The delayed NBA Finals have really put a crimp in the excitement levels of what should be a fantastic 2012 NBA Draft. We have legit question marks from No. 2 through No. 5, with all four players in the mix behind Anthony Davis so convinced that they'll go no lower than No. 4 that none of them will work out for the Sacramento Kings, picking No. 5! Beyond that, you have any number of bust-boom prospects, led by Andre Drummond and Perry Jones III, who each come with complimentary headhunting service for the general manager.
We have a week and change left until the big day on June 28. This is a best guess at how things pan out. By best guess, we mean pretty randomized ordering of 30 of the top 45 prospects, with some conjecture and subjective biases tossed in. Science!
1. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS: ANTHONY DAVIS
The only important question remaining for Davis as he approaches Draft Day: are you getting that thing plucked, man?
2. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS: THOMAS ROBINSON
Robinson will visit Charlotte on Friday. As we all know, the Bobcats desperately need everything. Robinson is the most readymade prospect at No. 2: he will be able to supply rebounds and interior scoring from Day 1. Mike Dunlap and the assistant coaches will be tasked with turning a productive NBA big man into a stud. The tools seem to be there.
3. WASHINGTON WIZARDS: BRADLEY BEAL
SI.com's Sam Amick did a quick survey of front office types on the most popular prospect behind Davis, and Beal actually tied Robinson with six votes, with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist falling behind. The Wizards' desperate need for shooting help -- the one thing that could make John Wall look better instantly -- and Beal's top-line promise should help make this choice for Washington.
4. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: HARRISON BARNES
According to Sacramento-based James Ham, Barnes was supposed to work out for the Kings on Friday. He canceled. He visited the Cavaliers on Saturday. HMM. My guess is that the Cavaliers told Barnes' camp that they'd take him if he was on the board.
That leaves ...
5. SACRAMENTO KINGS: MICHAEL KIDD-GILCHRIST
For the second time in three years, the Kings land the second best prospect in the world with the No. 5 pick. /fist pump
6. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: DAMIAN LILLARD
It's alright, Dame. You take over the Blazers' PG spot. That's fine. Raymond Felton's still going to drop 50 on you.
7. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: JOHN HENSON
The Warriors are not mysterious in the sense that it's pretty clear they'd be silly to skip taking one of the excellent big men assuredly available. They are mysterious in the sense that I, for one, have no freaking clue which one they'll pick. I almost granted them Jared Sullinger, whose back issue was refuted strongly by agent David Falk and who looks like a good fit. But if Golden State is a little worried, Henson is a good replacement for Ekpe Udoh.
8. TORONTO RAPTORS: KENDALL MARSHALL
Don't sleep on Kendall Marshall's neo-Lawson rep. Especially in Toronto, where they dream of up-tempo point guards who might even be able to shoot.
9. DETROIT PISTONS: ANDRE DRUMMOND
As I remain convinced that Lillard and Marshall will go inside the top 10, I'm pretty confident that Drummond will drop. "Unskilled with an embattled reputation as a hard worker" isn't a red flag. It's a poison label. But at some point in the first round, the potential reward outweighs the risk. I think it's right around here. (And I think Ben Wallace gets hired as a big man coach specifically to work with Drummond on everything but free throws.)
10. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS: JARED SULLINGER
Again: this is not a DeJuan Blair situation in my view. Pretty much every team from 12 on down would be silly to pass on Sullinger, barring more evidence that he'll be out of the league in four years.
11. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: TYLER ZELLER
The Blazers could end up with Lillard and Drummond, two players they are looking at at No. 6. In this scenario, they instead go with the second rated center (after Drummond) in the lottery.
12. MILWAUKEE BUCKS: PERRY JONES III
Can the Bucks break the bank to keep Ersan Ilyasova? The team didn't make the playoffs. While Ilyasova may have been their best player, he'll be popular on the market and could really rope up the Bucks' flexibility. As a mitigation measure, Milwaukee can likely land a solid power forward prospect at No. 12. Jones is promising, and the Bucks under John Hammond haven't been afraid to take risks.
13. PHOENIX SUNS: DION WAITERS
I'm still as astounded as you are that Dion Waiters got a lottery promise on the first day of the combine. But here we are.
14. HOUSTON ROCKETS: EVAN FOURNIER
If it's not clear by now that most of these are total guesses, bear witness. The Rockets scout Europe as well (or at least as prolifically) as any team, and Fournier was reportedly excellent in Treviso. With Kevin Martin's future uncertain, loading up a wing of the future would be prudent.
15. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: TERRENCE JONES
It doesn't hurt that Houston also has a few young forwards (Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris). The Sixers desperately need size, especially if Spencer Hawes walks and Elton Brand is waived. Jones is a nice pick-up at No. 15, especially considering a week ago he received some top-10 buzz.
16. HOUSTON ROCKETS: FAB MELO
He's tall, right? Cool.
17. DALLAS MAVERICKS: AUSTIN RIVERS
... and we'll see 13 'Doc to Dallas' rumors, five essays on why Austin will be better than Jason Terry, three posts comparing Rivers favorably to Rodrigue Beaubois and the most atrocious set of proposed nicknames you've ever seen. (I love you, Mavericks fans.)
18. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: JEREMY LAMB
Is he a guard? Does he have a pulse? Then he can help the Minnesota Timberwolves.
(I don't see the draw of Lamb up in the lottery, especially in the top 10. It's so hard to go that high when you're a two-guard with little positional flexibility and you don't blow opponents out of the water.)
19. ORLANDO MAGIC: TERRENCE ROSS
Ross could be a fine fit in Orlando, but frankly, I'd say that about just about anyone, because I have no idea what the Magic are doing.
20. DENVER NUGGETS: QUINCY MILLER
I especially look forward to a Wilson Chandler-Quincy Miller-Danilo Gallinari-Corey Brewer-Jordan Hamilton line-up. George Karl, everyone!
21. BOSTON CELTICS: TONY WROTEN
Moving into the future with a backcourt rotation of Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Tony Wroten? OK, Boston. Alright.
22. BOSTON CELTICS: ARNETT MOULTRIE
The Celtics pretty much have to take a big man in the draft, and taking the best available at No. 22 is probably their best bet.
23. ATLANTA HAWKS: MOE HARKLESS
Best domestic name in the draft. He could be a 1920s baseball player or a 2010s NBA player. Timeless classic!
24. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: ANDREW NICHOLSON
Lock to be called a "sleeper" two dozen times during ESPN's broadcast.
25. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: ROYCE WHITE
Did you know he's afraid of flying on planes, like a major swath of Americans? Outrageous!
26. INDIANA PACERS: DRAYMOND GREEN
Draymond Green is an excuse for the ESPN crew to talk up Tom Izzo.
27. MIAMI HEAT: KYLE O'QUINN
Miami is clearly trolling Boston here.
28. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: FURKAN ALDEMIR
Someone needs to give David Stern a giggle.
29. CHICAGO BULLS: JEFF TAYLOR
We will significantly overrate this pick because, hey, the Bulls are made out of gold encrusted goat cheese.
30. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: DREW GORDON
Another power forward anyone? OK!
Last year, I believe I correctly chose two out of 30 picks. Adjust your expectations accordingly.