I love the NBA Draft, it's where College Basketball meets the NBA (and in many unfortunate cases, where College Basketball meets the D-League or FIBA) and, as TJ has stated, it's also the best reality show on TV. You get just as much crying, deceit and heartbreak as any reality show, with the added bonus of the NBA Draft being far less scripted than the seemingly thousands of reality shows flooding your TVs during the summer.
(I looked for a picture of Steve Francis' famously infantile reaction to being drafted by Vancouver but it seems David Stern's minions have wiped it clean off the inter webs. Oh well.)
Editor's Note: I found the sad Franchise pic (via @Jose3030 - that man does tremendous work on the tweet machine)
As always, this "analysis" of potential draftees are just my opinions. Sometimes I will nail it (see: Faried, Kenneth), other times I will fail miserably (see: Westbrook, Russell).
Like 'Em (Excluding Anthony Davis: Because who doesn't think he's going to be good to great in the NBA?)
Bradley Beal: I like the guy who played at Florida. Shocking, I'm sure. With that said, there's a lot to like about Beal. He's got good size for the 2 and is a very good, if not elite athlete. He's shoots it well and should continue to improve, as his shooting fundamentals are superb. He's not just a shooter though. He led Florida in rebounding this year and rebounding (along with blocks) traditionally translates to the NBA. He's, by all accounts, a good natured, very intelligent kid with great leadership potential. In fact, when Florida's season finally came together was when Beal stopped deferring to upperclassmen Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton. All of that is great, but really separates Beal is total offensive package. If he continues to develop his 3 point stroke and ability to create off the dribble, Beal has multiple All-Star potential. (On a personal note: I'd love to see Beal team up with either Kyrie Irving (1st) or John Wall (2nd). Both of those backcourts have scary good long term potential).
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: Best motor in the draft. MKG just outworks everyone on the floor. And, according to reports, does the same off the court. He was, apparently, the leader of Kentucky's "breakfast club". A group of players who met on their own in the mornings to work on their game. With his athleticism and work ethic, his floor as a player is Gerald Wallace(not bad), but if he can straighten out his jumps shot (he's only 19) then that potential grows immensely. Would be neat to see him team up with former high school teammate Kyrie Irving in Cleveland (just think about those two playing high school ball together).
THIS JUST IN: Kyrie Irving is really, really good.
Dion Waiters: He already has an NBA ready skill. He can create shots off the dribble and get to the basket. Most question whether he's big enough to be a 2 guard. I think those concerns are overblown in today's NBA. Waiters is a guard. Period. Monta Ellis isn't as big as Waiters. Neither is Lou Williams. Dywane Wade can't be much bigger, if at all. Waiters isn't the type of explosive athlete Wade was but he has the potential to be a lesser version of him in terms of explosive scoring ability. He will provide some immediate offensive firepower off the bench at worst and should become an impact player as a starter or 6th man very quickly.
Terrence Jones: This is all about where Jones is currently being projected, which is in the late teens. I realize that Jones is enigmatic and sometimes inconsistent but he's highly skilled, 6'10" and he cares. I don't think he's the knucklehead he's been made out to be. If he was, would he have come back to school last year when he was a projected mid-1st round pick? Would he have put his ego aside to accommodate Kentucky's high profile freshman and win a National Title? Just a guess, but I say no. If you can get Jones in the teens, I think he's more than worth it.
Harrison Barnes: This is also largely about where he goes, as well as the undue hype heaped upon Barnes since high school. TJ and I have gone back and forth on Barnes many times. I just don't see it with him. He doesn't create well off the dribble. He's an average athlete who appears at times to lack the toughness to take advantage of his height (6'8") by posting up or taking it to the hoop consistently. Even worse, he disappeared for long stretches of games during his two years at Carolina. I'd take him late in the top 10, not in the top 5. At best, he's Sean Elliot. Which isn't bad, but he won't be one of the three best players on a championship team.
Perry Jones III: What a fall it's been for Jones. If he'd have been eligible to declare coming out of high school, there's a good chance he would've been the #1 overall pick. That's how impressive his physical gifts are. Unfortunately, Jones too often fails to live up to those gifts. He seems to possess too passive a mentality to take games over and is willing to drift on the perimeter on both offense and defense. Maybe Jones III figures it all out at the NBA. I'm just not willing to bet that. Not for a guy who has his kind of skill, height and athleticism who only averaged 14 pts/game in high school. Yes, you read that right. (Disclaimer: If he's sitting out there for a team like the 76ers at 15, you might as well swing for the fences.)
John Henson: He's a tremendous shot blocker and developed further offensively every year at UNC (it held that he started at 0). I just don't know where he plays in the NBA. He's too fragile to play power forward and isn't nearly skilled enough at this point to play small forward. His body doesn't look like it can add much more weight so you have to hope he develops a perimeter game and becomes a small forward. Sorry, I don't see it.
Fab Melo: He's a decent athlete with good defensive instincts but doesn't seem to be very active on the floor or keep himself in very good shape off it. The list of big guys who fit that description and flamed out of the NBA is too long to run down here. Somebody's going to take Melo in the first round. Have fun with that.
Draymond Green: Rob loves him. I don't. I just don't know where he plays (or who he guards) in the NBA. He's similar to another potential draftee, Royce White, in that he thrives with the ball in his hands. Except he's not as skilled or athletic as White. I also have my doubts about the kind of shape he keeps himself in. He was a great college player, I can't see him as anything more than an 8th/9th man in the NBA.
50/50 (These guys could go either way)
Royce White: I'm sure you've all heard about White's anxiety disorder and how it affects his ability to fly (if you haven't, read the Grantland article on White). Apparently, it's been somewhat overblown (the flying thing, not the anxiety disorder). Either way, if it wasn't for concerns over the anxiety disorder White would be a top 10 pick, even with his other "issues" from early in his collegiate career. He's that good. Aside from all the personal things about White, there is another concern, in my opinion. His success is going to be very dependent on who drafts him. White's game is unique. He's a bit of a point power forward. He needs the ball in his hands a little more than your average big man. Not in a selfish way. He's a great creator and ball handler. But because of his unique style, where he lands will go a long way to determining his immediate success in the NBA.
Andre Drummond: There are red flags galore. Whispers that he might not love the game, concerns about his motor, etc. Here's the thing though: He's 7 ft tall, he's a freak athlete and he's only 19. He also played on a supremely dysfunctional UConn team this year with bunch of guards who would've rather heaved contested 3s than actually, you know, feed the guy with a physical mismatch against anyone he played. I think Drummond worst case scenario is DeAndre Jordan and his best is All-Star. If he ends up somewhere in between? Well, then he's probably a top 5-10 guy from this draft when we look back 10 years from now. (One thing I forgot to mention: Drummond shot 29.5% on FTs as a freshman.)
Jeremy Lamb: Another UConn guy. Lamb came back to school this year to improve his draft stock. That didn't really happen. A bit surprising when you consider how dominant Lamb was last summer in the U-20 World Championships in Lithuania. I think Lamb suffered from some of the the issues as Drummond, namely guards who jacked tons of shots and made terrible decisions. I also think that Lamb's personality isn't suited to being "the guy". He's much more comfortable as a 2nd or 3rd option. If that's true and Lamb ends up on a team where he can focus on his role while he to gets better off the dribble, stronger and extends his range then he has the ability to be a top 5-6 NBA shooting guard.
Jared Sullinger: This is all because of his back. It's supposedly been red-flagged by the NBA. Meaning that NBA doctors think it will significantly hinder his NBA career and possibly even cut it short. Teams are understandably wary of Sullinger as a result. He was already undersized and just an average athlete. Now he's viewed as damaged goods. Sullinger now finds himself projected in the 20s. I understand staying away from Sullinger in the lottery, but he's too skilled and tough to pass up late in the first. I'd be excited if the Magic selected him at 19. Plenty of guys have been red flagged over the years and had very good NBA careers (Monta Ellis, Danny Granger, DeJuan Blair). I hope we can say the same about Sullinger in 10 years.
Damian Lillard: I really, really like Lillard. He's athletic, tough, shoots it well and isn't a me first point guard like his stats might suggest. He was forced to be shoot more often at Weber State because he was so much better than his teammates but I believe he'll be a good PG with the ability to score in the NBA. My concern with Lillard is that he's being projected to go between 6-8. That's awfully high for a PG out of the Big Sky Conference.
Sleepers (2nd Rounders to keep an eye on)
Scott Machado: I'm a sucker for PGs and Iona's Machado is amongst my favorite college PGs in recent memory. He led the NCAA in assists and is a better shooter than he gets credit for. He should carve out a nice career as a backup PG.
Jared Cunningham: I only saw him play a few times since he was at Oregon State but what I saw was impressive. He's an elite athlete with good size for the 2. And he's shown the ability to play some point as well. He needs to get stronger and refine his offensive game but there is plenty of potential and ability.
Kyle O'Quinn: You remember him from the NCAA Tournament. O'Quinn is 6'10" with good offensive skills. He works hard and impressed in workouts with NBA teams. That will get you a spot on someone's team.
Doron Lamb: The unsung hero for Kentucky this year (along with Darius Miller). Lamb is a lights out shooter with the ability to play some point as well. His shooting and demeanor should get him into the NBA. If he further diversifies his offensive arsenal and can play some PG, it will get him into the rotation in the NBA.
On paper this looks like one of the deepest drafts in years. In case you didn't notice, I'm pretty excited about it.