Before the draft, the Sports Download’s own Joe DiRienzo, Greg Brzozowski, and Alex Rosenbaum got together to try to put their best foot forward and predict the lottery selections of the 2012 NBA Draft. Here are how the picks will fall according to our analysts:
DiRienzo: #1 – New Orleans Hornets select Anthony Davis
There is only one player in the draft that has separated himself from the field. And it isn’t just because of his unseparated eyebrows.
Brzozowski: #2 – Charlotte Bobcats select Thomas Robinson
There’s still a lot of talk that the Bobcats want to trade this pick to acquire either more picks or more veteran players. And who wouldn’t; this roster is in shambles and the only rookie who could’ve made enough of an impact to change the culture in the Queen City just went to Bourbon St. Say Charlotte keeps the pick, the selection should be Robinson in a heartbeat. In my opinion, he’s the second best player in this draft. He brings scoring to a Bobcats front court that has no offensive weapons in Byron Mullins, Bismack Biyombo, and Tyrus Thomas. Bradley Beal is the only other option worth taking, but the Bobcats have guards. Harrison Barnes would not be a wise choice either.
Rosenbaum: #3 – Washington Wizards select Bradley Beal
No surprise here if the draft order stays the same. The Washington Wizards have one glaring need, they need at least one person on the roster who can spread the defense and provide perimeter shooting. And they have one position that is very obviously open, shooting guard. Bradley Beal may be the tailor made backcourt shooting guard to play with John Wall. One problem, everyone knows the Wizards want Beal and thus the Bobcats have received upwards of 5 offers to move ahead of the Wizards and take the player that many people arguing has the second highest ceiling in the class.
DiRienzo: #4 – Cleveland Cavaliers select Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
This one is a toss up between MKG and Harrison Barnes. The Cavs need a scorer on the wing to pair up with last year’s number one pick, Kyrie Irving, and both of them would fit. MKG isn’t as polished a shooter as Barnes, but he is a great talent on defense, incredibly athletic, and regardless of any negatives they find scouts can’t help but focus on the positives that come with him. All of this, plus the fact that Kidd-Gilchrist actually played with Kyrie Irving in high school, gave him the edge over Barnes for the #4 overall pick.
Brzozowski: #5 – Sacramento Kings select Harrison Barnes
If the Kings are smart, they trade this pick. Rookies won’t help this roster, a strong veteran voice will. But if for some reason they do, Barnes is the player that best fits them.
Rosenbaum: #6 – Portland Trail Blazers select Andre Drummond
Portland pretty much needs help at every position except the power forward where they have one of the best in the NBA with LaMarcus Aldridge. With the players still available this becomes a very curious choice for the Trail Blazers, they will either take the raw talent that is Andre Drummond out of UConn or the wild card of this draft in Damian Lillard. Personally, I believe Drummond has too much potential to pass up as he may be the only guy in this draft who could be a true starting center. Despite the Blazers big man curse (and likely Drummond’s fear of being hurt immediately after being selected), a one-two punch of Aldridge and Drummond could be a nasty frontcourt tandem in the west.
DiRienzo: #7 – Golden State Warriors select Dion Waiters
The Warriors proved that Steph Curry is their guy when they traded Monta Ellis away last season. Klay Thompson averaged close to 20 ppg after Ellis left last season, but Waiters is great at getting to the basket and scoring while Curry and Thompson are more perimeter scorers. The three of them would be great scoring threats for the Warriors for a long time.
Brzozowski: #8 – Toronto Raptors select Austin Rivers
I had heard earlier in the week that Rivers was getting a guarantee from Toronto but that might have changed now. Nonetheless, Rivers would be a nice dynamic player for the Raptors who could score and be a real playmaker. He may already be on this team though; that players name is Jerryd Bayless. Rivers and he had a lot in common when you look at them coming out of school when Bayless left Arizona. If Toronto wants to make this pick, they have to ensure they trust Rivers with the keys to their offense. If not, they’ll look elsewhere.
Rosenbaum: #9 – Detroit Pistons select Jeremy Lamb
Despite the fact that you probably can’t name more than one person on the Pistons roster, Detroit is in a pretty good situation. They past few years that have drafted two guys who could be future pillars of a perennial playoff team in Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe. The Pistons are looking to either find a frontcourt player to match with Monroe or a swingman to compliment Knight. Once again I think it comes down to two players, John Henson, an athletic power forward out of UNC, or Jeremy Lamb, an explosive shooting guard out of UConn. I’m going with Lamb who I think not only can have an immediate impact with his athleticism and length (he’s got a Durant like wingspan of 6-11 on his 6-5 frame), but has far more room to grow as a starting shooting guard. He has shown the capability to score anywhere on the floor and if you look back just two NCAA tournaments ago, he’s even better with a good point guard (UConn won it all with him and Kemba Walker). So watch out for Knight, Lamb, and Monroe making themselves known over the next five years or so.
DiRienzo: #10 – New Orleans Hornets select Damian Lillard
With Davis now in the paint, the Hornets need a point guard that can make things happen. Lillard doesn’t have a resume full of what he did against the top teams in college, but he’s got serious skill and proved it in the workouts leading up to the draft. He can score from the perimeter, drive to the basket, and he takes care of the ball. He’s the kind of point guard that, combined with Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis, will give the Hornets some life in the post Chris Paul era.
Brzozowski: #11 – Portland Trail Blazers select Kendall Marshall
Marshall, in my opinion, will be the best UNC player in this draft class. If Portland doesn’t take Willard at six, they’d be happy with Marshall here at 11. He’s a pass first guard and ld the NCAA in assists last season and you have to admit, in this scenario, he and Drummond would be a lot of fun to watch moving forward in Rip City.
Rosenbaum: #12 – Houston Rockets select John Henson
I’m not sure anyone in the world believes that the Rockets will still have this pick by the time the 12th pick is on the clock tonight. But for arguments sake, let’s say that they decide to actually use their draft picks. For me this is as far as John Henson falls. He’s too great a potential talent to let slip too far and the Rockets could use help at practically every position (since pretty much their entire team and any draft picks seem to be on the market). Henson is a long-thin shot blocker and rebounder who enjoyed a late growth spurt, but has serious questions about his strength. No, I’m not mixing up John Henson and Anthony Davis, they are pretty similar guys. Henson likely does not have the potential of a Davis and is certainly not as fearsome a defender, but if you are looking for athletic, defensive help at the power forward slot, look no further.
Brzozowski: #13 – Phoenix Suns select Terrance Ross
Phoenix is looking to replace the irreplaceable Steve Nash in this draft as the two time MVP is likely on the move in free agency. The problem is, potential replacements like Lillard, Marshall, or even Waiters, Rivers, or Lamb. Ross is the best fit here to give the Suns the last real dynamic guard on the board that can be a difference maker in this lottery.
DiRienzo: #14 – Milwaukee Bucks select Tyler Zeller
The Bucks need a big man that can handle the up tempo offense that their guards, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, will be running. While Zeller doesn’t have the high ceiling like Meyers Leonard has, he is a safer pick and will be able to contribute right away. Zeller runs the floor well, especially for a 7-footer, and proved his consistency at UNC. He isn’t a flashy pick, but with Jennings and Ellis in the backcourt, the Bucks already have all of the flash they can handle.