2012 NBA Mock Draft: Austin Rivers and Rookies Who Will Shine Immediately
Who will be next year's Kyrie Irving, a player set to come in and make an instant impact for their team? Which players have the potential to immediately excite the fanbase and provoke excitement for the future?
I've identified a few players capable of doing just that in their rookie years.
Let's take a look.
1. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky
Even if Davis doesn't have an excellent offensive game immediately, he'll instantly be a defensive presence given his elite shot-blocking and rebounding capabilities.
Plus, Davis has shown the athleticism and shooting range to suggest he'll develop a solid offensive game in a few seasons.
But his shot-blocking alone will help Davis leave his mark on the league in only his rookie year.
2. Washington Wizards: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky
Yes, his offensive game needs polish and his jump shot needs improving. But MKG should be able to step in immediately as a defensive stopper on the wing and a dangerous finisher in the transition game for the Wizards.
Paired with John Wall, MKG will help set a very solid foundation in Washington and will see plenty of court time in his rookie season.
3. New Orleans Hornets: Andre Drummond, C, UConn
Drummond has the ability to be an excellent center at the NBA level. But I don't think he'll be there his rookie year.
4. Portland Trail Blazers (via Brooklyn Nets): Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
Beal isn't a stretch here, but after a season at Florida not quite as impressive as people expected, he'll start out slowly his rookie year as well. He'll justify this selection in the future, however, but he won't be an instant stud.
5. Toronto Raptors: Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
He's NBA-ready, and he's athletic enough to compete on the next level immediately. Robinson has perhaps a more limited upside than some in the top 10, but he'll also make a more instant impact next season.
Don't be shocked if this is your Rookie of the Year next season.
6. Detroit Pistons: Perry Jones III, PF, Baylor
The biggest question mark in the draft, if you ask me. The talent to be elite is there. But will Jones ever reach it?
7. Sacramento Kings: Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State
Sullinger will rebound, block shots and play good defense. But his offensive game will have to evolve and adapt for him to be a stud in the NBA, something you won't see come to fruition next year.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
The wing they want. The wing they need.
9. Utah Jazz: Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State
Lillard could be the sleeper of the draft, a player that comes into the NBA and is able to instantly make his presence felt given his ability to score.
He may never be the best passer or most pure point to come out of this draft, but he'll supplement that with his excellent scoring ability.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana
He needs to get stronger before he can truly make an impact. Give him a year and watch the evolution.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina
I see him as a very solid contributor, but he'll never be a star.
12. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota Timberwolves): Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina
He'll be an excellent passer, though I'm not sure he'll adjust to the NBA game immediately.
13. Phoenix Suns: Jeremy Lamb, SG, UConn
He's a bit soft yet, and until he develops a killer instinct, I worry he could be a bust.
14. Utah Jazz: Austin Rivers, SG, Duke
Because I don't see Rivers as a point guard in the NBA—and because he didn't quite live up to the hype, but still displayed flashes of brilliance—I think Rivers will surprise people with how well he adjusts to the NBA.
Frankly, I bet he'll end up going higher than this when all is said and done, though he slots in here for me right now.
Rivers has a NBA scorer's skill set, and the transition certainly won't leave him wide-eyed, given he's grown up around the league. He'll light it up more than people expect next year.
15. Houston Rockets: Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi State
The Rockets add to the frontcourt with the long and athletic power forward from Mississippi State.
16. Brooklyn Nets (via Houston Rockets): Tony Wroten, Jr., PG, Washington
He'll be a good one someday. Just not quite next year.
17. Boston Celtics: John Henson, PF, North Carolina
His offense won't wow anyone, but he'll bring a defensive presence to the front court, especially if Kevin Garnett departs via free agency.
18. Denver Nuggets: Terrence Jones, PF, Kentucky
He could end up being the next Lamar Odom. Which means he could be awesome or totally invisible next season.
19. Atlanta Hawks: Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois
The point guards worthy of this spot are off the board, so the Hawks go with a center instead.
20. Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure
The Sixers need some help at power forward. Enter Nicholson.
21. Houston Rockets (via Dallas Mavericks): Quincy Miller, SF, Baylor
Miller was overshadowed by Perry Jones III for much of the season, and his game is still developing. But he could end up being a stud and a great value at this pick.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Patric Young, C, Florida
Young will likely return to Florida, but if he doesn't, the Grizz would be pleased to put their jersey on him.
23. Indiana Pacers: Terrence Ross, SG, Washington
Ross can light it up. But he might not get the minutes in Indiana next year to do so.
24. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers): C.J. Leslie, PF, NC State
Leslie has the athletic ability to play the 3 and the size to play the 4. He's seemed to answer character issues at NC State and will pair with Henson to improve the forward position in Boston.
25. Orlando Magic: Jeffery Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt
Taylor's athleticism, defensive acumen and ability to shoot the three will make him a solid role player in Orlando almost immediately.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Moe Harkless, SF, St. John's
He's a bit raw, but he has the capability to be a good one in a few years.
27. Golden State Warriors (via San Antonio Spurs): Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse
He's a different player than Monta Ellis, but he could end up being a far better fit for the team.
28. Miami Heat: Draymond Green, PF, Michigan State
He won't have a natural position in the NBA, though on the Heat, that won't really hurt him. He'll be a utility man for the team, doing a bit of everything.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: John Jenkins, SG, Vanderbilt
Hey, when you are the Thunder, you can add a sharp-shooter if you like. It's not like you have other glaring needs, after all.
30. Chicago Bulls: Royce White, SF, Iowa State
He's the most talented player still on the board and is versatile enough to play multiple positions for the Bulls. He won't see much time next year, but with a bit of patience, could become a good one down the line.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets will remain Linsane in tribute.
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