*As a brief introduction to the upcoming NBA draft, we’ll be looking at 10 different prospects, 2 at each position. DraftExpress and NBADraft.net were used as mock projections based on their relative accuracy in the past, and because Chad Ford wants money. After reading the profiles we’re asking you to put yourself in a hypothetical situation; If you were Bryan Colangelo and you had to choose one of the two players, which would you choose, and why?
While there are interesting backcourt prospects in this year’s draft, it’s the front court players that have people drawing comparisons to the 2003 draft.
Quick tangent: the comparisons between the 2003 draft and the 2012 draft (which, admittedly, I have made) actually make no sense. The 2003 draft was incredibly top heavy (LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Melo), had a couple really good late picks (David West, Kendrick Perkins) and not a whole lot else. While the 2012 draft does not boast multiple franchise players it does have a bunch of very intriguing prospects at the top of the draft, and quality talent through the lottery and beyond.
Now back to business. The crop of small forwards in the 2012 draft is impressive, but two former top high school recruits have clearly shown themselves to be a tier above the rest: Harrison Barnes and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
*Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has stated that he will not be entering this years draft. Instead, he reportedly wants to graduate from Kentucky before moving to the pros. While this is an admirable statement, one he might even fulfill, I’ll believe it when I see it.
Harrison Barnes (#6 DraftExpress, #3 NBADraft.net)
Harrison Barnes came in as a much hyped freshman but the hysteria over this 19-year-old North Carolina 6’8 sophomore has calmed, and expectations have been lowered. After playing the majority of his high school career in the low post, Barnes has had trouble acclimating to the wing position, although he has shown steady improvement. He has a weak left hand which limits his offensive options, as does a less than spectacular mid-range game. Now, take a deep breath, and remember that this is Harrison Barnes. An explosive athlete with great intangibles and work ethic, he can also create his own shot and more than hold his own at the defensive end. Barns possesses a high basketball IQ and his shooting mechanics are solid and only show room for improved range. Despite being a polished player in almost every aspect of the game, he still has oodles of potential to improve. Barnes has excelled at every level in his basketball career, and while he has hit a speed bump, he is still a top NBA prospect despite playing a position that as recent as two years ago, was fairly unfamiliar to him. Teams that sleep on Barnes might have him come back to haunt them.
Best Case: 6’8 James Harden at full potential
Worst Case: Marvin Williams
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (#2 DraftExpress , #8 NBADraft.net)
Although there are questions about his true height (anywhere from 6’6 to 6’8), this 18-year-old Kentucky freshman makes those questions irrelevant with a 6’11 wingspan and otherworldly motor. A very diligent worker, fantastic teammate and leader, Gilchrist thrives in getting the best out of those around him. MKG is also an absolute terror on the defensive end and has the potential to become one of the premier rebounders at the small forward position at the next level. Once his body fills out he might also be able to cover everything other than centers, something he is currently doing for John Calipari’s squad. On the offensive end he is very adept at slashing to the bucket, and has underrated playmaking abilities that could translate to the pros. Despite having bright spots on the offensive end, it is by far the weakest part of his game. While he has shown some ability to both shoot off the bounce as well as spot up, he lacks the offensive polish of most of the other small forwards in his class.
Best Case: Dennis Rodman without the crazy
Worst Case: Poor man’s Ron Artest without the crazy
Up Next: The PFs