The 2012 NBA Draft is just days away and, unsurprisingly, the trades are already beginning to trickle in.
Early Tuesday morning, we got word of a deal between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Houston Rockets which featured Houston sending Chase Budinger and the rights to Lior Eliyahu to Minnesota for the No. 18 overall pick. The benefits of this transaction for both parties are obvious. Houston gets yet another chip to package with their two other first-rounders in a deal for Dwight Howard. Minnesota, on the flip side, gets its replacement for Michael Beasley.
The only fallout from this swap worth paying attention to is: 1.) the Wolves still need a shooting guard, does this mean they make a harder-than-expected push for Brandon Roy? 2.) do the Rockets have a Plan B in the event that the Dwight deal doesn’t go through?
Some have speculated that perhaps, if they don’t get Dwight, Houston will try to make a move for someone like Josh Smith – but that’s gossip from casual observers, not anything legit from NBA executive sources.
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The picks Nos. 8-15 segment of this draft may end up being the hardest to predict when it's all said and done. Based on what happens at this juncture, we’ll likely get a much clearer picture of what the rest of the proceedings will ultimately look like.
It’s worth noting that, much in the same way that there is a significant fall off in talent between Anthony Davis and whoever the No. 2 pick ends up being, there is perceived to be a somewhat significant drop off between the top six players available and everyone going from 7-15. Now, that may not actually be reality – but that’s the perception going in. Guys like Dion Waiters, Damian Lillard, Austin Rivers and so on and so forth, these score-first players, they’re very hit-or-miss at the next level. When they hit, they’re stars. When they miss, they really miss.
In the early going, there was some talk about Toronto trying to move their pick – that talk has quieted since then. It looks like they’re going to hang on to their selection, and it looks like they’re going to take Dion Waiters. Along the same lines, it doesn’t look like the New Orleans Hornets will be able to move that No. 10 pick they were supposedly shopping.
As always, here are some interesting storylines to keep an eye on in this portion of the draft: in various projections, Lillard has been listed as everything from a No. 6 pick to a No. 11 pick – where does he ultimately go? Rivers has been on a steady rise up the board ever since workouts started, who pulls the trigger on him? Are teams really as high on Dion Waiters as they’re indicating, or is he benefiting from some quality GM bluffing? Does Kendall Marshall, arguably the best point guard in this draft, even go in the top 15? Who gets selected first: Tyler Zeller or Meyers Leonard?
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We analyze all that and more in our projections for picks Nos. 8-15.