Friday, June 29, 2012
2012 Draft: The Year We All Die
The NBA draft generates both too much excitement and hope for what it's actually worth and too little for how transformative it can be. You will likely not use your 14th draft pick to replace a starter, but there's always a chance you can land an all-star outside of the top ten. I would, however, caution against valuing your brand new, shiny draft pick too high, because as Hardwood Paroxysm has shown outside of the top pick there's little guarantee of getting an all-star and further down in the draft you'll be lucky if the player can make the rotation.
However, basking in the glow of the NBA draft, it's always great for an anonymous writer to nitpick stuff that's already happened.
-(1) Anthony Davis: I was holding out hope the Hornets don't draft Anthony Davis first for all the laughs it would create, because you know Charlotte wouldn't take him second either. If I were to grade New Orleans for taking Davis, I would give them an N/A. There were no other options, so let's not pretend they were doing something smart here.
Prediction: Defensive player of the year, multiple all-star.
-(2) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. I think the Bobcats finally made a good draft pick. Kidd-Gilchrist looks like the next Andre Iguodala, and maybe that doesn't sound particularly great to many fans but Iguodala is a player who has been shown to have a large positive impact on his team without needing a large number of shots. This is the type of player you need if you want to win basketball games, and although the Bobcats were arguably the worst offensive team in the modern NBA going for overall talent rather than need is the smart move. If you go for need you're more likely to pick up a bust, and if you get a bust then you don't really fill out the hole in your roster, do you?
Prediction: fringe all-star, versatile defense leads to all-defensive team.
-(3) Bradley Beal. Within five seconds of hearing his name there's a 90% chance of a comparison of Ray Allen. Unfortunately, Beal shot 34% from the short three-point line in college, 44% from the field, and 77% from the line. I don't think he'll be eclipsing Allen's work ethic either. On a positive note his initials are "BB".
Prediction: hangs at the periphery of the rotation as the latest proclaimed shooter who can't shoot (e.g. Martel Webster.)
-(4) Dion Waiters. Here's a guy who shot up in mock drafts as the day approached, only to leapfrog once again to the fourth pick. It was one of the biggest surprises of the draft, but from what I know of the player I don't think this will be a mistake. He's a bit undersized for a shooting guard since he was 6' 2.5" without shoes, and they won't really need help scoring from their guards with Irving on the team. He can, however, help space the floor, and he could lead to a commentator yelling, "DION WAITS FOR NO MAN."
Prediction: high point of near 20 points per game for one season, good starter.
-(5) Thomas Robinson. I think upperclassmen are scary in general in the NBA draft, but Robinson put up similar numbers in his sophomore year (on a per minute basis) and he rates well in many respects. The top of his head isn't that far from the ground compared to other frontcourt players, but what matters is your wingspan (his is 7' 3.5") and your reach (standing reach of 8' 10"). He'll be fine. He also posted one of the best sprint times in the combine, which is amazing for a power forward.
Prediction: makes a couple all-star team while flirting with 20-10 for a few years.
-(6) Damian Lillard. He's the dreaded combination of a senior and a true mid-major college player. He's the list of mid-major college players drafted in the past decade (excluding ones like Memphis): Paul George, Stephen Curry, Jason Thompson, Patrick O'Bryant, Melvin Ely, and Chris Kaman. The ones who were seniors? Ely and Thompson. That's it. It's rare for a senior to become a very good player. Many turn out to be bench fodder and are out of the league within a few years. Freshmen are the most common players to be taken in the lottery, and in Lillard's freshman year against weaker competition he scored 11 points per game with high turnovers. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think he'll amount to much of anything.
Prediction: bust. He's the next Acie Law.
-(7) Harrison Barnes. It's funny that Barnes and Kidd-Gilchrist were once 2-3 in the mock draft order because they're similar players except that Gilchrist has better stats, is a year younger, and has better defense. There's nothing that stands out about Barnes except for his athleticism, which won't stand out in a league where every team has at least two guys who are freakishly athletic. I've heard lots of people say he'll be a bust, and I think it's a real possibility.
Prediction: next Matt Barnes.
-(8) Terrence Ross. While invested in Bargnani and Jonas coming over next season, I'm not surprised they looked for a smaller player, especially one who can shoot. DraftExpress has his best case player comparison listed as Jason Richardson, and I think that's about right: he could give a team a ton of three's and athletic plays at the rim. With DeMar DeRozan's wayward stroke they're desperate for shooting. He was also born in Portland. You could have taken your hometown boy, Blazers....
Prediction: good role player, never a great three point shooter but enough of one.
-(9) Andre Drummond. Even though there are many players the same height Drummond just seems so much bigger. He's not far from 300 lbs, and it's not because of excess fat. I'd be more impressed by his 3.9 blocks a game if Anthony Davis didn't have 4.7 with less fouls and more steals. He's the type of huge center that teams dream about, and you can see why Portland took Oden over Durant (and why everyone else would have) when you watch him play. Someone that size with that athleticism has to be great. The reality is that his production was disappointing in college, and he failed to hit more than a third of his foul shots. There's a chance he could develop like Dwight Howard did, but it's only a chance. He's also the opposite of Greg Monroe and it lends well to a nice fit for the Pistons' frontcourt.
Prediction: the next DeAndre Jordan.
-(10) Austin Rivers. I liked him when I saw in the McDonald's high school game, but his production has been seriously lacking for a guy picked tenth in a deep draft. You'd also think a coach's son wouldn't be such of a ballhog, but then again he probably has a high view of his own ability because his father is an NBA champion.
Prediction: floats along with the driftwood at the end of the bench.
-(11) Meyers Leonard. I was expecting another white American center (Tyler Zeller) so this was a fun little surprise. Instead of worrying about another senior now the Blazers have a huge athletic center who somehow couldn't produce in college despite competition lacking in size. In the pro game his size won't be a rarity.
Prediction: the next Robert Swift or if I'm being optimistic Chris Mihm. However, as a Blazers' fan I could be rating him too harsh.
-(12) Jeremy Lamb. He shot about the same from three point land as Beal did with better free-throw shooting and a scintillating 60% from the field, but who gets the Ray Allen comparisons? Go figure. His near seven-foot wingspan and athleticism should give him an upper-hand against many NBA players. The league is littered with guys whose arms seem too long for their bodies, and I think Lamb will join them.
Prediction: strong starter and a useful piece for a contending team.
-(13) Kendall Marshall. Anyone who averages near 10 assists in the college game at a high level should be given some sort of award; that's hard to do. He's a big point guard with questionable athleticism and no overwhelming stats besides his assists. If that doesn't whet your appetite consider his strong score in Hollinger's draft rater. I'm not sure how he did that because the rater uses stats. However, he is a deft ball-handler and could find a role as the type of heady point guard coaches love.
Prediction: back-up point guard.
-(14) John Henson. Henson posted the highest standing reach out of any 2012 draft pick at the combine with 9' 4". It's higher than the marks from guys like Dwight Howard and Andrew Bogut. With his slight frame and nimble feet he can play the power forward slot, and under the right defense he could be a real terror. He is an older draft pick, but he's posted strong stats since his freshman year.
Prediction: strong defensive player, starter.
-The crowd booed David Stern more than in other years, but he's a better GM than people give him credit for. Look at how well the league is doing compared to when he took it over in 198?.
-San Antonio is known for smart draft picks, but Houston has quietly become the best or nearly the best drafting team. They haven't had any top draft picks recently for something more higher stakes, but they're great at finding value later on in the draft. From Carl Landry to Chase Budinger to Chandler Parsons it's hard to bet against him. Royce White, for instance, looks like one of the steals of this draft.
-The case against Jared Sullinger is more complicated than it appears. By conventional analysis of the box score he will end up as one of the best values. He has shown he can produce at a high level in college that few besides Anthony Davis can match. Basketball is not a track meet; it's about putting an orange ball in an orange hoop and Sullinger is great at that. His injury scare is worrisome, but most guys in the late teens in the draft won't be more than bench players. Even if you get only three years out of Sullinger it's worth more than ten out of someone who can't play. Think about the Roy-Foye trade. Who won that? Foye is still playing, but the few short years from Roy are much more valuable than Foye's entire (extrapolated) career. However, Sullinger's defense is a legitimate concern, and he could be the next Carlos Boozer: good stats but ultimately negates his production with poor defense.
-The Bulls are lucky they draft Teague. With their superstar point guard out of commission with a serious injury and a bad draft pick they would need a steal. I think Teague will be one because younger siblings of other basketball players are usually better than their older ones. This is because they get to develop at an earlier age playing against better competition as they grow up.
-This is the Anthony Davis draft, and probably a couple other players will reach the all-star game but that's how we'll remember it. Davis will be battling Nerlens Noel (he's going into college next year) for the defensive player of the year trophy for years to come.