Anthony Davis is clear top pick in a deep NBA draft

The consensus among NBA executives is that two things are a certainty about the 2012 NBA draft, which will take place Thursday.

One is that Kentucky big man Anthony Davis is the clear No. 1 choice and the New Orleans Hornets will make him their selection with the first pick. The other point of agreement is that this is a deep, talented draft.

But there are other story lines too.

Many league executives wonder what Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan will do with the second pick. Another question is how many trades will be made by teams looking to move up or down in the draft.

NBA draft 2012: Pick-by-pick coverage

For now, every indication is that the 6-foot-10, 220-pound Davis is clearly the best player in this year’s class.

“Davis is by far the guy that can change things in a game,” said Ryan Blake, the senior director of NBA scouting operations. “He’s the kind that only comes around every 25 years — a guy that can change the game on the defensive end. And he’s not a center, but he’s that talented that [he] has that Dwight Howard defensive ability.

“And as I keep saying, it truly is one of the deepest drafts in quite some time.”

Many believe the Bobcats will select Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson.

Because the Bobcats need so many good players, some NBA executives, who were not authorized to speak publicly, believe it’s possible that Jordan will trade the pick to move down and get more selections in the draft.

The Houston Rockets have been in trade mode already.

On Tuesday, the Rockets got the No. 18 pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves for Chase Budinger and the draft rights to Lior Eliyahu.

On Wednesday, the Rockets traded the No. 14 pick and center Samuel Dalembert to the Milwaukee Bucks for the 12th selection, plus Shaun Livingston, Jon Leuer and Jon Brockman.

Houston now has three first-round picks — Nos. 12, 16 and 18.

“Don’t be surprised if there are quite a few more trades,” one Western Conference executive said. “There is just so much speculation with this draft.”

Blake said the deepest position in this draft is power forward.

Besides Davis and Robinson, Blake pointed out that North Carolina’s John Henson, Connecticut’s Andre Drummond, Mississippi State’s Arnett Moultrie and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger are all solid players.

Sullinger, however, has seen his stock drop because NBA doctors at the Chicago pre-draft camp noticed that he has back problems.

“We have potentially seven power forwards that could be drafted in the lottery,” Blake said, “and they are all kind of different.”

The Clippers and Lakers don’t have first-round picks, but both have selections in the second round. The Lakers have the last pick (No. 60) in the second round, although they have been trying to trade into the first round. The Clippers have the 53rd pick.

“We’re going to have guys that are in the second round that could be rotational players,” Blake said. “In a deep draft like this, having your second-round pick is always good.

“But it’s beauty in the eye of the beholder. You and I can sit here and discuss each player and we would like someone better than the other, and both of us would not be wrong.”