The NBA Draft cycle is a funny thing. It's almost like a wave pool for the prospects: Their levels rise and fall like clockwork, as if the critiques and commendations are released on a schedule. Only rarely will some factoid or observation kill or make a prospect's prospects. (Usually, the ones that kill are medical issues transmitted via murmur, like Darrell Arthur's still-mysterious heart issue or Hassan Whiteside's denied ADHD diagnosis.)
So let's get out ahead of the issue and open up all the top prospects to all conceivable critiques. Note: These are not actually real or valid critiques, just ones that you might hear over the next two and a half months. Meet The Cranky Scout.
The draft order is based on the current standings.
1. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Davis
"Too skinny. Not self-aware. Have you seen that unibrow? Not strong enough to tussle with starting NBA centers like Byron Mullens, Spencer Hawes and Joel Anthony. None of John Calipari's kids have ever won anything at the pro level. Oh my God, he's so skinny. He's going to get eaten alive by JaVale McGee and Samuel Dalembert. What position does he even play? I'm not convinced. He kinda reminds me of Sam Bowie and Greg Oden, and you know what happened to them."
"Oh my God, is that Al Thornton? I could have sworn I saw Al Thornton wearing a Kansas jersey over there. I don't know why Al Thornton was wearing a Kansas jersey, I'm just saying I saw Al Thornton over there! Oh, that was Thomas Robinson? Oh."
"I'm going to start calling him 'Andray Drummond.' You know why."
"He can't shoot. His jumper is broken. Defenses won't respect him. It'll be like playing 4-on-5 on offense. Is he big enough? Is he strong enough? He didn't come out of the womb fully formed as a basketball prospect. I'm not sure he can compete with the LeBrons or Durants of the league. You know, there are a lot of great small forwards in the NBA. I don't think he's as good as them. He's going to get eaten alive by LeBron! Can't you just see it happen?"
"It's more like Harri-SOFT Barnes. What a disappointment. Not a leader. He's no MJ, I'll tell you that. Can't create off the dribble, not a great defender, not a playmaker. He wilts under pressure. He's proven that! He's like a spring flower, and the NBA is the hot summer sun, and he will wilt. Put him on a team with a megalomaniac like DeMarcus Cousins? You're asking for trouble."
"What a headcase. Are we sure he doesn't want to be a water polo player? He'd be excellent in the pool. On the court? What a disaster. He's not skilled enough, he's too skinny, I have no idea where he'd play. You know the concept of the 4.5, a hybrid center-power forward? Well Jones is like a 3.78. He's like a hybrid forward with a touch of center. Guess what? THERE IS NO 3.78 POSITION ON THE COURT! There's a 3, a 4 and a 5. You can't play this kid unless you're running some weird system with decimals. And even then you'd need a 1.22 guard to make up the difference. Too risky."
7. Portland Trail Blazers (via NJ): Kendall Marshall
"Yeah, because the Blazers' last UNC point guard worked out so well. This is a weak point guard draft, so teams looking for a point guard are in trouble. By decree of the transitive property, ergo, Kendall Marshall stinks."
"Too small. People will bring up Paul Millsap, but Paul Millsap isn't addicted to McGriddles. Something's fishy about Sullinger's weight loss before this season. Not sure it's sustainable. Better shy away from him. He's too short anyway. He's going to get killed by starting NBA power forwards like Trevor Booker and Drew Gooden. Can you see him trying to match up against David Lee or DeJuan Blair? Forget about it."
9. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): Bradley Beal
"This kid is not a leader. He just sat back and let those 40-year-old small guards ruin Florida's season even though he knew he was better. You need someone who will take charge! I'm not sure he's strong enough. There aren't any Mississippi State's in the NBA, OK? You're playing against Kobe and Wade and Manu and Thabo Sefolosha every night. No room for error. Steep learning curve. I don't think you can take him this high."
10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota): John Henson
"Too skinny. What position does he play? DOES NO ONE FIT MY PRE-CONCEIVED POSITIONAL DOGMA ANY MORE? Dammit, I would kill for one freaking normal prospect, not these hybrid shortstop-power forwards or whatever the Hell the Henson is."
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Tyler Zeller
"Not as good as he should be. That body, that athleticism, he should be great. He's not great. I'm not sure he wants it. Kinda soft. That whole UNC team was kinda soft. Starting to think Harrison Barnes' pillowy softness is contagious. Good thing he left before McAdoo caught it."
"This is a species of tomato, right? You have got to be kidding me. I look at Meyers Leonard and I see Todd Fuller. I see Joe Kleine. I see Scot Pollard before the drugs. I see Raef LaFrentz. I see Greg Ostertag. No, I'm not just naming terrible white centers! I'm basing this all on scouting, OK? Three words: big white stiff. Err, I mean two words: big stiff. Wait ..."
13. Utah Jazz: Damian Lillard
"Who the hell is Damian Lillard? Weber State ... is that even Division I? Wait, that's not the NAIA Weber State, is it? Who has this kid even played against? I'm going to be honest, I've never heard of this kid. Sounds like a potential Sidd Finch situation."
14. Phoenix Suns: Jeremy Lamb
"UConn's problems this year start right here with this kid. He had huge shoes to fill when Kemba Walker left, and what did he do? He crapped in them. That's what he did. People will try to compare him to great UConn guards of the past like Ray Allen and Rip Hamilton and Ben Gordon and Kemba. He looks more like Khalid El-Amin to me."