With Wall, the choice is clear

FRANK ZICARELLI, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:23 PM ET

John Wall has been described as a can’t miss prospect, a cross between Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade, a building block that’s expected to be erected in Washington later Thursday night.

In the history of Kentucky basketball, which is as deep and steep as any collegiate program, no Wildcat has ever been taken with the first overall pick.

History will be unveiled, a new beginning with the Wizards who are desperately trying to rid themselves of Gilbert Arenas.

Whether any rumour ever comes to bear, the latest involving Orlando and Vince Carter, it will have no bearing on the proceedings Thursday night when commissioner David Stern steps to the podium to tip off the league’s annual selection process.

“And with the first pick in the 2010 NBA draft, the Washington Wizards select....”

It’s a no-brainer for a Wizards franchise that hit rock bottom last season, but lucked out when it won the draft lottery last month.

Wall is athletic, has size and gets into the lane.

He’s not without faults, but any kid who jumps to the pros after spending one year in college has deficiencies.

Wall will headline a Kentucky draft class that has the potential to feature five first-round picks, a feat that has never happened.

Evan Turner of Ohio State is probably the most NBA-ready player, but he doesn’t quite have the cache Wall carries.

The 76ers, who will pick second, are expected to take Turner, whose abilities to handle the ball, make decisions, play in transition and make shots are the exact attributes new head coach Doug Collins covet.

The Nets, who had the best odds of winning the lottery, pick third amid talk that New Jersey is keen on taking Wesley Johnson, an athletic wing many had pegged to go fourth overall to Minnesota.

New Jersey, though, is loaded with cap space and with free agency looming there are plenty of options at power forward to complement Brook Lopez, an emerging big who needs help in the paint.

Derrick Favors may yet be taken by the Nets, but there’s talk of Minnesota wanting to move up in hopes of getting its hands on Johnson, a sentiment Wolves GM David Kahn dismisses.

“Highly, highly, highly” unlikely are the words he expressed when asked about the scenario of moving up.

“We’re up to four highlys. I want to be really clear: The idea that we would then have to move up to three is ridiculous. We like four a lot. In our opinion, it will be fine, no matter how it plays out.

“I don’t think one or two are even available and I don’t think it’s necessary to move up to three. Whoever (sic) is at four, we’re going to have a really fine player join our roster. I don’t really think I could screw this up, as much as I would try or could try.”

But Minnesota is a team to look at because it has multiple picks.

There are so many rumours and so much uncertainty that Thursday night shapes up as very intriguing.

The Miami Heat has only three players under contract, is said to be willing to trade Michael Beasley and is so fixated on clearing as much space to pursue big-name free agents that its 18th slot is available, which would save Miami $1.2 million in cap space.

A team like Charlotte, which has no picks and is among the most penny-pinching franchises in the league, are looking to get into the draft.

GM Rod Higgins admits he’s been “very busy” when it comes to working the phone and initiating trade discussions.

There’s talk of all-stars such as Mo Williams and Chris Paul being had for the right price, talk of teams wanting to move down or acquire additional picks.

There’s so much talk that it’s almost inconceivable that nothing of any substance will happen on draft day.

Whether anything comes close to last year when Shaquille O’Neal was acquired by Cleveland and Carter traded to Orlando remains to be seen.

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


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