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Three guys who could be the surprise second best player in this draft

Jun 23, 2012, 6:12 PM EDT

Uconn's Drummond fights for the ball as Syracuse's C.J. Fair and Fab Melo defend during their game at the 2012 Big East men's NCAA college basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York Reuters

Make no mistake, this is the Anthony Davis draft. He is the franchise player, the guy who can be a top 10 player in the league, the guy you build a contender around, the guy people pay to see. The Hornets have literally won the lottery.

After that there is a consensus of guys going 2-5 — Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Thomas Robinson among them.

But below them are a few guys who will get picked Thursday with the potential to be the second best player out of this draft, to be a perennial All-Star, a guy who is the heart of his team, three guys who could be to their team what the Hornets hope Davis will be. These are guys that have questions, and will need a few years to develop, but if they do they could be very special players.

Or, they could flame out spectacularly. Which is why none of them are going No. 2. They are risk/reward guys. But these are the three guys with the “upside” potential to be the second best player out of this draft.

1) Andre Drummond (7’0” center, Connecticut) He could be the anchor every team wants in the middle — maybe a Serge Ibaka, maybe even better an Andrew Bynum. He has a rare mixture of size and elite athleticism, he has all the tools and from day one he should get rebounds and shot blocks galore.

Should. The problem is his drive, his motor, his passion is constantly in question. The buzz is his workouts have not impressed teams and he could slide down the board. He dropped 22 pounds after the college season ended, which makes you wonder where that effort was before, and even then he doesn’t blow people away in workouts.

UConn coach Jim Calhoun has said a few times that in three or four years we will see the potential in Drummond realized. Some guys (think Bynum with the Lakers) do put in the work and develop into great players in a few years. But he could become an Andray Blatche kind of talent, too. And if you haven’t seen the work ethic up to now…

One of the biggest risk/reward picks in the draft. He has unbelievable physical tools and, while he needs to develop, he could be an Andrew Bynum/Serge Ibaka like center in five years. But with all that he averaged 10 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in college, there are serious questions about his desire and commitment to himself and the game. He could be a big bust. Workouts drew really mixed reviews.

2) Perry Jones III (6’11” power forward, Baylor) A guy with this much individual talent falling out of the lottery — which is what DraftExpress and every other mock has happening now — says everything you need to know about the concerns about his desire, his commitment to the game and himself. Take him in the lottery and he is the kind of pick that gets GMs fired. There’s also a question about where to play him, Baylor used him as a center but some scouts see him more as a tall three.

What everyone agrees on is this: If he could harness those talents and play to his potential he would be an absolute beast. He can score in the post or out on the perimeter, he runs the floor in transition very well, he leaps out of the building and can rebound the rock. He has the potential to be a Lamar Odom on a good night type of player — but his flake factor is bigger than Odom’s. Which should scare everyone.

3) John Henson (6’10 power forward, North Carolina) If I were going to make a bet on any of the guys on this list, it would be Henson. Why? Because the guy hustles hard every game. He is like a poor-man’s Anthony Davis because from the moment you draft him he can defend and rebound (although he needs to put on weight fast, currently he could turn sideways and you wouldn’t see him). But that is not a great description because he also just has a unique, hard to define game. Well, outside of the fact he is very long and very athletic.

His offense is raw. Also, he’s not a guy that fits easily into a traditional offensive system — he’s too thin right now to bang with fours and fives in the NBA (see the paragraph above) but he’s not a three. However, he is the one guy you know will put in the effort, work on his offensive game, get stronger and in three or four years could be a real force.

Most people don’t think he has the upside of Perry and Drummond, but this is the guy I would be more willing to invest in because some return seems more likely.

  1. zblott - Jun 23, 2012 at 7:00 PM

    Has it occurred to anyone yet that these “freak athlete”/potential guys like Drummond and PJones who are way underwhelming and unmotivated in college NEVER work out in the NBA? There is 0% chance either of these two becomes the second-best player from the draft.

    If you’re looking for the surprise guys, why not someone like Kendall Marshall who DRASTICALLY changed the makeup of North Carolina’s offense when he played? How many other players in this draft were that responsible for their entire team’s success? And Jae Crowder has next Kenneth Faried/Kawhi Leonard written all over him (maximum effort, versatile impact), but I guess Drummond and Jones do both jump real high…

    For some info on what the draftees can actually contribute as a member of a team:

    • bparmalee - Jun 24, 2012 at 12:26 PM

      I have concerns along the sames lines with Anthony Davis. Slight post players rarely pan out in the NBA….. Chris Bosh… K.G. (though K.G. was a crazy athlete) and that’s about it really. Davis had issues backing down college players and you have to wonder how he would fair on a team without 5-6 NBA prospects. Davis is going to have bulk up a lot to not get pushed around.

      • scalfor3 - Jun 24, 2012 at 3:09 PM

        i completely agree. davis has crazy potential, but people are acting like hes a sure thing. he could be a spectacular bust if he doesnt put on the weight to hold his own on the blocks

  2. nghtrder169 - Jun 23, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    If for what ever reason Davis doesn’t win Rookie of the Year….Kendall Marshall if he is given the ball day one will make any team better – run from “lack of motivation” type players in any sport

  3. llfreedman - Jun 23, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    Honestly I’m horrified to see Drummond given Bynum potential. I think this article is much more on the right track with Henson. I think Henson will be very good. He was a dominant defensive player in the ACC and I will be shocked if that does not transfer over in the NBA. Moreover, his weight doesn’t bother me as much as others say. If you look at the way he used his body to position himself (aka that massive rear)- he really knew how to use his body. Plus, he looked so much more comfortable on offense this year.

    If I’m an NBA GM- I’m seriously considering John Henson. It’s crazy to me that undersized fours are being looked at before him. We know it is much less likely that a 6’7 6’8 power forward succeeds in the nba (think Sullinger and Robinson…).

  4. lakerluver - Jun 23, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    Big guy with no motor? Stay away from Drummond. Jones is in the same boat. I hope Henson’s there for the Pistons (he probably will be). Along with Greg Monroe Detroit could have it’s “twin towers” for the next 10 years.

  5. bestcoastinfluence - Jun 23, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    I think Jones III is the best of these three. The guy has yet to tip that potential he has and if he ever commits himself to playing hard all the time he could be special. That is a big “if” though

  6. wjmoffatt - Jun 23, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    None of these guys are even going to be in the tops of the players of this draft!
    Anthony Davis
    Bradley Beal
    Harrison Barnes
    Kendall Marshall
    Terrance Ross
    Marquis Teague
    Royce White
    Terrance Jones
    Tony Wroten
    Austin Rivers
    Sullinger (IDC about the guys injuries, he rebounds, plays high motor, and has shooting touch)
    Will all be better

  7. dondada10 - Jun 23, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    Arnett Moultrie is the steal of the draft. Kid plays like a young KG.

  8. camnellum12 - Jun 23, 2012 at 10:51 PM

    Hold on, Drummond is stigmatized as the player with “no motor” and he “underachieved”, but UCONN as a whole was screwy last season. And I hate how Anthony Davis is depicted as a “franchise player”. He’ll be the next Marcus Camby at best, it’s not a bad thing, but why are writers like Kurt over-hyping Davis. He is nowhere near the prospect John Wall, Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, Greg Oden (he was a f*cking beast before the injuries, don’t forget) and ect. I’m sure there was plenty of hype around Camby back in ’96, he was the 2nd overall pick, and he’s had a solid career (DPOTY, lead the league in blocking 3x), but he’s not the franchise player everyone thought he’d be. Did anyone expect Kobe to be the best prospect out of the 1996 Draft besides Jerry West? Okay then.

    Now Drummond’s best comparison is Amar’e Stoudemire and Davis’ is Marcus Camby. I don’t know about yall, but STAT is a 6x All-Star. Andre can go to Portland at 6th and create a terrific front court and playing along side LaMarcus Aldridge might help his career. Why can’t fans reserve judgement an not write off draftees so early?

    • borderline1988 - Jun 23, 2012 at 11:07 PM

      Hindsight is always 20/20.

      I agree that Davis is being a bit over-hyped. But when my team picks, I hope they stay from head-cases like Drummond.
      The best possible case scenario is for him to develop into a Bynum, but even Bynum is a pain to deal with, and will never have the leadership ability to be the centre piece of a team.
      That being said, Bynum is not even as bad of a head-case that Drummond is. At least the guy somewhat tries, he’s just really immature (like Demarcus Cousins).

      I’ll take a guy who’s immature but has some real pride, but not someone like Drummond, who once he gets his paycheck, won’t care about the success of his team.

      • camnellum12 - Jun 23, 2012 at 11:21 PM

        But can you show me when has he quit on UCONN last season? That team was EXTREMELY disappointing, with all the talent they had on that roster, and it doesn’t make Andre’s case that he was on that squad. But as a Laker fan, I’m actually expecting for Bynum to be a leader. In my opinion, he’s the best center in the NBA, he’s not better than Dwight Howard as a player, but he’s a better center, because Howard is a very athletic/defensive guru PF playing the 5, alas David Robinson. Bynum already rebelled with the techs against the Rockets, pulling up for the 3, and not talking with Mitch, but he’s realizing what he can become for the Laker franchise, when you go into the rebounding club of Mikan, Baylor, Wilt, and Kareem, that says something. And the 10 blocks was no fluke either. He’s working on his game (and knees, thank you Orthokine Therapy) this summer and I hope he’s our leader of the future.

        Now back to Andre, he’s nowhere near as immature as he’s thought out to be. His work ethic may be questioned, but Shaq wasn’t the hardest worker ever. So in other words, he needs to be grouped with a winning franchise (possibly Portland) to push him rather than a sh*t hole team like the Kings or Wizards with no direction, or he will look he has no motor.

      • borderline1988 - Jun 23, 2012 at 11:49 PM

        Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. The scouts can tell by interviewing him and watching him during workouts where his head is really at. I trust my team’s (Raptors btw) instincts on this. I just hope that they don’t get too enamored with the talent (even though the Raptors could really use a scoring and defensive big man).

        And to let you know, it’s not about immaturity. Lebron was immature. Kobe was definitely immature.
        It’s about pride (which Shaq has boatloads of btw). I just want to see a player be motivated to be the best he can be, and not get showed up by others. The opposite of a player who cares about their pride is one that only cares about the big payday, and then doesn’t give a damn about whether their team is succeding or whether he’s giving his all to the team. Like Jamarcus Russell.

        Bynum is the 2nd best centre in the league (Howard’s defensive impact is almost immeasurable; for the same reason that Lebron is a better player than Durant, Howard is better than Bynum).
        That being said, my advice to you is that I wouldn’t hang my hat on Bynum. He’s a great talent but he is way too immature to lead a team. He needs veterans on his team to keep him focused.
        I hope for your sake that Kobe and Gasol stick it out for another 4-5 years, b/c the Lakers will fall off a cliff if they’re both gone in the next 2 years.

  9. camnellum12 - Jun 24, 2012 at 12:18 AM

    Howard is a better player than Bynum, but Dwight is a PF moonlighting a the 5. Bynum has the most sound post moves and footwork on the lower block in the game, and most coaches referred to Bynum as a “grizzle bear down low”. And too add on to the fact that he’ll be even more fluid due to the Orthokine and his knee injections, Bynum will be a force to be reckoned with. And we can judge how he approaches this upcoming season to see where his attitude is at.

    • ss3walkman - Jun 24, 2012 at 1:33 AM

      Bynum and his knee concerns are a BIG red flag. If I were Lakers I’d trade him for a promising C/PF(ex Favors or Kantor of the Jazz comes to mind) and a SF who can shoot (ex Miles or Hayword of the Jazz) that will also help them save at least $5 million and bring someone else in for a minumum.

      • 00maltliquor - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:21 AM


      • camnellum12 - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:32 AM

        And this is why you’re not in the Lakers front office? I just said he’s getting Orthokine Therapy (look how Kobe performed this season) and on top of that, he’ll get his knee drained 3 times a year, that’s why he didn’t play but 5 minutes in this years ASG. Pau+Bynum is the best frontcourt in the NBA, no way in hell I’d give that up for some unproven players on a 8th seed team.

  10. 00maltliquor - Jun 24, 2012 at 2:30 AM

    Kendall Marshall, Austin Rivers, Tyler Zeller

  11. boltsup - Jun 24, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    Damian Lillard will be the man of this draft in hindsight

  12. scalfor3 - Jun 24, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    where these guys get drafted will have a huge impact on how they turn out. whos to say bynum doesnt flame out if he doesnt get the great coaching (and kobe constantly on his ass) with the lakers? blatche has been a huge head case, but by all accounts that wizards locker room was cancerous. maybe he develops if he was on a team with veteran leadership and accountability

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