BOZICH: NBA Draft Predictions Led by UK Fab Four, Mystery Two - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH: NBA Draft Predictions Led by UK Fab Four, Mystery Two

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Anthony Davis will go first in the NBA Draft Thursday night, but then the forecast gets cloudy. Anthony Davis will go first in the NBA Draft Thursday night, but then the forecast gets cloudy.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The first pick in the 2012 NBA Draft was decided in April. Or March. It's Anthony Davis of Kentucky.

It's time to make your first 10 draft selections – and we're all going to get the first one correct. 

After that?

"Good luck," said Jim Clibanoff, president of ClibHoops, an NBA scouting service.

"It is kind of muddled," Clibanoff said. "It is a really hard decision to make (at two). It comes down to what your team needs. I'm really torn. You've got some one-year players and you've got this three-year player (Thomas Robinson of Kansas) who's a rock on the glass." 

"It's not a draft of a lot of superstars," ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said. "It's a draft that has really good depth of good players."

Toss these six names – Robinson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Harrison Barnes,  Bradley Beal, Damon Lillard and Andre Drummond – into a size-14 sneaker. Grab your blindfold. Take your chances. 

The Draft begins at 7 p.m. Thursday from the Prudential Center in Newark, N. J. ESPN televises the party.

Here are my Top 10 selections – and where all six UK players will land. If you've got a better forecast, share it before the show, not after. Please e-mail your best predictions to rbozich@wdrb.com. I promise to recognize the e-mailer with the best picks.

Let's get started – with comments from Clibanoff and Bilas.

1. New Orleans – Anthony Davis, UK. 

"Is he going to be a starter and play 34 minutes a game?" Clibanoff asked. "Yes. Is he good enough to be a producer and a rookie of the year? Yes. Is he going to advance the way (Kevin) Durant advanced in his first few years? I don't see that happening with him.

"But the fact that he can impact a game without taking a shot, the fact that in the Final Four he was the most outstanding player going 1-for-10 in the championship game, that speaks so highly of his ability to do things other than score.

"I would love to be able to fast-forward to see what he's going to be like when he gets more muscle tone in the low post as a scorer. He's a kid who needs to define himself as a pro and that could take one or two years.

"The on-court personality that we saw in that one year is that he's not one of those guys who demands the ball."

2. Charlotte – Thomas Robinson, Kansas. "He's an animal," Clibanoff said. "You know what you're going to get. Heart, blue-collar, rebounding, face-up shooting skills with a guy who can go in there and get you 10 rebounds a game."

3. Washington -- Bradley Beal, Florida. This kid is my pick to be the highest-scoring first-year player next season. Love his stroke. So does Bilas.

"I wouldn't hesitate," Bilas said during a teleconference Tuesday. "I think he's the second-best prospect in the draft behind Anthony Davis … He'd be a great backcourt mate for Kyrie Irving."

Too bad he'll be gone before Cleveland makes a pick.

4. Cleveland – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, UK. "He's going to be one of those players where over the next four years you're going to see all of his per-game averages increase," Clibanoff said.

"I don't think he'll be a big scorer in the league as a rookie. But I think the motor and the ability to defend gets him on the floor. 

"With the work ethic he has, I believe he will steadily progress. He'll give you a defensive mindset. You're not going to have to convince him to defend. He's going to want to do that." 

"They don't make 'em like him very often," Bilas said.

5. Sacramento – Harrison Barnes, North Carolina. Something about his performance last season with the Tar Heels screams, "Buyer Beware!" to me. Bilas disagrees.

"He went to the NBA Combine and he tested athletically, literally, off the charts," Bilas said. "He had a 38-inch standing vertical jump. You just don't see that. I really think he's going to be a better pro than a college player."

6. Portland – Damon Lillard, Weber State. Nobody has moved up the draft board faster since the end of the season. Disregard your bias against players from the Big Sky Conference. This is a kid from Oakland, Calif., who shot 41 percent from the three-point line, averaged 8 free throws a game as well as 5 rebounds and 4 assists – while ranking second in the country in scoring. He's legit.

7. Golden State – Andre Drummond, UConn. Anybody who watched him play against Louisville here last winter wouldn't take Drummond in the first 60 picks. Kwame Brown-Lite, a workout wonder with no track record of consistent production.

8. Toronto – Dion Waiters, Syracuse. When did averages of 12.6 points and 2.3 rebounds per game translate into the eighth overall pick? Don't ever use logic in your mock draft.

9. Detroit – John Henson, North Carolina. As long as he doesn't try to shoot over Anthony Davis, he'll be fine.

10. New Orleans – Austin Rivers, Duke. Poor Anthony Davis. He's going to get stuck with a shoot-first point guard with a quick Twitter finger.

15. Philadelphia – Terrence Jones, UK.  "I think he matured on the court and showed the ability to play with so much talent," Clibanoff said. "Even though his numbers went down, I think that actually helped him with his overall development.

"A big question for me has always been at the NBA level is he going to be a four (power forward) or a three (small forward). I used to want him to be a three. Now I just consider him a player. If he could actually put a mind to defending, that could help him quite a bit. I could see him putting up big numbers on a bad team. He's got to be mentally committed at both ends of the floor."

26. Indiana – Marquis Teague, UK. "Never did I feel that he had the keys to the car and he was the guy pushing the engine," Clibanoff said. "He wasn't the guy driving the engine to victory (for Kentucky). There was so much talent on the floor that they just didn't mess up.

"I thought he primed himself for a great year two (back in college). Even his brother (Jeff), by playing a second year at Wake Forest, that second year he developed so much more.  I don't think he's ready for NBA minutes as a back-up point guard.

"So the question is: Do you have this 20-year-old player as your third-string point guard or does he go to the D-League? I think he's sort of straddling that 30-to-31 area as far as first or second round, and if he fall into the second round, I think he could go to the D-League to learn next year."

34. Cleveland – Doron Lamb, UK. "Why is Lamb any different than Trajan Langdon out of Duke who was a top 15 pick and within three years was playing overseas?" Clibanoff asked.

"I would be amazed if somebody took him in the first round. John Jenkins of Vanderbilt is an appreciably better prospect. He's a shooter. We see a lot of these guys." 

46. New Orleans – Darius Miller UK. "Is he a two (shooting guard)?" asked Clibanoff. "Is he a three (small forward)? Is he quick enough? What's his role? I think sometimes you can be the beneficiary of playing alongside so much talent and a team that does so well, that the luster rubs off on you.

"What's the strength in his game that is going to translate to the NBA floor? I'm looking for it. I don't know what it is. There's nothing I watch and get geeked up about."

Copyright 2012 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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