2012 NBA Draft Preview

NBA Draft Preview

The NBA draft happens unusually fast after the close of the previous NBA season, at least compared to the NFL.  The Super Bowl typically takes place on the first Sunday in February, and the draft doesn’t happen until late April or so.  The NBA finals end in mid-June, varying on the contentiousness of the series.  The draft then happens less than two weeks later.  It’s an unusual breakneck speed Commissioner David Stern insists on, but so be it.  Draft day is a holy holiday for NBA fans.  Because of the small rosters, even one quality player can dramatically impact the future of a team.  The Cleveland Cavaliers were a league laughing stock during the early part of the aughts.  But when they picked up a high school sensation by the name of Lebron James with the first pick of the 2003 draft, the team saw their fortunes change with an 18 game turnaround during his rookie year.  By 2007, the Cleveland team was playing for the title (they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs).  In today’s NBA, teams can’t draft players straight out of high school anymore, but there are still an abundance of great players available.


Welcome to New Orleans, Anthony Davis

This year, the New Orleans Hornets won the lottery and gained the number one pick, despite the fact that the Charlotte Bobcats had the league’s worst record.  The Hornets also have another top ten selection, and this has been the source of conspiracy theories for those who feel that the league, which owns the New Orleans franchise, may have rigged the lottery in their own favor.  Whether that’s true or not (and it’s not), the Hornets have a distinct advantage this year in the draft, but there’s no drama in speculating who they will pick first: Kentucky forward Anthony Davis.  The 19 year old wonder averaged 14.2 points per game, 10.4 boards and 4.7 blocks during his only season as a Wildcat.  At 6’ 11’’ with a 7’ 6” wingspan, he is a shocking versatile scorer.  The only concern some have about Davis is his relatively scrawny build.  He may have to muscle up to match up against NBA centers like Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum.  But look for Davis to make some noise for a franchise that is bleeding after the loss of Chris Paul.


The Best of the Rest

Davis is not the only player from last season’s champion Kentucky Wildcats that will get picked highly in the draft.  Forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist may even be picked up number two by the Charlotte Bobcats.  Kidd-Gilchrist was widely regarded as one of the toughest defenders in the NCAA last year, and given that the Bobcats gave up 100.9 points per game last season, Michael Jordan’s beleaguered franchise could use the help.  On the opposite end of the floor, Florida guard Bradley Beal impressed many scouts as the best natural shooter at the most recent combine.  A point hungry team like the Cavaliers would be eager to pick him up if he’s not already off of the market.  A pairing of him and last season’s rookie of the year Kyrie Irving in the backcourt has the potential for explosive results.


Building the Dynasty

As I’m writing this, the NBA finals are still in progress, so I can’t tell you who won between the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder.  What I can tell you is that both teams are obviously complete enough to make the finals, so holes to fill are minimal.  But if they want to stay championship contenders for years to come, there are still some moves each team could make.  What the Heat could use is a big man.  Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony are certainly competent players, but the Miami team could use a solid big man defender off of the bench.  Syracuse seven footer, Fab Melo, may have had his academic troubles last year, but he was a reliable shot blocker and rebounder for the Orangemen.  As for the Thunder, getting a solid shooting guard to give stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook some rest would be ideal.  Vanderbilt’s Jeffery Taylor is a reliable scorer and a solid perimeter defender.  If he’s still available, Scott Brooks and company would be smart to look his way. It’s nearly impossible to pick the draft, outside of the number one pick that is.  There are always surprises in store.  Teams usually trade up for higher picks.  There’s even a rumor right now that the Charlotte Bobcats may trade up the number two pick to get a player like James Harden from the Thunder (I don’t believe it).  But these are a few of the selections that could be made on June 28.  We’ll know in five years if there’s another King James in the bunch.