If you're looking to typecast the 2012 NBA Draft a bit early, calling it The Power Forward Draft might be accurate enough to stick. Based on a breakdown of three leading early mock drafts, there will likely be more power forwards taken in the top 10, top 20 and first round than any other position.
Of course, positions are subjective, and college positions don't always translate to NBA positions. It took Tim Duncan 15 years to admit he was a center! But what's wrapped around the 2012 class is pretty sensible; we didn't mark Perry Jones III or Anthony Davis as small forwards, for example. (Because they are not small forwards.)
How we came up with a master list of "consensus" first round picks: we took three of the leading freely available mock drafts* -- DraftExpress, SI.com and NBA.com -- and averaged their draft position for each first-round prospect. For prospects who did not appear in one of the mocks, they were assigned a default ranking of 35. (Only DX has mocked the second round.) Then we re-ranked using the composite to tease out consensus top 10, consensus top 20 and consensus first round picks.
* ESPN puts Chad Ford's excellent mock draft behind a paywall.
"Consensus" doesn't mean that there's actually consensus on any of these things -- it's just the term we're using to denote that based on these three mocks, these players are in these ranges.
Our consensus top 10 are Anthony Davis, Thomas Robinson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bradley Beal, Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Andre Drummond, Damian Lillard, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones III.
Four of the 10 are power forwards, including the presumptive first pick (Davis) and the No. 10 prospect in our composite mock (Jones). Robinson, another power forward, could go No. 2, and Sullinger, the fourth power forward, is a possibility (if remote) as early as No. 3.
There are two small forwards (MKG and Barnes, both potentially off the board by No. 5), two shooting guards (Beal and Lamb), one center (Drummond) and one point guard (Lillard).
Things stay big in the second 10. Our composite mock offers up these 10 prospects from No. 11-20: Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Kendall Marshall, Austin Rivers, Dion Waiters, Meyers Leonard, Terrence Jones, Terrence Ross, Arnett Moultrie and Tony Wroten.
In this mix we have three more centers (for four in the top 20), two power forwards (six overall), two shooting guards (four overall), two point guards (three overall) and one small forward (three overall). If there were perfect distribution of positions in the top 20, there'd be four players from each position. There are two extra power forwards at the expense of a small forward and a point guard.
What's it mean? Teams needing a power forward specifically or a big man in general are going to have options if they are in the teens or can move into them. Plenty of squads need big bodies -- the middle of the first round could be a great opportunity for a few teams as the supply of big men keeps strong prospects available.
For teams looking for point guards and small forwards, though, this is a tough year. Consider that likely only one small forward will go between picks No. 6 and 20 (Terrence Ross), and one of the three point guards likely to land in the top 20 is Tony Wroten, a combo guard.
But things straighten out a little in the next 10 projected players.
FIRST ROUND OVERALL
Our composite ranking has the following 10 prospects filling out the first round: Moe Harkless, Royce White, Jeff Taylor, Marquis Teague, Fab Melo, Andrew Nicholson, Quincy Miller, Evan Fournier, Draymond Green and John Jenkins.
This set of 10 includes four small forwards (for seven overall in the first), two power forwards (eight overall), two shooting guards (six overall), one center (five overall) and one point guard (four overall). So there are small forwards available in the first round. There just happens to be a massive gap between the top two (MKG and Barnes) and everyone else (including Harkless, White, Taylor and Miller).
But power forward remains the most fertile position in the first round, and point guard is pretty scarce. For comparison's sake, the 2011 NBA Draft featured nine point guards in the first round. (So that means that everyone who has needed one grabbed one, right?) Chances are that because point guard is the one unfakeable position on the floor, a team in need will reach in the late first for a second-round talent at the PG spot. Big men and point guards tend to draw the most panic in the draft, and once things firm up, mocks could reflect that.
And of course, it's still early. While the definition of that first tier seems rather firm, there's lots of moving and shaking to be done between the second and third tiers and the second round. Already, the three mocks disagree heavily on Quincy Miller: DX has him No. 18, NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper has him No. 26 and SI.com's Sam Amick has him in the second round. There are more question marks like that all over the place right now.