One Glaring Weakness That Will Stump Each 2012 First-Round Pick
The start of the 2012-13 NBA season is right around the corner, and there are 30 first-round draft picks ready to prove their worth to their respective teams.
From the No. 1 overall pick, Anthony Davis, to the final selection of the first round, Festus Ezeli, every rookie is trying to prove that he has what it takes to be a productive player in the NBA.
A major part of becoming a legitimate player in the NBA though is understanding what your weaknesses are so you can work on them and grow, which is where every 2012 rookie should start.
Ahead is one glaring weakness for every 2012 first-round NBA rookie that could stump them during the 2012-13 season.
30. Festus Ezeli, C, Golden State Warriors
Glaring weakness: Low basketball I.Q.
Festus Ezeli is the definition of a project player. While he's mature and has an NBA-ready, 6'11'', 255-pound frame, he's still very raw, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Ezeli won't develop if he doesn't start by enhancing his basketball I.Q., because that will be the foundation of becoming a legitimate center in the NBA. There's no doubt that he has all the physical tools he needs to succeed, but without a competent knowledge of the game, he'll be just another athletic big man that never realizes his true potential.
Fortunately for Ezeli, he has Andrew Bogut to learn from, and his relationship with the Australian big man could make or break his NBA career. Low basketball I.Q. has shortened the careers of many players with high potential, and it could do the same to Ezeli.
29. Marquis Teague, PG, Chicago Bulls
Glaring weakness: Undisciplined play
Marquis Teague was a great pickup as the 29th pick of the 2012 NBA draft, but he's not necessarily ready to be an immediate piece of the Bulls' rotation because of his undisciplined play.
There are times when Teague takes the game into his own hands. That worked for him at Kentucky, but in the NBA he'll get overwhelmed very quickly if he does that.
Teague's mentality coming into the NBA needs to be focused on facilitating offense to his teammates first and scoring the ball second.If he does that, he can certainly be a productive rookie. But if he plays undisciplined and out of control on offense, he'll quickly earn a permanent spot on the bench—especially after Derrick Rose returns.
28. Perry Jones III, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
Glaring weakness: Lack of intensity
Perry Jones certainly has his focus square on the 27 NBA teams that passed on him in the 2012 NBA draft. Proving they made a mistake will be enough motivation for him to excel, but that's only if he decides to be the player that he can be when he gives 100 percent.
Jones' biggest weakness is the fact that he just doesn't play hard all the time. When he's playing hard, he's an absolute force to be reckoned with, but when he's not, he's a waste of space on the court.
What it boils down to is a lack of maturity in Jones' game, and that's something he's going to have to develop to be a productive member of the Thunder's second unit. Jones has a great opportunity in Oklahoma City and it's up to him if he'll take advantage of it or waste it.
27. Arnett Moultrie, PF, Philadelphia 76ers
Glaring weakness: Focuses too much on perimeter offense
Arnett Moultrie is quite a player. He's long, athletic and versatile. But with that versatility comes the fact that he relies on his perimeter abilities more than his post game, and with a 6'11'', 230-pound frame, that's unacceptable.
Moultrie needs to use his perimeter offense to complement his game, but not as the foundation of it. Once Moultrie realizes his biggest strengths are his size and athleticism in the paint, he will become a productive player for the 76ers. Until he does that, he'll just be another player who doesn't understand how to truly utilize his size and take advantage of his natural talent.
26. Miles Plumlee, C, Indiana Pacers
Glaring weakness: Lacks fundamentals on offense
Miles Plumlee is an extremely physical player, and the one thing never questioned is the amount of effort he puts out on the court. While that's definitely a positive, it's also a negative at times because he lacks the fundamentals to complement that effort.
He has a lot in common with Tyler Hansbrough, and that's not necessarily a compliment. Both players play with reckless abandon, and that level of intensity often leads to foul trouble and inefficient play on both sides of the ball.
Plumlee needs to develop discipline and add some fundamental polish to his offensive game, because when he does he'll be a very solid player coming off the bench for the Pacers.
25. Tony Wroten Jr., PG, Memphis Grizzlies
Glaring weakness: Inefficient jump shot
Not only does Tony Wroten have Mike Conley Jr. and Jerryd Bayless to compete with for minutes at the point, he also has to work on his inefficient jump shot before he's gets legitimate minutes for the Grizzlies.
Wroten has a lot of potential, but right now he's best staying on the bench and learning from the veteran players ahead of him during practice. Until he develops a perimeter jumper, Wroten is going to struggle, and the Grizzlies undoubtedly know that. In time, he will be a competent and dangerous point guard, but for the time being he needs to just learn and work on his jump shot.
24. Jared Cunningham, SG, Dallas Mavericks
Glaring weakness: Goes soft to the rim
Jared Cunningham is a shooting guard that needs to work on a lot of things before he's ready to be a productive player in the NBA. Cunningham has a small frame and until he adds some muscle, he will struggle.
His lack of size holds him back on the court because it leads to him taking the ball soft to the basket. Cunningham settles for tough floaters instead of finishing strong at the rim. If he could hit those floaters like Chris Paul or Derrick Rose, it wouldn't be a problem.
At this point in his career, he's a very inefficient player and that's going to hurt his development. Cunningham needs to build strength and confidence before he can take his game to the next level.
23. John Jenkins, SG, Atlanta Hawks
Glaring weakness: Lack of defensive focus
John Jenkins is an absolute sharp shooter. He can score from almost anywhere on the court, and the Hawks will utilize his talents to do just that.
With Jenkins on the court though, the Hawks lose defensive intensity at the shooting guard position because Jenkins isn't a defensively sound player. To be a productive player in the NBA, Jenkins is going to need to work on the physicality that he brings to to the defensive side of the ball.
Until he does that, he will just be another player who can shoot lights out but do nothing more. Being a liability on defense is a way to cut an NBA career short, and that's the path Jenkins is on.
22. Fab Melo, C, Boston Celtics
Glaring weakness: Almost non-existent basketball I.Q.
Fab Melo is a player worth taking a risk on because of the upside that exists in his 7'0'', 250-pound frame, and the Boston Celtics realized that. That upside though isn't going to be realized until Melo learns the game.
Where he's at right now, Melo is just a large body who excels when it comes to cleaning up the glass. His lack of basketball I.Q. is going to seriously hold him and his development back. Luckily for Melo he has Kevin Garnett to learn from over the next few seasons.
If Melo can learn the fundamentals of the game, and put in the time it takes to develop, he can be a great player. If he relies on his potential alone, he will fail.
21. Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State
Glaring weakness: Lacks next-level athleticism and speed
Jared Sullinger is a fundamentally sound player. There's no doubt about that. The only problem is the NBA is becoming a league dominated by athleticism more than fundamental talent, and Sullinger will see that during his rookie year with the Celtics.
Sullinger might be a smart rebounder and a large body, but the athleticism he lacks is something that will seriously hold him back during his NBA career. Unfortunately for Sullinger, athleticism is something that can't be learned, and his lack of athleticism is going to be the bane of his existence in the NBA.
He can overcome his lack of athletic ability by adhering to the fundamentals of the game, but that's only going to take him so far.
20. Evan Fournier, SG, Denver Nuggets
Glaring weakness: Poor defensive skills
Evan Fournier is a pure shooting guard. He has a true "shoot first, pass second" mentality, and that's going to fit well into the Denver Nuggets' run-and-gun offense.
The bad part of his game though is the fact that not only does he not bring anything positive to the offensive side of the ball, he actually is a liability on defense. Fournier lacks the lateral quickness and agility that it takes to defend next level shooting guards.
While he might add some production to the floor for the Nuggets, he makes them a less efficient defensive team the moment he steps on the court and that will limit his minutes during his rookie year.
19. Andrew Nicholson, PF, Orlando Magic
Glaring weakness: Inconsistency outside of the paint
Without Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson, the Orlando Magic are in for a true rebuilding year during the 2012-13 season. While that's concerning for Magic fans, they have Andrew Nicholson and his fundamental talents to believe in.
Luckily for Magic fans, Nicholson is a dominant power forward with serious post skills. Unfortunately though, when he steps out of the paint he becomes a more inconsistent player and that's something opponents are certainly going to key on.
Until Nicholson develops a more efficient mid-range jumper, teams will force him out of the paint and make him beat them out there. That's something that right now, Nicholson can't do, and that will hurt him during his rookie year.
18. Terrence Jones, F, Houston Rockets
Glaring weakness: Maturity and effort in question
When Terrence Jones is playing at 100 percent, he's more than capable of being an immediate, impact player in the NBA. When he's not though, which is more often than not, he's a liability on both sides of the ball.
Jones needs to develop maturity and discipline before he can begin to truly reach his full potential. When things don't go his way on the court, he turns it off, and that's not going to fly in the NBA.It may have gotten him by in college, but the NBA is a different world and he is going to learn that rather quickly.
Immaturity and a lack of discipline won't get him anywhere, and once he realizes that, Jones will be a dangerous player.
17. Tyler Zeller, C, Cleveland Cavaliers
Glaring weakness: Lacks strength for center position
The Cleveland Cavaliers gave up quite a bit for Tyler Zeller, and while he definitely has a lot of upside, he won't reach his potential until he adds some strength to his frame and physicality to his game.
In a lot of respects, Zeller is a soft player. He's not tenacious on the glass and he doesn't exactly dominate players in the post. What he does best is stretch the court with mid-range game, but that will only get him so far in the NBA as a center.
Zeller needs to develop a mean streak to his game, and until he does that, he'll just be another project player for a Cavaliers' team that needs legitimate talent.
16. Royce White, F, Houston Rockets
Glaring weakness: Discipline on and off the court
Royce White is a special athlete. In some ways, he's as versatile as a player as they come. While he's not anywhere near on the same level as LeBron James, he brings some of the same characteristics to the game—like an ability to play most positions on the court.
Unfortunately for White, he lacks the one thing that is at the foundation of all successful NBA player's careers—discipline. White has had his issues off the court, but that isn't his biggest issue. His biggest weakness is the lack of discipline and focus that characterizes the way he plays the game.
White is best in isolation offense, and that's not going to help the Rockets win games. White needs to focus on maturing, and that's going to take time, which means it will be a few years before he excels in the NBA.
15. Maurice Harkless, SF, Orlando Magic
Glaring weakness: Doesn't play hard on defense
The player formerly known as Mo Harkless has a lot of upside and potential, and that's why the Orlando Magic made sure to get him as part of the Dwight Howard mega trade. He won't reach his potential, though, until he brings intensity to both sides of the ball.
When Harkless puts his best foot forward on offense, he makes plays reminiscent of guys like Dwyane Wade, James Harden and Eric Gordon. But when he's not giving 100 percent, he becomes more of a liability on both sides of the ball, and that will hold back during his early years in the NBA.
Harkless needs to put some polish on his game and add some intelligence to the way he plays defense before he becomes a legitimate player in the NBA.
14. John Henson, PF, Milwaukee Bucks
Glaring weakness: Needs to build muscle
John Henson is a mature, fundamentally sound and disciplined player. But that's only going to go so far because stronger and more physical power forwards will push him around like he's their little brother.
Until Henson adds some muscle mass to his 6'11'', 220-pound frame, he will be pushed around in the paint, and even his motor and determination won't make up for that. He has all the tools he needs to succeed in the NBA, most markedly because he's such a disciplined player, but he can't excel until he gets bigger and stronger.
13. Kendall Marshall, PG, Phoenix Suns
Glaring weakness: Not an elite scorer
Kendall Marshall is the truest point guard coming out of the 2012 NBA Draft class, and while that makes him special, it's also going to be something that will hold him back early on in his career.
With Goran Dragic ahead of him on the depth chart, Marshall's minutes will certainly be limited, but that's not the only reason they will be limited. The NBA is becoming a league that is dominated by point guards who can score at the point, and that's not the kind of player Marshall is.
While he has solid talent around him to benefit from his pass-first mentality, his inability to put up points on the scoreboard will hurt his development as a rookie.
12. Jeremy Lamb, SG, Houston Rockets
Glaring weakness: Lets the game come to him too much
Jeremy Lamb is an athletic freak, and in transition he will be one of the best and most electrifying players in the NBA. The one big weakness in his game is the complacency he exhibits when the ball is out of his hands.
When Lamb has the ball, he's an electrifying talent, but when he's just another player in the offense, he seems to lose his motivation and the effort he should be putting forth. If Lamb carries that complacency into the NBA, he'll be exposed as the undersized wing player he is. If he develops a stronger work ethic and moves without the ball, he'll be a difficult player to stop.
His rookie year will go a long way in deciding what kind of player he will be in the long run.
11. Meyers Leonard, C, Portland Trail Blazers
Glaring weakness: Extremely raw offensively
Meyers Leonard is a very athletic, strong and physical player. While that will be at the foundation of a successful NBA career, it will only get him so far until he develops fundamental post moves and polish on offense.
Leonard will be a solid defensive player, and his athleticism will carry him in transition, but his lack of polish on offense will hold him back from getting legitimate minutes as a rookie. Leonard needs to work on adding a mid-range jumper to his game so that defenders aren't able to make him look out of place when he is out of the paint.
In time, Leonard will be a fearsome center, but for now he'll be relegated to out-hustling players and allowing his athleticism to shine on the glass.
10. Austin Rivers, PG, New Orleans Hornets
Glaring weakness: Plays too selfishly at times
Austin Rivers had a very rough summer league and it was because he tried to do too much, too often. That's the story of Rivers' career, and it's mainly because he's a bit too selfish at times.
To be a successful rookie in the NBA, Rivers needs to understand that it's his job to be opportunistic on offense, while focusing on facilitating the offense to the more developed players on his team.
If Rivers does what he did in college and shoots the ball too much, the Hornets will struggle and he will have a miserable rookie year. Selfish play is only okay if your name is Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. Rivers isn't anywhere near that level yet, so he needs to play unselfishly.
9. Andre Drummond, C, Detroit Pistons
Glaring weakness: Terribly undisciplined
Andre Drummond is the definition of raw talent and potential. But that's only going to get him so far in a league that is dominated by players who have developed fundamental skill.
While he works on adding polish to his offensive and defensive game, he must also add a level of discipline to the way he approaches the game night in and night out. In college, Drummond fouled out of games, or got into foul trouble more often than not, and that's solely because he didn't play with a high level of basketball I.Q.
Drummond might need a few years to develop a strong post game, but he can become a more intelligent player with every game he plays, and he must do that or his rookie year will be a complete failure.
8. Terrence Ross, SG, Toronto Raptors
Glaring weakness: Poor shot selection
Terrence Ross thinks he's open 100 percent of the time, and while his confidence is to be commended, it's his greatest weakness as well. Ross is known for putting up low-percentage shots all too often, and that won't fly in the NBA.
On a Toronto Raptors team that needs offensive production, Ross can't afford to be defined by low-percentage shots and poor shot selection—especially seeing that he was the eighth overall pick.
Ross isn't an unintelligent player, but he needs to put some serious work in understanding the difference between being open and really being open. If Ross focuses too much on his own offensive production and not enough on the success of his team, his rookie year will undoubtedly be a major disappointment.
7. Harrison Barnes, SF, Golden State Warriors
Glaring weakness: Lacks ball-handling on perimeter
Harrison Barnes is without a doubt the most mature and NBA-ready player coming out of the draft, but he still has weaknesses, the most notable of which is his inability to handle the ball on the perimeter.
While that's something that won't hold back his career in the long run, it's something that will keep him from reaching his true potential early on. In transition, Barnes thrives, but when he's asked to control the half-court offense, it's a different story. Luckily for Barnes, the Golden State Warriors won't ask him to do that too often.
Barnes must develop a level of competency on the perimeter, both handling the ball and creating open shots for himself. If he doesn't do that, he'll be stuck in mediocrity for the majority of his career.
6. Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers
Glaring weakness: Can get too fixated on scoring at times
Damian Lillard is going to be one of the top three players to come out of the 2012 NBA Draft, there's no doubt about that. But he absolutely must remember that he's a point guard first and a scorer second.
While Lillard can score at a prolific rate, his best talent should be his first—using his elite athleticism to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. Scoring when his team needs him to should come second.
Lillard could certainly be the steal of the 2012 draft, but he'll only reach that level if he remembers he's a point guard first and a scoring guard second.
5. Thomas Robinson, PF, Sacramento Kings
Glaring weakness: Hangs out on the perimeter too much
Thomas Robinson is a player who's set out to prove every team that passed on him wrong, and while he certainly will do that, it will take some time. Robinson needs to realize his greatest strength is his post game and his physicality in the paint.
Right now, Robinson spends a bit too much time on the perimeter settling for jump shots instead of banging in the paint.
Once he develops a balance between the two worlds, he will be a player, much like Kevin Love, who's able to spread the floor like few other players in the game. Until he matures and develops the skill to do that, he'll be a player who's not playing at his true position enough.
4. Dion Waiters, SG, Cleveland Cavaliers
Glaring weakness: Untested and inconsistent
Every year there is a player whose draft stock rises at an incomprehensible rate. That player this past year was Dion Waiters. The main reason for his skyrocketing stock was because of his potential and upside, but that's also what will hold him back.
Waiters is untested, and he's too inconsistent on both sides of the ball to be a player who will have an immediate impact in the NBA. Even having Kyrie Irving beside him won't help his transition because Waiters isn't battle-tested enough to succeed immediately in such a physical league.
3. Bradley Beal, SG, Washington Wizards
Glaring weakness: Inconsistency on defense
Many believe Bradley Beal is the purest shooter coming out of the 2012 NBA draft. While that's a great honor, and somewhat true, he won't become a legitimate superstar in the NBA until he develops into a more physical defender.
Beal is a smooth athlete on offense, but unfortunately, that doesn't carry over to the defensive side of the ball. He needs to figure out how to balance his effort on offense with a complete effort on defense. Luckily for Beal, he's a very coachable player, and in time his coaches will get him to be a consistent defender. Until that happens though, defense, or a lack thereof, will be where he gets exposed the most.
2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Charlotte Bobcats
Glaring weakness: Weak perimeter offense
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a physical defender who's dangerous when he's slashing into the paint. But his biggest weakness exists outside of those areas, on the perimeter. Kidd-Gilchrist doesn't have efficiency outside of 20 feet, and on a number of teams in the NBA that wouldn't be a problem.
On a Charlotte Bobcats team that needs him to be their franchise player though, he'll have to excel on the perimeter to help spread the floor, which is going to be a problem. Once opponents realize his weakness, they will force him to beat them at the three-point line, and that's something that Kidd-Gilchrist can't do at this point in his career.
1. Anthony Davis, PF, New Orleans Hornets
Glaring weakness: Relies too heavily on athleticism at times
Anthony Davis' athleticism is without a doubt his biggest strength, but it also has a tendency to be his greatest weakness. Relying on athleticism will provide fans with highlight moments, but it won't help Davis turn into an NBA superstar overnight.
To become an elite player at the next level, Davis must take time and work on his post game while also becoming more fundamentally sound on the defensive side of the ball. His athletic skills could very well earn him the 2012 rookie of the year honor, but it won't get him much further than that because fundamentals are always more important than raw athletic talent.