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I think we're going to have a pretty exciting draft this year. It seems like there are about 5 guys right now who could conceivably be the #1 pick.

Of course, a lot will depend on what team is picking, Adam Morrison is a lock at #1 if Portland gets the pick, and I've heard Charlotte believes with another 1st team all-american they could win a national championship.

But after Morrison (or before) the rest of the top 5 is dominated by big men. All of whom have a completely different skill set and none of whom have done enough to clearly seperate themselves from the pack.

So the question is, once the guys like the Bulls, Hawks, Sonics, or whoever they may be are on the clock, who do they take?

Lamarcus Aldridge? The next Jermaine O'Neal?
Joakim Noah? The next Pao Gasol?
Tyrus Thomas? The next Amare Stoudamire?
Andrea Bargnani? The next Dirk Nowitski?

Andrea Bargnani is your stereotypical European big prospect. Big, athletic, mobile, and an advanced perimeter game. For now at least, I think Bargnani has been pushed out of the equation by the success the other three guys had in the NCAA tournament. He could make up that ground over the summer in team workouts, but for now I'm saying he's 4th and will limit the talk to the other 3 guys, I can't say more because I've never seen him play.

Lamarcus Aldridge is more of the classic low post scorer. He has the most refined game at this point. The best footwork of the group and the best touch around the basket, he's also got a solid jump shot out to 15 feet. A good shot blocker, but not at the level of either Thomas of Noah, not a lazy player but he doesn't have the motor of those two either. You can go stretches without noticing him on the floor. He's the most talented scorer of this group, but also the most reliant on getting the ball in the places he needs it.

Tyrus Thomas is the physical freak. Ridiculous athleticism combined with a huge wingspan. The youngest player of the group and subsequently the rawest. I think any fears of him being a Stromile Swift can be safely put to rest. He actually makes the most out of his athleticism and is super active in all facets of the game. He is a tenacious shot blocker and aggressive rebounder, and actually likes to do both things, both knocks on Amare's game. He also seems to have good basketball sense, is smart, and highly coachable. Right now his offensive game mostly comes from putbacks and in transition, but he has shown flashes of some ballhandling and a 10-15 foot jumper. It's really hard not to like this kid. I would say he has the most potential in this group, but he also has the most work to do before fully realizing it.

Joakim Noah is the hybrid. A strange mix of skills. He's a 7 footer with perimeter skills, but no jumpshot. He's a good rebounder and shot blocker, but lacks strength. He has good footwork and touch in the post, but can get pushed around. He's an excellent ball handler for his size, can lead the break, passes the ball very well, and has a great motor. Very quick. He has that omnipresent quality. Out of the 3 college bigs at the top of the board, I think the concern is greatest with Noah that his skills will not translate to the NBA. He is going to need to add some strength for sure. But if he does translate, he could quickly become one of the most multi-talented players in the league. One thing is for sure, you can't miss him on the floor. He always finds a way to make his presence felt.

So who do I take today?

I'm going with Tyrus Thomas.

All of these guys are going to need some time to develop, and while Thomas may be the furthest away from becoming a true offensive force, I think he's also the closest to being able to make a large contribution because of the way he plays defense. His defense is going to give a team the luxury of letting him develop because he will still be a very usefull player while he does.

After that I'm going with Aldridge. He's a very safe pick to be a good player. A better version of Channing Frye right off the bat, only with better defense and more upside.

If I'm a GM, I have to put Noah 3rd until I see him in action against some NBA players. His skill set might be the most intriguing but he shot up the board very late. He's going to have to prove himself more than those other two guys in workouts. If he does, then it's very possible he could shoot up to #1.

One thing is for sure, the GM's at the top of the draft are definately going to have to earn their paychecks this year.
 

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good read!

As a fan from a team that should have a top 5 pick this year, and is in need of a Big, I just hope all those players declare for the draft, cause the way it's looking the top 5 picks are looking alright.
 

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i respectfully disagree, thomas doesnt have much to offer on offense at the nba level, and he relies almost entirely on his athleticism to block shots and has poor timing, the simplest headfakes send him springing into the air... finishers like kobe and wade feast off of these flaws and rack up alot of 3 point plays... keep in mind he is still only 6'9'' and without ben wallace/elton brand timing wont be nearly the shot blocker he was in college... without a refined offensive game i see him as a role player not worthy of being a top 5 pick

as far as the best bigman goes, I'd have to say aldridge is still my pick as the best, he is solid defensively and on the boards, has superior size and has a similar offensive game to channing frye... i think any team in need of a true center can take him and feel reasonably secure in what they have
 

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None of these big men are really ready to produce on a high level in the NBA, but I see a lot of potential in some of them.

Aldridge has a soft touch and decent face-up game that draws Jermaine O'Neal comparasions from me, but he's probably a couple years away from doing much damage in the League. He needs to bulk up, toughen up, and develop more of an inside game before he can be a consistent threat.

Tyrus Thomas has unbelieveable athletichism and will be a GREAT shot blocker despite his critics, but that doesn't mean he's quite ready to take his game to the next level. He could definitely step in and be a defensive presence but his offensive game would be almost nonexistent in the NBA. He can score in Kenyon Martin-like ways as far as putbacks and alley-opps go, but it would be on a much lower level at this point. His 15-foot jumper is promising but still has a long ways to go. Two things he doesn't lack are talent and drive, and both of those could eventually get him far. For now, though, he's not ready. And neither is a very talented Noah.
 

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jworth said:
Tyrus Thomas has unbelieveable athletichism and will be a GREAT shot blocker despite his critics, but that doesn't mean he's quite ready to take his game to the next level. He could definitely step in and be a defensive presence.
with his athleticism, tyrus thomas has the potential to become a defensive presence, but coming into the league this year he will be nothing more than a guy that can block a couple of shots and dunk. there is a big difference in blocking a few shots and being a defensive presence.
 

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rocketeer said:
with his athleticism, tyrus thomas has the potential to become a defensive presence, but coming into the league this year he will be nothing more than a guy that can block a couple of shots and dunk. there is a big difference in blocking a few shots and being a defensive presence.
Tyrus Thomas will be a defensive presence.
 

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Aldridge seems to be the conservative, conventional pick. He's big, he has some fairly polished skills and he is big.

Noah and Thomas are both much smaller, have big holes in their game and have emerges only recently (compared to Aldridge). If Bulls draft at the top this year, they'll take Aldridge. If Bobcats does, then they might as well go for Aldridge, he has some of that scoring touch and hight that Okafur might not have.

Blazers would probably take Morrison, while Raptors too would look for size!

If Raptors trade their pick, Houston, they would probably go for Tyrus Thomas to play with mr. Kingsize under the basket. But just about any other team, would go for Aldridge I think!
 
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