NBA Draft 2012: Where Will Each Kentucky Wildcat End Up?
This year's Kentucky Wildcat draft class is quite possibly the most talented group from a single school in the history of the NBA draft. Six members of last year's national championship winning team have declared for the draft, including three freshmen and two sophomores.
Anthony Davis is the star of the class and will almost certainly be drafted first overall on Thursday night. After Davis's name is called, it is not outside the realm of possibility that all five of his teammates could be drafted in the first round. Even if a few slip into the second round, as is expected, it will be an historic night for the University of Kentucky.
There is almost no certainty in this year's draft after Davis at number one; every remaining pick is a mystery. Here is a look at which team's cap each of the six young players could quite plausibly end up wearing on Thursday night.
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Most Likely Destination: New Orleans Hornets
Alternative Destination: None
Anthony Davis may be saying that it is not a certainty that he will go number one, but that's likely just a sign that he's not foolish enough to taunt the basketball gods.
Davis is a sure thing at number one. Though this is potentially a deep draft, Davis is widely considered to be the draft's only "can't miss."
The only possible way Davis would not end up in New Orleans would be if another franchise offers a trade too good for the Hornets to pass up, but the likelihood of such an event is microscopic. With the departure of Chris Paul and the recent purchase of the Hornets by Tom Benson, the team is in desperate need of a superstar, and management would not be so foolish to risk passing on someone with Davis's talent.
Come Thursday night, Anthony Davis will be smiling broadly while shaking hands with David Stern and wearing a Hornets cap on his head.
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Most Likely Destination: Dallas Mavericks
Alternative Destination: Philadelphia 76ers
Forwards like Terrence Jones offer as much risk as they do opportunity. Though he's capable of playing both power forward and small forward, he isn't a natural fit for either position, and he could struggle to find a role for himself on an NBA roster.
Still, Jones' size and defensive skills make him an attractive candidate to several teams with mid-first round picks.
The Dallas Mavericks have the 17th pick, and after the failed Lamar Odom experiment, the team would love to add someone of Jones's size to their bench. However, Jones showed some attitude problems early in his time at Kentucky, and the Mavs will be reluctant to invest in a potential source of conflict after dealing with Odom last season.
Still, he's only 20 years old, and if Jones can convey to the front office that he is maturing, the Mavs are a likely buyer for his talents.
Philadelphia, at the 15th pick, could deprive Dallas of the chance to draft Jones. The 76ers recently invited all big men to a pre-draft combine, and it's clear the team is looking to add size to its roster.
Arnett Moultrie and Perry Jones could both end up being drafted before Jones, though it's tough to predict at this point which of the three scouts are favoring.
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Most Likely Destination: Cleveland Cavaliers
Alternative Destination: Charlotte Bobcats
After Anthony Davis, small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will almost certainly be the next Wildcat selected in the draft. Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in his single year playing at Kentucky and is thought to be a hard-working and physical player who could make an immediate contribution to an NBA team.
Some question MKG's scoring ability, but his work ethic is unquestioned, and scouts believe he will be able to make up for any shortcomings.
The Charlotte Bobcats are an absolute mess, and pretty much anyone they could choose with their second draft pick would offer the team an upgrade. Kidd-Gilchrist would fit in well with the team, though most believe they will choose Florida's Bradley Beal, Kansas' Thomas Robinson or North Carolina's Harrison Barnes or trade the pick.
Cleveland is seen as the most likely team to trade with the Bobcats for their draft pick, which would allow them to leapfrog the Washington Wizards and select Beal.
If neither the Bobcats nor the Wizards choose Kidd-Gilchrist, the Cavaliers could have to choose between the draft's two best small forwards, Kidd-Gilchrist and Barnes. It's anyone's guess as to which player the Cavs would take, but Kidd-Gilchrist need not worry too much, as he would likely be scooped up by the Kings at No. 5 if the Cavaliers pass him over.
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Most Likely Destination: Chicago Bulls
Alternative Destination: Indiana Pacers
Chicago seems to be the most likely destination for Kentucky's combo guard Doron Lamb. Lamb has said that he would fit in well with Chicago's needs, and his ability to play both point guard and shooting guard would allow him to be an option to back up Derrick Rose.
If Chicago wants Lamb strongly enough, they might have to trade up a few slots, as the Pacers will have to take a close look at him with their 26th pick. The team would like to add a guard to their roster, and either Lamb or Washington's Tony Wroten would fill that need.
If both Chicago and Indiana pass on Lamb, he shouldn't fall too far, as there are a number of teams with early picks in the second round in need of a guard, including Washington at 32 and Sacramento at 36.
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Most Likely Destination: Atlanta Hawks
Alternative Destination: Denver Nuggets
Marquis Teague entered the NCAA last year as the consensus top-ranked point guard in high school ball, and after his performance with the Wildcats in his sole season with the school, his stock has not fallen.
Though he may not be the top point guard chosen in this year's draft—Weber State's Damian Lillard is likely to be the first and North Carolina's Kendall Marshall could sneak in before him—Teague will most likely be the first freshman point guard drafted.
The Atlanta Hawks have the 23rd pick in the draft, and Teague would fill the team's need at the point guard position. The Hawks may choose to use their pick on someone like Andrew Nicholson or Jeffery Taylor, who would each bring size to the frontcourt, which could leave Teague out in the cold and falling to a team like Indiana at 28.
Of course, it's also possible that Teague won't be on the draft board by the time it's Atlanta's turn. The Denver Nuggets are in need of a backup to Ty Lawson, and they recently worked out Teague and Kansas' Tyshawn Taylor.
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Most Likely Destination: Washington Wizards
Alternative Destination: Milwaukee Bucks
Darius Miller is by far the most seasoned of Kentucky's draft class, having played four years in Lexington. During that time, he played with over a dozen players who entered the NBA draft, which has given scouts the chance to observe Miller playing competing against professional-level players.
The Washington Wizards invited Miller and five other players to their first combine workout, and Miller seems to be an ideal selection for the Wizards with the team's 32nd pick. The likelihood of him going to Washington has decreased a bit since the team shipped their 46th pick to New Orleans in the Emeka Okafor trade, but D.C. is still the most likely destination for Miller.
The Milwaukee Bucks' 42nd pick also seems a natural fit for Miller. The Bucks are already a young team, and a player with Miller's maturity and comparatively extensive experience should be attractive to the team's front office.
Miller isn't the most athletic player, but he would fit in nicely with Milwaukee's young squad.