NBA Draft 2012


Beyond the Lottery: Perry Jones III

Baylor University sophomore Perry Jones III announced on April 9th that he would throw his hat in the NBA ring. Jones came out of high school as one of the top players in the country and had a solid couple seasons in Waco, helping the Bears to a 38-8 record in 2011-12.

The 6’11”, 238-pound combo forward averaged 14 ppg and 7.6 rpg while shooting 50% from the field this past season. His top translatable pro strengths are his size and elite athleticism. At almost 7 feet tall, Jones can play down low or on the perimeter. He is also extremely fast and fluid going end-to-end, and his jumping ability is off the charts.

The 20-year-old Duncanville, Texas native posted season highs of 31 points, 14 boards, 4 blocks and 4 steals. Jones moves well without the ball, makes sharp cuts and is skilled in the pick-and-roll. He uses both hands off the dribble and can get to the rim consistently with his arm length and quick, long first step.

PJ3 has big, sticky hands and is able to catch tight passes in the post or in transition. Once he has the rock, he finishes well, especially when he faces up slower-footed big men. Jones possesses a promising jumper and should become a legitimate long-range threat with time and practice.

Jones’ rebounding upside is enormous. As with many young, natural talents, Jones will be a glass-cleaning menace, both defensively and offensively, once he locks in mentally and decides to crash the boards. On the defensive end, Jones has all of the tools to one day match up with 2’s, 3’s and 4’s thanks to his wingspan, footwork and shot-blocking abilities. As with his rebounding, Jones’ overall defensive game will be determined as much by his mental toughness and dedication as his physicality.

Though Jones displayed his potential for greatness at Baylor, he was inconsistent. The consensus seems to be that if Jones can add fire to his furnace, work on his body strength and build confidence, he’ll enjoy a long, productive NBA career. Look for Perry Jones III to go midway through the first round on June 28th.

Beyond the Lottery: Kendall Marshall

On March 29th, University of North Carolina sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall announced that he would enter the 2012 NBA Draft. This season Marshall finished second in the country in assists at 9.7 per game. In fact, he broke the UNC single season record for assists this past season as well as the ACC record set in 1988. Marshall was named a third team All-American and won the Bob Cousy Award for the nation’s top point guard.

Marshall played and thrived in the high-octane offense of Roy Williams at Chapel Hill. At 6’4″ he has great size for a 1-guard, can see the entire court at all times and is always looking to reward his teammates for running and cutting. In the 2011-2012 season, Marshall posted an amazing 3.51 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Marshall averaged 33 minutes per game and often played 38+ minutes in tight contests. He had season-highs of 16 dimes (2X), 22 points and 6 steals. In his final six games in Carolina Blue, he scored in double figures and averaged 10.3 apg.

Marshall is the definition of a natural lead-guard, controlling the pace and flow of the game while recognizing where to move the ball and when to take it to the rim himself. Marshall is equally comfortable running the break and setting up in the half court in settled situations. Many commentators noted this year that Marshall was the best long-passer they had ever seen collegiately. He has exceptional handle and rarely if ever over-dribbles.

The pride of Dumfries, Virginia has a level-10 basketball IQ, which enables him to play great one-on-one defense, help-side team D and break up plays as they develop even with his average speed.

Marshall is not a natural scorer and at times looks hesitant to shoot the ball. He definitely needs to improve his offensive output and shooting percentages in order to crack an NBA starting five. However, toward the end of his second season at Carolina, Marshall’s confidence on the offensive end grew as he hit some big shots and refined his repertoire at the rim.

Marshall played with and against multiple future NBA ballers during his two years in the ACC, so transitioning to the professional game should not be a problem for him. Look for a team to scoop him up between spots 15-18 on June 28th.

Beyond the Lottery: Terrence Jones

University of Kentucky sophomore Terrence Jones started 34 of 38 games this past season for the supremely talented 2012 NCAA Champion Wildcats. Jones averaged 12.3 ppg. 7.2 rpg, 1.8 bpg and 1.3 spg in 30 minutes of court time for coach John Calipari. At 6’9” and 252 pounds, the 20-year-old Jones can play either forward position, and he possesses above average athleticism, especially for a player his size.

This lefty moves fluidly around the court and is a great finisher at the rim with his 7’2” wingspan. He runs the floor hard in the proper lanes and can handle the rock on the break and in transition. The pride of Portland, Oregon posted season-highs of 27 points, 11 boards (5X), 5 blocks and 4 steals.

Jones can hit the 20+ foot jumper and has demonstrated marked improvement in his outside ‘J’ since coming out of Jefferson High School, where he led his squad to an unprecedented three straight state championships. With his developing physique and strength, bolstered by countless hours in the weight room, Jones can battle for rebounds and has active feet and positioning on the offensive glass.

On the defensive end, Jones’ combination of hops, length and lateral quickness gives him the ability to guard the post and the wing spots. He blocks shots, shuts off passing lanes and can deny dribble penetration. Jones isn’t afraid of battling bigger players in the paint, which should serve him well in the current NBA which is loaded with top-flight PF’s.

Jones is projected to go between 16-21 in Round 1 of the 2012 NBA Draft. The main knock on Jones is that he is a tweener, not a true 3 or a true 4. A secondary criticism is that no one facet of his overall game can be described as truly exceptional yet.

However, Jones displayed maturity and leadership on a freshman-dominated team. He was moved from the SF to the PF in his second season by coach Cal and accepted his new role for the sake of his team’s success. By virtue of choosing the UK program, Jones participated in numerous important games and learned to play in unison with at least seven current or future NBA players. Look for Jones to keep improving and to begin his pro career as a do-most-everything, energy-boosting bench contributor.

Beyond the Lottery: Dion Waiters

Syracuse sophomore Dion Waiters helped lead the Orangemen to a team-record 34 wins this past season. The 6’4”, 215-pound combo guard was selected as the Big East Conference Sixth Man of the Year after averaging 12.6 ppg and 1.8 steals per game in only 24 minutes.

Waiters considered leaving the ‘Cuse in his freshman year after getting off to a rocky start. However, once he decided to stay Waiters gracefully accepted his bench role.

Waiters can handle the rock as well as play off the ball. He’s an above average shooter with NBA range and can create off the dribble, find the open man and deliver the difficult pass, rarely turning it over.

Waiters always looks to push the ball up court in transition and has the exceptional strength and athleticism to finish at the rim even when fouled. The Philly product utilizes screens effectively, which should translate well to the pick-and-roll obsessed pro game.

Waiters possesses a Manu Ginobili-like ability to change direction suddenly with the ball and glide into spots that the defense doesn’t anticipate. He plays with a controlled electricity and can be unstoppable when he’s feeling it.

On the defensive end, Waiters can D up either the 1 or the 2. With active hands, fast feet, lower body strength and a high basketball-IQ, he defends well in isolation and is the player on the court who often comes out of nowhere to break up a pass, make a deflection or bring the unexpected double-team.

Waiters was originally projected to go mid-to-late in the first round, primarily because he’s not a true point or scoring guard. Also, he played almost exclusively zone defense under HOF coach Jim Boeheim and lacks man-to-man experience. But after an impressive showing in Vegas, the superstar sleeper has been buzzing up the ranks and may wind up being fished out if the 2012 draft pool earlier than first expected.