NBA draft: 5 sure things, gambles & sleepers
It's the eve of the NBA draft and questions abound.
Who are the sure things in this draft? Which picks will end up getting general managers fired? Which guys will we be looking at two years from now saying, “Why wasn't he picked higher?”
You want answers? We’ve got answers. Five sure things
Not much left to say about Davis, who will be the first name called (see big men preview)
on Thursday. If his offense gets anywhere close to catching up with his defense and rebounding, he'll be a 10-time All-Star. Bradley Beal
I think Beal is the second-best player in this draft. He's a silky-smooth guard (see shooting guard preview)
who could also play the role of combo guard down the road. Beal's character and intangibles measure up to the lofty standards set by his skills on the court. Thomas Robinson
Robinson won't disappoint whichever team spends a top-five pick on him. He's a tremendous athlete with a work ethic and nose for the ball to match. That's usually a lethal combination for NBA post players. Dion Waiters
Waiters is a big, sturdy guard who will have no trouble scoring from the minute he gets in the league. He's a tough-minded kid who doesn't back down from challenges. I expect Waiters to be a 15-20 point scorer in the NBA.
Zeller is too big and too skilled to not succeed in the NBA (see Scouts' Take)
. He excelled against the best competition college basketball had to offer. He'll be drafted five spots later than he should have been.
Five gamblesAndre Drummond
The general manager that takes Drummond on Thursday will swallow hard before he makes the pick. Drummond has all the physical tools to be a force on the pro level, but he has all the red flags – work ethic, motor, character – that could have him out of the league in five years.
The combination of Jones (see Scouts' Take)
not having a position (he's a power forward that plays like a small forward) and the tendency to disappear for prolonged periods of time make him a very risky prospect. His physical attributes ensure he'll be a top-20 pick, but buyer beware.
Henson (see Scouts' Take)
will be a top-15 pick, but his build has always been the biggest question mark. He bulked up slightly during his time at North Carolina, but he's still rail thin. Henson is a good shooter for a big man and a better shot-blocker, but will he spend his NBA career being pushed around?
Perry Jones III
Jones (see Scouts' Take)
was regarded as an eventual top-five pick from the moment he stepped on Baylor's campus. He showed flashes of enormous talent during his college career, but not nearly often enough to convince scouts he's a can't-miss prospect. Doubts persist over Jones' passion for the game and what position suits him best.
Sullinger makes this list solely for the concerns about his health
. If his back holds up, he's a sure thing. But that's a big “if” for a team preparing to spend a first-round pick on him.
Harkless, who earlier this month worked out
for the Sixers, has been shooting up draft boards over the past month. He's a natural scorer who will most likely be picked in the 15-20 range. But his potential could translate into his being one of the 10 best players of this draft class.
Nicholson will go in the 20-30 range, but in my opinion he is one of the top big men in the draft. He's got a ton of experience and versatility, and will continue to improve once he finds an NBA home.
Like Nicholson, Plumlee will be selected late in the first round but should end up making a nice pro career for himself. He had an underwhelming career at Duke, but he's a tremendous athlete for a player his size. Plumlee was rarely emphasized in Duke's offense so he doesn't need plays called for him to contribute.
Johnson-Odom will be a second-round pick, but he has first-round talent. He was a flat-out killer at Marquette – fearless driving to the basket and confident shooting from long range.
Green did it all during his four years at Michigan State. He's one of the most versatile players in this draft and will be a great fit for an already established team picking late in the first round.E-mail Sean Kane at firstname.lastname@example.org