Published on May 18th, 2012 | by Bryant West, Columnist0
The 10 Most NBA Ready Prospects In The 2012 Class
Nowadays, NBA GMs will always draft a player based on what they believe the player can become, rather than what the player has already actually done. And while many/most players take a few years to get used to the NBA life, some will always break out their rookie years because, quite simply, they are more NBA ready than others.
The class of 2012 is hailed because of it’s potential (check out this piece I wrote covering just that) but many of the top players taken will need a good long time before we can really tell just how good they are. Expect high lottery picks like Harrison Barnes, Bradley Beal, Andre Drummond and Perry Jones to take at least a year or two before we can begin judging them. But there are a good number of players who are ready to come in and contribute immediately, and a good handful of those who are expect to go late first/early second.
Of course, there will always be players who are hailed as NBA ready who prove they’re anything but (hint hint, Jimmer Fredette) and players who we don’t expect to take off for a while who explode out of the gate (hint hint, Kyrie Irving). But for right now, let’s take a look at the top 10 players who I peg as most NBA ready.
10. SF Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
The biggest questions about Nicholson was his mental approach to the game. After a dominant NCAA run, those questions were pretty much answered. His well-rounded skills and nice efficiency will make him a productive player right off the bat, but he lacks the potential that many big men (Robinson, Arnett Moultrie, John Henson) might have.
Hit the jump for the rest of Bryant’s piece…
I love Robinson’s game, his passion and his dedication. In five years, I believe he’ll be amongst the NBA’s top power forwards. And while some say his transition into the league will be hard, I think the fears about his height are being supremely overblown.
That said, I don’t expect him to come out and dominate immediately. Not because of his size, (I expect he’ll learn quickly that he can no longer dominate over big players by just jumping over them) but rather his somewhat raw offensive game. It’ll take some time, but not as much as many of Robinson’s critics say.
I expect a second-half of the season surge by Robinson that will remind everyone why he’s a top three prospect in a great draft.
Defensively, he’s not ready. Scoring wise, he’s not even close. But in terms of running a team, he’s more than ready.
Give him a good coach and at least one or two good/above average teammates, and Marshall will shine as the floor general.
Side note – Kendall Marshall has become, at the same time, the most overrated AND underrated player in this draft. When Marshall is somehow being listed in mock drafts as a top eight prospect AND then being told by Fran Fraschilla that Dion Waiters is a better prospect for PG hungry teams… mind boggling. Marshall is a pick anywhere between 10 and 14. If he goes earlier, OR gets dropped for Waiters, something has gone wrong.
This is the only time you’ll see Sullinger ranked over Thomas Robinson. When it’s all said and done, I expect that Robinson will retire a very successful PF and Sullinger will be a middle-of-the-pack one, but out of the gates, Sullinger has the edge. His size and post skills are both very solid, and while he lacks the long term potential of most of the draft picks, he should fare alright in his rookie season.
If Weber just had 50 percent of Marshall’s point guard skills, he’d be a top five pick easily. As he is, think of him as a more efficient version of a young Monta Ellis with a higher ceiling as a point guard.
Ellis took a year to work himself into NBA stardom, but Lillard won’t take that long. If he continues to work on his floor vision and meshes well with a good coach, he’s got the other talented locked up. His scoring is unquestioned, as is his above average defense and natural instincts. I think Lillard will be like the 2009 run that Brandon Jennings put out, producing some dominant early performances but mellowing out as the year goes on.
5. SF Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt
Taylor, a senior from Vanderbilt, is a very smart player with a well-rounded offensive game who will immediately give someone a highly capable 6th man type player. In a draft of potential scoring studs, he won’t rank up there with Kidd-Gilchrist or Bradley Beal in a few years, but his basketball IQ and strong skill set will make him an immediate impact player. Just don’t expect him to ever be more than a 6th man, a Francisco Garcia/Leandro Barbosa type player at best.
The lone senior in this class who will certainly be picked in the top 20, what Zeller lacks in brute size and physical gifts, he makes up for in IQ.
His offensive game is very smooth, and he’s comfortable both with his back to the basket and facing up to it. He’s an above-average rebounder and a good defender, making up for below average leaping skills with quick hands, good technique and an excellent cerebral game.
While many of this draft bigs (particularly John Henson, Perry Jones and Arnett Moultrie) may go higher than Zeller in this draft, Zeller will have a far better rookie year. He’s as NBA ready as most big men get.
3. SF Draymond Green, Michigan State
Attention, NBA GMs – keep Green out of the hands of the contenders. Someone snag him with a early 20s first or make sure he falls into the second round. Please?
Green will be the steal of the draft, ala Isaiah Thomas from last year, mark my words.
Much like Thomas, Green’s biggest concerns are not his skills, which he has plenty of, but something far less tangible—where would he fit position wise? Wherever he damn well pleases, that’s where—you do not pass up on a talented all-around prospect because you don’t know if he can play the 3-4 or not!
Green doesn’t really lack any one skill, and he’s a very energetic player. Whoever drafts him will get a smart player ready to contribute from day one.
I can hear the objections through the computer screen. But Bryant!, they say, Kidd Gilchrist can’t shoot! To which I sadly agree. But then again, he can do pretty much everything else, and he’s the second best defender in this draft only behind Davis.
Yes, his jumpshot will take work, but the rest of his game is already above average. His intensity will make him a instant fan favorite wherever he lands, and even if he finishes the season shooting 25 percent from three point territory, I thoroughly expect him to finish second or third in the ROY voting.
1. PF Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Was there ever any doubt?
Yes, Davis’ offense needs work. Other than that though, he’s golden. He’ll instantly be amongst the NBA elite in terms of defense and shot blocking, and above average as a rebounder. Even on a team like Charlotte, which severely lacks talent, he’ll provide a turnaround of at least 10-15 games from losses into wins just as he is now.
And with his incredible motor, expect him to improve offensively as the season goes on. I’d lock in my bets on Davis for Rookie of the Year for next season, no question.