With the 2012 NBA draft right around the corner, it’s time to play fortune teller and figure out which draftees will bust and which late round picks will make the teams who passed on them kick themselves in five years.
First, we’ve got to start with the busts. For some reason, everyone loves to watch someone else fall from glory, crash and burn, or just flat out fail. It makes other people feel good about themselves, whether they admit it or not.
It’s hard to pick a guy in the top five who might not live up to his draft status, but why not go against the grain and say Anthony Davis?
He was obviously the best player in college basketball last year. He’s obviously the best player in the 2012 NBA draft. It’s almost too obvious that the Hornets can’t go wrong by drafting him number one.
Maybe he will be the next Tim Duncan (I’m leaning heavily towards that outcome, because his offensive game is severely underrated), but maybe he’ll never be better than Marcus Camby in his prime.
And that’s not necessarily a bust if he was taken with any pick but the first one. In his best years Camby averaged almost four blocks per game, he has a career defensive rating (points produced allowed per 100 possessions) of less than 100 and he’s averaged 9.9 rebounds per game throughout his career. But he’s never been anything better than average offensively. And if he is who Davis turns into, there’s definitely going to be a couple players picked after him that will have better careers.
Another guy who could bust is Damian Lillard. Most mocks have him going in the top 10, and I’m not sure he’s worth it.
Lillard was a phenomenal scorer in a weak conference at Weber State, but he wasn’t really much of anything else. He never averaged more than four assists per game there, he never had a defensive rating less than 100 and as good as he was, Weber St. never won anything of importance while he was there. He’s another undersized shooting guard forced to play point guard, and if he doesn’t become a significantly better passer in the NBA, he’s not going to live up to being drafted in the top 10.
On to the happy part of telling NBA prospects’ fortunes; The dark horses. The underrated, or misunderstood guys who will be taken later than they should, and make the teams that missed out on them wish for a do-over.
Jeff Taylor is my number one candidate to come from nowhere and at the very least make a few All Star games. He was a dominant college player in every aspect of the game. He’s a deadly shooter, an efficient scorer and a great defender. He’s somewhat of a ‘tweener at 6’7″, but he can play shooting guard, small-forward and power-forward effectively. Defensively he’s strong enough to bang with power-forwards, and athletic enough to stay with point guards.
The main problem teams have with him is inconsistency. He wasn’t a great free-throw shooter at Vanderbilt and when his shot was off, it was hard for him to find other ways to score. Still, he’s got the potential to be a game changer defensively on the next level, and he’s smart enough to develop an above average offensive game.
The other guy I think will have a couple dozen NBA executives beating themselves up in the future is Iowa State’s Royce White.
White was nothing short of fantastic last year. On a team that finished with the 160th best defensive rating in the country, he still managed to hold his opponents to just 95 points per 100 possessions (estimate). He led his team in almost every single statistical category, including points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks per game.
He wasn’t a great three-point shooter, and he was a dreadful free-throw shooter, but he still managed to finish the season with a 54 percent true-shooting percentage.
At 6’8″, White has the potential to be the best rebounder or passer on whichever team drafts him. His offensive game, which is already above average, can only improve, so he’s going to have an instant and lasting impact wherever he lands (most mocks have him in the early to mid 20s)
There are a few other players who could bust, like Andre Drummond (if he’s drafted high enough to be considered a bust) and Jared Sullinger (if it’s really true that he’s too small to play center/forward in the pros). There are also a couple of other guys who might be the biggest surprises of the draft; Terrence Jones, Kendall Marshall (if he’s taken low enough to be considered a surprise) and Moe Harkless all come to mind.