NBA Draft 2012: Highlighting Best Value Picks of the First Round

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterMay 21, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: Highlighting Best Value Picks of the First Round

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    Excitement abounds for this year's NBA draft class—and for good reason.

    As shallow as the talent pool was in last year's draft, this year's class should be just as abundantly deep. Highlighted by a plethora of talented power forwards and shooting guards, the 2012 class may be the most talented since the heralded class of 2003.

    Due to this depth, teams outside the top five, 10 and even 15 picks can still snag a potential star. Which players could represent tremendous upside and value for where they're projected to be drafted?

    Let's take a look.

Quincy Miller, SF, Baylor

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    Projected Landing Spot: 18-23rd overall

    2011-12 Stats Per Game: 10.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists

    Year: Freshman

    Height/Weight: 6'10", 210 pounds

    Miller was the seventh overall player in the nation coming out of high school last season, and for good reason.

    A 6'10" small forward with a 7'3" wingspan, Miller represents a tough matchup at the 3 with his size and athleticism.

    He showed flashes of stardom in his freshman year at Baylor but never fully lived up to his potential and was a disappointment in the NCAA tournament, averaging only six points a game.

    After tearing his ACL in high school, we may not have seen the best Miller has to offer as recovery time for such an injury can take years.

    Had Miller stayed another year at Baylor and showed what he can do when truly healthy, he could have easily been a top-10 pick next season.

    As it stands, Miller should fall around pick No. 20, where he could end up being a tremendous value due to his enormous potential.

Moe Harkless, SF, St. John's

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    Projected Landing Spot: 20-25th overall

    2011-12 Stats Per Game: 15.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists

    Year: Freshman

    Height/Weight: 6'8", 208 pounds

    Harkless is another freshman who could have benefited from another year in college but instead made the questionable decision of declaring to go pro in a deep draft class.

    Somewhat overlooked due to playing at a school like St. John's, Harkless displayed a smooth all-around game and high level of confidence for an 18-year-old.

    Most of his scoring was done near the basket and in the mid-range game, as his three-point shot leaves something to be desired, shooting only 20 percent from behind the arc his freshman year.

    Harkless has the potential to be a great scorer and rebounder at the next level and should thrive if given the right coaching and opportunity.

John Henson, PF, North Carolina

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    Projected Landing Spot: 9-16th overall

    2011-12 Stats Per Game: 13.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.9 blocks

    Year: Junior

    Height/Weight: 6'11", 220 pounds

    Henson possesses a skill set similar to the Cleveland Cavaliers' Tristan Thompson, who wound up going fourth overall in last year's shallow draft. Henson won't go that high due to this year's depth, but his influence on the defensive end alone could warrant a top-five pick.

    Blocking 2.9 shots per game his junior season at UNC, Henson has an elite wingspan (7'4") that helps to make up for his lack of muscle. 

    Henson won't ever be the star of a team, but he also doesn't need the ball in his hands to help a team win either. Scoring a lot off of offensive rebounds and alley-oops, Henson is the type of player every team needs.

    While he'll likely fall out of the top 10 picks, Henson could have a much more impactful career than many that go before him in the 2012 draft.

Arnett Moultrie, PF/C, Mississippi State

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    Projected Landing Spot: 15-20th overall

    2011-12 Stats Per Game: 15.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists 

    Year: Junior

    Height/Weight: 6'11", 230 pounds

    Moultrie hasn't taken the most glamorous route to the NBA, which may be why he has fallen to the mid-to-late first round in most mock drafts.

    Playing two years at UTEP before sitting out a year per transfer rules and then playing one season at Mississippi State, Moultrie had a breakout year with the Bulldogs averaging a double-double while displaying a versatile offensive game. 

    Able to knock down the outside shot while also backing down defenders inside, Moultrie projects as an NBA power forward who can contribute in many different ways.

    While he would have likely been a top-five pick in a draft like last year's draft, some lucky team will land a tremendous talent like Moultrie somewhere in the middle of the first round.

Jeremy Lamb, SG, UConn

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    Projected Landing Spot: 8-14th overall

    2011-12 Stats Per Game: 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists

    Year: Sophomore

    Height/Weight: 6'5", 180 pounds 

    One reason for Lamb possibly falling out of the top 10 is the lackluster season UConn put together coming off a national championship in 2011.

    Lamb played well for them, but together with Andre Drummond, he was supposed to have the Huskies in contention for another title. They instead finished the season at 20-14 with a first-round exit to Iowa State.

    Despite his team's struggles, Lamb projects to be a prototypical NBA shooting guard with his size and shooting ability. His 7'1" wingspan would make him one of the longer wings in the league and provide great potential for his play on the defensive end.

    Projected to be a Richard Hamilton-like talent, grabbing a player like Lamb anywhere outside of the top 10 would be a steal.

Austin Rivers, SG, Duke

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    Projected Landing Spot: 13-16th overall

    2011-12 Stats Per Game: 15.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists 

    Year: Freshman

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 200 pounds

    If Rivers was 6'6" and 220 pounds, he would be a top-five pick this year.

    The knock on Rivers is that he's a little undersized for the shooting guard position, where he's projected to play in the NBA. He needed the ball in his hand to be effective, and Duke's offense was often turned into "stand around and watch Austin dribble the ball."

    That being said, the skill set that Rivers possesses, coupled with his basketball pedigree, would scream future NBA star. He has as quick of a first step as anybody in the college game and has great range on his shot.

    Rivers could end up being a perennial All-Star if he latches on to the right team and the right system. For someone projected to go in the mid-first round, Rivers represents a tremendous value.