NBA Draft 2012: 5 First-Round Picks Destined for Tough First Years

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 7, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: 5 First-Round Picks Destined for Tough First Years

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    Not every rookie can succeed during his initial foray into NBA basketball, and these five first-round picks from the 2012 NBA draft are going to have particularly tough first seasons. 

    Whether it's a lack of playing time or a game that is anything but NBA-ready, each of these five will struggle on the first step of their journey to greatness. 

    Keep in mind, though, that I'm in no way saying their entire careers will be failures—just the first seasons. 

    Read on to find out which players we're talking about. 

Andre Drummond

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    Team: Detroit Pistons

    Position: C


    Andre Drummond may swat away a few shots during his time with the Detroit Pistons playing alongside Greg Monroe, but he still has so much growing to do before he's ready to contribute on both ends of the court. 

    The big man was drafted in the lottery because of his immense size and athleticism, not because of polish and finesse. 

    He's going to be caught out of position on both ends of the floor far more often than most rookies, and that's assuming he even earns a lot of playing time as a first-year baller. 

Maurice Harkless

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    Team: Philadelphia 76ers

    Position: SG/SF


    This is by no means a knock on the athletic swingman from St. John's, but rather a question of playing time and roster creation on the part of the Philadelphia 76ers. 

    Maurice Harkless can make a huge impact in transition and a solid contribution on both ends of the court, even as a bit of a project player, but he's not going to earn much playing time. 

    Philly has decided to collect too many wing players in similar mold. With Andre Iguodala, Evan Turner, Nick Young, Dorell Wright and Harkless, there simply aren't enough minutes to go around. 

Meyers Leonard

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    Team: Portland Trail Blazers

    Position: C


    The Portland Trail Blazers are going to have one lottery pick in contention for Rookie of the Year, but it won't be Meyers Leonard. 

    Damian Lillard will be in the running from day one, but the 7'1" Leonard will struggle to make much of an impact during his freshman campaign in the pros.

    Leonard was still developing at Illinois, and he continues to get by primarily on his athleticism and size. The finesse and technique is still a work in progress. 

    The big man is going to be a solid player down the road, but he's going to have a tough initial experience in the Association. 

Kendall Marshall

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    Team: Phoenix Suns

    Position: PG


    Kendall Marshall is one of the more NBA-ready players in this draft class, but his talent just won't be enough for him to make an impact as a rookie point guard for the Phoenix Suns. 

    The southpaw has otherworldly passing skills, but he struggles to create his own shot—and even more in making it—and he's a bit of a sieve on the defensive end. 

    That's not going to afford him much playing time, especially with Goran Dragic and Sebastian Telfair on the roster. 

    Marshall might make an impact one day, but he won't work his way up the depth chart as a rookie. 

Austin Rivers

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    Team: New Orleans Hornets

    Position: PG/SG


    Austin Rivers has an NBA-style game and will have plenty of opportunities to make a name for himself with the New Orleans Hornets, but he has a lot of work to do before his impact is primarily a positive one. 

    The combo-guard can get into the lane at will and create his own shot at a moment's notice, but he still needs help with his decision-making. 

    Rivers will struggle initially against the defensive pressure and the increased athleticism of the NBA. He won't be able to thrive whenever he chooses to, as he did at Duke. 

    You're going to see a lot of turnovers and missed shots as Rivers develops once he's thrown into the fire at the sport's highest level.