NBA Draft 2012: Each First-Rounder's Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot

Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 30, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: Each First-Rounder's Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot

0 of 30

    In the "What have you done for me lately?" world of 24-hour sports media, the biggest question on each basketball fan's mind after Thursday's NBA draft is this: What will these players do next season?

    What this draft class may lack in potential superstardom it more than compensates for with an abundance of potential pieces to fit each franchise's puzzle.

    Expectations can be tempered by a player's "low ceiling" or enhanced by "NBA-readiness" (two of the more prominent terms in draft coverage).

    But often times a player's future can hinge largely on how well he meshes with his new franchise.

    Some teams seek talent to fit their systems (notably Gregg Popovich's San Antonio Spurs).

    Others don't have great pieces in place, so they adapt their systems to their new pieces (New Orleans Hornets).

    The 30 first-round draftees—from Anthony Davis to Festus Ezeli—will face intense battles for their chances to either prove their values.

    Here are the biggest impediments facing each first-round draft pick's attempt to be in an NBA starting five by the tipoff of the 2012-13 season.

30. Festus Ezeli, C, Golden State Warriors

1 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 10.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.0 blocks

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Andrew Bogut

    The Warriors were delighted when the big Nigerian fell to them with the 30th pick. Ezeli is a rare 22-year-old in that he still has plenty of potential, as he only played one year of organized basketball before going to Vanderbilt.

    At his best, he can be a force in the post on either end of the floor, although defense is clearly his specialty.

    He has a more polished inside game than do second-year big Jeremy Tyler and the ghost of Andris Biedrins.

    But the Warriors like Ezeli for the depth that he'll bring to Golden State, not because they think he can oust Bogut from his starting spot.

    Bogut is the biggest acquisition (figuratively and literally) of the new front-office regime, and he'll be given every chance to succeed.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 5 Percent

    Save for a Bogut injury—which is not outside the realm of possibilities—Ezeli's best option is to be the Warriors' first big off the bench.

     


29. Marquis Teague, PG (Chicago Bulls)

2 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 10.0 points, 4.8 assists, 41.2% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: C.J. Watson

    The Bulls were reportedly shopping for a lottery pick, but unable to find a trade they liked, they held on to the 29th pick and nabbed perhaps the third-best point guard in the class.

    He's every bit the prototypical John Calipari point guard: blazing quick, good handles, and able to penetrate the paint and finish at the basket.

    But he's also not a great half-court point guard yet and needs some seasoning in terms of creating for his teammates.

    Watson appears to be the front-runner to hold Derrick Rose's spot as the former MVP recovers from a torn ACL.

    If Watson is still a Chicago Bull next season.

    While he has stated his preference to remain with the team, Watson's future largely depends on how much money the organization is willing to spend.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 30 Percent

    Derrick Rose's absence increases his chance, but the Bulls will likely find another veteran free agent, should Watson leave.

28. Perry Jones III, SF/PF, Oklahoma City Thunder

3 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 13.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 52.2% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Serge Ibaka

    Perry Jones III can thank the NBA for not sending him a green-room invite to Thursday's draft.

    Jones held the top spot on most mock drafts two seasons ago, when he tantalized scouts as a freshman at Baylor with his combination of size (6'11", 234 lbs) and athleticism. 

    But when his numbers never matched half of the hype, his draft stock fell far enough that he decided to return for another year at Baylor.

    But after another year of inconsistent play, scouts began to question his motor.

    And when news broke about a possible knee problem, Jones slid down draft boards faster than he'd climbed them as a freshman.

    The good news for Jones is that he might have landed with the perfect team. Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe even tweeted that Jones' father had told him that the Thunder were the best fit for his son.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 0 Percent

    Jones will benefit from the Thunder's having enough talent to be patient with his development.

    As of now, Jones is not nearly the defender that Ibaka is and certainly will not unseat Kevin Durant if Thunder use him at small forward.

27. Arnett Moultrie, PF, Philadelphia 76ers (Traded from Miami Heat)

4 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 16.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, 54.9% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Thaddeus Young

    Moultrie joins a somewhat crowded group of power forwards in Philly, but he may have the best combination of size (6'11", 233 lbs) and athleticism of the bunch.

    He runs the floor well, which should fit the up-tempo play that this roster seems best suited to play.

    He needs to add bulk, and scouts have questioned his motor, but he was a good value at No. 27.

    While the major focus of the offseason will be the possible destinations of Dwight Howard and Deron Williams, the under-the-radar movement of the Philadelphia 76ers should be something to watch.

    In Philadelphia, last year's starting center, Spencer Hawes, and last year's leading scorer, Lou Williams, are both unrestricted free agents and will likely command good money in a largely forgettable free-agent crop.

    With reports that last year's starting power forward, Elton Brand, could be an amnesty candidate this summer and the annual Andre Iguodala trade rumors picking back up, the 76ers could have a brand new look next season.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 5 Percent

    Either Hawes or Brand will presumably be gone, and seeing both leave is a possibility.

    Still, Young's continued rise should make him the favorite at the power-forward position, no matter how well he's performed in his reserve role.

26. Miles Plumlee, C, Indiana Pacers

5 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 6.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 61.0% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: David West

    Perhaps outgoing Pacers executive Larry Bird knows something about Plumlee that others do not, but there was some speculation about whether or not Plumlee would be drafted at all, let alone in the first round.

    His 41' vertical at the combine surely caught Bird's attention, and that, along with a capable mid-range jumper, convinced Bird that he was the best available when Indiana picked.

    But his strengths on the offensive end cannot match those of the former All-Star West. Plumlee even appears to trail backup power forward Tyler Hansbrough by a good amount.

    West and Hansbrough have had their shares of struggles defensively, but unfortunately for Plumlee, he's had his as well.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 0 Percent 

    Let's take this one step further and say that he has no chance of starting a game in his career, barring catastrophic injury problems ahead of him.

    This was clearly the most puzzling pick of the first round.

25. Tony Wroten Jr., PG, Memphis Grizzlies

6 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 16.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 44.3% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Mike Conley

    Wroten has great size (6'6, 203 lbs) for the point-guard position and tremendous athleticism for any position.

    He uses his size and quickness to beat his defender and get into the lane, where he can finish at the basket or get to the free-throw line.

    When he cannot get to the rim, though, his lack of any semblance of an outside shot (16.1 percent from the perimeter in his lone season at Washington) becomes glaring.

    He's a better passer than players labeled "athletic point guard" are thought to be, and he has shown good instincts on the defensive end.

    With Jeremy Pargo and Josh Selby holding contracts for next season, Wroten will need a strong showing in the summer league to better his opportunity at his first NBA training camp.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 5 Percent

    Perhaps the glut of point guards in Memphis and the likely departure of now-unrestricted free agent O.J. Mayo will persuade Memphis to develop Wroten as a shooting guard, where he'll have a clearer path to the starting lineup.

24. Jared Cunningham, SG, Dallas Mavericks (Traded from Cleveland Cavaliers)

7 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 17.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Vince Carter

    Cunningham has NBA size (6'5") and good athleticism, but needs to add muscle to his 188-pound frame.

    He's a streaky shooter who can score points in bunches, and his ability as a slasher could benefit greatly from playing behind Carter.

    His jump shot needs a lot of work, and he needs to watch how quick his trigger is.

    He also has struggled creating out of pick-and-rolls and isolation plays, substantial parts of NBA playbooks.

    Dallas appears to be going all-in in their pursuit of free agent Deron Williams, and it's hard to tell who will be left to compete with Cunningham.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 10 Percent

    He was probably selected as a project pick and may wind up behind combo guards Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones if both survive the Williams push.

23. John Jenkins, SG, Atlanta Hawks

8 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 19.9 points, 47.4% FG, 43.9% 3-pt.

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Joe Johnson

    NBA front offices like drafting players whom they feel have "NBA" skills already in their games.

    Jenkins may never be more than a great shooter in this league, but it's that "NBA-ready" shooting ability that got him drafted in the first place.

    He has some important qualities that some great shooters lack: He understands how and where to move without the ball, and his rapid release requires little spacing to get his shot up.

    But if he ever wants to develop into a player and not just a shooter, he'll need to work on his ability to create something when his first look is taken away.

    And while a starting spot is unlikely, Jenkins could play a large role for a Hawks team that has just six players under contract for next season.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 5 Percent

    The six-time All-Star Johnson is too important, and the Hawks are too heavily invested for him to do anything but start.

22. Fab Melo, C, Boston Celtics

9 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.9 blocks

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Kevin Garnett

    Although the Celtics tried to move into the draft lottery, they "settled" for two productive post pieces, with Melo the second of consecutive Boston draft picks.

    Melo has good size (7'0", 255 lbs) and uses his body to protect the paint and change shots at the basket.

    He's raw defensively and is still learning how to play the game of basketball, but he has potential to contribute next season and develop into a major piece down the line.

    Melo joins a potentially talented lineup and could see a minimal role next season, as Garnett is returning and the Celtics may re-sign Brandon Bass.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 20 Percent 

    Garnett is coming back, likely relegating Melo to a reserve role next season.

21. Jared Sullinger, PF, Boston Celtics

10 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 17.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, 51.9% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Brandon Bass

    Sullinger's ranking on draft boards was tough to predict, even before he was given a medical red flag by NBA doctors with concerns about his back.

    His talent is undeniable, as Sullinger posted consecutive impressive seasons at Ohio State. He's a smart player who can score in the low post and has a good enough jumper to step away from the basket.

    But scouts are not sure if he'll have a Kevin Love-type transformation in the league or one like that of Michael Sweetney.

    Rivers should be able to find a way to take advantage of Sullinger's strengths while also compensating for his weaknesses.

    But that job is a lot easier if the Celtics are able to bring back their key pieces.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 35 Percent

    Bass should have plenty of offers after a strong postseason showing.

    Bass would like to stay with the Celtics, according to his agent in an interview with CSNNE.com, but he may be offered substantially more money elsewhere.

20. Evan Fournier, SG, Denver Nuggets

11 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 14.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 42.0 FG (with Poitiers/France)

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Arron Afflalo

    Fournier, the first international player taken, will hear Manu Ginobili comparisons until he forges his own identity in the league or reminds everyone how foolish they were.

    He has good size to play the wing (6'7", 204 lbs) and uses his above-average athleticism and plus handles to prod defenses.

    He's not the fastest player, but he's good at changing speeds and direction. He also has good court vision, especially for an off-guard.

    He'll need to improve his perimeter shooting (27.7 percent this season) to stake his claim among the crowded Denver wing.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 0 %

    Coach George Karl said he did not expect anyone available at No. 20 to be better than Nuggets rookie Jordan Hamilton was, and right now Fournier may not be.

    Potentially, he could be trailing Afflalo, Hamilton, Corey Brewer and Rudy Fernandez on the depth chart.

19. Andrew Nicholson, PF, Orlando Magic

12 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 18.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 57.1% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Ryan Anderson

    Nicholson enjoyed a prolific career during his four years at St. Bonaventure and brings a polished offensive game to Orlando.

    He's already an NBA threat offensively in the post, thanks largely due to stellar footwork and a soft touch with either hand around the basket.

    He also features a face-up jumper and plays with a high basketball IQ.

    Nicholson is also the kind of coachable, high-character guy that Orlando needs to find as the Howard saga continues to play out.

    If he's able to improve as an athlete to help him on the defensive end, he could surpass Glen Davis on the depth chart during training camp.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 15 Percent

    Nicholson has the talent level to see significant minutes for Orlando this season, but if Anderson is back in the fold, the starting job is clearly his.

18. Terrence Jones, SF, Houston Rockets

13 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 14.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 1.2 steals

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Chandler Parsons

    The Houston Rockets are not entirely sure about a lot of things right now.

    They don't know who's available on the trade market, and they don't know who—if anyone—is off limits on their roster.

    Add Jones to the list of Rockets don't-knows.

    They are not sure if he's a power forward, as his 6'9", 252-pound frame suggests he may not be. They are not sure if he has the handles or skill set to play major minutes at the small-forward position.

    But at least they're sure that Jones is an incredible athlete who attacks his man (and the glass) on both ends of the floor.

    He's had questions about his desire to improve, and scouts question his level of focus.

    But he's so versatile that some NBA team (in Houston or otherwise) will find a way to use his talents.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 50 Percent

    Although the Rockets were not able to parlay their multiple picks into anything on draft night, they'll surely shop anyone on the roster in search of a difference-maker.

    Jones' energy and versatility may sneak him in the starting five—if he's still with Houston when the season tips.

17. Tyler Zeller, C, Cleveland Cavaliers (Traded from Dallas Mavericks)

14 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 16.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, 55.3% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Anderson Varejao

    Perhaps the Cavaliers were pursuing Andre Drummond or Meyers Leonard when they aggressively shopped Anderson Varejao and the No. 24 pick in an effort to pick up a second lottery pick.

    But after failing to find any suitors, Cleveland general manager Chris Grant packaged three later picks to acquire Zeller.

    Zeller was largely regarded as one of the safest big men to take in this year's draft, as the junior showcased talents that should translate quickly to the NBA.

    He has good movement in the offensive post and maybe the best hook shot in this class, and he can also step away from the basket to hit the mid-range jumper.

    Zeller used his frame and good instincts in becoming a good rebounder at the college level, but his lack of athleticism could lower his NBA ceiling.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 65 Percent

    Zeller has an NBA-ready game and his movement into the starting lineup can allow Varejao to move back in to his ideal role: a high-energy big on the second unit.

16. Royce White, SF/PF, Houston Rockets

15 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 13.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 53.4% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Luis Scola

    White stands an inch shorter than Terrence Jones, but his 261-pound frame suggests he'll make his NBA living at the power-forward spot.

    White played mostly point forward at Iowa State and was, according to some scouts, the second-best passer in the 2012 draft class, behind North Carolina's Kendall Marshall.

    He has an underrated offensive post game, but it's his ability to pull defenders away from the basket and beat them off the dribble that excited scouts.

    He had the most unique skill set of this class, but his draft status fell, due largely to off-court concerns. He's had some legal trouble in the past, and his anxiety disorder seemed to lead most of his scouting reports.

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 50 Percent

    Like Terrence Jones, White has the potential to unseat a Rockets veteran or grab a starting spot vacated by a trade casualty.

     


15. Maurice Harkless, SF, Philadelphia 76ers

16 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 15.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 1.4 blocks

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Andre Iguodala

    What Harkless lacks in polish, he overcompensates for with potential.

    He has ideal size for the small-forward position (6'9", 207 lbs) and has a skill set as diverse as Philly's incumbent starting small forward, Iguodala.

    Whether or not he develops that potential will depend largely on coach Doug Collins' ability to put him in situations to succeed.

    He doesn't appear to be the type of player that needs touches to succeed, but, like Iguodala, he has struggled to shoot the ball with any consistency.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 30 Percent

    The aforementioned Iguodala rumors may increase with the addition of Harkless, but the versatile prospect is still probably too raw to start for a team with playoff hopes.

14. John Henson, PF, Milwaukee Bucks

17 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 13.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.9 blocks, 50.0% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Ekpe Udoh

    Henson could not have asked for a better fit, as his game should be well suited for Milwaukee's run-and-gun attack.

    He has the length, athleticism and instincts to protect the paint, a must-have ability for one playing behind a Brandon Jennings-Monta Ellis backcourt.

    But unlike the shot blockers that the Bucks have accumulated (Udoh, Samuel Dalembert and Larry Sanders), Henson has the ability to be a factor on both ends of the floor.

    His mid-range jumper needs work, but his shooting form shows room for improvement.

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 45 Percent

    Henson may already have a more polished offensive attack then the second-year Udoh, but he could still benefit from extra time to add to his frame.


13. Kendall Marshall, PG, Phoenix Suns

18 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 8.1 points, 9.8 assists, 46.7% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Steve Nash/Aaron Brooks

    As the Toronto Raptors prepare for what could be a monstrous offer for the 38-year-old free agent Nash, the Suns made a big step in preparing for life after Nash with the addition of Marshall.

    Marshall is perhaps the best "pure" point-guard prospect in the class and is well versed in finding the right balance among talented teammates all looking for shots.

    He may be the best look-ahead passer in recent history to come out of the collegiate ranks, and he possesses most of what teams would want in a point guard: good vision, leadership and ball security.

    But Marshall will need to improve on a work-in-progress jump shot that could be the difference between his becoming the next Andre Miller and his becoming Rajon Rondo without the defense or athleticism. 

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 0 or 60 Percent

    If Nash sticks around, which is still a possibility, Marshall is at least two years away from a starting gig in the league.

    If Nash walks, Marshall may be the better starting candidate to start, as the restricted free agent Brooks may be more well suited for a role providing instant offense off the bench.


12. Jeremy Lamb, SG, Houston Rockets

19 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 47.8% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Kevin Martin

    Two seasons ago, Lamb was a national champion and one of the most exciting freshmen in college basketball.

    But following a disastrous season for the Huskies, in which the Jeremy Lamb that the country was anticipating was never displayed, Lamb fell to the back end of the lottery.

    In terms of shear ability, there's not much Lamb cannot do on the basketball court.

    His jumper would make any shooting coach proud, and he has good size (6'5", 179 lbs) and athleticism for an NBA off-guard.

    Lamb is one of those rare talents for whom the game seems to come easily, but when that combines with inconsistent results, it inevitably leads to questions about work ethic and desire.

    If he finds a killer instinct, Lamb could be both the steal of the draft and the rookie of the year.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 55 Percent

    If Martin sticks around, Lamb is clearly coming off the bench this season.

    But if Houston makes any move, Martin's a likely trade chip, and the job is Lamb's for the taking.

11. Meyers Leonard, C, Portland Trailblazers

20 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 13.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 58.4% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Meyers Leonard

    The Portland Trail Blazers have six players under contract for next season: LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Luke Babbit, Eliot Williams, Shawne Williams and Nolan Smith.

    No matter how raw scouts think Leonard is, there isn't a name on the above list that could challenge him for the starting center position.

    The Blazers are already preaching patience with the big man, but that's more likely patience with his play as opposed to not rushing him on to the court.

    Leonard's biggest assets are his size (7'1", 250 lbs) and athleticism.

    Like any project big, his rebounding and defense are worlds ahead of his offense, but he'll have every chance to develop all aspects of his game.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 100 Percent

    New general manager Neil Olshey and whoever becomes Portland's next head coach should feel little pressure to win now and should focus on the development of the young big man.


10. Austin Rivers, SG, New Orleans Hornets

21 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 15.5 points, 43.3% FG, 36.5% 3-pt.

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Jarrett Jack

    While Leonard impressed scouts with size, Rivers impressed scouts with perhaps the most diverse offensive arsenal in the draft.

    He's creative with the basketball and able to free himself up for jump shots and drives to the basket. He also displayed the ability to run coach Mike Crzyzewski's pick-and-roll sets at Duke, which should translate well to the NBA.

    Rivers additionally showcases a shooting stroke capable of producing points in bunches and the athleticism to finish among taller players.

    But at 6'4" there are concerns about his ability to defend NBA shooting guards, and he has not shown the court vision needed to run the point, even in spurts.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 20 Percent

    His best chance at starting would come from Eric Gordon's departure, but the Hornets are reportedly ready to give Gordon max money if they need to.

    Realistically, then, his best chance at starting would be to show that he can be coach Monty Williams' point guard, which is not likely.

9. Andre Drummond, C, Detroit Pistons

22 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 10.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, 53.8% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Jason Maxiell

    Drummond was easily the nation's most coveted 10 PPG scorer.

    Scouts were impressed most with his measurables: 7'0", 279 lbs and a a standing 31-inch vertical leap.

    His game film was not nearly as impressive.

    While he was a force on the defensive end and on the glass, he struggled to score off anything but dunks and alley-oops.

    But he's 18 years young and, like people say, you can't teach size.

    His game needs more developing than that of any name mentioned (and plenty of names that weren't mentioned) on draft night, but having a point guard like Brandon Knight and a post-passer like Greg Monroe could simplify a lot of things for Drummond.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 20 Percent

    Although Maxiell is not a center, he's the biggest impediment to Drummond's starting as the roster currently stands.

    He's the only other big on the roster, and Greg Monroe is talented enough to play either post position.

8. Terrence Ross, SG, Toronto Raptors

23 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 16.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 45.7% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: James Johnson

    The sweet-shooting Ross was the surprise pick of the top 10 for many draft analysts, but it's hard to miss the Raptors' thinking here.

    Ross is an athletic wing who defends his position well and can shoot from anywhere.

    Four of the five starting spots seem locked for the Raptors next season: Steve Nash (or Jose Calderon), DeMar DeRozan, Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas (the team's 2011 first-round pick).

    In a Toronto offense that should feature plenty of pick-and-rolls with either big—and pick-and-pops with Bargnani—Ross is the kind of shooting threat that can create ideal spacing.

    And that same shooting threat would give DeRozan slashing lanes and Valanciunas room to operate in the post.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 60 Percent

    Nash and Calderon are both better suited to play with the quicker wing combination of Ross/DeRozan than DeRozan/Johnson.

7. Harrison Barnes, SF, Golden State Warriors

24 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 17.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 44.0% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Dorell Wright

    When Barnes was officially on the board at the seventh pick, Warriors general manager Bob Myers' phone blew up.

    Although the Warriors had been rumored to have been interested in trading the seventh pick and had more potential partners than they could deal with, when a player generates that much interest, it might be better to add him to your team.

    Not to mention the fact that Barnes fills the Warriors' biggest draft-day need at the small-forward position.

    He has an NBA body (6'8", 228 lbs), NBA athleticism and an NBA-ready shooting stroke.

    Barnes had a productive college career, even if it fell short of the extremely high expectations he brought to Chapel Hill.

    Still, at times he showed the parts of his game that made those expectations reasonable back then.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 75 Percent

    Barnes joins a crowded Warriors wing, but returning starter Dorell Wright may be dealt this summer, and other returning small forwards may be better suited for the bench.

6. Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trailblazers

25 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 24.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 46.7% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Nolan Smith

    Lillard was the consensus top point guard in this draft class, and the Trail Blazers had an obvious need at the position, which made this pick almost as certain as Anthony Davis' going first overall.

    He has "in the gym" range and showcased it last season on his way to being the nation's second-leading scorer.

    He'll have the knock of being a scoring guard by some, but given the skill level of his teammates, Lillard was generally the best option on offense.

    And even playing alongside a roster of players who were clearly not his equals, he managed the solid assist-to-turnover ratio of nearly 2:1.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 100 Percent

    Smith has a year of NBA service on Lillard but not nearly the upside.

    The smart money is on Portland's entering full development mode as soon as possible to try and build another playoff contender during LaMarcus Aldridge's prime.

5. Thomas Robinson, PF, Sacramento Kings

26 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 17.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, 50.5% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Jason Thompson

    Robinson's tragic story dominated headlines entering the draft, and it certainly deserved the attention it got.

    But it almost came to the point of overshadowing just how talented the young man is.

    He averaged a double-double last season (his first as a starter) and led the nation in the category.

    In Sacramento he'll bring a relentless motor and activity on the glass.

    He's a good athlete with a diverse offensive attack.

    But his biggest asset may be his leadership qualities, which Sacramento could surely use.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 50 Percent

    Coach Keith Smart should make this an open competition in training camp, and Robinson has the skills to unseat Thompson.

    But it's far from a lock.

4. Dion Waiters, SG, Cleveland Cavaliers

27 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 12.6 points, 2.5 assists, 47.6% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Manny Harris

    Depending on which school of thought you subscribe to, Waiters either was the first reach of the draft or is the next Dwyane Wade.

    His greatest asset is his ability to penetrate defenses and use his strength to finish around the basket.

    He's also shown the ability to play point guard for stretches, with plus handles and good decision-making.

    Waiters doesn't have great size (6'4") and may not have the athleticism to compensate on the defensive end.

    He also excels with the ball in his hands, so coach Byron Scott needs to find a way for Waiters to be effective that does not come at the expense of Kyrie Irving.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 85 Percent

    After not starting in any of his 71 collegiate games, Waiters may be too talented (or the competition may not be talented enough) to remain a high-energy reserve.

3. Bradley Beal, SG, Washington Wizards

28 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 14.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 44.5% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Jordan Crawford

    His shooting form alone could justify his draft position.

    He, like Barnes at UNC, failed to show great results from the perimeter during his lone season in Gainesville (33.9 percent), but those numbers will improve.

    The things that make him such an intriguing prospect are his NBA size (6'5", 202 lbs) and tenacious rebounding.

    He's a solid athlete and has one of the best basketball IQs in the class.

    His biggest area for improvement would be his ability to get to the basket and finish plays there.

    But with Crawford, John Wall and Ariza in Washington, the Wizards need Beal the shooter, not Beal the slasher.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 100 Percent

    Crawford is a talented player, but Beal is the much better fit for this lineup.

    If newcomers Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor join Nene and John Wall in the starting lineup, Beal's shooting stroke will be badly needed.


2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Charlotte Bobcats

29 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 11.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 49.1% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Jeffery Taylor

    Kidd-Gilchrist is going to have his work cut out for him.

    Not only are the Bobcats coming off the worst season in NBA history, but they are also incredibly limited in terms of talent and don't appear to have players capable of helping Kidd-Gilchrist play his best basketball.

    He's the type of player needed on a rebuilding team: He's tough, has great character and plays the game with a contagious energy level.

    But having those strengths typically means a player is lacking in skill, and the 18-year-old has a long way to go on the offensive end.

    He'd thrive in an up-tempo system (which new coach Mike Dunlap plans on using), but he'd have higher expectations for his rookie season if Charlotte can find a play-making point guard.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 95 Percent

    As the second pick of the draft, to an historically bad team, Kidd-Gilchrist almost has to start next season.

    But Taylor is also talented, and the senior may have more NBA-ready skills.

    Then again, that may not be the rebuilding Bobcats' biggest concern.

1. Anthony Davis, PF, New Orleans Hornets

30 of 30

    2011-12 Notable Numbers: 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.7 blocks, 62.3% FG

    Biggest Competition for a Starting Spot: Jason Smith

    Davis was the only sure thing in Thursday night's draft, both in terms of draft selection and potential stardom.

    He is a special type of player, with great size (6'10", 222 lbs) and athleticism, complemented by a set of point-guard skills he developed when he was a 6'2" sophomore guard in high school, recruited only by Cleveland State.

    His combination of shot-blocking, rebounding, passing and ball-handling could be something the league has never seen.

    He's also extremely mobile and, that, combined with his shooting touch, makes him a tantalizing fit for the NBA's pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop world.

     

    Chance of Being in Opening-Day Starting Lineup: 100 Percent

    Davis may struggle with some of the bigger post players in the league if he can't add more strength, but he's already locked up a spot in the Hornets' opening-day starting five.