With the 2012 NBA draft less than a week away, the June 28 date looms large over some of the brightest prospects in the world.
While that bright light won’t affect many stars, there are a few highly-rated college stars that will not live up to the hype.
It’s every NBA team’s responsibility to avoid these players at all costs. The prospects that will be the biggest flops are italicized.
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky
There is no doubt who the New Orleans Hornets will take at No. 1. Anthony Davis, come on down!
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
Who is the second-best player in the draft?
The Charlotte Bobcats need help all over the court, and Kansas star forward Thomas Robinson is the most NBA-ready prospect of 2012. This is a darn good consolation prize.
3. Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
With Washington already shaking up the draft by acquiring Trevor Ariza, they will do it once again when they select Florida shooting guard Brad Beal to be John Wall’s go-to shooter. A bit of a reach, but it has the potential to be a great fit.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky
Cleveland needs help at the small forward position and have since LeBron took his talents to South Beach. If Michael Kidd-Gilchrist indeed falls to the Cavaliers at No 4, it will be a huge steal.
5. Sacramento Kings: Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina
With Sacramento’s lack of leadership, the organization is looking for a player that is not only talented, but has composure in the face of trouble. On a team full of potential problems, Harrision Barnes could be the saving grace.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (via NJ): Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut
As if Portland hadn’t learned from the Greg Oden train wreck, the Trail Blazers will go the wrong way down a one-way track again with UConn center Andre Drummond.
Drummond has an amazing array of talents and physical attributes, but he has yet to put it all together in a consistent manner. His lackluster performance in the NCAA tournament was the perfect example of this.
While there is no extensive history of injuries yet, Drummond has bust written all over him. Portland needs to think about playing it safe here.
7. Golden State Warriors: Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse
Just like James Harden in Oklahoma City, the Golden State Warriors would be taking the elite talents of Dion Waiters to be a bench player and a potential sixth man of the year candidate.
8. Toronto Raptors: Damian Lillard, PG, Weber State
With the need for a point guard that can not only dish the ball, but put up a big shot when needed, the Raptors must reach a bit to snag the best offense PG in the draft, Damian Lillard.
9. Detroit Pistons: John Henson, PF, North Carolina
The Pistons need size, strength and depth at power forward, and that’s what John Henson brings. Add in his high basketball I.Q. and this is a great move for Detroit moving forward.
10. New Orleans Hornets (via MINN): Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois
After taking Anthony Davis at No. 1, the last thing the New Orleans Hornets should be doing is going back to the big-man well. They won that battle; move on.
With needs at small forward and depth at almost every position, reaching for a promising young talent like Illinois center Meyers Leonard isn’t the worst plan, but it’s far from the best.
Teams see Leonard’s 7'1", 250-pound frame and think this kid will be a beast in the NBA, but his lack of physicality has many coaches worried about his long-term projection. The Hornets should play it safe with this pick, but they won’t.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut
Since Brandon Roy’s retirement, the Trail Blazers have lacked that play making shooting guard that could find the open man or make his own shots. They will find their next Roy in UConn star Jeremy Lamb.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina
With Andrew Bogut in Golden State, Milwaukee has to take the best big man available. If it falls the way it currently is projected, the Bucks will walk away with UNC standout Tyler Zeller.
13. Phoenix Suns: Austin Rivers, SG, Duke
While the Phoenix Suns will be desperate for a playmaker now that Steve Nash is likely leaving as a free agent, drafting Austin Rivers is not the answer.
There is no disputing just how talented of an offensive player Rivers is, but he won’t be play ACC defenses anymore; this is the NBA. Teams will not only defend him tougher than he has ever faced, they will realize his defensive incapabilities and run the ball right through him.
With the team transitioning into a rebuilding phase, the last thing they want to do is start drafting players that are worried about filling a stat sheet. The future must be built on fundamentals, not Rivers’ jump shots.
14. Houston Rockets: Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi State
The big man rush hits the Houston Rockets hard, who will be forced to reach for Mississippi State power forward Arnett Moultrie at No. 14. While this is a stretch, Moultrie will be a solid NBA player and this will be a stellar pick.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: Terrence Jones, F, Kentucky
Terrence Jones is one of the most underrated players in the 2012 draft, and the Philadelphia 76ers will get the perfect system-player at forward that would allow the team to move Iguodala via trade.
16. Houston Rockets (via NY): Terrence Ross, SG, Washington
If there truly is trouble in guard paradise for Kevin Martin and Kevin McHale, the Houston Rockets would be smart to take a star prospect like Terrence Ross if he falls to No. 16 just in case it doesn’t work out.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina
With Jason Kidd at the very end of his rope, the best move Dallas could make would be drafting Kendall Marshall and convincing Kidd to stay one more year and teach the young star.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (via UTAH): Fab Melo, C, Syracuse
One of the best picks of the draft will be Minnesota taking a center prospect as defensibly minded as Fab Melo. With a sense of responsibility, Melo will add a defensive touch to the low post the Wolves have missed.
19. Orlando Magic: Perry Jones III, F, Baylor
For as great as he looks during individual workouts, Perry Jones has an uphill climb to prove all of the skeptics wrong. No one doubts that he can’t be a star, most doubt that he can translate these raw skills into a complete NBA player.
20. Denver Nuggets: Tony Wroten Jr., PG, Washington
If George Karl feels he can work with Tony Wroten, this will be a slam-dunk pick that could lead to the birth of a stellar bench presence.
21. Boston Celtics: Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State
The recent news about medical red flags is serious and teams are legitimately concerned about how long Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger would be able to play in the NBA now. If he starts falling, expect a team that is not trying to fully rebuild like the Boston Celtics to trade up or even wait until they pick at No. 21.
22. Boston Celtics (via LAC): Moe Harkless, SF, St. John's
Moe Harkless will be a good presence off the bench, but the Celtics will draft the St. John’s star as the long-term replacement for an aging Paul Pierce. If the veteran opens up to the rookie, this could be a great situation.
23. Atlanta Hawks: Royce White, F, Iowa State
With the consistency in Atlanta at an all-time low, the need for a player that brings 100 percent every minute he is on the floor is the team’s top priority. While it may be a reach to take Royce White at No. 23, but he will add so much more than what shows up in the box score.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via LAL): Doron Lamb, SG, Kentucky
With Kyrie Irving taking the point, a pure shooting guard like Doron Lamb getting open on the wing would be an excellent tool at the team’s disposal.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Andrew Nicholson, PF, St. Bonaventure
Memphis needs more grit and toughness down low, and a player with the raw skills of Andrew Nicholson are too good to pass on.
26. Indiana Pacers: Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky
The Indiana Pacers looked amazing at times this season, but their offense lacked that elite playmaker that could have gotten them over the Miami Heat hump. Marquis Teague could be the answer.
27. Miami Heat: Jeffrey Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt
A great bench weapon, Jeffrey Taylor might be the kind of addition to the Miami Heat that makes repeating their championship win much easier.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt
With a strong core in place, the team can afford to take a risk here and try to address a serious need. Taking center Festus Ezeli is a risk, but one that could pay off for OKC in the long run.
29. Chicago Bulls: John Jenkins, SG, Vanderbilt
Finally, the Chicago Bulls get the shooting guard they have searched for since watching Ben Gordon fade into obscurity. John Jenkins is a sniper and will drain it for the Bulls all year.
30. Golden State Warriors: Quincy Miller, SF, Baylor
The Warriors will be taking a risk with the final pick of the first round, but Quincy Miller and the questions about his knee injury will be an asset too great for Golden State to pass on.
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