Draft Class Analysis
A pair of freshman emerged as legitimate "one and done" candidates, which is in line with the trend. As usual, if you are a freshman and you don't have star potential, the NBA probably isn't interested. Since 2003, only one freshman has been selected in the second round.
With the implementation of the age limit and the NBA trending away from taking fliers on International prospects, spots were bound to be available in the first round. A talented group of sophomores has picked up the slack, with seven currently projected to go in the first round.
The junior class has been particularly strong in recent years, offering a nice blend of upside and polish. Even with a weaker class this year, juniors will be well-represented on draft night.
In one of the more notable draft trends of the past two seasons, the NCAA Senior is clearly on the rise. Last year NBA teams made the decision to go with polish over potential as nine seniors were selected in the first round and numerous high schoolers slipped into the second. With the prepsters out of the picture in 2006, 10 seniors are projected to land in the top 30. This is up from just four in 2004. In addition to the age limit opening up several spots, it appears that in today's Luxury Tax era, NBA teams are now looking for more immediate help with that cheap rookie scale price tag, particularly if they are in the playoffs.
As a series of high profile imports have struggled to live up to the hype, it appears that NBA teams are growing a bit more wary about drafting unproven international prospects. Despite the legitimate possibility of a proven European going number one for the first time, the number of projected international draftees is just 11 (5 first rounders), after 20 (8 first rounders) heard their names called in 2003.
First Round Totals
After an impressive three year run of point guard prospects, the 2006 Draft is a bit light when it comes to true floor leaders. Nonetheless, we now know that point guards tend to pan out more often than any other position. Don't be surprised to see the premium on floor generals continue into future drafts...
The shooting guard total is bolstered by the recent success of combo's like Gilbert Arenas and Leandro Barbosa. Players like Randy Foye, Shannon Brown, Quincy Douby, and Guillermo Diaz have certainly benefited from this trend, and find themselves as projected first rounders as we count down to the draft.
This year's Small Forward class may seem a bit light on numbers, but there is talent at the top. Rudy Gay and Adam Morrison represent two of the top small forward prospects to emerge in quite some time.
After a deep 2005 group, the 2006 Power Forward class is anything but. After a several promising prospects in the lottery, there are very few options here.
While the stereotype of NBA teams reaching for size is still bandied about by many, it may be that the decline of the true center in today's NBA has lessened the allure of those sizeable projects. Of the four centers projected to go in the first round this year, only two of them fit the traditional mold.
First Round Totals
This graph emphasizes what a strong year this is for shooting guards and combo guards compared with years past.