We're still about three and a half weeks away from the NBA draft, and while a lot can change in the next few weeks, a lot won't, especially as it pertains to the top 12 picks. The general consensus of the current class of draftees has been honed over the past year. Personal workouts may move a few sleepers up the board (for reference from last year please see Young, Thaddeus) and every few years there is a guy that slips (please reference 2006 and Williams, Marcus).
But for the most part, these players will be drafted within a range of where they are currently projected. After reviewing the last few drafts I have found that almost 95% of the players selected in the top 12 are taken witihn 5 slots up or 5 slots down of where they were projected by a compilation of "experts." By "experts" I mean virtually anyone that posts a full 1st round mock draft. And while that is ridiculous, I have found that if you gather at least 20 mock drafts, the overall average of those mocks will give you a list of draftees that will be about 95% accurate (using the 5 up, 5 down rule).
Using last year as an example, Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, Al Horford and Yi Jianlian wound up right on their projected numbers. Mike Conley, Jr. and Jeff Green both jumped five slots, while Brandan Wright and Julian Wright each fell four slots. Acie Law IV (from 15 to 11) and Thaddeus Young (from 16 to 12) jumped into the top 12, and J.Wright (from 9 to 13) and Al Thornton (from 12 to 14) fell out of the top 12. Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, and Spencer Hawes also fell within the parameters.And even though the volatility of B.Wright and Green could be attributed to draft day trades, they both fall within the parameters of the 5 up, 5 down rule.
Let's apply the 5 up, 5 down rule to this year's class and see how it will impact our options at #12. The number that you will see next to each player is their average draft position, the result of compiling 25 mock drafts.
Derrick Rose(1.5), Michael Beasley(1.6), O.J. Mayo(4.5), Jerryd Bayless(4.7) and Brook Lopez(4.8) will all be gone by the time we pick. Using our formula Beasley and Rose would not drop past #7 (duh) and Mayo, Bayless and Lopez won't slip past #10.
Next we come to Eric Gordon(7.2), Danilo Gallinari(7.4), Anthony Randolph(8.0), Kevin Love(8.4), and DeAndre Jordan(9.3). These guys will likely be gone, though there is a small chance that one of them could drop to us. You can find scenarios out there that have each of these guys going in the top 5. Gordon will go lights out in a workout somewhere, and he will convince someone that he is more Mitch Richmond than he is Ben Gordon (which is also not a bad thing). Regarding DeAndre Jordan, just remember that Patrick O'Bryant, Saer Sene and Andrew Bynum did not last past the #10 pick. That tends to happen to 7 footers with perceived athleticism. Someone will envision Randolph on a weight program. Love will impress. Gallinari is the wild card here, but for most of us wanting PF and PG addressed in the draft, we're probably more worried that he will drop to #12.
At this point I will add that if by some miracle one of these guys dropped to #12 Petrie would likely snap them up. Even Lopez or Love. While their talents might be somewhat redundant to those of Spencer Hawes, GP won't pass on that type of talent for need.
That's 10 players gone and we pick #12. Russell Westbrook(11.2), D.J. Augustin(11.6), Darrell Arthur(13.3), Joe Alexander(14.4), Donte Greene(16.7), and JaVale McGee(17.4) come next, with Marreese Speights(18.2) falling just outside the parameters. One of these guys may wind up in Indy, but let's not worry about that for the time being. Our choice has been simplified to Westbrook (is he an NBA point guard?), Augustin (is he big enough?), Arthur (can he/will he rebound?), Alexander (a small forward), Greene (small forward, part II), McGee (very raw) and Speights (also raw).
Easy, no? All that hand wringing and it comes down to six, maybe seven players to choose from. The poll will take it from here. It's now up to you to bring us home a winner. Remember, the top ten guys that I listed are gone, so if you're going to click "other" in the poll it should not be for one of those guys. Use it for Robin Lopez, Roy Hibbert, Chase Budinger, Nicolas Batum, Brandon Rush, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Ty Lawson or any of the other guys that couldn't crack the top 17.