NBA Draft 2012: Anthony Davis and the Best Big Men Coming out of College

Daniel Mano HerberholzCorrespondent IApril 10, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: Anthony Davis and the Best Big Men Coming out of College

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    Big men are a commodity in the NBA, where teams salivated over acquiring "Superman," a.k.a. Dwight Howard—and Anthony Davis and company are here to rescue some teams via the NBA Draft.

    Heralded as the best draft in years, the 2012 class will undoubtedly include a few impact inside players. The freshman from Kentucky is just the start.

    The following are the better half of big men available out of college, most of whom will go in the first round.

    Hello, power and defense in the paint.

Anthony Davis (Projected No. 1 Pick)

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    He wasn't a big man three years ago, but now Anthony Davis is the best of the big men coming out of college.

    The freshman at Kentucky was 6'2" at the end of his sophomore season in high school. Davis then proceeded to grow eight inches.

    "One day I went to the doctor and he was like, 'You're 6-10,'" he told Sports Illustrated. "I was like, 'Are you serious?' When you grow, you personally don't feel it."

    Opponents certainly feel Davis nowadays when he's on the court. He blocked 186 shots this past season, tops for a freshman, including a record-tying six swats in the NCAA title game.

    The Man Behind the Brow is a supreme force inside, both in defensive presence and on the boards. Using the guard mentality he picked up while, well, being a guard will be indispensable in the NBA.

Thomas Robinson (Top 5 Pick)

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    Rather than a freshman phenom, Thomas Robinson is a juiced junior.

    This makes his skill set as a big man a better-understood commodity than that of the aforementioned Davis.

    The 6'9" forward played twice as much last year than the year before, and the big man doubled his stats.

    While scoring 17.7 points and grabbing 11.8 boards a game, Robinson showed his explosiveness around the rim.

    Plus, he scraps for the ball. In the NBA, effort is a huge bonus in a big man.

Andre Drummond (Top 5 Pick)

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    For teams looking to add Dwight Howard but unable to acquire him, there's always Andre Drummond. The physical 6'10" center from UConn comes at an infinitely lower cost and with less drama.

    Weighing in at 251 pounds, Drummond can throw down.

    As a freshman, he snatched 7.6 rebounds a game, including 3.4 on the offensive side. He also blocked 2.7 shots a game and inevitably changed even more with his presence and length.

    Drummond still needs to work on his game outside the paint, but in a league thirsting for big men, he's one of the best coming out.

Arnett Moultrie (Top 10 Pick)

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    Arnett Moultrie doesn't inspire name recognition, but he aspired to make every rebound a put-back in 2012.

    The 6'11" junior led the SEC in rebounding last season (10.4) and was second in field goal percentage (.549). The latter helped him also achieve second in the conference in points (16.4).

    Moultrie sat out a year after transferring to Mississippi State from UTEP.

    The time between allowed him to work on his game, which was already at an above-average level—especially above the rim.

    Quick as well as thick, Moultrie also has a decent shooting touch.

Perry Jones (Top 10 Pick)

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    Perry Jones declared for the draft, and his name will get declared in the first round by David Stern on Draft Day.

    Jones was a consistent piece for Baylor as a freshman (13.9 points, 7.2 boards) and as a sophomore (13.5 points, 7.6 boards).

    The 6'11" forward should be able to do the same for an NBA team. He's incredibly explosive, quite athletic and can play inside and outside of the paint.

    The biggest knock on Jones is his character. He doesn't always put his heart in the game.

    But some people forget that Jones is headed to the League, where skills matter more than attitude.

Jared Sullinger (Top 15 Pick)

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    There's little doubt Jared Sullinger has the skills to compete at the professional level.

    After all, he dominated at the college level.

    The two-time consensus All-American averaged 17.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in two years at Ohio State.

    Sullinger can wear down other players in the paint, and use a variety of inside moves to finish off baskets.

    He also doubled his block total as a sophomore, showing the strides he's made on defense.

    At 6'9", it also helps to have a nearly seven-foot wingspan.

    His length and abilities should equal a possible All-Star appearance or two, if not more.

John Henson (Top 15 Pick)

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    Probably one of the most freakishly-big men entering the NBA is John Henson.

    The 6'11" junior from North Carolina plays above the rim.

    He blocked the most shots in the ACC for two straight years (3.1 as a sophomore, 2.9 as a junior) and alters even more. He stays around for the rebound (10.1 as a sophomore, 9.9 as a junior). He has a staggering 7'4" wingspan. The dude can play.

    Henson also has a surprising quickness, inside and outside the paint.

    He improved each year as a Tar Heel and will continue to do so in the NBA.

Meyers Leonard (Top 20 Pick)

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    Meyers Leonard developed into quite a center prospect as a sophomore.

    Leonard played significantly more last year, and the seven-footer contributed nicely.

    13.6 points and 8.2 rebounds a game are only the beginning for Leonard.

    As he grows older, he should also grow thicker—and should grow a more polished offensive game.

    The sophomore does need to figure out a go-to inside move.

    However, the white boy from Illinois makes up for it with his hands. He can shoot and pass well.

    Leonard won't make an immediate impact, but given a few years he may resemble Brad Miller or Andrew Bogut.  

Zeller Brothers (Top 20 Picks); Cody Now Returning to Indiana

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    Tyler Zeller, 22, and Cody Zeller, 20, are different, of course, but they are both prime targets for teams looking to draft a big man.

    The elder Zeller has the experience, while the younger Zeller has the potential—though he will develop them more after recently saying he'll stay at Indiana.

    Tyler spent four years at college powerhouse North Carolina, learning from coach Roy Williams and honing his abilities on the court.

    Cody surprised as a freshman at Indiana, averaging 15.6 points and 6.6 boards.

    Both stand at 6'11" and both are athletic. Tyler is more of a presence inside (1.5 blocks per game last year), while Cody goes everywhere (1.4 steals a game to go with 1.2 blocks). 

    Both have a shot to make a mark in the NBA.

Andrew Nicholson (Top 25)

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    Relatively unknown St. Bonaventure nearly upset Florida State this year in the Tournament, and that was because of Andrew Nicholson.

    The senior scored 20, including four three-pointers, and grabbed seven boards against the Seminoles.

    Nothing new to Bonny's fans—that is, except the treys.

    Nicholson showed some serious range despite making just 23 three-pointers all year. He also can show some power.

    Despite his 6'9" frame, Nicholson used his motor to average 8.4 rebounds last year.

    He also lead the A-10 in scoring the past two seasons, which is his greatest asset heading into the NBA.

Fab Melo (Second Round Pick)

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    Usually Fab Melo's presence was felt inside the paint, and this March his absence was felt.

    Fab Melo wasn't able to show off his defensive abilities in the Big Dance after being deemed ineligible.

    But the common perception was that Syracuse sorely missed him—which shows what a factor he is.

    Though his offensive skills are raw (just 7.8 points per game as a sophomore), the defensive side comes easily to Melo.

    His 2.9 blocks a game were good for second in the Big East. 

    Melo will be a project, particularly offensively, but he's certainly worth a try.

Jeff Withey (Second Round Pick)

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    Out of the shadow of past Kansas big men comes Jeff Withey—except he's a little bigger.

    Though perhaps not as skilled and definitely not as renowned as Cole Aldrich or the Morris brothers, Withey's 7'0" frame separates him.

    A junior was a key cog in the Jayhawks' March run, with consistent rebounding and inside presence.

    Withey's 10 blocks in the Sweet 16 game showcased his interior defense. The feat added to an already impressive season on defense, breaking a school record for blocks (with 140).

    That count was good for second in the nation to the man who started this list off (Anthony Davis).

    Unfortunately for Withey, fellow big man Thomas Robinson was on the squad. Fortunately for whoever drafts Withey, he's an under-the-radar seven-footer with all the fundamentals.