LEXINGTON, KY - JANUARY 03: Anthony Davis #23 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist #14 during the game against the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans at Freedom Hall on January 3, 2012 in Louisville , Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
There's a reason these high-upside, low-results prospects get drafted into the NBA with such early picks. It's because they convince Exuberant Decision-Makers that they are worth the risk. What case does the 2012 set have?
A few weeks ago, we infiltrated the mind of The Cranky Scout, who was attempting to express all potential flaws in the prospects to be featured in the 2012 NBA Draft. Unibrows, broken jumpers and pillowy constitutions ruled the day.
Today, we take a different tact. We know those Cranky Scouts will be overridden on Draft Night by the Exuberant Decision-Makers. We're talking about the front office execs who convince themselves and their teams' owners that the risk is worth the potential reward, that the upside is worth the bet. The Cranky Scout pops antacids. The Exuberant Decision-Maker pops acid.
"But I still believe there is a lot of upside in Wes Johnson." Welp.
All 30 GMs do it, but some do it better than others. And by "better," I mean "worse." Let's roll through the lottery based on default draft order before the ping pong balls fly on May 30 looking at the upside of the prospects available. And let's regret that the King Of Unwarranted Exuberance, Mr. Kahn himself, won't be picking that high.
1. BOBCATS: Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Marcus Camby mixed with Ken Griffey, Jr. mixed with a wallaby mixed with Frida Kahlo. He's going to start and end World Wars before he's done.
2. WIZARDS: Thomas Robinson, Kansas
A franchise that so believed in its ability to morph men it gave Gilbert Arenas a near-max after an ACL tear, extended Andray Blatche before he hit the market and hung with JaVale McGee for more than three years has changed so much that there's no chance it touches Andre Drummond with a fishing pole. Robinson's heart and work ethic will make some GM overlook his size and potential to be great in any one area.
3. CAVALIERS: Bradley Beal, Florida
4. HORNETS: Andre Drummond, UConn
Here's a twist: Monty Williams has so much upside as a coach he got Jarrett Jack a Most Improved Player third-place vote. (END THE MIP.) Monty can guide Andre Drummond to stardom. New Doc Rivers style.
5. KINGS: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
Not only is MKG a high-motor, versatile player with upside. He also carries the Awesome Teamwork And Energy virus, which is highly contagious and will result in halos on the heads of Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins.
6. BLAZERS via NETS: John Henson, North Carolina
John Henson will make all our dreams come true! An unselfish winner who, to our knowledge, has legs of identical length and two knees full of cartilage.
7. WARRIORS: Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
The greatest shooter to come out of Chapel Hill since Rashad McCants. Whoa, man.
8. RAPTORS: Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
Clearly the Tar Heels' most important player since they tanked out of the tournament when he got himself broken! And since UNC has three other players in the lotto, he must have been really good. TRANSITIVE PROPERTY, WHAT?
9. PISTONS: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Rolls Royce Frontcourt I. Sullinger and Greg Monroe would be unstoppable, like Al Jefferson and Kevin Love (uh) or Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee (uhh) or LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden (uhhhhhhhhhh).
10. HORNETS via WOLVES by way of CLIPPERS: Damian Lillard, Weber State
Low turnover rate, high scoring efficiency, good size, the name "Damian" which evokes fear via its Satanic associations ... what's not to like? Now, what exactly is a "Weber State" and where do I find it on my globe?
11. BLAZERS: Jeremy Lamb, UConn
"Our turn again? Man, we really should have hired a GM sometime in the past 12 months!"
12. BUCKS: Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
The rugby bar near the Bradley Center is going to be very disappointed when Zeller sits on Andrew Bogut's stool after a game and asks the 'tender to switch the TV to Franklin & Bash.
13. SUNS: Austin Rivers, Duke
Part of Robert Sarver's campaign to begin trolling various members of the Boston Celtics franchise.
14. ROCKETS: Perry Jones III, Baylor
Not only will Jones The Third be an asset defensively for Houston, but he'll also help NASA reach potential sentients in outer galaxies.