There shouldn't be any question that the 2012 NBA Draft will be dominated by power forwards and centers.
As the bigs created a vast majority of any buzz during last week's Draft Combine in Chicago, the mid-sized and combo guards didn't really create any splash in their measureables. And in a league conscious of a new collective bargaining agreement with harsher penalties of being in the luxury tax above the salary cap, franchises will look to take advantage of this crop of players in this year's draft to avoid committing a few dozens of millions to bigs on the free agent market -- commitments which regularly handcuff teams' flexibility in future offseasons.
This value will create a dynamic whereby non-lottery teams throughout the bottom half of the first round will get greater picks of the litter for shooting guards and small forwards on the wings than is normally found. The Bulls picking at #29 and looking for versatility -- shooting and ball handling to expand the offense, length and athleticism to fit with the defense -- will likely not be forced in deciding between lessers of evils.
Contrary to a lot of buzz these players recieved going into June, there's a finite amount of stock in the draft. The bigs are simply taking enough of a scalpel to the guards' stock for Bradley Beal to slip out of the top five, Jeremy Lamb slip out of the top ten, and Dion Waiters out of the top 15.
Will they fall to the bottom of the first round? No, but -- for the Bulls -- the likelihood of a John Jenkins, Evan Fournier (pronounced "fwuh-nyay", I assume), Orlando Johnson, Will Barton, Doron Lamb cancelling each other out among the next eight picks after the top 20 to leave three or maybe four of them available for the Bulls at #29 increases. And they pick who's higher on their positional rankings assessments.
The only dilemma created by the bigs' rising stocks is the prospects of a point guard like Tyshawn Taylor or Marquis Teague still being available, if either are higher than all of those wingers on the Bulls' overall rankings. If there is a winger or two above them, there's also the question of whether it's advantageous to pick them in order to give themselves more room to not pick up the $3.2 million option on C.J. Watson and just use their mid-level exception on a two-guard, raising the question of what's easier to find this offseason for that bargain, along with the assessment of those guards available.
But it ought not be understated that the Bulls drafting Joakim Noah, Omer Asik, and Taj Gibson -- and, yes, even signing Carlos Boozer -- laid the foundation for the Bulls to not be faced with their low pick creating the dilemma of needing a big. The likelihood of Royce White, Fab Melo, Andrew Nicholson, or maybe even Festus Ezeli not being available to Bulls will keep them from a 'shit, we can't really pass up on this guy' dilemma.
There isn't much for which to look forward in this offseason for the Bulls without any of their players seriously on the trade market and almost no flexibility to acquire free agents. But the way their team is built preventing these options has also put them in the position to draft for need in a draft where, coincidentally, the options to fill that need will be more abundant than expected in most drafts so low in the first round.
For what it's worth, here's my current 2012 NBA Mock Draft coming out of the Combine. I wouldn't say many of the picks are pinpoint precise, as none are, but to be taken as a visual display of the range at which certain players seem likely to be drafted:
1. Hornets - Anthony Davis, PF/C
2. Bobcats - Thomas Robinson, PF/C
3. Wizards - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF
4. Cavaliers - Andre Drummond, C
5. Kings - Harrison Barnes, SF
6. Trail Blazers - Bradley Beal, SG
7. Warriors - Tyler Zeller, C
8. Raptors - John Henson, PF
9. Pistons - Meyers Leonard, C
10. Hornets - Damien Lillard, PG
11. Trail Blazers - Jeremy Lamb, SG
12. Bucks - Jared Sullinger, C/PF
13. Suns - Terrence Jones, PF
14. Rockets - Terrence Ross, SF
15. 76ers - Perry Jones, PF
16. Rockets - Dion Waiters, SG
17. Mavericks - Kendall Marshall, PG
18. Timberwolves - Austin Rivers, SG
19. Magic - Moe Harkless, SF
20. Nuggets - Royce White, PF
21. Celtics - Arnett Moultrie, PF/C
22. Celtics - Quincy Miller, SF
23. Hawks - Andrew Nicholson, PF/C
24. Cavaliers - John Jenkins, SG
25. Grizzlies -Marquis Teague, PG
26. Pacers - Evan Fournier, SG/SF
27. Heat - Fab Melo, C
28. Thunder - Festus Ezeli, C
29. Bulls - Orlando Johnson, SG/SF
30. Warriors - Will Barton, SG/SF
As you see, the chance of the Bulls having strong options is pretty good. Over the next two weeks, we'll get into some more detail on the options that are likely to be available for the Bulls, building off of these previews with perceptions I got from the Combine, other scouting reports, their NCAA production and how their attributes should translate to the NBA, with analysis of their physical attributes measured at the Combine.
TheMoon already has complied some strong previews of some of these players and others here at BaB: