College means nothing.
Your professors will object.
That doesn’t change the fact that the reputations players built in school won’t do squat for their pro careers. Big names bust every single year. Here is a 2012 NBA mock draft highlighting the under-the-radar prospects that will blow up at the next level despite not being household names.
1. New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis (PF, Kentucky)
If the Hornets don’t select Davis, then David Stern would’ve fixed the lottery for nothing.
2. Charlotte Bobcats: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (SF, Kentucky)
If the Bobcats don’t trade down, they must select the best available player, and that’s MKG.
3. Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal (SG, Florida)
Washington’s decision will come down to Kidd-Gilchrist and Beal, and the Bobcats made their choice easy.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Harrison Barnes (SF, North Carolina)
Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated reported that the Cavs will target Barnes because he’s best friends with Kyrie Irving.
5. Sacramento Kings: Thomas Robinson (PF, Kansas)
To his dismay, Robinson won’t go first overall, but if he falls to No. 5, the Kings would be insane to pass on him.
6. Portland Trail Blazers: Andre Drummond (C, Connecticut)
Drummond is a huge risk, and the Trail Blazers have a history of drafting big men busts. But with a need next to LaMarcus Aldridge, the UConn center’s ceiling is too high to not roll the dice on him.
7. Golden State Warriors: John Henson (PF, North Carolina)
Andrew Bogut and David Lee form the least athletic big-man duo ever, and Henson’s stock is rising.
8. Toronto Raptors: Damian Lillard (PG, Weber St.)
Lillard has been the star of the pre-draft workouts. He’s now a top-10 lock. And with Jose Calderon getting up there in age, it’d be a surprise if the Raptors decided to go in a different direction.
Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld reported that Lillard said in an interview:
I’m not running from anyone…I wanted to come in and show all of the teams that I can make shots. I thought I did a pretty good job of that. When we did one-on-one, I wanted to show that I could defend guys who played at higher levels. I thought I did a good job of that too.
Lillard is explosive. He’s the most polished scorer in the entire draft class. And he’ll without a doubt be the next great young point guard to enter the league.
9. Detroit Pistons: Jared Sullinger (PF, Ohio St.)
Sullinger is one of the most pro-ready prospects in the draft and will be able to start next to Greg Monroe from day one.
10. New Orleans Hornets: Kendall Marshall (PG, North Carolina)
New Orleans needs a future floor general to throw alley-oops to Anthony Davis.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: Dion Waiters (SG, Syracuse)
Waiters is the best available player, and Jamal Crawford has an option to opt out of his contract this summer.
12. Milwaukee Bucks: Meyers Leonard (C, Illinois)
Leonard has leapfrogged Tyler Zeller on draft boards and would fill the Bucks gaping hole at center with proper development.
13. Phoenix Suns: Jeremy Lamb (SG, Connecticut)
No Steve Nash replacements are worthy selections, and Shannon Brown isn’t a starting-caliber shooting guard.
14. Houston Rockets: Tyler Zeller (C, North Carolina)
Houston needs a true center, and thanks to Meyers Leonard’s rising stock, they’re lucky enough to have Zeller fall right into their lap.
15. Philadelphia 76ers: Perry Jones (PF, Baylor)
Considering that the 76ers’ greatest weakness is their lack of a true star, they can’t possibly pass on the high-risk, high-reward Jones.
16. Houston Rockets: Austin Rivers (SG, Duke)
Kevin Martin is on the decline, and the Rockets must find his successor.
17. Dallas Mavericks: Terrence Jones (PF, Kentucky)
Lamar Odom didn’t work out, so selecting the player who’s being compared to the Candy Man would fill that void off the bench.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves: Terrence Ross (SG, Washington)
If Ross falls to No. 18, Minnesota would throw a party because they desperately need a shooting guard.
19. Orlando Magic: Arnett Moultrie (PF, Mississippi St.)
Dwight Howard is as good as gone, so the Magic must select the best available big man. The 6’11” Moultrie is long enough that they wouldn’t have to reach for a true center.
20. Denver Nuggets: Tony Wroten Jr. (PG, Washington)
Denver needs a new backup point guard with Andre Miller headed to free agency.
Wroten isn’t unheard of, but he’s worthy of being labeled as an “unknown,” because after Damian Lillard and Kendall Marshall, there’s considered a significant drop-off at the point guard position. Don’t tell that to the prospect being compared to Gary Payton.
He isn’t the most polished player in the world. Okay, he isn’t polished at all. But his ceiling is undeniable.
Wroten is physically gifted, scores at will and, despite his poor assist-to-turnover ratio, he’s a skilled passer. Under the right coaching, he’ll blow up.
21. Boston Celtics: Moe Harkless (SF, St. John’s)
Paul Pierce (like every player on a Danny Ainge-run team) will be dangled as trade bait this offseason, and they need to select an heir regardless.
22. Boston Celtics: Andrew Nicholson (PF, St. Bonaventure)
Nicholson isn’t a freak athlete, but his skill set is jaw-dropping for a player his age. He’s a scoring machine. His low-post moves are phenomenal, and he has range all the way out to the three-point line.
Chad Ford of ESPN wrote this in his scouting report of Nicholson:
The more NBA teams have begun to break him down, the more they see Nicholson playing a role like David West or Antawn Jamison plays in the NBA. On Tuesday, Nicholson showed he was comfortable stroking the ball effortlessly from behind the NBA 3-point line.
Kevin Garnett is a free agent. Nicholson is not only talented enough to start right away for the Celtics, his motor and commitment to the defensive end of the floor would not be overlooked by Doc Rivers.
23: Atlanta Hawks: Royce White (SF, Iowa St.)
Atlanta must replace Marvin Williams. If White overcomes his off-the-court issues, he’ll be a stud.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Fab Melo (C, Syracuse)
Cleveland doesn’t have a true center on their roster after passing on Jonas Valanciunas last year.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Marquis Teague (PG, Kentucky)
With no quality big man on the board, Memphis’ best bet is to select a backup for Mike Conley.
26. Indiana Pacers: Evan Fournier (SG, France)
Leandro Barbosa is a free agent, and the Pacers’ bench needs revamped after choking against the Heat anyway.
27. Miami Heat: Will Barton (SG, Memphis)
Barton is the most potent scorer left in the draft, and the Heat need someone capable of creating their own shot outside of the Big Three.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder: Tyshawn Taylor (PG, Kansas)
OKC’s greatest need is for a backup to Russell Westbrook, because there are only a couple grains of sand remaining in the hourglass of Derek Fisher’s career.
29. Chicago Bulls: Jared Cunningham (SG, Oregon St.)
Cunningham is a defensive stud, so he fits Tom Thibodeau’s system. But unlike Ronnie Brewer, he’s a talented scorer.
30. Golden State Warriors: Quincy Miller (SF, Baylor)
Golden State’s weak spot in their starting five is at small forward, and Miller has the ceiling to eventually provide an upgrade.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.
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