NBA Draft 2012: 7 Players Who Will Be Better in NBA Than College
The NBA draft is a time for teams' scouts and GMs to scrounge through an endless number of young collegiate athletes and discern which players will be successful at the professional level.
Each year, there are players selected based primarily on their potential to be great NBA contributors, and not because of what they've done in their NCAA careers.
These are the seven draft picks who will put their college statistics to shame when they suit up with an NBA team.
1. Anthony Davis, PF/C, Kentucky
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2011-12 NCAA Statistics: 14.3 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 0.9 APG
Let's start out this list at the very top, with the projected No.1 overall player in the 2012 NBA Draft, Anthony Davis.
Davis had an outstanding freshman year with the Kentucky Wildcats and even earned Naismith Player of the Year honors in doing so.
Yet looking at Davis' numbers, it isn't far-fetched to think that the most highly-acclaimed prospect in years could potentially dwarf his single year's college statistics after a couple years in the pros.
With a ceiling that is just about at the moon heading into his rookie season, Davis will be able to improve upon every major statistical category with the New Orleans Hornets.
While these numbers would still be quite good in the league, expect Davis to blossom into one of the game's best big men within his first two-to-three seasons.
2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky
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2011-12 NCAA Statistics: 11.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2.0 APG
Sticking with the Kentucky Wildcats and with a player whom many consider to be the second-best prospect in this draft, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist comes in as the second player who has merely given us a sample of what he's able to do during his freshman season in Lexington.
One of the main reasons players like Anthony Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist were unable to fill up the stat sheet to their potential was largely due to playing on such a talent-laden team.
With just about every one of UK's 2011-12 starters entering this year's draft, all of the Wildcat players' numbers were deflated playing alongside one another.
That said, MKG is another player who should be able to improve his statistics once he reaches his potential in the NBA.
Kidd-Gilchrist is by no means an offensive powerhouse, but his endless hustle, as well as his intangibles, will allow him to easily surpass the 11.8 points he averaged in college.
It's hard to foresee Kidd-Gilchrist averaging more than 7.6 rebounds per game at the next level, but he should be able to come right near that number within his first couple seasons.
3. Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut
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2011-12 NCAA Statistics: 10.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 0.5 APG
Andre Drummond may be the biggest enigma in all of the 2012 NBA Draft, but his potential alone should see him selected anywhere from No. 2 to No. 10.
Coming into his rookie season with the Connecticut Huskies, Drummond was valued for his giant frame and incredible athletic ability.
Though he showed flashes of greatness during his freshman campaign, he never truly hit his stride at UConn or became the dominant big man he was expected to be.
Whichever NBA team chooses to draft the 6'11", 275-pound Drummond will be taking on somewhat of an experiment, but it is an experiment that could pay off tremendously.
Many people may look at Drummond's college statistics and doubt his ability to ever outnumber them at the NBA level, but Drummond's endless potential and athletic tools should allow him to be successful a few years down the road.
Drummond certainly has the potential to be an eventual double-double man during his NBA career.
4. Perry Jones III, SF/PF, Baylor
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2011-12 NCAA Statistics: 14.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.3 APG
Perry Jones III is another player whose talent could see him being selected as high as No. 6, or falling out of the lottery altogether.
Jones's all-around physical package will be very enticing to teams come draft day: a 6'11" SF/PF combo who can step out and shoot or crash the boards and score in the paint. Not to mention his ability to guard almost any player on the floor.
What Jones did lack during his sophomore season at Baylor was an overall tenacity and desire on the court, which is going to be off-putting to a number of teams.
Looking at Jones' physical build and ability alone, it's hard to imagine the former Baylor Bear not creating a successful career for himself in the NBA.
It may take a couple of years, but it will be well worth the wait once Jones finally hits his stride.
5. Dion Waiters,
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2011-12 NCAA Statistics: 12.6 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.6 APG
Dion Waiters wasn't even a starter for the majority of his sophomore season at Syracuse, but that doesn't mean he can't be a quality NBA starter.
Looking at Waiters' build, he's got an NBA-ready frame at a solid 220 pounds but may be a tad undersized for a shooting guard.
Waiters's draft stock has been moving up of late, and it has a lot to do with Waiter's tremendous scoring ability.
The 6'4" guard is an aggressive player offensively and is able to get to the cup and finish well around the rim with his physicality. Waiters is also a solid shooter, but he has a tendency to be streaky.
There are definitely facets of Waiters's game that will need improvement at the next level, but his offensive nature will allow him to score more than the 12.6 per game he averaged with Syracuse.
6. Fab Melo, C, Syracuse
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2011-12 NCAA Statistics: 7.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 0.7 APG
There's not much you can improve about his name, but Fab Melo's game will see more production in the NBA than in college.
Melo's strengths lie in his defense much more than his offense and rebounding, as he averaged just under three blocks per game in his sophomore season.
Physically, Melo has the perfect size for an NBA center and will be able to be a defensive presence right out of the gate when he receives playing time.
Some of the primary concerns in Melo's game are his weak offensive post game, lack of rebounding ability for a center and sub-par motor on the floor.
Melo may never be a huge offensive contributor, but it's not unlikely that we could see the native Brazilian averaging a double-double for an NBA team.
His offensive and rebounding game have nowhere to go but up, and he'll likely improve in those categories when he settles into the league.
7. Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt
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2011-12 NCAA Statistics: 10.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 0.3 APG
Just when you thought Fab Melo would be the most outrageous name on this list, in walks Festus Ezeli.
Ezeli was a developmental experiment in his four years with Vanderbilt, and he'll continue to be one as he heads into the pros.
The 7'0", 260-pound Nigerian came a long way from his freshman year where he averaged just 3.8 points per game, and he finally hit the double-digit mark in his junior season.
Ezeli, like Melo, finds his forte at the defensive end, but he scored effectively off of dump-off passes and offensive putbacks.
He has good athletic ability and should definitely improve his rebounding numbers into the NBA, but his offensive numbers will likely never surpass the 10 points he averaged during his senior season.
Ezeli could still be an effective starting center in the NBA, something many couldn't foresee after his first two mediocre seasons in college.