NBA Draft 2012: 8 Rookies Who Will Produce the Best Highlights

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: 8 Rookies Who Will Produce the Best Highlights

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    On Tuesday I previewed five NBA Draft prospects who have been undervalued as a result of their modest size and athleticism. Today we take a look on the other side of the spectrum, previewing players strictly on their athleticism and highlight potential.

    None of these players are guaranteed to be key championship pieces, but if they're given adequate floor time, they are guaranteed to show up on some posters.

    Make sure you follow all the links to see all the highlights from the draft's top-eight highlight producers.

Anthony Davis – Kentucky

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    Davis, the draft's consensus top pick, is capable of producing highlights on both ends of the floor.

    On the offensive side of the ball, Davis' Gumby-like length and rebounding intuition make him a threat to throw down some highlight-reel putbacks.

    But Davis is also poised to join the Serge Ibaka Revolution, whereby his most iconic plays, the ones he'll ultimately be remembered for, take place on the defensive side of the ball. Whether it be a block that secures a last-second win, or a vicious swat into press row, Davis' defense is well worth the price of admission.

    If you need further proof, watch him spike presumed top-five pick Bradley Beal's layup attempt off the backboard (at the 0:19 mark of this clip.)

Thomas Robinson – Kansas

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    Robinson has been lauded for his will, determination and rebounding prowess. But, for whatever reason, people fail to acknowledge what a blue-chip athlete and finisher he is.

    Robinson somehow managed to fly below the highlight-reel radar this season, despite throwing down a Dunk of the Year candidate (Mute Alert: Dickie V is calling this game), along with a myriad of other nice finishes at the rim.

    His build is similar to Blake Griffin's and he throws down with a similar one-handed tenacity. His vertical will probably never be explosive enough to produce highlights like this, but he can provide a reasonable facsimile.

Bradley Beal – Florida

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    Beal has been compared to Ray Allen, possessing a smooth stroke that came right out of a textbook and a long, wiry 6'5'' frame.

    But Allen—even in his spry-er Jesus Shuttlesworth days—was never capable of providing a 10 on the posterization Richter scale. Beal, on the other hand, has dunks like this one against South Carolina on his resume.

    Unlike that of most college dunkers, Beal's jump shot demands respect, which should give him ample opportunities to unexpectedly beat defenders off the bounce and throw it down.

Dion Waiters – Syracuse

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    Waiters can't force defenders to respect his jumper the way Beal can, but he doesn't need to; this Syracuse product can get to the rim at will, regardless.

    Let him loose in the open court and he's even more dangerous, wielding the considerable edge he plays with and unleashing his fury on the rim.

    This dunk against George Washington is particularly punishing.

Terrence Ross – Washington

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    This one speaks for itself.

    You'll be hard-pressed to ever see a nicer in-game dunk––at any level.

    If he does that once, just once in the NBA, he'll immediately justify his inclusion on this list.

Austin Rivers – Duke

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    Rivers prefers to finish with layups at the rim and hasn't even heard of the word "defense." So how exactly did he qualify for the list?

    Highlights come in all shapes and forms and Curry can light up a SportsCenter segment the same way Jimmer Fredette and Stephen Curry can: with unlimited range.

    Perhaps it's part of his well-documented cocksure, but Curry shoots 27-footers like they're free throws. He was particularly deadly in an early-season bout with Michigan, flashing easy NBA-range on multiple occasions.

Jeremy Lamb – UConn

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    Anybody who's capable of doing this warrants immediate consideration for any list about basketball highlights.

    Lamb contorts his body in a way that we've only seen from Russell Westbrook in the collegiate ranks, a terrifying thought since Lamb is only gonna grow stronger.

    This one ain't too shabby either.

Royce White – Iowa State

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    Royce White is notorious in NBA Draft circles for his anxiety disorder, particularly his well-documented fear of flying.

    But after watching him beat Anthony Davis down the court for this NCAA tournament slam, it seems like he's pretty comfortable soaring through the air.

    He may not want purchase a ticket from JFK to LAX, but that clip proves White is still capable of going coast-to-coast.