The Jazz don’t have a dog in this NBA draft — at least not yet. But that only slightly lessens the intrigue going into Thursday night’s festivities in New York — and at Energy Solutions Arena.
Sure, Anthony Davis will go first, to the New Orleans Hornets. But after that, it could become a free-for-all, with teams like Charlotte (which will draft No. 2) offering its pick to the highest bidder.
And who will pick Weber State point guard Damian Lillard in the first round. Portland? Toronto? Golden State?
As always, we’re ready with some pre-draft answers.
The Tribune’s NBA mock draft: Picks 1-10; Picks 11-20; and Picks 21-30.
Anthony Davis: The surefire number one pick.
Some call him the next Kevin Garnett. Some call him the next Marcus Camby, which is still pretty respectable.
This section likes calling Davis the next Garnett. His ability to block shots, and rebound and disrupt opposing offenses with his length will make him a star. His unibrow will get him trademarked. He’s exactly what New Orleans needs right now, a guy whom the Hornets can build a franchise around.
Davis has work to do offensively, but he’s more refined than given credit for. If he can develop a jumper and a game off the dribble, watch out.
Sleepers: This is the list of guys who could make an impact out of nowhere.
Scott Machado, Iona: He’s one of the best point guards in the draft, a ballhandling and passing wizard.
Royce White, Iowa State: If he stays on the straight and narrow, may be an All-Star down the road.
Draymond Green, Michigan State: One of those glue guys who every winning franchise picks up like clockwork.
Hollis Thompson, Georgetown: A shooter with size and athleticism — could be a nice addition.
Year after topping mock drafts, OSU’s Sullinger sinks downward
Thus far, the 2012 NBA Draft hasn’t been kind to Jared Sullinger. A year ago, the Ohio State power forward was on top of the collegiate basketball world. Then he decided to stay out of the 2011 draft, fearing the NBA lockout would cancel the entire 2011-12 season. Sullinger bet wrong, and his stock suffered during his sophomore season with the Buckeyes. Things have only gotten worse for the once-projected top-three pick since then. After being red-flagged because of medical issues by several teams during recent draft workouts, Sullinger slid from the lottery to the late first round in many mock drafts. Then, he wasn’t invited to the green room for draft night. Despite his sudden fall, Sullinger could eventually end up being a steal for anyone willing to take a minimal first-round risk. He has the talent, power and overall potential to eventually be an All-Star. And no one initially pegged as a top-three pick should ever fall as far as Sullinger has in one year.
— Brian T. Smith
Best of rest
Deep draft features several possible second-round steals
This isn’t the class of 2003, which featured LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade, among others. However, it’s still a deep draft with several second-round picks who could become fixtures in the NBA during the next 10 years. Topping the list: Kim English (SG/SF, Missouri), Kyle O’Quinn (PF/C, Norfolk State), Scott Machado (PG, Iona) and Kevin Jones (PF, West Virginia). Throw in an assortment of international players and projected late first-rounders who’ll drop into the early second, and teams such as the Jazz — who were stuck at No. 47 overall late Wednesday — still can pull NBA talent after the first 30.
— Brian T. Smith
International players are available, but lack a major presence.
The first round of the 2011 draft was dominated by international prospects, with Turkey’s Enes Kanter, Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas, the Czech Republic’s Jan Vesely and the Congo’s Bismack Biyombo all going in the top seven. That won’t be the case Thursday. French shooting guard Evan Fournier is expected to be the first international player taken in the initial round, and he likely won’t be chosen until the latter portion of the top 30. Georgia’s Tornike Shengelia, Greece’s Kostas Papanikolaou and the Czech Republic’s Tomas Satoransky should be chosen before the final pick is called Thursday. But on the number of names alone, it’s already a down year for non-U.S. talent in 2012.
— Brian T. Smith
Thursday, 5 p.m., ESPN, Energy Solutions Arena