NBA Draft 2012: Prospects That Will Contribute to an NBA Finalist Next Year
One thing that this NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder is missing is the impact of a rookie.
Drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft, Miami's Norris Cole has played a total of 19 minutes in three finals games, scoring only two points. Oklahoma City used their first round pick this year on point guard Reggie Jackson and he has yet to appear in a postseason game.
While the Thunder and the Heat made it to the finals without needing a rookie to contribute, that's not always the case.
Here's a look at five prospects that could be contributors on an NBA finalist in 2013.
Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
Ezeli is a big body at 6'11", 255 pounds and could be a late first-round pick by a current contender.
If you're a contending team, which prospect could help the most?
While his offensive game needs to develop, he still shot 60 percent from the floor and averaged 10 points per game on the season.
Where he could help a contender the most is on the defensive end of the floor as he blocked 2.0 shots per game and grabbed 5.9 rebounds.
He could be a good pick to add depth for team like the Heat or the Thunder.
John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
As we've seen throughout the postseason, you can never have too much shooting.
Every contender could use a guy like Jenkins who could possibly be the best shooter in the draft, connecting 44 percent of the time from behind the arc.
Both 2012 finalists, plus the likes of Chicago, Boston and Indiana could use a shooter like Jenkins.
Draymond Green, Michigan State
Green is a player who does nothing great, but everything well and if he sneaks into the first round, it will be towards the end, which means there's a good chance he ends up with a team contending for a championship.
He's a guy that can add depth and come off the bench and contribute.
He won't be as good as he was in the NCAA Tournament where he put up a triple-double and a pair of double-doubles, but Green is a guy that knows how to play the game and could be a steal late in the draft.
Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
In my mock drafts, I've liked Nicholson to the Celtics almost all season, but if the Celtics make a couple moves and add Nicholson, they will be contenders again.
If they don't and he slides, he could be a key contributor on a team looking to get to the finals.
All Nicholson did on the season was average 18.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks while shooting 53 percent from the floor and 43 percent from behind the arc.
Nicholson is a draft sleeper who can contribute in 2013.
Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt
Taylor is the third Vanderbilt player on the list, but I think all three could go towards the end of the first round, which gives them a good chance of being with a title contender next year.
With a team like Oklahoma City or Miami, he would be a depth piece, but a good one.
Taylor is an elite athlete and a lockdown defender, but he has range on his jumper, shooting 42 percent from behind the arc.
He's talented enough to be a contributor next season.
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