NBA Draft 2012: Top 10 Draft Day Steals

Chris O'Brien@@Chris0BrienCorrespondent IApril 11, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: Top 10 Draft Day Steals

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    All of the hype leading up to the 2012 NBA Draft lottery will revolve around who lands the No. 1 pick, aka who gets to put Anthony Davis as their new starting center.

    After Anthony Davis, the talk is about Thomas Robinson, Harrison Barnes, Terrence Jones, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. There are plenty of big names in this year's draft and a lot of lottery teams are going to get valuable pieces.

    But what about the sleeper picks, the guys who will fall out of the lottery and could stick around all the way to the end of the second round.

    There are plenty of steals to be had in the 2012 NBA Draft. Here are the top 10.

10. Robbie Hummel

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    6'8'' tall, 16.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 40 percent three-point shooter.

    Robbie Hummel lit up the Jayhawks for 26 points in the NCAA tournament. Thomas Robinson couldn't guard him, Travis Releford struggled, and Bill Self had to resort to one of his junk defenses to hang on.

    Hummel is projected as a late second round pick, possibly undrafted. When I've watched Hummel play and try to project him at the next level, I see no reason why he can't have the same type of impact in the pros as Kyle Korver or Steve Novak are doing this season.

    If I am sitting there with one of the last 10 picks in the second round and I can land Korver or Novak 2.0, I will make that pick in a heartbeat.

    Why he will be overlooked: The same thing that is so impressive about Hummel will be what ultimately scares teams away.

    Coming back from two knee surgeries shows incredible toughness and determination, but it also raises concern when you are investing big money in a draft pick.

    I would love to see Hummel get a shot in the NBA and showcase the talents Purdue fans have been enjoying for years.

9. Marcus Denmon

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    When a No. 2 seed gets knocked out by a No. 15, it's easy to forget just how good the No. 2 team was during the regular season and how much talent their best player Marcus Denmon possesses.

    Marcus Denmon averaged 17.7 ppg, 1.5 steals-per-game, and a solid 5.0 rpg. He shot 46 percent from the field and a little over 40 percent from long range.

    Denmon has great speed, is 6'3'' and has the ability to get hot in a hurry. He scored over 25 points six times this season

    Why he will be overlooked: There are a lot of talented guards ahead of him. There's Kendall Marshall from North Carolina, Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague from Kentucky, Bradley Beal from Florida and Jeremy Lamb from Connecticut.

    Rival Kansas point guard Tyshawn Taylor will probably go before Denmon partially because of the Jayhawks deep run.

    Denmon has great size if he were a point guard, but he plays shooting guard. Expect him to be looked over until the second round.

8. William Buford

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    It confuses me that William Buford is not getting much attention in most mock NBA drafts. Maybe, because there are so many talented underclassmen options, graduated seniors feel like old outdated options.

    Buford has the NBA shooting guard body (6'6'', 220 lbs) and was never over-matched by his defender. What I mean by this is think about the way teammate Jared Sullinger struggled against the long Jeff Withey or imagine Deshaun Thomas either trying to post up an NBA big man or taking an NBA small forward out on the perimeter.

    Buford has the quickness, the strength and ability to get his shot off at the next level. He can go cold, but going cold is a lot different than being physically inferior to an opponent.

    Why he will be overlooked: The senior thing and just not a lot of hype around him. When people think of Ohio State's team, Sullinger, Thomas and even Craft tend to come to mind before the always solid Buford.

    Ohio State fans know how good Buford is and soon some team in the second round will too.

7. J'Covan Brown

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    I feel like Texas guard J'Covan Brown is a sleeper pick at No. 8 on this list, let alone in the entire 2012 NBA Draft.

    J'Covan Brown was one of the best scorers in college basketball at 20.1 ppg. In many games this season, Brown was the only reliable scorer Texas had on the floor. Against Kansas, he scored 33 of his team's 63 points. He scored over 30 on four separate occasions.

    Why he will be overlooked: Size. At 6'1'' tall, under 200 lbs weight, I think teams will look over him for bigger options.

    Look for Brown to be snagged in the middle of round two.

6. Draymond Green

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    The heart and soul of Michigan State basketball for at least the last two seasons.

    His 2011-12 stat line speaks for itself: 16.2 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.5 spg, 1.0 bpg

    But Green is so much more than his stat stuffing numbers. He plays hard, is a vocal leader and has gotten in much better shape throughout his four years with Tom Izzo.

    Pro impact? Think of Glen Big Baby Davis but with higher passing ability. These are Glen Davis's career stats: 7.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg in 21:18 minutes per night.

    That's not bad production for a second round pick.

    Why he will be overlooked: Exactly the reasoning above; he's great value for a second round pick. Glen Davis was taken with the fifth pick of the second round. That's about the right spot for Green.

    Teams in the first round are not going to take their chances on a 6'7'', 230 lb player who plays offense like a guard, but defense like a big man. It will also be interesting to see what physical condition he stays in from now until the combines.

    If your team is sitting there with pick 31 through 40, Green is an awesome add to your roster.

5. Doron Lamb

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    The only chance Doron Lamb gets picked in the lottery is if a team mistakes his name for Connecticut's Jeremy Lamb.

    It's hard to stand out when your teammates are Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Terrence Jones, but in the National Championship game, a case can be made that Doron Lamb ultimately won the Wildcats the game.

    The Kansas Jayhawks held Kentucky's big three to 26 combined points. Lamb scored 22.

    Now, maybe this is because all the Jayhawks attention was focused on stopping Davis/Jones/Gilchrist giving Lamb open looks, but the key is he made all of these clutch shots to silence each one of the Jayhawks' runs.

    Doron Lamb is young and he improved a lot during the year. Lamb averaged 13.7 ppg during the regular season and then around 16 ppg in the NCAA Tournament. You put him on a team with less stars, and he would be a 17-19 ppg guy.

    Why he will be overlooked: Similar reason to Marcus Denmon and J'Covan Brown; there are a list of guards above him. A lot of the lottery teams will be looking for big men too.

    However, I don't expect Lamb to fall out of the first round. Look for him to be in that No. 28-30 range.

4. Tyshawn Taylor

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    Tyshawn Taylor: a leader, a true point guard, crazy speed.

    Of all the guards in the NBA Draft, Tyshawn Taylor is the fastest. His acceleration from baseline to baseline is at an elite NBA level. He is long for a point guard at 6'3'' and really has a similar body to Rajon Rondo.

    The best part about Taylor is how he played against the top tier teams.

    Kentucky (2 games): 20.5 ppg, 2.5 apg, 2.5 rpg, 3 topg

    North Carolina: 22 points, six rebounds, five assists, three turnovers, five steals

    Ohio State: (2 games): 9.5 ppg, 11 apg, 3 rpg, 6 topg

    Baylor (3 games): 22.3 ppg, 4 apg, 3 rpg, 3.6 topg

    Missouri (2 games): 22.5 ppg, 4 apg, 3.5 topg

    Why he will be overlooked: Kansas fans know all about Taylor's turnover issue. Against Duke early in the season he had 11. NBA scouts will think, "Wait, if he turned it over so much in college, what's going to happen against quicker defenders in the pros?

    Now, I think there is a definite silver lining in this. First of all, to play as fast as Taylor plays, a few turnovers per game are bound to happen. You have to take the bad with the good. Second of all, nearly every team in the NBA has at least a decent point guard already in place. The team in the late first round or early second that picks Taylor is not turning their team over to him for 30 minutes a night.

    Having Taylor as a backup for 10-15 minutes could be a dangerous weapon for an established contender.

3. Tu Holloway

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    Tu Holloway has one of the most NBA ready games, not just out of the sleepers, but of any player in the 2012 NBA Draft.

    If you watched any regular season Xavier games or a few of their games in the tournament, you know how much the offense runs through Holloway. He is strong in isolation plays and has a great first step. His ability to create his shot is something NBA scouts have already taken note of.

    After an anemic four point performance against St. Louis on February 28, here are what Holloway's scoring numbers looked like the rest of the season:

    21.6 ppg, 48.9 shooting percentage for two points, 37.8 percent from three-point range.

    Why he will be overlooked: If Holloway were 19 years old and 6'5'', he would be a top 10 pick. Questions will surface about whether or not his style of play will work at 6'1'' in the NBA.

    I think Holloway is very comparable to another former Xavier grad Jordan Crawford. Crawford has more size than Holloway, but if Holloway could mimic Crawford's numbers (14.7 ppg, 3 apg) he would be a really nice pickup in the mid to late second round.

2. Fab Melo

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    The suspension at the end of the regular season took Fab Melo off the radar. Syracuse still went to the Elite Eight in his absence finishing the season with a very impressive 34-3 record.

    It would be interesting to know what would have happened had Melo been able to play and what we would be saying about him as a draft prospect had the Orange made a deeper run.

    Melo is a solid seven-footer. He's still young, but doesn't have the normal lanky build that an 18 to 20-year-old center usually has. Size matters in the NBA and when there are so many 6'8'' undersized power forwards, there is always a place for a true center.

    Melo is a solid shot blocker too with just under three blocks-per-game.

    Why he will be overlooked: His stats have not been off the charts. This last season, Melo averaged 7.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg. I think to be in the early first round he would have needed to be more of a 12 ppg, 8 rpg type of guy.

    But Melo is still a kid and after two or three years developing in the NBA, I think he has the chance to potentially start at center for a non-playoff team.

1. John Jenkins

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    John Jenkins has the purest shooting form in the entire NBA Draft.

    As a shooter, he's everything you could want being about 50 percent from two-points, over 40 percent from distance, and above 80 percent at the line.

    On the season, he averaged 19.9 ppg.

    He reminds me a lot of Golden State's Klay Thompson. Thompson was the 11th pick in last year's draft and is putting up 11.1 ppg in 21 minutes a night. Jenkins can do the same, but instead of being an 11th pick, he could fall all the way down to 41.

    Why he will be overlooked: I really don't have a good reason why teams will skip over him. Maybe there will be a long string of teams drafting forwards and big men, but considering teams like the Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics, or Orlando Magic could all use another shooting guard, they would be crazy to skip over Jenkins.