NBA Draft 2012: 5 Upperclassmen Who Waited a Year Too Long to Declare
Timing is very important when it comes to the NBA draft. Players need to know when their stock is at its absolute peak; when it has gone as high as it can and staying in school could only hurt.
We see players get hurt by bad draft decisions every year. Just look at Jared Sullinger, last year he could have been the No. 1 overall pick, now he's going to miss the lottery.
This is even more important for upperclassmen because in today's NBA, most guys who stay for three or four years do it because they don't have the upside to be NBA stars. If they have a chance to go high in the draft they need to take it.
Here are five upperclassmen who missed their chance.
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Tyler Zeller didn't regress as a senior, his stats were actually nearly identical to his junior year.
That's the problem. Other than his rebounding, Zeller didn't progress much between his first and second year as a key contributor. When a player doesn't progress, scouts wonder if he has already peaked.
That's a legitimate concern with Zeller. Teams know what they're getting with Zeller, but nobody is mistaking him for a future star. He's going to go somewhere in the teens, but he had a chance to go higher last year.
The 2011 draft was weak, particularly for front court players. Considering Jan Vesely and Bismack Biyombo went sixth and seventh respectively, something tells me Zeller could have gone in the top five.
Zeller's career wasn't necessarily hurt by his decision to stay at UNC, but his wallet was. He lost a few million dollars by not entering the draft last year.
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Jordan Taylor was a second team All-American as a junior after leading Wisconsin to the Sweet Sixteen, but fell off considerably in his senior year.
His scoring dropped to 14.8 points per game, his field goal percentage dropped from 43.3 to 40.2 and his three point percentage feel from 42.9 to 36.9. His rebounding and assists numbers fell as well, and he committed more fouls and turnovers.
Taylor's statistical regression implies that coaches have simply figured him out. He has reached his ceiling and now he has nowhere to go but down.
Had he entered the 2011 draft Taylor likely would have gone in the first round, but now he's in danger of not getting drafted.
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This is by no means a knock on Draymond Green, who is one of my favorite sleepers in the draft. He actually improved between his junior and senior years.
This is a case of a player not understanding who he is. Draymond Green was never going to be a top 10 pick. NBA scouts have always had him pegged as a glue guy. Coming back to Michigan State wasn't going to change that.
Considering how much weaker the 2011 draft was than the 2012 draft, it is not inconceivable that Green could have gone in the late lottery or mid-teens. I'd say the worst scenario would be Chris Singleton's spot (No. 18 to Washington).
In the stronger class of 2012 though, Green is likely going to fall to the end of the first round. It doesn't mean he's a worse prospect, he just put himself in a worse position.
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Darius Miller is a victim of circumstance. In 2011 he was a major contributor on a surprise Final Four team. After Brandon Knight left he probably assumed he was going to be the man for Kentucky in 2012.
Then John Calipari signed one of the best recruiting classes of all time. With Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague suddenly on the team, Darius Miller was forced onto the bench.
To his credit, he never complained about it and filled his role admirably, but his stats suffered and so did his draft stock. Miller was never going to be a lottery pick, but he could have gone in the first round as a sharp shooter.
Now through no fault of his own, he's going to fall to the middle of round two. This is another case of a player not hurting himself as a player, he just didn't make a smart decision.
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William Buford is another player who peaked too early. His points and assists never fluctuated by more than .2 between his sophomore and senior years, and his minutes stayed largely the same.
The problem is his percentages fell. His field goal percentage fell from 46.2 to 41.9 and his three point percentage fell from 44.2 to 35.8 between his junior and senior years. His counting stats didn't suffer because he took more shots.
Buford was never going to be a star, but he has consistently been a solid role player. While that ensures that someone will take a chance on him, he could have convinced teams that he had a chance to be a star had he come out early.
He should have rode the coattails of teammate Evan Turner into the 2010 draft. His stats improved greatly between his freshman and sophomore years, and there was nothing to indicate that they wouldn't keep getting better.
Staying at Ohio State might have helped Buford mature mentally, but it didn't help him as a basketball player. All it did in that regard was cost him money.
He's going to go in the mid-to-late second round now when he had a chance to be a first round pick a few years ago.