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June 19, 2010

Roundtable: Best available in the draft

At the College Basketball Roundtable each week, we ask members of the coverage staff for their opinions about a topic in the sport.

TODAY'S QUESTION: The NBA draft is Thursday night. Forget the draft order; who are your top five players available, in order?

David Fox's answer:
John Wall and Evan Turner are the top two. I'd put Wesley Johnson third for some of the same reasons I like Turner; he's an athletic wing who can contribute at multiple positions. Big men always seem to be the biggest question marks in any draft, and the guards are unimpressive after Wall. That makes safer picks such as Turner and Johnson that much more valuable. My last two spots would be forwards, and the best is Derrick Favors. He's a bit of a question mark because Georgia Tech's guard play was so suspect, but he remains the best big man in the draft. My fifth spot would go to Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins. His ability, of course, isn't a question. If a NBA coach and NBA teammates can help him grow up a little bit, we'll wonder 10 years from now why Cousins wasn't taken higher.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
I'd put Kentucky guard John Wall first; I think he is a difference-making point guard, the kind of guy a team can build around -- and count on for a decade. I would put Syracuse's Wesley Johnson second. I like his athleticism and explosiveness. Ohio State's Evan Turner would be third on my list. He does everything well, but I'm not sure he ever will be a true star; then again, if he's a 15-point, six-rebound, four-assist guy for a while, that's just fine. Georgia Tech's Derrick Favors would be fourth. I think he was hampered with clueless guards at Tech, and assuming he gets to play with a true point guard in the NBA, I think he can be a double-double guy for a long while. At five, I would put Georgetown center Greg Monroe. He was passive at times with the Hoyas, and that gives me some pause. On the other hand, the guy has all the skills to be a highly productive NBA big man for a decade. He can pass, defense, rebound, shoot, even handle the ball well for someone of his size. He plays on an even keel and has great mobility.

Jason King's answer:
No. 1 is Kentucky's John Wall; he's the complete package, on and off the court. No. 2 is Ohio State's Evan Turner, the most versatile player in the draft. Third is Kentucky big man DeMarcus Cousins, who has a huge upside and doesn't deserve the level of criticism he's received. Fourth is Georgetown's Greg Monroe; he will be one of the more athletic 7-footers in the league. And No. 5 is Wake Forest forward Al-Farouq Aminu, who will be scary if he ever reaches his potential.

Steve Megargee's answer:
I'd put Kentucky guard John Wall first, Ohio State swingman Evan Turner second, Kentucky post player DeMarcus Cousins third, Georgia Tech big man Derrick Favors fourth and Syracuse forward Wesley Johnson fifth. I believe Wall's the closest this draft has to a sure thing. I don't know if he can deliver the same immediate impact Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans made in their rookie seasons, but the recent history does suggest John Calipari-coached point guards are a good bet. I don't think Turner has as much upside as Wall, but Turner was the best player in college basketball last season. In my mind, Cousins' extraordinary potential outweighs any perceived concerns about his character or his ability to stay out of foul trouble. Cousins was so much more productive than Favors last season that I have to give the Kentucky big man the edge, though I would have liked to see how Favors might have fared while playing alongside a better backcourt. I believe those four guys clearly are the best players in the draft, but the fifth spot is much less certain. I'm going with Johnson, who was one of the top three college players in the nation when healthy last season. I think he has the type of game that will adapt well to the NBA.



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