The Early Entries – Power Forward/Center – Part I

With the Early Entry Deadline for the 2010 NBA Draft less than 3 weeks away, this would be a good time to start looking at who has declared so far and whether this is a good or bad decision. One thing to keep in mind as we review the lists is the prospect of a lockout after next season (the expiration of the current CBA). We will be seeing a lot more marginal prospects declaring early, hoping to cash in next season.

This first part will look at the big men – Power Forwards and Centers; included in this group will be college Power Forwards who project to play at Small Forward in the NBA. Tomorrow we will look at the Guards and Small Forwards, and as new players declare each day, we will examine their decision.

Cole Aldrich – Kansas – (6’11, 245) – Junior – Aldrich is the best of the classic big men in the draft. His draft stock won’t improve much by coming back. Top 10 Pick.

Craig Brackins – Iowa State (6’10, 230) – Junior – Brackins had a disappointing season, and he could have been a late lottery pick this year. He is still a solid scorer and rebounder who can thrive in an up-tempo system. 1st Round, 20-30.

Hassan Whitehead – Marshall (6’11, 225) – Freshman – Barely known before December, Whitehead made quite an impression seeingly blocking any shot that came near him.  He’s a decent rebounder and his offense improved over the course of the season, though he relies mainly on offensive rebounds and tip-ins to score.  He definitely could use another season to gain strength, but he’s already 20 years old.  1st Round, 15-25.

DeMarcus Cousins – Kentucky (6’11, 260) – Freshman - A large, athletic big man with very good offensive skills.  If he can improve his conditioning and stay on the court for 30 minutes a game, he has the ability to easily be a 20-10 guy.  Defensively, it is all about his motivation.  When he wants to, he can use his body to force defenders off the block and is athletic enough to go after rebounds and block shots.  However, there are too many times where he lets offensive players back him down while he tries to block the shot, or he waits for rebounds to come to him and gets out-hustled to the ball.  I don’t see another year of school helping him, so this is the right move.  Top 5 pick.

Gani Lawal – Georgia Tech (6’9, 234) – Junior –  Gawal is a very physical player on both the offensive and defensive ends.  While he didn’t put up big numbers, with the improvement of Derrick Favors, he did show some improvements in his rebounding and defensive positioning.  Offensively, he has added some basic low block moves and a 10-15 foot jump shot, though he needs to become more consistent.  His toughness is what will get him picked, but his time on the court will depend on his improvement.  Late 1st – Early 2nd Round, 25-35.

Kenneth Faried – Morehead State (6’8, 215) – Junior – One of the best rebounders in the country, Faried has won many fans with his high energy style of play.  Offensively, he does most of his damage off of rebounds or tip-ins.  He is incredibly athletic and never quits on any play.  His offensive skill-set needs significant improvement – at times he can look awkward in a set offense.  Defensively, Faried again relies on his athleticism and motor, going strong after rebounds and blocking shots.  He needs to add strength to become a better post defender.  He will benefit more from playing against NBA players and a professional level strength regimen.  Good decision.  Mid to Late 2nd Round.

Next post, we will look at the rest of the big man crop, including the Kentucky duo of Orton and Patterson, SEC-mate AJ Ogilvie and Seton Hall’s Herb Pope.

As always, for more in-depth coverage of players and the latest 2010 Mock Draft – check out DraftSite.com.