The most entertaining thing about basketball’s offseason is the whole NBA Draft process. Sure, it’s always fun to watch people crown champions during the free-agency period (cough, 2011 Miami Heat, cough), but the draft is a time where every NBA analyst/blogger/talking head turns into an expert — even if they haven’t watched a single college basketball game all year.
It’s the time of the year where the words “wingspan” and “upside” take on meaning that only makes sense, well, it really doesn’t make sense, but this time of the year we just love it. There’s also the Jay Bilas Drinking Game, so look out for that if you’re into that type of thing.
But the best part, the ultimate game of Russian roulette for NBA general managers, is the draft itself. There’s the obvious picks, the shocking picks, the inordinate amount of trades and the second round picks that fade into complete and utter obscurity.
I’m not going to tell you how the draft is going to go, but what about the guys who fit a role — at least a generalization — in this draft?
The “I Promise It’s Not Anthony Davis” Lock
A year ago, this draft was supposed to be the end all be all of NBA Drafts. There was supposed to be stars on stars on stars all throughout the lottery and everyone was going to be happy with whoever their team picked.
Turns out that’s a lot more like the faux-perfect, Stepford Wives kind of neighborhood. Realistically, this draft has one star, it’s Davis, and it’s got a lot of other talented guys — but ones who all have some questions.
If you’re looking at one guy to not fail miserably, it’s got to be Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. There’s no way he busts, he’s just too good, too energetic, too god damn basketball bubbly to blow it. Think Luol Deng with top-level athleticism. Mature guys are always desired, but mature guys with tremendous upside and jump-out-the-gym athleticism are always loved.
The fact that this guy might slip to Cleveland at No. 4 — which is a perfect match with Kyrie Irving leading the break — is an absolute joke. Washington has the absolute worst-case scenario for him in Trevor Ariza and Charlotte is, um, they’re doing something.
Either way, this guy is so money it shouldn’t even be a debate. He’s my draft man-crush, there, I said it. Also could have stuck Kansas forward Thomas Robinson here, but the fact that he’s likely going to be hailed as the Bobcats’ savior is going to be a lot of weight to carry.
But knowing how awesome of a person he is, I think he’ll do just fine where ever he lands.
The “He’ll Get You Fired” Risk
Really, this category begins and ends with UConn center Andre Drummond. If you’re drafting on talent alone, this guys is right up there with the ‘brow, but he’s also the biggest basket case in the draft. He’s talented, but he’s lazy.
He’s immature, but he’s got NBA-ready traits (rebounding, shot blocking). You can go back and forth and still have made no progress with him. The idea of Andre Drummond is wayyyyyy better than the actual player, that’s why teams will pass him up in the top five and force one like Toronto and Detroit to seriously look into the barrel of the gun.
He’s either going to get you hailed as the greatest talent evaluator ever or as an idiot.
I really wanted to put Austin Rivers here, too. He’s not a star, he wasn’t a star in college, and he just seems like the jock in high school who is a total and complete douche. Let’s just stamp him a cancer now and project him as Ricky Davis 2.0, shall we?
The “10-Year Career” Sleeper
I love this category, partially because it’s a mix of the previous two — with a twist. Most guys who are sleepers have a red flag or two. Whether that’s because they are complete clowns or because you’ve never seen them play at their small school, it has an effect.
I said Drummond was the biggest basket case, but that title actually belongs to Iowa State’s Royce White. Just look at this and this and you’ll know where I’m at. The thing is, White’s just good at basketball, he’s big and strong, knows how to use his body and can basically be a real point forward.
However, he’s also afraid of flying and had a short stint as a Mall of America kleptomaniac in his one-year stint at the University of Minnesota. He’s got baggage, but he’s also arguably one of the most versatile players in this draft.
Sans all the extra B.S., he would totally be a lottery pick, but he seems to have gotten everything behind him. He’s a fiery competitor, that’s a helluva lot better than being Drummond, not to mention he’s a guy who will probably get drafted by a team with some veterans. He’ll be a contributor for a few years then a very steady starter for a few years — he just looks like an NBA player.
Another guy who’s got his flaws — albeit on the floor, not off it — is North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall. He may not be the fastest guy, nor the strongest or most talented, but his main skill, play making, is soooooo good. Go YouTube highlights of him, you’ll see. Actually, go YouTube highlights of John Henson or Tyler Zeller, then you’ll see it.
He just makes people better. Put him on a team with plentiful talent (say, the Lakers) and he’s going to flourish.
The “Bound To Be Painfully Wrong” Mock Draft
Just kidding! There is a mock draft, and it’s likely going to be totally fried by pick No. 5 tomorrow night, but hey, if you blog about the NBA, you just have to make a mock draft. Right, right? Has anyone else seen that in the manual…?
1. New Orleans Hornets — Anthony Davis, forward, Kentucky
I could sit here and tell you how awesome and great Anthony Davis is. I could tell you how jaded I was as a Pistons fan when the team didn’t land the No. 1 pick in the draft. But I’ll just tell you that Davis is really, really good and New Orleans will be just fine and just leave it at that — ‘brow, out.
2. Charlotte Bobcats — Thomas Robinson, forward, Kansas
For awhile, it looked like Bradley Beal was going here, but with the Bobcats acquisition of Ben Gordon, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Robinson, however, does. He’s probably never going to be a super star, but he’ll be an all-star guy who people love.
Draftniks look for all kinds of random stuff when scouting a player — say, guys who lack “it” — you know, stuff that makes no sense. Rarely do they look at guys who just work and play hard. That’s Robinson, that’s a guy anyone would take on their team.
3. Washington Wizards — Bradley Beal, guard, Florida
Washington has totally revamped their team over the last three months. They’ve gone from box of dysfunctional, under-25 toys to a young point guard and a group of mediocre veterans. For real, John Wall’s teammates these last two years may have had a combined basketball IQ of 76.
With Beal, he’ll get a guy who can shoot and play a little defense. I don’t buy the Eric Gordon comparisons because Gordon is an absolute battering ram when he goes to the rim, Beal is a little more finesse.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers — Harrison Barnes, guard, North Carolina
See, the Cavaliers should be taking Kidd-Gilchrist over Barnes here. They wanted Barnes badly last year when he shunned the draft. Instead, they scored Kyrie Irving. Not a bad trade off though, amirite?
The thing is Cleveland needs shooters in the worst way, especially after Candace Parker’s brother, Anthony, retired Wednesday. Kidd-Gilchrist isn’t going to give them that, and Barnes will. Actually, the more I type here, the more I realize they will take Barnes over Kidd-Gilchrist — even if it doesn’t make sense.
*Hear me out, Houston isn’t acquiring draft picks so they can collect mid-round talent — that’s all their team is. They’re trying to get Dwight Howard, and with this deal they do.
Houston trades Marcus Morris, picks 12 and 16 to Sacramento for pick 5. Houston then swings picks 5, 18, Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry to Orlando for Dwight Howard and Quentin Richardson.
5. Orlando Magic — Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, forward, Kentucky
Thanks for sticking with me there, but the short fall stops for Kidd-Gilchrist here. Orlando isn’t trying to blow everything up, they’ve still got some talent and they were competitive without Dwight Howard this season. MKG fits perfectly here, and the good thing for Orlando is he can do whatever they need.
No more Dwight? He can get dirty and rebound. Want to change it up and run? He can get out on the break, too. Perfect scenario for the Magic.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (from Brooklyn) — Damian Lillard, guard, Weber State
It’s really easy to make Portland draft jokes, so I’m not going to go there, but Lillard has worked his way up draft board over the last few months. This is all in spite of the fact that his team at Weber State was underwhelming to say the least.
The Blazers haven’t had a real point guard since Andre Miller left town, and after going through the Johnny Flynn and fat Raymond Felton era this season, they may have finally found a real point guard.
7. Golden State Warriors — Dion Waiters, guard, Syracuse
The Warriors just love smallish guards. They’ve done the whole Monta Ellis shoots too much thing and they’re currently doing the whole Steph Curry’s bum ankle thing, so why not add the best scoring guard in the draft. Waiters was a super sub in college, and that’ll probably be his role in the pros considering he’s only 6-foot-4.
There are rumors that Golden State and Denver have talked trade, but trading the No. 7 pick for Wilson Chandler, and I like Wilson, would just be such a Warriors decision.
8. Toronto Raptors — Andre Drummond, center, Connecticut
We’ve pretty much outlined how much of a landmine Drummond is, so let’s just outline the front court for Toronto: Ed Davis (developing), Amir Johnson (foul machine) and Andrea Bargnani (“we don’t play defense in Italy”).
9. Detroit Pistons — John Henson, forward, North Carolina
The Pistons aren’t in a great spot at No. 9, but they weren’t in great spots in the last two drafts and they somehow came away with Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight. Henson fits a need, blocking shots and the ability to slide off pick and rolls to the basket. He’ll be able to carry that to the NBA.
The problem is he weights 216 pounds, which would only add to Joe Dumars’ collection of tall, skinny forwards. Either way, he’s going to get picked because he fits a need and the Pistons need someone to pair with Greg Monroe, badly.
10. New Orleans Hornets (from Minnesota via L.A. Clippers) — Tyler Zeller, center, North Carolina
With Davis already in hand, why not go big again? Zeller isn’t ever going to be fantastic, hell, he might only be that first big off the bench the majority of his carer but he’s safe. The Hornets ditched Emeka Okafor in their trade with Washington and Chris Kaman is currently a free agent.
Why not start fresh? Not to mention, Anthony Davis and Tyler Zeller sounds way better than Okafor and Kaman.
11. Portland Trail Blazers — Meyers Leonard, forward, Illinois
I said I wasn’t going to make jokes, and I’m still not going to break, but I really don’t like Meyers Leonard. I don’t understand how he went from top prospect, to being glued to the bench his freshman year to magically becoming an NBA prospect. He’s got athleticism and potential, but his name is two last names — not to be confused with the more common two first names.
12. Sacramento Kings (from Houston via Milwaukee ) — Perry Jones III, forward, Baylor
The Wizards found a way to fix their dysfunctional, young team, but it appears the Kings are content with a group of ball hogs and crazy kids. They’ve got so many talented guys — Cousins, Evans, Thomas — yet they’re so underwhelming and immature.
You’d assume that means they’d draft a mature, four-year college guy, right? Well they did that with Jimmer Fredette last year, and now I feel like GM Geoff Petrie is feeling the heat and might just gamble on Jones III. If I had to add someone to the The “He’ll Get You Fired” Risk list, it’d be him.
13. Phoenix Suns — Kendall Marshall, guard, North Carolina
Ah, the heir apparent to Steve Nash has arrived! Of course, the Suns do still have Aaron Brooks returning from China, so they actually have a pretty decent duo at point guard. They need a big man, but there really isn’t anything out there that makes sense.
You’re never going to replace Nash, but Marshall is a good start.
14. Milwaukee Bucks (from Houston) — Arnett Moultrie, forward, Mississippi State
This team needs size, period. They dealt Andrew Bogut last season and acquired Samuel Dalembert Wednesday from Houston, which is nice, but they are so set at guard with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. Moultrie is big, young and athletic, something current power forward Drew Gooden does not possess whatsoever.
15. Philadelphia 76ers — Jared Sullinger, forward, Ohio State
16. Sacramento Kings (from Houston via New York) — Mo Harkless, forward, St. Johns
17. Dallas Mavericks — Austin Rivers, guard, Duke
18. Orlando Magic (from Houston via Minnesota via Utah) — Jeremy Lamb, guard, Connecticut
19. Orlando Magic — Andrew Nicholson, forward, St. Bonaventure
20. Denver Nuggets — Royce White, forward, Iowa State
21. Boston Celtics — Terrence Ross, guard, Washington
22. Boston Celtics (from L.A. Clippers via Oklahoma City) — Terrence Jones, forward, Kentucky
23. Atlanta Hawks — Will Barton, guard, Memphis
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (from L.A. Lakers) — Doron Lamb, guard, Kentucky
25. Memphis Grizzlies — Marquis Teague, guard, Kentucky
26. Indiana Pacers — Fab Melo, center, Syracuse
27. Miami Heat — Draymond Green, forward, Michigan State
28. Oklahoma City Thunder — Evan Fournier, guard, France
29. Chicago Bulls — Tony Wroten, guard, Washington
30. Golden State Warriors (from San Antonio) — Quincy Miller, forward, Baylor