By Jon Rothstein
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FIVE STORYLINES TO WATCH
1. ROYCE’S RANGE
No player could have a more perplexing night on their hands on June 28th than Iowa State’s Royce White.
According to multiple people with knowledge of White’s situation, the talented point forward could be selected anywhere in between 10 and 30. No player in the 2012 NBA Draft has a bigger window in terms of potential destinations.
While many people made a big deal of White’s off the court issues, no one should be surprised at how well White did in the interview portion of the combine last week in Chicago. Affable, confident, and full of personality, White is a great interview and more than capable of handling the media as an NBA player.
The bigger issue is his shooting.
During his one year with the Cyclones, the 6-foot-8 White shot just 33.3% from 3-point range and 49.8% from the foul line. Those numbers will both have to drastically improve if White is to be effective in the league.
2. ALL EYES ON NEIL
If Neil Olshey thought he going to have a honeymoon period as the Trailblazers new general manager, he was surely mistaken.
Olshey comes to Portland after building the Clippers into a perennial playoff contender and he’ll have a number a key decisions to make during his first draft as an executive in the Great Northwest.
Portland owns two picks in the lottery (6,11) and two more in the second round at 40 and 41. Trial by fire? Maybe but Trailblazers fans should rest assured that they’ll be in a much better position once the draft is over and done with.
No general manager is as visible on the college basketball circuit as Olshey and he’ll be more prepared than anyone to make an impact on June 28th.
Don’t be surprised if Washington wing Terrence Ross becomes a target for Portland at 11, who could be looking for insurance at small forward if they can’t resign starter Nicholas Batum, who is an unrestricted free agent July 1.
3. BEAL’S DEAL
You will not find a bigger Michael Kidd-Gilchrist fan on than myself but there’s a legitimate chance the Charlotte Bobcats will pass on the Kentucky star and take Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal with the second overall pick.
The Saint Louis native a 6-foot-8 wingspan and a textbook stroke that would make Allan Houston envious. While Beal only shot 33.9% from 3-point range for the entire season, he was more effective during the NCAA Tournament, making 42% of his attempts from deep.
“The guy I would take second would be Beal,” Saint Louis head coach Rick Majerus told me last week. “Don’t forget when Ray Allen was taken by the Bucks in 1996, it came down to he and Stephon Marbury. Marbury had some kind of pizazz and that New York City legend about himself, but Allen had that classic consistency of being a good jump shooter. In this day and age, the three ball to stretch the defense is key. He can have an outstanding middle game if he develops the shot fake. I think he’s more of a viable weapon in the NBA than someone like Kidd-Gilchrist is.”
We’ll see if the Bobcats feel the same way on June 28th.
4. WILL POTENTIAL YIELD PRODUCTION?
Andre Drummond is beyond a mercurial talent. He is a mystery.
The big man was inconsistent during his one year of college at UConn and never demonstrated a burning desire to play.
Still, Drummond is nearly seven feet tall and weighs 250 pounds. In a league that’s lacking legitimate centers, Drummond’s potential from a physical standpoint is limitless.
Many people close to the 18 year old (yes, he’s only 18) feel he’ll flourish in workouts and wow someone in the top half of the lottery. The Cavaliers have the fourth overall pick and have already begun compiling all sorts of research on the center.
Drummond is going to take a few years to develop but could eventually turn into the mold of a Deandre Jordan, who started for the Clippers this past season during their run to the second round of the playoffs.
5. DAZZLING DION
Anyone who watched Dion Waiters play last season for Syracuse shouldn’t be shocked that he’s rising up people’s draft boards.
The 6-foot-4 combo guard was the best player last season for the Orange even though he wasn’t a starter. I said for the duration of last season that if Waiters was on a different team and was featured while playing eight to nine more minutes a game, he’d resemble the same type of player Dwayne Wade was while he was at Marquette.
Apparently, many believe the same thing.
Word is Waiters has a promise in the lottery and according to multiple sources close to the situation, Toronto is the team that is locking in on the Philadelphia native the hardest.
Phoenix is another team intrigued with Waiters’ potential and could potentially trade up from the 13th spot to land him.
The Raptors are also considering UConn’s Jeremy Lamb or trading the eighth pick for a veteran wing.
FIVE PLAYERS RISING
1. MOE HARKLESS, ST. JOHN’S
2. DAMIAN LILLARD, WEBER STATE
3. MEYERS LEONARD, ILLINOIS
4. TERRENCE ROSS, WASHINGTON
5. ANDREW NICHOLSON, ST. BONAVENTURE
FIVE MID TO LATE FIRST ROUND STEALS
1. ARNETT MOULTRIE, MISSISSIPPI STATE
2. ROYCE WHITE, IOWA STATE
3. ANDREW NICHOLSON, ST. BONAVENTURE
4. MARQUIS TEAGUE, KENTUCKY
5. JEFFERY TAYLOR, VANDERBILT
FIVE SECOND ROUND GEMS
1. JARED CUNNINGHAM, OREGON STATE
2. DARIUS MILLER, KENTUCKY
3. KEVIN MURPHY, TENNESSEE TECH
4. DREW GORDON, NEW MEXICO
5. WILL BARTON, MEMPHIS
THIS AND THAT:
– The Bulls are said to be big fans of Kentucky’s Doron Lamb at 29. Chicago needs a capable shot maker off the bench and could use another capable guard with Derrick Rose’s status for the beginning of the next season in question. Many NBA scouts have compared Lamb to Detroit Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey because of his ability to play both spots in the back court at the next level. The 6-foot-4 Lamb led all scorers during Kentucky’s victory over Kansas in the national title game with 22 points.
– The Timberwolves appear to be set on drafting a wing with the 18th overall pick. Minnesota general manager David Kahn would be beyond thrilled if someone like Washington’s Terrence Ross was still on the board when he was making the pick but Ross’ status appears to be rising after every workout and could find himself taken in the middle of the lottery. A more likely option for the Timberwolves could be St. John’s forward Moe Harkless, whose gotten rave reviews in workouts but still could be available at 18.
– Iona point guard Scott Machado has been praised for his ability to run a team but his outside shooting remains in question. The floor general improved his 3-point shooting percentage to over 40% during his senior season but still needs to prove that he’ll consistent threat from the outside in the NBA. While he initially was thought to be a possible late first round pick, Machado appears more likely to be taken in the 35-50 range.
– It’s a foregone conclusion that New Orleans is going to take Kentucky’s Anthony Davis with the first overall pick — but could the Hornets grab a big man when they pick tenth as well? According to a source with knowledge of the situation, New Orleans could very well come out of the lottery with another big man in addition to Davis. Keep an eye on Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger if he drops that low as well as Illinois center Meyers Leonard.
– An interesting player to watch in the second round is Missouri’s Kim English. A solid athlete and capable defender, the 6-foot-6 guard really improved his outside shot during his final year of college basketball and could stick in the NBA as a glue guy. Think Quinton Ross.
– Depth is the real theme of this year’s draft. After Davis gets picked at the top spot, there’s a number of quality players that could be key pieces to the puzzle for NBA teams — but probably won’t wind up as superstars. With that said, teams who have picks at the top of the second round will treat their selections almost like they’re in the first round. Don’t be surprised if years down the line, players that were taken between 30 and 40 are just as productive as ones that were taken between 20 and 30.
– In terms of second round value, many scouts and college coaches are raving about Xavier point guard Tu Holloway. The bulky floor general had strong workouts with both New York and Chicago and should be in the mix between 29 and 40. While this isn’t believed to be a deep draft for point guards, Holloway can run a team and because of his body, will be able to defend point guards at the NBA level.
– UConn’s Jeremy Lamb appears set for a feast or famine draft experience. Cleveland has done research on Lamb for the fourth overall pick but there is also a strong chance that Lamb could slide if Toronto passes on him at eight if they choose to take Syracuse’s Dion Waiters.
– Kentucky coach John Calipari says it may take a few years, but eventually Wildcats point guard Marquis Teague is going to a starter in the NBA. “A team is going to take him in the late teens or so and he’ll be their third point guard next year but then down the road he’s going to be their starter for a long time,” Calipari said of Teague, whom he called the best pick and roll defensive point guard he’s ever coached. “The thing amount Marquis is he’s going to run your team and run it well. He’s a pit bull.”
– The seasoning that St. Bonaventure power forward Andrew Nicholson got during four years of college has been apparent during his workouts. The 6-foot-9 Nicholson has exceptionally impressive could be selected in the high teens. You get the feeling because of his maturity and unselfishness, he won’t last past the Celtics who pick back-to-back at 21 and 22.
Your thoughts on the upcoming draft? Which player do you want your team to take? Be heard in the comments below…