BTA's Early NBA Draft Forecast

Beyond the Arc BasketballContributor IDecember 1, 2009

NEW YORK - JUNE 25:  A general view of the stage during the 2009 NBA Draft at the Wamu Theatre at Madison Square Garden June 25, 2009 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
We're nearly a fifth of the way through the season and have a pretty good idea of who the best teams in the league (although not that good of an idea, as no team really wants to hold of the season). We also have a fairly good idea who the truly pathetic teams in the league are. Everyone usually wants to talk about the potential playoff contenders and/or championship contenders, and understandably so, because those are the relevant teams in terms of discussion and the ones that ultimately matter.
People rarely want to talk about the dregs of the league (expect for the Nets, when a team reaches historic levels of ineptitude, they become the biggest story of the year, look at the 2008 Detroit Lions for further evidence). When your team sucks on a normal trajectory though, no one notices, which means it's never too early to talk about the draft.

I'm never quite sure how much other NBA fans pay attention to college basketball. There seems to be a strange divide between the two fan bases and they rarely meet in the middle. Now NBA fans do have a leg up when it comes to general knowledge because while they might not know the actual players, it's pretty easy to guess who the top teams are going to be (whereas you might hear a college fan ask if Shaquille O'Neal is still playing for the Heat).
When the draft comes along though, despite college basketball being shown a good bit throughout the year on ESPN and CBS, a lot of NBA fans are clueless when it comes to the actual prospects that are declaring for the draft (which leads to some talking themselves into Hasheem Thabeet being a great second pick). So we're going to highlight some of the worst teams in the league and give their best case and worst case scenario for the draft.

Here now are the top 10 bottom feeders according to the current standings.

New Jersey : Now as I pointed out above, the Nets are losing at an historic pace of epic failure. They recently tied the mark for worst start in NBA history with 17 straight loses and will probably set the new record against Dallas on Wednesday (in fact they'll probably at least tie the '04 Magic for most consecutive losses by the end of the week). This team is truly awful and deserving of their record (which is what happens when a team takes cost cutting to the extreme that Rod Thorn has).
They'd probably have one game under their belts by now, but they've been hurt by injuries as well, so they're pretty much guaranteed a top 5 lottery pick in this year's draft (it would be top 4, but the Wolves suck almost as much). Now they really need a lot of help but they have particularly big hole at power forward, or at least a rugged one that grabs boards and bruises people in general, but they'll settle for any top tier talent at this point.

Best Case: John Wall. The guard out of Kentucky is pretty much considered the best prospect in this year's draft, and the hyperbole machine will not stop. He has elite athleticism and a penchant for the highlight play to go along with superb passing and ball handling skills (the former two make the latter two potential negatives). He's been compared to Dwyane Wade (except most draft prognosticators are convinced he'll be a point guard). In this year's draft, he's pretty much everyone's best case scenario.

Worst Case: Cole Aldrich. Aldrich is a power forward/center out of Kansas and looks like the stereotypical Kansas bred farm boy (he's actually from Minnesota). If you take Big Country Reeves (for those of you who remember him) and give him some athleticism and the ability to run, that's essentially what you're getting out of Aldrich. He rebounds and blocks shots at a very high rate, and seems to be developing a jump shot to go along with fairly good post foot work. The biggest downside to Aldrich at the moment is that, while he's listed at 6'11", word is he's closer to 6'9" (or possibly shorter), so his ability to play center in the NBA is in question, as is his general upside.

Minnesota: If not for the Nets, they would easily be considered the worst team in the league (in fact, up until last night, they're only win came against the Nets). No one should really be that surprised after the bumbling on draft day that David Kahn went through, it's sort of amazing that the league kept the team intact. They have some interesting young pieces, but they have also been beset by injuries, so no one really knows how they'll play together. Their second year big Kevin Love has yet to play again, so the big question of whether he can play next to Al Jefferson is still unanswered (to make matters worse, Jefferson has been playing all season hurt as well).
Even with their big situation, the Wolves biggest hole is at the 2 guard, as in they don't have one. Corey Brewer is starting right now and is doing his absolute best to make the position name as ironic as possible. Draftee Wayne Ellington and journeyman Damien Wilkins are hardly playing (not that they're earning the minutes mind you), and Rambis refuses to play Sessions and Flynn in the same backcourt, reportedly because he doesn't like the idea of playing point guard types together (which is hilarious when you consider that was exactly David Kahn's plan on draft day). This brings us to:

Best Case: Evan Turner. Like I stated above, Wall is probably every team's best case scenario, but the Wolves need another point guard like they need a hole in the head (even if Wall is a big point guard). Turner would fit into this offense immediately, not giving up any size and allowing Flynn to not be as ball dominant (but that looks to be an ongoing problem). This is what Kahn wanted to do initially playing Flynn and Rubio together, only it works better with Turner, who's a traditional off guard. His big question mark is his shooting but he's solid everywhere else.

Worst Case: Willie Warren. The Wolves really need a shooting guard and if they don't wind up with one, even if it's a smallish combo guard, the 2010 draft will be an epic failure.

New York: The Knicks suck, but they suck to such a mind bogglingly degree that this pick goes to the Jazz.

Utah: The Jazz fully expect to make the playoffs but because the Knicks really wanted Eddy Curry, their 2010 first round pick someone wound up in the hands of the Utah Jazz (which still confuses me, but then again, every move made by Scott Layden and Isiah Thomas is baffling. Remember kids, Thomas wasn't the only person to screw up Knicks in the last two decades). Although the Jazz are most likely playoff bound, they underachieve like nobody's business. They used to be unbeatable at home but now seem to be the exact opposite of intimidating on their home floor. It could be that they just need to ship out the malignant tumor going by the name of Carlos Boozer but they also need help at the swing positions.

Best Case: Evan Turner. As mentioned above, Turner is a do everything guard, but what he really excels at is play making and creating for others. While the Jazz already have a guard who does that in Deron Williams, Williams is also a tremendous scorer when he needs to be but often takes terrible shots and angles because no one on the Jazz makes it particularly easy for him. Turner would be able to find Williams easier shots and make that much more of an efficient scorer (which he really hasn't been lately).

Worst Case: Ed Davis. Because the Knicks really suck this season, they probably won't fall out of the top six, so they'll still end up with an athletic banger who has very good size and feel around the basket.

Philadelphia: I wonder if you offered the 76ers a chance to go back in time to last summer and stop the signing of Elton Brand, if you'd even be able to finish the sentence before Stefanski agreed to it? Now most of you might be thinking that the 76ers got off to a terrible start last season and still made the playoffs, but that can't always work and eventually it's going to bite the team in the a**. The problems that existed last season (poor outside shooting and no real half court offense) are still problems except now they have even less size with the injury bug hitting them (this is a recurring theme for bad teams by the way).

Best Case: Derrick Favors. Since there aren't any worthwhile shooters to be taken in the lottery (and after a quick glance, it really isn't a great draft to pick up a shooter is one is needed), the 76ers would be best advised to pick up some size. Mareese Speights looks like he's going to be a solid big in the league and pairing him with a player like Derrick Favors might be a good idea. Favors is fairly raw at the moment on both ends of the floor but has elite athleticism and a knack for rebounding.

Worst Case: Patrick Patterson. As things stand right now, the 76ers wouldn't drop lower than the 7th spot in the draft, so they'll probably end up with a big of some sort. Patterson would be a bit redundant on the 76ers, as he's a slightly bigger version of Thaddeus Young. But this draft is loaded with young bigs who aren't necessarily capable of playing center.

Golden State: Another team's position in the standings that isn't quite that big of a shocker. The Warriors are a team that has the talent and scoring ability to knock off any team on a given night, but they also happen to hate their coach and lack any sort of size (currently starting useless stalwart Mikki Moore at center for the injured Andris Biedrins), making any chance of winning consistently impossible. They're absolutely loaded at the swing positions, although they presently seem to have trouble finding eight players to suit up, as they became only the third team since the NBA/ABA merger to player six players total in a game (and Don Nelson wasn't even coaching that game, and in an unrelated note, they also won).

Best Case: Who knows, probably Al-Farouq Aminu. Favors would probably be ideal and I doubt they pass up on Wall, but after that, who really fits their team? If Nelson continues coaching, is it really a great place for a player like Cole Aldrich or Ed Davis to play considering they're more traditional bigs, and would more than likely waste away on the bench much like Branden Wright (when he's not injured). Aminu though is a player stuck between the 3 and 4, which seems perfect for Nelson's offense. He's a good rebounder, a high energy player, and gets to the line. Even his negatives seem to fit the offense. He has a poor shot selection and is unafraid to jack up threes despite not really being able to make them.

Worst Case: Donatas Motiejunas. An extremely tall Lithuanian, with a good shot and feel for the game (at least on offense). Everything written about him though (as it's impossible to view Italian games over here) suggests that he's really soft. He gets pushed around trying to defend heavier players and struggles trying to get position for rebounds. He looks like he has a long way to go (but would conceivably fit right in with Nelson's scheme).

Washington: Sometimes it's just hard to wash away a stigma that's been building up for three decades. Beset early and often by injuries to rotation players, a team that was expected to challenge for a middle playoff spot in the East, has yet to find any sort of footing during the season. They have talent from top to bottom but none of it seems to mesh well, causing the team to lack any sort of cohesion. So theoretically they don't have any apparent weak areas, but in actual practice they need healthy talent everywhere.

Best Case: Cole Aldrich. There's a possibility that they might lose Brendan Haywood after this season and he's been their most consistent player thus far. They have some very good young bigs with a lot of talent in Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee, but neither of them is a real banger and they have trouble going after rebounds on a consistent basis, which is a role that Aldrich was built for.

Worst Case: Wesley Johnson. The Syracuse forward is a transfer from Iowa who had a great freshman season, but fell completely off the map after his sophomore season leading to the eventual transfer. His game is similar to that of Caron Butler. Doesn't really show his athleticism all that much, but is a solid rebounder for his size (something that disappeared during his sophomore season) and can make shots from anywhere. Has reappeared on draft boards because of his stellar play leading a Syracuse team that people didn't think highly of at the start of the season to impressive wins over UNC and California.

Detroit: After last offseason's big spending spree that netted him Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, Joe Dumars apparently overlooked that neither rebound nor defend the paint very well (or at all). The Pistons lost Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess and since they were the only two players who did that on consistent basis last season, they have understandably struggled. Defense seems to be a way of the past for them, as they are now a team that can put points on the board (although that comes and goes) but have trouble stopping anyone half way decent. In essence they need a big man.

Best Case: probably Ed Davis. If the Pistons were somehow able to find themselves winning the lottery, they'd more than likely take Derrick Favors or Cole Aldrich, but as the odds are getting slimmer the further down we go, Ed Davis is probably their best bet. This still leaves them without a quality center though (or any center really).

Worst Case: Solomon Alabi. If they fall to the absolute furthest position (as it stands now), they'd be slotted at 10th, which means, if they'd be surrounded by a bunch of 3/4 tweeners like they already have in abundance. This means they'd probably take a flier on someone like Solomon Alabi, the starting center for Florida State. As far as I can tell, this kid is a project at best (as Florida State is not regularly shown on national or local television). His per 40 numbers are solid but it's a huge red flag that he hasn't played more than 27 minutes yet this season. Who knows, maybe they'll just take Greg Monroe instead.

Memphis: Well, the M.O. on them at the start of the season was that they had an excellent chance to set the NBA record for least assists by a team in a season (this was only heightened by signing Allen Iverson). They've been a little better than people expected them to be, but not by much. This is mainly due to the fact that they have a good number of guys who can put up points and occasionally they'll put up more points than the other, resulting in a win. They absolutely swung and missed with their first round pick last season, and probably wish they could've drafted Ricky Rubio with Conley getting off to such a slow start this season (so slow in fact that they've signed two point guards in Jamaal Tinsley and Marcus Williams who had become something of pariahs in the league).

Best Case: Willie Warren or Ed Davis, depending on what they do with Conley. It turns out that they don't really want Mike Conley, so they'll be looking for a point guard. Unfortunately this draft is barren of point guards unlike the 2009 draft (which seems to be about par for this franchise). So they might take Warren if given the chance (even though they still need a power forward, but hey, they're paying Zach Randolph the GNP of Zimbabwe next season, so what do they have to worry about?). Warren is a combo guard who benefited greatly last season by playing with 2009 no. 1 overall draft pick, Blake Griffin, and is struggling to match last season's efficiency. He can score and pass, and the best case is that he would mix well with O.J. Mayo (but I doubt it). Davis would give them a banger, but they kind of already have that in Gasol (or if Darrell Arthur is found alive).

Worst Case: Greg Monroe. When I say "worst case", because the Grizz exist in Bizzarro World, I mean that this would be the absolute best thing to happen to them in this draft. Before the start of last season, Monroe flirted with the first overall pick before Georgetown's season completely sunk into the Potomac River and the word out on him was that he lacked the fire to be the really dominant player that his talent level might otherwise indicate.
The thing is though, that might be perfect reason for him to go to Memphis, which is filled with a metric ton of wannabe Alpha Dogs (quite literally since Randolph is on the team). He's tall, athletic, a solid jump shooter, fundamentally sound, and quite possibly the best passing big to be seen in the college ranks since the days of Chris Webber. On a team with a bunch of gunners, having an unselfish and willing passer at the 4 might be the best thing for this team (since it's the Grizz though, it probably won't happen).

Toronto: I believe a Mr. Colangelo said something about this team reaching 50 wins this season (which could happen of course, but with each passing game, it becomes more suspect, although I suppose he could've meant over the next two seasons) without really addressing any of their problems over the last couple of years. I think we have to accept that if a team is starting Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, and Jose Calderon, it doesn't really matter who they put at the 2 and 3, they're not going to be a good defensive team.
This isn't really their problem as plenty teams can still win without playing even decent defense, but it means that they have to be excellent somewhere else, which isn't the case here. Chris Bosh started out the season in the stratosphere but is now falling back to Earth and their record has fallen off because of it. They still don't have athleticism on the wing (and having the $50 million Turk there doesn't really help matters) and they have no interior presence (which is what happens when Bargnani starts at center). The first problem could be solved once DeRozan gets some more experience, but he still has a ways to go. If this continues they'll probably lose their second best player in franchise history.

Best Case: Again, Aldrich and Davis. Sorry for being redundant here, but these two players fill a lot of holes for multiple teams and as the college season progresses, their draft positions are going to fluctuate. They definitely fit the Raptors here and would greatly help their inside woes, hopefully it's backing up Chris Bosh. They probably won't go after a swing player here unless he's absolutely the best player, but a player like Wesley Johnson or West Virginia's Devin Eubanks wouldn't be a bad fit here.

Worst Case: Devin Ebanks (most people's reality) or Donatas Motiejunas (Bryan Colangelo's reality). Ebanks would give them a nice dose of athleticism if they happen to fall out of the top 10. The problem is that he does a lot of things that theoretically they'd want DeRozan to do, only as a bigger player. He doesn't shoot particularly well but he'll crash the boards and do athlete things. That is if Colangelo can stay away from Motiejunas. Soft, jump shooting, European bigs seem to be like crack to this guy and who could honestly resist pairing him with Bargnani in the front court.

New Orleans: They have the best chance to make it out of the slums of the NBA. Since firing Byron Scott and playing Collison and Thornton more, the Hornets have been playing with a lot more energy and urgency. They should be able to make a push for the playoffs once Chris Paul makes it back to the lineup in the next week or so. Thornton has provided them with some more wing help, but they still don't have the back up big that they so desperately need and since they probably won't be occupying this spot come June, it's doubtful that'll change.

Best Case: Willie Warren, if he drops, Wesley Johnson, if they stay around the 10th spot. It would be interesting to see what the Hornets would do if they somehow found themselves in the lottery because they're the one team here that probably wouldn't take John Wall (I doubt he could play off the ball with Paul at the point), Derrick Favors would be an interesting alley-oop toy for Paul, and Evan Turner would help them on the wing, but he doesn't shoot particularly well, so his helpfulness might be limited. Wesley Johnson would probably fit in immediately, especially since Julian Wright looks to be a lost cause.

Worst Case: Larry Sanders or Stanley Robinson. Actually, if there was a way that they could sign either of these players now, I think they would. Both are energizer type players who are effective in providing hustle plays on defense and picking up scraps on offense. Sanders has the best chance at breaking out of that mold but both should at least find a role based solely on energy.
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