CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Yes, Raleigh's John Wall is that good. Rod Thorn, as experienced as any NBA executive, made that clear last week.
"I'd be shocked if anyone took anybody but John Wall No. 1," the New Jersey Nets' Thorn told the Newark Star-Ledger.
Keep in mind not only Thorn's long resume -- he drafted Michael Jordan for the Chicago Bulls way-back-when but also his circumstance: Thorn already has a former All-Star at point guard in Devin Harris, and he's still saying he or any other general manager would grab Wall regardless of who is already on his roster.
That's the extent to which Wall excelled in his one season at Kentucky, averaging 16.6 points, 6.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals.
Who gets that chance to draft Wall will be decided Tuesday night when the NBA holds its annual draft lottery, among teams that failed to reach the playoffs. For the first time, the Charlotte Bobcats won't participate; they made the playoffs, so they have no chances in the weighted lottery determining the first three picks.
Also, the Bobcats dealt away both their picks in the June 24 draft. Their first-rounder (16th overall) goes to Minnesota, via Denver, as compensation for the 2008 pick that became Alexis Ajinca. They owe their second-round pick (46th overall) to the Phoenix Suns.
While the Bobcats are out of the mix, there are still Carolinas connections throughout the lottery. Beyond Wall, who played high school ball in Raleigh, there are two forwards -- Wake Forest's Al-Farouq Aminu and North Carolina's Ed Davis -- who could each go top-10.
Wall is the prize because he so fits where the NBA is evolving. The league now strictly enforces a no-hand check rule for defending a ballhandler. That means penetrators with the size and dribbling skills to get into the lane -- think Chicago's Derrick Rose, Utah's Deron Williams or Boston's Rajon Rondo -- are major weapons.
At 6-foot-4, Wall fits that description.
"Number one, he has a gear that few people have. And he has an unusual size to be that fast," Thorn said.
"And everyone you talk to says he's a great kid -- no character issues with him. He competes. He plays better in the last five minutes than the first five. He's a gym rat. And he's got a bunch of plusses beyond that.
"He's not a great shooter, but guys get better. Point guard is obviously a critical position. He's a good one."
Aminu and Davis aren't nearly such sure things, but that's the reality of the draft in these early-entry times. Aminu is a pure athlete with a wide skill set, but he lacks an obvious position.
"I'm not even sure what he is," Thorn said of Aminu. "He's real young (turning pro following his sophomore season) and plays young, but he handles the ball better than all these (non-point guards). He can take it off the rim, bring it up, and pass it."
Davis is that much more raw. You're drafting him because he's athletically graceful for a 6-9 post player. But his relative lack of strength runs counter to his "power forward" position. And he didn't consistently play hard, which was all the more apparent in contrast to former Tar Heels teammate Tyler Hansbrough.
Among others who figure to go top-10: Ohio State guard Evan Turner, Kentucky center DeMarcus Cousins and Georgia Tech power forward Derrick Favors and Syracuse small forward Wes Johnson.
Turner is a combo guard and more a scorer than a pure shooter, with the strength to finish a play. Cousins is a true center, which raises his value. Favors figures to be a big-time rebounder as a power forward. And Johnson is the closest thing to a finished product on the NBA scale.