With LeBron James and the Miami Heat capturing the 2012 NBA title, it’s now time to turn the focus on the off season.
Starting with the 2012 NBA Draft.
Here is my personal opinion on how the first round will play out…
1.) New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis Kentucky PF/C
A no brainer. At 6’10 and with a 7’6 wingspan Davis is a defensive machine. His length accounts for numerous blocks (4.8 per game) but he also looks at ease playing perimeter defense. His speed, athleticism and versatility is phenomenal and is seen by his ability to disrupt shots all over the court. Davis also uses his quick and explosive leaping abilities on the boards where he averaged almost 10 rebounds a game. Offensively he can spread the court with solid perimeter shooting and by mixing it up inside despite his slender build. He was highly efficient in his one year at Kentucky (13.8 ppg at 65% FG). Davis is one of the most versatile power forwards in recent memory and the Hornets will build their team around him and Eric Gordon.
2.) Charlotte Bobcats – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Kentucky SF
The mystery pick of the draft. Charlotte could take any number players with the 2nd pick, but Kidd-Gilchrist seems the most logical. Along with his college teammate Davis, MKG is one of the most athletically gifted players in the draft. Strong, quick and powerful he possess intangibles that can’t be taught and is solid at almost every aspect of the game. Great slasher and tremendous finisher at the rim with an explosive leaping ability. Although not known for being a shooter, is above average when feet are set. Strong rebounder due to his athleticism and relentless motor. Has the physical attributes to be a potential lock-down defender in the NBA with the versatility to guard 3-4 positions. MKG may not have the upside of a top 5 pick but has almost a zero-risk factor which the Bobcats need to take advantage of. He has an all around game and his enthusiasm and desire to win could elevate him to elite status.
3.) Washington Wizards – Bradley Beal Florida SG
I orginally had Thomas Robinson in this spot until Washington traded for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. With this addition to go along with Nene, Vesley and Seraphin the Wizards have filled their needs inside. Therefore drafting Bradley Beal is entirely logical. Beal is a pure scorer with a gifted jump shot and the quickness to get inside. Although not an explosive player, finishes strong at the rim. Could thrive on offense if paired with a gifted passer such as John Wall. Solid defender with good defensive instincts and high basketball IQ. Beal will turn 19 on draft night and has plenty of room for growth; but he could be the answer Washington needs at shooting guard to compensate Wall.
4.) Cleveland Cavaliers – Harrison Barnes North Carolina SF
Another fairly safe pick. As one of the most developed and mature players of the draft, Barnes could slide into Cleveland’s rotation on the wing immediately and give them a solid scorer. At 6’8 Barnes fits the typical NBA small forward mold. Possesses a consistent knock down jump shot with NBA range and maintains good body control when attacking the rim. Runs well in transition and has a high basketball IQ. Good attitude and character will allow for further growth down the road. Barnes’ main flaw however is his inability to create easy shots for himself and would be mainly suited complimenting a top scoring option.
5.) Sacramento Kings - Thomas Robinson Kansas PF
Robinson could easily go as high as the No. 2 pick but doesn’t have the upside of the previous four players. However the Kings could look to use T-Rob as Demarcus Cousins’ front-court partner for years to come. Robinson is ferociously strong with good length (6’9 with a 7’1 wingspan) that makes him a powerful rebounder. He averaged 11.9 rebounds per game in his senior season at Kansas, good for second in the nation. Although not an intimidating shot blocker, he is agile and quick enough to stay in front of the most mobile of NBA power forwards and has the strength to defend the most powerful. Offensively, Robinson doesn’t have an array of post moves but is extremely aggressive and gets to the foul line consistently. His work ethic and physical tools could make T-Rob a fixture in a starting lineup for years to come.
6.) Portland Trail Blazers – Andre Drummond Connecticut C
A risky pick that could result in a huge payoff or a huge bust. By drafting a center with Drummond’s potential Portland could give LaMarcus Aldridge a fierce front-court partner and could then look at taking a point guard with the 11th pick. At 6’11 and 280 lbs Andre Drummond has a rare combination of size, power, explosiveness and athleticism. Because of his size Drummond can finish powerfully at the rim on a consistent basis, but also displayed a soft touch around the hoop in his one year at Connecticut. Runs the floor very well for a big man as is active on the offensive boards and in the shot blocking department. However Drummond is very raw offensively, mostly being in the post. Doesn’t have any go to post moves and many of his points come from the creativity of others and not his own ability to create shots. He has a below average jump shot and shot a horrible 29% from the free throw line. There are also concerns about his commitment and maturity issues which doesn’t bode well for future growth. Despite this Drummond’s ceiling is ridiculously high because of his physical attributes and if he goes to a franchise with direction (anyone but Charlotte) his potential could be maximised.
7.) Golden State Warriors – Dion Waiters Syracuse SG
In my opinion Waiters could be one of the most overlooked players in the draft and though Golden State may not be the best fit for him, it could turn out rather nicely.Waiters is a prototypical combo guard that can both score or create shots for teammates. Possesses an above average jump shot with NBA range but his greatest ability is to attack the hoop, which could complement shooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Waiters also has extremely active hands on defense leading to numerous steals and is always looking to run the ball in transition due to his athleticism. With the ability to knock down shots, get to the rim consistently and be a defensive presence along the perimeter; Waiters could have great value towards the bottom half of the lottery.
8.) Toronto Raptors – Jeremy Lamb Connecticut SG
Toronto needs to add another scorer on the wing to help DeMar DeRozan and their offense in general (ranked 28th in the league last year). Lamb would do just that. A lanky shooting guard standing at 6’5 with a 6’11 wingspan, Lamb is best known for an excellent all around jump shot that is extremely difficult to defend due to his length. Also has above average quickness helping him breakdown defenders to get to the rim and has developed a nice, soft runner in the lane. There are concerns about his strength and defensive effort at times, but he has the lateral quickness and leaping ability to improve in that area. Overall Lamb has an excellent combination of potential and the ability to produce straight away at the NBA level.
9.) Detroit Pistons – John Henson North Carolina PF
Henson is an extremely long 6’10 power forward with an incredible wingspan of 7’4. Detroit could look to partner Henson and Greg Monroe to form a powerful front-court. Henson’s most outstanding trait is his ability to block shots, where he swatted close to 3 a game in his junior year at North Carolina. He also is an efficient rebounder (9.9 a game) and uses his quick and explosive leaping ability to counter his slender build. Improved his offensive game each year including adding an effective jump hook and range on his jump shot, but still needs plenty of development in that area. Henson will need to add strength to play the power forward position consistently on the NBA level but is known as a hard worker and has room to grow despite playing three years in college.Teams looking to add a shot blocking presence and effective rebounder will look at picking Henson.
10.) New Orleans Hornets – Damian Lillard Weber State PG
By adding size in drafting Davis with their earlier pick, the Hornets should look to bolster their back-court with their second pick of the first round. Lillard is perhaps the most intriguing player of this years draft. One of the most prolific scorers in college basketball last season (24.5 ppg) Lillard can score from either of the guard positions. He has a dangerous jump shot and doesn’t need a lot of time or space to let it fly. Uses quick, short dribbles and change of speed/directions to get into the paint. Finishes at the rim surprisingly well for his size and seemingly draws foul at will (averaged 8 a game last season) while shooting an excellent 88.4% from the stripe. He has show the ability to find teammates with creative passing despite being a shoot first point guard. However like most mid-major prospects Lillard hasn’t proven he can consistently produce against elite level talent, making scouts wonder if he can bring the same game to the next level. If he can, it will prove to be tremendous value for New Orleans at the 10th pick.
11.) Portland Trail Blazers – Austin Rivers Duke PG/SG
Rivers is a dynamic scorer that can instantly create shots for himself either through his smooth jump shot or his extremely quick first step and above average ball handling. Extremely difficult to defend in isolation situations because of his ability to shoot off the dribble or get to the rim and create contact. Very confident and doesn’t shy away from pressure situations but also can be ball dominant and selfish, at times seeming as if passing is a last resort. Many teams won’t feel comfortable with him running their offense, but he does have the size to play in the two guard position. Needs to become more effective without having the ball in his hands. Portland may draft a more true point guard such as Kendall Marshall, but this is a case of taking the best available player rather than to fill a specific need. It will be hard to pass up a potential electrifying scorer such as Rivers.
12.) Milwaukee Bucks – Meyers Leonard Illinois C
Having traded away Andrew Bogut last season the Bucks have a large hole to fill in their front-court. At 7’1 Leonard fills that need well. Very athletic and fluid for a 7-footer Leonard uses his agility to get to the rim. He has good court vision and is an above average passer for a big man. Blocks plenty of shots (1.9 per game last season) and rebounds the ball well (8.2 per game). Hasn’t developed a go to post move yet, but shows promise as he does a number of things well offensively around the rim. Leonard doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses in his game, but simply needs to polish each part. A good prospect for the center position in the NBA that is loaded with potential.
13.) Phoenix Suns – Kendall Marshall North Carolina PG
With uncertainty surrounding the future of Steve Nash, the Suns would be foolish not to pick up a potential franchise point guard in Kendall Marshall. Making every teammate better whenever he steps on the floor, Marshall is a natural floor leader with an extremely high basketball IQ and outstanding court vision. Was considered by many to be the best passers in college basketball last season (9.8 assists per game). Able to penetrate very well despite only average athleticism and has very good size for a point guard standing at 6’4. Concerns about his scoring ability which was essentially non existent (8.1 ppg). Average jump-shot that doesn’t command respect from defenders. If Marshall can develop some sort of offensive ability of his own he has the potential to be a top play-maker in the NBA.
14.) Houston Rockets – Tyler Zeller North Carolina PF/C
With Marcus Camby being a free agent this off season, Houston needs a center. And not many center prospects have Zeller’s combination of athleticism, size and offensive tools. He already has developed a go to move on offense in a right handed jump hook and has shown a solid mid range jump shot. Good rebounder (9.6 per game) that works hard for second chance opportunities. Defensively however Zeller has a tendency to get pushed around and bullied by stronger opponents. While he may be the most polished offensive big man in the draft, the questions surrounding Zeller’s toughness and strength could see his stock fall.
15.) Philadelphia 76ers – Terrence Ross Washington SG/SF
16.) Houston Rockets - Perry Jones III Baylor SF/PF
17.) Dallas Mavericks – Marcus Teague Kentucky PG
18.) Minnesota Timberwolves – Moe Harkless St. Johns SF
19.) Orlando Magic – Terrence Jones Kentucky SF/PF
20.) Denver Nuggets – Quincy Miller Baylor SF
21.) Boston Celtics – Jared Sullinger Ohio State PF
22.) Boston Celtics – Jeffery Taylor Vanderbilt SF
23.) Atlanta Hawks – Andrew Nicholson St. Bonaventure PF
24.) Cleveland Cavaliers – Royce White Iowa St. SF
25.) Memphis Grizzlies – Tony Wroten Jr Washington PG/SG
26.) Indiana Pacers – Will Barton Memphis SG/SF
27.) Miami Heat – Fab Melo Syracuse C
28.) Oklahoma City Thunder – Khris Middleton Texas A&M SG/SF
29.) Chicago Bulls – John Jenkins Vanderbilt SG
30.) Golden State Warriors – Draymond Green Michigan State SF/PF