This ranking lists NBA Rookie Project’s top 60 players and breaks them down into seven tiers: Superstars, Very Good Starters, Starters, Key Role Players, Marginal Role Players, Fringe Roster Players, and Fringe NBA Players.
The reasoning behind breaking rankings down by tiers is that an organization will consider their team’s roster needs as long as the quality of players available is still relatively the same. The rule is that you never want to ‘reach’ for a player below the current tier during the draft and you want to capitalize whenever there is unexpectedly a player available from a higher tier.
I recently joined Kristofer Habbas of NBA Draft Insider for his podcast to preview the 2011-12 Rookie Class.
Short answer: Uncertainty
Long answer: This draft has long been criticized for being “weak” but I think that’s just the criticism for the lack of superstar power. After the lottery there will still be a great deal of serviceable NBA players that should go on to have solid careers. On the other hand, because of the parity in talent it is very hard to predict where players will land. Especially with so many teams expected to move around.
Many players have an abnormally broad range of destinations in the draft. A few examples are Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker, and Tristan Thompson. Leonard could go #6 to Washington or fall all the way to the Rockets at #14; Walker from #5-17; and Thompson as high as #4 or as low as #13. This trend gets even worse towards the end of the first round.
Another thing you can expect are a lot of trades. The Timberwolves want to trade down, the Spurs want to trade up, the Bulls want to package their picks, etc. etc. This draft could get really messy really fast.
Many General Managers sense that this will be their team’s last opportunity to make major roster decisions until after the lockout (I know it hasn’t happened yet…but it’s just a matter of time). We’ve heard multiple rumors surrounding most of the league and dozens of NBA players, but I’ve noticed in the past that the ones that you don’t hear anything about are the ones most likely to happen. Just sit back and relax as your mock draft get obliterated.
The second round of the NBA draft is usually very difficult to predict because so many teams have varying needs and skills they covet. This off season makes drafting a second rounded even more complex because of the upcoming lockout. A lockout would greatly reduce the opportunities for a second round pick to prove themselves in front of their team's coaching staff and compete for a roster spot. Because development will be impacted so teams may be looking for more mature, prepared players that would be disciplined enough to workout through an extended off season.