All this week at CBT, we’ll be spotlighting the top players at each position for the 2012 NBA draft. Monday featured the top point guards; Tuesday was the shooting guards; Wednesday the small forwards. Today? The power forwards.
1. Anthony Davis (Kentucky)
Davis is widely regarded as the top pick in this month’s draft and with good reason. His growth spurt is well-known at this point, and his athleticism and wingspan allowed Davis to have an unprecedented impact on the defensive end of the floor as a freshman at Kentucky. And there’s definitely room for growth, because as his body matures and he adds a little in the way of post moves Davis could very well be a perennial all-star.
2. Thomas Robinson (Kansas)
Robinson hasn’t conceded the top pick in the draft to Davis, and while some may see that as an opportunity to ridicule it’s actually a display of the Jayhawk’s competitive nature. With the Morrii moving on he had to step up and Robinson did just that, helping lead Kansas to the national title game. Some have looked at his physical attributes and see some similarities between Robinson and Blake Griffin. He’s strong, skilled and highly athletic, and someone will grab him early in the lottery.
3. Terrence Jones (Kentucky)
Not sure how much returning to school helped Jones in regards to where he’ll get picked, but it’s safe to say that the second year in Lexington helped the Portland native in regards to his game. Jones can step out and knock down perimeter shots, and he was a more mature players for the Wildcats as a sophomore. He’s going in the lottery, and if paired up with a quality center Jones should be productive.
4. John Henson (North Carolina)
Behind Davis likely the second-best shot blocker in this year’s draft, Henson is very good as a weak side defender and also averaged 9.9 rebounds per game last season. He isn’t going to provide much when it comes to teams who may be looking for a player who’s useful in pick and pop situations, but his activity on the defensive end and length guarantees that Henson’s name will most likely be called in the lottery.
5. Perry Jones III (Baylor)
Jones III may be the most intriguing power forward for the simple fact that he’s a player that many have described as one who has “boom or bust” potential. Immensely gifted, Jones III averaged 13.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game for Baylor this season as they reached the Elite 8. But his motor has been called into question on multiple occasions, which could be a concern for some teams. He’s got lottery-level talent and will likely hear his name called during that portion of the draft, but does he drop due to the aforementioned concerns?
6. Royce White (Iowa State)
Much has been made about White’s anxiety disorder, aversion to flying and the beginning of his college career at Minnesota. But in two years at Iowa State (sitting out 2010-11 per NCAA transfer rules) there were no reported off-court issues. From a talent standpoint White is a point forward who could be seen in the mold of what Anthony Mason was during his time in the NBA. Iowa State employed him at the point and White was sensational last season, earning Big 12 Newcomer of the Year honors.
7. Andrew Nicholson (St. Bonaventure)
Nicholson isn’t going to wow folks with athletic feats but there’s no denying his skill level. Nicholson led the Bonnies to their first NCAA appearance since 2001 this season, averaging 18.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and winning Atlantic 10 Player of the Year honors. He can step out to the college three-point line and knock down shots, and he’s skilled on the block as well. Nicholson likely slots into the latter portion of the first round, but if he’s still on the board in the second he won’t be there for long.
8. Draymond Green (Michigan State)
The Big Ten Player of the Year will most likely be a second round pick due to what some have termed as “below the rim athleticism.” But Green did just about everything for the Big Ten tournament champs last season, leading the team in points, rebounds and assists. Like Nicholson he can knock down shots out to the college three-point line, and his intangible are off the charts.
9. Kevin Jones (West Virginia)
Personally, Jones is the most underrated ‘four’ in this year’s draft. There doesn’t seem to be much chatter about the guy some felt should have been Big East Player of the Year, but he was a first team All-Big East selection as a senior. Jones averaged 19.9 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, leading the conference in both categories in addition to offensive rebounds (4.3 per game). Jones isn’t a great perimeter shooter but he’s effective out to 15-17 feet in that regard. Jones will be a second rounder with the ability to become a steal if he lands in the right system.
10. Drew Gordon (New Mexico)
Gordon’s college career didn’t get off to the best start at UCLA but he took full advantage of his time at New Mexico, helping lead the Lobos to the Mountain West tournament crown and a 5-seed in the NCAA tournament as a senior. Gordon can be a beast inside, as he averaged 11.1 rebounds per game to go along with his 13.7 points. Gordon averaged a double-double in both seasons in Albuquerque and possesses above the rim athleticism, which should give him some value as a mid- to late-second round selection.