2012 NBA Rookies Entering Dream Situations
Depending on a number of different variables, NBA teams approach each draft—and specifically, each one of their picks—in one of two ways.
Some franchises draft for need, while others choose the most talented prospect left on their board. But in every case, each team's goal is to draft a player whom will fit in well (from both a basketball standpoint and otherwise) with their current roster.
While the rookies themselves don't have much of a say in their ultimate destination, there are the fortunate few that wind up on that one team out of 30 that's best tailored to their skill set. So with the 2012-13 season quickly approaching on the horizon, let's take a look at eight rookies who are in the best position for future NBA success.
With all of the attention focused on No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers can fly under the proverbial radar next year...as long as he chooses to do so.
Going back to his days at Florida's Winter Park High School, Rivers was perceived as brash, cocky and somewhat selfish when it came to his persona on the basketball court. He toned his act down a bit while at Duke, and if he does the same with the Hornets, he'll be one of New Orleans' favorite sons before long.
Currently, Rivers isn't projected as a starter in 2012-13, but the 6'5" guard is more than capable of starring in a sixth man role as a rookie. With Davis posting up down low and with the explosive Eric Gordon at shooting guard, Rivers couldn't have asked for a better scenario in his debut season.
Life couldn't be better for Harrison Barnes—at least his NBA life, that is.
After being selected with the No. 7 overall pick back in June, Barnes is now part of a Golden State team that is well-positioned to make noise in the Western Conference. And unlike other high lottery picks, the 6'8" Barnes won't be asked to carry the load on offense—in fact, he's no better than the Warriors' No. 4 option.
With established shooters in the backcourt (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson), Barnes will be asked to do what his does best: knock down the mid-range jumper. The 20-year-old forward still struggles to create his own shot, but with so much talent around him, he'll be able to work on his game at a reasonable pace without being a detriment to the team.
The Phoenix Suns aren't expecting rookie point guard Kendall Marshall to be the next Steve Nash. In fact, with the signing of Goran Dragic this offseason, the team isn't even expecting him to start immediately.
So as the Suns take some time to find their identity, Marshall will be able to discover his as well. The 6'4" Marshall is a phenomenal playmaker, and is the prototypical type of floor general that every coach in the league would love to have. He does need quite a bit of work on his mid-range game, but without the burden of being thrust into the starting lineup on Day 1, Marshall should be able to make a smooth transition into the NBA.
According to ProBasketballTalk, Evan Fournier was the best player at the adidas Eurocamp back in June, and the silky smooth shooter can fill it up despite his slight frame. The Denver Nuggets are always looking for players who are capable of scoring in bunches, so it only made sense that the team used its first-round pick on the 6'7" guard.
The rotation ahead of Fournier is fairly loaded, so the two-time Rising Star of the French League will get a year or two to add some much needed strength to his frame. There's no need for Fournier to feel as though he needs to prove himself right off the bat: The Nuggets led the league in scoring last year, and the team's offense will be perfectly fine as the young shooting guard takes the time to learn the nuances of the NBA game.
There may be no better player for a young power forward to learn from than Boston Celtics star Kevin Garnett, and Jared Sullinger will have the privilege of watching (and doing battle against) the 14-time All-Star every day in practice.
After two All-American campaigns at Ohio State, Sullinger is well aware that he'll have to assume more of a supporting role for a Celtics team that's loaded with talent. And although the 6'9", 260-pound forward was initially disappointed that he fell to the 21st overall pick (a slide caused by his myriad back issues), Sullinger knows that Boston was the perfect landing spot for him.
A lot of what teams and rookies say in the days following the draft is typical PR paint-by-numbers stuff, but Oklahoma City forward Perry Jones clearly realizes that he's exactly where he belongs.
"Everybody knows that I wasn't supposed to slide as far as I did but, to be honest, I'm happy I did," said Jones shortly after he was selected by the Thunder with the No. 28 overall pick. "I mean, it's the perfect spot."
It isn't often that a player with lottery-level talent winds up in the back end of the first round, but a questionable medical history led many teams to pass on the 6'11" big man. Oklahoma City decided to take the gamble, and with several All-Star caliber players set to challenge Jones on a daily basis, the Thunder's risk could pay huge rewards in the very near future.
As a second-round pick, not much is expected immediately out of Jae Crowder. However, by the end of the season, he may turn out to be the steal of the 2012 NBA Draft.
The Mavericks have four former All-Stars at their two forward positions, so anything that Dallas gets from the 6'7" Crowder is pretty much icing on the cake. That said, the former Marquette standout is extremely versatile, and his never-say-quit motor will earn him some quality minutes next year. And as Crowder acclimates himself to the NBA game, having teammates and mentors such as Shawn Marion, Elton Brand and Dirk Nowitzki doesn't hurt matters, either.
Draymond Green doesn't fit in neatly at either forward position in the NBA, but he was so productive in college that the Golden State Warriors felt compelled to select him with the 35th overall pick back in June.
The 6'8" Green was the heart and soul of the Michigan State basketball team for the past four seasons, and despite elite-level athleticism, there were few players in college basketball last year who could fill a stat sheet like Green. Many have praised the rookie's extraordinary basketball IQ, and his teammates have already taken to compliment him long before the start of training camp.
According to Golden State power forward David Lee: "If you want a rebound, a loose ball or to have a screen set, you want Draymond Green."
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