The 2012 NBA Draft will be filled with surprises, busts, stars and everything else that comes each year at draft time. Stars will be drafted alongside busts. It happens every year.
Hindsight is always 20/20.
This year, the draft is stronger and deeper than in years' past. Because of the quality of the draft, many former college stars and studs will fall out of the lottery in favor of more proven and more consistent players.
So, for your enjoyment and debate, here are the stars who could find themselves out of the lottery come draft night.
Jared Sullinger is a hard player to predict. While some have him going in the Top Five, others have falling as far as 14th.
Last year, Sullinger was a consensus No. 2 or No. 3 overall pick. This year, his stock seems to have fallen.
Although a fantastic college player, the main cracks against Sullinger are his lack of athleticism and tendency to shrink against bigger and stronger defenders.
And the NBA is riddled with bigger and stronger defenders.
Names like Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Al Jefferson would utterly dominate the power forward at the next level.
Coming in at 6'9", Sullinger averaged 17 points and almost 10 rebounds in college. Can he keep that production up at the next level?
That remains to be seen.
I don't expect teams to take a shot at Sullinger until around the 11th pick. It's too risky because he is definitely the biggest mystery in the NBA draft, according to an article from Foxsportsohio.com:
"I don't think anyone really knows right now," one scout said. "All we can go on is how he looked in the Big Ten, and right now, I'd have to say that's pretty good. Honestly, the biggest question is probably what type of upside he has. That will go a long way in determining where he gets drafted."
The scout predicted that Sullinger could be selected anywhere from sixth to 15th overall, making his status the biggest mystery of anyone entering the draft.
Austin Rivers is a young, cocky shooter out of Duke. The son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, Austin is used to having the spotlight on him.
After much recruitment, Rivers ended up at Duke, where he didn't necessarily live up to the lofty expectations placed on his shoulders. Sometimes trying to take the game into his own hands, Rivers' Blue Devils teammates found themselves ousted from the first round of the 2012 NCAA tournament.
The main knock against Rivers is his tendency to be selfish and dominate the ball. As a rookie in the NBA, he will not be able to get away with that. His offensive skills are fantastic, but the defense needs to be improved.
Maturity is key for this player who probably should have stayed in college one more year.
Perry Jones III is also a player who's very hard to predict.
When it comes to Jones, "upside" is the word used most. He has all the tools he needs to become a superstar at the next level, he just needs to put all those together.
As unpolished as they come, Jones will be a project at the next level. And in the lottery, with better prospects available, teams might shy away from Jones.
Jones is also considered soft, which is not something you want to hear when you're a 6'11" power forward. That softness will cause him to get eaten alive in the NBA.
At this point, it's hard to say what type of player Perry will be in the NBA, but it is safe to say that teams should avoid him within the Top 10 picks.
Andre Drummond out of Connecticut is another project player who could go either way in the NBA. According to NBADraft.net, "Drummond's combination of size, power, mobility, athleticism and explosiveness is unparallelled at the college level."
On the weak end of things, his offensive skills are limited, he has maturity issues and he has a lot to improve on before he can be effective at the next level.
Patience is key for whoever wants to take a crack at Drummond. He could be an elite center, and he could be Kwame Brown. He's highly toted to have the highest ceiling of any player in the draft, though, and that may be enough for some teams to want to take a gamble on him as high as the third overall pick.
Either way, I expect Drummond to not go as high as most have him projected.
Besides Bradley Beal, Jeremy Lamb out of Connecticut is the most polished and productive of the shooting guard prospects in the entire draft. A deadly shooter and lengthy athlete, Lamb could go as high up as the fifth overall pick.
But for some reason, we don't hear as much about him. It could be because of his lanky frame and lack of muscle, or it could be because of his inconsistent jump shot.
Despite all of that, Lamb is one of the better shooters in the draft and has tremendous upside. With a high basketball IQ and fantastic defensive abilities, teams should look closer at him.
In the end, however, Lamb may find himself on the outside looking in. Players such as Bradley Beal, Kendall Marshall, Austin Rivers and others might steal his spot in the lottery.
If that happens, some team will be lucky to find him outside the lottery; Jeremy Lamb will be the steal of the NBA draft.
Although lush with big men, the 2012 NBA draft is sorely lacking in solid point guard prospects. The past few years have been dominated by solid college point guards such as John Wall, Kemba Walker and Kyrie Irving.
The same can't be said about this year's draft.
This year, the talent level is severely lacking. Damian Lillard and Kendall Marshall are expected to be the first point guards taken, but Lillard may fall a few spots below Marshall. Although he's a potential lottery pick, I don't think teams know enough about Lillard to risk taking him higher than the 13th pick; Marshall is a much tastier prospect.
Playing at little-known Weber State in Utah, Lillard was an explosive scorer and decent ball-handler. His main weaknesses revolve around the fact that he's not a true point guard in any sense of the word.
While teams would rather have a pass-first point guard, Lillard is the opposite. He will mostly look for his own shot first, which is expected out of a player who had few options on his small college team.
This fact also caused Lillard to not face very strong competition in college, so playing against elite point guards could be his undoing.
Don't expect Lillard to find his way into the lottery. If he does, whoever picks him will probably be disappointed in the end.