The center position isn’t too bad for teams that aren’t looking to draft a complete player since most of these guys have a lot going for them but are missing a desirable attribute. Zeller is the only can’t-miss in the bunch.
1. Tyler Zeller: Zeller is getting sold short in the lead-up to this draft since he’s not a great athlete with long arms. His scoring, defense, and rebounding are all underrated; someone’s getting a steal with him.
2. Andrew Nicholson: Not many people knew who Nicholson was coming out of St. Bonaventure, but he’s the best scoring center available and a good shot blocker.
3. Kyle O’Quinn: Another small-school guy, O’Quinn rebounded and blocked shots well against the big schools and single-handedly knocked #2 seed Missouri out of the tournament (26 pts, 14 rebs, 2 blks).
4. Arnett Moultrie: Moultrie has the size, athleticism, developing jumper, and rebounding chops to draw rave reviews, but his low-post game is raw and his defense is bad.
5. Miles Plumlee: Plumlee could become the second-best center from this draft since he’s already a standout rebounder, and he’s a very smart scorer and defender who plays within himself. His college progress was agonizingly slow.
The power forward position is absolutely loaded in 2012, possessing the top two players overall, five of the top-10, and another 3 or 4 who could prove to be plenty serviceable (Mike Scott, Drew Gordon, Kevin Jones, Terrence Jones).
1. Anthony Davis: If you’re concerned about how skinny he is, remember that Davis has grown 7-8 inches over the past three years and is better skilled now than KG was at 19.
2. Thomas Robinson: Already a beast on the boards, Robinson is a good scorer with some versatility and an underrated defender.
3. John Henson: Henson is a shot-blocking machine and a high-rising rebounder. His offense and frame are under-developed, but he does a great job finishing around the rim.
4. Royce White: White is a jack-of-all-trades big man who can dribble-drive and pass like a guard, and post-up and crash the boards hard like a center. He’ll thrive on a team that gives him some room to be creative.
5. Jared Sullinger: An absolute bull on the low blocks, Sullinger powers in shots, forces his way to the free throw line, and rumbles for rebounds. Concerns abound about his back and below-the-basket game.
All five of these guys can become high-end role players for nearly any club in the league, and most of them could be more valuable than their stats imply considering most of them are strong defenders (Moe Harkless is a less polished version of what I just said).
1. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: Imagine Ron Artest at his most determined on the defensive end, and that’s pretty much MKG all the time everywhere. Even with very few offensive skills, his unbridled aggression creates buckets.
2. Jae Crowder: Crowder has the same effective energy that Kidd-Gilchrist brings to the game, especially on D, plus he has more offensive skills, including a jumper. The problem is he’s only 6’5.5”, but he could be the biggest steal of the draft.
3. Jeffery Taylor: Taylor is like a poor man’s Crowder with a better jumper – lots of hustle and defense and intelligent movement on offense, but his rebounding and passing don’t measure up.
4. Harrison Barnes: Enough about what Barnes could or should be. He’s a spot-up shooter capable of playing great D on the wing – think Tayshaun Prince with worse passing.
5. Darius Miller: A good role-player who displays smarts, outside shooting, pull-up capabilities, and passing, Miller could really raise his value if he gets serious about defense.
If an NBA club needs an outside shooter who can create a little bit in the mid-range, then this is their draft. None of these guys are franchise-altering SG’s, but most can down a few 3’s a night. Others who could become similarly valuable SG’s in the right system (not necessarily as a shooter, but for many that is the case) include Bradley Beal, Orlando Johnson, Dion Waiters, Jared Cunningham, Darius Johnson-Odom, and Kim English. Mega-upside prospect Beal slides here because of his lackluster shooting and passing performance in college.
1. Doron Lamb: Lamb is a ridiculously talented 3-point shooter who also excels at creating looks for himself in the mid-range. He can play a little PG without making dumb mistakes, and his defense is decent.
2. John Jenkins: Another great outside shooter, Jenkins is actually better than Lamb at pulling the trigger under pressure. Unfortunately his athleticism and other skills aren’t so hot.
3. Will Barton: Barton is the most complete wing scorer, combining good shot selection, a healthy jumper, and shifty moves. He’s also an unreal rebounder and decent passer. His extreme skinniness could be a big problem.
4. Terrence Ross: Ross is another jump shooting SG who lacks good handles and dribble-drive ability. He has all the tools be a great defender, and his passing is an asset. Does come with some consistency and hoops IQ concerns.
5. Jeremy Lamb: Yet another great outside shooter, Lamb also operates well in the mid-range. He’s more potential than reality on defense at this point, and everyone’s unsure how to contextualize his responsibility for UConn’s severely underwhelming season.
Point guard is the real turd of this draft, with Marshall being the only known quantity as far as having an NBA-level IQ and feel for the game. After Machado, there are no PG’s available who look like they can make enough smart decisions to run an offense any time soon.
1. Kendall Marshall: An absolute gem of an offensive maestro who can orchestrate 5 players into a team better than most NBA point guards right now. The big question mark is his sub-par athleticism.
2. Scott Machado: Not only is Machado easily the draft’s second-best passer and a more-than adequate scorer, he’s great on the run and had plenty of huge games against big-name schools (15 pts [11 shots], 15 asts [0 tovs], and 3 steals in 26-point W at Maryland).
3. Damian Lillard: Really just a short SG who sometimes passes the ball, Lillard has a decent skill set for scoring, but he’s usually come up terribly ineffective against good opponents and his team has never matched his own statistical success.
4.(t) Tony Wroten, Tyshawn Taylor, Marquis Teague: All three are extremely athletic, quick, and like to attack. All three have shown horrendous decision-making skills and an inability to run an offense.