KINGS OF THE DRAFT: Did the Kings just win the draft for the second straight year? They grabbed ex-Memphis guard Tyreke Evans with the fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft, and he went on to win Rookie of the Year. Thursday, they chose Kentucky center DeMarcus Cousins with the fifth overall pick -- and got the best center on the board, and the best player available in the entire draft from a statistical viewpoint. The red flags about his immaturity don't bother me: The guy is a monster on the offensive glass, a high-efficiency scorer with excellent athleticism in the post, and has a better personality than people give him credit for.
Cousins also claims he'll have solid chemistry with Evans in Year 1. "He's part of the Cal family," Cousins said, meaning John Calipari, who came to Lexington from Memphis. "We all know each other."-- Luke Winn
PROVEN GUARDS LEFT OUT: I leave the Garden Theater feeling for Kansas' Sherron Collins, who went undrafted despite being perhaps the gutsiest senior guard in the nation. Teams opted for a series of project big-men down the stretch in the second round rather than proven backcourt players, including Collins and Duke's Jon Scheyer. While I understand that Collins had some conditioning issues -- multiple NBA teams told me they had serious concerns about his weight -- he was always one of my favorite clutch players in college hoops, and I think he has an eventual place on an NBA roster. I'm told he has an invite from the Charlotte Bobcats for their summer-league team; perhaps he'll stick there. At one point, during his freshman year in the Big 12, rival coaches considered him as hard to defend as Kevin Durant; hopefully, Collins can rediscover some of that magic and earn an NBA contract.-- Luke Winn
REMEMBER THE NAMES: As the 2010 NBA Draft winds down, we'll leave you with a futures tip. Next year's draft is going to be a bonanza for foreign players, especially at the top. Fran Fraschilla predicts Enes Kanter, Jan Vesely, and Donatas Motiejunas will all go in the first 10 picks of the 2011 Draft. "Kanter will be at Kentucky next year and he's a beast, the Turkish Karl Malone," said Fraschilla. "Motiejunas is a 7-foot Lithuanian and just 19 and Vesley is a 7-footer who is really good. Those three names. Remember them."-- Richard Deitsch
Things worked out well for Gordon Hayward -- and his mother, Jody.
In Kelli Anderson's pre-draft feature on Hayward, Jody said that when agents first started leaving messages at their house, she believed her son wasn't "spiritually strong enough to handle" the NBA. Hayward is from a strong, religious family, and while he was deliberating about the draft in April, one agent said that Jody had stated her preference that Gordon land in a small market, because she feared he'd be "corrupted" in places like New York, Los Angeles or Miami. Hayward confirmed that to me at the draft, saying of his mom, "That's kind of the way she is."
Well, she got her wish. Gordon was taken at No. 9 by the team in the NBA's most wholesome, religious, small market -- the Utah Jazz. And he seemed pleased about it, too, fondly recalling how well he played at the Jazz's EnergySolutions Arena during Butler's run through the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. "Hopefully," he said, "that can continue."-- Luke Winn
ANCHORS AWEIGH: I wonder if there were any U.S. Naval bases celebrating Derrick Caracter being drafted at No. 58 to the Lakers. Remember that, in May, the character-deficient Caracter said that Plan B was the Navy:
"If Plan A [the NBA] doesn't work out, Plan B would be joining the Navy. I would do something like that. Seriously. I think it would be a great experience. You travel, you train, you can be chillin' in Japan. You get to see different things and different parts of the world. That's something I always wanted to do: travel around the world. See different things, new people, cultures and lifestyles."
Maybe the Lakers can schedule an exhibition for him in Japan?-- Luke Winn
CELEBRITY SIGHTING: At what point in the first round are the players being picked less famous than the people interviewing them? When TNT's Craig Sager is doing the interviews -- he has his own booth away from ESPN's operation -- the cutoff might be after Evan Turner, who went second overall to the 76ers. By the time the 28th pick rolled around, Sager was being fawned upon: When Maryland's Greivis Vasquez was sent back to the TNT booth, he greeted Sager by saying, "Oh! How are you doing, sir! I'm a BIG FAN of yours. I've been watching you for many years."
Vasquez' history of hair-shave designs does rival Sager's sartorial history, so I guess the fandom makes sense.-- Luke Winn
This is by far my most pointless post of the evening, but here's the deal on those strange, hipster-ish glasses worn by Clippers draftee Al-Farouq Aminu: He said they aren't prescription, just plain glass. They're made by SpitFire, and he's only been wearing them for three or four days. They also only cost about $30. I assume that after receiving $2.36 million in salary for 2010-11, he'll upgrade?-- Luke Winn
NEW YORK, NEW YORK:
The Knicks finally joined the draft at No. 38 and No. 39, a reward for the 2,000 or so diehards who stuck around as the draft weaved into the second round. After chanting for Jeff Van Gundy, the former Knicks coach who is working for ESPN during this draft, New York selected Andy Rautins, a 6-5 shooter from Syracuse and the son of former pro Leo Rautins. That drew a mix of boos and wild cheers. Then came the Knicks' second pick -- Stanford forward Landry Fields. That selection produced a rain of boos. Welcome to New York, fellas.-- Richard Deitsch
WIZARDS, T'WOLVES DEAL: Fresh off leading off the draft with John Wall, the Wizards got busy as the draft hit its midpoint. A league source tells SI's Ian Thomsen that the Wizards have traded the 30th (Marquette forward Lazar Hayward) and 35th (Serbian big man Nemanja Bjelica) picks in the draft to Minnesota for Clemson forward Trevor Booker, selected 23rd overall.-- Paul Forrester
FORGETTING THE FOOTBALL TEAM: After he was selected at No. 17 overall, French prospect Kevin Seraphin was asked if he thinks basketball could become more popular than soccer in France, in light of his country's recent failure to advance out of its group. "Yeah, I expect that the basketball players from France are going to be more popular and basketball is going to have a better place in the media, hopefully," he said, chuckling at the latter part of his statement. -- Brett LoGiurato
WEATHER KEEPS WILLIAMS AWAY: Raptors first round pick Ed Davis said North Carolina coach Roy Williams was supposed to join him at the draft but some bad weather on the East Coast prevented Williams from making it. "Coach was supposed to be here but he was flying from Carolina and he got stopped at Richmond, my hometown," said Davis. "Then he got back in the air and stopped in Baltimore because of the weather so he didn't make it. There were a lot of thunderstorms."-- Richard Deitsch
RALLY CAP FOR ALDRICH:
Funny holding-area scene: I was hanging with Kansas' Cole Aldrich the moment he found out he was potentially being traded from the Hornets to the Thunder in a package deal. He got the news when the "proposed trade" flashed on the big-screen TV behind him, and an NBA staffer told him to turn around and look. (The photo at right is of that exact moment.)
"I just got traded?" Aldrich said. His shock soon turned to excitement, when he considered the fact that Oklahoma City has former Big 12 foe Kevin Durant, and former Kansas star Nick Collison -- and has a much better chance of contending in the Western Conference than New Orleans does.
Because the deal was still in "proposed" state, Aldrich opted not to stop wearing his Hornets hat entirely. "We'll just go with it backwards for now," he said. "Rally-cap style."
Later, I caught Aldrich playing pop-a-shot, and then having a special moment with ex-teammateXavier Henry, who was drafted immediately after Aldrich by the Grizzlies. Henry actually broke down crying in Aldrich's arms for a minute. Jayhawk fans, does this make you get emotion
-- Luke Winn
DRAFT NUGGETS: Some quick draft nuggets, courtesy of the NBA: John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins are the sixth pair of teammates to be selected in the Top five of the NBA Draft since 2002. The others? UCLA's Russell Westbrook (No. 4) and Kevin Love (No. 5) in 2008; Ohio State's Greg Oden (No.1) and Mike Conley Jr. (No. 4) in 2007; North Carolina's Marvin Williams (No. 2) and Raymond Felton (No. 5) in 2005; UConn's Emeka Okafor (No. 2) and Ben Gordon (No. 3) in 2004, and Duke's Jay Williams (No. 2) and Mike Dunleavy in 2002. Also, at least one son if a former player has been drafted in the last eight drafts: Dunleavy (2002), Luke Walton (2003), Jackson Vroman (2004), Sean May (2005), Corey Brewer, Al Horford (2007), Patrick Ewing Jr. (2008), Stephen Curry, Gerald Henderson and Austin Daye (2009) and Ed Davis (2010). -- Richard Deitsch
SI JINX: My colleague Ian Thomsen texted me as Paul George was being selected by the Pacers that he had hit the first eight picks of the draft. "But now its going south on me," Thomsen said. Indeed, the Mock Draft is a fickle mistress. Since correctly calling Al-Farouq Aminu to the Clippers at No. 8, Thomsen is 0-for-9. Here's hoping he can turn it around soon.-- Richard Deitsch
BABBITT TO BLAZERS: With Wesley Johnson already in the fold, the Timberwolves have decided to trade Ryan Gomes and the 16th overall pick to Portland, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The T'wolves selected Nevada forward Luke Babbitt for the Blazers and their soon-to-be-departing GM Kevin Pritchard. The Blazers will send forward Martell Webster to Minnesota.-- Paul Forrester
PATTERSON FEELS NBA-READY: Why should you draft Kentucky junior forward Patrick Patterson. Well, we'll let him tell you: "I should be drafted because no one is mature as me," Patterson said. "No one shows the professionalism as me. I'm a team player on and off the court. I work extremely hard and I think I'm well-deserving of being called NBA-ready. I can bring so much to a team on the court, scoring around the rim, rebounding, running up and down in transition and defending. Off the court, I'm someone you don't have to worry about it. I'm a team player who puts the team first and represents the organization right." The Rockets took Patterson at No. 14.-- Richard Deitsch
DAVIS ON BOSH: North Carolina's Ed Davis went No. 13 to the Raptors, which is interesting given that the player he most wants to pattern himself after is Raptors (soon-to-be leaving?) forward Chris Bosh. "I really like Bosh's game," said Davis. "He's left-handed, 6-11, kind of wiry, long, and he can put it on the floor. That's the guy who I most want to pattern my game after."
Davis, the son of former NBA pro Terry Davis, worked out for Detroit, Golden State, Indiana, Utah and the Clippers and called himself "an athletic, rebounding, shot-blocking, face-up player who can run the floor and has a lot to offer."-- Richard Deitsch
ALDRICH ON THE MOVE: Reports indicate that the Hornets will send their first-round pick Cole Aldrich and Morris Peterson to the Thunder for the Nos. 21 and 26 picks in this year's draft. Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reported before the Hornets tabbed Aldrich that the Hornets were eyeing Xavier Henry or Patrick Patterson with the 11. The deal helps rid the Hornets of Peterson's $6.6 million salary next season and gets the team under the luxury tax.-- Paul Forrester
WALLACE TO RETIRE:
Huge news breaking out of Boston tonight: NBA.com and TNT's David Aldridge reported that Celtics forward Rasheed Wallace officially decided to retire after 15 NBA seasons. Wallace signed a three-year, $18.9 million contract with Boston last summer, turning down offers from Orlando and San Antonio. "Rasheed was in bad shape all season and that did not figure to get better," said SI.com's Ian Thomsen. "I think there would have been a lot of concern about paying him for the next two years." Wallace averaged 14.6 points and 6.7 rebounds in his career, and won a championship with the Pistons in 2004.-- Richard Deitsch
CONFIDENT COUSINS: One of the my favorite moments of Wednesday's pre-draft interview session in New York came during the interview session of Kentucky 6-foot-9, 270-pound forward/center DeMarcus Cousins. I asked the 19-year-old why teams should draft him.
"I'm the best player in the draft," he said.
"That simple," I said.
"That simple," he said. "I'm a game-changer. I just believe I'm the best player, the best talent in the draft."
It didn't come off cocky. The 19-year-old was poised and calm as he said it. If Cousins and the Kings (he went No. 5 to Sacramento) are right about him, he and Tyreke Evans are going to be killing people come 2014.-- Richard Deitsch
COLLEGE COACHES: A new Green Room trend we're seeing this year: College coaches aren't seated at -- or aren't being invited to -- their players' tables. Kentucky's John Calipari (who has three players at MSG) and Nevada's David Carter (for Luke Babbitt) are the lone two coaches in the Green Room. Ohio State's Thad Matta (for Evan Turner) and Georgetown's John Thompson III (for Greg Monroe) are sitting a few seats away from each other in the front row of the 200 level, while Baylor's Scott Drew is positioned in the row just behind Ekpe Udoh's table. I don't see any other college coaches in the house. No Bill Self, no Roy Williams, no Brad Stevens ...-- Luke Winn
TRAIL VULTURES?: Hot on the news that GM Kevin Pritchard will be escorted out the door after tonight's draft comes word from Brian T. Smith of the Columbian that the Blazers have already interviewed Spurs GM R.C. Buford and Thunder GM Sam Presti for the job. With owner Paul Allen's deep pockets, Portland might make an offer one of those two can't refuse.-- Paul Forrester
WALL TRACKING WORLD CUP: Here's something outside-the-box about No. 1 overall pick John Wall: The Wizard's new point guard is a big soccer fan. Wall watched the U.S soccer win over Algeria yesterday ("They hit a big goal -- about time," he said) and played keeper as a youngster for his Boys and Girls Club in Raleigh before he had his teeth knocked out by a shot. That was the end of his soccer career, perhaps luckily for Tim Howard.-- Richard Deitsch
CHECK THAT NUMBER: Someone in John Wall's family section held up a custom No. 11 Wizards jersey t-shirt as soon as David Stern announced the No. 1 pick. As the Washington Post's Michael Wilbon (who's sitting two seats away) noted, Wall can't wear No. 11 with the Wiz -- it was retired after Elvin Hayes wore it on the Bullets' NBA Finals teams in 1975, '78 and '79. I'd just make Nick Young give Wall No. 1; he's the new face of the franchise.
(I asked Brian Clifton, Wall's advisor and former AAU coach, what number he'd wear in D.C. next year, and Clifton acted as if were a state secret. All he would say was, "We're considering a couple of options.")-- Luke Winn
TURNER'S SLEEPERS: On Wednesday afternoon I asked Ohio State's Evan Turner who he considered a sleeper in this draft. He named two guys: Oklahoma State shooting guard James Anderson and Fresno State small forward Paul George: "James Anderson is a pure scorer," said Turner. "He has an old-school type feel to him, he knows how to score and knows how to play off the ball. He has some tricks. And Paul George is such a versatile player. I really love his poise."-- Richard Deitsch
BAD IN PLAID:
I just talked to Wes Johnson backstage, before he took his table at the Green Room. He said he didn't know where he'd be picked, but he told me, "My gut says New Jersey [at No. 3], and my mind says Minnesota [at No. 4]." So does that mean the smart money is on the Nets opting for Derrick Favors instead of the Syracuse swingman?
The one certain thing about Johnson: He's wearing the best pants of the draft, by far. I took the shot at right from one of the press rows at MSG, during the annual group photo-pose. Wes' inspiration apparently came from Ralph Lauren. "I'm into fashion," he said. "I went to a Polo store in Chicago [during the draft combine] and got the idea there, and then had someone custom design it."
Jim Boeheim has to be disappointed that he wasn't credited for inspiration. The man used to rock a mean plaid on the sideline.-- Luke Winn
BLAZERS FIRE GM: The Trail Blazers have reportedly fired general manager Kevin Pritchard less than an hour before the draft is set to begin.
According to the Oregonian, Portland owner Paul Allen informed the GM that selecting the Blazers' draft pick would be his last responsibility with the franchise. Pritchard is under contract thorugh the 2010-11 season. The reason for the firing is unclear, but Thursday's decision was expected since March when Pritchard's right hand man, Tom Penn, was fired.--Nicki Jhabvala
WEAK FOREIGN CLASS: ESPN's Fran Fraschilla has created a niche for himself at the network with his understanding and scouting of the international game. He said this year's class of foreign players in the draft is weaker than previous years, but cited two players he really liked that will be picked tonight, including 6-foot-9, 258-pound forward Kevin Seraphin of France and Tibor Pliess, a 7-1 center from Germany.
"Pliess' agent Bill Duffy told me today -- and I agree -- that he'd be one of the best centers in college basketball," Fraschilla said. "But no one knows about him."
Fraschilla was not as high on Ryan Richards, the 19-year-old seven-footer from England who has been the source of buzz this week. "I hate to say it but he's Patrick O'Bryant to me," Fraschilla said. "He's moving up because he's intriguing but Ryan Richards is the classic case of what happened five to seven years ago, an intriguing guy who people have not done enough homework on."--- Richard Deitsch
STYLING FOR THE DRAFT: It's nice to see some of the guys I've covered all year (or for multiple years) in college cleaning up for the draft. Like Cole Aldrich of Kansas: When I met with him in October for a preview story on the Jayhawks, he had no left front tooth. It had been knocked out in a collision the previous season, and although he owned a prosthetic tooth to cover up the gap, he seemed to prefer not to wear it. So we dined on fried pickles in downtown Lawrence, with him looking like either a hillbilly or a hockey enforcer (probably the latter, since he's from Northern Minnesota).
When I ran into Aldrich tonight outside the Green Room area, there was no gap in his teeth. He had the prosthetic in -- he removed it for a half-second, just to show me -- and was browsing the Web on his cell phone, reading reactions to the plaid vest he wore at yesterday's media day. "They're saying either me or Wes Johnson had the best look," he announced, proudly. Aldrich opted for what he called a more "contemporary" getup this evening, with a dark suit and purple shirt, bearing no resemblance to an ECHL defenseman.-- Luke Winn
BLOCKBUSTER IN WORKS: The Nets and Pacers are reportedly discussing a blockbuster draft trade that would send All-Star forward DannyGranger and the 10th pick to New Jersey for Devin Harris, Yi Jianlian and the third overall pick.
According to Yahoo! Sports, the Pacers would move up to the No. 3 slot in the draft and take Georgia Tech's Derrick Favors, and they'd have Harris to fill their void at point guard. No deal has been set yet, as other pieces could be added to the package to make the salaries match up under league rules. The Pistons would love the No. 3 pick to get Kentucky big man DeMarcus Cousins, but the teams haven't been able to agree on anything.
BULLS SHIP OUT HINRICH: The Chicago Bulls have agreed to a deal to send guard Kirk Hinrich and the No. 17 overall pick in Thursday's draft to the Wizards, an NBA source confirmed. The trade was first reported by ESPN. League rules prohibit the trade from being completed until July 8 and it is unclear what the Wizards, who can absorb Hinrich's $9 million salary into their available cap space, will send back to Chicago. However, though the Bulls will still pick at No. 17 on Thursday, they will be picking for the Wizards.-- Chris Mannix
BIG MAN TALKS BIG GAME: Teams interested in DeMarcus Cousins can rest assured that confidence is not an issue for the Kentucky big man. Cousins, who's projected to go to Sacramento with the No. 5 pick, told reporters on Wednesday that there's one clear reason why he should be drafted: "I am the best player in the draft. It's that simple. I am the most dominant, and I believe I am the biggest game-changer. I believe I am the best talent in the draft." -- Nicki Jhabvala
MAKING THAT DOUGH: Near the top of the long list of great things about being an NBA player? The first paycheck. Syracuse's Wesley Johnson, who Ian Thomsenprojects will go the Timberwolves at No. 4, was asked Wednesday what purchases he'll make when the money starts flowing in. After promising to take care of his family with some homes, Johnson admitted that he's long had his eye on a particular automobile. "I'm going get a Mercedes Benz CL 65 AMG," he said, smiling. Average cost: $198.668. It's good to be a lottery pick. -- Richard Deitsch
SIXERS WANT MORE: While the 76ers are locked in on Ohio State's Evan Turner with the No. 2 overall pick, sources say Philadelphia is actively seeking another one. The Sixers have been looking to buy or trade for a late first- or early second-round pick, with an eye on picking up another big body for the frontcourt. Last week, Philadelphia traded starting center Samuel Dalembert to Sacramento for Andres Nocioni and Spencer Hawes. -- Chris Mannix
ENGLISHMAN IMPRESSES: Asked for someone under-the-radar who will make an impact in the NBA, Xavier Henry didn't hesitate: "The kid from England, Ryan Richards, can really play," said Henry, the 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Kansas who is expected to go in the first 15 picks. "He showed me a lot of things. He's a Euro-type of player, but he's real smart and all of his moves are fast-paced. He can also shoot. That's something he can do really well. The 6-foot-11, 230-pound Richards played a year in a professional league in Belgium and then six games with BBC Monthey in Switzerland before a shoulder injury ended his season. Richards, 19, was at one of Henry's last workouts, and the Kansas freshman came away impressed. "He's nearly 7 feet and when you have a 7-foot guy that can shoot and plays smart, I think that's someone who can do some good things in the league." -- Richard Deitsch
LOOKING BACK: While participating in Steve Nash's annual Showdown in Chinatown, a number of NBA stars reflected on their draft day.