Friday, June 24, 2011

2012 NBA Draft: Top 50 Prospects

The 2011 NBA draft has come to its conclusion and as the lockout rumors loom over the league many aren't expecting much of a basketball season next year.

What some should expect is one of the deepest NBA drafts in recent memory.

Anthony Davis, Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes are just some of the big time names tied into the 2012 NBA draft. But as you saw last year don't expect them to just come out and declare.

On the other hand, if the majority of the talent that is expected to come out and declare for the draft actually does, some NBA teams could be looking at plenty of impact players bombarding the NBA.

Here is my early list of the top 50 2012 NBA draft prospects.

50. Rodney Williams 6'7'' Forward-Minnesota Gophers

My best bet is that you'll hear a lot from Rodney Williams this season after playing a limited role the first two years. He passes the NBA eye test with great physical talents and a very long frame. Williams is a  explosive wing that thrives in the open floor. He should have a breakout year with more offensive flexibility.

49. Durand Scott 6'3'' Guard-Miami Hurricanes

You can't call him a point guard but Durand Scott is a big time playmaker. He's at his best being aggressive towards the rim but he's also an unselfish player that will dish it off to a teammate to make a play. Scott needs to develop his shot and make better decision in terms of shooting.

48. Tu Holloway 6'0'' Guard-Xavier Musketeers

Tu Holloway was most likely the most dominant guard in the Atlantic-10 this past season. He averaged just under 20 points a game, along with five assist and five rebounds. Most are worried about his true leadership ability as a point guard but I point to leading Xavier in assist at 5.5 per game.

47. Maalik Wayns 6'0'' Guard-Villanova Wildcats

Wayns is extremely quick and has great handle, which allows him to break opposing defenses down off the dribble. With cleared space in the backcourt, Wayns could be poised for that breakout season that most are anticipating.

46. Reggie Johnson 6'10'' Center-Miami (FL) Hurricanes

Johnson flirted with the NBA draft this year but knew he needed to curb many flaws in his game. But one thing NBA GM's will love about Johnson is his ability to rebound the basketball. He was very close to averaging a double-double this past season.

45. Hollis Thompson 6'7'' Forward-Georgetown Hoyas

Hollis hasn't played his ideal role so far with the Hoyas. He's more of a wing with great potential at the three and you will see that with more flexibility on the offensive end. He's very long and is a capable finisher around the rim but settled for many jump shots. Hopefully, Thompson is utilized on the wing where he is more comfortable. It would definitely excel his stock.

44. Jordan Taylor 6''1'' Guard-Wisconsin Badgers

Remember the Jordan Taylor that took the game over and delivered then-No.1 Ohio State their first loss? Or the Taylor that blocked Jacob Pullen that led to a Sweet 16 berth? Yes, he's that good. Taylor is continuing to prove the doubters wrong and when his senior season concludes I could see him taken in the first round of the draft.

43. JaMychal Green 6'8'' Forward-Alabama Crimson Tide

Green has a solid offensive game that resides around the basket and utilizes his length to get his shots off over defenders. Offensively, his game still needs work. Defensively, Green is a solid defender who sent back 2.1 shots per game along with 1.4 steals per game.

42. Peyton Siva 5'11'' Guard-Louisville Cardinals

Nothing can triumph heart and that's what Peyton Siva is all about. The explosive guard plays with a lot of heart and he's not given enough praise for what he's done for Louisville. Siva led the Cardinals in assists at 5.2 and steals. His quick off the dribble and a nightmare for most of the slower guards.

41. Alex Oriahki 6'9'' Forward-Connecticut Huskies

Oriahki is a capable offensive threat but too inconsistent on that end of the floor. He's a big body, great rebounder and defender. He has all the physical tools to be a successful four in the NBA but his inconsistency offensively has really brought his stock down.

40. Will Barton 6'6'' Guard-Memphis Tigers

Barton has a lot of untapped potential. He's a long, lean two guard with the ability to run a team off-the-ball; think somewhere along the line of Marshon Brooks. His questionable shot selection brought down his shooting percentage but he has shown the ability to be a solid perimeter threat.

39. Ray McCallum 6'1'' Guard-Detroit Titans

Despite struggling most of the season, Ray McCallum almost averaged 10-5-5 during his freshman season at Detroit. McCallum has elite handle, good passing skills and is flying under the radar. He should be much better than his stats show if he declares for the 2012 draft.

38. Doron Lamb 6'4'' Guard-Kentucky Wildcats

Doron Lamb will probably be way lower on this list when the season concludes. In 28 minutes of action, Lamb managed to average 12 points per game. He shot 140 three-point attempts and nailed 48 percent of them. With more liberty in the offense expect to see the same Lamb that came out of Oak Hill Academy.

37. John Jenkins 6'4'' Guard-Vanderbilt Commodores

John Jenkins is one of the best shooting two guards in the country. He has unlimited range, it seems, and this past season he made it a priority to attack the basket more, which drew more fouls. His defense needs a lot of work, which is why he slips so far.

36. Tyshawn Taylor 6'3'' Guard-Kansas Jayhawks

Taylor going into his senior season hasn't fully grasped how to successfully run the point but has shown that he's capable. He was the leading assist man on arguably the best team in the nation as well as showing the his ability to beat his man off the dribble with his quick first step. More impressively was his lock down defense.

35. Leon Radosevic 6'10'' Forward-Croatia

With added build and work to his ball handling, Radosevic can be a really special player. He's shown he's a great asset in a pick-and-pop situation but not necessarily a great back to the basket scorer despite his height.

34. Festus Ezeli 6'11'' Center-Vanderbilt Commodores 

Ezeli has finally got it headed into his senior season. A great defensive presence has now shown a presence on the offensive end. He increased his shooting percentage dramatically to nearly 60 percent from the field and continue being a dominant force on the boards.

33. Terrence Ross 6'6'' Guard-Washington Huskies

Ross was one of the most deadly shooters from beyond the arc in the Pac-10 last season. This season, I expect him to have a more extended role that'll allow him to showcase his explosiveness and his ability to take over a game with his offense.

32. Augusto Cesar Lima 6'9'' Forward-Brazil

Augusto Cesar Lima is a long four man with the ability to play the five position. He's filled his body out well and overpowers defender in the post with his strength and athleticism. He's also valuable in the pick-and-roll with his ability to knock down the mid-range jumper.

31. Lucas Nogueira 6'11'' Center-Brazil

Many may not know of Lucas Nogueira but he has a chance to be a great player in the league. He has a great motor with excellent rebounding and shot-blocking skills. His offensive game is still developing but his FIBA U18 performance showcased a little of his offensive progress.

30. William Buford 6'5'' Guard-Ohio State Buckeyes

Buford is a terrific shooter, great defender and explosive leaper. He finished off his junior season shooting 44 percent from downtown. Buford could certainly be a great asset to any NBA team.

29. Andrew Nicholson 6'9'' Forward-St.Bonaventure

Nicholson will continue to jump up the draft board. He's a very long, athletic four that looks to make the highlight dunk every time he touches the ball. He's a good rebounder and due to his length, he's able to protect to the paint. His jump shot, that expands out to 15 feet, is still expanding and that's what sets him apart from most of the fours.

28. Tarik Black 6'8'' Forward-Memphis Tigers

Tarik Black has all the physical tools to be a special player in the future. He has outstanding athleticism, strength and length in the post. He's very in tune with the defensive end of the floor and was very limited offensively but almost averaged double-figured scoring.

27. Mouphtaou Yarou 6'10'' Center-Villanova Wildcats

Yarou has always been known for his great defense but now with a developing offensive game he has the chance to be a special player. His shooting percentage took a dip but he took nearly three-times the shot he took as a freshman.

26. Mason Plumlee 6'11'' Forward-Duke Blue Devils

Mason Plumlee is the ideal NBA four with added bulk. He's a walking highlight and dominant rebounder. With more of a prominent role with Duke he was more productive in every statistical area. His inability to knock down the free-throw could be a problem.

25. Jeffery Taylor 6'7'' Forward-Vanderbilt Commodores 

Jeffery Taylor is a deadly penetrator with excellent size and the ability to finish in the lane. His offensive game picked up with the addition of his jump shot but his offensive game is still a work in progress. A very capable defender because of his size and athleticism.

24. Joshua Smith 6'9'' Center-UCLA Bruins

As he continues to tone his body, Joshua Smith has a really bright future. Smith is a great passer and big time shot blocker from the post. He has great hands and with more urgency to use his body in the post expect a lot of three-point plays.

23. Kris Joseph 6'7'' Forward-Syracuse Orange

Kris Josephs is a great all-around threat and can impact the game on both ends of the floor. He has improving range on his jump shot and the ability to attack the defense off the dribble. Josephs, undoubtedly, the most improved player in the college game.

22. Khris Middleton 6'7'' Forward-Texas A&M Aggies

Khris Middleton the long 6-foot-7 forward has one of the most consistent games in the country. Year-by-year, Middleton continues to expand his game and get better as an all-around player. He has an high basketball IQ, really understands the game and can create for himself.

21. LeBryan Nash 6'7'' Forward-Oklahama State Cowboys

Nash with his size and athleticism is one of the toughest players to guard. He's a great slasher and one of the best finishers in the game. His outside skills have certainly developed nicely and staying consistent with his game will only help his draft stock.

20. Tyler Zeller 7'0'' Forward-North Carolina Tarheels

When Tyler Zeller is healthy he's one of the most dominant low post scorers in the college game. He exploded in the NCAA tournament putting up 55 points in the first two games and finished the tourney averaging around 25 points and eight boards per game. Adding weight would be ideal for the tall four man.

19. CJ Leslie 6'9'' Forward-NC State Wolfpack

You could make a case that Leslie is the most athletic and explosive leaper in the game today. His game really translate towards the wing more than anything but Leslie is starting to develop a face-up game and the ability to score in the post. He didn't have a great year for NC State but similar to Terrence Jones expect him to blossom with another year.

18. Thomas Robinson 6'9'' Forward-Kansas Jayhawks

Playing behind the Morris twins, Robinson didn't get much of the praise. But now being the focal point of the Jayhawks attack next year, I expect a big leap in his overall game. He's an ultimate vacuum on the boards and highlight reel in transition.

17. Kendall Marshall 6'3'' Guard-North Carolina Tarheels

Marshall doesn't get enough credit for what he has done thus far in the college game. Tied Raymond Felton's assist record, lead the 'Heels to an Elite Eight berth after being written off early in the season, not to mention, utilizing every player on the court getting them the ball in position to score. His leadership and pure point ability is a must-have if you have a need at the point guard position.

16. Terrence Jones 6'8'' Forward-Kentucky Wildcats

Terrence Jones shows many similarities of a Lamar Odom type of forward. He has great handle for his size and uses it to be aggressive off the dribble. He's more of a wing than four but out of need showed his versatility when Cal played him inside. Jones clearly is a physically ready for the NBA and with an extra year with Cal he can only continue to improve.

15. Adonis Thomas 6'6'' Forward-Memphis Tigers

Adonis Thomas is one of the most athletic forwards this game has to offer. He was a 20-10 guy in high school and also made the McDonald's All American game. He has one of the best work ethics and continue to make progress towards the wing. As a wing, he's too quick, athletic for most three's and a very good rebounder.

14. Patric Young 6'9'' Center-Florida Gators

Young really reminds me of a young Dwight Howard in terms of rebounding and defense. He has the ability to impact a game defensively with his big body locking down on defenders and boxing out grabbing boards. His offensive game is still a work in progress but not many can pass on this athletic big with a developing skill set.

13. Myck Kabongo 6'2'' Guard-Texas Longhorns

I've said it once, and I'm going to say it again: when it's all said and done, Myck Kabongo will be the best pure point guard out of the 2011 class. He has great point guard instincts and utilizes them to full ability. If the game is on the line and I had to chose between any point guard in this class I'd pick Kabongo.

12. John Henson 6'11 Forward-North Carolina Tarheels

Henson is, no doubt, the best shot blocker in College Basketball. He has excellent length with a staggering 7'6'' winspan, solid timing and alters a lot of shots. Henson capped off his sophomore season with 3.2 blocks per game, which ranked eighth in the nation. Offensively, Henson is still a work in progress as well as his frame; only 210 pounds.

11. Marquis Teague 6'2'' Guard-Kentucky Wildcats

Teague is one of the best incoming freshman point guards in the nation. He has a knack for scoring but is better when getting his teammates involved. The fearless scorer can be compared with Knight when it comes to clutch time. He's not scared to make the big play and always puts his team in position to win.

10. Brad Beal 6'4'' Guard-Florida Gators

Coming out of high school, Beal can challenge Lamb as one of the best off-ball shooters in College Basketball. Beal, a college freshman, already has NBA range on his shot with the ability to take over a game similar to what Lamb did at UConn.

9. Austin Rivers 6'4'' Guard-Duke Blue Devils

Rivers was rated the No.1 prospect in the 2011 class for most of his senior year and deserved every bit of his praise. Rivers has the ability to light up a defense on any given night. He has tremendous confidence, good handle and can possibly play the point.

8. Michael Gilchrist 6'7'' Forward-Kentucky Wildcats

Most people sleep on Gilchrist's ability to play on the wing but one year under coach Cal will help curb most of that distinction. Gilchrist is a great offensive player doing virtually everything right down to moving without the ball, setting a screen or boxing, the simple things as well as utilizing his athleticism on the defensive end. Gilchrist is possibly the best all-around player and with help expanding his jumper, he really has a chance to be great.

7. Jeremy Lamb 6'6'' Guard-Connecticut Huskies

If the 2010-11 season was any indication, Lamb is a deadly shooter. Lamb was one of the main reasons UConn won the National Championship with his pure shooting ability coming off screens. This summer he is also making a case as one of the best shooting guards in the country at the U-19 trials.

6. James McAdoo 6'8'' Forward-North Carolina Tarheels

McAdoo will probably make a big splash this year at UNC and get in that top three category of the 2012 NBA draft. McAdoo has a NBA ready body at 6'8'' 230 and the versatility to play on the wing and at the four. McAdoo has the ability to run the floor, start the break, finish in the lane and knock down shots.

5. Quincy Miller 6'9'' Forward-Baylor Bears

Quincy Miller is one of those superstars with explosive offense but his defense is better. He's always blocking shots, getting after the driver and being aggressive on that end of the floor. But his offense is built from the Kevin Durant mold. Miller has great handle, a great feel for the mid range game and a shot that ranges out to the three point line. Not to mention, Miller is one of the most explosive finishers in the game.

4. Jared Sullinger 6'9'' Forward-Ohio State Buckeyes

If Sullinger declares for the 2011 NBA draft he could have easily been the No. 1 pick in the draft but decided to return. Sullinger is a walking double-double with the ability to control the game on the offensive end. He has a big body that hard to contain inside and always seems to utilize his strength by overpowering the defender for a score.

3. Perry Jones 6'11'' Forward-Baylor Bears

Jones, who could have easily went in the top five of this years draft, has a chance to go top-5 in the next draft as well. At 6'11'' most want to see him play in the post but his game is more suitable on the wing showing his versatility. The long forward has a great feel for rebounding, blocking shots and facing up. Jones has tremendous upside and can impact a team right away.

2. Harrison Barnes 6'7'' Forward-North Carolina Tarheels

Barnes one of the most highly rated recruits in history was the first ever freshman to be named an AP Preseason All American in NCAA history and lived up to that distinction when it mattered. Over his first year at UNC Barnes hit many cluth shots and helped the Tarheels reach the Elite Eight. He has the ability to attack the rim or stretch the defense with his jumper.

1. Anthony Davis 6'10'' Forward - Kentucky Wildcats

It wouldn't be a stretch to say Davis can play every position on the floor. Davis has the ability to create shots for himself and teammates along with the ability to attack off the dribble and finish above the rim. Defensively, Davis' long arms and length allows him to alter and block a lot of shots. His upside and talent level has NBA lottery pick written all over him.