As part of our blowout rookie class and NBA Draft coverage in Dime 70, we ranked the top 30 first-year players coming into the league. To see this feature in its entirety, check out the issue now on newsstands nationwide.
As the NBA Draft is now over and rookies are infiltrating organizations throughout the league, you need to be able to keep up heading into next year. Here, I ranked the top 30 prospects of the 2012 NBA rookie class, regardless of position…
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1. Anthony Davis
6-10, 222 lbs. PF â€“ Kentucky, Fr.
There are not many “can’t miss” prospects in professional sports. Davis is that type of prospect that has barely scratched the surface and is a future star in the NBA. The consensus No. 1 pick is the best pure athlete, shot-blocker, and defender since Kevin Garnett.
2. Bradley Beal
6-4, 200 lbs. SG â€“ Florida, Fr.
The smooth shooting guard evolved throughout the season as he became more than just a three-point shooter. Beal was a dominant rebounder for his position and became a playmaker in the NCAA Tournament.
3. Thomas Robinson
6-9, 245 lbs. PF â€“ Kansas, Jr.
The double-double monster does not have the same potential as some of his peers here in the Top 10, but Robinson is a great athlete who plays all out on every possession and has a lot of similarities to current NBA All-Star Blake Griffin.
4. Andre Drummond
6-11 270 lbs. C â€“ Connecticut, Fr.
Drummond should have been a high school senior, but instead he reclassified and joined the dysfunctional Huskies. Drummond has the ability to be an elite center especially on the defensive end, but all of that is up to him and his effort level.
5. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
6-7 230 lbs. SF â€“ Kentucky, Fr.
He is a power forward in a wing’s body. That may be the best way to describe the tornado of energy that is MKG. He plays with a very high motor, which translates to elite defense and rebounding.
6. Harrison Barnes
6-8, 228 lbs. SF â€“ North Carolina, So.
Barnes may not be the next Kobe Bryant like some experts pegged him as coming out of high school, but he is still an elite prospect. He is the best pure shooter in this class with the ability to hit shots from anywhere on the court, open or contested.
7. Damian Lillard
6-2, 189 lbs. PG â€“ Weber State, Jr.
The small school (scoring) point guard is one of the best overall guards in the class. He is dangerous off the pick-n-roll as a scorer and plays a style similar to that of a Chauncey Billups type who leads with scoring and timely shooting.
8. Perry Jones
6-11, 235 lbs. PF â€“ Baylor, So.
Through two seasons at Baylor, Jones III never became the star he seemed destined to be, but the potential is there for him to become a great. The versatile power forward may not want to be the “the man” on a team making Jones III the wild card of the draft.
9. Arnett Moultrie
6-11, 230 lbs. PF â€“ Mississippi State, Jr.
The long, athletic forward/center really came on as one of the best players in the SEC. After transferring from Texas El-Paso, Moultrie showcased that he has a big game on the defensive end and on the glass.
10. Austin Rivers
6-5, 203 lbs. SG â€“ Duke, Fr.
The lightning quick combo guard has the pedigree and confidence working for him already. With his quick first step and shooting ability, Rivers is the complete package on offense.
11. Jeremy Lamb
6-5, 180 lbs. SG â€“ Connecticut, So.
The silky smooth wing is the next great scorer to come out of UConn, following Ray Allen and Richard Hamilton. Lamb is a very good three-point shooter, but gets a lot of his points off screens, playing off the ball, and inside the arc as well.
12. Meyers Leonard
7-1, 250 lbs. C â€“ Illinois, So.
The big 7-footer improved dramatically this year by adding strength and imposing himself as a defensive force in the paint. He still has a long way to go with his strength, but Leonard has a lot of potential.
13. Dion Waiters
6-4, 221 lbs. SG â€“ Syracuse, So.
As a reserve on the Orange last year Waiters was one of the best scorers, defenders and all-around players in the Big East. Looking at the success of James Harden and other elite bench players, Waiters may be more NBA ready than his peers.
14. John Henson
6-10, 216 lbs. PF â€“ North Carolina, Jr.
Henson gives a lot up in terms of strength and offensive skill, but he is an elite shot-blocker and quality rebounder. His shooting has also improved this season, showing he can be a solid mid-range shooter.
15. Tyler Zeller
7-0, 247 lbs. C â€“ North Carolina, Sr.
If you are looking for a prototypical NBA center then look no further. Zeller will not jump off the page with potential or flashy statistics, but gets up-and-down the floor well and is a sturdy interior defender.
16. Jared Sullinger
6-9, 268 lbs. PF â€“ Ohio State, So.
Freshman Sullinger: dominant presence in the paint, elite rebounder, but out of shape and poorly conditioned. Sophomore Sullinger: In better shape, but not as dominant in the paint. He needs to find a middle ground.
17. Kendall Marshall
6-4, 198 lbs. PG â€“ North Carolina, So.
There has not been a player with the passing ability and vision that Marshall possesses since maybe Chris Paul. Maybe. Marshall is a floor general that can make any pass on the court and rarely turns the ball over.
18. Terrence Jones
6-9, 252 lbs. PF â€“ Kentucky, So.
The Jekyll and Hyde nature of Jones has improved after two years in college, but he is still a 50/50 chance at a great/awful game. However, there is no question Jones has the athleticism and skill to be a star at the next level.
19. Tony Wroten
6-5, 203 lbs. PG â€“ Washington, Fr.
Wroten is an elite athlete for his position and the master of the spectacular pass. At times he chooses to make the flashy play verses the smart play, meaning he will flourish in the uptempo NBA style.
20. Terrence Ross
6-6, 197 lbs. SG â€“ Washington, So.
He was buried on the bench as a freshman, but exploded onto the national scene as a sophomore. Ross is an elite athlete with NBA range on his jump shot.
21. Jeffery Taylor
6-7, 213 lbs. SF â€“ Vanderbilt, Sr.
Wings do not come more athletic and ready to compete on the defensive end than Taylor. It was a roller coaster of a four-year career in college, but he leaves school smarter, stronger, and a better shooter than he came in.
22. Royce White
6-8, 260 lbs. PF â€“ Iowa State, So.
It is a scary image for any defender when a 6-8, 260-pound forward comes barreling at you on a fast break like White can do. That is a feat usually reserved for the likes of LeBron James, but as a power forward, White can do just the same with great athleticism, strength, and playmaking ability.
23. Quincy Miller
6-9, 219 lbs. SF â€“ Baylor, Fr.
His great high school career ended with an unfortunate injury that seemed to linger all year. Miller is unconventional, a long guard with the ability to handle the ball and shoot from the outside.
24. Moe Harkless
6-8, 207 lbs. SF â€“ St. John’s, Fr.
Harkless is not a finished product and is maybe leaving school a year early, but either way he is a very versatile wing that can play multiple positions and even some point forward running the offense.
25. Evan Fournier
6-7, 206 lbs. SG â€“ France, 1992
Fournier is easily the best international prospect. And for good reason. Fournier is a smooth slashing wing that gets baskets in many different ways on the court.
26. Doron Lamb
6-4, 199 lbs. SG â€“ Kentucky, So.
In two years with Kentucky, Lamb is as experienced playing with NBA players as everyone currently on the Charlotte Bobcats roster. He is an elite three-point shooter and has shown the ability to play a little point guard.
27. Scott Machado
6-1, 205 lbs. PG â€“ Iona, Sr.
Machado spent four years at Iona making history and setting up teammates for easy baskets. The argument can be made that he is the best point guard in this draft and has come a long way as a scorer and defender.
28. Marquis Teague
6-1, 180 lbs. PG â€“ Kentucky, Fr.
It is a point guard’s league, so the up-and-down season Teague just had means very little for his career going forward. He has elite speed that allows him to get separation and score the ball in transition.
29. Fab Melo
7-0, 255 lbs. C â€“ Syracuse, So.
Melo is still a project at center, but a 7-foot project who can control the game on the defensive end. He does not need a single play called for him to make his presence felt with blocks and rebounding.
30. Festus Ezeli
6-11, 264 lbs. C â€“ Vanderbilt, Sr.
Ezeli is a tough, tough interior defender that protects the paint with authority. He has great strength and does not mind doing the dirty work for his team.
Who are your top 5 candidates for Rookie of the Year?
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