NBA Draft 2012: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and 5 Players Who Will Start Immediately

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IJune 1, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and 5 Players Who Will Start Immediately

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    As we count down the days to the 2012 NBA Draft, one name that has a lot of people excited is that of Kentucky forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.  Some (including Brendan Bowers of Stepien Rules) are already calling him the most NBA-ready small forward despite him having just one year of college ball on his resume, and the stage seems set for him to become a top five pick.

    He only averaged 11.8 points and 7.6 rebounds with the Wildcats, but his athleticism and determination are a coach's dream.  Kidd-Gilchrist approaches basketball with an open mind, always ready to improve and even more ready to learn.

    However, while he may be the most NBA-ready, he certainly isn't the only player who will make an immediate impact.  Here are some members of the 2012 draft class, MKG included, who will start impressing everyone from their first tip-off.

No. 5: Kendall Marshall, North Carolina

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    Marshall may not have all of the necessary scoring tools yet, but his pass-first approach is beyond impressive; his 9.8 assists per were greatly missed by UNC during the latter stages of the NCAA tournament.

    Marshall chose to enter the draft at the peak of his game.  Just where he'll be picked remains to be seen, but mark my words, if he can play at least 25 minutes a game, he'll quickly prove to his new team that they made the right choice in drafting him.

No. 4: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State

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    Sullinger already has an NBA body at 6'9", 265 pounds, and he already has the explosive nature required of most power forwards on the professional level.  In his sophomore year with the Buckeyes, Sullinger averaged 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, working the paint like a champ and just outclassing most of the competition.

    Wherever he ends up, Sullinger is sure to be inserted into the starting lineup almost immediately.  The only real mark against him is that he needs to develop his jump shot in order to become more effective.  As of now, his game outside the paint is borderline nonexistent.

    Still, his defense is good enough to the point where he should turn a lot of heads as a rookie.

No. 3: Terrence Jones, Kentucky

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    Out of all of the prospects in this slideshow, Jones is the only one I'll peg to most likely start the season on the bench.  He has great size at 6'9", 252 pounds, and averaged 12.5 points, seven rebounds and nearly two blocks per, but his offensive game will need some tuning before he becomes a regular.

    Still, that won't matter once he's drafted.  He plays incredible defense and has a much-improved attitude, both welcome on any team.  For a team that needs an intense defensive forward, Jones' best results will be seen if he starts.

    Oh, and you heard it here first.  Jones WILL win the Slam Dunk Contest next season.

No. 2: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky

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    Kidd-Gilchrist will definitely make an immediate impact in the NBA, but where he ends up is anybody's guess.  He could go second, he could go fifth or in some cruel twist of fate, he might not get drafted until towards the end of the first round.

    Still, no matter when he gets picked, MKG is an All-Star just waiting to happen.  He'll show up to training camp in shape and ready to learn, and while he may have to work extra hard to crack the starting lineup, he has the work ethic to achieve that goal.

No. 1: Thomas Robinson, Kansas

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    Say what you want about Anthony Davis, but Robinson is the best player available in the draft pool.  At 6'10", 237 pounds, he has a body of a more durable Tyrus Thomas.  On top of that, he's a better scorer than the former LSU Tiger.

    More importantly, Robinson has shown a great ability to score both in the paint and on the wing.  He hits his jumper fairly consistently isn't a bad rebounder on the defensive end.  As a junior and first-time starter last year, he pulled down 11.8 rebounds to go with 17.9 points.

    Whether he goes first or second remains to be seen.  Regardless, he's going to make the team that picks him very happy from the moment they open their season.