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2012 NBA Draft: The lottery bigs and their musical chairs

Jun 24, 2012, 4:30 PM EDT

Final Four - Louisville v Kentucky Getty Images

Well, Anthony Davis is No.1 and Thomas Robinson will go in the top five. That’s a pretty good start for the bigs in the 2012 NBA draft. After that, things get really interesting. Of the top bigs: Andre Drummond, Jared Sullinger, John Henson, Meyers Leonard, Tyler Zeller, Perry Jones, and if you want to throw him in, Terrence Jones (I think Jones will play more 3 in the league), there’s really no way to determine in what order they’ll definitely go.

We know a few things.

  • Drummond is the most coveted big outside of Davis, and at the same time the biggest risk. He has immense athleticism to go with his size, but is severely lacking in the skills department and there are huge questions about his mindset and attitude.
  • Henson has no such question marks, but doesn’t have the same raw ability. He is more polished, however, and could immediately contribute.
  • Leonard has excellent size and slightly more skills than Drummond, but falls behind in the athleticism department.
  • Zeller is a player scouts absolutely love, but because of his play style and athleticism, is not going to jump to the front.
  • Perry Jones could be a Hall of Famer or could be out of the league in three years and neither would surprise me.
  • Sullinger has the best mindset and approach of any big, is extremely smart and coachable. But the back is a question mark. More importantly, though, his defensive lateral speed is a huge issue.

Chad Ford has more on Drummond’s situation and how he could go top five or slide, and where it might stop:

Right now, sources say Leonard and Henson are the two leading candidates in the group. Sullinger has slid on the Pistons’ draft board since the team saw his draft combine physical. Mississippi State’s Arnett Moultrie is also in the running for the No. 9 pick; however, he’s more of a long shot. He worked out earlier with the Pistons.

The winner of the workout could very well be the ninth pick if UConn big man Andre Drummond doesn’t fall to Detroit.

The Pistons are hoping Drummond does fall, and there are scenarios where they could get their wish. Right now it doesn’t look like Drummond has a home inside the top five. Sources say he’s struggled in workouts and hasn’t gotten strong feedback from teams. The Blazers are a real possibility at six.

via 2012 NBA Draft – Royce White may have a draft promise, plus rumors – ESPN.

The Pistons would be really set with Henson. A super-long rebounder with a bit of a mid-range game (his jumper is underrated), he would fit perfectly with Greg Monroe and set the Pistons up with a terrific core for the future. Drummond… on the list of coaches to try and crack that nut, Lawrence Frank seems like a bit of a gamble, given his tougher, professional approach. Is Frank going to nurture him the way he may need to? No, because most coaches won’t do that. This is the NBA. That’s the problem with Drummond.

There’s also talk from the New Orleans Times-Picayune that the Hornets could use the tenth pick on Zeller. The best case scenario may honestly be for the Pistons to bypass Drummond, take Henson, and Drummond falls to New Orleans. Monty Williams could likely connect with Drummond and build one of the best defensive frontcourts of the past 20 years with Davis and Drummond as anchors.

Leonard has risen meteorically based off his size. You can tell the lack of quality centers in the league with this run on guys without much in the way of go-to post moves.

Honestly, there’s no telling how those players shake out. We know Drummond likely won’t fall past six to Portland, definitely won’t fall past nine. We know Henson is unlikely to slip out of the top ten, and will likely go before Zeller. We know Zeller’s a value pick, and that Leonard is probably going to get snagged top 12. Everything else is liquid.

  1. londonaiooo - Jun 24, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    How do college big guys come out of college with no post moves. Isn’t the point of college to teach? What are these coaches doing? Everybody who plays ball should have at least a go to post move or two, and that goes double for anyone in the frontcourt. And that goes one hundred times more if you’re about to get paid millions to play.

    • savvybynature - Jun 24, 2012 at 10:20 PM

      College is about making money for the college, not developing players or doing what’s best for them. How many times have you seen colleges play players at a position that they will have no chance of playing in the NBA, because it ives them the best chance to win and make more money.
      That’s why it’s such a joke that the league tells adults that they can’t enter the NBA unless they go to college. You can go to war but not the NBA, you aren’t mentally tough enough! LMAO, what a joke!

    • camnellum12 - Jun 24, 2012 at 10:23 PM

      I agree with you on that, but it’s the European influence on the bigs. Bigs love to float and cut from the perimeter, which is very FIBA style basketball. Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki fits this FIBA style, and I think they influenced that on the current generation. I was listening to Alonzo Mourning last fall, and he said Shaq and himself were “dinosaurs” when they played, because they were the only true back to the basket centers. Andrew Bynum, Tim Duncan, Roy Hibbert to name a few are true centers, but I have come to terms that big men nowadays love roaming like SF’s.

  2. dgbk - Jun 24, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    same way shootin guards cant shoot… or hit their free throws… college coaches are tryin to win games not teach…..

    if a player is a one trick pony and that one trick he is great at why teach and mess his game up….. most athletic big man can dunk or just catch alley opps all day they dont need moves in high school or college

  3. jkaflagg - Jun 25, 2012 at 7:59 PM

    It would be interesting to save this article to look back on in about 3 years – it seems that about 90 % of the bigs drafted turn out to be stiffs who play a few minutes a game until their rookie deals expire and they get cut to make room for the next stiff. Sadly, I’m sure some of these guys could play given solid coaching and the right situation ; but the one-and-done college experience seems to hurt these players more than all others……

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