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The 2010 Draft

by Adam Orecchio

Everything can change during the time period resting between All-Star Sunday and the 2010 NBA Draft for the basement-dwelling New Jersey Nets. But we do know one thing for certain:

The Nets Stink.

Ok. So now that we are clear on that, in all likelihood and barring a devastatingly shocking and improbable run that actually would cause more harm than good, New Jersey will be the odds on favorite to win the lottery.

But even as a favorite, there is still a strong possibility the Nets can fall out of the top spot. The only thing guaranteed is that New Jersey will be in the top four. So what type of player will the team be looking to add come draft day? Much of that depends on free-agency and what the Nets can accomplish with all that cap-space team president Rod Thorn worked so feverishly to clear.

This is where things get muddled. In roughly a month if everything clears and falls into place, it appears that Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov will be approved by the league to purchase the New Jersey Nets. What his plans are for the team is unclear. Will the current brass be clearing out their desks at season's end? Will the Mad Russian be a free-spending win-at-all-costs type owner in the mold of a Mark Cuban? Or will we see a bottom-line oriented, tight pocketed owner in the form of Los Angeles Clippers owner Mark Cuban? While I would venture to guess he'd lean more towards putting it all out there and getting a title, this type of thing is impossible to speculate.
The Nets are headed to Brooklyn in 2012. So being in a brand new arena with a rejuvenated fan base inevitably will lead to some excitement around the organization and if you want to put bodies in the seats in Brooklyn, you had better put a product on the floor worth watching; especially if the New York Knicks retool and become competitive again.
So what player should New Jersey target in this year's draft? I have always been a fan of the 'make a big board and take the best player available regardless of position' approach to drafting. When teams draft for positional need, it usually leads to mistakes.
Portland needed a center in 1985 and already had Clyde Drexler. So they filled a need by selecting Sam Bowie and passing on Michael Jordan (among others).
Conversely, Chicago last year already had a quality starter at point guard in Kirk Heinrich. But rather than going need and nabbing Kansas State's Michael Beasley, they went best player available and took Derrick Rose out of Memphis.
We all know the outcome if the Nets win the lottery. John Wall trades in his Kentucky Blue for New Jersey Net Blue. The Nets get a guy with star power who can be the face of the franchise and everyone lives happily ever after.
But followers of the team know it never ends up being that easy for New Jersey. So assuming D-Day arrives and some other team is on the clock first, what options does the front office have?

2.) Evan Turner-SG Ohio State
Dimensions: 6'7" 210

Anybody who watches Ohio State ends up talking about how good Evan Turner is. There really isn't anything on a Basketball Court he can't do. Slick handle, silky smooth stroke, gets to the tin at will, great rebounding instincts and the ability to pass the ball as well. The guy already has two triple-doubles under his belt,; which is almost unheard of at the collegiate level this quickly. A show stopping talent who will be star on the next level. I'd say he compares favorably to Paul Pierce, Caron Butler, and Brandon Roy.

3.) Demarcus Cousins-C Kentucky
Dimensions: 6'11" 275

The best player on Calipari's Wildcat roster thus far this season (that's right, I said it.) Cousins might be even more pivotal to Kentucky's season this year than John Wall is. In my opinion, he translates into a Power Forward at the next level. He has great power moves in the post and is a beast on the glass. He also possesses the ability to finish with either hand and na underrated mid-range jumper. This is a guy who has been flat out un-guardable at the collegiate level because of his brute strength and tenacity. The only flaw I have seen with Cousins is in his ability to pass out of the double team and his fluidity on the blocks. He has a propensity to turn it over when pressured and his moves down low are lack the finesse and technique he will need at the next level when the players he matches up against are a bit bigger and stronger than what he deals with now in the Big 12. Compares favorably in my opinion to a slightly more athletic version of Chris Kaman.

These are the guys I would go for should the Nets lose out on John Wall. But as we said earlier, everything changes between now and D-day.