A look at some of the top players from this year’s draft.
By: Taren Vaughan
Just like the NFL Draft, the NBA Draft is one of the most anticipated events in sports every year. Players from all over the country, and the world for that matter, are anxiously waiting to see where they will end up next. With this draft, most of the selections were predicted correctly, while others shocked critics and spectators, leaving some fans very disgruntled. Let’s take a look at some of the players who went early in the draft.
Pick # 1: John Wall
University of Kentucky
It was no surprise seeing North Carolina native John Wall go first in this year’s draft. As a freshman at the University of Kentucky, Wall averaged 16.6 points, 6.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds and led the Wildcats to the Elite Eight in this year’s NCAA tournament. Even though he did not follow in Carmelo Anthony’s footsteps by winning a national championship as a freshman, John Wall made a huge impact on the program, shattering assists records and being named SEC Player of the Year. And let’s not forget his patented dance that had UK fans going crazy. Adding John Wall to the roster was just what the Washington Wizards needed after losing their star Gilbert Arenas for the upcoming season. His incredible athleticism and ability to get to the basket will indeed give the Wizards that edge offensively. Trust me, with this young man’s level of talent, it won’t be long before Wizards’ fans will be doing “The John Wall Dance” in the stands.
Pick # 2: Evan Turner
The Ohio State University
Just as the first pick of the draft wasn’t a shocker, the second overall pick was pretty predictable as well. The Philadelphia 76ers selected 6’7 guard Evan Turner from Ohio State. Don’t let his height fool you. Turner’s ability to handle the rock gives him that point guard flavor, which is not as common for a man of his size. His sophomore and junior year, Turner led the Big Ten in scoring and broke a Big Ten Player of the Week record, receiving the award a total of eight times. One of the key qualities that Evan Turner possesses is that he knows how to be a team player. Any coaching staff should be ecstatic to have a player like Turner who plays unselfish basketball and knows how to look for his teammates in the open court. The 76ers have not managed to get a hot streak going since the early 2000’s. Evan Turner may be just the man to get them headed in that direction.
Pick # 3: Derrick Favors
New Jersey Nets
Georgia Tech’s Derrick Favors was the first ACC player to be selected in this year’s draft. Just like J. Wall, Favors did a one and done, only playing a season for the Yellow Jackets. He was named ACC Rookie of the Year and ACC All-Freshman. Known for his shot blocking ability, Derrick Favors is said to be very effective in the paint, which is one thing the Nets were looking for. Unlike a lot of NBA players, Favors didn’t begin playing basketball until he was 10 years old. That didn’t seem to matter much as he grew into one hell of a ball player. As one of the latest additions to the Nets, hopefully Derrick will be able to do a number of “Favors” for his new team.
Pick # 4: Wesley Johnson
Syracuse forward Wesley Johnson will now be reunited with his former Syracuse teammate Jonny Flynn as he prepares to suit up next year as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Although he did not remain with Iowa State, Johnson still made an impact on the program, achieving the second-best record for assists in the program’s history. His sophomore season was slightly stifled due to an ankle injury. But he was back in full effect for his junior year, averaging 16.5 points per game and having a three-point percentage of .415. This reunion Johnson and Flynn could mean more wins for the T-Wolves. Having former teammates on your squad, especially if they meshed well together, could produce a positive outcome and lead to an improved win record.
Pick # 5: DeMarcus Cousins
University of Kentucky
Five UK players were drafted this year, with DeMarcus Cousins being the second Wildcat to be selected. Playing alongside John Wall, Cousins added much fuel to the Wildcats’ offense, averaging 15.1 points in just over 23.5 minutes into a game. This stat is very impressive for a player standing 6’11 and weighing in at 270 lbs. With excellent shot blocking skills and an aggressive defensive force, DeMarcus Cousins will provide the Kings with a huge presence on both ends of the court. One flaw of Cousins’ is his attitude. Despite all of his outstanding athletic achievements at Kentucky, he racked up a total of five technical fouls during this past season. At the moment, we can blame it on immaturity. But Cousins should be careful. He doesn’t want to end up in the T.W.A. (Talent With Attitude) category. In the long run, it could cost him game suspensions and money like it has done to other very talented players like Rasheed Wallace and Dennis Rodman.
Pick # 6: Ekpe Udoh
Golden State Warriors
Pick # 7: Greg Monroe
Hailing from Allen Iverson’s alma mater, Greg Monroe was one of the players representing the Big East in the draft. He will be showcasing his talents next year with the Detroit Pistons. As a First-Team All-Big East Selection, Monroe averaged 16.1 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists in a time span of 34.2 minutes per game. During his sophomore season, Monroe led his team to a division championship game against West Virginia. Greg Monroe is noted as an excellent passer for a player of his size and really has a true understanding of the game of basketball. The Detroit Pistons won the NBA Finals in 2004, defeating the LA Lakers. Since then, the team has not been able to reach championship caliber again. This former Hoya may help the Pistons re-gain some of their momentum that has faltered over the past years.
Pick # 8: Al-Farouq Aminu
Wake Forest University
Last draft season, the LA Clippers got Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin. This year, they have added more sizeable talent to their front line by acquiring power forward Al-Farouq Aminu. Aminu became the first Deac since the great Tim Duncan to lead the ACC in rebounds. He also led the ACC with an astounding 19 double-doubles. His ability to crash the boards and put up points should give the Clippers something to look forward to next season. The Clippers’ next season holds much promise, especially with a healthy Griffin in the line-up. Blake Griffin is a beast is his own right. But Al-Farouq Aminu’s skills are nothing to smirk at by far. A collaboration of the two will definitely be a force to be reckoned with.
Pick # 10: Paul George
Fresno State University
Selected right after Gordon Hayward, Paul George out of Fresno State will be joining forces with former UNC Tarheel Tyler Hansbrough as an Indiana Pacer. While at Fresno State, George averaged 16.6 points and 7.1 rebounds during his sophomore season. One of his most impressive stats is his free throw shooting percentage, which sits at .906. Say what you want, but when it’s crunch time and the final score could be determined by making a pair of free throws, a player like Paul George could most definitely come through for your team. With the ability to get up in the air and snatch down rebounds on a consistent basis, Paul George will be a great contributor to the Pacer line-up.