Well, it’s that time of year again – the time when NCAA and NBA pundits alike start evaluating incoming talent. And while March Madness is in full swing, the debate has already started: Who should go first in the 2010 NBA Draft?
Granted, it’s all speculation, but most everyone agrees that Kentucky’s super-frosh PG John Wall and Ohio State’s star SG Evan Turner are this year’s prized prospects, with every basement team licking their lips at the very thought of landing either one of them.
Throughout most of the college basketball season, it was clear that, if Wall and Turner were to declare for the draft, the No. 1 overall pick was a no-brainer – John Wall. Some believe he might be a better PG prospect than Derrick Rose in 2007. To give you perspective, many believed Rose, coming out of Memphis, was the best PG prospect to emerge in 20 years. While many believe it’s an open-and-shut case for John Wall to go #1, some have already made a case for Evan Turner to go ahead him, based on need. One of the best scorers in the country, Turner is considered one of the most complete players in college basketball.
This is where the conundrum begins for some teams – like my Sacramento Kings.
Would I love John Wall on my team? Sure – why wouldn’t I want a guy who comes off as a natural-born leader, who is a TRUE point guard, and can do wonders with the ball in his hand? If we’re lucky enough to land the #1 pick, I will be grateful to have my choice of Wall and Turner.
But, considering David Thorpe’s recent ESPN Insider article, this isn’t as simple as “Grab Wall! Are you crazy?! GRAB HIM!!” I say this because of one player: Tyreke Evans.
I gotta say, the Kings actually lucked out when they DIDN’T get the #1 pick in 2009. With the worst record in the league last year, they were all but promised Oklahoma PF Blake Griffin with the #1 overall pick. Fortunately for them, however, they were shut out of the top 3 picks in the draft lottery. With that, they avoided Griffin (sidelined with a knee injury), Hasheem Thabeet (sent to the NBDL), and James Harden (0 starts this season), while Evans – a Rookie of the Year candidate – landed in the Kings’ court.
Here’s where things start to go awry – Evans, a converted point guard (from shooting guard at Memphis), likes the ball in his hands. So did the Kings’ other best player – Kevin Martin. While injuries hindered Martin earlier in the season, Evans was the go-to guy, and the Kings did much better than anyone expected. Sacramento, led by Evans, went a better-than-expected 14-19 without Martin. When he came back, the Kings went 3-11, until they traded him to Houston on February 18. This came as little surprise – it was obvious Evans and Martin couldn’t share the ball effectively enough to win.
I’m sure there would be some Kings fans that could say, “put Evans back at shooting guard!” Really? After a year of success at the PG position, do you really want to risk changing his role (when he’s already effective where he is), because we want to bring in a “real” PG like John Wall, thereby potentially creating another Evans/Martin situation?
In this case, it might be better to go with Turner. His ability to create his own shot and his potential from the perimeter could give the Kings a potentially dangerous backcourt – one that could rival the Bibby/Christie guard combo of ’02.
It’s all about chemistry and fit, here – and, as much as I like John Wall, Turner is most likely the better fit. Of course, this is all speculation. But wouldn’t that be something?