Tag:Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Posted on: December 3, 2011 3:23 pm
Edited on: December 3, 2011 3:57 pm
 

UNC-UK NBA Draft Prospect Grades

By Matt Moore

uk-unc

Well, that was fun.

There are worlds of storylines coming out of college basketball's titanic clash between Kentucky and North Carolina, a 73-72 Wildcats win on the back of an Anthony Davis block. And what could have been more fitting than a block by the projected No. 1 prospect in a game which featured a legitimate eleven first-round prospects between the 2012 and 2013 draft, and potentially more? It gave NBA fans a great look at talent.

It also gave NBA personnel a great look, and they were in attendance. More than half the teams in the NBA had representatives watching this game.

So how did they do? Quick, to the grade book!

(Note: These observations are based on how their performance showed for their draft stock, not necessarily how good or bad a game they had. Example: Harrison Barnes scored 1 bucket that wasn't a three-pointer. He also showed what you wanted to see from a prospect of his ilk.)

Anthony Davis: B-

And really, Davis is only getting the B- based on that final play which showcased the biggest reason he should be the undisputed No.1 overall pick in June. Davis managed to disrupt an entry pass, then recover weakside and block the game-winning shot. As my colleague, CBSSports.com college basketball expert Jeff Gooodman asked after the game, "Who else in the country can block that shot? Nobody."

But that play was an outlier for Davis on a day where scouts also got to see the concerns about him. On the very first play, the Tar Heels posted Tyler Zeller on Davis, and that started a day where Davis' lack of body strength due to his frame was finally shown on national television. Zeller bodied Davis all day, and while Zeller only scored 14 points, he would have had more had the Wildcats not consistantly brought doubles to help Davis. Davis is young, and has yet to grow into the eight inches he sprung into last year. He needs time in the weight room. A positive development was his rebounding: Davis did a much better job securing position and keeping space. 

Additionally, Davis' ball-handling, which was considered a strength thanks to his play at guard prior to the growth spurt, was off Saturday. Twice Davis attempted drives on John Henson and the play was dismantled because of Davis' handle. He attempted a three at one point, who knows why, and did not attempt to play back-to-the-basket.

On the positive side, however, Davis did force enough help on the pick and roll to open up lanes and perimter shots for teammates, and his range help defense continues to be downright terrifying. His and-one finish on a lob from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist showed his finishing ability. It wasn't Davis' best day against elite competition, but the fact remains: he is the No. 1 because no one else can do what he can do.

Harison Barnes: B+

Barnes had a prototypical Harrison Barnes game. He consistantly showed the polish that makes him a top-5 pick. The raw uneveness we saw last year is gone, replaced by a shooter (4-5 from deep) who will make you pay by finding ways to get open and making smart plays. Defensivly, Barnes was in position when he needed to be. His foul trouble disrupted excellent work he had done on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, which allowed for Kidd-Gilchrist's second half explosion.

Barnes still struggles with finishing shot that he creates, most notably a late miss inside of two minutes on a pull-up jumper. It was hero ball, which he'll likely be playing at the next level from time to time. But whereas last year he struggled with finding a quality shot on his own, on Saturday he created those looks, he just didn't knock all of them down. Barnes is not going to be a multi-faceted player, and isn't a playmaker, but the polish and range is more than enough to be considered an elite prospect. We're still waiting to see if he evolves into a complete threat versus being a complete player.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: A+

To start the second half, MKG scored seven points and assisted on a lob to Davis for an and-one. He finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, 4 offensive, with a block and a steal. So yeah, he had a pretty good day. Kidd-Gilchrist is setting himself up as the abject steal of the top ten. The secret lies in his weakness, which is the only reason he will not be the No. 1 or No. 2 pick.

Kidd-Gilchrist's shot mechanics are all kinds of funky. He has trouble spotting up and there's a hitch at his elbow. He needs extensive work to better his jumper so that defenders can't give him room. He also has trouble with defenders who have good ball denial, as Barnes, John Henson, and P.J. Hairston all gave him trouble.

But when he gets loose... Wow. He had several insid moves in traffic to drop jaws and his finish on offensive rebounds was a difference maker. 

Defensively is where he has the most potential. Against North Carolina he did an excellent job when matched up on Barnes. Against UNC he only got caught under screens twice and out of position twice that I saw, not bad for a freshman. He was aggressive in shot defense as well. MKG is the biggest winner of the day.

Terrence Jones: A

Best and worst, as always, with Terrence Jones. Jones had a sequence in which he made consecutive blocks to shut down a UNC possession only to watch the loose ball wind up in Harrison (swish) Barnes' hands. He attacked down low.

But then there's the perimeter shooting. I've made the Josh Smith mental comparison to Jones before, and this game re-enforced it. He hit a three... and wound up shooting five. Jones too often considers himself a perimeter threat instead of focusing on his ability to muscle and score inside. Defensively, he's got everything you want in a prospect, and he's a physical beast after another year. But that obsession with the perimeter continues, and someone will have to work it out of him eventually for him to be successful.

But Jones was still a huge plus for the Cats, and his work on the defensive side continues to impress. His first half was excellent.

John Henson: B+

Henson was given a series of tough matchups and excelled. His worst moment came on a pump-fake up-and-under from the left block resulting in an air-ball layup. But other than that he showed a surprisingly well-rounded offense.

Henson's length is a huge advantage, but the fact that his mid-range shot has come such a long way is a boon for his draft stock. He was limited in attacking at the basket thanks to Davis' length, but made up for it at the other end with three blocks. Henson is a likely top ten pick, based on his combination of size and savvy. His degree of polish helps as well.

Henson's weak point defensively Saturday was on weakside rotations. It's not a skill that's vital in most drafts since college players don't know how to play NBA defense. But in this draft it's crucial, and Henson got caught drifting several times Saturday.

Tyler Zeller: B

If the Tar Heels weren't en fuego from outside, Zeller may have wound up with more than fourteen points. As it was, he impressed with his ability to body the lengthy Davis back into the Kentucky coal mines. If he had a more explosive finish he could have really dominated the contest. But Zeller was also more efficient and kept up his expected level of activity. Zeller projects in the back half of the first round. But Zeller showed some of the skills Saturday that make him a likely long-term pro. He passes well out of the double and has enough touch to score when left open. He's never going to be a franchise player but he's likely to be a guy who can help your team win. Defensively, there's still a lot to be desired.

Kendall Marshall: A

Marshall doesn't have the athleticism. We knew that coming in. But what he does have is the ability to be efficient, to create, and to play within himself. Three turnovers were mostly on account of Kentucky's length, and his 2-4 shooting from deep was part of the Tar Heels' perimeter assault. Eight assists will also stick out in a game dominated by inside-out play.

Marquis Teague: C+

Teague blew the final possession, only to be saved by Davis, and it was coach John Calipari's decision to move Doron Lamb to point that helped steady the ship. On the plus side, his turnovers were down to only one after a rash of hem early this season, and he still has exceptional handle and speed. Teague continues to be the kind of player that right now is not a lottery pick, but you can easily see how he will be by season's end.

Doron Lamb: B+

There are questions as to whether Lamb is a first-rounder. He's not a great playmaker as his 2-4 assist-turnover ratio suggests. But he is an exceptional shooter, as he showed today, especially coming off the curl on the catch-and-shoot. He makes big shots consistently, and has enough speed and ability in the half court, you have to think someone will bite on yet another of Calipari's point guards.

P.J. Hairston: B+

Battling an injury, Hairston played just 14 minutes. But in that stretch he shot 3-4 from the arc and played lock-up defense on MKG. Hairston looks like a quality lottery pick, regardless of whether he jumps this season or next.

James McAdoo: B

McAdoo showed everything Saturday. He's tough. He's agile. He finishes. He's got an NBA-ready frame. He got very little time Saturday with all the other big names, but in 2013, he's going to be a machine. McAdoo has excellent court awareness. He shows all the raw signs you attribute to such players, but even in limited minutes, he looks like a big name to look for.

RELATED: Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com with a UNC-UK game wrap
Posted on: November 22, 2011 11:46 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 2:27 pm
 

The Draftbook 11.22.11: Getting to know you

The Draftbook is a collection of notes on prospects from our evaluation of players. Contributors come from all across CBSSports.com and are noted at the end of all notes. Notes on each player may be from multiple contributors. 

Anthony Davis 

[University of Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis has emerged as the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft owing to his unique combination of size, length, instincts, skill level and finesse. His ability to block shots as a one-on-one post defense and help defender are his calling card. He can close down passing and driving lanes, step out to defend the high post and switch onto perimeter players if necessary without getting immediately exposed.

Davis has regularly drawn comparison to Marcus Camby thanks to his shot-blocking and rebounding abilities. He will need to improve his strength – both upper and lower body – to become a Camby-esque rebounder at the next level, but he keeps plays alive and taps balls out relying on his wingspan alone.  

Tall and long enough to eventually play center in the NBA, Davis nonetheless freely moves around the perimeter, is comfortable turning to face the basket and has enough feel to develop a mid-range game. There’s a very real possibility that he turns into one of the best high screen-and-roll threats in the NBA. Davis has the size and footwork to set a worthwhile screen, the grace to roll quickly to the basket or fade to a spot, the hands to receive the pass and the length and leaping ability to finish well above the rim. He also could become an excellent high-post player with the skill to face the hoop and either use a dribble to collapse the defense or feed a more traditional low-post scorer with an entry pass.

Davis isn’t ready to be a franchise-changing player straight out of the gate but his learning curve won’t be that steep. He’s far more polish than project and should be in the All-Star discussion within four seasons assuming he continues to fill out.] - Ben Golliver

[Davis' best offensive ability so far has been in the pick-and-roll. Kentucky has ran it more this season than in years prior, and Davis has been a huge part of that. He sets solid screens and with his prior knowledge as a guard, understands how to navigate the lane for the passer. It doesn't hurt that his 7-4 wingspan allows him to pretty much catch and destroy the rim anytime they can execute the pass. He hasn't been asked to do much beyond that offensively, and scouts will want to see him play with his back to the basket as well as from short-range face-up. He's not the complete package, but his skillset just provides so much, it's easy to see why he's the consensus No. 1. 

Defensively everyone will rave about the measurables and athleticism, but maybe the more impressive element is how much effort Davis puts into that end of the floor. He's able to attack weakside and recover to his man, and there's not a shot he can't block. The phrase "JaVale McGee with a higher basketball IQ" has entered my mind more than one time when watching him defensively. That said, he hasn't faced a true post player defensively, and considering his slender frame and the fact he hasn't grown into his length yet, that's going to be an area of concern. Likewise he needs to improve his ability to hold rebounding ability because eventually he won't be simply long enough to snag whatever comes his way.] - Matt Moore

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

[Davis is the No. 1 overall at this point, but it's entirely possible that instead of Harrison Barnes or Jared Sullinger, two Wildcats are taken back-to-back at the top of the draft. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been very impressive early on, and even more so when you consider his pro prospects. A 6-7 forward, Gilchrist possesses an NBA-adaptable skillset with the mentality to match. His biggest weakness so far has been turnovers, but even that shows a willingness to function as a playmaker and not just as the tip of the spear. His handle in the pick and roll is going to be a major asset, and his frame allows him to back down smaller defenders. He's shooting 42 percent from the perimeter early on, and that range opens up his baseline burst which is exceptional. In short, it's hard to find a prospect element that's noticeably weak.

Defensively, he attacks well in transition and does a good job sticking. He's got a ways to go in that area in terms of technique, but his lateral quickness is sufficient and his chasedown block ability is reminiscent of some of the elite players in the game. He's a driven winner that is prone to visible frustration on the court, but not a degree he disengages when things are going poorly. MKG joins UConn's Jeremy Lamb as the fastest riser early in the season.] - Matt Moore 

Harrison Barnes

[You hear the term "NBA ready" but Barnes is all of that. His body is developed, his game is developed and mentally, he looks like he'll be prepared to step right in to a rotation.

Love Barnes' mid-range game. He strikes me a bit Rip Hamilton-ish in that he's really adept at coming off a screen and getting just enough space to release a jumper.

He uses his body well in traffic. Distributes weight and takes contact really well.

Good help defense instincts. He had one block in particular against Michigan State where he came seemingly from nowhere for a beak weakside block.

Hard to say exactly where he stands athletically. He's doesn't seem to have a lightning quick first step and in the one breakaway he had, his dunk was pretty pedestrian. Not to say he should've done a 360 or something, but I'm just not sure he's a crazy good athlete or anything. Not that he needs to be in order to make it in the NBA, but I just don't see him dunking over Dwight Howard or anything.

With Barnes, there's just a "feel" to him. He just always looks like he gets it. Where he needs to be, what shot is good and what's not, when to drive, when to pass -- he has a tremendous feel for the game. He lets it come to him and is just forceful enough.

Don't write Barnes off because he doesn't have incredible athletic ability. He's polished and understands spacing extremely well. There have been a lot of great scorers in the NBA exactly like him. ] - Royce Young

Jared Sullinger

[Ohio State sophomore Jared Sullinger has gotten lost a bit in the hype surrounding this year’s freshman class hype. After an offseason that saw significant weight loss and continued skill development, Sullinger is an improved version of the dominant low-post player he was as a freshman. Add improved quickness and stamina to his long list of positive attributes that already included soft hands, an excellent nose for rebounding positioning and leverage, a wide frame, a great motor, a positive disposition and confidence as a go-to scorer.  

Sullinger is crafty at sealing his man to establish position for an entry pass or, if possible, an over-the-top lob. He doesn’t require possession after possession of isolation opportunities, moving off the ball to create scoring chances and relentlessly crashing the offensive boards to keep plays alive or to scrounge out garbage points.

His weight loss is most noticeable on the defensive end. During Monday’s game against North Florida, Sullinger denied an entry pass in the post, stepped out to hedge on a high screen-and-roll, recovered and called out a defensive rotation to ensure the ball couldn’t be rotated, and then returned back to his original man as the clock wound down, boxing him cleanly for the defensive rebound. His quickness and ease in getting from the paint to the arc to the paint in rarely seen in someone his size.

Sullinger – who is listed at 6-foot-8 or 6-foot-9 -- will be questioned about his height every day from now until he has the chance to prove he can score against NBA defenders. Until then, he will continue to be arguably the biggest force in college hoops.]- Ben Golliver

Thomas Robinson

[Surprisingly, Robinson may be the Kansas prospect I've been highest on in a decade, and that includes two members of the national championship team and two members of the Final Four team from earlier in the 00's. Robinson came in over the summer at 6-10 in a non-university measurement, with a 7-1 wingspan. His aggression inside in finishing on the putback has made him an abject beast. He's got the NBA body. There's no issue of frame or explosion-loss as he puts on weight. He's beefy and still able to detonate. He runs the floor well and can finish in traffic. He's not bothered by contact and can take and give a bump. 

His lateral quickness is good enough for him to be able to guard stretch-fours at the next level, and while gaurding fives is going to be too steep of a hill to climb (he plays closer to 6-9), he's the kind of body you can trust to take a beating. He maintains a nice consistent effort at both ends and has good instincts of when to bring help. 

He would benefit tremendously from showing any semblance of an offensive game outside of finshing for layups or putbacks. His back to the basket game hasn't been shown as much but he's got great a great baseline spin when he goes to it. He lacks a guard to run a pick and roll with, which is an area he might excel in, given his skillset. Robinson looks to be a solid top-ten prospect early.] - Matt Moore

[Chiseled and ready to take his game to the next level. God, that sounds so cliche, right? Except Robinson only played bench minutes last year. Now he's expected to contribute more than 30 per game. And he's ready for it. Alpha.] - Matt Norlander

Austin Rivers

[Duke freshman Austin Rivers is another in a long line of polarizing score-first guards who need the ball to be at their best but lag behind as natural play-makers. In addition to good size – 6-foot-4, 195 pounds – Rivers has excellent burst off the dribble, comfort going both left and right, a trusty crossover going either direction and NBA range on his jumper.  Put that together and he can break down a defense from the top or the wing in fairly rapid fashion. His bread-and-butter right now is getting all the way to the rim to finish, something he will be doing with less frequency at the next level. Still, he’s not afraid to pull up or toss up a floater, and he moves with sufficient control that most of his attempts are fairly high percentage looks.

He gets into trouble when he starts to force things. He’s prone to forcing up shots in traffic, making inconsistent reads of the team defense facing him and missing open teammates on the block or on the perimeter. It’s clear he has the green light with the ball in his hands, but he can become an efficiency drag right now. If his shot isn’t falling or the ball isn’t in his hands, he drifts; a vast majority of his offense and opportunities are created off the dribble. 

Defensively, he’s best suited to guarding NBA two guards and combo guards given his height and length even if he’s a bit shorter than a conventional NBA two. His generally mentality is head, as you would expect from a coach’s son, but he can range from intensely competitive when things are going well to a half-touch out of control when they aren’t.] - Ben Golliver

[Rivers has issues with identity, and that's going to be a problem if he attempts the leap after the first year. His size indicates a point guard, both in height and frame, but he's clearly looking to score at any and all opportunities. His vision hasn't revealed itself to be adequate yet. More notably, his passes lack velocity and accuracy, too often he's lofting college passes when the Duke offense needs him whipping the ball. He's got more than a passing fascination with NBA range and seems at times to be in a shooting contest with Seth Curry. 

It's very early, so we're definitely not making an predictions about Rivers (or any player), but he's not been among the early impressers.] - Matt Moore

Terrence Jones

[University of Kentucky sophomore Terrence Jones is nearly the prototype for the NBA stretch four: versatile enough to spend some time at the three, strong enough to log minutes at the four.

A lefty, Jones rarely goes right whether he’s facing up off the dribble or backing down a smaller defender in the post. He’s quick, powerful and smooth when creating his own face-up offense, drawing comparisons to Lamar Odom, but his lack of range and preference for settling for easier shots rather than working for quality looks limits his utility to some degree.

Jones isn’t afraid to scrap under the basket and he will be an effective rebounder on both ends at the NBA level. His motor on defense is very good and he is a high-pressure defender both in the post and on the perimeter, racking up blocks and deflections. Right now, he’s equally prone to producing absurd displays of athleticism and making knucklehead decisions.] - Ben Golliver


John Henson

[It's really hard to keep Ed Davis out of your head while watching Henson. Long, lean and left-handed.

I also couldn't get Marcus Camby out of my head while watching him. He's the type of player that impacts everything defensively. His length is just unavoidable. He's everywhere in the paint. His wingspan darn near covers block to block in the paint. He's got great instincts and absolutely could lead the NBA in blocks some day.

He's got a long way to go offensively. But that's not his game. He's not going to back anyone down or pull off a big drop-step move or anything. He's not really going to be effective in the pick-and-pop game. But he's going to be available for any oop you throw and he's going to be a menace on the offensive glass, just because of his length and athleticism.] -Royce Young

[Henson's already penciling himself in for a "known commodity" spot in the lottery. There are players you take on upside and players you take because you know they'll contribute. Henson's got a strong enough set of assets and skills to assure himself a spot without ever being a star.

Offensively his greatest strength is his explosion baseline. He's most comfortable there, and with his handle on his spin move, that could be the kind of signature strength he needs. His spacing of the floor for lobs is superb. Paired with a quality point guard, his rookie production could surprise] - Matt Moore

James McAdoo

[My early impression is that McAdoo might be a player better suited with another year in college. He's just a freshman and while he's got a solid 6-8, 225-pound frame, he could still stand a little more muscle and development, especially if he's going to play the 4 in the NBA.

Speaking of, he saw just 17 minutes against Michigan State. He wasn't all that involved offensively and really looks like he's just a raw talent that needs some development. By the end of the year, he could be seeing major minutes though. There's just so much depth up front for the Tar Heels right now.

His wingspan. Talk about some length.

He's smooth. He has the look of a guy that hasn't even started scraping his potential. He could be a terrific inside-out guy.] - Royce Young

Tyler Zeller

In terms of college production, Zeller is probably the best player North Carolina has. He's a bit Tyler Hansbrough-ish in that he produces mostly on motor and effort over raw skill and athletic ability. But don't take that as he's not a good athlete. Because he can jump and run really well, especially in that seven foot body.

My question for Zeller mainly is, what will he do well in the NBA? Is he a banger? A defensive stopper? A Kris Humphries type that just churns out double-doubles? I don't think he's starting center material, but there's still a little left to his game to be developed. He has some touch.

Zeller is the type of player than can appear dominant in college because he's got tremendous size and a lot of ability within that, but when he gets to the NBA and starts seeing guys as big and athletic as him, will he be able to do the same things?

To that point, it'll likely come down to what Zeller is capable of defending at the next level. His lateral quickness didn't blow me away and I'm not sure he's really got the brute force to take on guys like Dwight Howard, Al Horford, Andrew Bynum or Nene. But is he athletic enough to cover 4s? I doubt it. He could be caught in between a bit.] - Royce Young

Kendall Marshall

[One thing sticks out when watching Marshall: court vision. He sees the floor extremely well. He had one leak out pass against the Spartans that blew me away. He got a long rebound, quickly looked up and hit a streaking teammate in the span of about two seconds. Impressive.

Some are going to think that because Marshall doesn't score much that he's not NBA lottery material. But he's a floor general in the truest sense of it. He tries to control the game from start to finish.

Good size (6-3), but not overly quick or athletic.

Not a good shooter by any means. His form is iffy from outside and he has a pretty slow motion. I could see an NBA coach trying to overhaul that.

He plays with great pace. He's quick without hurrying and always under control. It's extremely rare to see him reckless on a possession. Hardly ever makes a bad decision with the ball in his hands. 

- He's going to have to improve as a finisher at the next level. What makes a good point guard isn't just the ability to control a game passing the ball, but also have the ability to drive and score. He needs to just watch Rajon Rondo and Tony Parker for hours on ends.] - Royce Young

Andre Drummond

[It's still early and Drummond's not yet adapted to that UConn offense yet. It's not the college game -- it's playing for Calhoun. Just give it some time.] - Matt Norlander

Drummond's improved tremendously since his opening night disaster. But one thing should remain in sight: there's time for the kid. It would be better not to rush a big man with his particular set of assets (raw, hyper-athletic, tremendous length, questions about mental preparation) into the next level until he's ready. If he needs a year of coming off the bench or playing a complimentary role to grow into his confidence, that will do more for him than another year of strength training in the NBA. Drummond has every ounce of potential he's been hyped to have. But there's also no reason to force him to be ready right now. We'll give him the year but remain cautious about him being a lock.] - Matt Moore

Jeremy Lamb

[Re: Drummond. Look right here. Lamb was a nobody at this time last year. Now he's seen as a surefire lottery pick -- and he's looked fantastic to start the season. Have already heard top-three talk. ] - Matt Norlander

[The dunk. That's all I needed. Lamb's the alpha dog scouts love, and probably has the greatest gain potential from season start position to season's end. 

An underrated aspect of improvement? Lamb's becoming a ball-hawk. He's got great anticipation on the edge. ] - Matt Moore

Patric Young

[When you make Jared Sullinger look undersized, it's impressive. Young handled himself well against Ohio State last week, even though his team lost the game to the Buckeyes. There are plenty of people still waiting to see what Young is -- is he just a physical freak that lacks a couple of true, go-to weapons? Does he have a particular skill outside of Tyrannosauring his way around the block?] - Matt Norlander

Marquis Teague

[Here's a weird cross-section. Teague's biggest issue has been turnovers early on. He's burning through them at an alarming clip. But Teague also possesses one of the better handles I've seen from the top prospects. He's got the athletic speed you've come to expect from Calipari guards, and a killer crossover. His decision making hasn't caught up to his athletic ability yet, and it shows. Teague's likely to have one or two terrific games as the season goes on and he settles down, but he's also caught up in a team that's bursting with talent. 

However... Teague's also shooting 67 percent from range this season early on.  His spot-up shooting is a terrific addition to his skillset. If he can just quit with the six-turnover games, he's going to go back up the draft board.] - Matt Moore


Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:52 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 6:22 pm
 

NBA Draft Fall Primer: Draft without a season?



By Matt Moore
 

The 2012 NBA Draft could very well be the most exciting draft since 2003. For starters, it likely could be the first NBA event since the 2011 Draft. It could be a random lottery. It could be weighted. There are a number of interesting variables, and that's before we get to the player pool.

With so many players backing out of the draft last season due to the NBA lockout, this class looks to be one of the most dominant classes in recent history. It would be one thing if it was just those returning players, though, but the freshmen also make up a significant upgrade over the past few years. NBA executives are licking their chops at a chance to get a hold of some of this talent, you know, when they have a sport for them to play in.

So to get you ready for the 2012 NBA Draft, consider this your Fall Primer as college basketball gets underway.

Contingency plans

If the 2011-2012 NBA season is lost, there are only a handful of ways the draft can go. Each has dramatic ramifications and will impact the careers of hundreds of players when factoring free agents and current players on rosters. Here are the options. 

1. No draft: If the two sides can't reach a settlement by late June when the draft is to be held, it's conceivable there would simply be no draft. This is a nightmare scenario as not only are we deprived of the dulcet tones of New York fans randomly jeering and heckling the commissioner, but guys that are ready to make the jump have to risk another year of injury in college. There would be an upside, obviously, with next year being an even bigger class as the studs of this class get another year to season. But it would also set franchises back to not have that draft class at all, especially if they're rebuilding. 

2. Take last year's lottery numbers and re-draw: This is obviously the favorite of the lottery teams, particularly those teams in most need of talent, teams like Cleveland, Minnesota (this protects their pick from Boston), and Toronto. Thing is, given that there's no way to tell what the impact of the last draft would have been on the season, the fight from other teams is going to be seen as legitimate. Who knows what Kyrie Irving could have done for the Cavs? What if Derrick Williams is a bonafide star? This helps the teams that need it the most (unless they've traded their pick), and since it would still be a lottery, would still leave things open for chance (can you imagine if Houston, barely missing the playoffs in 2011, managed to snag Davis, Barnes, or Sullinger?). 

The biggest reason this won't happen is that playoff and late-lottery GMs know the value of this draft. And they want a shot at it. Because rejecting this option opens the way for...

3. Equal-30-team lottery: Imagine you're the Lakers. The sun is setting on the run you had with Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant. Bryant is still very much a viable star, but the overall makeup of the team is shifting, and needs to be built around Andrew Bynum, in all his flagrant-fouling glory. It looks like a hard road ahead. Until you land the No. 1 overall draft pick, allowing you trade Pau Gasol and still have Bryant, Bynum, and now either Anthony Davis, Jared Sullinger, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, or Andre Drummond, should you go for the twin-towers approach. 

And the rest of the league shivered in their sleeping bags. 

This idea is going to be pushed by the elite teams, who are going to argue it's the only fair way to go about it, because of the number of unknowns losing a season presents. Boston could find the answer to what comes after the Big 3. The Bulls could land the second star Derrick Rose needs. Good teams could become great. Great teams could become elite. The ramifications are staggering. 

One team that doesn't improve in this situation? Miami. Cleveland has the option to swap picks in 2012 with the Heat, which would be pretty much the funniest thing ever if it's the Heat's pick in exchange for LeBron James that gives Cleveland the superstar of the future. 

This scenario results in mass chaos beyond all reason. Which is why the most-logical scenario is...

4. A three-to-five-year-weighted lottery: In this scenario modeled after what the NHL chose when it locked out for an entire season, teams are weighted based off their win-loss records over the past three-to-five years, depending on what the league opts for. The benefits are obvious. This rewards teams that have struggled over more than just last season and actually rewards the teams that have been historically bad. 

One team that would be royally damaged by this process is Cleveland. The Cavs would suffer based on the playoff success back when they had LeBron James and last season's epic disaster wouldn't be enough to offset it. On the other hand, teams like the Timberwolves, Kings, and potentially even Grizzlies would benefit a great deal from such an arrangement. Though it would be unfortunate, most likely, for Cavs fans, it does make the most sense, to the point you wonder why each draft isn't treated like this. It's a compromise based on both the elite and basement teams' desire to nab the talent in this class, and if we lose a season, it's the most likely scenario. 

The Kentucky Kid/Freakshow

Harrison Barnes may be the most complete player in the country. Jared Sullinger may be the most polished player in the country. Terrence Jones is a miniature beast. But the top of the draft? It's still kids, it's still freshmen, it's still Calipari, it's still Kentucky.

Anthony Davis has already endeared himself to rebuilding teams' fans all across the non-existent league. With a 7-4 wingspan he grew into after years of playing guard, Davis is able to move seamlessly from one end of the floor. He's active on defense and that wingspan allows him to block nearly anything. His offensive repertoire still raw as he learns to grow into his body, but off the pick and roll, he's been tremendous. Davis is the kind of raw, athletic talent that scouts and GMs drool over, and he's got the ability to back it up.

Davis is considered the No.1 draft pick right now in the eyes of NBA personnel, according to Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com

It's one thing to have the wingspan and athleticism that Davis has, but he's shown an early willingness to commit on the defensive end that few prospects do. The words "JaVale McGee" have been used, and not in the usual negative way, either. He's been a swat machine, with a 17.11 block percentage, which is ridiculous. 

He's the consensus No. 1 right now. He'll need to work on his offensive repertoire to cement his position, but as it stands, Davis looks like a superb No. 1 overall.

The Sullinger-Barnes Circus

Harrison Barnes was a potential No. 1 pick before last season started. But a slump to start the year put a damper on his prospect status. He recovered extremely well throughout the remainder of the year, and would have been a top-3 pick had he not decided to return to North Carolina.

Jared Sullinger, on the other hand, continues to rack up points as the "experienced" player of the draft, and one of the most dedicated to improving his game. Sullinger keeps losing weight, understanding that at the pro-level, his humongous hindquarters won't help him in establishing post position as easily and that he'll need to be a svelt combo-forward to get minutes. It's the kind of self-awareness scouts rarely see and often covet.

The draft is always a youngest-man game, with teams wanting to oversee as much of the players' development as they can. But Barnes and Sullinger will be vying in the top five for which has the most impact as the more "polished" or "complete" product. Sullinger represents the more "polished" aspect with comparisons being drawn of Zach Randolph and Brandon Bass, while Barnes is the more highly touted prospect, and is considered the most "complete" player in the draft. If Davis is the wunderkind who you can't wait to see what he becomes, Barnes is the most "OK, I know where that guy fits right away" player at the top of the board.

Stacked Competition

When North Carolina faces Kentucky in Lexington on December 3rd, there will be ten legitimate prospects on the floor. Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, and Marquis Teague for Kentucky, Barnes, John Henson, James McAdoo, Tyler Zeller, and Kendall Marshall for UNC. That game basically is the draft combine.

But Baylor with Perry Jones and Quincy Miller will face Thomas Robinson and KU, as well as Myck Kabongo and Texas and LeBryan Nash and Oklahoma State. There are a number of matchups this year pitting top talent against top talent, the perks of having so many quality returning players.

More unanswered questions than usual

With a draft as exciting as this one, the questions that abound have more impact than the usual amount of unknown quantities in any pool of prospects.

Is Andre Drummond too raw to be a lottery pick this year?

Is LeBryan Nash a headcase?

How much of Thomas Robinson's aggression and explosiveness will translate when he's been listed as small as 6-8? (NOTE: A Nike camp measurement from this past summer listed him at 6-10 with a healthy wingspan of 7-1.)

What position is Terrence Jones going to play in the NBA and more importantly, did Josh Smith clone his brain and insert it into him?

Is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist actually the best prospect on Kentucky?

Will Austin Rivers be ready to make the leap when he has such a steep hill to climb in terms of point guard skill?

We'll be tracking these questions and many more throughout the college basketball season as part of our draft coverage. There's no NBA at the moment. But the next generation of players is ready to put on quite a show.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com