NBA Draft Player Rankings
There will likely be some stuff in here that you don't agree with, but keep in mind how often top picks are awful and later picks turn into good players (Joe Smith was drafted first overall, Kobe Bryant drafted 13th and immediately traded for Vlade Divac).
* - this means that I think the player has a decent chance of passing several of the players ranked ahead of him, but not a good enough chance for me to rank him any higher.
1. PF Anthony Davis (Kentucky): How could I not? I completely buy into the hype that surrounds this kid. He's an incredibly smart, long, athletic kid with a good feel for the game. He's showed improvement with his post moves and looks like he may be able to develop a decent jump shot. Though he does need to bulk up, he plays stronger than he looks. My favorite thing about Davis, however, is that this kid is the complete opposite of a diva. He just wants to win. He doesn't care how it looks, he knows that in the end people remember the champions. He doesn't mess around with wristbands and shooting sleeves. Hell, he doesn't even bother to shave his unibrow. He just puts on his jersey and shorts, goes out on the court and dominates.
2. SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky): He's got some raw aspects to his game (jump shot, ball handling), but keep in mind he's still only 18 years old. He should be finishing up high school right now. Instead, he's sitting at No. 2 in my rankings. He's an incredibly energetic, athletic kid who gets up at the rim as well as anyone in this draft. His weaknesses are easily fixable with practice and experience. And, like Davis, MKG loves winning. He is extremely competitive but doesn't get caught up in the moment by trying to do too much. I've heard multiple analysts say his ceiling is Scottie Pippen.
3. SG Bradley Beal (Florida): I watched a decent amount of Florida games this year because my buddy goes to school there, and every time Brad Beal would do something new to impress me. He'd go up to the rim for a big dunk. He'd knock down a couple threes. He'd hit a cutter for an easy bucket. He'd lock someone down on defense. On top of that, he was playing out of position for most of the year (playing SF, is really a SG) because of teammates Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton. I think Beal has got a real complete game, and in a league that doesn't have many great shooting guards he could be one of the better ones.
4. PF Terrence Jones (Kentucky): This is probably the first time you've thought "what the hell is this guy thinking?" I know I'm higher on Jones than most, but I'm sticking with him at No. 4. He's an incredible all-around defender who can guard all three front court positions. He's ridiculously strong and is a fiery competitor. As with all these Kentucky players, I think he's very smart and mature. He was putting up 15.7 and 8.8 his freshman year, then calmed down to the tune of 12.3 and 7.2 his sophomore year. The decrease in numbers wasn't because he got worse, but because he understood that he was now playing with two of the best players in the country (Davis and MKG) and did whatever the team needed to win. He reminds me a lot of a saner Ron Artest and I think he'll be a very good NBA player.
5. PF Thomas Robinson (Kansas): The most ripped player in the draft, Robinson showed absurd improvement in his junior year, averaging 10.1 more points and 5.5 more rebounds than in his sophomore year. He also shot 50.5% from the field. One thing that concerns me is that he tends to recklessly heave himself into the lane and rely on his athleticism to finish or draw a foul (sort of in a Russell Westbrook sort of way). I'm not sure if he'll be able to get away with that in the NBA. However, if it doesn't translate, he's still got the tools to adjust become a stud and that earns him No. 5. (PS - there's your No. 5 player getting STUFFED by No. 4)
6. PF Jared Sullinger (Ohio State): Keep in mind, this is assuming he is healthy. One thing that concerns me about Sullinger is that he seemed to be bothered by bigger, more physical defenders (such as Thomas Robinson), and there's a lot of those in the NBA. I thought he played a little too finesse when going up against those guys and got away from his style of ball. However, he's still got a great arsenal of moves on offense and the skill to face up and shoot/drive or back down defenders. He's compared himself to Zach Randolph, a guy who's not athletic but gets the job done. I think he can do that if he stays healthy and if he mans up against physical defenders.
7. PF John Henson (North Carolina): Henson actually reminds me a lot of a poor man's Anthony Davis. Well, I guess more like a middle class man's Anthony Davis. He's long and athletic and plays fantastic defense. Like Davis, he needs to put on some muscle to handle guys like Blake Griffin at the next level. He may not develop into an offensive threat, but I think he could be an important defensive piece on a contending team.
8. SF Harrison Barnes (North Carolina): Yup. I put him below Henson. Fight me. Here's my thing on Barnes: I think he's going to follow a career path similar to OJ Mayo. He'll come into the league and be one of the top scoring rookies and people will think "wow he's gonna be so great in a few years!" Then he just kind of hovers around that level of production or even drops off when the team puts other scorers out there with him. Remember, Mayo averaged 18.5 points per game his rookie season, and last year he was at 12.6. Barnes seems like a really good kid but I just never saw that fire in his eyes like you do in the elite NBA scorers. He seemed to disappear for stretches. I'd be watching UNC games and think "hmm, why isn't Barnes playing?... oh he is!" I think he'll have value to a team, just not be the 20 point per game guy that a lot of people are expecting.
9. PG Damian Lillard (Weber St.): A lot of people knock this guy for going to Weber State, but here's what you have to consider: opponents game-planned for him and only him. He was dealing with entire defenses with all eyes on him and he still managed 24.5 points per game. 4 assists per game is a little weak, but keep in mind that he doesn't get to kick it out to guys like Harrison Barnes the way Kendall Marshall does. Lillard is also far more athletic than Marshall and a better shooter/all-around scorer. Lillard can get up and dunk impressively. He can chuck up shots from way deep. He's good at running the floor and takes good angles to the basket. I think there's a decent chance Marshall ends up being better, but my money's on Lillard being the best point guard in the draft.
10. C Andre Drummond (Connecticut)*: One of the riskiest guys in the draft, Drummond has an elite package of size and athleticism. He's raw offensively but seems to have good touch on his shots for a guy his size. If he gets the ball under the rim it's game over for the defense. However, the rawness of his game is his skill in the post. He doesn't have any go-to moves. He almost always shoots with two hands on the ball, making it easier for defenders to block his shot, which likely won't fly in the NBA. He'll need to develop a hook shot to be effective offensively. He has all the tools, it's just a matter of him and his coaches working hard to develop his game. If he can develop a nice offensive repertoire he could be a great player.
That's all I can handle right now. Check back for my rankings of players 11-20 and eventually 21-30.
UPDATE: Rankings 11-20 available here.