Kyrie Irving is going to Cleveland with the No. 1 pick. After that … well, take your best shot. Irving played all of 11 games as a Duke freshman last year, but in this draft that qualifies him as a sure thing.
Enes Kanter could be the second pick and he hasn’t played a meaningful game in two years, sitting out last season as a Kentucky freshman over NCAA eligibility issues and playing the year before that at an obscure California prep school.
No one had heard of Bismack Biyombo six months ago. Jonas Valanciunas probably can’t play for the NBA team that drafts him for at least one season. And so it goes.
Yet you don’t have to turn over too many rocks to find NBA personnel evaluators who like this draft on some level. Houston GM Darryl Morey’s Twitter account on Wednesday said the Rockets handed out 22 first-round grades this year, three more than the high end of the range for a normal draft year.
There isn’t one player in the draft anyone feels comfortable declaring a dead-solid lock to be a future multiple All-Star – but there could be as many players who earn that distinction over time as any other draft. The number of scant resumes merely means there’s a higher boom-bust ratio among the top 10 picks than usual.
For teams holding one of those picks – as the Pistons are, with the No. 8 selection – that could be interpreted as scary stuff or great opportunity. Because there is so much uncertainty at the top of the draft, it could turn out that a player who should have gone in the top three – if teams had only been able to get a better handle on his potential – winds up slipping to eight.
Here’s a brave attempt at how the first 33 picks of Thursday’s draft will unfold – the complete first round through the first three picks of the second – with the caveat that trades are likely and will mangle whatever little logic exists in the construction of this exercise. The Pistons are picking 33rd, a pick obtained from Toronto to complete the 2007 trade for Carlos Delfino. They also pick 52nd, a pick obtained from Denver for the 2009 trade of Arron Afflalo. The Pistons do not own their own second-rounder; that’s held by the Clippers as part of the 2009 trade involving Alex Acker.