NBA Draft 2012: 10 Rookies That Will Make an Immediate Impact
After weeks of analysis and predictions, the 2012 NBA Draft has come and gone.
It isn't all about Anthony Davis, either. Seen as arguably the deepest draft in years, many of the players that were selected are expected to make an immediate impact with their respective teams.
Which 10 rookies are most likely to do so? I'm about to tell you.
Arnett Moultrie, Philadelphia 76ers
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The Philadelphia 76ers acquired the 27th overall pick in the draft from the Miami Heat, and at that spot, they got a player in Moultrie, who many expected to get selected in the teens.
The 6'11" Moultrie averaged 15.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game in his third and final year at Mississippi State.
He should be an immediate help to the 76ers, as they are likely to lose Spencer Hawes in the free agency and they are opening up a bit of a void in their frontcourt. There is also a chance that Elton Brand will get amnestied, making the need for a big man even more glaring.
It was blatantly obvious in the playoffs against the Boston Celtics that Philadelphia needed interior help, as Kevin Garnett absolutely decimated their frontline.
Moultrie isn't exactly an all-world defender, but his length and athleticism should certainly help to improve the Sixers' frontcourt, and with his ability to run the floor, he should fit right into Philly's uptempo system.
It would be nice for Moultrie to improve his postgame, though, the 76ers are dying for a player who can consistently score on the block.
Marquis Teague, Chicago Bulls
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Yes, he is very raw, and yes, he probably could have used another year at Kentucky, but with Derrick Rose likely to miss a nice chunk of the 2012-13 season recovering from that torn ACL, Teague is expected to produce for the Bulls right off the bat.
It's funny because Teague is like Rose in some ways.
He possesses lightning quickness and an outstanding first step, and with his ability to finish at the rim, he could be an explosive player. Also like Rose, Teague's jump shot is a bit iffy, and leads him to rely more on his pure athletic ability to score around the basket and to draw contact to get to the free-throw line.
Finally (and, once again, like Rose), Teague does not exactly have a "pure" point guard mentality, and he tends to look for his own shot more often than a point guard should.
Let me just clarify that I am in no way saying that Marquis Teague is Derrick Rose. I am just saying that he plays a similar type of game that Chicago is already used to.
Will Teague start for the Bulls?
Probably not from the get-go, as they still have C.J. Watson to hold the fort down. However, don't be surprised to if Teague begins to upstage Watson as the season progresses.
Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors
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I'll be honest: I didn't really like this pick for the Raptors.
I felt that they should have gone with Andre Drummond because Toronto has a pressing need for the center position. However, they decided to go with Ross, a player who will be looked upon to step in and provide some instant help.
The Raptors have DeMar DeRozan at 2-guard, but they are a bit unstable at the 3. They finished the season with Alan Anderson, whom they signed out of the D-League, as their starting small forward. That is why the athletic Ross will be expected to produce right off the bat.
Ross and DeRozan could form one of the most explosive one-two punches at the wing spots in the league, and if Toronto ends up signing Steve Nash, the Raptors could end up running one of the league's deadliest fast breaks as well.
Ross' length should also help Toronto's shaky defense.
Royce White, Houston Rockets
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I raved about White's talent and potential prior to the draft, and I am not backing down.
I think this kid is going to be special.
This is a kid who led his Iowa State team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals last year and was the only player in the country to do that.
White is probably the most unique player in the draft, being a 6'8", 260+ lb. forward who can handle and pass the rock like a point guard.
He also has a nice low postgame to boot. Yes, he needs a considerable amount of work on his jump shot, but his form isn't terrible, which leads me to believe he could at least be a serviceable jump shooter down the line.
What assures me most that White is already prepared to contribute on the NBA level is his basketball IQ and floor vision. He possesses a great feel for the game, and when a rookie already has those kinds of basketball smarts, the future is very bright for him.
I loved this pick for the Rockets, and with their trade of Chase Budinger to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the No. 18 pick (which turned out to be Terrence Jones), the door is wide open for White to produce immediately. He will still be behind Chandler Parsons on the depth chart, but make no mistake: He will see the floor, especially if Houston ends up trading Luis Scola.
The question is, what position will White primarily play?
Small forward or power forward? He certainly has the ability to play both, and that versatility could pay big dividends for the Rockets.
Jeremy Lamb, Houston Rockets
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This is yet another pick by the Rockets that I absolutely loved.
I think Lamb is going to translate very well into the pros because his game is very similar to that of Richard Hamilton.
He is outstanding when he moves without the ball, and he backs that up as a very reliable mid-range jumper. Lamb also has a very nice stroke from deep, and although he shot only 33 percent from downtown in his second and final year at Connecticut, he shot 37 percent in his freshman year.
Houston has already put Kevin Martin on the trade block, so there is a chance that Lamb will start the 2012-13 campaign as the Rockets' starting shooting guard.
I would love to see that because I think that the UConn product is more than ready to contribute to the NBA. I would like to see him develop more of a killer instinct, but that may come with time.
Best case scenario?
Lamb turns into a player like Reggie Miller or Ray Allen. I am not saying he will be as good as either of those players; I am just saying that he possesses a similar skill set. At his worst, I think he'll be Hamilton, and that's a pretty good worst case scenario.
Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics
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It's no secret that the Celtics need help on their interior.
The aforementioned Garnett is really the only player that they were able to rely on down low this past season.
Well, Sullinger may be the answer to Boston's problems.
Last year, Sullinger was seen as top-5 pick material, but he decided to come back for his sophomore year at Ohio State. His stock dropped a bit this time around because of the depth of this draft, and then it dipped even more when Sullinger was medically flagged for bulging discs in his back.
However, according to Sullinger's father, the back problems were merely a result of tight hamstrings and quads, and Jared has been making sure to keep those areas loose to alleviate the tension that was on his back. Also, Sullinger said in an interview with Sports Radio WEEI that he "feels great."
I expect the 6'9", 265 lb. Sullinger to help the Celtics immediately, as his refined low postgame will give Boston another player who can dump the ball into on the block. His rebounding ability will also help the C's tremendously, as the Celtics were one of the worst teams in the league on the glass last season.
Sullinger will also be able to learn from Garnett, one of the all-time greats.
Thomas Robinson, Sacramento Kings
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The Kings already have a budding star in DeMarcus Cousins in their frontcourt.
Now, they add the 6'10" Robinson, a player who averaged just under 18 points and 12 rebounds per game during his junior year at Kansas.
Robinson will be expected to contribute from Game 1, as Sacramento is a bit thin at the power forward position. He will benefit greatly from having Cousins with him up front, as the double teams that the center could command will open up Robinson.
Robinson isn't particularly great at any one thing, and his low postgame could use some work.
His blend of size and athleticism, however, should make him a productive player on the NBA level. I don't think he'll ever be a bona fide star, but a couple of trips to the All-Star Game is not out of the question.
With players such as Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, and Isaiah Thomas, the Kings are already teeming with young talent. Robinson could very well be that player that finally gets them over the hump as a team.
He is certainly NBA-ready.
Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors
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I'm not sure how Barnes fell all the way to No. 7, but he did, and the Warriors wasted no time in snatching him up.
Barnes is undoubtedly ready for the daily grind of the NBA, and I fully anticipate him getting major minutes right off the bat. He is currently behind Dorell Wright on the depth chart, but given Wright's significant drop-off in production last season, I wouldn't be surprised if this position ends up being short-lived.
The biggest knock on Barnes is that he can't create his own shot, but that didn't stop him from averaging 17.4 points per game in his second and final season at North Carolina. Imagine if and when he does develop the ability to create on his own? We might be looking at the league's next prolific scorer.
I really think that if Barnes becomes more aggressive and less dependent on others to set him up for shots, he could end up being a player very similar to Kevin Durant.
I'm not saying he will be Durant, but I think he possesses the ability to at least resemble him in terms of performance. He certainly has a smooth jump shot, and we all know how pure Durant's jumper is.
Don't be surprised to see Barnes light it up in his rookie season. Golden State is a great system in which Barnes could make that happen; that's for sure.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats
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To put it bluntly, Kidd-Gilchrist has to produce in his rookie year.
I think in terms of what each team expects of its rookies, no first-year player will be under more pressure than the Kentucky product in 2013. After all, he is joining a Bobcats team that was arguably the worst in NBA history this past year.
The good news for Kidd-Gilchrist is that he will have some support from Charlotte's guards.
The recently acquired Ben Gordon joins Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson, which should actually form a solid backcourt rotation.
The bad news?
The Bobcats have next to nothing in the frontcourt offensively, and that will make it that much more difficult for Kidd-Gilchrist.
Given the fact that Charlotte is in desperate need of scoring, I expect Kidd-Gilchrist to get off plenty of shots in his rookie year, and that might lead to some fairly big numbers from the 6'7" small forward.
There really isn't much of a leash for the Bobcats. They need to start improving now, and Kidd-Gilchrist is the first step to making that happen. That is why he absolutely must be productive during his first season.
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets
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This one is kind of a no-brainer.
I am not nearly as intense about Davis as most others are (I personally find the Garnett comparisons to be a bit ridiculous), but given the fact that he will be getting major minutes in his first season in New Orleans, you have to expect Davis to contribute.
The Hornets essentially have nothing in their frontcourt outside of Davis. So, he will be the "man."
Offensively, he will be getting touches and he will be getting shots. Defensively, he will have to be the one waiting at the rim to contest shots. He was able to do it in college, so everyone expects him to at least be able to hold his own in the pros.
Unfortunately, Davis already severely sprained his ankle during a workout with New Orleans and will have to miss the Olympics. Hopefully, the injury doesn't nag him past this summer.
Honorable Mention: Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
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The reason why I omitted Bradley Beal from the list is that I am not sure he is going to get an enormous amount of touches in his first season.
After all, he is playing behind both Jordan Crawford and John Wall, two young and talented guards who should get the bulk of the backcourt shots for the Wizards next season.
Certainly keep an eye on Beal for the future, though. He could be an Eric Gordon-type player.