NEW YORK – Like a president-elect awaiting inauguration, John Wall is seemingly just biding his time until he can officially begin cleaning up Washington.
Life hasn’t been so simple for DeMarcus Cousins, who has been crisscrossing the country battling Derrick Favors in hopes of getting picked soon after his college teammate.
It’s been a decidedly different draft process for the Kentucky freshmen, but Cousins thinks it will yield the same result once they become pros.
“John’s an incredible player, I believe I’m a pretty good player and we’re going to play our roles,” Cousins said Wednesday.
Though NBA rules prevent them from confirming it, the Wizards have been expected to take Wall from the moment they landed the No. 1 pick.
The Philadelphia 76ers are likely to take national player of the year Evan Turner from Ohio State with the No. 2 pick.
Then the confusion starts.
The New Jersey Nets, who had the NBA’s worst record but missed out on a chance for Wall when they dropped to No. 3 in the lottery, were believed to be debating between Cousins or Favors, before speculation in the days leading up to the draft that they’d turned their attention to Syracuse forward Wesley Johnson.
If so, Johnson understands why.
“I went in there and just tried to kill the workout,” said Johnson, a self-described “late bloomer” who at 22 is an old man next to some of the other expected high picks.
Favors and Cousins worked out against each other in Philadelphia, New Jersey and Sacramento, which has the No. 5 pick, both realizing the result could mean a difference of a couple of spots in the draft.
“I guess you could say we’re considered the best big men in the draft right now,” Cousins said. “They’re trying to make a big decision, they’re putting a lot on the both of us, so they want to make the best choice.”
Yet both are facing criticisms that could force them to slip, none particularly tied to their basketball abilities.
The 6-foot-10 Favors is 18 and considered an outstanding athlete, but perhaps far from NBA ready after averaging just 12.4 points in his lone season at Georgia Tech.
The 6-11 Cousins has the potential to become a dominant big man in a league where there are fewer every year, and his size and skill would seem to make him a lock to be taken in the first few picks.
But questions about his attitude and coachability could sound enough alarms to make him fall back, a drop that could prove costly with the NBA’s rookie salary scale.