8 2012 NBA 1st-Round Picks Who Will Have to Prove Their Worth in Training Camp
Training camp for the 2012-13 NBA season is officially underway, and NBA rookies on every squad will be busting their tails to show what they can bring to the team.
Many first-round picks still have a lot of work to do in order to earn the trust of their coaches and secure a prominent role.
For a few rookies, positional battles will force them to fight for their place. Others are looking to bounce back after unsettling Summer League displays or unimpressive workouts.
Each franchise has its own unique set of circumstances, and it's up to the newbies to adapt to the NBA game and fill their roles.
Perry Jones, Oklahoma City Thunder
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After slipping toward the bottom of the first round of the 2012 NBA draft, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Perry Jones knows he has much to prove to his coaches, teammates and opponents.
Both his health and his assertiveness raise some questions—questions that the Thunder won't be able to answer until they see him play with the main rotation and get some exhibitions under his belt.
In his introduction press conference, Jones and general manager Sam Presti addressed the doubts about his knee and his ability to be a force in the league. They both admitted that it's going to be a matter of him getting comfortable with the group around him and using his instincts to identify the best times to attack.
Jones showed glimpses of his fantastic skills during the summer. He must carry that into October to get his rookie year going in the right direction.
Fab Melo, Boston Celtics
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In less than a year, Fab Melo went from being a benchwarmer to the starting center on the Big East's top squad and a first-round draft choice for the Boston Celtics.
It took even less time for his value to plummet back to earth. A poor display during his 10 summer games gives him an uphill climb for playing time heading into the season.
How bad was Melo? In 16.7 minutes per game, he scored 2.9 points on 41 percent shooting and notched 1.1 blocks.
In every phase of the game, Melo must increase his speed and alertness. He can't rely on his height and shot-blocking skills to be a key NBA player; he must be more efficient on offense and quicker with his footwork on defense.
Austin Rivers, New Orleans Hornets
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Austin Rivers made shooting and scoring look easy at Duke, so how did he make it look so difficult during the Vegas Summer League with the Hornets?
We shouldn't overreact, because he's definitely better than his 21 percent shooting would indicate. However, there are specific steps he can take to become a better pro player.
Rivers' tendency to over-dribble is a noticeable flaw that gives individual defenders and team defenses a better chance to contain him and force low-percentage shots. It seems like he tries to make everything happen rather than letting the game come to him.
Being a playmaker doesn't always mean attempting the big play. It's about finding favorable opportunities and making the most of them.
Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors
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Terrence Ross climbed the mock draft boards throughout the spring, as he finished a superb sophomore campaign with the Washington Huskies.
By the time draft night rolled around, Ross was projected to be a borderline lottery selection (for example, this Draftexpress Mock Draft was published at 6:30 pm on draft night), and then he ended up going eighth overall to the Toronto Raptors.
Being a top-10 selection comes with high expectations, no matter the team. But on a Raptors squad with a handful of swingmen, including DeMar DeRozan and Landry Fields, Ross isn't going to be handed playing time on a silver platter.
Judging by his pre-draft workouts and summer production, he must improve his mid- to close range game and passing skills in order to open up high percentage three-point chances.
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
A boatload of minutes and responsibility are available for Andre Drummond to grab if he continues to improve this fall.
The Detroit Pistons took him ninth overall because he has the capability to be Greg Monroe's comrade in the paint for the next decade-plus.
Drummond is still extremely raw offensively, but over the summer he made some strides and even scored in double-figures a couple of times. The key for him is to achieve more consistency when he catches the ball with good position on the block.
Can he give Monroe enough help early on, or is he going to be too much of a project to help the Pistons get to the playoffs in 2012-13?
Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers
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Dion Waiters won't be much help to Kyrie Irving if he's an inconsistent outside shooter.
While at Syracuse, it was clear that he had jump-shooting potential, but after his Cavaliers stint in Vegas, it's clear that he's far from reaching that potential. He shot 12-for-40 from the field, including 1-for-6 on three-pointers.
It might be a tough year in the backcourt for Cleveland if he can't find his stroke from beyond the arc.
Cavaliers fans hope the work pays off and he can effectively utilize each possession.
Tony Wroten Jr., Memphis Grizzlies
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The Memphis Grizzlies know that Tony Wroten Jr. still has some developing to do, primarily in the jump-shooting and decision-making areas.
Despite his "work-in-progress" status, the exciting playmaker has a chance to earn some playing time if training camp goes well. It won't be easy, as there are several guards jockeying for position as the 2012-13 campaign approaches.
Aside from major pieces Mike Conley, Tony Allen and Jerryd Bayless, Memphis has Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and D.J. Kennedy battling for second-tier minutes.
Wroten must try to establish himself as a legitimate combo guard who can excel on the wing and also take over the point. The preseason competition will be intense; he could end up making nightly appearances in Memphis if it goes well, or with the D-League Reno Bighorns if it doesn't.
Thomas Robinson, Sacramento Kings
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From a competitiveness, character and physicality perspective, Sacramento rookie Thomas Robinson is ready for the NBA.
Although the Kings newcomer put up respectable scoring and rebounding numbers during Summer League action, he did so in an inefficient manner.
Robinson shot 34 percent from the field, coughed up 4.8 turnovers and committed 4.6 fouls per game. SB Nation's Mike Prada broke down his positional issues in his Summer League rankings:
Rather than throw his weight around inside, which is why he was drafted No. 5 overall, Robinson was content to play point forward and drift out on the perimeter. There were so, so many possessions where his foot never even touched the paint. There's room for experimentation in Summer League, but Robinson took it too far.
Training camp is Robinson's chance to show he can clean it up and make the most of his rookie season.
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