NBA Draft 2012: 50 Predictions to Take to the Bank
The 2012 NBA season in all of its abbreviated glory has come to an end, and with the crunched-together schedule comes the NBA Draft, just a week after the end of the NBA Finals. That's right folks, instead of having to wait nearly a month for the kickoff of the NBA offseason, we get to do it in just four short days.
The NBA Draft is a time of hope for everyone involved (well, at least everyone with a high pick), and it means change for every team with a pick, which is most teams.
It may be the sometimes depressing nature of the franchise that I personally follow, or just the hope and joy that comes from such a seemingly meaningless day at the end of June, but the NBA Draft has a bit of carnival to it that makes its excitement endless.
It's not as gut-wrenchingly long as the NFL Draft, the MLB Draft is meaningless until the prospects mature for another four years or so and three-quarters of sports fans out there couldn't even tell you when the NHL Draft is (or was, in this case).
So, with the NBA Draft the biggest looming event in the future, let's take down some predictions that are, as always, sure to be true.
1. Anthony Davis Goes No. 1, Unibrow Intact
Hey, bold prediction here, right? Let's get the ho-hum out of the way early. Anthony Davis is going No. 1 overall.
However, something that might have been in question is whether or not that single eyebrow that zig-zags its way across his forehead will be there.
You heard it here first: That thing is staying. Anthony Davis doesn't need any manscaping.
2. Michael Jordan Goes for Fireworks over Alka Seltzer
There are a few directions that Michael Jordan could go with his team's pick at No. 2, and if history tells us anything, it's that it'll be the wrong pick.
He could end up trading it—that's a very distinct possibility—but let's assume that he sticks with it at this point.
Jordan will take Thomas Robinson in an attempt to bring down the house with a home run pick over the safer, possibly better pick of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. It's the Jordan thing to do.
3. Broadcasters Gush About Bradley Beal
We've heard the bloggers go on and on about him for the past three months, calling him a cross between Eric Gordon and Ray Allen. Now it's time for the broadcasters to go on and on about how he's going to be a home run.
Beal was once a no-brainer for a top-10 pick, but his showing in the NCAA tournament coupled with the play he's gotten on the internet and across mediums has led to him becoming a no-doubt top-three pick.
Let's hope some of these comparisons are right for whichever team it may be that drafts the kid.
4. Andre Drummond vs. Perry Jones for Best Dressed
It always seems to be the big question marks who come in dressed the flashiest on draft day, and this year there are no question marks bigger than Andre Drummond and Perry Jones.
While it's impossible to really predict who is going to be in the green room for the draft on Thursday, it's pretty easy to assume that Jones and Drummond will be there, as both are looking to be lottery picks and both give the panel of experts something to talk about.
5. But Nobody Really Wins a 'Worst Dressed'
It has been years since we've seen a historically terrible draft-day suit (Eric Gordon's may have been the last really ridiculous suit), which seems to mean that players are shying away from making the bad first impression that others have in the past.
That's why I see no real fireworks in terms of who's wearing what yet again this season.
It's a shame too, as draft-day suits have historically been the best part of the NBA draft and they're gradually getting tamer and tamer.
6. Harrison Barnes Goes to the Cavs
The Cleveland Cavaliers are desperately looking for a wingman to pair with Kyrie Irving. The good news is that they've landed in one of the best drafts in years for wingmen.
Top of the list would have to be Bradley Beal, and after that the smartest pick would be Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but the Cavs seem to be dazzled by the prospect of Harrison Barnes, who could end up being something really special.
7. Kentucky Gets 5 First-Rounders
The Kentucky Wildcats are looking to be the first school in NCAA history to land five of their kids in the first round of the NBA Draft and the first to put four in the first round since Connecticut in 2006 when Rudy Gay, Hilton Armstrong, Marcus Williams and Josh Boone all were firsters (I'm sure they're all hoping for a better result than that lot).
They'll get four in; that's no question. The only one with a bit of doubt would be shooting guard Doron Lamb, but he should squeeze his way in there.
8. Portland Trades No. 6, No. 11 or Both
The Portland Trail Blazers are the proud owners of two lottery picks, thanks mostly to the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets for their willingness to rent Gerald Wallace for half the year and only throw a top-three protection on him.
However, it seems that the Blazers are pursuing trading those picks more than any other team is looking to move its own. Most notably they've been involved with the Cleveland Cavaliers to swap their two first rounders (at Nos. 6 and 11) for Cleveland's first rounders (at Nos. 4 and 24).
That may not be the trade to go down, but it seems that Portland will end up trading at least one of those picks.
9. The Lakers Trade into the First Round
Could it be that the Lakers have changed their tune about Pau Gasol? The Lakers now seem to be looking at more traditional options for improving their team, rather than swapping draft picks willy-nilly for half a season from Ramon Sessions and Jordan Hill.
Recently they've been rumored to be interested in trading into the first round of the draft to go after one of Baylor's two forwards, which seems like a very likely scenario.
10. 4 First-Round Trades
The NBA has been incredibly deft at making the NBA Draft entertaining, although in recent years the value has dropped ever so slightly due to the decrease in draft-day trades.
That's why I'm feeling a break of the trend. At least four times we'll get to hear the phrase, "We have a trade," coming from David Stern's mouth in the first round. No telling how many times we hear it from Adam Silver in the second.
11. Newest Overused Measurement: Hand Size
We've had vertical jump, wingspan, standing reach and a whole rash of other measurements take center stage at the NBA Draft before. This time we're going to see a newcomer.
The NBA Draft combine just began to add hand width and length as measurements alongside height, weight and all their other pokings and proddings a few years ago, and we're just now getting to see what the measurements mean in terms of real production.
Here's a bigger prediction for you: Someone mentions the fact that Royce White has the second widest hands ever measured at the combine at least three times, and at least once it's used as justification for him to be a great player.
12. New Yorkers Boo Their Only Pick
It's always a disappointment to hear that the Knicks don't have a first-round pick, because it means we won't get to hear the fans' peak of disappointment when management does something they disagree with.
However, out of tradition and a desire to boo something, anything, Knicks fans are going to take their anger out on whatever poor chum gets drafted in the second round, 48th overall.
13. Jared Sullinger Has the Biggest Fall
The only other prediction that I had that was less bold than this one was that Anthony Davis was going to be drafted first overall.
Recently, Jared Sullinger's back issues have thrown the draft all out of whack, stemming from the red flag that he was tagged with after his injury was looked at as potentially career-threatening.
He's going to fall out of the lottery in all likelihood; the only question is how far.
14. Meyers Leonard Has the Biggest Jump
With Sullinger being one of the highest-ranked big men who have experience playing center (after Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond), there's suddenly a vacuum in the big man space.
Who is there to fill that hole with the potential anywhere near that of Sullinger? Well, it's none other than Meyers Leonard.
Now, Tyler Zeller may be the safer pick, but Leonard is the more intriguing pick with oodles of potential, and guys' eyes get wide when they see him zip around the court.
15. Austin Rivers Jumps into the Top 10
There isn't a draft prospect as bold and confusing as Austin Rivers.
On one hand he seems like he could be the worst incarnation of Jamal Crawford, shooting the ball two dozen times in a game and making seven shots as his teammates cringe and fans shout.
However, he could also be the very best incarnation of Jason Terry, stepping up to make high-pressure shots and taking the ones that nobody else wants to take.
Some GM is going to look at that upside and see it as too high to pass up, leading to him coming off the board in the first 10 picks.
16. Evan Fournier Is the Only International First-Rounder
After last year's lockout-threatened season led to NCAA players scurrying back into college, the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft looked like a who's who of the NBA Euroleague.
This year, however, seems like it's going to mirror 2010 more than 2011, as only one player, Evan Fournier, looks like a guy who is worthy of a first-round pick without any college experience stateside.
17. Vanderbilt Sees First Multi-First Round Draft
It hasn't happened in, well...ever, but this looks to be the year for Vanderbilt to have multiple first-round draft picks.
The last time a guy from Vanderbilt was drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft was in 1988 when the Chicago Bulls selected Will Perdue. This year, Jeffery Taylor is sure to be a first rounder, while two others could jump in the end of the first round.
Both John Jenkins, a three-point specialist, and Festus Ezeli have the merit to be first-round picks; it all depends on what the guys in ties think now.
18. Damian Lillard Is the Highest Mid-Major
There seems to be a bit of a crown for the highest mid-major taken in the NBA Draft, and the guy who wins it wears it with a sense of pride.
Last year BYU saw Jimmer Fredette go 11th overall, and this year Weber State's Damian Lillard should be able to top even that.
19. Big Men Reign
Here's what happens with NBA Draft evaluations ever since the 2003 class killed every class after that. First, we see the class a year ahead of time, look at it and say, "Well, this isnt' a great class." Then we wait until about two weeks before the NCAA season starts and hype grows, peaking about two weeks into the season. Players' flaws start to show and what was once a draft that looked good well into the lottery turns into a draft five guys deep because only a few of them are franchise changers.
Here's the truth about this draft: It's a damn good one. Quite a few players are going to be in the league for a long time, even if there are very few players who are going to be changing franchises.
This year's specialty is big men—power forwards, specifically. So if you need a big boy this year, you're in luck.
20. But There's Some Point Guard Value
To say that big men are where it's at this year is true, but it doesn't mean there aren't point guards to be had.
Damian Lillard is a potential All-Star, and Kendall Marshall is the reincarnation of Andre Miller while guys like Marquis Teague, Tyshawn Taylor and even Scott Machado are intriguing, if not promising players.
21. Most Overblown "Problem" Is Royce White's Fear of Flying
Royce White is going to be the belle of the ball in this bad boy, even if he isn't invited to the green room.
First, you're going to hear about his huge hands, like we've talked about before, which will lead to conversations about his incredible rebounding and passing abilities.
However, before long we're going to get to his downside, the biggest issue of which will be his intense fear of flying. In the end, that'll matter less than the fact that his hands are over 10 inches wide.
22. Most Overblown Stat Line: Tyler Zeller's 20-20 vs. Ohio
It always seems like the big men out of North Carolina get built up just so they can fall down, and it should be no different this year with Tyler Zeller.
I can feel it in my bones now—the biggest stat that's going to get thrown around is the fact that he's the only player in UNC history to put up a 20-point, 20-rebound game in the NCAA tournament. Never mind the fact that this was against a team whose tallest guy was at least four inches shorter than him, it'll be thrown around all the same.
23. Terrence Ross Jumps into the Lottery
It always seems that there's a lottery crasher, whether it be a low-lottery guy who looks like he'll go between Nos. 10 and 14 who ends up jumping into the top five or a guy outside the lottery who jumps in.
This year the lottery crasher seems like it'll be Terrence Ross, whose immense potential mixed with his great jumper make him the best winger after Beal, MKG and Barnes are taken.
24. 7 College Teams Wind Up with Multiple First-Rounders
For some reason, I'll always get a kick out of college teams getting two or more guys into the first round of the draft. It always seems to be a note in history that reminds people which teams were great or which were better than normal in the previous year.
This year we're looking at seven multi-pick teams: Kentucky, North Carolina, Syracuse, UConn, Baylor, Washington and Vanderbilt.
25. Biggest First-Round Reach: Will Barton
Will Barton is a talent, without a doubt, but is he a talent who is going to produce soon enough to be taken in the first round? That's a bit more of a stretch.
Still, this feeling is looming that someone is going to take Will Barton late in the first round, despite the fact that he could hide behind a light post if need be.
26. Even Adam Silver Gets Booed
The New York fans who attend the draft love to boo David Stern until he smiles his little villainous smile, but sarcastically cheer Adam Silver when he comes out at the start of the second round. It's a bit of a jab at Stern and a fun tradition for the second round.
However, since Adam Silver was as involved with the delaying of the start of the NBA season as David Stern, it seems only fitting that he is greeted with a smattering of boos this year.
27. Go-to Comparisons Will Be Kenneth Faried and Kawhi Leonard
Let me elaborate on this one just a bit more.
Once we get down past the 13th pick or so, something that gets thrown around is the phrase "NBA Ready" for guys who can come in and play immediately.
These are guys who are going to contribute early in their careers but also hit their ceiling early and plateau quicker than most, the best comparisons from last year's draft being Kenneth Faried and Kawhi Leonard.
28. Draymond Green Is This Year's "Good Guy" Award Winner
It's good to be a talented basketball player and it's good to be a good teammate and an all-around good guy, but the two can sometimes be in completely different boats.
Still, it happens every year that a player is singled out and his basketball accomplishments are more or less ignored while the broadcast crew look at him and gush about what a great person and teammate he is.
I'm a fan of Draymond's game, but he's winning the "Good Guy" Award this year.
29. At Least 5 Draft-Crashers
Since the draft-day suits have become classier and more conservative in recent years, the most interesting development of the NBA Draft has been draft crashers. That is, guys who weren't invited to the green room but showed up in New York and bought a ticket anyway so they can walk across the stage and get that hat from David Stern.
It's fun to guess who's there and who's not, but last year it seemed the camera crew knew everyone beforehand, which cut down on the fun a bit as everyone was spotted before they were drafted anyway.
30. Mr Irrelevant: Kostas Papanikolaou
There's no real reason behind this, but Kostas Papanikolaou's name calls to me like a slot machine sitting lonely in a corner waiting to pay out.
The big fella from Greece will be drafted 60th to claim the Mr. Irrelevant title.
31. Most Talked About Second-Rounder: Kim English
It seems inevitable that there's a second-round draft pick who didn't get a fair deal in the NCAA tourney, so the guys talk about him for the span of two or three picks, going back to him each time to finish up their thoughts.
With Mizzou getting knocked out in the first round, there are a lot of un-expressed thoughts about Kim English going on, so he should get a lot of play.
32. Most Visible Parent: Satch Sullinger
Satch Sullinger is already one of the most famous parents in the NBA, and his kid isn't even wearing a uniform yet.
It's hard to imagine that Jared Sullinger won't be at the NBA Draft when you consider the fact that his papa has been at many big NCAA events ever since his last kid was playing for Ohio State, so we should be seeing plenty of Satch.
33. Steal of the First Round: Royce White
Can you tell that I'm totally ready to throw my support behind Royce White? It must be the fact that his hands are so big.
Without ridiculous measurements trying to sway people, White is the best passing big man in this draft (whether or not he is indeed a big man is up for debate, I suppose), plus he's a serviceable rebounder and a fair scorer.
34. Steal of the Second Round: Kevin Jones
Kevin Jones is the epitome of intensity, and as a second-round pick, he should be making just as much, if not more contribution than anyone would expect in the NBA.
The big fellow from West Virginia isn't going to be wowing anyone with his leaping ability or his ability to score the ball, but Jones can rebound with the best of them and he'll play defense tough on anyone he's asked to.
35. Hottest Girlfriend: Terrence Jones
We're working under the assumption that the entire starting five of Kentucky will end up being invited to the draft so we can hear the conversations about them all going in the first round, but we'll get something else out of that as well.
As of right now the front-runner for the hottest girlfriend award has to be Terrence Jones and whoever may grace his arm. The story about him bringing flowers to the cheerleader from Louisville shows that the guy is charming, so you know he's going to have a pretty young thing to take the spot of Jan Vesely's ladyfriend from a year ago.
36. Most Re-Lived NCAA Tourney Moment: Kyle O'Quinn Takes Down Mizzou
The 2011 NCAA tournament was as exciting a tournament in recent years, despite the drab and predictable outcome, but some moments rang out louder than others.
The moment we're going to see more of than any other is going to be when Kyle O'Quinn's Norfolk State team took down Mizzou in the first round of the tourney and the affable young man took the world by storm for a few minutes.
37. Fab Melo Goes to a Contender
Every good team is looking for a big man who can come in, hack some guys when they get past the first line of defense and run into a blocked shot every once in a while. That big man is Fab Melo.
Melo isn't going to be scoring on purpose at any point this year, but he should learn to play some effective defense in the NBA, which should be good enough for a contender to pick him in the first round.
38. Boston Grabs a Few Bigs
The Boston Celtics are running out of height, even if they are looked at as a team that's closer to rebuilding than not.
Still, the fact that Boston can make another run at a title next season should make a re-tooling more likely than a draft where they reach for the guy with the most potential when they're up to bat, so a few big guys at Nos. 21 and 22 should be in order.
39. New Orleans Gets a Little to Go with Its Big
The New Orleans Hornets get the pleasure of presenting Anthony Davis with a hat of their own, but they're also the proud owners of the No. 10 pick.
It seems only logical that they grab a point guard to pair with Davis, as they'll need someone to handle the ball.
Should Damian Lillard be drafted already, Kendall Marshall is always a good option, as is Dion Waiters.
40. Cleveland Makes Some Kind of a Trade
The Cleveland Cavaliers are shopping picks like an old woman grabbing hams in the final round of Supermarket Sweep so they can get the best possible value out of this draft.
We've looked at a potential trade with Portland, but with the 33rd and 34th picks as well as the 24th, it's possible that they package those together for a higher first rounder.
41. Andre Drummond Falls out of the Top 5
Andre Drummond was talked about as the top overall pick as the NCAA season was just jumping off the ground, and then he became a sure-fire No. 2 before becoming a questionable No. 3.
With a shaky freshman year in which he looked amazing and flop-worthy in the same game, Drummond is likely going to drop out of the top five.
42. Biggest Second-Round Gainer: Tyshawn Taylor
Tyshawn Taylor has had his size to blame for a lot of the questions he gets when it comes to his NBA prospects, but that may all be unfair. The 6'3" guard has a skill set that's not quite that of a shooting guard and not good enough for that of a point guard, but he's got room to grow, that's for sure.
Taylor, once looked at as a late second rounder, should jump into the first five picks of the second round. Who knows, he could become a first rounder in the next few days.
43. John Jenkins Is a First Rounder for That Jumper
The smartest teams are often the contenders who disregard things like potential when they're picking late in the first round, instead looking at guys who will come in and use a single skill to be important to their team.
John Jenkins exhibits a skill that few have in this draft—that's a sweet stroke of a jumper that could keep him in the league for years to come. Oklahoma City or Chicago would be wise to snatch him up.
44. Most Unknown Big-Time Prospect: Jared Cunningham
Jared Cunningham is from a big-time conference, but being on an Oregon State team that went 7-11 in its conference this year isn't exactly a way to get noticed.
However, Jared Cunningham's ability to score with his body and put himself in the way of passes is going to do wonders for his stock, more than being a Beaver ever did.
45. Most Intriguing Second Rounder: Darius Johnson-Odom
Darius Johnson-Odom, besides having a name that sounds like it belongs to an old Norse god, is a guy who should go in the second round but could have some more merit than that.
Johnson-Odom has the curse of being an undersized shooting guard, which seems to be a big deal in this draft, but he's a very good all-around player and a smart senior, so he could make something of himself in the NBA.
46. Second Rounder Who Looks Like a First Rounder: William Buford
It always seems like there's a guy in the second round who gets drafted and besides the fact that he's obviously not on the same level as the first round dudes, has highlights that make you go, "What kept this dude out of the first round?"
This year William Buford should have that distinction, as he's been a big-time player for two years, and a good one for four, with a bunch of big shots under his belt and some borderline elite skills.
47. Sure-Fire, No-Doubt Bust: Tyler Zeller
The obvious thought for this one would be Andre Drummond or even Perry Jones, but it seems like those two should be good players if they get a bit of an attitude adjustment.
However, Tyler Zeller seems like just another big body in the NBA. He's not athletic, he's not particularly a good rebounder for a guy his size, he isn't strong and he doesn't have good size. He should get walked all over in the NBA.
48. Guy Who Should Be Drafted Who Won't: Quincy Acy
Quincy Acy is one of the few guys from Baylor over the years who have looked like legitimate hard workers, yet it seems like Acy isn't going to get drafted for the fact that he's too short to play power forward in the NBA.
He's a shade under 6'8", but the dude has a big frame, he's quick and athletic down low which allows him to make his shots and grab boards.
49. Most Overblown Size Problem: Bradley Beal's Height
Sure, Bradley Beal is short compared to a lot of the shooting guards in the NBA, but is that really going to matter in the end? No, no, it won't. He'll either be a good player on the merit of his skills or not.
A few inches makes a huge difference if you're 5'10" and trying to play point guard or 6'6" and trying to play center, but Allen Iverson would like to have a word with you if you think short dudes can't play shooting guard.
50. Team of the Night? New Orleans Hornets
There's no doubt about it, New Orleans is going to change its team for years to come with this draft.
The Hornets wind up with the belle of the ball in Anthony Davis and then another good lottery pick, which will most likely be a guard to pair with him and Eric Gordon. Plus they've got a second rounder, which is never a bad thing.
Way to play that one, David Stern.
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