CHICAGO -- After watching and speaking with 52 NBA hopefuls at the pre-draft camp in Chicago this past weekend, multiple league personnel evaluators reached a consensus. On June 24, commissioner David Stern will call out these five names first: John Wall, Evan Turner, Derrick Favors, WesleyJohnson and DeMarcusCousins.
The order of the bottom four may still be up for debate, but unless something drastic happens in the next month, the top five are set. And Wall should pack his bags for Washington.
Wall, the 6-foot-4 Raleigh, N.C. native who averaged 16.6 points and 6.5 assists while earning SEC player of the year honors at Kentucky, may not have been the most polished player at the camp, but he was certainly the most unique. His baseline-to-baseline speed is mesmerizing, and could fill a void on most any NBA team's roster. He's already drawing comparisons to fellow ex-Wildcat and current Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, and once Wall develops an even passable mid-range jump shot he'll be a weapon on both ends.
Turner, the National Player of the Year, is headed to Philadelphia, where new coach Doug Collins will get a shooting guard with good size (6-6) and excellent ball-handling who has matured into a well-rounded player after three seasons at Ohio State -- though his looming acquisition immediately calls into question the status of Sixers guard Andre Iguodala.
Wall's Kentucky teammate, DeMarcus Cousins, is probably the most talented big man in the draft, but his personal issues may lead the Nets (who have the No. 3 pick) to select Georgia Tech's Derrick Favors to pair with center BrookLopez in the frontcourt. Favors is the safest bet for new Nets owner MikhailProkhorov, who can't afford to make a mistake in his first NBA draft.
Because Minnesota already has Al Jefferson and Kevin Love down load, the Timberwolves will likely take Syracuse's guard Johnson -- a long, smooth wing player who fills a need for the long-suffering 'Wolves -- with the fourth pick.
That leaves Cousins for Sacramento, which may be the perfect market for the embattled player. He could probably step in immediately at center for the Kings, making Spencer Hawes expendable. Playing with Rookie of the Year TyrekeEvans and Carl Landry, Cousins would give the Kings a nice young nucleus to build around.
As for the rest of the draft, several sources said they could see Butler's GordonHayward sneaking into the top 10, perhaps landing in Utah (No. 9) or Indiana (No. 10).
Memphis shooting guard Elliot Williams, who's drawn interest from the Grizzlies, pulled out of the camp at the last minute because of an undisclosed injury. Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace said the injury shouldn't hinder Williams' stock, assuming it's not serious.
Another player to gain attention is power forward Ryan Richards, an Englishman playing in Spain whose size and shooting touch helped him stand out to some talent evaluators.
One player who may have hurt himself is Cincinnati shooting guard LanceStephenson, who, one source said, did very poorly in interviews while being forced to answer questions about his off-the-court issues.
Kentucky's Patrick Patterson did well in interviews, sources say, as did Marshall's Hassan Whiteside, who had three triple-doubles this season, and Larry Sanders.
It remains to be seen if that was enough to get those players into the top 10. Golden State, which has the sixth pick, needs front-court help desperately. The Warriors have a choice between second-tier prospects, Cole Aldrich, Al-Farouq Aminu, Ed Davis, Greg Monroe and Ekpe Udoh, front-court players who will likely be among the lottery selections based on a team's individual taste.
One other front-court player who seems to be a conundrum for personnel evaluators is Kentucky's Daniel Orton, a 6-10, 260-pound bear whose production (3.4 points, 3.3 rebounds) at Kentucky does not jibe with his size or demeanor. However, Orton was on a team that is likely to produce five first-round picks, so his opportunities may have been limited by that.