It's an incredible draft year. Within the top tier prospects you have pretty much everything:
-A consensus #1 pick and one of the most dominant defensive big men ever seen in NCAA history. A late growth spurt sprouted him six inches-—and contributed to his polished all-around game.
-A 6’9" power forward with impressive physique, earning All-American status while being a finalist for the nation’s top basketball honors. A hammer in the paint, capable of a double-double any given night
-A 6’4" SG with a sweet jump shot and preference for an uptempo playing style. Great rebounder for his size but not considered a defensive stopper despite his athletic abilities.
-A polished and mulitidemensional swingman from a perennial powerhouse college program. Known for his scoring and ability to hit from the outside, but a solid rebounder for his position as well.
-A lanky, long-armed 6’7" swingman with a reputation for defense and rebounding prowess. He's been described as "the ultimate supporting player," "the perfect complement," and "a guy who could care less about scoring. He wants to stop the best player on the other team."
-A 6’11" big man who didn't dominate like many expected at the college level. All the physical tools but mostly a contributor on the defensive end.
The thing is, I'm not talking about 2012. I'm talking about 1987. It's the 25th anniversary of the draft that made a dynasty.
David Robinson was first off the board, followed by Armen Gilliam, Dennis Hopson, Reggie Williams, Scottie Pippen and Olden Polynice. Each prospect had their talents, and most had legitimate questions surrounding their ability to contribute on the next level.
Sure there are numerous evident differences. MKG didn't light it up on a team with six NBA-caliber players, while Pippen was able to pour it in on NAIA Central Arkansas against questionable competition. Olden Polynice probably never had the ups and upside of Andre Drummond. Dennis Hopson, while owner of a smooth jumper, never had the range of Bradley Beal. And most drastically, 1987 featured players with years of college seasoning and game tape--as opposed to the one-and-done heavy crowd of 2012
And while it's not a perfect comparison, it's probably not worth throwing aside either. Outside of the consensus top pick, the remaining prospects were each deficient in their own way but would go on to have varying measures of success in the NBA. Williams and Gilliam turned out to be very solid and productive players. Hopson led the Nets in scoring and followed it with consecutive years of 17+ PER ball before continuing on to play internationally. Polynice would average over 10 boards a game several times. But undoubtedly the biggest value came in taking Pippen, who became one of the best wing defenders in history and was able to adapt his offensive game to the NBA with hard work and determination.
Both Pippen and MKG, at that respective point in their careers, were "not afraid of anybody." They were team leaders with great physical talents who brought incredible value. If we want an impact player who may not be a #1 option but can certainly be a #2 on a winning team, it would be wise to take the 25th Anniversary Edition of Scottie Pippen--coincidentally the player MKG models his game after.