The NBA Draft Combine is being held today and signals that the 2012 NBA Draft is drawing closer. Watching the Oklahoma City Thunder advance to the Finals with a lineup composed of homegrown, first round picks should serve as a semblance of hope for downtrodden franchises. It will be an exciting draft with a decent but not great draft class, however, this is always the chance of a few surprises. Here are a few thoughts about what will happen come June 28.
Holding the first overall pick as well as the tenth pick, the New Orleans Hornets have a fantastic opportunity to stockpile talent one season after point guard Chris Paul left for the Clippers. New Orleans will most likely select Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis with the first pick because of his size, length and defensive ability. If the franchise decides to keep forwards Chris Kaman, Emeka Okafor or both, the Hornets will have a formidable front line.
The tenth pick for New Orleans will be much less clear. There are several websites, such as Draft Express and MyNBAdraft.com that predict Weber State junior point guard Damian Lillard to be taken there. But this is where the team could go in several directions as Austin Rivers, Perry Jones III and Kendall Marshall may still be on the board.
I loved Sacramento's past two drafts. The selections of DeMarcus Cousins in 2010, as well as Hassan Whiteside in the second round are exciting for the Kings future. Then, in the 2011 draft, the Kings picked up shooting specialist Jimmer Fredette and the undersized point guard Isaiah Thomas with the last selection in the draft. In hindsight, Thomas would have been a good selection at No. 10 whereas Fredette should have been selected in the second round.
Sacramento has some very nice pieces but the largest problem is the lack of defense. So with the fifth pick of the draft, I think the Kings should go for a large frontcourt player who is committed to defense. If the team does that, it will have terrifying size in the frontcourt. Kings fans should hope Kansas' Thomas Robinson falls to No. 5, as he is a great rebounder and defender, although he needs to work on his offensive game at the NBA level. But he'll most likely be taken before that.
Connecticut's freshman center Andre Drummond is a fantastic prospect based on his potential alone and comparisons to Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard have been made. He's an athletic big man who plays defense, but he scares some because there have been doubts about his passion for the game and his effort from one play to another. Don't get me wrong, Drummond could thrive playing next to Cousins, however, Drummond is very raw and should make fans of the team that drafts him very concerned.
The Bobcats were awful last year. Seven wins and the lowest win percentage in NBA history is (hopefully) the lowest this franchise will reach. The team's biggest loss of the season however, came during the lottery when it lost out on the first overall pick and was left with the second overall pick and will most likely choose Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He's the second best player in the draft and at this point Charlotte needs any talent it can get. Gilchrist will be a good player because of his effort and versatility, but he's not on the level of Davis.
There are also rumors, according to HoopsHype.com, that the Bobcats are willing to trade the second pick. That will be an interesting story to follow in the coming weeks.
Portland Trail Blazers
Once regarded as a team ready to contend for a title, the Blazers fell off the cliff last season. Brandon Roy is gone, Nate McMillan is gone and so is Greg Oden. Portland is in possession of the sixth overall pick as well as pick No. 11, and has an opportunity to turn its fortunes around.
Ohio State's Jared Sullinger will most likely be available to them with the sixth pick, as well as a number of other worthy candidates. Sullinger would be a good pick because of his polished offensive game and his ability to rebound. With the eleventh pick, the majority belief is that North Carolina's starting point guard Kendall Marshall will be chosen. Marshall has elite passing skills, but can't shoot the ball, however, like Boston's Rajon Rondo he changes the game without scoring.
The Syracuse shooting guard has the basketball world talking after he canceled all of his upcoming workouts. It is now believed that a team within the top 10 has promised to draft him. A team could do worse than draft Waiters, because he is a decent prospect as an elite defender but he needs major work on his half-court offensive game as he tends to make bad decisions and play out out of control.
The next three weeks leading up to the draft will be fun to follow. Let's start the countdown to June 28th!