#5- Sacramento Kings: Harrison Barnes, SF North Carolina
After a high school career filled with success, Harrison Barnes’ failed to fulfill expectations during his two seasons at the University of North Carolina. A pre-season All-American his freshmen year, Barnes never achieved the lofty standards expected of him by the press and himself (he would go on to only average 15 points his first year at UNC). During his sophomore season as a Tar Heel, Barnes faired better, gaining much needed confidence and displayed flashes of the jaw-dropping ability that had recruiters drooling when he was coming out of high school. However, Barnes never lived up to the high expectations during his college career, at times seemingly more concerned with building his “brand” than winning basketball games.
By this point in time, it is pretty obvious what attributes Harrison Barnes brings to the table as a basketball player. He has a terrific basketball IQ, plays lockdown defense, and possesses a smooth scoring touch. But by NBA standards, he is not particularly quick or strong, and struggles to create offense for himself.
The bottom line with Harrison Barnes is that you get what you get. He won’t be the next Lebron James, but there is a high chance he’ll succeed as a professional basketball player. His strong character and great midrange game would be welcome additions to the Kings roster.
#4- Cleveland Cavaliers: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF Kentucky
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist simply loves to play the game of basketball; his greatest strength on the court is his limitless supply of energy. He gives 100% night in and night out, a rare trait for such a young and talented player. An elite athlete, Kidd-Gilchrist shines brightest on the defensive end of the court as a physical defender and a superb rebounder. Don’t sleep on his offensive game, either. While not flashy or as consistent as his defense, Kidd-Gilchrist knows how to attack the rim and score.
At first, spending the year at Kentucky in fellow freshmen Anthony Davis’ shadow did not do any favors for Kidd-Gilchrist’s basketball celebrity, but once the Wildcats got more national exposure during their championship March Madness run, it became apparent that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was a special basketball player. Now analysts are saying he will be the steal of the draft if he is selected at #4 by the Cavaliers.
Cleveland should be ecstatic to get Kidd-Gilchrist at fourth overall; he would fit right into their post-Lebron rebuilding plan (after all, they need to win a championship before Lebron does- oh wait… forget about that). MKG would be a great complement to Kyrie Irving and would instantly form one of the best 1-2 “crazy hustle tandems” in the league when paired up with fellow energizer bunny Anderson Varejao.
#3- Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal, SG Florida
SG Bradley Beal is often compared to Ray Allen, and that comparison alone should make the Wizards (and any other team, for that matter) ecstatic to add Beal to their roster. His skill set is incredibly desirable for any team trying to contend for championship. NBA teams are always looking for a smart, clutch player with deep range; it’s why players like Caron Butler or Rashard Lewis get grossly overpaid and it’s why Ray Allen will have a spot on an NBA roster until he has to play in a wheelchair. Simply put, Bradley Beal is the type of player a winning team has on its roster. Now, the recent trades the Wizards have made are not moves winning teams make (could some one please explain to me how the Wizards, after the Nene/Okafor and Ariza trades, will have enough cap space to buy new shoes, let alone make improvements to their roster?), but drafting Beal would certainly be a step in the right direction. (Another step in the right direction? Changing your franchise’s name to something other than “Wizards”. Harry Potter never intimidated anybody on the basketball court. But if you ask Jay Bilas, Potter did have “great wingspan, just superb length”).
#2- Charlotte Bobcats: Thomas Robinson, PF Kansas
In his first season as a starter at Kansas, Thomas Robinson preformed much better anybody had anticipated. Sure, the public knew that the 6’9” PF was a good player, but he had only averaged 14 minutes a game the previous season (stuck behind the Morris twins on the Jayhawk depth chart) and had never played a prominent role at Kansas. Last season, Robinson took full advantage of his first real chance to prove himself. Showing the nation what kind of player he really is, Robinson averaged 17.7 PPG and 11.9 REB.
Robinson’s great season proved to scouts that he is one of the most consistent players in this year’s draft class. Long, athletic, strong, tough and physical, Robinson has nearly every desirable aspect of an NBA player. An explosive jumper with elite rebounding skills, Robinson is simply a solid basketball player, something the Bobcats severely lack (losing the draft lottery could be a fatal blow to professional basketball in Charlotte). Right now, the Bobcats are not in a position to select a high risk, high reward player. They need somebody to come in from day one and make them a better basketball team. That player is Thomas Robinson.
#1- New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, PF/C Kentucky
Anthony Davis is the lone “can’t miss” prospect in this year’s draft. In his first and only season as a college basketball player, Davis established himself as an incredible defensive force by registering an astonishing 4.7 blocks per game and grabbing 10.4 REB as well. He was no offensive slouch, either, scoring 14.2 PPG and posting a .623 FG%. Not only did Davis’ brilliant play earn him a National Championship at Kentucky and the status of consensus #1 NBA prospect, but it also earned him a spot on Team USA’s preliminary roster for the London Olympics (despite having played a grand total of zero NBA games).
Do I think Anthony Davis should make America’s Olympic team? Absolutely. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Davis managed to take away minutes from starting center Tyson Chandler (Dwight Howard will be injured for the Olympics). Davis is truly that good. As soon as he is in the NBA, he’ll be a top 3 power forward, and is already a much more complete player than all-star Blake Griffin. One of the most exciting subplots of the NBA season in the next decade will be the battle for the blocks title between Davis and Serge Ibaka. A double-double machine, Davis will be an all-star for years to come, undoubtedly winning multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards in his career.
And I haven’t even mentioned his unibrow yet.