Ready or Not, Here Comes the NBA Draft

John Wall going first is the only sure thing on Thursday night

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Jun 24, 2010  |  Updated 5:16 PM EDT
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Ready or Not, Here Comes the NBA Draft

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John Wall is going to be picked first overall by the Wizards on Thursday night.

Beyond that there isn't much for certain about the appetizer to the most anticipated free agent season in the history of sports.

Ohio State forward Evan Turner will likely go second, but there's a chance the Sixers trade out of the spot so we can't be sure where he'll be playing when the season tips off. And then come the Nets with the third pick and a multitude of options about the first big personnel decision of the Mikhail Prokhorov era.

They like to consider themselves in the hunt for LeBron James, though you don't hear many other people saying that, and will certainly be players on the free agent landscape this summer. Like many teams, though, the uncertainty of what will happen this summer makes it hard to know exactly what's the best move on Thursday night.

Do you select Syracuse small forward Wesley Johnson with designs on signing Carlos Boozer to fill the power forward slot when he becomes a free agent? Or does it make more sense to grab Georgia Tech big man Derrick Favors and then figure out everything else as the chips start falling in July? 

A tough call, which is probably why G.M. Rod Thorn is dangling the pick in trade talks for players like Chris Paul or for a chance to move down in the draft, add a player and continue strengthening the overall roster.

The Nets also have the 27th pick and rumor has it that they'd like to package that with a second rounder or other goodies to move up in the order as the night progresses. Whatever winds up happening with the Newark-bound bunch, they figure to have a better roster to offer to prospective free agents looking to play under Avery Johnson's tutelage next season.

The Knicks aren't quite so well-stocked with picks. The Jazz, using a pick that originally belonged to the Knicks, will be picking ninth and Donnie Walsh only has a pair of second rounders to work with at the moment. There's lots of talk that they might use one of those picks and some cash -- worry not, it doesn't affect the cap room -- to move into the 20's (similar to what they did to grab Toney Douglas last year) so they can grab a player who has caught their eye.

The name of that player varies with some -- hard-driving Nevada guard Armon Johnson, rangy Iowa State forward Craig Brackins -- causing more excitement than others. The latter category includes Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez, a tough offensive guard who might be the only player on the planet who could actually make the Knicks worse defensively.

But whomever the Knicks wind up taking home, it's not likely to make a world of difference to the real object of their desire this summer. LeBron isn't making his decision based on any rookie, which is yet another reason why it would be nice if the NBA followed the lead of the NFL and put their draft after free agency has had a chance to play out. It would make for better trades as teams would be dealing with known rosters and picks made with more of an idea toward actually helping the team instead of just spitballing about the guys with upside, a word that you'll be sick of 10 minutes into the telecast of this year's draft.

Things are as they are, however, so enjoy tonight's festivities and then set the clock for a week from Thursday when the real fun begins.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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