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2010 NBA Draft Review: Which Rookies Will Be Difference Makers?

Charlie Zegers

Charlie has covered the NBA, NFL and MLB for RotoWire for the better part of 15 years. His work has also appeared on,, the New York Times, ESPN, Fox Sports and Yahoo. He embraces his East Coast bias and is Smush Parker's last remaining fan.

2010 NBA Draft Recap

With labor strife expected next summer, lots of prospects jumped at the chance to start cashing NBA paychecks this season, making the 2010 NBA Draft the deepest we've seen in years.

That doesn't necessarily mean we're in for a massive influx of fantasy options, though. While the overall depth had many teams thinking they'd be able to land rotation players well into the second round, the talent pool was probably only five "stars" deep, and with only one can't-miss superstar: Kentucky's John Wall.

Here's a look at the draft class of 2010 and the rookies you'll want to grab on draft night.

Lottery Picks:

1. John Wall – PG (WAS): Wall has drawn comparisons to Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Jason Kidd – basically, every great point guard to hit the league in the last quarter century. We get it. He's good. Really good. Fantasy wise, the success of players like Rose, Brandon Jennings, Stephen Curry and Tyreke Evans over the last two seasons means there's no reason to hesitate when drafting a rookie guard – especially one expected to start from day one like Wall.

2. Evan Turner – SG/SF (PHI): Turner does everything well – shoots, defends, passes – and projects as a do-everything wing at the next level. Of course, Philly already has a guy with a very similar resume in Andre Iguodala; it will be interesting to see how new Sixer coach Doug Collins plans to use the two, or if Philly will look to deal Iguodala.

3. Derrick Favors – PF (NJ): A highly athletic big man who posted measurements similar to Dwight Howard's at the pre-draft camp, Favors could eventually form an outstanding frontcourt tandem with Brook Lopez. But temper your expectations for his rookie season; Favors is expected to take a year or two to adjust to the pro game.

4. Wesley Johnson – SF (MIN): A sweet-shooting wing and excellent rebounder, Johnson should have an excellent chance to win a starting job out of training camp, and could provide some scoring punch for a T-Wolves squad that struggled to put points on the board last season. The presence of Syracuse teammate Jonny Flynn (they practiced together during the season Johnson sat out after transferring) could aid his transition to the next level; learning Kurt Rambis' triangle offense could slow it down.

5. DeMarcus Cousins – C (SAC): He may have the most upside of any player in the draft and has the potential to form a devastating inside-outside combination with Tyreke Evans. The recent acquisition of Sam Dalembert should allow the Kings to bring Cousins along slowly, but he should be putting up good numbers by the second half of the season.

6. Ekpe Udoh – PF/C (GS): Shot-blocking is a skill that typically translates pretty well from college to the pros, and Udoh was one of the best in Division I last season. His fantasy value will depend entirely on the fire sale currently in progress in Golden State – he'll be a more interesting prospect if the Warriors move Andris Biedrins.

7. Greg Monroe – PF/C (DET): Skilled big man could provide an interesting new dimension for the Pistons – a team seemingly composed almost entirely of wings.

8. Al-Farouq Aminu – F (LAC): The Clippers had a gaping hole at the three spot going into this draft. That hole might still exist. Aminu has the athleticism to play the three, but doesn't really have the jump shot or handle to start at small forward in the NBA; initially might be best used as a combo forward off the bench.

9. Gordon Hayward – SF (UTA): One of the heroes of the NCAA Tournament, Hayward's scoring ability is unquestioned – but many observers wonder what position he'll defend. One possibility, raised by ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy: if the Jazz lose Carlos Boozer as expected, Jerry Sloan could shift Andrei Kirilenko back to power forward and use Hayward and C.J. Miles at the three.

10. Paul George – SF (IND): Scouts who love George's potential compare him to a young Tracy McGrady. His detractors wonder why he didn't put up more impressive numbers for Fresno State. He could emerge as one of the better players in this draft, but is probably a year or two away from putting up big fantasy numbers.

11. Cole Aldrich – C (NOR, traded to OKC): Aldrich has good size and is a polished player on both ends of the floor, but is generally projected as a quality backup pivot.

12. Xavier Henry – SG (MEM): One of the better shooters in the draft, Henry should be a very effective spot-up shooter from day one. The question is, how does he fit in Memphis? Does his arrival mean O.J. Mayo will shift to the point? Or is it a sign that the Grizzlies are assuming they'll lose Rudy Gay to free agency?

13. Ed Davis – PF (TOR): Apparently the Raptors don't think Chris Bosh is coming back. That's good; neither does anyone else. Davis is a very good rebounder and is comfortable playing in the paint, but he'll need to develop his offensive game before he'll be a major contributor.

14. Patrick Patterson – PF (HOU): An old-school back-to-the-basket power forward could potentially step right in and replace the production the Rockets lost by trading Carl Landry last season.

First Rounders

15. Larry Sanders – PF (MIL): An athletic-but-raw power forward should contribute on the defensive end right away.

16. Luke Babbitt – F (MIN – traded to POR): A talented scorer, but there are major questions about who he'll defend at the next level. Scary comparisons – Keith Van Horn? Adam Morrison? – abound.

17. Kevin Seraphin – F (CHI – traded to WAS): Seraphin translates loosely from the French as "the Bulls will keep me overseas so I don't mess up their play for LeBron."

18. Eric Bledsoe – PG (OKC – traded to LAC): Mostly played off the ball for Kentucky, but projects as a point guard at the next level. The Clippers are hoping Bledsoe will follow a similar career path to Russell Westbrook – another two-turned-one drafted by Sam Presti. For now, he'll back up Baron Davis.

19. Avery Bradley – PG (BOS): Tremendous athlete and perimeter defender who will combine with Rajon Rondo to give opposing offenses absolute fits. Doesn't have a consistent enough jumper to step in should the Celtics lose Ray Allen in free agency, but could be a suitable replacement for a Tony Allen or Nate Robinson.

20. James Anderson – G (SAN): Very good perimeter shooter who could become a quality second-unit scorer for the Spurs or possibly replace Richard Jefferson if San Antonio can deal the overpriced veteran.

21. Craig Brackins – F (OKC –traded to NOR): A perimeter-oriented big man, Brackins was considered a potential lottery pick, but his stock dropped due to a poor 2009-10 season. Could become a nice scoring option for the Hornets.

22. Elliot Williams – G (POR): Skilled scoring guard gives the Blazers more backcourt depth, but this selection (and the second-round pick-up of Armon Johnson) have us wondering what Portland will do with Jerryd Bayless.

23. Trevor Booker – F (MIN – traded to WAS): The first senior picked in last night's draft, Booker projects as an undersized, hard-working, physical defender and rebounder – a nice complement to skinny bigs like JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche.

24. Damion James – F (ATL – traded to NJN): Ability to defend both forward spots will help the Nets from a depth perspective.

25. Dominique Jones – G (MEM – traded to DAL): Interesting pick here. Jones is a high-scoring combo guard who could put up big numbers in an instant-offense-off-the-bench role a la Ben Gordon or Jamal Crawford. But Dallas is pretty deep in the backcourt, so it's hard to see him getting big minutes this season.

26. Quincy Pondexter – F (OKC – traded to NOR): A physical combo forward best suited to slashing to the basket – Pondexter has the opposite skill-set as Brackins, the 21st pick.

27. Jordan Crawford – G (NJN – traded to ATL): Potential fantasy sleeper here. Crawford can fill it up – and he may have a chance. It's not hard to envision the Hawks losing Joe Johnson to free agency, moving Jamal Crawford into the starting five and then using Jordan (no relation) Crawford in Jamal's old role.

28. Greivis Vasquez – G (MEM): Would have loved Vasquez, fantasy-wise, if he had landed with Mike D'Antoni's Knicks as many expected. On any other squad, Vasquez' lack of lateral quickness will make him a major defensive liability.

29. Daniel Orton – C (ORL): Generally considered a bit of a project, Orton will have the chance to develop behind Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat. If his development is further along than most suspect, he could free the Magic to move Gortat this summer.

30. Lazar Heyward – F (WAS – traded to MIN): Played as an undersized four in college. In the pros, projects as a similar player to Ryan Gomes, who the T-Wolves traded to Portland in the Martell Webster deal.

Notable Second Rounders - Players in deep leagues might want to consider:

  • Dexter Pittman, Jarvis Varnado, Da'Sean Butler, Latavious Williams (MIA): Miami traded out of the first round to build up more cap space – by the time Pat Riley is done, Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers will be the only Heat players under contract. As such, one or more of their second-round picks may wind up with significant roles this season, even if the Heat are able to re-sign Dwyane Wade and add two max players. Pittman is a potential beast if he can keep the weight off, and Varnado is an excellent shot blocker. Butler won't play until late in the season, if at all, after suffering a torn ACL during the Final Four.

  • Andy Rautins, Landry Fields (NYK): Like Miami, New York has very few players under contract, and though Mike D'Antoni famously plays a short rotation, one or both of these guys could wind up getting minutes. Rautins could be this year's version of J.J. Redick (and I mean that as a compliment; Redick would be a very dangerous player in D'Antoni's offense) while Fields has a similar profile to that of current Knick Wilson Chandler.

  • Gani Lawal (PHO): Most projections had Lawal in the late first/early second round – he could be a steal – and a rotation player - for Phoenix with the 46th overall pick.