- 2008 - Draft Kevin Love over OJ Mayo.
- 2009 - Good on Lawson, Curry and Danny Green, but a big miss on Thabeet and Harden.
- 2010 - Stay away from Gordan Hayward doesn't look to great now. Neither does draft Luke Babbitt. I will stick by my predicions for Xavier Henry, Aminu and on a positive side Cousins.
- 2011 - Very high on Irving (which wasn't a big reach) and also Jonas Valanciunas (which I haven't seen play, but still would prefer over Enes Kanter). I would say after a year this isn't half bad. The idea of drafting Jonas, so that they Jazz would be bad enough to keep their pick certainly could have helped. Enes Kanter added 1.7 wins to the Jazz this year, which was just enough to get them into the playoffs. If they hadn't made the playoffs they would have kept their 1st round pick. Also, Jonas would have been the projected 2nd pick in this draft, so again I will stick with my Jonas > Enes prediction.
Still there are possibilites. The Jazz could trade Golden State's future pick and/or any of their many post players (in order of likehood to get traded: Jefferson, Millsap, Kanter and Favors). The Twolves are always a wild card, so who knows with them. Also, maybe I should pay more attention to the Cavs, since they are the most local team from Columbus.
In anticpation of the draft, I won't give any advice for the Jazz or Twolves and also I'm not going to try and predict any crazy trades. It is hard to say trading Jefferson for the 5th pick makes sense, when I don't have a clue if that is even realistic. I will however provide my thoughts on the 6 players I've seen play plenty of times. As a Duke fan I feel qualified in writing about Austin Rivers, Miles Plumlee, John Henson, Tyler Zeller, Kendall Marshall and Harrison Barnes. I feel especially confident after rating the 2009 UNC players as Lawson, Green and then a distant 3rd Hansbrough.
Here are my thoughts on those 6 players in terms of ranking:
1) Tyler Zeller - He is old and doesn't rate well in John Hollinger's Draft Rader, but I actually think he will be a solid pro. Would I draft him ahead of Harrison Barnes? It might depend on the team, but yes I think I would. He is a smart player and a very good shooter. Also, he is a legit 7 feet tall, which doesn't really hurt. I would have concerns about his strength and that he probably won't get the call where he leans into the defender and tricks the refs into a foul. However, I could see him being an effective pick and pop post player. I would draft him and immediately put him in the weight room.
2) Kendall Marshall - I really want to rate Kendall Marshall over Zeller, but a 7 foot post player who can shoot is hard to pass up. However, I do rate Marshall over other players partly because I believe he will be a better shooter than he has been so far. And if he can even be an average NBA shooter then the rest of his offensive game will be pretty amazing. He has a great feel for the game and knows exactly when and where to pass the ball to his teammates. It had to have been amazing to be a UNC fan and watch the transition from Larry Drew II to Marshall. Of all the players on UNC, I was most happy to see him leave early. He will be a good (maybe not great, but certainly a better chance of that anyone else on this list) NBA player.
3) Harrison Barnes - As much as I like Marshall, I can't stand Barnes. He is a much better athlete, shooter and has a higher ceiling than anyone on this list, but that doesn't make me want to draft him ahead of either Marshall or Zeller. He seems like a jump shooter, who isn't even elite in that category. I don't know what the best way to desribe Barnes is, but I think he will be a bust. Of course I think more highly of the NBA potential of Barnes over the next player on the list....
4) Austin Rivers - It probably isn't a good endorsement of you as a player, when a fan is indifferent about you leaving their favorite team. That was how I felt with Austin Rivers, and even though Mason Plumlee drives me crazy sometimes, I was so much happier he decided to come back to Duke than Rivers. The reason is that don't really like Austin Rivers. I don't like his attitude, the way he plays the game and how somebody who is supposed to be so good could go 5-14 with more turnovers (2) than assists (1) against Lehigh. He is a shooting guard who can't really *shoot.
*Every single Duke regular that didn't have the last name Plumlee (5 players) shot better than Rivers from the free throw line. Rivers shot worse than team average from 3 (36.5% compared to 37.1%) and the field (43.3% to 45.6%).
He has an unbelievable ability to get to the rim, and he will never have to buy a drink in my presence because of this shot. However, I don't think he will be a good NBA player.
5) John Henson - Henson either becomes Andrei Kirilenko or he doesn't make in the NBA. My prediction is that he won't make it in the NBA. He is tall, but unfortunatly weak and he can't shoot. Every single time he took an outside shot against Duke, I think I audibly cheered. He has a unique game that translates to a few years as the 10th man on some NBA team before going overseas. Unless he completely transforms his game, I predict John Henson to be the biggest bust out of the 5 players listed so far.
6) Miles Plumlee - Easy pick for the last spot. I've seen some mock drafts with him as a possible late first round pick. That would be a wasted pick. I enjoyed my 4 years of Miles Plumlee and agree that he is a great athlete, but he just isn't a very good basketball player.
We will see how the draft goes and in a few years how my predictions line up with what ends up happening. When Barnes is a 3 time All-Star and Henson is the league's defensive player of the year then feel free to point this post out to me.