A successful NBA career always depends on many factors: natural talent, skills, hard work, heart, determination, you can’t do without any one of them. You will also need a fair amount of luck, which means staying healthy and avoiding injuries, but also playing at the right time, for the right coach, on the right team. After the 2010 NBA Draft, we tried to figure out who seemed to find that kind of “luck”, and who didn’t. Because many times it’s not how high you get picked, but where (and how much) you’re going to play, who you’re going to play with, and who you’re going to play for.
Derrick Favors, PF (3rd pick, New Jersey Nets)
When you’re drafted at No.3, it is pretty much clear you’re heading to a team that really likes you and wants you to be an important part of their future. Favors should be handed the starting PF spot from day one in New Jersey, having the chance to make an immediate impact, but also to develop alongside a talented center like Brook Lopez. The Nets are a young, promising team led by a new ambitious owner and a new demanding coach: sounds like the perfect situation for the young, talented yet hard-working Favors.
Gordon Hayward, SF (9th pick, Utah Jazz)
Some people – even here at TRW – believe this was a bit of a reach, and a few Jazz fans actually booed as David Stern announced the pick, but Hayward-Utah-Sloan could be a match made in heaven. The swingman from Butler will probably need some time to win a starting spot for a competitive Jazz team, and initially may be used mainly as a spot up shooter. Hayward definitely has the skills to play an important part in Sloan’s system: he’s a tough competitor, an underrated athlete and an extremely versatile player who can contribute in different ways, including working as a secondary playmaker behind Deron Williams.
Cole Aldrich, C (11th pick, traded to Oklahoma City Thunder)
On Draft night, the Oklahoma City Thunder showed how much they wanted Cole Aldrich as GM Sam Presti worked his usual magic to trade up for the big man from Kansas. You know, it’s always nice for a player to feel coveted and highly regarded. Aldrich arrives in a terrific organization who’s building an ultra-talented, young team, and he’ll be asked to grab rebounds, block shots, defend the post, and basically be a presence in the paint: the hard-nosed, tough center just couldn’t be happier.
Andy Rautins, SG (38th pick, New York Knicks)
Quite a surprising selection early in the 2nd round, as many expected Rautins to go undrafted. The Canadian guard out of Syracuse won’t have to move away from New York, and probably will find an ideal situation in a rebuilding Knicks team. No matter what, there’s always room for three point shooters in Mike D’Antoni’s teams, and if that’s what you’re looking for, it doesn’t get much better than Rautins in the whole draft. Of course, he’s a player with obvious limits — one word, athleticism — and clearly the Knicks aren’t planning to build around him, but expect Rautins to claim a place in their roster and see some decent playing time under D’Antoni.
Solomon Alabi, C (50th pick, traded to Toronto Raptors)
Widely regarded as a lock for the first round, Nigerian center Alabi went free-falling before finally being picked at No.50 (the reasons appear to be red flags related to his health conditions, namely Hepatitis B red flags). Eventually, he was traded to the Raptors, and while Alabi may be disappointed not to be a 1st rounder, he finds a suitable situation in Toronto, where fellow country-man Masai Ujiri also works as an assistant GM. Aside from that, the Raptors currently lack a true center and desperately need some interior defense, and though Alabi is still a project offensively, the 7’1″ shotblocker could be an intimidating presence in the paint from day one, as well as a potential steal of this draft.
NOT SO GOOD FITS
Ekpe Udoh, PF (6th pick, Golden State Warriors)
The Warriors are trying to rebuild a new identity, as they’re set to welcome a new owner and most likely a new coach. Even without Don Nelson, though, it will be hard not to imagine Golden State as an offensive, perimeter-oriented, fast-paced team that just doesn’t care much about defense. How does the defensive-minded, hard working Udoh fit in? He could solve part of the Warriors’ problems, or he could end feeling like a fish out of water. Golden State also seems to like Anthony Randolph at PF, which means Udoh could see significant playing time at center, and I’m not sure this will help his development in the NBA. Lastly, was No.6 a little too high for Udoh, and will he be able to meet the consequent expectations?
Al-Farouq Aminu, SF (8th pick, L.A. Clippers)
The Clippers filled a need at small forward, while also picking the best prospect available in Aminu, so how come this is not a perfect fit? With Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin and Chris Kaman all being well established offensive threats, the Clips’ new SF should be able to do one thing in particular, more than anything else: hit open shots, possibly from deep. The problem is, this part of the game is currently Aminu’s biggest weakness; he’s already working on his jump shot, and should see improvement both in his mechanics and range, but right now Aminu doesn’t look the reliable spot up shooter the Clippers need to balance their offense. Also, The Clips have tons of cap space and are likely to be big players in the up-coming free agent bonanza; nobody expects LeBron to be the next SF on their roster, but if they’re able to sign someone like Rudy Gay or Joe Johnson, then Aminu’s prospects in L.A. could change radically.
Paul George, SF (10th pick, Indiana Pacers)
Personally, I’m a keen admirer of Paul George’s skills and I feel the No.10 pick is not a reach by any means. I just wonder how good he’s going to fit in this Pacers team. They already have a superstar small forward in Danny Granger, so I guess George (a natural SF at NBA level) will have to slide to the 2 spot. No big deal both offensively and defensively, considering George’s versatility and his amazing physical tools. The problem is, both of Indiana’s wing players are not much of playmakers, as none of them look particularly adept in creating shots for their teammates. That would call for a proper playmaking point guard to run the team and keep the offense fluid and balanced; unfortunately the Pacers lack this type of PG, actually they kind of lack any PG, that is.
Luke Babbitt, SF (16th pick, traded to Portland Trailblazers)
Selected by the Wolves, and traded alongside Ryan Gomes for Martell Webster in a typical David Kahn move, Babbitt will probably begin his NBA career as an offensive weapon coming off the bench. The sharpshooter out of Nevada will bring instant offense and quick points from the perimeter, and could eventually develop into a 50-40-90 type of scorer. What’s wrong, then? Well, the Blazers appear to have a logjam at Babbitt’s SF position. They absolutely like Nicolas Batum as their starter, and the aforementioned Gomes should see significant playing time too. Also, the likes of Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez (if he’s not traded this summer) usually spend some minutes at the 3. I just wonder if the Blazers have enough minutes for Babbitt on the wing, as I don’t see the former Wolf Pack star being successful at PF in the NBA.
Hassan Whiteside, C (33rd pick, Sacramento Kings)
Draft night was a long night for Whiteside, as the once predicted top 10 pick fell spectacularly to the second round, where eventually the Kings rescued him at No.33. What went wrong? Bad interviews, unconvincing workouts, perceived immaturity, whatever it was it simply devastated Whiteside’s stock. Furthermore, the Kings don’t look like a perfect situation for the development of the big man from Marshall: not only have they recently traded for center Samuel Dalembert (a player Whiteside has often been compared to), but they also selected highly rated big man DeMarcus Cousins with their No.5 pick. The Kings made the right decision going for the best talent available: an athletic 7-footer with freakish 7’7″ wingspan and face-up potential is simply too good to pass at No.33. The question is, how much playing time are they going to concede him?