Players Who Will Make Teams Regret Passing on Them at the 2012 NBA Draft
North Carolina center Tyler Zeller, a projected lottery pick, fell to no. 17 on Thursday.
As the 2012 NBA draft comes to a close, reality sets in.
After months of mock drafts, trade rumors and scouting reports, things are finally official. And they didn't quite go as planned.
While some players exceeded projections, others fell behind them. What were once sure-fire top-10s suddenly fell from lottery grace, burrowed into the middle of the first round or later.
But who will make general managers eat their proverbial hats? Check out the selected players that could vastly outperform their draft positions.
Thomas Robinson (PF), No. 5, Sacramento Kings
At Kansas, Robinson demonstrated his steely determination, rebounding prowess and low post skills. Once projected as the second overall pick, the former Jayhawk fell to Sacramento at No. 5.
According to the Washington Post, Robinson demonstrated top-notch character on draft night, and when it's all said and done, he could be the subject of lamentation in Charlotte, Washington and Cleveland.
In a league where rebounding and defense are becoming increasingly important, Robinson has the potential to be a serious difference-maker.
Charlotte did need a wing forward in Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and both Washington and Cleveland have stockpiled bigs. But passing on Robinson may prove to be a mountainous mistake.
Harrison Barnes (SF), No. 7, Golden State Warriors
Like Robinson, North Carolina's Harrison Barnes was considered locked in as a top-five selection. He wound up packing his bags for the Bay, going to Golden State with the seventh pick.
Barnes has undeniable star power and should blossom as a dangerous perimeter shooter. He can certainly score in bunches, as evidenced by his 17.1 points per night in 2011-12.
Per Rick Noland of the Chronicle-Telegram, Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving was vocal about his desire to play with Barnes. Instead, the Cavs opted for Syracuse's Dion Waiters. Barnes' raw athleticism could prove this to be the wrong decision.
Jeremy Lamb (SG), No. 12, Houston Rockets
Connecticut sharpshooter Jeremy Lamb was penciled in as a Toronto Raptor in many mock drafts. Instead, he fell way south of the Canadian border, all the way down to Houston at No. 12.
Shooting guards Terrence Ross and Austin Rivers were both selected ahead of the former Husky. But if Lamb's perimeter touch translates to the pros, watch out.
Lamb averaged nearly 18 points a night last year, and was dominant for Team USA in U-19 ball. He could leave Toronto and New Orleans second-guessing themselves.
Kendall Marshall (PG), No. 13, Phoenix Suns
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The Suns find themselves with a true steal in North Carolina's Kendall Marshall.
A pro-ready court general, Marshall averaged 9.7 dishes per night and was among the nation's best in assist-to-turnover ratio.
Marshall did a little bit of everything for the Tar Heels, and bears an eerie semblance to incumbent point guard and perennial All-Star Steve Nash. He could be a tough one to swallow for the other GMs with lottery picks.
Tyler Zeller (C), No. 17, Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers should be zealous about Zeller, who is one of the most ostensibly pro-ready prospects in the 2012 class.
Originally selected by Dallas, Cleveland got busy and shook things up in the first trade of the night. Zeller now joins Kyrie Irving and the Cavs, where his impact could be as huge as his wingspan.
Zeller was slated as high as 10th in mock drafts but wound up falling past the lottery picks. The UNC big man boasts fine-tuned interior defense and a solid jump shot.
John Jenkins (SG), No. 23, Atlanta Hawks
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According to Adi Joseph of USA Today, "Jenkins has a lot of the same skills as No. 3 pick Bradley Beal," and he could develop into one of the league's premier perimeter players.
With a natural shooter's touch, Vandy's John Jenkins soared through mock drafts and finally landed at No. 23. Per NBAdraft.net, scouts say that he was "probably as good a pure jump shooter as there was in college hoops" during his three-year career, and he could be an immediate star on the wings.
Before we know it, Jenkins could be burying late-game threes. He has huge upside.
Perry Jones III (PF), No. 28, Oklahoma City Thunder
A lottery-caliber talent, Jones free-fell to the tail end of the first round. He nearly averaged a double-double in 2011-12 and anchored a Baylor team that rode to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
Jones was destined for the top 10 of last year's draft before choosing to return for his sophomore year. Now, with another year of college ball under his belt, Jones could emerge as a huge steal for the Western Conference champs.
With a slew of questionable picks before him, "PJIII" could one day be a general manager's regret.
Doron Lamb (SG), No. 42, Milwaukee Bucks
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Other than Jenkins, Doron Lamb is perhaps the purest shooter in this draft. He was relegated to the middle of the second round, but could have GMs kicking themselves when it's all said and done.
Lamb is fantastic off the screen, a good catch-and-shoot player and can create his own shot off the dribble. He excelled from downtown, burying an astounding 46.6 percent of his threes last year.
Lamb fell far and could be a major steal for the Bucks in the wing. He, not Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Marquis Teague, lead the Kentucky Wildcats in scoring in the National Championship game.
Kevin Murphy (SG/SF), No. 47, Utah Jazz
Photo courtesy of ESPN.com.
Despite dropping 21.1 points per game with Tennessee Tech, Kevin Murphy fell to the back of the NBA draft. He cleared several teams' boards twice, but could be a big-time scorer in the pros.
Murphy shot over 41 percent from three-point range and can play either wing position. One of the most overlooked prospects in a stacked draft class, he could already fit with Utah as a sturdy sixth man.