Apr 2, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kansas Jayhawks forward Thomas Robinson (0) during the finals of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball Final Four against the Kentucky Wildcats at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chris Steppig/NCAA Photos via US PRESSWIRE
Thomas Robinson comes out as one of the only people on the planet who thinks he, not Anthony Davis, ought to be the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He and other big men dominate the first day of the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.
If he won't be the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Thomas Robinson is expected to be the second big selected.
As recent expected No. 2s Derrick Williams and Michael Beasley did, Robinson is walking around as if the team with the No. 1 pick just may be making a mistake by not picking him.
Robinson was about two hours late for his 1 p.m. scheduled media appearance at the Draft Combine in Chicago on Thursday. Scheduled at the same time as expected No. 1 pick Anthony Davis, Charlotte media folks were quick to establish positioning at Robinson's table, hoping Davis would absorb the crowd.
Instead, those waiting for Robinson saw Davis come and go with 22 other prospects over the next hours before Robinson appeared.
After about five minutes of not really being worth the wait, Robinson was asked about Davis' T-shirt, which read, "CHECK THE STATS."
"If you check the stats, I'll be the number one pick -- easily," Robinson replied. "I should wear a shirt that says: 'Numbers Don't Lie'."
He added: "I think I play at a different level than everybody else. A different intensity level. Everybody don't show up every night. I'd say I'm one of the players that do."
When asked if he would take out frustrations on teams that pass on drafting him, he replied: "I'm gonna try to kill everybody."
The day was dominated by bigs. Other than Anthony Davis, Meyers Leonard drew the most attention because of his collegiate roots at the University of Illinois. There weren't any guards or small forwards that created any buzz or sparked thoughts of them moving on draft boards, other than the expected rise of certain big men pushing them down.
Leonard and Fab Melo have been spotted in the 18-to-24 ranges of many mock drafts. But there was an overwhelming feeling that teams are looking to get bigger through the draft because the market for established bigs in the NBA is highly inflated, relative to their overall production. With 7-footers as a scarce NBA resource, this draft sprinkled with 7-footers and power forwards who played an extra season in the NCAA during the NBA lockout -- despite being NBA-ready for the 2011 Draft -- add to the mix of those who improved in the 2011-12 NCAA season.
Names like Leonard, Melo and Tyler Zeller become very difficult to pass up for teams out of the top-8 that desperately need height and length now or will be losing it soon. Though Jared Sullinger isn't the prospect he could've been in last year's draft, he's still expected to be a lottery pick, along with defensive-minded physical specimens like John Henson and Andre Drummond -- a man who was about as likely to hit a free throw last season as Adam Dunn was to get on base in maybe the worst season any MLB hitter has ever had.
The players who suffer from these rising bigs won't be longer swingmen like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes, nor shooting guards like Bradley Beal and Jeremy Lamb. They each may fall a spot or three. Damian Lillard and Kendall Marshall -- the only two lottery-projected point guards -- are the ones who may be battling with each other to not fall the hardest, if one of them is picked in the top-16 at all.
It's Austin Rivers who then becomes a bigger project and begins to look a lot smaller and, well, brickier.
These rising bigs limit the rise of Royce White -- a beastly looking true talent with a great feel for the game -- because of his off-court troubles, relative to the squeaky clean images of bigger players from more prestigious programs. Despite his successes coming in the Big 12, his competition has displayed more maturity and greater production either on a national championship team, a Big 12 champion, a Big East Champion, or a Big Ten champion. Then, you have a former ACC Player of the Year and a taller 19-year-old who was a Big East obstacle in his first year.
Outside of those bigger names, Festus Ezeli -- a 22-year-old Nigerian immigrant who never played basketball before the age of 16 -- was a compelling young man. The 6-11, very well-built center from Vanderbilt expressed he was re-teaching his body to perform basketball functions after rehabbing from knee issues suffered last NCAA season. With ice on his left knee, he humbly answered any and all questions relating to how he was challenged to play basketball; how doubters made him love the game and competition; seeing himself as a Serge Ibaka type of defender; how he often scouts opponents offenses through video with the team and privately; as well as graduating secondary school at 14 in Nigeria -- which he said was "accelerated", relative to his high school experience in the United States.
There were whispers around the room of teams interested in trading their top-10 picks, but this wasn't news, considering the near consensus that the No. 2 through No. 5 and No. 4 through No. 8 picks may be interchangeable. Media folks from Charlotte love Robinson, but they have no clue which direction the front office is thinking. Media folks from Cleveland want the Cavs to deal the No. 4 and No. 24 picks to the Bobcats or Wizards for a "better pick of the litter," but -- again -- nothing from the Cavs franchise or a league source to put teeth on the idea just yet.
Of course, that was the story of Thursday.
There's still Friday.