With 2012 NBA Draft Lottery Day finally upon us, the truly bad teams are no doubt excitedly looking forward to what their futures will look like at around 5:15 p.m. eastern time. That’s when we’ll know for certain who gets to select Anthony Davis in this year’s proceedings and, of course, whose futile attempts at tanking for most of the year were all for naught.
Once we get past the lottery-related festivities, though, we can officially move into legitimate draft prep. This year’s event is filled with tons of talent from top to bottom so, while everyone obviously pines away for the high picks, there will be plenty of quality prospects available for squads selecting in the bottom portion of the draft. That means teams like the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls and so on and so forth, all will have an opportunity to better themselves before the beginning of next season. What they do with their opportunities, however, is a whole different debate.
Among the interesting storylines to watch, as they pertain to players who will likely go in the 24-30 range: will Fab Melo’s rawness scare away teams that otherwise could use a backup big? Does Festus Ezeli go here, or does he slip out of the first round entirely? Everyone seems to have a differing opinion on Dion Waiters; does the Syracuse standout go to a championship squad, become a key reserve, and instantly have the James Harden-esque (obviously Harden went much higher, before OKC was actually a championship team, but you get the point) impact that the Thunder’s bearded warrior usually has? Who sneaks into the first round in that No. 30 spot?
And among the interesting team-related storylines to watch for: will Miami finally get the big man they’ve been searching for ever since trade talks for Chris Kaman fell apart? What direction do the Pacers go in? After this latest postseason run, will OKC be in the market for a real center? How will the Warriors cap off the first round?
We analyze all that and more in our projections for picks Nos. 24-30.