By now, the elite playersor at least whos considered to be an upper-echelon prospectin the 2012 NBA Draft are obvious. But every year, theres a player or two whos selected lower than he was initially expected to be drafted, then makes teams pay for him and another few who slips through the cracks. Then they surprise everyone with a tremendous rookie season and subsequent career.
There are some obvious candidates this year: Ohio States Jared Sullingers medical red flag threatens to have him slip out of the lottery and plummet toward the second half of the first round, while Baylors enigmatic Perry Jones, despite his tantalizing talent, could also fall out of the lottery; ironically, both players were projected to be top-five picks last summer, following their freshman seasons. But what about that second category, the players whose stock isnt quite as high as it could be, but have a chance to really make an impact in the league.
Memphis shooting guard Will Barton, whose name has come up quite a bit recently in Chicagoas reported Tuesday, Barton had a solo workout with the Bulls at the Berto Center, his second workout with the team, Wednesday; hes the only prospect believed to have worked out twice for the Bulls, as well as the lone player to work out by himselfcertainly fits that description, but hes already been discussed ad nauseum in this space. Besides Barton, here are 10 other draft prospects who could be better than expected in the NBA:
Quincy Acy, 6-foot-7 power forward, Baylor: The undersized Acy is simply a beast inside, using his power and athleticism to produce, and while hell never be a go-to scorer or even a skilled offensive option, as an energy guy and rebounder doing the dirty work, he should find a place in the league.
Kim English, 6-foot-5 shooting guard, Missouri: Already equipped with an NBA skillshooting the ballEnglish is no one-trick pony, as hes capable of being a solid defender, possesses ball skills and has nice size for his position, to go along with a mature game.
Draymond Green, 6-foot-7 forward, Michigan State: Green doesnt really have a position on the next level, but his high basketball I.Q., experience and uncanny passing ability should enable him to excel in the right system.
Quincy Miller, 6-foot-9 small forward, Baylor: Acys teammate had an inconsistent freshman yearpossibly due to the effects of the ACL injury he suffered as a high school seniorbut his size and natural scoring ability indicate he could be a solid long-term risk for a patient team.
Andrew Nicholson, 6-foot-9 power forward, St. Bonaventure: A native of Canada and the Atlantic-10 Conference player of the year, Nicholson is one of the better four-year college players in the draft and should be able to immediately step into a teams rotation as a big man who can play in the pick-and-pop game.
Kyle OQuinn, 6-foot-10 power forward, Norfolk State: One the heroes of the NCAA Tournament after leading his 15th-seeded team to a first-round upset of Missouri, OQuinn is a rugged rebounder and strong defender with good size, which should translate into him being a solid role player.
Hollis Thompson, 6-foot-8 small forward, Georgetown: Thompson played in a college system that wasnt designed to showcase individual talents, but his excellent size for the wing, long-range shooting and on-court intelligence should earn him a niche as a specialist in the league.
Casper Ware, 5-foot-10 point guard, Long Beach State: Ware could very well go undrafted, but his quickness, moxie and niche as a change-of-pace backup will get him in somebodys training camp in the fall and more than likely, obtain him an NBA home.
Royce White, 6-foot-8 power forward, Iowa State: Whites anxiety issues have been well-chronicled, but even after his NCAA Tournament breakout performances against Connecticut and Kentucky, his actual skillspowerful, athletic big man with perimeter skills, rebounding acumen and unique ballhandling and passing abilityhave gone under the radar.
Tony Wroten, 6-foot-6 point guard, Washington: While Wroten certainly has weaknesses as a shooter and has a propensity to get out of control, his size for the position, remarkable court vision and youth give him a great chance to succeed.