2012 NBA Draft Preview – Top 5 Biggest Potential Sleepers: While some NBA teams see their franchises turned around by drafting one superstar player, others are able to remain competitive by constantly spotting talent late in the draft. Perhaps more than any other sport, early first-round picks in the NBA have a high bust potential. This happens in part because of the emphasis placed on youth and potential among prospects. The trade-off is that many experienced, productive collegiate players are left on the board in the mid to late first round and sometimes even beyond. Here is a look at a few of the players in the 2012 NBA Draft that will likely be picked outside of the lottery but could end up being the steals of the draft.
2012 NBA Draft Preview: Top 5 Biggest Potential Sleepers
1. Terrence Jones, Small Forward, Kentucky
Jones has seen his stock slide a bit after being overshadowed by his Kentucky teammates Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist last season. However, the talent that made him a Wooden Award candidate as a freshman didn’t disappear. His numbers couldn’t help but slip on a team with so much talent, and Jones did use the opportunity to showcase his all-around game. His jump shot can be a little streaky, but his ball handling and passing ability from the small forward spot are excellent. Jones also has an NBA-ready body, and he is the type of player that can stuff the stat sheet. He would have been a top-10 pick in last year’s draft, and he will be a steal for whatever team grabs him.
2. Royce White, Power Forward, Iowa State
Talk of his anxiety issues and fear of flying has raised serious questions about the focus of White, but his talent on the court is undeniable. He nearly averaged a double-double in points and rebounds at Iowa State last season, chipping in five assists per game, as well. White has the athleticism to finish at the rim, and he has the muscle to bang in the post. His jump shot needs to be refined, but he was an efficient scorer in college, shooting almost 54 percent from the field last season. Could consistent play be an issue given his anxiety issues? Maybe, but White is a tough, athletic and a physical beast at the small forward position.
3. Tyler Zeller, Center, North Carolina
He is basically being punished for staying through his senior year. Scouts point out that Zeller has already reached his ceiling as a player. While that may be true, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. He runs the floor as well as any big man in this draft, and he has a polished back to the basket game. Zeller will probably never be an elite defender in the post, but he can be an excellent offensive center. He is ready to score in the NBA from the day he is drafted, and he has all the tools to carve out a nice career. Whether he is a complimentary player to a defensive-minded big man or an offensive spark off the bench, Zeller will be a helpful piece to a roster.
4. Andrew Nicholson, Power Forward, St. Bonaventure
Playing for St. Bonaventure made Nicholson somewhat of an unknown to the national media, but he was a steady force in college. He averaged more than 16 points and seven boards the last three years, shooting more than 56 percent from the field and 71 percent from the foul line. Nicholson is an excellent athlete, and he will be able to stretch defenses with his shooting range. Whether it is fair or not, he will slide in the draft because he didn’t play in a power conference. However, Nicholson is an NBA-ready offensive player at the power forward spot, and he is going to be a serious upgrade in firepower for whatever team lands him.
5. Draymond Green, Power Forward, Michigan State
After being a finalist for the Wooden Award, Green is another player that faces the curse of staying in college four years. He is criticized for not be elite at anything and for not having a lot of upside, but he isn’t getting enough credit for his all-around talent of his toughness. He is a bit undersized for a power forward, but he has above average strength and knows how to use his body. Green is also a great passer for a big man and has developed an outside shot. Not to mention the fact that he has played four years for Tom Izzo, and his knowledge of the game and effort level are never going to be questioned. Green will never be a superstar, but he has all the makings of an invaluable role player.
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