While the NBA Draft is about five months away, it's not too early to start identifying some of the top prospects in the upcoming draft.
So without further ado, here is my top 10 NBA prospects.
1. Blake Griffin (F/C) Oklahoma- Sophomore
Griffin could have been a top 10 pick in last year's draft but surprisingly, he opted to return to Oklahoma for his sophomore year. The move has worked out brilliantly and now Griffin is a lock for the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
Griffin is the best player in college basketball. He is dominant in the low post at around 6'10". He faces constant double teams but he has learned to pass effectively out of them.
He is one of the best rebounders in the country, has great athleticism, runs the floor well and he finishes strong around the basket.
When he develops a good mid range jumper, he will be unstoppable. Reminds me of Amare Stoudemire especially with his explosiveness.
I just can't see any team passing on Griffin unless they already have an elite big man in place and have a desperate need for a point guard, which this draft is full of.
2. Ricky Rubio (G) Spain
Rubio has been hyped since he was 15 years old but the attention seems justified. He played very well in the Olympics for Spain and he impressed the NBA superstars playing for Team USA.
He has a ton of talent and can only get better considering he is just 18 years old. He has all the tools to be the next great point guard: He has great ballhandling skills, can pass, score and he is a really good defender.
There are some concerns about the expensive buyout he would have to pay his current team in Spain but I don't think that will be a major issue because he will most likely be a top-five pick.
3. Greg Monroe (F/C) Georgetown- Freshman
Monroe has been arguably the best freshman in the nation this year. He has the skills and upside to be a top-five pick.
He is very versatile at nearly 7'0" tall. He can score in the post, shoot from the outside and score off the dribble drive. He needs to show more effort on the boards but he plays hard and averages a little over a block a game.
He reminds me of a lot of Chris Bosh, maybe because Monroe is a lefty like Bosh. Like Bosh, he is a certain top-five pick as a freshman.
4. Brandon Jennings (G) Italy
Jennings was a top prep star who originally committed to the University of Arizona. However, after a problem with his SAT scores, he decided to sign a contract to play professionally overseas in Italy.
Thus far, the results have been mixed. He hasn't put up impressive numbers so far but the experience of playing professionally has seemingly benefited him.
NBA scouts still love his talent and some will argue that he is better than Rubio. It's too early to tell where he stands but we should get a good idea of Jennings after the pre-draft workouts.
Personally, I think he will be a lottery pick in the 2009 draft.
5. Hasheem Thabeet (C) UConn- Junior
At 7'3", Thabeet is a defensive game changer. He is a great shotblocker who makes opponents think twice about driving to the rim. He is a good rebounder, but I actually think he could improve upon that.
He is very athletic and runs the floor well considering his size. He finishes well around the basket and he throws down emphatic dunks whenever he can. However, he is very raw offensively especially posting up.
Thabeet also has a tendency to disappear in games, he should be able to dominate on both ends of the court more often than he does.
With legitimate centers at a premium in the league nowadays, it is hard to see Thabeet falling out of the top 10 in the draft.
6. Stephen Curry (G) Davidson- Junior
Curry is the one prospect that elicits the most debate among basketball fans and experts alike. After making the move to point guard this season, Curry has been fantastic for Davidson after his blistering NCAA Tournament where he put himself on the map.
Steph is the leading scorer in the nation while averaging about six assists a game. He is a deadly three-point shooter like his father, Dell Curry. He has proven that he is a really good passer and that he can score in a variety of ways.
Curry's NBA pedigree and his ability to rise up in clutch situations has only further improved his stock.
However, there are a lot of questions about how good he can be at the next level. He has struggled this season against defenders with the prototypical NBA size and ability. Many point to his frame at only 6'3", 185 lbs as a reason why he won't be a star in the league and at best, a backup guard.
Only time will tell with Curry but certainly, don't expect the debate about him to go away any time soon.
7. Jeff Teague (G) Wake Forest- Sophomore
Teague is the best player on the current No. 1 team in the nation, undefeated Wake Forest. He is a fantastic offensive player and from what I've seen, he has no weaknesses in his game. He is also a pretty good defensive player, averaging more than two steals a game.
The question is whether he is truly a point guard or just merely an undersized shooting guard. He plays the point for Wake but he only averages about four dimes a game and he is expected to shoulder most of the scoring.
Despite that, his talent is undeniable. He is fast, athletic, has a great crossover and he is a great shooter.
Teague will gain a lot of attention due to his status as the best player on a very good team that can definitely get to the Final Four.
8. JRue Holiday (G) UCLA- Freshman
Holiday hasn't been that impressive in his freshman season but he will most likely still be a lottery pick, if he decides to leave after this season.
He looks like another Russell Westbrook, another UCLA guard who was drafted No. 4 by Oklahoma City in last years draft. Westbrook wasn't overly impressive at UCLA but teams loved his skill set and potential at point guard.
Westbrook has been great so far for the Thunder and it is not a stretch to say that Holiday can have the same type of impact in the NBA.
If his play picks up throughout the season and in March, he can challenge Rubio and/or Jennings for the top point guard spot.
9. Jordan Hill (F/C) Arizona- Junior
Hill is athletic, long and explosive around the basket. He is averaging a double-double this season for Arizona, showing significant improvement every year.
I think he can be a really good starting power forward in the league with his rebounding, shotblocking and scoring on the inside.
10. DeMar DeRozan (G) USC- Freshman
DeRozan has come up strong as of late for the Trojans and he has all the tools to be a really good starting 2-guard in the league.
I have only seen him once this season but it was his best performance against Arizona St. He scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half along with 8 rebounds and 3 steals.
He is athletic, has great size and he can flat out score. Whats scary is that he isn't even close to reaching his potential as a basketball player.
He has drawn comparisons to Kobe Bryant which is premature but yet, that comparison makes DeRozan very intriguing, at least to me.
He should only continue to improve this season and if he enters, is a sure fire lottery pick.
Other Notable Prospects
1. Jodie Meeks (G) Kentucky- Junior
2. James Harden (G) Arizona State- Sophomore
3. Cole Aldrich (C) Kansas- Sophomore
4. Al-Forouq Aminu (F) Wake Forest- Freshman
5. B.J. Mullins (C) Ohio State- Freshman
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