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2012 NBA Draft: Is It Really A Six Man Draft?

In most mock drafts, the picture is pretty muddled after pick No. 6. Is there really such a steep drop-off in available players or is it more a product of groupthink? The second in a four-part conversation before Thursday.


A response to Monday's question about the ceiling of presumptive No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis.

Despite the popular notions about the top of the draft, I wouldn't slate Davis as the best NBA prospect. The mob-thinking mentality among NBA draft "gurus" is that Davis is somehow a "can't miss" prospect despite having next to no offensive game and lacking the strength to defend the league's best post players man-up. He's an NBA athlete, but it's hard for me to see him as much else at this point.

That's not to say he's on the outside of my top 5 prospects, but I'd put Andre Drummond ahead of him. Drummond goes 6'11.75" and 280 solid pounds with a 7'6.25" wingspan -- and better lane agility numbers than Bradley Beal. Drummond is the most elite athlete in the draft and his potential is unmatched by any other player available. However, he is almost completely devoid of offensive moves and there are some attitude questions that follow him. But it wouldn't be any kind of shock to see him develop into the marquee player from this draft.

Another guy who isn't getting the respect he deserves in the draft process is Jeremy Lamb. He's a plus athlete who creates his own opportunities with ease on the offensive end. He still has a ways to go as a creator for his teammates, but his length, athleticism, offensive arsenal and shooting stroke provide the foundation for an all-star swingman.

Personally, I think the top tier is composed of the following 4 players, in order: Drummond, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeremy Lamb and Anthony Davis. The notable omissions are Bradley Beal and Harrison Barnes.

Beal has been a real surprise to me. He's a solid player with a textbook shooting stroke but less than spectacular athletic gifts. He's a less-pure shooting Ray Allen at his absolute best, and he doesn't get to the lane with great frequency even at the college level. A solid prospect, but lacking the star power of the others.

Harrison Barnes is another guy who has gotten a free pass from a lot of talent evaluators. He tested out with some monster vertical numbers at the draft combine, but he simply doesn't play with the explosiveness he showed in Chicago. He couldn't create his own shot against Ohio University in the NCAA's, and it won't get any easier against professional athletes.

My next tier of players includes the following in no particular order: Perry Jones III, Thomas Robinson, Terrence Jones, Terrance Ross and Bradley Beal. Robinson has an NBA skill with his rebounding and athleticism and Beal can be a solid role player that spreads the floor. Ross is the undervalued player with freak athleticism, a great outside shot and tremendous defensive instincts; he has all-star potential. The two Jones are semi-tweeners with incredible physical gifts. If they can translate their multi-faceted skills into a clearly defined role at the next level they could be special.

The rest of the draft has a ton of value, even into the second round. Festus Ezeli is as ready as any big to contribute immediately and a monster combine performance proved his knee is healthy. Doron Lamb is an undervalued Bradley Beal with an incredibly consistent outside stroke. Royce White is a top 10 talent that could slide to the last 10 picks of the first round. The value is there and even playoff teams will have a chance to bolster their rosters in a significant way.

But to your point about the group-thinking ways of draft analysts, that phenomenon has been incredible. The process has seen Damian Lillard rocket up the boards as more evaluators jump on the bandwagon. The opposite has happened with Perry Jones -- scouts that used to have him in their top 3 last year suddenly have him in the teens after he -- shockingly! -- didn't develop as a sophomore under the great Scott Drew. That same mentality is, predictably, reflected in various mock drafts.

The projections for Dallas at 17 are several and, for the most part, intriguing. Who do you think will be around when the Mavs get on the clock? And what kind of players should they be targeting?

Check back tomorrow for a look at which players Dallas fans should and should not hope fall to them at No. 17.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.