NBA Draft 2012: 6 Rookies Who Will Have the Biggest Immediate Impact
With the 2012 NBA draft lottery mere hours away, mock drafts and predictions and popping up around the web like wildfire. Everyone with anything more than fleeting interest in the NBA will have their best-case scenarios mapped out for their favorite franchise.
Some teams will be focusing on what a prospect can potentially bring their franchise in the coming seasons. Others will be looking for a rookie that can step in and produce from day one, similar to how ROY Kyrie Irving and Kawai Leonard have done for the Cavs and perennial powerhouse San Antonio Spurs, respectively.
With that, here's is a look at the six most NBA-ready rookies in the 2012 NBA draft that will be productive rotation players right away...
John Jenkins, Vanderbilt: SG
You can never have too many shooters in the NBA, and Vanderbilt's John Jenkins is by far the best shooter in the 2012 NBA draft.
If Jenkins measures at his listed 6'4", he should sneak into the bottom half of the first round, which would most likely land him with a playoff-caliber team right away. NBA teams love to have shooters to space the floor for their stars to operate, and this area is where Jenkins will make his living in the league.
The biggest knock on Jenkins besides his height will be that he may have already hit the ceiling of his potential. But as potential relates to shooters, it's better to hit that ceiling at a younger age than later in their career.
There is always a spot for a knockdown shooter on an NBA roster, rookie or veteran, giving Jenkins an opportunity to crack a rotation immediately.
Kendall Marshall, North Carolina: PG
Marshall may not be on the level as the three mentioned above, but Marshall is an intelligent floor general that plays with a pace that exceeds his age of only 20 years. Marshall also has ideal size for a NBA point guard at 6'4", 190 lbs, along with exceptional court vision.
Marshall needs a lot of work on his jumper and some question his athleticism, but the same was said of long time NBA vet Andre Miller when he entered the NBA. Marshall's under-the-rim game may not make a lot of highlight reels, but he will dish out enough assists to keep his teammates and coaches happy for years to come.
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: PF/C
Say what you will about his lack of ideal height, but Jared Sullinger just knows how to play basketball.
No matter where he gets drafted, it will be virtually impossible to keep the kid off the floor for too long. Sullinger measured a legit 6'9", which is short for NBA center standards, but his 7'1" wingspan will help dispel some of the height concerns. Sullinger is also a master at positioning his 280 lb frame under the basket for easy buckets and rebounding opportunities.
Add those qualities to Sullinger's improving ability to knock down a 15-foot jumper and you have the makings of a NBA rotation big man for years to come. Picture a more productive, slightly taller version of Paul Milsap and you have Jared Sullinger in a nutshell.
Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt: SF
Similar to his college teammate John Jenkins, Jeff Taylor will primarily make his living in the NBA as a specialist.
Wing defenders are at a premium these days, and Taylor may be the most versatile defensive small forward in the draft. Taylor is a great athlete with the ability to cover 3-4 positions defensively, a trait that NBA teams covet.
Taylor may lack ideal perimeter scoring skills, but he can knock down enough shots to earn him minutes and keep opposing defenses fairly honest. Think Thabo Sefolosha with more athleticism.
Anthony Davis, Kentucky: PF
Kentucky big man Anthony Davis has his flaws. He lacks strength that teams typically look for in a NBA power forward. His post game is still raw.
What Davis can immediately bring to a franchise is shot blocking, which is a needed commodity for just about every team in the NBA. Davis has potential to be the best defensive big man to come into the NBA since Joakim Noah. His timing as a shot-blocker is that good.
Davis also has a high basketball IQ for a young player and also has some limited perimeter skills from his high school days as a 6'1" guard.
With realistic expectations, you can't go wrong with Anthony Davis as a rotation power forward in his rookie season.
Thomas Robinson, Kansas: PF
Thomas Robinson has all the tools NBA teams look for in a power forward; he's athletic, has ideal NBA size/strength, aggressive on both end of the floor, plays the game with a passion and has a great motor.
One advantage Robinson has over every other prospect in the 2012 NBA draft is his desire to succeed. Robinson overcame the loss of both his grandparents and his mother in a month's span to become arguably the most productive player in college basketball last season.
Now faced with the challenge of proving to NBA teams that he is no one-year wonder, Robinson has been working hard to prove doubters wrong. Robinson is even working on improving the range on his jump shot out to 20 feet.
There is little reason to believe Thomas Robinson can't step in from day one and be a highly productive NBA player. If he's in the right situation, Robinson has the ability to be a double-double machine as soon as his rookie season, similar to Blake Griffin.
I wouldn't bet against it.