The NBA draft class of 2012 is unusually rich in accomplished big men. For teams in need of immediate rebounding help, there will be a wealth of options available in June.
Unsurprisingly, one of the best is presumptive No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis. Although it’s his shot-blocking that makes the 6’10” Kentucky center so unique, his daunting wingspan also makes him a serious factor on the boards.
Read on for a closer look at Davis and the rest of the 10 soon-to-be-rookies who will hit the glass hardest at the NBA level.
Herb Pope is leaving Seton Hall as a fifth-year senior, so he has quite a bit more experience than most players in this draft. It’s obviously done him some good as a rebounder, because he grabbed 10.4 boards a game last season.
Pope isn’t the biggest PF around (6’8”, 236 lbs), but he’s mobile and skilled enough to have a shot in the NBA. Expect him to be a second-round pick, though he could turn out to be a steal with just a bit more scoring.
After leading Ohio State to two Big Ten titles, Jared Sullinger is taking his precociously polished skills to the NBA.
Sullinger averaged 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds a game last season—a virtual carbon copy of the stats that made him the national Freshman of the Year in 2010-11.
Ordinarily, putting up numbers like those for a Final Four team would be a great sign for the 6'9" Sullinger’s future.
His game is decidedly below-the-rim, though, and in a strong draft like this one, he’s only a borderline lottery pick.
Tyler Zeller might have been the fourth-best player on his own team, and he’s still one of the hottest prospects in the draft. Zeller averaged 9.6 rebounds a game last season (along with 16.3 points) as the center for a stacked North Carolina frontcourt.
Being seven feet tall will go a long way with NBA scouts. Zeller has a chance at being a lottery pick, and he's assured of going in the first round.
Cameron Moore was the lone superstar on a thoroughly mediocre UAB squad. He put up 16.1 points and 10.5 rebounds a game, and he still couldn’t keep the Blazers from finishing 15-16.
Moore isn’t particularly athletic, so even at 6’10”, he’s not going to get much in the way of draft position. Still, between his rebounding and shot-blocking (2.4 a night), he’s a reasonable bet to land a second-round spot.
In two years at New Mexico, Drew Gordon averaged a double-double both years. He’s nothing special as a scorer (13.4 points per game), but he made up for it last year by ranking sixth in the country in rebounding.
Gordon has an NBA body at 6’9”, 245 lbs, but he isn’t an A+ athlete. He’s not likely to be more than a backup in the pros or a second-round pick in the draft.
In almost any other draft, John Henson would be the best defensive player available. His big draw is the three shots he blocks per game, but he also gets 10 rebounds a night for good measure.
Henson is 6’11”, but he needs a lot more weight than his current 220 lbs. Between his lack of bulk and his iffy offensive game, he’s “only” a probable lottery pick instead of a sure-fire one.
West Virginia was a No. 10 seed in the NCAA tournament, but they wouldn’t even have made the NIT if it weren’t for Kevin Jones.
He was the only player in the nation to average over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, and he ranked fourth nationally with 11.1 boards a night.
At 6’8”, Jones is on the small side for an NBA 4, but his 260-lb bulk will help considerably. He has a shot to sneak into the first round, but with so many taller post options available, early- to mid-second round is the likelier range for him.
Anthony Davis is going to be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate the moment he enters the NBA. That fact tends to obscure some of his other merits, including the 10.4 rebounds a game he contributed to Kentucky’s national title squad.
Davis’ defense has earned him so much respect that it will be a shock if anyone else goes No. 1. His offense is a work in progress, but a 6’10” game-changing defender with proven rebounding ability is too good for any team to pass up.
Mississippi State's Arnett Moultrie is one of the few players on any team to battle Anthony Davis to a draw: 13 points and 11 rebounds each, albeit in a convincing Kentucky win.
For the year, Moultrie’s 6’11” frame helped him rack up 15.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.
Two unremarkable years at UTEP may work against Moultrie in the draft. Even so, he’s still a first-round pick for his size and instincts alone.
No player in the 2012 draft is set up for immediate success like Thomas Robinson. Rebounding is the best of Robinson’s many assets; his 11.9 boards a game ranked second in the country in 2011-12.
On top of his talents on the glass, Robinson is a 6’10”, 237-lb PF with bona fide NBA athleticism. Add in his 17.7 points a game, and there’s no realistic possibility of him falling farther than the third pick overall.