SLAMonline Mock Draft: Damion James, No. 16
We need basketball players.
by Cub Buenning
A couple weeks ago, we at the Minnesota Timberwolves scooped up Kentucky big man, DeMarcus Cousins with the fourth pick in the Draft. The pick immediately bolstered our already formidable frontline; putting in place a three-headed frontcourt that hopefully will be a dominate force in the Western Conference for years to come.
We have our young pieces “together” in the backcourt and as of yesterday, things seem “guay” with our boy, Ricky. Jonny Flynn and Ramon Sessions give us youth and experience leading the team, but like we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we have several holes that need filling and we pick based on the “best player available” theory.
We need basketball players. We need grown men who can score, rebound and defend.
This is an easy pick.
Two years ago, as this guy finished a dominate sophomore season in the Big 12, we saw “lottery talent” (and still have him ranked as such, today). He already had the pro body. He was already was a force on the glass and was just beginning to develop the all-around offensive game.
Since then, he has honed those perimeter skills and became the unquestioned leader of a team that spent time as the nation’s top-ranked program. Oddly enough, it seems that this guy has become one of the most forgotten NBA-talents in the college ranks since Duke’s Carlos Boozer fell to the second round in 2002.
So, with the 16th pick in the 2010 SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select…
Damion James from the University of Texas.
When James first left his East Texas home for the Lone Star capital city, he arrived as a defensive monster that could grab rebounds and block shots. He contributed immediately in his first collegiate season (8 points/7 rebounds on a team led by the high-powered trio of Kevin Durant, AJ Abrams and DJ Augustin) and went on to score just a shade under 2,000 points and grab more than 1,300 rebounds in his illustrious career. As a freshman, the 3-point-line frightened the 6-7 225-pound native of Nagodoches, but James made himself in to a 40 percent shooter from long-range (a skill that should allow him to be more than proficient in knocking down the open 16-footers he is sure to see in his first couple of professional seasons).
A bit of grief was lobbed our way with the Cousins pick. Work ethic and attitude were consistently present on the “weaknesses” section of his scouting report, but the same will never be printed about James. “First in the gym; last to leave” was the constant refrain from both players and coaches when describing James. (This past season, I penned a feature for the magazine on the UT team — while they were ranked No. 1 — right before their season fell apart with a rash of injuries. Needless to say, the story was killed and never saw print.) We also like the idea of Cousins coming in as a rookie alongside a guy like James. At 22, James has a better understanding and has already accomplished much more in the game of basketball than the 19-year-old Cousins has.
What has scared some general managers away appears to be James’ lack of a true-offensive position. We see him filling in on the wing (our biggest “need”), defending the League’s strong two-guards and even bodying up on our opponent’s bigs. While there is a worry that he will struggle to get shots and scoring chances at the next level, we have no concerns about opportunities for a player who comes in averaging over 3 offensive rebounds a night in over 140 highly competitive collegiate games. He will find his spots on the offensive end, all while giving us the intangibles that often get overlooked in the NBA. He will get to the free-throw line, be physical, throw in junk baskets around the hoop and give us what we need most of all, immediate contribution in every facet of the game.
The Timberwolves will be back in another week to make the 23rd pick! With all of these first round picks, the popular thought would be to draft an unknown international and stash him away, but we need players, now. Specifically, we have our eyes on a group of players who just finished their sophomore seasons in college.
|2010 SLAMonline Mock Draft|
|1||Washington||John Wall||16||Minnesota||Damion James|
|3||New Jersey||Derrick Favors||18||Miami|
|5||Sacramento||Greg Monroe||20||San Antonio|
|6||Golden State||Wesley Johnson||21||OKC|
|8||L.A. Clippers||Al-Farouq Aminu||23||Minnesota|
|11||New Orleans||Gordon Hayward||26||OKC|
|12||Memphis||Luke Babbitt||27||New Jersey|