NBA Draft 2012: 10 Rookies New Jersey Nets Must Watch If Deron Williams Walks

Pete Schauer@@Pete_SchauerCorrespondent IMarch 27, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: 10 Rookies New Jersey Nets Must Watch If Deron Williams Walks

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    Let's face it, Nets fans. There is no Deron Williams without Dwight Howard.

    Williams recently said that he will not follow in the footsteps of Howard, and that he does plan to opt out of his deal with the New Jersey Nets.

    If that's the case, New Jersey will not only need to fill the void at the point guard position, but they'll also need to add a scoring threat similar to Williams.

    Drafting a top point guard would be ideal, but it's also not out of the question for the Nets to draft a big-name forward to attract a free-agent point guard to come to Brooklyn.

    Either way, the Nets need to be proactive in the 2012 NBA draft in order to start their Brooklyn franchise off on the right foot.

    Here are 10 rookies the Nets should keep an eye on if D-Will leaves New Jersey:

Kendall Marshall, PG, UNC

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    Prior to injuring his wrist in the third round of the NCAA tournament, Kendall Marshall was scoring the basketball better than he ever had in the past.

    Normally a 7.8 PPG and 9.7 APG regular season point guard, Marshall scored 11 points and 10 rebounds in the second round of the NCAA tournament against Vermont and 18 points and 11 assists against Creighton, the game when he broke his wrist.

    Marshall peeked at the right time for UNC—scoring 20 points and dishing out 10 assists against ACC rival Duke—and should have the attention of many NBA teams.

    He'd be a great fit for New Jersey, as he's a team-first guy who puts up high assist numbers and has proven that he can score the basketball. 

    Marshall wouldn't be the scoring point guard the Nets currently have, but he would get just as many, if not more teammates involved.

Anthony Davis, F, Kentucky

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    Who wouldn't want the unibrowed 6'8" freshman from Kentucky?

    Even if Deron Williams leaves and the Nets are in need of a point guard, I still think they should draft Anthony Davis if they have the chance.

    Though his body isn't NBA ready, his game is.

    He averaged 14.2 PPG, 10.1 RPG and 4.6 BLK while shooting .632 from the field.

    Brook Lopez is turning out to be injury prone and Davis would be an asset to any squad.

    Draft him, Nets.

Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky

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    The best aspects of Marquis Teague's game are his speed and ability to slash to the basket via a quick first step.

    At 6'2", 189 lbs., Teague is built to finish around the rim.

    His 2011-2012 campaign saw him average 10 PPG, 4.9 APG and 2.7 TPG.

    One thing Teague will need to work on is his decision making and shooting.

    Teague shot just .411 from the field and .303 from beyond the arc, and as you can see above, sported a less than lovable assist to turnover ratio.

    Teague has his issues, but it's nothing a little more coaching can't fix.

    After all, he is a freshman playing on the NCAA's best team. 

Harrison Barnes, F, UNC

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    This sophomore small forward from UNC could be a great fit for the Nets.

    New Jersey currently lacks the presence of a solid SF and Harrison Barnes could be the one to fill the void.

    Barnes is a pure scorer who can take a game over when the opportunity presents itself.

    He averaged 17.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG, shot .442 from the field and .371 from three-point territory.

    He was the leading scorer for UNC and is a guy who can come to the Nets his rookie year and have a huge impact in Brooklyn.

Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State

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    Talk about a pure scorer from the point guard position; Weber State's Damian Lillard is one of the most prolific scorers in the NCAA.

    The 6'3", 195-lb. junior averaged 24.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 4.0 APG this season, also shooting .467 from the field and .409 from beyond the arc.

    Lillard's ability to knock down shots while getting his teammates involved has to excite the Nets, as Lillard's talent scoring the basketball is extremely comparable to that of Deron Williams.

    Chad Ford of ESPN has Lillard as the first PG taken in the 2012 draft.

    Let's hope the Nets are in the running.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F, Kentucky

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    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is just one of many freshman the Kentucky Wildcats boast game in and game out.

    Like Barnes, Gilchrist is a small forward who can put the ball in the basket. While he doesn't shoot well from three (.260), he posted a .486 field-goal percentage during the season, also averaging 12.0 PPG and 7.6 RPG.

    The 6'7" forward also has shutdown capabilities on the defensive end and will undoubtedly give you everything he has for every second that he's on the court.

    Kidd-Gilchrist is from Somerdale, N.J., so I'm sure he wouldn't mind returning home to play in the Tri-State area for the Brooklyn Nets. 

Scott Machado, PG, Iona State

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    Aside from the scoring and assist numbers, Iona State point guard Scott Machado also improved his shooting this season.

    After shooting .410 from the field and .320 from three-point territory last season, Machado raised his game, posting a .495 field-goal percentage and .404 three-point percentage, which helped him average 13.6 PPG.

    He sports a three to one assist to turnover ratio (9.9 to 3.3), showing a good balance of getting teammates involved and finishing at the rim.

    At 6'1", he's a bit undersized, but you can't ignore his skill at the point guard position. I'm guessing there will be more than a few teams with their eyes on the senior. 

Terrence Jones, F, Kentucky

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    At 6'9", 252 lbs., Terrence Jones has both the body and skill set to make an impact during his rookie year in the NBA.

    Playing for a loaded Kentucky squad, the sophomore forward averaged 12.6 PPG and 7.2 RPG, while shooting better than 50 percent from the floor.

    Jones has experience playing at both the small forward and power forward position, which could definitely help the Nets next season. He also averages 1.8 BPG, which would undeniably benefit the Nets defensively.

    He knows how to finish at the rim, and, although not great, can fire from beyond the arc (.333 this season).

    Coupling a forward like Jones with a solid point guard would do wonders for the Nets next season; just look at what Jones and Teague have done together this season.  

Tyshawn Taylor, PG, Kansas

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    One thing you know you'll get with senior point guard Tyshawn Taylor is scoring.

    Taylor was the second-leading scorer for the Kansas Jayhawks, averaging 16.7 PPG.

    His decision making has been questioned at times and will need some work, as evident by his 4.7 APG and 3.5 TPG. Those numbers can most likely be improved with some more coaching and NBA-caliber teammates.

    He has improved his shooting throughout his career at Kansas, posting a .482 field-goal percentage and .385 percentage from beyond the arc in 2011-2012.

    Taylor would be more of a scoring PG like Deron Williams, but the assist numbers just aren't there to compare.

    He's a New Jersey guy and would still be a valuable player to the Nets if they draft him, but there are better point guards out there.

Jared Sullinger, F, Ohio State

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    Sophomore Jared Sullinger would be an upgrade over Brook Lopez for the Brooklyn Nets next season.

    Aside from the fact that Lopez is constantly injured, Sullinger is much more physical inside, in regards to both scoring and rebounding.

    He led the Buckeyes in scoring and rebounding this season, pouring in more than 17 PPG and grabbing nine rebounds per, while also adding a block per game.

    Sullinger shoots better than 53 percent from the field and has been known to knock down a three-pointer here and there.

    Drafting Sullinger would put the Nets in a better position than they are now and would probably attract a better-than-average point guard to Brooklyn.

    If the opportunity arises, the Nets should pull the trigger.

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