Last week we met the top nine PG, SG, and SF prospects of the 2012 NBA Draft. This week, let’s not waste any time. Starting with the all but guaranteed No. 1 overall selection, come draft night, here are nine of the top frontcourt prospects in the 2012 NBA draft class.
Anthony Davis – PF (Kentucky): Davis is a shot-blocking machine, who also excels on the boards and has crazy handles for a guy who stands 6’11”. The reason, heading into his junior year, Davis was a 6’3” PG. By the end of the year, he was 6’8” and not finished growing. This also means his post game needs to be polished, but Davis is the rare player who can come in and make a huge contribution right away, even without being an offensive stud. No doubt he goes No. 1 overall.
Possible destinations: New Orleans (No. 1)
Thomas Robinson – PF (Kansas): Robinson patiently waited his turn at KU, behind the Morris twins, and when his time came, he made the most of it. An athletic big man, who plays with plenty of intensity and physicality, Robinson is a winner. His offensive game keeps improving, he rebounds well, and is a good defender in the paint.
Possible destinations: Charlotte (No. 2), Washington (No. 3), Sacramento (No. 5)
Andre Drummond – C (Connecticut): Drummond is definitely the wild card of the 2012 NBA draft. At 7’0” 279lbs, he already has an NBA body at the age of just 18. He is very athletic for a big man, can consistently hit face up jumpers, defends well, and is a great rebounder and shot-blocker. So, what’s not to like? Many question Drummond’s competitiveness and desire to play the game. How big of a red flag will this be? He could go as high as No. 2 or begin to slide on draft night.
Possible destinations: Charlotte (No. 2), Cleveland (No. 4), Sacramento (No. 5), Portland (No. 6)
Terrence Jones – PF (Kentucky): Jones is a difficult player to judge. Some teams see him as a top ten pick, while others (as well as myself) feel he’s more suited for that No. 12-18 range. He showed some flashes at UK; good passing, great ball handling, the ability to score from anywhere, but also he was rarely, if ever, dominant and seemed to go long stretches without playing hard.
Possible destinations: Could land anywhere from Golden State (No. 7) to Orlando (No. 19)
John Henson – PF (North Carolina): While Henson (6’10” 216lbs) desperately needs to put some meat on his thin frame, he does bring a few things to the table right away. His ability to block shots is maybe second only to Davis, he rebounds very well, is an excellent defender, and plays hard. He has some nice post moves, but will need to add a more consistent jump shot to his repertoire. Pairing the shot-blocking Henson with Greg Monroe in Detroit has been rumored from Day 1, but the question is whether or not the Pistons will be scared away, given Henson’s terribly frail frame.
Possible destinations: Detroit (No. 9), Houston (No. 14 or 16), Philadelphia (No. 15)
Jared Sullinger – PF (Ohio State): With Sullinger, NBA teams know exactly what they are getting. He is a bit undersized for the PF position, but makes up for it with his competitiveness, physical play, and basketball smarts. Sullinger is an established scorer, who has the lower body strength to get position deep on the block. His two biggest cons are his lack of athleticism and conditioning issues. If he fixes the conditioning problem, Sullinger could be a great role player.
Possible destinations: Golden State (No. 7), New Orleans (No. 10)
Perry Jones III – PF (Baylor): Jones III reminds me a little bit of Terrance Jones in that he has loads of talent, but does not dominate like he could. Jones III has great potential, but was mildly disappointing in his two years at Baylor. He has the talent to do it all; score from anywhere, run the floor in transition, rebound, but Jones III does not look to take over games. If something clicks and his passiveness goes away, he could wind up being a steal as a late lottery pick.
Possible destinations: Milwaukee (No. 12), Phoenix (No. 13), Philadelphia (No. 15)
Tyler Zeller – C (North Carolina): After Andre Drummond, Zeller and Meyers Leonard are the two other centers who figure to go in the top twenty picks. Zeller is proven, while Leonard is a project. At 7’0” 250lbs, Zeller runs the floor well for a big man, has great touch around the basket, and also forces the defense to stay honest, as he has range out to around 18 feet. As is the case with most big men making the transition to the NBA, Zeller will need to add some strength.
Possible destinations: Detroit (No. 9), Milwaukee (No. 12), Houston (No. 14 or 16), Philly (No. 15)
Meyers Leonard – C (Illinois): Leonard is a lot like Zeller minus the polished offensive game. He runs the floor well, can score around the basket, and could stand to add a little more strength to his frame. Leonard is a better fit for a team looking for a prospect with more potential then Zeller offers. Leonard, who is two years younger than Zeller, is not as good now, but could be the better pro in the long run.
Possible destinations: Milwaukee (No. 12), Houston (No. 14/16), Orlando (No. 19)
Plattner is a Minnesota-based columnist. Catch “The Catch” every Tuesday in the Times-Record.