Conference Call With Ed Davis

Ed Davis was patched into the media here in Toronto to talk about the impact his dad has had on his playing style, what his goals are for his rookie season, if he was surprised to see himself fall to the 13th pick and a host of other topics.

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Ernie Grunfeld On John Wall

A few minutes after selecting John Wall as the number one selection in the NBA draft, Washington Wizards Team President Ernie Grunfeld, met with the media to discuss the pick.

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Reebok Unveils Wall’s New Shoe

The day before he is expected to be the number one pick in the 2010 NBA draft by the Washington Wizards, John Wall unveiled the new basketball shoes he will be wearing during his rookie year.

This morning at Madison Square Garden, Reebok and John Wall held a press conference to unveil the new John Wall shoe, entitled “Zig Slash”.

The shoe was created by Reebok and it is part of their “Zig Tech” collection designed to give athletes more energy. The shoe is already worn by such high-profile athletes Peyton Manning, Chad Ocho Cinco, David Ortiz and Alexander Ovechkin, and Wall will be the first basketball player to wear these shoes.

Reebok will begin featuring John Wall and his new shoe during the 2010 NBA Draft tomorrow night on ESPN. Video footage of today’s press conference can be seen below.

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2010 NBA Mock Draft

As we all know, the months leading up to the NBA Draft can make for an overwhelming flurry of inside scoops, conspiracy theories and rumors from all around the internet; this year appears to be no different. Fortunately, Hoops Addict has been keeping tabs on all the top college prospects and was in attendance at NBA pre-draft workouts in Toronto and Washington this month to help put it all in perspective.

While there is a lot up in the air, this is our best attempt to get through all the speculation and give you some insight into who the top 30 prospects are.

1. Washington – John Wall (Kentucky): Everything that everyone’s saying is true. He’s the undisputed No. 1 pick regardless of who is picking here. And the doubts about whether he can play with Arenas? Pure rubbish.

2. Philadelphia – Evan Turner (Ohio State): Second best talent in this draft even with the back injury he sustained earlier this season. I’ll be shocked if Philly doesn’t snag him here. Even with Igoudala in the mix he’s a good fit because AI can slide over to small forward.

3. New Jersey – Derrick Favors (Georgia Tech): He’s an athlete with a body that will fill out but his skills just aren’t there yet. Hasn’t proven himself to be a top four pick, but that isn’t stopping everyone from projecting him to be there because everyone thinks he is the next Dwight Howard. Look for New Jersey to risk it and hope he provides a nice tandem with Brook Lopez.

4. Minnesota – Wesley Johnson (Syracuse): He’s an athletic wing that Minnesota is hoping and praying will drop to them at the fourth pick. After a big turn in events over the past 24 hours it appears they’ll get their wish.

5. Sacramento – DeMarcus Cousins (Kentucky): The scouting reports are true: one minute he’s a force the next minute a ghost. If I was a player personnel guy selecting in the lottery, I don’t know that I’d want to put my job on the line with him. Sure, some of his struggles earlier in the season were due to foul trouble, but as the season has progressed he hasn’t really been able to fix this issue (he picked up four or more fouls in 14 of his first 29 games). What will he do against quicker, stronger and smarter players in the NBA? I’m not sold even thought it appears most front office personnel are in love with his gaudy stats.

6. Golden State – Ekpe Udoh (Baylor): Normally transferring from Michigan to Baylor would destroy any college players chances of making the jump to the NBA. Udoh is poised to be the exception. He was a marginal prospect at Michigan but he’s remade himself into a shot-blocking machine with a decent offensive game. Some scouts are drawing comparisons to Andrei Kirilenko.

7. Detroit – Greg Monroe (Georgetown): As Aaron Torres told me: “To the Monroe supporters, the argument is clear: He’s an athletic big guy with great passing skills, that’s playing in an offense that doesn’t fairly display his abilities. Ok, I get it. But to us outsiders who watch him every game, he’s an innately skilled big man that chooses to hang out on the perimeter, too often makes not only the extra pass, but the unnecessary one, and doesn’t have a killer instinct on offense.”

8. Los Angeles Clippers – Al-Farouq Aminu (Wake Forest): He would have helped his stock with a better showing in the NCAA Tournament. However, his raw athleticism has leaving many scouts and NBA front offices drooling. He still isn’t a great shooter, struggles as a ball handler and can look like a ‘tweener on both ends of the floor. To me he’s the prototypical guy that is blessed with a ton of talent but then makes GM’s look bad for selecting him in the first round. Buyer beware.

9. Utah – Ed Davis (North Carolina): A ton of raw potential but he’s yet to put it together and excel on the court. However, GM’s love potential and because of it he’ll be a lottery pick when he declares for the NBA Draft. He just “looks,” like he should be better than he actually is. If your team is drafting him expecting to be the go-to low post scorer, at any point in his career, I think they’ll be mistaken.

10. Indiana – Gordon Hayward (Butler): He had a heck of an NCAA Tournament but I’m still not sold on him. Sorry. To me he reminds me a lot of Ed O’Bannon who used a great run in the Tournament to raise his stock. After watching him this season he doesn’t appear to have the explosive game or athleticism needed to succeed at the NBA. But, if looks as if the Clippers are high on him. Figures.

11. New Orleans – Cole Aldrich (Kansas): Big, strong kid with slightly underrated athleticism. Instinctual defensive player whose post game needs work. This is a player that has the potential to sore up NBA teams draft boards after they have him in for pre-draft workouts.

12. Memphis – Luke Babbitt (Nevada): Babbitt had a solid freshman season and then showed a ton of growth his sophomore season. He averaged an impressive 21.9 points per game while shooting a sizzling 50.0% from the field.

13. Toronto – Avery Bradley (Texas): He’s the closest thing to Monta Ellis I’ve seen in the college game, an unreal athlete, with a soft touch, incredible body control, long range jumper, basically he’s got it all. He’s going to be one of these guys that we hear NBA scouts go back and forth on non-stop before the draft. He’s not a true point guard, which means that I believe he’s going to be the guy more than anyone else, that needs to find a team that’s the right “fit,” for him. The absolute ideal circumstance would be Sacramento, where he won’t have to be a ball-handler and playmaker, go off of Tyreke Evans and guard true point guards.

14. Houston – Patrick Patterson (Kentucky): Undersized four with a developing mid-range jump shot, but at the end of the day, he wants to be a low post player, who just isn’t big enough to be one. Think David West, only an inch shorter.

15. Milwaukee – Xavier Henry (Kansas): Perfect NBA wing with good range and already developed NBA body. A lot of people have been sleeping on him but I’m anticipating he’ll find a way to land in the lottery.

16. Minnesota – Paul George (Fresno State): If a scientist was creating the perfect NBA “wing” in a laboratory, George would be it. The skills aren’t there just yet, but the athleticism and size are. In a draft class with very few elite wing players George could be one of the best options at that position tomorrow night.

17. Chicago – Damion James (Texas): One of the few guys who actually came back to school to get better and followed up on it. A little bit of an undersized four, but a good athlete and has an improved jump shot. Still think he’s going to be an energy guy in the NBA, but a productive one for a long time.

18. Oklahoma City - Solomon Alabi (Florida State): He’s a legit seven-footer who has a strong low post game. However, he’s kind of like Andrea Bargnani in that he doesn’t show a passion for crashing the glass. If you draft him you have to hope he buys into the need for post players to be strong rebounders or else he’ll have a hard time cracking your playing rotation.

19. Boston - Eric Bledsoe (Kentucky): He had a fantastic freshman season but I can’t help but feel he would benefit from another year of college and playing for John Calipari. Hopefully he proves me wrong. The reports from how he interacted with the media were less than encouraging.

20. San Antonio - James Anderson (Oklahoma State): Getting his stock tips from Willie Warren. I commend this guy for coming back if he didn’t think he was ready for the league, but that doesn’t mean it was the right decision.

21. Oklahoma City – Hassan Whiteside (Marshall): This is a guy who burst onto the scene and I have to admit I’m not sure what to make of him yet. He has a ton of potential but he hasn’t really awed me in the games I’ve watched him play in.

22. Portland – Larry Sanders (VCU): It’s a shame that most people will dwell on his final conference game where he only scored six points against ODU. Before that he was tearing up the CAA Tournament until that game. He finished the season averaging 14.1 points and 9.1 rebounds and looks to be a legit bench player next season for an NBA team. I still feel he has the chance to grow into a special player.

23. Minnesota - Devin Ebanks (West Virginia): Impressive skills, but had a few off the court problems which might scare off some NBA teams. He was brought in for a workout in Toronto so it’s clear teams in the lottery at least sniffing around. Throw in his workout in Washington (late first round pick) and I’ll be shocked if he falls into the second round like some mock drafts are predicting.

24. Atlanta – Elliot Williams (Memphis): He played his way into Duke’s rotation as a freshman and then was granted a transfer to Memphis due to family reasons. Last year in his sophomore season he put up solid numbers (17.9 points per game) but he’s a bit undersized (6’4″) for a shooting guard in the NBA. I’m interested to see how he’ll do getting his shot off against larger shooting guards during pre-draft workouts.

25. Memphis - Stanley Robinson (Connecticut): A better athlete than all but maybe half a dozen guys in the NBA right. His 3-point shot is totally improved, as well as decision making. This guy has sleeper potential to be a lottery pick but he’s more likely to find himself sliding out of the first round.

26. Oklahoma City – Gani Lawal (Georgia Tech): Yes, his numbers dropped this past season, but a big part of that is due to the fact he had to learn to share the low post with Derrick Favors. After chatting with Jawal earlier this month and seeing him workout in Toronto I’m sold on him as a first round prospect.

27. New Jersey – Quincy Pondexter (Washington): Remember last season how senior guard Darren Collison dropped in the draft because scouts could pick out all his warts after watching him play for four seasons? This year Pondexter is in a similar situation. Look for him to go late in the first round and for a team to get a huge steal.

28. Memphis - Daniel Orton (Kentucky): This guy is sinking on draft boards and I’m not surprised. Sure, he’s got a ton of potential, but he only averaged 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds his freshman season. He’s a guy who should have returned for another season of college ball.

29. Orlando – Willie Warren (Oklahoma): His stock is slipping every time he walks out his apartment. Will not be drafted in the lottery, and quite frankly is going to end up being one of those kids who “Should,” come back for another year but won’t.

30. Washington – Dominique Jones (South Florida): Jones was one of the elite scorers in NCAA basketball and would be a fantastic pick for Washington if he lasts this long.

Additional Multimedia From Pre-Draft Workouts:

* Flip Saunders talks with the media about winning the first overall pick

* In The Scrum With Solomon Alabi

* In The Scrum With Eric Bledsoe

* Catching up With Devin Ebanks

* In The Scrum With Paul George

* In The Scrum With Luke Harangody

 

* In The Scrum With Xavier Henry

* Catching Up With Dominique Jones

 

* Catching up With Gani Lawal

* In The Scrum With Patrick Patterson

* In The Scrum With Omar Samhan

* In The Scrum With Lance Stephenson

* Catching Up With Ben Uzoh

 

* In The Scrum With John Wall

* In The Scrum With Hassan Whiteside

 

* In The Scrum With Latavious Williams

Risky Business

The NBA Draft is, at its core, one big educated guess.

A team scouts, interviews and works out potential draftees in order to project how they fit within the pro game and what their prospective ‘upside’ might be. One the day of the draft, teams select their chosen player (or second choice, or third choice, etc), who then typically says all the right things about working hard and being happy with where they ended up.

Yet for all the hype that goes into the event, these selections simply exist as hopefuls until they can prove their value (or lack thereof) as key contributors in the NBA. This is particularly true of those considered ‘high-risk, high-reward’ prospects. That is, players with a high ceiling who give team executives pause with notable weaknesses that could ultimately lead them towards ‘bust’ territory.

In recent draft history, these picks have played a hand in transforming the direction of their team, for better or for worse. The risky selection of Brandon Jennings, who had struggled while playing overseas with Italian club Lottomatica Roma, by the Milwaukee Bucks last year resulted in the team’s first play-off appearance in four years and an NBA Executive of the Year award for GM John Hammond. The big question in Jennings’ case was one of maturity, a question which he seems to have answered by embracing his prominent role in the Bucks’ offence while also creating for teammates.

On the flip side – or maybe the ‘flop’ side – prioritizing raw talent over character can lead to damaging draft decisions. Only in recent years has Portland has moved past their “Jail Blazers” period in which they seemed to attract troublesome talents whose on-court skill could not outweigh their off-court woes. Between 1999 and 2004, Portland drafted Bonzi Wells, Zach Randolph, Qyntel Woods and Sebastien Telfair, all of whom ran into legal trouble or clashed with fans and teammates.

The maturity question holds particular significance this year, with several prospective lottery choices facing some scrutiny over how the will handle themselves in the NBA and whether they will put forth the effort required to realize their potential. Guys like DeMarcus Cousins, Ed Davis and Hassan Whiteside have the physical tools to succeed, but their perceived character flaws will go a long way in determining both where they get drafted and how well they can adapt to the NBA game.

It could be argued that Cousins doesn’t have as much to worry about as the other two. After all, you won’t find a mock draft out there that projects the Kentucky product slipping past Golden State’s No. 6 slot. But the 6’11” power forward won’t get very far without some real dedication to improving his game, most notably his penchant for foul trouble that will only be made more glaring as he prepares for the faster, more physical NBA game. The fact that conditioning is a widely held concern in Cousins’ scouting reports also points to a player who simply hasn’t put in the work needed to allay concerns relating to maturity and commitment.

Like Cousins, Davis has faced questions regarding his motor, particularly in light of a disappointing sophomore season at UNC when he was expected to step out of Tyler Hansbrough’s shadow and lead the team as a dominant inside presence. After all, a 6’9” left-hander with length who can finish above the rim offers reason for optimism. Instead, he seemed content to rely on his physical gifts rather than assert himself in the paint, play aggressively and improve his game. Whether his flaws can be attributed to a lack of killer instinct or simply a relatively passé approach to the game, Davis will continue to leave people wanting more if he doesn’t put the necessary effort into improvement.

Whiteside, meanwhile, could be the biggest enigma of the draft as someone whose suspect work ethic and emotional maturity issues could keep him waiting until the end of the first round to hear his name called. It takes some major red flags for any GM to steer clear of a shot-blocking seven-footer with a 7’7” wingspan, but it’s hard to look past weaknesses when they include academic issues, questions of toughness and concerns over how much coddling and hand-holding he will require. That Whiteside is already 21, after being academically ineligible for college in his first year following high school, is another strike against him.

Talent talks in the NBA, and the bottom line is that these players will be drafted on Thursday. The question will then be, what happens next?