Every year feels the same as the one before it — a couple of can't-miss All-Stars, a large handful of so-so prospects that may or may not make it as regular starters in the league, and then an endless supply of bench scrubs clogging up the ranks from picks 20 to 60. But every year, at least one star manages to rise from the ranks — so who will it be this season? Who wins Rookie of the Year?
It's not an easy question to answer this season, because even at the very top of the 2010 draft, every lottery pick has its warts. No one looks like a clear-cut superstar, at least not from Day 1. Tyreke Evans, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Brandon Roy, Chris Paul — those guys were franchise players from the very start. No one in this class looks capable of taking the league by storm right away.
John Wall has the most raw athletic talent of anyone in the draft, but there are also multiple circumstantial red flags surrounding his arrival in the nation's capital. For example — how quickly can Wall learn the point guard position at the NBA level? And how will he handle competing with Gilbert Arenas, the established face of the Washington Wizards' franchise, for control of the basketball?
Evan Turner was putting up triple-doubles like clockwork at Ohio State. But he'll have to compete with Andre Iguodala for the spotlight on the Philadelphia 76ers, and Iguodala has an $80 million max contract and a gold medal at Worlds to prove that he's the big man on campus. Incoming Sixers coach Doug Collins likes it when one star player dominates on the ball in his offensive system, and Iguodala appears to be that star. Turner's learning curve in the NBA might be a steep one.
Derrick Favors has all kinds of skills at both ends of the floor, but he's still young and raw, and he's part of a Nets team with a huge rebuilding project to work on. Don't expect a world-beating rookie season from Favors, although he could be an All-Star down the road.
Wesley Johnson — maybe. It's hard to tell with the Timberwolves, who have about 20 potential rotation players and no clearly defined roles.
DeMarcus Cousins — who knows? The early scouting report on the Kings' rookie is a million-dollar body and a five-cent head.
No one really stands out as the star pupil in this incoming class.
So if you have to pick someone, why not pick the guy with the most talent, the most promise, and the loftiest expectations for his career in the NBA? Why not go with Wall?
Learning to play the point in the NBA overnight is tough. The game is faster and more physical, defenses are harder to beat, and every opposing guard is big and tough. The SEC and the NBA are absolutely nothing alike.
Just like Steve Nash, Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo before him, Wall will probably have growing pains. But then again, won't everyone? Can you name a single rookie in this year's class who will make himself at home right away?
Wall will figure things out on the fly. He'll be learning from a great coach in Flip Saunders, and he'll have enough young talent around him to put together a respectable season on the Wizards.
There are plenty of unknowns surrounding the NBA's rookie class of 2010, but one thing we do know is Wall is the cream of the crop.
It's been a tough last 12 months in the the District of Columbia — an owner has died, two stars have been traded away and a third has been mired in scandal — but change is coming. In the end, you can expect the protagonist in that success story to be rightfully rewarded.
NESN.com will analyze 25 key NBA questions this September.
Sept. 15: Who wins Coach of the Year?
Sept. 17: Who wins MVP?