Who Is the Greatest Playmaker in the 2012 NBA Draft Class?

Mike B.Correspondent IJune 19, 2012

CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 29:  Kendall Marshall #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at the Dean Smith Center on January 29, 2012 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The 2012 NBA draft class includes gifted scorers like Harrison Barnes, big time defenders like Anthony Davis and lights-out shooters like John Jenkins.

But who are the top playmakers in the class? Who are the guys who have a passion for getting their teammates involved? 

Weber State’s Damian Lillard is expected to be the first point guard taken in the draft, likely headed to either the Portland Trail Blazers at the sixth overall pick or the New Orleans Hornets at No. 10.

Averaging 24.5 points and just four assists per game this past season, Lillard isn’t considered a pass-first point guard, but he could very well end up proving that he’s capable of being a solid playmaker a the next level.

If he lands in Portland, Lillard would have the opportunity to collect a bunch of assists playing the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop with All-Star big man LaMarcus Aldridge.  

And should Lillard wind up down in New Orleans, he could showcase his playmaking skills while throwing lob passes to Anthony Davis, who the Hornets will draft with the top pick this year.     

Not too long after Lillard is off the board, North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall should hear his name called by NBA Commissioner David Stern.

Unlike Lillard, Marshall's playmaking isn't questioned by many people out there as he's coming off a season in which he averaged 9.7 assists per game, second-best in college basketball.

Marshall is perhaps the best passer in the draft and is often compared to players such as Mark Jackson, Andre Miller and future first-ballot Hall of Famer Jason Kidd.

Another top-notch playmaker projected to go somewhere in the first round is Iowa State forward Royce White. And no, you don’t have to be a point guard to be a great playmaker.

White is an exceptional all-around player who led the Cyclones in five categories this past season, including assists, with an average of 5.1. Five assists per game is simply remarkable for a player who stands 6’8” and weighs 260 pounds.

White possesses excellent court vision and could develop into a respectable “point forward” at some point down the road.

In the second round of the draft, you’ll likely see Scott Machado get selected. The 6’1” point guard out of little-known Iona College is the ultimate floor general, leading the nation in assists as a senior with 9.9 APG.

It’s incredible that Machado managed to dish out so many assists since he didn’t have three future first-round picks to pass the ball to like Marshall had at Carolina.

He could eventually turn out to be the steal of the draft and the top point guard that the class has to offer.

Who do you think is the best playmaker in the 2012 NBA draft?