Draft Day Manifesto: Top Prospect Summaries

Posted by EJacoby on June 28th, 2012

The day is finally here! The 2012 NBA Draft commences tonight at 7:00 PM ET from Newark, New Jersey, at the Prudential Center and is televised live on ESPN. Rece Davis will host the ESPN coverage alongside Jay Bilas, Jeff Van Gundy, and Chris Broussard with field reporters Andy Katz and Ric Bucher also part of the broadcast. While the analysts will offer insight to viewers before and after every selection, there’s much more to know about each prospect than the four or five minutes in between picks. Scouting services like Draft Express and NBADraft.net spend all year preparing for this day with mock drafts on the line, and there are plenty of news sites to consult for in-depth coverage of different players. But here at RTC, we’ve got it all covered for you with full profiles of the top 35 available prospects that include an overview, strengths and weaknesses, player comparisons, scouting takes from Aran Smith at NBADraft.net, and more. Today we’re throwing in a one-sentence description to help you understand each player as he’s perceived heading into draft night. See below for quick references to all of our draft profiles and player summaries.

Draft day is here and the Hornets are on the clock, though we all know who they are taking (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

  • Anthony Davis, Kentucky – Best forward prospect in years with comparisons to Garnett and Russell has elite athleticism, agility, work ethic, and intelligence that leads to versatile contributions on both ends and the most dominant college defender in a decade.
  • Thomas Robinson, Kansas – Polished big man has scary NBA body and passionate work ethic and can contribute right away, but does he have All-Star upside against NBA length in the post?
  • Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky – Youngest player in the draft isn’t a go-to scorer but is an incredibly passionate and athletic small forward who attacks on both ends and does everything his team needs.
  • Bradley Beal, Florida – Tough, athletic guard is the full package on both ends and has All-Star upside if his silky smooth three-point jumper starts falling more consistently in the pros.
  • Harrison Barnes, North Carolina – Never quite lived up to sky-high expectations at North Carolina yet can score 16-20 points easy and remains an intriguing pro prospect with a high ‘floor.’
  • Dion Waiters, Syracuse - Rising prospect is perhaps the most explosive scorer in the draft and scouts hope his tumultuous freshman season is not indicative of his future effort level on and off the court.
  • Andre Drummond, Connecticut – 18-year-old could become the next Dwight Howard or the next Kwame Brown, but his athletic intrigue and unique personality offers upside that he can eventually figure it out.
  • Damian Lillard, Weber State – Top point guard prospect is a knockdown shooter and unselfish floor general, but will he struggle adjusting from the Big Sky to the NBA?
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Re-Drafting the NBA Draft: Top 10 Players From Recent Years

Posted by EJacoby on June 25th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft takes place this Thursday, June 28 in Newark, and now that the NBA Finals has come to an early conclusion (just five games), New Jersey becomes the center of the basketball universe. No other professional sports amateur draft can have as much immediate impact as the NBA’s, witnessed by Oklahoma City’s rise to prominence with a core consisting of four first-round picks from the previous five years. While we await Thursday’s selections, the words ‘upside’ and ‘potential’ run rampant, as teams are selecting from a pool filled with unrefined prospects. Lottery picks (top 14 selections) are mainly underclassmen who scouts hope evolve into long term superstars, and that’s why the draft presents so many early busts and late sleepers that evaluators miss out on. The NBA Draft is more art than science, and that is no more evident than when you look back at many of the selections made in previous drafts.

After slipping on draft night, Tony Parker has led the Spurs to multiple championships (AP Photo)

Today we take a look at four recent NBA Drafts to give you a clear idea of how difficult it is to nail the top picks. We wanted to choose mostly older drafts whose players’ careers have longer sample sizes to evaluate, but also included a more recent draft since the implementation of the current ‘one-and-done’ rule that disallows high school players from the pool. Here are our revised top 10 picks from 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2006, with each player’s original selection in parentheses. Who ended up becoming the best players from drafts of the 2000s, and where were they selected?

2001

  1. Tony Parker (28, San Antonio)
  2. Pau Gasol (3, Memphis)
  3. Joe Johnson (10, Boston)
  4. Zach Randolph (19, Portland)
  5. Gilbert Arenas (31, Golden State)
  6. Gerald Wallace (25, Sacramento)
  7. Jason Richardson (5, Golden State)
  8. Tyson Chandler (2, LA Clippers)
  9. Shane Battier (6, Memphis)
  10. Richard Jefferson (13, Houston)

A fairly strong draft, 2001 is also scarred by the fact that #1 overall pick Kwame Brown was an enormous bust. Brown, selected first by Michael Jordan out of high school, is a great example of why it’s risky to draft young, unproven bigs. But that was also during the era when high school players were eligible for the draft, which is no longer the case today. Even though the current ‘one-and-done’ rule makes it difficult to assess young prospects, at least we get a full season to watch players compete at the highest level. The 2001 draft was full of quality sleepers late in the draft, highlighted by the three-time All-Star, Arenas, and three-time NBA champion and four-time All-Star, Parker, both falling past pick #27. Parker likely fell because he was such a young, foreign player; yet Gasol was a similar prospect who scouts nailed with the #3 overall selection. The 2001 draft proves how difficult it is to differentiate players of varying positions, ages, and levels of play.

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