Here, Nick Bullock — Draft Guru — highlights how this draft isn’t nearly as poor as some of the analysts are saying. At least not compared to last year’s. Enjoy!
This is not hyperbole: After every single NBA draft, the experts collectively decide that the 60 players selected are no good.
Seriously, they’re bad. Maybe one will turn into an all-star. A few might be decent No. 2 options on bad teams. The rest are probably bench filler.
But there’s a silver lining!
Next year’s draft class? Just wait, because next year’s draft class is one of the deepest in years—YEARS!
Then the second a few of those college players step on a court the following season, the value of that upcoming draft class tanks faster than a Golden State Warriors team looking to keep its lottery pick. By conference play the class is mediocre. By tournament time it’s pathetic. And by May we are already fawning over the next season’s incoming freshmen.
Of course, some of this can be easily explained. Most future NBA players, about to become college freshmen, look like superstars when they play against high school kids that look like me. But those same players look rather ordinary when compared to their college peers.
Also, draft pundits tend to forget that part of why they initially professed their love for the upcoming draft class was the number of sophomores that decided after their freshmen season that they “wanted to win a national championship” (e.g. Terrence Jones, Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones III). Well guess what? A few of the current freshmen we all expected to be one-and-dones have now decided to give it another year (e.g. Cody Zeller, James McAdoo, Adonis Thomas and Myck Kabongo).
Well, friends, I’m here to buck this trend and tell you that the 2012 NBA draft is much better than the 2011 NBA draft. (Sadly, this has often led me to wake up screaming “MARKO JARIIIIIIIIC!” in the middle of the night.)
Sure, Kyrie Irving would probably be the second pick, obviously not a far drop. But I am fairly confident the Timberwolves’ Derrick Williams would be seventh on a lot of draft boards right now — behind Anthony Davis, Thomas Robinson, Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Harrison Barnes and Andre Drummond. Enes Kanter, the No. 3 pick in last year’s draft, would probably rank 10th this year. Guys like Nikola Vucevic, Iman Shumpert and Chris Singleton (Picks 16, 17 and 18, respectively) would be solidly in the second round. Norris Cole, Corey Joseph and Jimmy Butler (my guy!) would maybe even go undrafted. Yeah, I said it.
Just look a little closer. Norris Cole went at No. 28 last year. A point guard expected to be drafted around the same spot this season? Marquis Teague, maybe Tyshawn Taylor. I don’t think many teams would have selected Cole over Teague or Taylor if they went in the same class.
What about a guy like JaJuan Johnson, who was selected with the 27th pick in 2011? Georgetown’s Henry Sims seems like a good comparison to me, and he’ll probably come off the board in the middle of the second round!
One more: How about 2011’s No. 19 pick, Tobias Harris? A good comparison in my eyes seems to be a forward Jae Crowder, a favorite of a lot of Wolves fans and of mine since he played for my alma mater. But I think Crowder will be lucky if he can slip into the end of the first round. (Maybe MU can provide the 30th pick for the third straight year?)
I realize it’s impossible to know where a previously drafted player would land this year, but if that’s what’s stopping us from speculating, then why even bother with mock drafts in the first place?
What this exercise can illustrate, however, is that the Timberwolves have a very real chance of landing a starting-quality player if they play their cards right — admittedly a big “if” with this organization.
Oh, and just to continue with my theme: If I’m being honest, next year’s draft doesn’t even look that great to me. And we know it’s only downhill from here.