*The NBA season has come and gone. As LeBron, Chris and Dwyane shake off their hangovers and spit out the last bit of confetti from their mouths, it’s time for us to all face a hard truth – we’re at the furthest possible point from more professional basketball. It’s going to be a long, hot summer before we’re treated to the squeak squeak of sneakers on parquet again.
Luckily for us, though, there’s one more titanic event to take place before the league really goes dark for the summer – the NBA draft. It’s one of the more amusing dates on the calendar, where America can tune into see the hilarious sight of enormously tall young men in flashy suits awkwardly shaking hands with the garden gnome-like David Stern.
So, to boost your draft-night knowledge, we’ve written up our picks for the players you should watch out for after their names are called (we’re not going to detail the presumptive #1 pick Anthony Davis, since ESPN’s been focused on him for weeks). Here they are:
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – Anthony Davis, the uni-browed beast in the center of Kentucky’s national championship-winning team, got most of the press attention last year, but the ultra-competitive Kidd-Gilchrist was the team’s emotional core at small forward. He probably won’t ever be a LeBron-level scorer, but will be one of those leave-everything-on-the-court Garnett-level emotional players – with his defense turning him into an all-star eventually.
Austin Rivers – Want some pedigree? Rivers is the son of former NBA point guard (and current Celtics coach) Doc Rivers; he was also one of the top-rated recruits in last year’s recruiting class. Rivers had an eventful one-and-done freshman year at Duke that provided one truly remarkable highlight – a game-winning buzzer beater against archrival North Carolina. He’s got the presence and basketball intelligence you’d expect from a Doc Rivers offspring, with a good shooting touch and flair for the dramatic. He could be the steal of the draft.
Royce White – The draft’s most intriguing story. White is a top-ten level talent – a stat-sheet filler of a forward – who’s had his stock drop because of social anxiety issues and some legal problems. Seeing where the talented White will go in the draft tonight should give some good insight into the state of professional sports’ burgeoning response to the issue.