NBA Draft 2012: 15 Solid College Hoops Players Who Will Be Better as Pros
Potential. We hear the word thrown around in relation to the NBA Draft, more so than any other time of year. The potential of a player heavily influences NBA teams—they look to tap that potential, maximizing each draft pick.
In this article, you'll find players teeming with potential; potential they did not reach in college. Balanced teams like Syracuse and Kentucky have multiple players on this list, mostly because players didn't have the chance to shine.
In the faster-paced NBA, however, these players will get more opportunities to showcase and improve their skill.
Here are 15 players that will see more statistical success in the NBA than college, in order of selection.
College stats: 14.2 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 4.7 BPG
Having a single season better than Anthony Davis' freshman year will be nearly impossible.
However, his college statistics hardly showcased his dominance, except for those 4.7 blocks per game. He may not come close to that number in the NBA, but 14.2 points per game and 10.4 rebounds per game can be surmountable.
No player has more "potential" than Davis.
He's still a teenager, he's played as a big man for two years and he can still add strength. He'll make a great professional.
College stats: 11.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.9 APG
Energy and effort separate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist from other small forwards in the 2012 draft class.
Another Wildcat teeming with potential, Kidd-Gilchrist is just 18 years old and has holes in his game that can be fixed. One huge aspect of his game that can be improved is scoring—he thrived on second-chance and transition opportunities in college, but struggled in half-court sets.
With his effort and willpower, Kidd-Gilchrist will be in the league for years to come.
College stats: 14.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 33.9 3P%
The third statistic is most alarming for anyone that didn't watch Bradley Beal in college. His three-point shot is immaculate—great form, consistency and a quick release—but he struggled early in the year.
Later, though, Beal started to put it together. The talent was always there, and 33.9 percent does not do his shot justice. He is one of the better shooters in this draft, and he'll show it in the NBA.
Beal was drafted into a great situation in Washington, a team that needed outside shooting help. As a shooting guard, his rebounds per game may drop, but his points per game and shooting percentage should increase as a pro.
College stats: 12.6 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.5 APG
One look at Dion Waiters' college statistics and you would never guess that he would be a lottery pick, let alone a top-four selection.
But Waiters played for the deepest college basketball team in the country last season, and his stats reflect that. He only played 24 minutes per game, a number that will increase as a professional.
Cleveland has invested a lot in Waiters, and they can't afford to sit him on the bench. He'll be a great scorer beside Kyrie Irving.
College stats: 16.4 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 37.1 3P%
The Toronto Raptors stretched for Terrence Ross with the eighth pick, and this may be a stretch as well. Ross put up strong numbers in his second season at Washington, and to say he'll score over 16 points per game is, well, a stretch.
However, Ross fits with the Raptors. They needed outside shooting to compliment DeMar DeRozan, and Ross was the best shooter on the board.
Ross will be able to play immediately for Toronto, and he'll immediately contribute at a high level.
College stats: 15.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.1 APG
Austin Rivers is a volume shooter. Beside Anthony Davis in New Orleans, he'll have all the shots he can take.
Davis will anchor the paint for the Hornets, and he's not one to ask for the ball on offense. Rivers, however, is. He's a score-first, pass-second guard and he'll thrive in the NBA. He has range (just ask Tyler Zeller), he can get to the rim and create shots at will.
Rivers may struggle on defense, but he was drafted for his scoring.
College stats: 13.6 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.9 BPG
Meyers Leonard is raw—but he was drafted into a great situation with Portland. He'll be able to play beside LaMarcus Aldridge, one of the best scoring forwards in the NBA.
Leonard has as much potential as any center in this draft. Compared to Andre Drummond, who went ninth to Detroit, Leonard is a much safer prospect.
Leonard's offense in the NBA may take some time to develop, but he'll offer a physical presence in the paint from day one.
College stats: 8.1 PPG, 9.8 APG, 2.6 RPG
Kendall Marshall isn't a scorer. He never has been and he never will be.
But his passing and court vision are second-to-none in this draft class. He thrives in up-tempo environments, something the Phoenix Suns are known for.
Playing in an up-tempo system with Steve Nash out of town gives Marshall an immediate starting job.
College stats: 13.7 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.9 BPG
In his three seasons at North Carolina, John Henson improved his scoring every year. He's added to his offensive repertoire, adding range to his jumper and developing more post moves.
Like Anthony Davis, Henson may not see his blocks per game increase as a professional. But his defensive impact will still be there, and if he improves like he did in college, he'll be a strong pro for Milwaukee.
College stats: 13.4 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 5.0 APG
Royce White is a risk. Off-court issues prevented him from being a top-10 pick.
So, I'll take a risk here. If White can put aside those off-court issues, he'll easily improve on his 13.4 points per game. He may not be the "point-forward" that he was at Iowa State, but his talent is through the roof.
White may be a boom-or-bust prospect, but he's got the "potential" scouts love.
College stats: 7.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.9 BPG
Fab Melo was a great surprise for Syracuse last season. He evolved from a freshman that played less than 10 minutes per game to a 25.4 minute per game behemoth down low.
Offensively, Melo may not improve on 7.8 points per game. But he'll be able to man the paint defensively for Boston, and that will increase those rebounds per game. He'll be a valuable defender for Doc Rivers down low.
Perry Jones III
College stats: 13.5 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.6 APG
Perry Jones III slipped to the Oklahoma City Thunder at the end of the first round. Just one year ago, he was a lock for a lottery pick.
For OKC, this is a perfect selection. They are already one of the best teams in the league, so taking a shot on PJIII is all reward, no risk.
He's played very well in the NBA Summer League, according to ESPN.com.
College stats: 10.6 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.4 APG
One player teeming with potential but didn't quite show it in college.
Quincy Miller could have been a lottery pick if he stayed in school another year. Instead, he'll develop in the NBA with Denver.
Miller had flashes of his all-around game on occasion in his lone season at Baylor. Against Missouri on Jan. 21, Miller scored 29 points from all over the court, making 12 of 17 shots from the field. He played 31 minutes.
He may struggle next season, but he can blossom into an NBA stud.
College stats: 12.9 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.3 BPG
Justin Hamilton may be a surprise addition to this list, but he's got game. He has nice touch for a big man, moves well and can score in a multitude of ways.
For Philadelphia, Hamilton can play as a big power forward or a slightly undersized center. He has good size, but his strength is less-than-desirable for an NBA center.
Hamilton may not be an All-Star, but he'll be a solid role player in the NBA.
College stats: 9.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.1 APG
Darius Miller is a professional. He has an NBA body, an NBA game and has been coached by one of the best in the business.
It's easy to think that Miller can improve on his collegiate statistics because he wasn't asked to do as much at Kentucky. He was a great defender and scorer off of the bench, and he should be able to replicate that in the NBA.
Miller may not have as much upside as most players on this list, but he can step in immediately and contribute. With Miller, there is no guessing game. New Orleans has a player that will work hard and lead other young players.
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