The 2012 NBA draft is shaping up to potentially be one of the best draft classes in recent memory. The talent pool is deep with an extremely strong group of prospects expected to land in the draft lottery.
Even teams picking late in the draft will still have a deep list of prospects to choose from, and there's something for every team no matter where they're picking.
As the saying goes, you can’t teach size, and there’s a plethora of talented big men available this year. This injection of big men into the NBA could shift the landscape from the point guard-heavy play that has been dominating the league as of late.
Note: Draft order is loosely based on personal projections for final standings.
Anthony Davis is raw, and he still has some maturing to do before he’s ready to make an impact in the NBA, but his potential and athleticism are off the charts.
With a 7’4” wingspan and solid defensive instincts, he has all the tools to be a game-changer on that end of the floor. Davis needs to bulk up a bit before he can bang down low in the post against bigger players, but his ability to guard all the way out to the perimeter makes him extremely valuable.
He still has plenty of work to do on the offensive side of the ball, but the drive and motor are there for him to grow. Plus, his ability to clean up offensive boards make him a threat for easy putbacks and second-chance points.
Physically, Andre Drummond is a man among boys at the college level. His imposing frame and freakish athleticism has scouts drooling at his potential.
While Drummond’s numbers won’t blow you away and he certainly has had some issues with consistency, as he grows more accustomed to the competition at the collegiate level and eventually the NBA, he has the potential to be a superstar in the pros.
The Wizards may have McGee at center and Andray Blatche at power forward, but something important to keep in mind is that the Wizards never used their amnesty clause provision. With Blatche underperforming and several years left on his contract, it’s not out of the question that they use the amnesty clause on Blatche to clear some space for Drummond.
School: North Carolina
Harrison Barnes was highly touted before playing his first game at UNC, and while he disappointed a bit in his rookie season, he showed brief flashes during the 2011 NCAA tournament how special he can be if he puts it all together.
UNC has gotten off to a slow start this season and Barnes hasn’t made the leap many were expecting, but he has all the makings of a perennial All-Star at the NBA level.
The Raptors have a void at small forward and could use a scoring threat from the perimeter to bolster their offense.
Sacramento has solid perimeter scorers, a plethora of guards and talented big men, but they could certainly use a defensive-minded small forward to help round out their roster.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is known for his defensive abilities and he has the potential to be a lockdown perimeter defender at the next level.
He won’t blow you away in any one area, but he can do it all. Kidd-Gilchrist brings much needed balance to the Kings roster and is the no-brainer pick here.
School: Ohio State
Of all the players selected thus far, Jared Sullinger is by far the most NBA-ready player to be taken off the draft board. While his numbers have taken a slight dip nearly across the board this season, Sullinger has been more efficient as he leads a strong Ohio State team.
With solid range on his jump shot and a strong arsenal of post moves to work with in the paint, Sullinger is extremely versatile on offense. He won’t blow by his man with speed or any fancy moves, but he won’t hesitate to back them down and abuse them in the post.
Thomas Robinson has exploded up the draft board after taking a major leap in his junior season with the Jayhawks. He has doubled his numbers in nearly every major stat category and his stock has made him a virtual lock for the lottery.
His rebounding abilities are off the charts, and his strong build and impressive athleticism make him a strong prospect.
While the Hornets are currently packed in the frontcourt, with Chris Kaman and Carl Landry coming off the books next season, they’ll have a definite need for a power forward to fill the void.
Jeremy Lamb was mostly an afterthought playing in the shadow of Kemba Walker last season, but he quietly made an impact on both ends of the floor on UConn’s way to a national title.
With his long arms, a desire to play defense and natural instincts, Lamb has shown the ability to be a strong perimeter defender capable of guarding multiple positions at the next level. However, he’ll have to put on some weight and fill out a bit more to take on bigger players.
Lamb has a great jumper with solid range, but he’ll need to work on his slashing abilities and strength to really reach the next level in the pros.
Lamb should make for a great backcourt mate for burgeoning rookie Kyrie Irving.
Perry Jones is the next prospect in a long line of freakishly athletic ‘tweener forwards with amazing potential.
He showed maturity skipping the 2011 NBA draft—where he likely would have been a high pick due to the shallow talent pool—in order to improve his game at the collegiate level before going pro.
However, he hasn’t made any noticeable strides and remains a raw prospect and a project for any team that gambles on him.
If he pans out for the Nets, they’ll have a draft steal on their hands here.
With Devin Harris’ production in a free-fall and the team rumored to be shopping the veteran, the Jazz are in need of a point guard to run the team and take the franchise to the next level.
Kendall Marshall doesn’t offer much in terms of scoring, but his playmaking abilities are arguably the best in the draft. With a stacked frontcourt, the Jazz will need someone who can feed their big men, and Marshall is excellent at setting his teammates up.
It’s no secret that the Phoenix Suns like to run an uptempo offense filled with shooters, and that makes Brad Beal an ideal target for the team with the No. 10 pick.
Beal is easily one of the best shooters entering the draft, so this would be an easy pick for Phoenix. He’s smooth in transition and great coming off screens for the catch-and-shoot.
Terrence Jones is another combo forward entering the draft, but what separates him from the pack is his ability to effectively play both forward positions.
While his numbers have dipped in his second season, Jones is still an enticing prospect that offers plenty of upside. His defensive abilities are also solid and his ability to guard multiple positions only helps to boost his stock.
Jones’ perimeter game is lacking, but if he can work on his range, the sky’s the limit.
With his ability to handle the ball and finish in transition, he makes for a dangerous running mate for Brandon Jennings—his versatility could be invaluable to the Bucks.
Quincy Miller is a highly-skilled forward and a solid two-way player that should develop nicely in the NBA with some added bulk.
As a scorer, he’s extremely versatile. Miller has solid range, but can also go inside and get buckets in the paint.
While he can play both forward positions, his size and skill set makes him a better fit as a small forward. Even so, he can easily be plugged in at the 4.
Terrence Ross has made a noticeable jump in his second season with Washington.
Ross has an excellent jump shot and deep range that should translate well to the NBA. With his athleticism, he’s also a more than capable of penetrating into the paint.
Making him even more attractive as a prospect are his strong defensive skills.
The Houston Rockets may have a number of big men currently on their roster, but only two that make any real impact.
Meyers Leonard is a true center and his impressive athleticism makes him all the more enticing as a prospect.
He’s a strong defender that rebounds well and can turn shots away.
While he could use some polish on the offensive end of the floor, his versatile skill set makes him very valuable.
Jeff Taylor has all the tools to succeed at the next level, but there are a number of areas in his game that he still needs to polish.
Regardless, Taylor is a fantastic athlete and he certainly has the physical tools to compete in the NBA.
He’s a great defender and that certainly helps his stock, but he does need to work on his offensive arsenal.
A pairing of Doc Rivers and his son, Austin, is just too enticing to not make happen.
The Boston Celtics "Big Three" is coming to a close, and with the team looking to surround their star point guard, Rajon Rondo, with some young talent, Rivers makes a lot of sense on many levels.
Rivers is a great shooter with deep range. If Rondo’s tenure with Ray Allen is any indication, Rivers will make a great backcourt pairing.
School: Mississippi State
Arnett Moultrie has been impressive in his sophomore season at Mississippi State. His numbers across the board have improved, and his stock continues to rise as the season progresses.
Moultrie has the whole package as a big man—he’s a great rebounder, shows a high level of athleticism, shows a commitment to defense and has a wide-ranging offensive skill set.
He’ll need to add some weight before he can be a true presence in the post in the NBA, but he’s well on his way to being an impact player at the next level.
The Atlanta Hawks have long needed another big man to pair with Al Horford. The two should make for a great combo next season.
School: North Carolina
While Tyler Zeller’s younger brother, Cody, is being touted as a better prospect, Tyler is more experienced and polished. For a veteran team like the Spurs, they can’t afford to waste their pick on a project-type player.
Zeller should be able to contribute right out of the gate. He’s a strong rebounder with solid post skills and a fairly reliable shot.
It’s clear that Jameer Nelson has lost a step and the Orlando Magic will need to find a replacement for him soon enough.
Myck Kabongo from Texas is a speedy point guard with great vision and playmaking abilities.
While his stats don’t jump off the page, he has the whole package—Kabongo can pass, shoot from deep and he plays solid defense.
School: North Carolina
The Philadelphia 76ers are a well-balanced team, but it can never hurt to add more size to the roster.
John Henson is an experienced big man with a bright future, and he would be a fantastic addition to the team.
Offensively, Henson is adequate. However, he’ll make the biggest impact on the opposite end of the floor.
Henson is extremely athletic and it’s no wonder that he’s a great rebounder and a natural shot-blocker.
Marquis Teague is widely considered to have a higher ceiling than his older brother and current starting point guard for the Atlanta Hawks, Jeff Teague. If true, he could be a steal for the Indiana Pacers with the No. 21 pick.
After trading for Darren Collison, the Pacers were expecting a lot more than what he’s given them, but they can get some insurance if Collison continues to underperform by selecting Teague.
Teague can change the dynamic of the Pacers offense with his blazing speed and ability to penetrate.
Los Angeles’ biggest hole is at point guard, with the aging Derek Fisher and disappointing Steve Blake occupying the position.
The Lakers can remedy that in the draft by selecting Tony Wroten out of Washington.
While Wroten is more of a combo guard, with Kobe Bryant commanding the ball and running the show, he doesn’t really need to be much more than that.
As long as he can handle the rock, make some plays for others and score when called upon, he should be fine in Lakerland.
Doron Lamb gets overlooked on Kentucky’s stacked roster, but he’s a pure scorer that should be an offensive spark plug from the get-go.
The Lakers could use a backup for Kobe Bryant, and Lamb should fill in nicely coming off the bench as instant offense.
Plus, he'll have the luxury of learning from one of the very best, so it should work out nicely for both parties.
School: Weber State
Damian Lillard has been tearing it up at Weber State in his junior season.
While he plays the point, he’s more of a combo guard that focuses on scoring. However, he does have some playmaking abilities, and Lionel Hollins should be able to plug him in at either guard spot.
Cody Zeller has been getting a ton of hype. He appears to have a higher ceiling than his brother Tyler, but he isn’t as polished.
His transition to the college level has been seamless, and he’s been one of the more productive big men at the collegiate level.
Zeller will have trouble in the NBA unless he bulks up significantly. He’ll get abused down low and shredded on defense.
However, the Celtics have a definite need for size, and Zeller will be a nice fit and a potentially solid pro as long as he fills out.
Patric Young may be a tad undersized for his position, but he’s built to play at the next level.
Young makes his living on the defensive end grabbing boards and blocking shots.
He won’t contribute a ton on offense, but the Nuggets have plenty of firepower on that end of the floor.
Mason Plumlee has had a solid, if unspectacular career with Duke through his junior season.
Plumlee won’t contribute a ton on offense, but the Blazers have plenty of scorers already on their roster. They just need a solid big man who brings energy to the team, rebounds the ball and plays defense—all things that Plumlee can provide.
School: West Virginia
Kevin Jones has made a surprising leap from relative obscurity to breakout star at the collegiate level.
Jones is one of the most productive players in the nation, and he’s vaulted from potentially going undrafted to being a potential first-rounder.
He falls into the ‘tweener category, but his solid all-around game has made him an intriguing prospect.
Jones can score from all over the court and he shows a willingness to do the dirty work down low. For his size, he’s a terrific rebounder and could be a steal this late in the draft.
The Miami Heat have lacked a solid big man to clog up the paint ever since the big three formed. The team can’t ask for a better prospect this late in the draft than Fab Melo.
Melo provides exactly what the Heat need—he brings legitimate size, physicality, defense, rebounding and shot-blocking.
He won’t score many points, especially with LeBron and company shredding opposing defenses, but he won’t need to.
School: North Carolina
James McAdoo is still extremely raw as a prospect, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt for him to stay another year in school, but if he decides to come out, he’s a project pick that could really pay off if he reaches his full potential.
He won’t be expected to score much on the Thunder with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden lighting other teams up, but he just needs to rebound and play defense.
Under the tutelage of Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, he could develop nicely into an NBA-caliber big man.