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Ranking NBA Rookies Who Will Become Stars, Busts and Bombs in 2011-12 Season

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 7, 2011

Ranking NBA Rookies Who Will Become Stars, Busts and Bombs in 2011-12 Season

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    With the 2011-2012 NBA season set to start on Christmas Day, let's take a look at how the young players in the league will perform. 

    Let's be honest here. Everyone is intrigued by rookies. You're lying if you say you aren't. 

    To satisfy that intrigue, I've ranked all 60 draft picks from the 2011 NBA draft in terms of how they'll perform during the 2011-2012 season. 

    Essentially, this is how I feel the Rookie of the Year voting is going to play out at the end of the season. 

    These rating do not include long-term upside and they will change slightly (or in some cases drastically) if unexpected free agent signings occur or any huge trades are made. 

    Read on for the complete rankings of the NBA rookies. 

    (N.B.: Some of these descriptions and projections are taken from a previous article I wrote. Some were left unaltered while some were adjusted.)

47 (tie). Lavoy Allen (Philadelphia 76ers, Pick No. 50)

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    Based on the fact that ESPN ranked Lavoy Allen as the worst player in the NBA, it's a safe bet to say that he won't make the Philadelphia 76ers roster this season and thus will not be accumulating any statistics.

     

    Projected Stats

    0.0 points, 0.0 rebounds, 0.0 assist per game


47 (tie). Davis Bertans (San Antonio Spurs, Pick No. 42)

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    Davis Bertans will most likely not be playing for the San Antonio Spurs this season. 

     

    Projected Stats

    0.0 points, 0.0 assists, 0.0 rebounds per game

47 (tie). Bojan Bogdanovic (New Jersey Nets, Pick No. 31)

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    Bojan Bogdanovic will most likely continue to play overseas instead of sitting on the end of the bench for the New Jersey Nets. 

     

    Projected Stats

    0.0 points, 0.0 assists, 0.0 rebounds per game

47 (tie). Jon Diebler (Portland Trail Blazers, Pick No. 51)

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    I don't think that Jon Diebler will return from his stint with the Greek club Panionios to play in the NBA this season. He is not in possession of an opt-out clause so a return to the USA would be quite difficult. 

     

    Projected Stats

    0.0 points, 0.0 rebounds, 0.0 assist per game


47 (tie). Adam Hanga (San Antonio Spurs, Pick No. 59)

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    I don't think that Adam Hanga will be playing in the NBA this season.

     

    Projected Stats

    0.0 points, 0.0 rebounds, 0.0 assist per game


47 (tie). Charles Jenkins (Golden State Warriors, Pick No. 44)

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    I don't think that Charles Jenkins will end up playing for the Golden State Warriors this season. With too many shooting guards on their roster already, he should end up playing in the D-League during 2011-2012. 

     

    Projected Stats

    0.0 points, 0.0 assists, 0.0 rebounds per game

47 (tie). Milan Macvan (Cleveland Cavaliers, Pick No. 54)

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    I don't think that Milan Macvan will be wearing a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform anytime soon. 

     

    Projected Stats

    0.0 points, 0.0 rebounds, 0.0 assist per game


47 (tie). Chukwudiebere Maduabum (Denver Nuggets, Pick No. 56)

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    I don't think that Chukwudiebere Maduabum will be playing in the NBA this season. This is a good thing for me because I don't ever want to have to spell his name again. 

     

    Projected Stats

    0.0 points, 0.0 rebounds, 0.0 assist per game


47 (tie). Ater Majok (Los Angeles Lakers, Pick No. 58)

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    I don't think that Ater Majok will be playing in the NBA this season. Instead, he'll likely play in the D-League. 

     

    Projected Stats

    0.0 points, 0.0 rebounds, 0.0 assist per game


47 (tie). Nikola Mirotic (Chicago Bulls, Pick No. 23)

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    Nikola Mirotic will be playing with Real Madrid during the 2011-2012 NBA season. 

     

    Projected Stats

    0.0 points, 0.0 assists, 0.0 rebounds per game

47 (tie). Donatas Motiejunas (Houston Rockets, Pick No. 20)

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    Donatas Motiejunas will not be playing in the NBA this season. 

     

    Projected Stats

    0.0 points, 0.0 assists, 0.0 rebounds per game

47 (tie). Tanguy Ngombo (Portland Trail Blazers, Pick No. 57)

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    I don't think that Tanguy Ngombo will be playing in the NBA this season. Actually, he wasn't even eligible to be drafted. 

     

    Projected Stats

    0.0 points, 0.0 rebounds, 0.0 assist per game


47 (tie). Kyle Singler (Detroit Pistons, Pick No. 33)

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    Kyle Singler will be playing with Real Madrid instead of the Detroit Pistons during the 2011-2012 season.

     

    Projected Stats

    0.0 points, 0.0 assists, 0.0 rebounds per game

47 (tie). Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto Raptors, Pick No. 5)

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    Jonas Valanciunas will not be joining the Toronto Raptors until the 2012-2013 NBA season.  

    I guarantee I project the statistics right on this slide. 

     

    Projected Stats

    0.0 points, 0.0 rebounds, 0.0 assist per game

46. Andrew Goudelock (Los Angeles Lakers, Pick No. 46)

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    Playing Time

    I'm still not entirely sure what role Andrew Goudelock is going to have within the Los Angeles Lakers organization. 

    He won't be one of the rotation point guards and will likely serve as a garbage-time backup shooting guard. There's no way he can pass Kobe Bryant in the depth chart after all. Additionally, with the Lakers looking to win now, they aren't going to spend their valuable minutes trying to develop Goudelock this season. 

     

    Skill Set

    A score-first, pass-second combo guard, Andrew Goudelock makes up for his 6'2" frame with his ridiculously consistent shooting stroke. 

    His jump-shot is his biggest calling card and there's no limit to his range. 

     

    Projected Stats

    1.1 points, 0.2 assists, 0.2 rebounds per game

45. Reggie Jackson (Oklahoma City Thunder, Pick No. 24)

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    Playing Time

    I didn't understand this pick at all when it was made. The Oklahoma City Thunder are absolutely loaded at the guard position. 

    Russell Westbrook is an All-Star-caliber point guard while the defensive skills of Thabo Sefolosha and offensive talents of James Harden combine to form a great duo at shooting guard. With Nate Robinson and others already coming off the bench, there really isn't much of a place for Reggie Jackson to fit in. 

     

    Skill Set

    A very quick and athletic guard, Jackson has gotten by thus far based solely on his physical attributes. His ball-handling, shooting and passing skills are all sub-par. 

    Essentially, Jackson is a slightly worse clone of Westbrook when he was first coming out of UCLA. 

     

    Projected Stats

    1.6 points, 0.3 rebounds, 0.3 assists per game

44. Vernon Macklin (Detroit Pistons, Pick No. 52)

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    Playing Time

    Vernon Macklin is likely going to make the Detroit Pistons roster, but he's not going to spend much time on the court at all. 

    Macklin has Jason Maxiell and Charlie Villanueva ahead of him at the power forward position and Greg Monroe and Ben Wallace ahead at center. 

     

    Skill Set

    Already 24 years old, Macklin is going to have to prove a lot to make it in the NBA. 

    He's got an NBA body, but his long arms and rebounding skills are going to have to make up for the fact that he's essentially limited to the paint on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. 

     

    Projected Stats

    1.2 points, 0.1 assists, 1.1 rebounds per game

43. DeAndre Liggins (Orlando Magic, Pick No. 53)

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    Playing Time

    The Orlando Magic needed a good perimeter defender and they found one in DeAndre Liggins. Even though he isn't a great offensive player yet, his defense is good enough that he'll find his way onto the court. 

    Liggins will probably serve as J.J. Redick's backup at the shooting guard spot during his rookie season.  

     

    Skill Set

    As I mentioned above, defense is absolutely DeAndre Liggins' calling card. He may have had offensive highlights like his game-winning shot to send Kentucky to the Final Four, but don't expect too many highlights on that end of the court this season. 

    Liggins is already 23 years old and doesn't have too much room for improvement, but his athleticism should allow him to succeed at the NBA level. 

     

    Projected Stats

    1.5 points, 0.7 assists, 1.0 rebounds per game

42. Josh Selby (Memphis Grizzlies, Pick No. 49)

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    Playing Time

    The Memphis Grizzlies need to get Josh Selby on the court. His athleticism demands it. 

    A lot depends on how healthy Rudy Gay stays, but the Grizzlies will struggle to fulfill that demand. They're loaded at the guard spots with Gay, Mike Conley, Tony Allen, O.J. Mayo and a few other young players. 

     

    Skill Set

    Josh Selby can jump. Really, really high. 

    His athleticism is absolutely staggering, but so too is his immaturity and rawness. After what can only be considered an incomplete freshman year at Kansas, Selby is going to attempt to make the jump to the NBA. It's the only type of jump he may have trouble with. 

     

    Projected Stats

    2.1 points, 0.4 assists, 0.4 rebounds per game

41. Iman Shumpert (New York Knicks, Pick No. 17)

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    Playing Time

    Iman Shumpert was a very interesting selection for the New York Knicks. David Stern relished the opportunity to announce that Shumpert was not in attendance as the entire fanbase tried to decide whether or not this was a giant "Eff you" from Donnie Walsh, who was serving his last days as the President of the organization. 

    Now that he's on the team though, Shumpert is going to have to struggle for playing time. With Toney Douglas, Landry Fields, Bill Walker and Roger Mason all already comprising the shooting guard rotation and Chauncey Billups entrenched as the starting point guard, Shumpert is going to have to make a huge impression to earn his minutes. 

     

    Skill Set

    Shumpert posted a 42" vertical leap at the NBA draft combine, a number that was unmatched in this year's draft class and only topped by Nate Robinson and Vince Carter in recent memory. 

    He's tremendously athletic and his 6'5" frame helps him make his living on defense, but Shumpert is a poor shooter and quite prone to making bad decisions on the court. That's a problem for a point guard. 

    It wouldn't surprise me to see the former Georgia Tech guard to wind up in the D-League for at least part of the season. 

     

    Projected Stats

    2.6 points, 0.9 rebounds, 0.5 assists per game

40. Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls, Pick No. 30)

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    Playing Time

    Getting consistent minutes is going to prove to be a huge problem for Jimmy Butler. As a shooting guard and small forward, the former Marquette standout is competing with Keith Bogans, Ronnie Brewer, Rasual Butler, Kyle Korver and Luol Deng for playing time. And that's before the Bulls bring in a better two-guard during free agency as many expect them to do. 

     

    Skill Set

    Butler, the owner of an inspiring and literal rags-to-riches story, is blessed with tremendous athleticism but his actual basketball skills are still works in progress. 

    At Marquette he was a dual threat, just as capable of hitting a big shot as he was crashing the boards and pulling down an important rebound. He has the size and hops to continue doing so in the NBA, but he'll need the minutes to come first. 

     

    Projected Stats

    3.1 points, 1.5 rebounds, 0.4 assists per game

39. Malcolm Lee (Minnesota Timberwolves, Pick No. 43)

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    Playing Time

    The Minnesota Timberwolves have a glut of players at each and every position on their roster, but Malcolm Lee is still talented enough that he has to make it. 

    He likely won't serve as anything more than a 12th man during his rookie season. 

     

    Skill Set

    Usually Ben Howland's guards end up being good players in the NBA, but I'm not entirely sure what Malcolm Lee will become. 

    He's a combo guard but he's not a good enough passer to play point guard and he's not a good enough shooter to play shooting guard. 

    As a great athlete and defender, he'll still make his mark felt. 

     

    Projected Stats

    2.5 points, 1.4 assists, 1.3 rebounds per game

38. Isaiah Thomas (Sacramento Kings, Pick No. 60)

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    Playing Time

    Even though he was Mr. Irrelevant in the draft, I expect for Isaiah Thomas to get a fairly significant amount of run behind Marcus Thornton (if he returns to the team as a restricted free agent), Tyreke Evans and of course Jimmer Fredette.

    He'll likely be a back-of-the-rotation guy throughout the season, but that's still much better than not being a rotation guy at all.  

     

    Skill Set

    While Isaiah Thomas certainly doesn't bring much height to the table, he makes up for it with an incredible vertical jump.

    Thomas has top notch speed and ball-handling skills to boot. With good defensive skills and a massive chip on his shoulder thanks to his draft position, Thomas is going to dramatically exceed his draft slot by the end of his career.  

     

    Projected Stats

    3.1 points, 1.1 assists, 0.4 rebounds per game

37. Cory Joseph (San Antonio Spurs, Pick No. 29)

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    Playing Time

    Cory Joseph would have been the backup point guard whether or not he went pro. If he had stayed with the Texas Longhorns, he would likely have been sitting behind stud freshman Myck Kabongo.

    But now he'll be backup up Tony Parker with the San Antonio Spurs. 

     

    Skill Set

    Cory Joseph has an incredibly diverse set of skills. 

    Unfortunately, that sounds like a bit more of a compliment than Joseph deserves. He's good at everything a point guard needs to be good at, but he doesn't possess any one standout skill that will inspire the Spurs to think of him as a long-term solution once Parker is no longer with the team. 

     

    Projected Stats

    3.7 points, 1.2 assists, 0.8 rebounds per game

36. Travis Leslie (Los Angeles Clippers, Pick No. 47)

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    Playing Time

    Travis Leslie will likely spend his time honing his skills on the bench and serving as the third-string small forward on the Los Angeles Clippers behind Ryan Gomes and Al-Farouq Aminu.

     

    Skill Set

    I can sum up his skill set in just one word: oh-my-god-did-you-see-how-he-did-that-how-high-can-he-jump-jaw-dropping-athleticism. 

     

    Projected Stats

    3.5 points, 0.5 assists, 1.6 rebounds per game

35. Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors, Pick No. 11)

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    Playing Time

    I have no idea how Klay Thompson is going to make it onto the court regularly unless the Golden State Warriors make a trade prior to the start of the season. After all, Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry have the starting guard spots on lockdown. 

    Thompson will probably serve as the backup shooting guard, but Ellis plays a whole lot of minutes on a nightly basis. In fact, his 40.3 minutes per game was tops in the league for a second straight season. 

     

    Skill Set

    Klay Thompson is a sharp-shooting big guard with limited athleticism. In other words, he's the prototypical Warrior. And that right there is exactly why they shouldn't have drafted him. 

    Not exactly known for his defensive prowess, Thompson may not even get a chance to fully utilize his skills. There just aren't enough shots to go around in Golden State. 

     

    Projected Stats

    4.3 points, 1.1 assists, 0.8 rebounds per game

34. E'twaun Moore (Boston Celtics, Pick No. 55)

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    Playing Time

    E'twaun Moore won't get as much playing time with the Boston Celtics as he did for Benetton Treviso in Italy, but he'll still contribute a little bit. 

    Moore will be an end of the rotation player, spelling Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo in small portions as a rookie. 

     

    Skill Set

    Even though he looks like an NBA player with his 6'4" frame, E'twaun Moore doesn't possess NBA-level athleticism, speed or strength. 

    Just as he did at Purdue, Moore will manage to overcome those limitations thanks to his above-average guard skills. He's an adept ball-handler with a terrific shot, one capable of taking over a game. 

     

    Projected Stats

    4.3 points, 1.1 assists, 1.2 rebounds per game

33. Josh Harrellson (New York Knicks, Pick No. 45)

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    Playing Time

    Right now, the New York Knicks don't have much to offer in the way of backup big men. Almost by default, Josh Harrellson should be able to earn significant minutes. 

     

    Skill Set

    Harrellson's game is still pretty raw and he has a long way to go before he's NBA ready. 

    He's a tough young player who won't be able to contribute much to the scoring of the Knicks but he will be able to pull down some rebounds and provide an element of toughness to Mike D'Antoni's team. 

     

    Projected Stats

    3.2 points, 0.6 assists, 3.3 rebounds per game

32. Norris Cole (Miami Heat, Pick No. 28)

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    Playing Time

    It's slightly confusing to me why the Miami Heat seem so desperate to add a point guard to their roster when they have talented young Mario Chalmers currently running the show and a tantalizing prospect in Norris Cole waiting in the wings. 

    I'd like to see the Heat give Cole a shot at running the offense, but I don't really see that coming anytime this next season. 

     

    Skill Set

    One of the reasons that playing time may not be so forthcoming is that Cole's skill set does not mesh will with the Miami team's needs. 

    Cole is a scorer who needs to have the ball in his hands. With LeBron James and Dwyane Wade both on the court most of the time, that simply isn't possible. 

     

    Projected Stats

    5.1 points, 1.6 assists, 1.2 rebounds per game 

31. JaJuan Johnson (Boston Celtics, Pick No. 27)

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    Playing Time

    During his first season with the Boston Celtics, I really can't see JaJuan Johnson getting much time on the court at all. After all, he's blocked by Kevin Garnett at the power forward spot and Jeff Green is more likely to come on the court if Boston decides to go small. 

    Johnson may be used exclusively in mop-up duty during the first year of his professional career. 

     

    Skill Set

    Johnson is a very well-rounded player whose 6'10" frame will undoubtedly help him. He's the unique big man who possesses both a diverse set of low-post moves and the ability to drop jumpers from the outside. 

     

    Projected Stats

    4.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.2 assists per game

30. Jeremy Tyler (Golden State Warriors, Pick No. 39)

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    Playing Time

    Jeremy Tyler will most likely find his way onto the Golden State Warriors as a third center behind Andris Biedrins and Louis Admundson. 

    He won't get many minutes though as a rookie. 

     

    Skill Set

    Jeremy Tyler is still working on almost all of his basketball skills, but he does have the physical tools necessary to succeed. 

    Tyler is big, strong and chock full of potential. 

     

    Projected Stats

    3.9 points, 0.3 assists, 2.7 rebounds

29. Justin Harper (Orlando Magic, Pick No. 32)

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    Playing Time

    With Hedo Turkoglu, Daniel Orton, Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass all already on the roster at the forward positions, it's going to be hard for Justin Harper to earn much playing time during his rookie season. 

    That said, if Dwight Howard is traded away, as many expect he will be, that previous sentence will change drastically and I will have no clue how much playing time Harper will receive.

     

    Skill Set

    Because he played for the Richmond Spiders, Harper got nowhere near as much recognition as he deserved during his impressive senior season. 

    A tremendous shooter who picks his spots carefully and makes more than he misses, Harper has a very versatile skill set and should be able to help his new team in a bevy of ways. 

     

    Projected Stats

    4.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 0.2 assists per game

28. Trey Thompkins (Los Angeles Clippers, Pick No. 37)

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    Playing Time

    As a Georgia boy, it pains me to say this, but Trey Thompkins simply isn't going to be able to stay on the court long enough to make a lasting impression on Los Angeles Clippers fans this season.

    It's not like he's going to start over Blake Griffin anytime soon. 

     

    Skill Set

    Thompkins has one of the most diverse skill sets I've seen in a 6'10" power forward in quite some time. At Georgia, Thompkins had a bevy of post moves, didn't hesitate to spot up from behind the three-point line, played solid but not spectacular defense and even handled the ball against the full-court press on some occasions. 

    My only two knocks on his game are that he doesn't possess even average NBA athleticism (which is strange for a member of the current Clippers) and he doesn't always play with intensity and drive to win. 

     

    Projected Stats

    4.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 0.5 assists per game

27. Tyler Honeycutt (Sacramento Kings, Pick No. 35)

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    Playing Time

    With the ability to play either shooting guard or small forward (and maybe even a tiny bit of power forward if the Sacramento Kings go with an extremely small lineup), Tyler Honeycutt should find himself on the court quite a bit during his rookie season. 

    He'll start out the season behind John Salmons and Francisco Garcia on the Kings depth chart but he has the potential to move up. 

     

    Skill Set

    Honeycutt still needs to add more strength to his frame if he's going to develop into a player worth keeping on the Kings roster. 

    His passing skills are way above average for a forward and Honeycutt has both great shooting skills and tremendous athleticism. He could be a true steal in this year's draft class. 

     

    Projected Stats

    5.2 points, 1.1 assists, 2.4 rebounds per game

26. Keith Benson (Atlanta Hawks, Pick No. 48)

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    Playing Time

    While Al Horford mans the center position right now, the Atlanta Hawks would love to move the All-Star to his more natural power forward position. That would leave some combination of Jason Collins, Zaza Pachulia, Keith Benson and a few other players at the center position. 

    By the end of the season, Benson could have a stranglehold on the spot. 

     

    Skill Set

    Although he needs to bulk up to endure the rigors of the NBA game, Benson is equally talented on both offense and defense. He has a great knack for scoring the ball and he was his conference's defensive player of the year. 

    That said, he played in the Summit League so there will be a difficult transition to the NBA. 

     

    Projected Stats

    6.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 0.2 assists per game

25. Chris Singleton (Washington Wizards, Pick No. 18)

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    Playing Time

    Chris Singleton will serve as a backup forward and will see the court early and often thanks to his incredible defensive prowess.

    He won't start over Rashard Lewis and Jan Vesely will likely play before him, but Singleton will definitely find his way off the bench.

     

    Skill Set

    It's all about defense.

     

    Projected Stats

    4.3 points, 0.3 assists, 2.1 rebounds per game

24. Shelvin Mack (Washington Wizards, Pick No. 34)

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    Playing Time

    Shelvin Mack was drafted to be the backup to John Wall at point guard and that's exactly the role he'll serve in 2011-2012. 

     

    Skill Set

    Mack isn't a tremendous passer and that should be his first priority as he looks to improve his game. 

    But to make up for his lack of traditional point guard skills, the former Butler Bulldog is a great scorer with incredible strength. Even though he's just 6'2", Mack can drive into the lane with ease and hold his own with the bigs. 

     

    Projected Stats

    6.6 points, 2.1 assists, 1.2 rebounds per game

23. Jon Leuer (Milwaukee Bucks, Pick No. 40)

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    Playing Time

    Jon Leuer can play both power forward and center, which should increase the number of minutes he gets to play as a rookie. If Andrew Bogut gets injured (as many people probably expect thanks to Bogut's reputation) then Leuer could step up and serve as a primary, albeit undersized center. 

    If he stays at power forward, he'll be in a tough battle for playing time with Ersan Ilyasova, Drew Gooden, Larry Sanders and Tobias Harris. 

     

    Skill Set

    Instead of asking what Jon Leuer can do, it's probably better to ask what he can't do. 

    Leuer isn't a great defender, but he can score in so many ways on the offensive end of the court. Despite the fact that he's 6'10", Leuer has a tremendous outside shot and a bevy of post moves. 

     

    Projected Stats

    6.5 points, 1.1 assists, 3.7 rebounds per game

22. Jordan Hamilton (Denver Nuggets, Pick No. 26)

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    Playing Time

    Since the Denver Nuggets players seem to have gone on a mass exodus overseas with no hope of returning, Jordan Hamilton is currently looking like the starting shooting guard for the Nuggets unless they sign a player in free agency. 

    That said, I'd bet on restricted free agent Aaron Afflalo re-signing with the team and taking over that starting job. I'm going to assume that Hamilton winds up as the primary backup this season. 

     

    Skill Set

    Jordan Hamilton is a tremendous scorer, even if he doesn't have the speed or athleticism to play in the same manner that he did while a member of the Texas Longhorns. Against the bigger, faster and stronger defenders of the NBA, Hamilton is going to have to rely more on his jump shot, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. 

    Hamilton's only other elite skill is his rebounding ability, which should translate well from the college game to the professional level. 

     

    Projected Stats

    6.7 points, 1.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds per game

21. Jordan Williams (New Jersey Nets, Pick No. 36)

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    Playing Time

    After he kept busy playing in Poland during the NBA lockout, Jordan Williams will return and fight for a position in the New Jersey Nets rotation. 

    With only Johan Petro ahead of him on the Nets depth chart, it is unlikely that Williams will sit for too long. 

     

    Skill Set

    Williams plays with a remarkable amount of drive and tenacity. He's an intelligent player who is willing to work as hard as possible to improve quickly. 

    The power forward is still developing post moves but he has enough to score in the NBA already.

     

    Projected Stats

    6.2 points, 0.2 assists, 4.9 rebounds per game

20. Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers, Pick No. 4)

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    Playing Time

    The Cleveland Cavaliers have nothing to lose (except for a lot of games) so they're probably going to put Tristan Thompson on the court quite a bit to see what they've got in him. 

    He'll serve as Antawn Jamison's primary backup, but expect to see him on the court a lot for the Cavs.

     

    Skill Set

    Honestly, I don't even think that Thompson should have been a lottery pick, much less go at No. 4.

    He's incredibly limited outside of the paint, can't shoot free throws (and even that is generous) and is kind of a project player.

    Thompson does have significant upside though with his incredible wingspan and athleticism. 

     

    Projected Stats

    6.5 points, 0.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds per game

19. Chandler Parsons (Houston Rockets, Pick No. 38)

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    Playing Time

    It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Chandler Parsons serving as Chase Budinger's primary backup for the Houston Rockets. 

    There is a lack of established talent in the frontcourt other than Luis Scola so Parsons should have plenty of opportunities to show he belongs. 

     

    Skill Set

    I've said it before and I'll say it again.

    Chandler Parsons is good at everything and great at nothing.

     

    Projected Stats

    6.5 points, 1.9 assists, 4.8 rebounds per game

18. Nolan Smith (Portland Trail Blazers, Pick No. 21)

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    Playing Time

    The Portland Trail Blazers knew what they were doing when they drafted Nolan Smith, and I have to assume they are banking on him being a consistent player of the bench for the duration of his time with the team. 

    Smith should begin his days in Portland filling that exact role. He can play at either guard spot, as he proved when Kyrie Irving went down with an injured toe, and he'll likely back up both starting guards. 

     

    Skill Set

    Smith is more reliable than anything else. His build and lack of elite athleticism will prevent him from becoming a star, but he does too many things well to fail in the NBA. 

    His crossover borders on nasty and he can create shots competently for both himself and his teammates. Smith, who I believe was the most impressive player in the nation during last year's regular season at the collegiate level, proved that he can play both on and off the ball. 

     

    Projected Stats

    7.2 points, 3.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds per game

17. Bismack Biyombo (Charlotte Bobcats, Pick No. 7)

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    Playing Time

    DeSangna Diop will be the starter at center, but there's a chance that the Charlotte Bobcats could find themselves out of the playoff race early and want to see what they have in Bismack Biyombo. He'll start at least a handful of games this season. 

     

    Skill Set

    I'm going to quote exactly what I wrote when the Charlotte Bobcats drafted Biyombo here:

    A 6’9” Congolese center with a 7’7” wingspan, Bismack Biyombo has the size necessary to make an immediate impact as a shot-blocker in the NBA.

    Now, couple that size with ridiculous athleticism and great instincts plus incredible quickness for a player his size, and you’ll see why Biyombo has all the tools necessary to become one of the greatest low-post defenders this league has seen in quite some time.

    As for offense though, well, that’s an entirely different story. Biyombo may be one of the worst offensive prospects to ever be considered a first-round talent.

    Once he has played for longer and gains some basketball IQ, Biyombo could justify his draft position, but it will take some time. I still think that will happen though if his triple-double at the Nike Hoops Summit, the first ever at that game, is any indication. 

    When it was all said and done, Biyombo was drafted by the Sacramento Kings and then traded to the Charlotte Bobcats. 

    He is going to make an immediate impact on defense, but he won't be able to score yet. Without Stephen Jackson, I am no longer sure where the offense is going to come from in Charlotte. 

     

    Projected Stats

    5.0 points, 0.2 assists, 4.9 rebounds per game

16. Alec Burks (Utah Jazz, Pick No. 12)

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    Playing Time

    Alec Burks will most likely start the season as the primary backup to Raja Bell at the shooting guard position.

    That said, I wouldn't at all be surprised to see the former Colorado Buffalo take over for the 35-year-old shooting guard early on in the season. 

     

    Skill Set

    I wouldn't even bother trying to hide it. I absolutely love Alec Burks. 

    If there's any sleeper pick for Rookie of the Year not named Marshon Brooks, it's Burks. 

    While he's a notoriously poor jump shooter, Burks is 6'6" and athletic. Plus his ball-handling skills and passing abilities enable teams to play him at point guard and create gigantic mismatches. 

     

    Projected Stats

    7.8 points, 1.7 assists, 3.2 rebounds per game

15. Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs, Pick No. 15)

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    Playing Time

    I don't ever question anything that the San Antonio Spurs choose to do, so I have to assume that the team will find some way to use Kawhi Leonard in its rotation. 

    He'll likely be about the eighth man in the rotation when the season begins, possibly working his way slightly up in the order off the bench. 

     

    Skill Set

    I was quite sour on Leonard before the draft, but when the Spurs traded for him I had to start reevaluating. Leonard's best feature is the size of his hands, but that may also come back to bite him as some think they're too big for him to ever develop a consistent shot. 

    With great athleticism and a versatile game, Leonard does everything well and nothing spectacularly. 

     

    Projected Stats

    6.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists per game

14. Enes Kanter (Utah Jazz, Pick No. 3)

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    Playing Time

    The Utah Jazz didn't use the No. 3 pick on Enes Kanter to watch him rot on the bench. They will likely find multiple ways to insert him into the lineup by letting him serve as backup to Al Jefferson at the center position and co-backup to Paul Millsap at power forward along with Derrick Favors. 

     

    Skill Set

    We didn't get to see Kanter ply his trade at the collegiate level at all thanks to the NCAA ruling him ineligible and taking him off the Kentucky Wildcats roster. 

    But Kanter is a strong center with good footwork and quality moves and shooting skills. He doesn't have elite athleticism or any go-to moves in the post, so he'll struggle to score at times, but Kanter is still very talented. 

     

    Projected Stats

    7.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 0.9 assists per game

13. Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets, Pick No. 22)

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    Playing Time

    With Kenyon Martin playing in China, Kenneth Faried should be a member of a power forward rotation that includes Danilo Gallinari and Al Harrington. 

    While the former Morehead State superstar won't get starter's minutes, he'll be on the court quite a bit. 

     

    Skill Set

    Although he's not quite as much of a specialist as someone like Reggie Evans, Faried's calling card is definitely rebounding. There is no doubt about that for college basketball's all-time leading board-grabber. 

    Faried's offensive game is as raw as an uncooked steak. He scored primarily through put-back dunks and alley-oops. While that flew at Morehead State, it won't to the same extent in the NBA. 

    Fortunately for the undersized big man, rebounding is one skill that translates very well from one level to another. 

     

    Projected Stats

    6.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 0.2 assists per game

12. Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns, Pick No. 13)

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    Playing Time

    The Phoenix Suns need to find a way to get Channing Frye on the court, even if it means shifting him away from his natural spot at center to power forward. Other than that, no one really stands in the way of Markieff Morris, who is already ready to make an impact in the NBA. 

     

    Skill Set

    Morris was one of the safest picks in this year's draft because of that NBA-readiness and the fact that Phoenix knew exactly what they were getting when they selected him. 

    The forward from Kansas possesses skills in every single aspect of the game and should eventually settle in as either a mediocre starter or valuable bench contributor. 

    He's not someone you'll ever want on your fantasy team, but he's going to prove himself quite worthy of a spot in any lineup. 

     

    Projected Stats

    7.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists per game

11. Nikola Vucevic (Philadelphia 76ers, Pick No. 16)

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    Playing Time

    When your starting center is the incredibly soft Spencer Hawes and you draft a legitimate seven-footer with talent, you should probably play the new guy. 

    Such is the case for the Philadelphia 76ers and Nikola Vucevic. 

     

    Skill Set

    Although he lacks athleticism and lateral speed, Vucevic has the size and skill necessary to be a standout center down the road. 

    He averaged a double-double at USC during his junior season and really doesn't do anything poorly. He's just not that great at anything either. 

     

    Projected Stats

    8.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 0.7 assists per game

10. Jan Vesely (Washington Wizards, Pick No. 6)

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    Playing Time

    Because of the fact that the Wizards seem to want to be the NBA's most exciting team, I expect Vesely to get a good portion of the available minutes. 

     

    Skill Set

    The Czech version of Blake Griffin according to some, Vesely has enough athleticism and dunking ability (and flair) to earn the moniker "The Dunking Ninja" before every playing on American soil. 

    He's well known for his fiery intensity but needs to add some strength so he can bang around with the NBA's big boys as much as he'd like to. With a smooth shooting stroke and a 6'11" frame, he could be a very successful small forward down the road. 

     

    Projected Stats

    8.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists per game

9. Darius Morris (Los Angeles Lakers, Pick No. 41)

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    Playing Time

    Darius Morris was one of my favorite prospects going into the draft and he landed in a perfect situation with the Los Angeles Lakers, unless the purple and gold wearing team decides to bring in a more experienced floor general during the offseason. 

    With Derek Fisher way past his prime, Morris may actually get to start right off the bat. He should. 

     

    Skill Set

    One of the best pure point guards in this year's draft class, Morris is definitely a pass-first guard. There's a good reason for that since his court vision and ability to put the ball where he wants to is quite impressive. 

    His shot selection at Michigan was also good and should continue to be at the NBA level. 

     

    Projected Stats

    8.4 points, 5.2 assists, 2.7 rebounds per game

8. Tobias Harris (Milwaukee Bucks, Pick No. 19)

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    Playing Time

    Tobias Harris found himself in a great situation as the Milwaukee Bucks needed a forward and drafted one. I'd expect for him to log solid minutes from the start. 

     

    Skill Set

    A hard-working gym rat, Harris is going to listen to whatever his coach has to tell him and strive to become the best player he can possibly be. I know that's technically what we say about every NBA player, but I really and truly mean it with Harris. 

    The former Tennessee Volunteer is a very cerebral player with great versatility from the forward spot. I like his chances of succeeding at the next level. 

     

    Projected Stats

    9.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 0.4 assists per game

7. Marcus Morris (Houston Rockets, Pick No. 14)

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    Playing Time

    Marcus Morris is NBA-ready enough that he should be able to log some quality minutes during his rookie season, despite the Houston Rockets' logjam in the frontcourt. 

    Morris can capably play either small forward or power forward, which will help him as he competes with Chase Budinger, Terrence Williams, Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson and fellow rookie Chandler Parsons for playing time. 

     

    Skill Set

    Morris is a very tough, physical player with an extremely well-rounded game that should translate well to the professional level. He needs to add some post moves, but his ability to shoot from mid-range and downtown should scare his opponents. 

     

    Projected Stats

    9.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists per game

6. Brandon Knight (Detroit Pistons, Pick No. 8)

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    Playing Time

    I wouldn't be that surprised to see Brandon Knight starting for the Detroit Pistons on day one. A better question is what position he'll be lining up at.

    But most likely, he and fellow combo-guard Rodney Stuckey will comprise the Pistons' starting backcourt for the vast majority of the season. 

     

    Skill Set

    Knight is a talented scorer with a knack for knocking down shots in the clutch, as he proved during his breakout performance in this past edition of March Madness. While his decision making skills leave a little bit to be desired, the former Kentucky Wildcat has many of the skills that you look for in a successful guard. 

     

    Projected Stats

    11.8 points, 4.1 assists, 2.7 rebounds per game

5. Jimmer Fredette (Sacramento Kings, Pick No. 10)

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    Playing Time

    He's Jimmer Fredette. 

    The Sacramento Kings will find time to see if his success in college can carry over to the professional level. He's too much of a cult hero to avoid doing so. 

     

    Skill Set

    I feel like everyone knows this by now, but here we go anyway. 

    Jimmer can shoot. And by that I mean Jimmer can shoot as well as anyone we've seen come out of college in the last decade. 

    Questions remain about his defensive ability and athleticism, but no one denies that he's a talented scorer. No player is more divisive than Fredette in this year's draft class. Some expect him to completely flame out and others expect him to become a superstar. 

    Because he'll be competing with Tyreke Evans and, if he returns, Marcus Thornton (both basketball black holes) for shots and he won't be able to eat away at the shot clock like he did at BYU, I have to temper my expectations. But I still believe that Jimmer will succeed. 

     

    Projected Stats

    14.1 points, 3.1 assists, 2.4 rebounds per game

4. Derrick Williams (Minnesota Timberwolves, Pick No. 2)

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    Playing Time

    The Minnesota Timberwolves found themselves in a very interesting position on draft day. They couldn't manage to trade down and were "stuck" taking the ultra-talented Arizona Wildcats forward, despite already having a lot of talent at the position already. 

    Derrick Williams is too good to keep on the bench but he plays a very similar game to Michael Beasley and the glut of forwards on the roster will limit his minutes. 

     

    Skill Set

    Williams is a bit of a twiner, but his athleticism and shooting ability should allow him to succeed at the small forward position that he has made quite clear he wants to play. Efficiency is the word that I most associate with Williams after he shot 59.5 percent from the field and 56.8 percent from downtown during his sophomore season. 

    He's as NBA ready as they come. 

     

    Projected Stats

    13.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 0.8 assists per game

3. Marshon Brooks (New Jersey Nets, Pick No. 25)

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    Playing Time

    Personally, I'd like to see Marshon Brooks starting from the get-go for the New Jersey Nets. 

    With only Anthony Morrow in the way at the shooting guard position, there's a strong chance that the former Providence star finds his name announced more often than not during his rookie season. 

     

    Skill Set

    I almost feel as though I have a personal attachment to Marshon Brooks after calling him tremendously underrated going into his senior season and then watching as he shot up the draft boards. He's still underrated. 

    Why? Well Brooks has an incredible knack for scoring, as he proved by averaging 24.6 points per game during his senior season. With his 6'5" frame, he also manages to pull down a whole lot of rebounds for someone his size. 

    There's a lot to love and not a lot to dislike about Brooks' game, especially now that he has Deron Williams feeding the ball to him. 

     

    Projected Stats

    14.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists per game

2. Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers, Pick No. 1)

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    Playing Time

    Do you really think that the rebuilding Cleveland Cavaliers are going to sit the No. 1 overall pick for too long each game? 

    Yeah, I didn't think so. 

     

    Skill Set

    Kyrie Irving may not have the explosiveness of Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook, but he's still a threat to score whenever he wants to because of his confidence, pure shooting ability and driving skills. Irving also has great court vision and should be able to hit open men on the court while squeezing the ball into the tight spaces that he needs to. 

    The only question is how many shots his teammates can hit for him. 

     

    Projected Stats

    12.3 points, 4.8 assists, 2.0 rebounds per game

1. Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats, Pick No. 9)

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    Playing Time

    Even with D.J. Augustin serving as the established point guard for the Charlotte Bobcats, there is no way that Michael Jordan's team doesn't get this talented small guy out on the court as much as possible. With Augustin seeming to have worn out his welcome in Bobcat country, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Walker starting sooner rather than later. 

     

    Skill Set

    Walker simply knows how to put the ball in the hoop and will his team to victory. With tremendous speed and athleticism, Walker makes up for his lack of height with his agility and ease at getting to the basket. 

    But more than anything else, Walker has a huge heart. I bet against him during the Big East Conference Tournament and again during the NCAA Tournament. Both times he proved me wrong. 

    I don't want to make that mistake again. 

     

    Projected Stats

    15.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists per game

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