NBA Draft 2012: 8 Incoming NBA Rookies Poised to Burst onto the Scene
Different teams have different goals going into the NBA draft. Some teams are looking for guys with long-term potential, while others want immediate contributors. However, getting guys who can play right away isn't as easy as it seems.
You need to find players who are not only emotionally and physically mature, but also fit into your specific system. Most rookies need time to figure out the NBA, so if you want one to step into your rotation immediately, he'd better be a good fit.
That said, some players are poised to break out as rookies no matter where they end up. Here are eight guys who are going to be contributors from the start.
It takes time to learn the nuances of playing defense in the NBA, but Anthony Davis is as mature a defender as you'll find at the college level.
He has no real weaknesses on that side of the ball; he'll be one of the league's five best shot-blockers on day one and is a very smart help defender.
The key to contributing as a rookie is having one specific skill that you can fall back on. No matter what, Anthony Davis will block shots.
On the offensive end, Davis is going to contribute as well. While his moves in the low post still need time to develop, his athleticism is incredible, and he'll score 15 points per game off that alone.
It's also important to remember that he's going to a very bad team. He'll be the Hornets' second option after Eric Gordon and will get a ton of shots.
Expect Davis to compete for the Rookie of the Year award. He won't be a superstar at first, but he'll definitely be a contributor.
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The Ray Allen comparisons are premature, but the Eric Gordon comparisons are not. Bradley Beal can flat-out score, but he's a very complete offensive player, especially for a freshman.
His college stats weren't jaw-dropping, but the ability is there. At Florida he was usually the main target of the defense, but as long as he doesn't get drafted by Charlotte he'll have far more openings in the NBA.
If he ends up in Cleveland, he'll get to share the backcourt with young star Kyrie Irving with Tristan Thompson as a young developing big man, and if he gets picked by the Wizards, he'll play with John Wall and Nene Hilario.
Beal's calling card is his shot, and while he wasn't incredibly efficient at the college level, that may be attributed to being the first option at Florida right from the start. He'll hit shots in the NBA, and it won't take him long to become a top-tier scorer.
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Like Beal, Harrison Barnes is an incredible shooter. The problem with Barnes is that he's not very good at creating his own shot.
It showed at North Carolina, where he was noticeably worse when Kendall Marshall wasn't on the floor to get him the ball.
Luckily for Barnes, if he can avoid the Bobcats he'll end up in a situation where shots will be created for him. It'll be Cleveland with Kyrie Irving, Washington with John Wall or Sacramento with Isaiah Thomas.
Barnes would thrive in any of those situations. He'd be able to just get into position while his young stud point guard gets him the ball to hit shots. If that's his role as a rookie, Barnes will make a huge impact.
Barnes is a perfect example of a player having a specific skill that will make him successful. He's a scorer who can put up big numbers when he has a point guard to get him the ball. As long as he can avoid Charlotte, he'll be really good.
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At the very least, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is an energy guy. He'll contribute just by being relentless; you know you're getting his best every night.
He's an elite defender, someone who can defend four positions well and usually covers his opponent's best player. Rookies usually need time to develop an offensive game, but teams prize rookies who can play defense, and other than Anthony Davis there isn't a better defensive rookie than Kidd-Gilchrist.
He's also a great rebounder for his position. He averaged 7.4 rebounds in just over 31 minutes per game as a small forward. Like defense, teams love rookies who rebound.
Even if he never develops a shot, MKG will be a great glue guy from day one. I defy anyone to watch him for more than five minutes and not see the similarities to Luol Deng.
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Most rookie big men suffer from what I like to call "Derrick Favors syndrome." Symptoms include a lack of low-post moves or any sort of offensive skill, not enough muscle and only one year of college.
This is the exact opposite of Jared Sullinger. He's a two-time All-American who has produced at every level. He's never gotten by on hype or athleticism, he's an incredibly developed scorer for someone his age, and while he's shorter than most power forwards, he makes up for it with strength and skill.
Sullinger reminds me of Paul Millsap. He's a bit undersized, but it doesn't hold him back as a player. He may never be a superstar, but he's the kind of guy any team would love to have.
It bothers me that Andre Drummond, who has a 1.3 percent chance to be Dwight Howard and a 98.7 percent chance to be Kwame Brown, is going to be picked in the top six and Sullinger is slipping into the late first round.
Yes, I know there are injury concerns, but come on—how many of these undeveloped, overhyped big men do we need to see fail before NBA teams come to their senses and stop drafting them so highly? Was Hasheem Thabeet not enough? Is any GM jumping at the chance to defend Darko Milicic over Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade?
No, most of the time these big men fail. The ones who succeed are the ones who were productive for multiple college seasons, have an NBA-ready body and have actually developed a few go-to moves.
That's Sullinger. His ceiling might not be very high, but his floor is. There is no way this guy is going to be a bust, and he's going to be close to what he'll end up being right from the start. Mark my words: He's the next Paul Millsap.
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While most rookies struggle at first offensively, I doubt that will be a problem for the ultra-confident Austin Rivers. He's a volume scorer with a far more advanced set of skills than most rookies.
While he wasn't incredibly efficient at Duke, he did hit 36.5 percent of his three-pointers. If Rivers can consistently shoot that type of percentage in the NBA, he'll be able to carve out a niche as a scoring sixth man
While Rivers isn't the type of player you want to run your offense for 40 minutes, he's a great player to have in spurts. All he really knows how to do is score, so if you have a need for production off the bench, he'll give it to you.
He needs the ball in his hands, but luckily for him he'll likely be immediately thrown into the scoring sixth man role. That means he'll be running the offense for around six minutes per quarter with the chance to create his own opportunities.
Rivers reminds me a bit of Jason Terry, but a bit more talented. He won't be Terry from the start, but he'll definitely contribute as a scorer during his rookie year. He'll make a ton of highlight plays and has the potential to keep you in games while your starters rest.
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Kendall Marshall is my favorite sleeper prospect in the entire draft. There is no way he doesn't stick as a starter in the NBA.
Most rookie point guards struggle because they aren't experienced running teams. This is because in today's AAU environment most guards grow up scoring first and passing second.
Marshall is the opposite. He's a pure floor general who knows how to keep an entire team of stars happy. He averaged almost 10 assists per game at North Carolina (good for second in the nation), Draft Express' stats say he averaged the most assists per 40 minutes in the last decade and also had the second-highest pure point ratio during that time.
He's nowhere near as flashy, but the obvious comparison here is Ricky Rubio. Both are all-world passers who see the game a step faster than everyone else. If Marshall is anything like Rubio was last year, he'll be an incredible value for his spot.
We saw last year with Isaiah Thomas that physically limited point guards can still thrive if they know how to run a team. There is no more important skill for a point guard. Marshall has it. He's going to be a very good NBA player.
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John Henson is essentially a worse version of Anthony Davis.
He's a great rebounder, defender and shot-blocker. He just didn't get noticed for it because he happened to play in the same season as Davis.
His length alone will allow him to do those things at a high level from the start in the NBA. He needs to develop a bit on the offensive end, but he's going to get some putbacks and alley-oops.
Henson probably shouldn't start from day one in the NBA, but if used correctly he's going to become a constant presence on SportsCenter with big-time blocks.
Physically he's a lot like JaVale McGee, except for the fact that he actually has a brain. He'll be a defensive stud and fan favorite as a rookie.