With the field of 68 down to 4, the 2012 NBA Draft is starting to take a little more shape. While some players, including Bradley Beal and Thomas Robinson, have shined during this year's tournament, there are others who have left their draft stock in question.
Every draft will create its share of busts, and this draft will be no different. The current rebuilding model Cleveland is following puts an importance on hitting with each draft pick. Here are some names they should avoid calling with their four picks in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Size: 6'6", 230 pounds
Draft Range: Early to Middle 2nd Round
Buford has had a wonderful career as a Buckeye, playing on multiple Big Ten championship teams and four NCAA tournament teams. He ranks in the top 10 in total points at Ohio State, and has been known for his catch-and-shoot ability, as well as his pull up game. The Buckeye has also been a very solid free throw shooter throughout his college career.
Unfortunately, Buford disappeared in the NCAA tournament the last two years. In 2012 tournament play, including the Big Ten tourney, Buford is 25-of-78 for an abysmal 32 percent shooting, and hasn't created much for his teammates. He comes in slightly worse from behind the arc, at 29 percent.
In big games, where college players prove their worth, he tends to struggle, letting the game come to him, opting instead to force the action and take contested shots. Buford struggles creating off the dribble and loses his shooting touch when the pressure is on. Before this season started I thought of Buford as a solid pick early in the second round, but now I don't see him as an option with either of the two second-round picks the Cavs own.
Size: 7'0", 255 pounds
Draft Range: Late 1st to Early 2nd round
At 7' and 255 lbs, Fab Melo has the size and look of an NBA center. A great defender in the middle of Jim Boeheim's famous Syracuse zone, Melo averaged almost 3 blocks a game while affecting many other shots. He has decent rebounding numbers, especially playing in a zone which makes boxing out more of a challenge.
That is about where his skills end, though. He does not have much of an offensive game to speak of, as most of his points come off of others' penetration or offensive putbacks.
He would be a work in progress, to say the least, and with Cleveland already having Tristan Thompson's offensive game to work on, I'd prefer to see them draft a player with a little more offensive ability here.
Fab Melo also has some character concerns. He has been suspended twice for academic issues, the second keeping him home for the NCAA tournament. His unwillingness to work on his grades after being suspended once is a red flag, and makes me think Melo won't put in the extra work at the next level to improve his game and learn the intricacies of the NBA. I wouldn't draft the headache that is Fab Melo with any of the Cavs picks.
Size: 6'11", 235 pounds
Draft Range: Lottery Pick
Perry Jones III must be sick of hearing how much potential he has—I know I am.
He possesses a combination of size and athleticism rarely seen. He has the ability to shoot the mid-range jumper and get to the rim, when he wants to. He is a great finisher around the rim, when he wants to be. He can be a great rebounder, when he wants to. His size and athleticism allows him to defend multiple positions, when he wants to. He can penetrate and get to the line, again when he wants to.
I hope you are noticing a theme here. The questions aren't whether Jones III has the skills to be a great NBA player. The questions are whether he has the drive to be a great NBA player.
While watching Baylor this year, I often forgot Jones was on the floor. This is not good quality for a top 10 pick. Some of the things being said about Jones III were being said about JJ Hickson. Obviously, Perry is much more talented than Hickson, but three years and three teams later, JJ Hickson still hasn't found his potential. Whichever team drafts Jones III in the lottery will be taking a big risk, and I hope Cleveland isn't that team.
Size: 6'10", 270 pounds
Draft Range: Top 10
He has a good combination of size, strength, and athleticism at a young age. He is a solid rebounder, averaging 7.6 boards in 28 minutes, and his size and athleticism allow him to be a factor on the defensive end, where he averages 2.7 blocks per game while altering other shots.
As with most young bigs, he will be a project on the offensive end, lacking post-up moves and a mid-range game. He does not get to the line much, and even when he does get there, his 29.5 percent free throw shooting is scary bad.
Andre needs to develop his post-up game and demand more of a presence in the post to start being a factor on the offensive end. The Cavs need someone with more offensive capabilities than Drummond to pair with Tristan Thompson, and should pass on the Husky with their lottery pick.
6'8", 215 pounds
Draft Range: Top 10
If Harrison Barnes declared for the draft last year, he would have been a top 4 pick. Even late into this year, most mock drafts didn't have him lasting very long. Then Kendall Marshall took an awkward fall and all of the sudden some of Barnes weaknesses were exposed for all the world to see.
In the two tournament games without Marshall, Harrison shot a well publicized 8-for-30, including 2-of-14 form beyond the arc, while struggling to create off the bounce. Down the stretch of the game against Ohio University, Barnes was shut down and even turned the ball over on the last possession of regulation.
He also does not create shots for teammates very well, averaging a little over one assist per game, which is almost equal to half of his turnovers per game. He is a solid shooter and has the ability to rebound and defend with prototypical size for a small forward, but the Cavs need another creator of offense to pair with Kyrie, like Bradley Beal.
Now for the concerns I have about Harrison Barnes and his "brand". I recently read an enlightening article by Jay Caspian Kang. Here is a quote from Harrison Barnes' recruiting announcement to UNC:
"The school that I choose to be my alma mater, indeed, the place where I will leave my legacy, had the right balance of both academics and basketball that which I thought I could achieve the goals I wanted to pursue. Today, I'm proud to announce the school I will attend in the fall of 2010 will be the coach I'm going to Skype…"
Before even entering college, Barnes was already talking about his legacy like it was inevitable. This piece goes on to explain how much Harrison Barnes cares about his "brand," including an interview he had done with The Atlantic where he mentioned a reluctance to talk about his religious or political views because he might polarize the public.
Harrison seems more worried about the business aspect of basketball than the basketball aspect of basketball. He should take a lesson from Derrick Rose and let his play on the court lead to a huge Adidas contract. I hope Cleveland and its fans have learned from the brand that was and still is LeBron James, and stay away from the much less talented Harrison Barnes in this year's draft.