Kentucky’s sensational freshman Anthony Davis (#1 on my draft board) and Baylor’s sophomore Perry Jones III (#2 on my draft board) figure to be the head of the class in the 2012 NBA Draft. Davis was the #1 rated high school in 2011 according to Scout.com and the ESPNU Top 100. He has not disappointed up to this point at Kentucky either. Davis is averaging 13 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks per game, while shooting an astounding 69% from the field in only 26 minutes of playing time! He is shooting free-throws at 53% clip which, by no means, is good. He is extremely long and athletic. Against St. John’s last night, Davis finished 15 points, 15 rebounds and 8 blocked shots. Davis stands 6’10, 220 pounds, a little on the thin side compared to some of the beefier players in the NBA. He is #1 on many draft boards right now, but I have a feeling that he might turn out like Brandan Wright, who played at North Carolina for one season, averaging 14.7 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks per game while shooting 65% from the field. Now, Davis is a lot longer than Wright and has a greater ability to block shots, but Davis will need to get stronger physical and as the year goes on because he needs to prove that he is worthy of a #1 pick in the NBA Draft. Davis’ ceiling his high. If the basement is Wright, than the ceiling is a rich man’s JaVale McGee and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. McGee is a great talent, who is able to rebound, block shots, and is highlight waiting to happen. McGee has absolutely no mid-range game and is a poor free-throw shooter. I think with a lot of hard work and dedication, Davis can improve beyond McGee’s status and become a defensive force in the middle. It’s an unanswered question whether his offense will ever be something of a threat to opposing defenses in the NBA.
Jones, on the other hand, has all the natural ability and talent in the world, but his dedication and “motor” have been questioned by scouts. Jones was the #7 rated player according to ESPNU Top 100 in 2010, but he turned in a solid first season at Baylor. Jones averaged nearly 14 points (13.7) and 7 rebounds per game while shooting 55% from the field. This season, Jones missed Baylor’s first four games but returned in the fifth game and put up 27 points on 10-14 shooting and 6 rebounds. Jones stands 6’11, 235 pounds, 15 pounds more than Davis. Jones is looking a lot more fit in his second year of college and that’s just part of the maturity young men go through. Jones skipped last year’s draft due to the uncertainty of there being an NBA season. His coming back to college will do him good. He is the leader of the Baylor Bears, even though they have a talented group. He is the most talented player in the 2012 draft class. He has the ability to handle the ball and is able to get by people on the drive. He is more of a forward than a center. A basement comparison for Jones would be Anthony Randolph. Randolph was selected with the 14th pick in the 1st round in the 2008 draft. Randolph has a stellar freshman season at Louisiana State University, averaging 15.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Randolph has yet to do anything spectacular in the NBA, but now that he is with the Minnesota Timberwolves, he should see a few more minutes each game. Most people still consider Randolph to be a very good talent at the NBA-level. Jones’ ceiling would be LaMarcus Aldridge, who was the #2 pick in the draft in 2006. Aldridge had a breakout season with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2011. He averaged 22 points and 9 rebounds per game, while shooting 50% from the field and 79% from the line. For his career, Aldridge has averaged 17 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Being the next “LaMarcus Aldridge” is not a bad thing. But it took Aldridge until his fifth year for his hard work to pay off. Just goes to show you how much work you need to put into your craft.