March Madness: NBA prospects

What does your favorite NBA team need in the draft this Summer? What rookies will fly under the radar and come cheap or with a late pick in your fantasy draft? Plenty of future NBA talent is on display during March Madness, scouts are paying close attention and so should you!

Several weeks remain in the NBA regular season, and the order isn’t finalized until the lottery, which is historically held during the NBA conference finals.  The fourteen teams that don’t qualify for the playoffs take part in the lottery, which is weighted so that the teams with the worst records have the best chance for top picks. The process determines the top three picks, with the remainder of the draft sorted by record, worst to best. For those too young to remember, this was put in to keep teams from tanking to get the top overall pick.

Trades have already impacted the 2011 NBA draft. Your favorite team may be without, or have additional selections. Two major deals will effect this year’s lottery selections.

-Utah receives New Jersey’s #1 as part of the Deron Williams trade

-Cleveland with the Clippers #1 as part of the Baron Davis trade

Here is a look at the lottery order if the season ended today. We also project where teams are in need of immediate help, or to continue their rebuilding process.

#1 Cleveland– J.J. Hickson is the only solid building block on the Cavaliers roster. The process will be a long and painful one, but having the #1 overall pick is a great way to start. Point guards are the rage, the Cavs need one.

#2 Washington – The Wizards started the rebuild last season by dumping contracts, it continue this year with Gilbert Arenas sent packing. John Wall is a great start, Washington could use a big time scorer at forward for the next piece.

#3 Sacramento– A major big man and point guard are the hardest positions to fill and the most important on an NBA rosters. The Kings have both in Demarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans. Sacramento can go two guard or add another big.

#4 Minnesota – The T-Wolves are hopeful Ricky Rubio will someday join them. They shouldn’t complain as they absolutely stole the lottery pick they chose him with by dumping Mike Miller and Randy Foye on the Bullets Wizards. Minnesota needs a center to relieve some of the pressure off Kevin Love.

#5 Toronto– DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis and Andrea Bargnani are the core of the Raptors. Jerryd Bayless may not be the long term answer at the point, so Toronto may look there, or a swing man to complement the mercurial DeRozan.

#6Utah (from  New Jersey) – If I were running the Jazz war room, I would go guard with both lottery picks. Devin Harris can maintain the point for awhile, but Utah is in dire need of a two guard. The front court has youth with Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors. Paul Milsap and Gordon Hayward.

#7 Detroit– Rodney Stuckey is money for the Pistons in the back court, now he needs a mate. The front court has some nice pieces in Austin Daye and Greg Monroe but another big man could also be an option.

#8 Milwaukee– The Bucks are set at point guard for years to come with Brandon Jennings, but off guard is another story.  Chris Douglas-Roberts could be an option but is more of a three. In the paint, Andrew Bogut is solid if he can stay healthy and Larry Sanders could develop.

#9 Cleveland (from LA Clippers) – The Cavs really need to make this pick count. Its hard to fail with the #1 overall, but mid-lottery is another story. If Cleveland goes point early, then scoring swing man or another big to go with Dickson could be  the option here.

#10 Charlotte– The Bobcats created another hole with the trade of Gerald Wallace to Portland. DJ Augustin seems serviceable at the point and Steven Jackson and Gerald Henderson are OK on the wing. Tyrus Thomas has the most upside up front, but bigs are a high  priority.

#11 Golden State– The Warriors are loaded on the perimeter with Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis, but could use a physical player on the wing. David Lee was a perfect fit and Ekpe Udoh should eventually supplant Andris Biedrins.

#12 Phoenix– Suns a team at the crossroads. Steve Nash on the decline and Amare Stoudamire was not replaced. I didn’t really understand either the Orlando or Houston trades. Aaron Brooks is solid and Hakim Warrick is emerging but Robin Lopez’ lack of development is concerning. Best player available for Phoenix.

#13 Houston– Former college teammates Chase Budinger and  Jordan Hill could develop into a nice front court. Terrence Williams and Patrick Patterson also have potential. Will Yao Ming ever play again and will Hasheem Thabeet develop? Kevin Martin & Courtney Lee are a nice combo at the two, Houston could take a point to push Goran Dragic.

#14 Utah– See pick #6. Guard and Guard for the Jazz in the draft. A true ball handling point and a pure shooter (Jimmer?) to learn and work with Harris would be ideal. A strengthened back court would help young bigs develop.

As you watch March Madness, you will be seeing many of the players that will be selected in the June draft. For your viewing pleasure, here are some of the players competing in the tournament, that may end up a lottery selection.

Post (C/PF)

Derrick Williams, Arizona;  Jared Sullinger, Ohio State;  Marcus Morris, Kansas;  Markeiff Morris, Kansas;  Tristan Thompson, Texas;  Kenneth Faried, Moorehead State

Wings (SG/SF)

Harrison Barnes, North Carolina;  Terrence Jones, Kentucky;  Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State;  Chris Singleton, Florida State; Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA;  Kyle Singler, Duke

Guards (PG/SG)

Kyrie Irving, Duke;  Jimmer Fredette, Brigham Young;  Brandon Knight, Kentucky; Kemba Walker, Connecticut;  Nolan Smith, Kentucky

Author: Tom Blaz

Tom is our featured columnist on FantasySP with more than 25 years of media experience in Radio and TV. You may know his work as a beat reporter for the Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland. He also reported LIVE from the Summer Olympics in Seoul, Barcelona and Atlanta. He is an avid Auburn fan, and writes for The Recruiting Eagle, a website focusing on Auburn athletics.

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