The NBA draft is upon us and while it may not be loaded with star power, there should be plenty of quality NBA players that come out of it.
You’ll read the mock drafts to see where draft experts think guys will go, but we’ve decided to take a different perspective.
We’ll tell you which guys that general managers are nuts for taking and which ones they need to look at on Thursday night.
We’ll tell you who’s overrated, underrated and just about everything else.
ULTIMATE RISK: DeMarcus Cousins — I know he’s supposedly matured, but I’ve seen his emotional outbursts far too many times from back in his AAU days even to this past season when he delivered a forearm shiver to Louisville’s Jared Swopshire. Cousins could turn into Andrew Bynum or, as one NBA scout told me, he could be the next Benoit Benjamin.
WILL MAKE SOME GM LOOK BRILLIANT: Eric Bledsoe — He never complained about having to move to the two-guard spot due to John Wall, but Bledsoe is a natural point guard, with speed, strength and athleticism. This kid is going to be a very good point guard in the NBA in time.
COULD GET SOME GM FIRED: If anyone takes a stab at Lance Stephenson in the first round. Stephenson is just the latest point guard product of the New York City hype machine. There was Lenny Cooke and Sebastian Telfair and now Stephenson. He may possess an NBA body, but Stephenson’s not worth giving guaranteed money. He’s a sub-par perimeter shooter and comes with far too much baggage.
OVERRATED: First of all, let me make it clear that I love Avery Bradley as a kid. However, I just don’t see where he fits — beyond a defensive specialist — at the next level. He’s not a point guard, but at 6-foot-1 and change, and that’s ultimately where he’ll have to play. He certainly doesn’t shoot it well enough to play shooting guard and doesn’t have the size, either.
UNDERRATED: Jordan Crawford — For some reason, many scouts and draft prognosticators have the Xavier wing going in the second round. This is a kid who can score in a variety of ways and also has that toughness in him. Someone should grab him in the first round.
SUREST THING: Greg Monroe — He may never materialize as an NBA All-Star and many question both his passion and athleticism, but the skilled ex-Georgetown big man is far too talented and smart not to become a quality NBA starter for the next decade. He’s one of the best passing big men in recent memory and possesses a high basketball IQ — and is also a terrific teammate. Can he be a franchise-changer? No. But he can make a good team that much better.
BEST SHOOTER: Luke Babbitt — The 6-foot-9 is a lefty with a smooth stroke. He has made more than 42 percent of his 3s in his two seasons with the Wolf Pack and shouldn’t be affected making the transition to the NBA 3-point line. Babbitt has managed to fly under the radar playing in the WAC, but NBA guys love him.
BIGGEST TEASE: Fresno’s Paul George — The NBA scouts are drooling over the combination of his athleticism and ability to make shots, but his basketball IQ is questionable. Quality workouts have moved George up in the draft, but that’s how NBA GMs get fired — by making decisions primarily on workouts.
MYSTERY MAN: I’ve fielded more calls from NBA execs on Ed Davis than anyone else. No one seems to be getting quality information on Davis, a quiet kid that didn’t quite live up to expectations in his time in Chapel Hill.
SLIP SLIDING: Don’t be surprised if Kansas big man Cole Aldrich slides. Aldrich is a legitimate center, but scouts question his ability to score in the post and also whether he can defend legitimate five-men at the next level.
BIGGEST SLEEPER: Craig Brackins — A year ago, the Iowa State skilled forward was considered a lottery pick. Brackins’ stock slid this past season as the Cyclones struggled, but he needed the extra year to mature on the mental side.
BEST ATHLETE: Stanley Robinson — He’s a freak athlete who has also displayed the ability to make shots from the perimeter, but he’ll likely be a second-rounder due to his inconsistent effort as well as questions surrounding his basketball IQ.
GO BACK TO SCHOOL: Daniel Orton — Here’s a guy who averaged three points and three rebounds per game last season at Kentucky. It should be a pre-requisite that you can’t be drafted in the first round with those numbers.
STRANGEST MOVE: Memphis’ Elliot Williams, who worked out for just a single NBA team. Williams reportedly has an injury, but this one has been awfully secretive and could backfire on the athletic wing.
BEST PERSONALITY: Omar Samhan — I’m biased, but I hope the Saint Mary’s big man winds up being drafted. While he may not be blessed with exceptional physical tools, he’s big, strong and plays hard.
BEST INTERNATIONAL: There may be only one import taken in the first round: Kevin Seraphin from France. The 6-foot-9, 260-pounder is a big-time athlete who runs the floor well, but isn’t overly skilled and will also need time to adapt to the mental part of the NBA game.
MOST LIKELY TO BE EL BUSTO: Last year this space was occupied by Jordan Hill; this year I’m giving the nod to Larry Sanders. Yes, Sanders is talented — but he was unable to dominate in the CAA for much of the season.
SECRETLY PULLING FOR: Former Marquette standout Lazar Hayward. I saw the 6-foot-5 Hayward back when he first arrived at Notre Dame Prep and was a one-dimensional perimeter shooter recruited by low-major schools. Hayward has became a tough, undersized and versatile post player for Marquette and has a chance to stick on an NBA roster.
SCARES ME: Hassan Whiteside — He reminds me of Andray Blatche, but the long and talented 7-footer out of Marshall has a long ways to go in the maturity department. It took Blatche three years or so to “get it” and Whiteside will need a team that has patience in order for him to be successful.
TERRIFYING: Willie Warren and Derrick Caracter — Warren was an abomination as a leader at Oklahoma this past season after Blake Griffin left and Caracter, while he did have a solid campaign at UTEP, isn’t exactly the model of dependability.