Examining The Most Intriguing NBA Draft StorylinesPosted by EJacoby on June 1st, 2012
The conclusion of Wednesday’s NBA Draft Lottery means that the 2012 order has been decided (outside of potential trades), and we can officially start breaking down the potential scenarios come Draft Day on June 28. There are plenty of mock drafts available at this time, and we are compiling our own scouting reports of the top prospects as well. But besides the tough decisions that general managers have to make in comparing and contrasting players, what are the major storylines of this particular draft? What moves will make off-court headlines in addition to adding talent on the court? Today we take a look at some of the most interesting stories that could potentially play out on June 28.
- The Hornets won Wednesday’s lottery, which means consensus top prospect Anthony Davis is surely headed to New Orleans, the city where he just finished winning a National Championship with Kentucky. Davis recently led the Wildcats to two wins in New Orleans in early April while being named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, and he appears excited to be heading back for good. “I won a national championship in New Orleans, so why not win another one in New Orleans,” he said on Wednesday. “This can kind of bring joy back to New Orleans, I guess I get lucky when I go there.” The honor, opportunity, and paycheck of a number one overall pick is plenty enough to get a player excited, but not all teams are an ideal fit for each year’s top prospect. Davis, though, is quite comfortable with the idea of being the Hornets’ franchise player, where he will man the middle for a team with a nice young roster and brand new ownership.
- An interesting development also involves the Hornets and its number 10 overall draft pick, which they will likely use to select a point guard to start building a rapport with Davis and help the young franchise player develop. At this point, the hierarchy of top available point guards still appears undetermined. ESPN’s Chad Ford has Damian Lillard slotted at number 10 in his latest mock draft, noting that Lillard’s ability to shoot and score will be necessary with Davis expecting to draw plenty of defensive attention at the rim. But Kendall Marshall is more of a pure point guard whose sole focus is making others around him better, which could also be a great fit for New Orleans. Don’t leave Marquis Teague or Tony Wroten out of the equation, either, either of whom could be targets for the team should it decide to trade down or use the tenth pick in a different way. Who is going to be throwing Davis alley-oops for the next few years? We will have to wait and see.
- The Charlotte Bobcats have the tough task of selecting second in this draft, where the difficult decision to select between any number of top prospects will be the big story in coming weeks. One intriguing option is to go with Harrison Barnes, who has local ties to the Charlotte area as a former North Carolina star. It’s no secret that Michael Jordan, the team’s owner, has had a major influence on who his teams (also including the Wizards with whom he was a former part-owner and President of Basketball Operations) have selected in the draft. Jordan may very well be drawn to Barnes, a fellow Tar Heel alum who could attract more local fans to a team in desperate need of some fan support. There are already rumors that the team is looking in that direction. With Barnes rated as a fringe top-three prospect, the Bobcats could look into trading down a couple of spots to pick up some additional assets and let another team make the hard decision at number two.
- Austin Rivers has been well known since junior high school, not only for being a top player in his class but also because he is Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers’ son. The elder Rivers and Boston just happen to have back-to-back first round picks in this draft at #21 and #22. Is it possible that we could see Austin end up playing for his dad? It’s unlikely that Rivers will fall that far (NBADraft.net currently projects Rivers #14), but this is a loaded draft and any player is a candidate to fall further than expected and become a late-round steal. Not only that, but Boston, and its proactive general manager Danny Ainge, could very easily look to package one or both of its picks to move up on draft day. The Celtics are expected to lose starting shooting guard Ray Allen to free agency, leaving a hole at that position. While Avery Bradley would become the starter in that scenario, his former role as a game-changer off the bench would be missing from a team that’s already in need of bench scoring. Boston ranked #28 out of 30 NBA teams in offensive efficiency last year, and the shooting guard Rivers’ specialty is scoring.
There are plenty of other interesting storylines to track as we approach draft day, some of which we will surely touch on in the next four weeks. The Portland Trail Blazers, a franchise that has faced horrible injury luck recently in the lottery (see: Brandon Roy and Greg Oden), also have two lottery picks this year. What top players might end up becoming teammates in Rip City? NBA Draft night always produces wild results, and this year’s highly-touted prospect pool should be no different.
Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.