftExpress has him falling all the way to #23. Monroe is a player I wouldn't necessarily trade up a lot for as the need for a backup power forward has been nullified with Pendergraph showing the Rose City what he can do, Cunningham's ability to play the 3 and 4, and of course Mr. 4th Quarter will return soon. The real draw to Monroe, is like Cunningham, he can play multiple positions on the front line. With his size, 6'10", 234 lbs, he would be a huge power forward and a decent sized center. As mentioned earlier, Portland needs to be on the prowl for a 3rd center from now on. For a man of his size, he surprisingly fills up an entire stat sheet on a daily basis. To date, he is averaging 14 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 1.6 steals a night.

Players To Watch
  1. PF-Gani Lawal:Georgia Tech
  2. PF-Jarvis Varnado:Mississippi State
  3. C-DeMarcus Cousins:Kentucky

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