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2010 draft class lacks stars, not talent

A year ago, the word spread among NBA executives.

"The 2009 draft may be the worst draft in a decade," they whispered.

"It's terrible," another told me. "There are no franchise players."

Surely, it will never stack up to the loaded 2008 NBA draft -- the one that produced guys like Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, O.J. Mayo, Michael Beasley, Eric Gordon and Brook Lopez among the Top 10 picks.

But it wasn't nearly as brutal as some anticipated, either.

The problem was that two of the top five picks -- No. 1 overall selection Blake Griffin and No. 5 pick Ricky Rubio -- never played a single game, and the No. 2 pick, Hasheem Thabeet, is a work-in-progress.

However, Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings each proved capable of becoming future All-Stars in the league. Stephen Curry, taken seventh by Golden State, was far more productive as a rookie than anyone could have imagined, and both Jonny Flynn and James Harden were solid.

DeJuan Blair was a big-time rebounder in San Antonio as a second-rounder. Marcus Thornton averaged 14.5 points per contest as the 43rd overall pick, and undrafted guys like Wesley Matthews and Reggie Williams made an impact.

There were also plenty of disappointments.

Jordan Hill barely played in New York before being dealt to Houston. Gerald Henderson didn't get much run in Charlotte, and B.J. Mullens is -- not unlike Thabeet -- a project.

This year will be similar.

John Wall and Evan Turner should waste little time making an immediate impact in the NBA, but the jury is out whether either will turn into a dominant player at the next level.

But the 2010 NBA draft -- after Wall and Turner -- is loaded with big guys, and those are the ones that traditionally take more time to develop.

A pair of freshmen -- DeMarcus Cousins and Derrick Favors -- have question marks: Cousins with the mental aspect and Favors due to his lack of dominance at the college level at Georgia Tech.

Patrick Patterson and Cole Adrich have three years in college and should be solid NBA players. The future of sophomores Ed Davis and Al-Farouq Aminu aren't quite as certain.

It's truly a "potential" draft -- with guys like scoring wing Xavier Henry and intriguing bigs such as Marshall's 7-foot freshman Hassan Whiteside, Kentucky's three-point-per-game frosh Daniel Orton, VCU's long and talented forward Larry Sanders and Butler's Gordon Hayward.

Don't be shocked if Willie Warren and Devin Ebanks, who were both regarded as lottery picks entering the season, wind up being selected in the tail end of the first round.

Don't be surprised if Wall's sidekick in the UK backcourt, Eric Bledsoe, turns into one of the better NBA floor leaders in a few years.

For better or worse, there just isn't much disparity after Wall and Turner. In fact, a FOXSports.com poll of 10 NBA execs found that five different players would be taken -- as of today -- in the third spot.

The 2007 NBA draft featured a franchise-changer in Kevin Durant, who was selected at No. 2 overall behind Greg Oden, but the 2006 draft was brutal among the Top 10 picks.

Andrea Bargnani went No. 1, followed by LaMarcus Aldridge, Adam Morrison, Tyrus Thomas, Shelden Williams, Brandon Roy, Randy Foy, Rudy Gay, Patrick O'Bryant and Saer Sene.

Back in 2005, it was the point guard draft in which Deron Williams and Chris Paul went third and fourth overall. The NBA draft in 2004 wasn't mediocre in the Top 10, but Dwight Howard was No. 1 overall.

It was all about LeBron back in 2003, which may turn out to be the most powerful draft class in recent memory. Carmelo Anthony went No. 3, Chris Bosh got picked fourth overall and Dwyane Wade was taken fifth.

The 2010 NBA draft may lack star power for the time being, but it's deep and there are plenty of guys who will have lengthy and successful careers in the NBA.