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NBA Draft 2012: Biggest Knock of Every Potential 1st Rounder

Roy BurtonContributor IJune 25, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: Biggest Knock of Every Potential 1st Rounder

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    It's simple enough to come up with a list of strengths for each player expected to go in the first round of the 2012 NBA draft. What's more difficult, however, is highlighting their weaknesses: the areas in which they will need to improve upon in order to have a long and successful NBA career.

    And while each of their respective agents will tell you that their clients don't have any flaws, we all know that clearly isn't the case. So, with the festivities less than a week away, let's take a look at the biggest knock on the each of the top prospects in Thursday's draft.

Anthony Davis

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    Biggest Knock: Lack of strength

    There's no question that University of Kentucky forward Anthony Davis the best prospect in the 2012 draft. What is debatable, however, is whether or not he can add (and maintain) enough muscle mass to bang with the power forwards in the NBA.

    Davis is listed at 222 pounds, but it seems as if he could carry another 15-20 pounds of weight rather comfortably. If Davis does bulk up, it will be interesting to see how much it affects his quickness and agility—both of which are exceptional for a player of his size.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

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    Biggest Knock: Jump shot

    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist does a lot of things well, but doesn't necessarily excel in any one area. His biggest weakness coming into the NBA is his jump shot, so expect him to spend the early part of his career working on his mid-range game.

    A lot of Kidd-Gilchrist's points this past season came either in transition or as a result of hustle plays around the basket. And while those energy plays will continue to pay off for him at the next level, the fact that he shot a paltry 25.5 percent from beyond the arc at Kentucky means that opposing defenses will encourage him to settle for long jumpers.

Bradley Beal

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    Biggest Knock: Size

    Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal has the potential to be one of the NBA's better shooting guards, but he doesn't have the prototypical size for the position.

    At 6'5", 202 pounds, he's a bit smaller than many of the league's starting 2 guards, and could struggle to keep up with them defensively. With the ball in his hands, Beal had trouble last season absorbing contact and finishing on drives to the basket—something that will only prove to be more difficult against the biggest, stronger wing players in the NBA.

Thomas Robinson

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    Biggest Knock: Low-post game

    Physically, Thomas Robinson's credentials are impressive. However, the biggest knock on him is whether or not he can add a few more moves to his steadily improving post game.

    At Kansas, Robinson's physical gifts were more than enough to dominate on most nights. The story will be a bit different in the Association, and the 6'9" power forward will have to take a few pages out of the Hakeem Olajuwon book if he wants to be effective on the low block. Robinson's footwork and offensive arsenal has evolved quite a bit over the past year, so it's not unreasonable to think that he will be able to show similar improvement in the NBA.

Harrison Barnes

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    Biggest Knock: Shot creation

    Harrison Barnes is a fantastically adept wing scorer in catch-and-shoot sets. The problem comes when he tries to put the ball on the deck and create shots for himself. When that happens, he's a much less effective player.

    Barnes' inability to shoot off of the dribble became remarkably clear when Kendall Marshall (his teammate at North Carolina) injured his wrist in the NCAA tournament last March. Forced to play more with the ball in his hands, Barnes struggled to get to the basket.

    With the right point guard, Barnes should have a smooth transition into the NBA. But if he has to create scoring opportunities for himself on a nightly basis, expect a fair amount of growing pains.

Andre Drummond

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    Biggest Knock: Raw offensive game

    The seven-foot, 279-pound Drummond looks every bit the part of an NBA center. That said, his offensive game is painfully raw at this stage of his career, and the former UConn center will need a lot of work before he will ever be considered a go-to option in the post.

    Drummond's post play is awkward and stilted, his footwork needs more than a little bit of seasoning, and he shot an abysmal 29.5 percent from the free-throw line last season.

    Whoever drafts Drummond won't need to worry about his rebounding and defense, but they just might want to hire a big man coach to teach the seven-footer how to be effective on the low block.

Dion Waiters

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    Biggest Knock: Decision-making

    Even at 6'4", Syracuse guard Dion Waiters has the athleticism to guard multiple positions in the NBA. Once he learns to make better decisions on offense with the ball in his hands, he could be one of league's more dangerous two-way guards.

    Waiters was a good shooter on the college level, but some of that was negated by the fact that he took a number of ill-advised shots. His decision making skills will only improve with experience, so once Waiters works himself into his team's rotation, don't expect to see the same mistakes that he made at Syracuse.

Damian Lillard

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    Biggest Knock: Playmaking ability

    Damian Lillard's primary job at Weber State was to put the ball in the basket, and he excelled at doing just that (24.5 PPG last season). In the NBA, he will be called upon to be more of a facilitator, so it will be interesting to see how quickly Lillard will be able to make that transition.

    Lillard's assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.74-to-1 last season was solid for a player who handles the ball as much as he does, but it should be noted that the competition in the Big Sky is a far cry from the defenses that he will face in the NBA. Lillard is more than adept at making plays for himself, however, and that's the main reason why you'll hear his name called early in Thursday's draft.

John Henson

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    Biggest Knock: Strength

    Two-hundred-sixteen pounds simply is not going to cut it for North Carolina power forward John Henson in the NBA. The 21-year-old will need to add significant weight to his frame as soon as possible.

    Henson's athleticism allowed him to get by in the ACC, but bigs on the pro level will easily back Henson down under the basket unless he packs on a good 20-25 pounds of muscle. Even if Henson loses a bit of his quickness due to the added weight, it's a necessary price to pay for him to have any chance of surviving in the paint.

Austin Rivers

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    Biggest Knock: Needs the ball to be effective

    Three years from now, Austin Rivers could potentially be one of the five best players from the 2012 NBA draft class. However, his future success hinges on how effective he can be without the basketball in his hands.

    Up until now, Rivers has had full license to create his own shot on the basketball court. Things will change once he's in the league as the 6'4" shooting guard won't be able to dominate the ball as he has in years past. The opportunities for him to attack the paint will still be there, but those chances will be limited unless he diversifies his offensive attack.

Jeremy Lamb

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    Biggest Knock: Strength

    Jeremy Lamb has the height (6'5") and shooting ability (60.1 percent on two-point FGs, 33.6 percent on three-point FGs last season) that NBA general managers crave.

    He also happens to weigh 179 pounds.

    It's safe to say that Lamb will routinely be out-muscled by NBA shooting guards for the early part of his career. He does have a frame that suggests that he will be able to put on weight relatively easily. If he doesn't, he will have a difficult time finishing around the basket on the pro level.

Meyers Leonard

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    Biggest Knock: Consistency

    Seven-footers with the skill set of Meyers Leonard are an extremely rare commodity these days. Leonard's performance at the recent NBA combine only served to generate more interest in him as a player, but many are concerned about the lack of consistency he showed at Illinois.

    On both offense and defense, Leonard appeared to be less than fully engaged at times. So while the talent is clearly there, Leonard seems to be a player who needs someone to drive him to play at 100 percent for all 48 minutes.

Tyler Zeller

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    Biggest Knock: Upside

    The seven-foot, 247-pound Tyler Zeller fits the bill of a decent-sized NBA center. But after four years at the University of North Carolina, the question remains: How much better can Zeller become?

    Toughness was the biggest knock on Zeller coming into this past season, but he made some noticeable improvements to that end. And perhaps his ability was overshadowed by some of his more athletic teammates at Chapel Hill, but the 22-year-old Zeller didn't show much last year that would lead one to believe that he'll continue to improve on the next level.

    Active, rebounding centers with soft hands will always have a place in the league, but the Tyler Zeller that we saw at UNC might be the exact same player we see five years from now.

Terrence Ross

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    Biggest Knock: Strength

    Terrence Ross already possesses many of the tools he will need to be effective in the league. But with a few extra pounds, the 6'7" University of Washington product could be one of the most dangerous shooting guards in the NBA.

    Ross had trouble finishing around the rim at times in college, and his lack of upper-body strength will hinder him when he attacks the basket against players bigger and stronger than those he's used to playing against. The added mass will also help Ross defensively as he will be able to out-work smaller players on the wing.

Perry Jones

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    Biggest Knock: Fundamentals

    Athletically, Perry Jones might be one of the top five prospects in the draft. You need more than just athleticism to get by in the pros, however, so Perry Jones will need to work on the fundamentals of his craft in order to shine.

    Jones is the type of player that you may not notice for most of the game, and then he will have an impressive three-minute stretch where it looks like he's a sure-fire NBA star. The problem is that most of his basketball skills aren't quite yet ready for prime time, but that could very well change with a few years and the proper tutelage.

    With right coach, Jones can be a very fine power forward in the league. In the wrong situation, however, he may be the latest in a long line of extremely talented players who simply couldn't hack it at the NBA level.

Terrence Jones

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    Biggest Knock: Consistency

    Kentucky's wealth of talent makes it somewhat difficult to evaluate Terrence Jones, a 6'10" forward with the skill set to take over games at the college level.

    Jones is an explosive player who can be a matchup nightmare in the league at either the 3 or the 4 spot. But the question with him has always been whether or not he can (and will) maintain his aggression for an entire game.

    A consistent Jones will be a problem for opposing defenses, but if he is as erratic as he was in the SEC, he will struggle to find a niche in the NBA.

Arnett Moultrie

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    Biggest Knock: Interior defense

    At 6'11" and 233 pounds, Arnett Moultrie should be a force in the paint defensively. However, the Mississippi State product averaged less than a block per game last season.

    Moultrie's length helped him on the boards (10.5 RPG), but for some reason, it didn't translate to any other area of his game. With his 86-inch wingspan, there's no excuse as to why Moultrie isn't a more intimidating presence on the defensive end.

Fab Melo

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    Biggest Knock: Lack of offensive skills

    If an NBA team is in need of a low-post scoring option, Fab Melo isn't necessarily the guy they will be looking to draft.

    Melo is a deliberate big man who won't impress many with his moves around the rim, and he isn't effective at all more than 10 feet from the basket. Melo is far from a polished offensive product, but he has the physical gifts needed to become an above-average post player.

Kendall Marshall

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    Biggest Knock: Mid-range game

    Kendall Marshall's jump shot evokes images of Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo: Opposing defenses practically begged the North Carolina product to shoot from long range last season.

    Marshall's playmaking skills are not the question: He has the court vision and basketball IQ to start for many NBA teams today. But until he develops a consistent 16-foot jumper, defenders will sag off of him, making it more difficult for Marshall to create opportunities for his teammates.

Jared Sullinger

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    Biggest Knock: Back issues

    Jared Sullinger's athleticism was already a question mark before back issues recently discovered by NBA doctors took a chunk out of the Ohio State forward's draft stock.

    A two-time All-American, Sullinger was an extremely productive player in college. But concerns about his back combined with his lack of quickness and agility may have many general managers passing on him in the first round of the draft.

Royce White

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    Biggest Knock: Off-court issues

    In a strange twist of events, 21-year-old Royce White has only one season of college basketball under his belt.

    White was originally a member of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, but he was suspended for the 2009-10 season after he pleaded guilty to theft and disorderly conduct charges as a result of an incident back in October 2009.

    After another theft allegation the following month, White transferred to Iowa State where he had to sit out the 2010-11 season.

    If his off-court issues are truly in the past, White could be the biggest sleeper in the entire 2012 NBA draft.

Andrew Nicholson

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    Biggest Knock: Raw skills

    A big man with a nice three-point stroke (43.4 percent last season), Andrew Nicholson is one of the more intriguing prospects in the draft.

    Also intriguing is the fact that Nicholson didn't start playing basketball until his junior year of high school. As a result, he's a very raw player who needs quite a bit of work before his game will truly be NBA ready.

    Don't be fooled by the 18.5 points and 8.4 rebounds that Nicholson posted last year for St. Bonaventure. The 6'9" power forward is a project, but one that could pay dividends years down the road.

Moe Harkless

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    Biggest Knock: Outside shooting

    With one more year at St. John's, Moe Harkless could have been a top-five selection in next year's draft. Instead, he chose to take his talents to the NBA where he will receive the best in on-the-job training.

    Harkless has the quickness, agility and explosion of a prototypical small forward, but he doesn't shoot well enough to extend opposing defenses. If the 6'8" Harkless improves his ability to create opportunities for himself off of the dribble, his ceiling is extraordinarily high.

Will Barton

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    Biggest Knock: Strength

    At 175 pounds, Will Barton will have a devil of a time getting his shot off in the NBA.

    Back at Memphis, the 6'6" guard had the height to compensate for his slender build. No such advantage exists on the pro level as most of the league’s shooting guards are in the 6'5"-6'6" range.

    Judging by his body type, it doesn't appear as though Barton can add weight easily, either. If he can't, he will struggle to find consistent playing time in the league.

Tony Wroten Jr.

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    Biggest Knock: Left-hand dominant

    Left-handed guards are always appealing to coaches, but if one is as reliant on his left hand as Tony Wroten is, it can be a bit of an issue.

    The 6'6" Wroten is one of the better southpaw point guards to declare for the draft in recent years, but his dribbling skills with his right hand simply aren't up to par for the NBA. Teams will easily force him to go right, thereby reducing his effectiveness.

    Wroten's size and court vision will keep him in the league for a spell, but he will have to develop his off hand if he has any chance of becoming a more permanent fixture.

Marquis Teague

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    Biggest Knock: Playmaking ability

    More of a scorer than a natural playmaker, Kentucky freshman Marquis Teague will have to become a more traditional point guard once he begins his NBA career.

    His assist-to-turnover ratio (1.78-to-1) last season was just okay, and he routinely tried to force the ball to his teammates in situations where backing it out (or taking a jump shot) was clearly the better option.

    With the proper time and dedication, Teague could pick up the nuances of a half-court offense and be a solid point guard at the pro level. However, as it stands now, he has a fair amount of work ahead of him.

Draymond Green

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    Biggest Knock: Lack of position

    Draymond Green isn't a small forward or a power forward. The 6'7", 236-pound star is simply a "player":  A unique talent who is capable of doing a little bit of everything on the basketball court.

    Green can bang with 4s and can shoot as well as many 3s, yet he lacks the strength, conditioning and speed commonly associated with either forward position. But while you may not be able to pigeonhole Green into a single spot, his diverse skill set could prove to be invaluable at the NBA level.

Evan Fournier

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    Biggest Knock: Lack of athleticism

    At 6'7", Evan Fournier has fantastic size for a shooting guard at the pro level. He also lacks the explosion typically seen at the 2-guard position, and may struggle to get his shot off consistently in the NBA.

    Fournier does a lot of things right on the basketball court, and his vast array of offensive moves will help him to make a smooth transition from the French League. And while athleticism isn't something that can necessarily be taught, the 19-year-old Fournier still has plenty of time to develop the rest of his skills.

Quincy Miller

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    Biggest Knock: Consistency

    Consistently inconsistent is the best way to describe Quincy Miller: An impressive talent who is a very effective small forward...at times.

    Miller tore his ACL during his senior year in high school, and the injury appeared to rob him of some explosiveness. That said, it often takes more than a season to recover from such a devastating injury, and the 6'10" forward appeared hesitant at times last season. So perhaps the Miller that we see in the pros will be a more confident, more consistent player than the one we watched during his only season at Baylor.

John Jenkins

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    Biggest Knock: Lack of athleticism

    Vanderbilt's John Jenkins is a fabulous shooter (43.9 percent from three-point range last season) who doesn't have a superior level of athletic ability.

    Jenkins has decent speed and quickness, but he isn't the type of player who can create for himself on a consistent basis. So while he'll excel in catch-and-shoot situations, Jenkins will likely struggle in the short term if he's forced to pull the ball on the deck and drive to the basket.

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