Some fun NBA draft speculation today: Spurs shopping Tony Parker to the Raptors or Kings? Nuggets shopping Raymond Felton to the Kings? Suns shopping Nash to the T'wolves?
But here is my favorite annual draft speculation: Projecting which players will thrive and which players will fizzle. Obviously, "fit" matters a lot. So do expectations: If Kyrie Irving is closer to the next Mike Conley than the next Derrick Rose, is that good enough? (Spoiler: Irving will be better than Conley but not nearly as good as Rose.)
I think Irving is solid, if not spectacular. I think Derrick Williams certainly looked the part of star last March, but I worry about his willingness (and fit) to be a full-time power forward. But he is obviously loaded with potential.
My favorite player in the draft is Bismack Biyombo, for a lot of reasons: I think he has the most potential, mostly owing to his insane physical measurements, but also due to his Garnett-level motor and willingness to work to get better. He played in a league last year that is so much better than college basketball that national champ UConn wouldn't win a single game, and he led that league in blocks despite limited minutes.
His offense is also very limited, yes, but the NBA is becoming a league where a player can be Top 5 in rebounds and blocks -- as Biyombo aspires to (and has the talent to) -- with limited offense and still be a huge contributor. (His offense will only get better, btw.) I think we'll look back and people will wonder how any team passed on him. (He is also a fascinating, thoughtful guy -- see this Q&A.)
I think the draftniks are totally underestimating where Biyombo might go, and I think he ends up in Toronto with the No. 5 pick. (I'm not going to mock the entire draft, don't worry.)
More players I like (Early- to mid-1st round): Chris Singleton, Tristan Thompson, Marshon Brooks, Nikola Vucevic, Kenneth Faried. Late-1st to 2nd-round steals/sleepers: Jimmy Butler, Charles Jenkins, Nolan Smith, Jeremy Tyler, Malcolm Lee, Norris Cole.
1st-round players I don't like: Jan Vesely (he can't shoot -- like, at all -- and he can't play D; what's not to love? undoubtedly, he will end up with my Wizards), Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker, the Morris twins, Klay Thompson, Alec Burks, Iman Shumpert, Jordan Hamilton.
Five players I want to like but fear they won't end up being particularly good: Enes Kanter, Jimmer Fredette, Kawhi Leonard, Jonas Valanciunas, Tobias Harris.
More tomorrow -- maybe a few more draft predictions. In the meantime...
*NFL Lockout: Is there a glimmer of hope coming out of the owners' meeting yesterday? What we DID see was a nice little bit of p.r. judo by the league -- now, if the players balk, they will look like the ones who are getting in the way of a deal being done.
*CFB: UNC scandal-ish. How can anyone at the NCAA office buy that an assistant coach and a tutor with close ties to the head coach were acting as rogue agents within the program? What a joke.
*CWS: Heading for a Florida-South Carolina final? Both teams are undefeated in Omaha.
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