Thursday, June 28, 2012

NBA Draft Primer

Greetings everyone! I apologize for lack of content lately, but you knew I'd be around for the draft! Instead of doing a mock draft (because there are approximately 5,172 of them you could look at), I've decided to just preview/break down the draft class, and we'll wrap up the situation stuff post-draft on Friday. Let's get to it...

My Top 10 (not in draft order)
  1. Anthony Davis - This is the only no-brainer in the entire draft. He's an immediate impact guy on the defensive end, and because of this he's as "sure fire" as it gets here. His offensive game is certainly still developing after a ridiculous 8-inch growth spurt in high school, but he improved visibly even during his one season at Kentucky. His PER at Kentucky was a hilariously good 35.71 which would easily rank as the highest in NBA history. Admittedly, that's not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, but he shot 63% from the field, averaged a double-double and nearly 5 blocks a game in just 32 minutes. He's a monster, and he'll be an above-average NBA player from the second he arrives.
  2. Thomas Robinson - Probably my favorite player in the draft. He's long and athletic, but with power at the 4 position, and measured at a legit 6'9 to detract from critics that thought he was slightly undersized. He doesn't have the explosive upside that Davis has or some of the mid-lottery has, but Robinson has a very high floor. He's going to rebound at the next level after grabbing 12 a game in just 32 minutes in college, and he defends at a high level. I like him a lot.
  3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist - Wildly interesting prospect. He had a great year at Kentucky and everyone loves the way he plays. He's been blessed with a ridiculously high motor, and he is the best wing defender in the draft. The only issue with MKG is an inconsistent/spotty jump shot. It's seen marked improvement since high school (and he's still 18 years old), but without a diversified offensive game, it'd be tough to achieve top-5 value. That said, he's an NBA player right now on the defensive end, and still attacks the rim at will, so there's a spot for that even if he doesn't develop the jumper at a rate that we'd like.
  4. Bradley Beal - Beal is the guy that is soaring on everyone's boards right now. He's the best pure scorer in the draft, one of the best shooters in the draft, and he does a lot of things well. He's drawing Eric Gordon comps on the regular, and I do see that. The only knock on him is slightly undersized (6'4-6'5) at the 2-guard spot, but he rebounds, plays defense on bigger guards, and you can't ignore the silky smooth jumper.
  5. Harrison Barnes - Remember when Harrison Barnes was the consensus best player in his class? He used to be. Barnes still has all the tools that everyone loved about him: polished offensive game, great size, high basketball IQ, and no weaknesses. That said, he didn't play with any aggressiveness last year at UNC, settled for a million jumpers, and has struggled to create his shot off the bounce. I still like Barnes a lot and he could be one of those guys who is undoubtedly a better pro than college player, but the ceiling has lowered from the Kobe comparisons we heard in high school.  
  6. Damian Lillard - Raise your hand if you've never heard of Damian Lillard. It's ok, you're not alone. The senior point guard from Weber State has shot up draft boards all year, and he'll be a top-10 pick. Let's do the negatives first. He played at Weber State, played all 4 years, and there are combo guard concerns. I kind of ignore the first two, but the combo guard issue could plague him. He's certainly a score-first guard, but he does so efficiently, and he's a willing passer even at the low-levels of D-1 hoops. There aren't a lot of weaknesses with Lillard that I can see, and he posted the 2nd-highest PER in the country behind Davis. He can play.
  7. Austin Rivers - Doc's kid! Rivers is an absolute assassin scorer. Everything else is white noise. He's undersized at the 2, but can't play the 1. There are concerns about his makeup, but I don't see it. I think he's, at worst, a really good 3rd guard who averages 15+ a game, and at best, he could be a go-to-guy on a good team if he sorts it all out. I like him, and the hate has gone too far. 
  8. Dion Waiters - A lot of Dwyane Wade comparisons. That's pretty aggressive, but he's the best one-on-one scorer in the draft and he gets to the rim at will, so that's where that comp comes from. Waiters is undersized at about 6'4, and lacks the consistent jumper, but I'd be shocked if he didn't land on his feet with his scoring ability. 
  9. Royce White - No one has him this high, but I love him. He's a physical, athletic forward with great ball handling skills to the point of being a point forward possibility. He's versatile, has an NBA body, and can score from anywhere, while being a willing and good passer. What's the knock, you ask? Royce White has an anxiety disorder centered around being terrified to fly on an airplane. This isn't the biggest issue in the world for a normal person, but with NBA teams playing 41 road games with cross-country trips, this is a problem, and the chief reason he's fallen a little. I'd still gamble on him. He's a player. 
  10. Andre Drummond - The draft's biggest enigma lands here. Drummond is 7-feet with an incredible frame and crazy athleticism. Think Dwight Howard. Yes. That said, he averaged 10 points and 7 rebounds a game at UConn. How does that happen!? First, he doesn't assert himself. He screams of a guy who doesn't "get it" yet, and it shows. Also, he settles for jump shots inexplicably, and he shot a hilarious 28% from the free throw on the season. The season! Even with all the questions though, there's no one outside of Davis with the upside of Drummond, and for that, he'll go higher than the production would indicate. 
Other Guys I like
  • Terrence Ross - Scoring swingman from Washington. He'll go 5 picks too late. 
  • Draymond Green - Versatile veteran from Michigan State with all the intangibles in the world. Great passer, great shooter his size, but what position does he play?
  • Meyers Leonard - Athletic, "projection", 7-footer from Illinois. He's quick, can score, and can rebound and block shots. Rising too high on the board, but he's got the tools.
  • Andrew Nicholson - 6'10, long forward with great shooting range for his size. Could rebound better, and kind of a tweaner. 
  • Mike Scott - I love Mike Scott. Irrationally. One of the best college players in the country last year, but his athleticism isn't elite and he's a bit undersized at the 4. The perfect late 1st/early 2nd round pick who could play right now.
  • Tyler Zeller - Mobile big who can shoot and run the floor. He's not a great athlete, but if he adds some strength, he'll rebound in the league at a minimum. 
  • Jeff Taylor - Super athletic wing from Vanderbilt. Really nice shooter and a high-end defender. Doens't create his own shot, and that's a knock, but there's a spot for him if he guards like I think he will. 
Team Needs for the Lottery
  1. New Orleans - At #1, it's Anthony Davis. That's all you need to know. That said, the Hornets also have the #10 pick, and that could get interesting. They probably need another big to pair with Davis since they jettisoned Okafor, and they could use help at the 3 or another PG with Jarrett Jack. Keep an eye on Zeller, Terrence Ross, or a guy like Austin Rivers potentially since they're reportedly in love with him.
  2. Charlotte - Best available as long as it's not a 2-guard. The Bobcats' 3 best assets at the moment are Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker, and recently-acquired Ben Gordon. All 3 of them are shooting guards, and in case you were wondering, it's not a good thing that they are the 3 best players on an NBA team.
  3. Washington - Wings. Bradley Beal is probably the ideal fit next to John Wall on a team that already has 4 starters in Nene, Okafor, Ariza, and Wall. Jordan Crawford is the team's best 2-guard and that's an issue.
  4. Cleveland - Swingmen. I'd be shocked if Cleveland didn't end up with Beal, Kidd-Gilchrist, or Harrison Barnes in the draft, and they need a top-end wing to pair with Irving, Tristan Thompson, and Varejao.
  5. Sacramento - Small Forward is probably the chief need. Tyreke Evans may be on the move in the off-season too, so 2-guard wouldn't be a bad idea, but if any of the trio of elite wingmen fall to Sacramento, it'll likely be an automatic trigger. 
  6. Portland - Point Guard and a Big. Portland may have a big-time debate between Lillard (the #1 PG) and Drummond (the best available center) in the #6 spot. I'd personally go with Lillard because of the downside of Drummond, but Portland may swing for the fence. Depending on what they do at #6, they also have the #11 pick to attempt to fill the other need. If it's Drummond, look for Rivers or Marshall, if it's Lillard, keep an eye on Leonard, Zeller, or another big.
  7. Golden State - Best available. The funny thing about Golden State is that their "needs" don't jump out at you. They have Bogut coming back and Biedrins at center, David Lee at the 4, the Jefferson/Wright duo at the 3, and Curry/Thompson in the backcourt. I'd probably go wing for some depth here, but Drummond could get the nod if they want upside, and he could develop behind Bogut.
  8. Toronto - Wing that can attack. Dion Waiters would be a no-brainer here if he gets to them, but Austin Rivers could be a fit too if they favor him over Waiters. Would be a nice a compliment to Calderon and DeRozan.
  9. Detroit - Rim protection. The Pistons have long been rumored to be targeting a rim-protecting big to pair with Monroe, who is more of an offensive player. They brought in John Henson, Meyers Leonard, Tyler Zeller, and Terrence Jones for a work-out, so I'd imagine they'll be picking someone with size at #9.
  10. Houston - The Rockets have the 12th pick now after a series of moves. It's widely reported that they're trying to trade the pick for Dwight Howard or even Josh Smith, but if they kept it, they really need a big. Keep an eye on Tyler Zeller or Meyers Leonard, depending on who is available. 
  11. Phoenix - Anything but a center. With Nash a free agent and the rest of the roster as kind of a mess, they need help everywhere. They're reportedly in love with Dion Waiters, but I doubt he falls to them.
  12. Milwaukee - A shooter. They went and grabbed Sam Dalembert in a trade with Houston, so they're prime need is a shooter. Terrence Ross would be a great fit, and Jeremy Lamb could be in play.
Potential Atlanta Hawks Targets
  • Royce White - See above. It's fantasy-land to think he'd fall to 23, but I'd love it.
  • Tony Wroten - I wrote a full profile of him on Soaring Down South, but Wroten is a classic boom-or-bust. He can't shoot (at all) and he's got make-up questions, but a 6'5 point guard with elite athleticism and defensive tools, who will attack the rim at will? Potential.
  • Fab Melo - 7-footer and not much more. He'll rebound and block shots. No offense.
  • Evan Fournier - Scoring wing from France. Looks to be pretty soft, but he can really shoot it.
  • Moe Harkless - Long and athletic at the 3. Good rebounder and finisher. Inconsistent shooter with motor questions.
  • Jared Sullinger - He's free-falling because of back issues but we know he'll rebound, and he's a beast on the box. There are certainly athleticism questions, but at #23, he'd be a steal if he's remotely healthy. 
There you have it... it's draft day!

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