Looking to the Future: 2012 Draft Prospects

Published: January 7, 2012

Hornets247 takes a look at the deep group of prospects available in the coming 2012 draft.

Drafts come in all flavors.  Some are like the 2000 draft, which sported exactly two players in the lottery who started for a team for at least 4 seasons.  Then there are drafts like 2003, which delivered LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, David West and a superb butt-of-all-jokes Darko Milicic.  Couldn’t ask for better than that.

What’s nice this year is that the Hornets have the opportunity to hold two lottery picks in the coming draft – and since many of the top tier talent remained in college last year due to concerns about the lockout, this draft appears to be very deep.  Most drafts, after around pick 3 or 4, or even sooner, GMs are taking on risks that a player will develop.   This coming draft, however, is 10-players deep, which means that with the inevitable two or three teams that reach for centers, raw atheletes or unknown international prospects too soon, the Hornets could actually land themselves two impact players in the draft.

Over the season, we’ll be tracking these key prospects and trying to keep you abreast of their development.  With this post, however, I hope to just make you aware of who those top 10, as I see them, are.

Big Men
The good news is this draft is simply teeming with talented, big kids.  Kaman and Landry on one year deals?  That’s okay, with these guys coming out and hopefully being on the board when the Hornets pick.

Anthony Davis
6’10 PF, Kentucky

To me, Davis is the prize of this draft.  As a Junior in high school, he was a talented guard – until he had a massive growth spurt.   Now he’s a big man with a solid basketball skills to go with amazing height and energy that is making him a defensive force.

Andre Drummond
6’11 C, Connecticut

He is Raw, raw, raw.  Drummond is huge, and many scouts see the next Andrew Bynum in him.  He’s not putting up terrific numbers, but a guy his size usually takes some time to figure things out.  If he puts it all together, he’s got a tremendous ceiling.

Jared Sullinger
6’9″ PF, OhioState

With a slew of highly touted freshmen prospects (Read: Athletic) rolling into College, Sullinger is the forgotten elite prospect at the 4.   He scores and rebounds extremely well and if you need a scoring big man in the frontcourt, you won’t find a better option in this draft than Sullinger.  If the Hornets don’t get a crack atDavis, Sullinger is my guy to replace Landry.

Perry Jones
6’11” PF, Baylor

Jones has all the tools of a superb power forward.  He’s agile, long, and disruptive defensively when he wants to be.  His offensive game is also pretty solid.  When he’s aggressive offensively, he’s a handful.

Thomas Robinson
6’9″ PF, Kansas

Robinson has emerged from the shadows of current NBA Rookie Twins at Kansas, and is putting together an impressive campaign.   Personally, I drool over his rebounding numbers even more than the fact he can stick the mid-range jumper.

John Henson
6’10” PF, North Carolina

Henson is a Junior, and is therefore dropping down the draft charts because scouts have moved from  wondering at his potential to picking at his game.  Henson isn’t an amazing scorer, but he’s good.  He’s an exceptional rebounder weak-side help defender.  The guy has the potential to be Marcus Camby.


Michael  Kidd-Gilchrist
6’7″ SF, Kentucky

Gilchrist is an athletic freak with great defense and a nice slashing game.  He reminds me a bit of Corey Brewer in college. He has to get a consistent shot, but if he can knock down the three-ball at least moderately well, we’ll see a less nutty version of Stephen Jackson in the league.

Harrison Barnes
6’8″ SF, North Carolina

Barnes is a terrific shooter with every physical tool you could want in a basketball player.  It’s hard to tell, though, if we are seeing the next Glen Rice or the next Rashard Lewis.  Either way, he could help a lot.

Jeremy Lamb
6’5″ SF, Connecticut

Lamb is a skilled scorer, shooting and finishing efficiently from all over the floor.  If surrounded with a few multi-dimensional players, he could easily be the leading scorer on a solid team.

Bradley Beal
6’4″ SG, Florida

Bradley Beal’s numbers aren’t that fantastic so far this year.  He’s a fantastic rebounder for a guard, but he had a reputation as a dead-eye shooter and his shot has not been falling at all.  Don’t be totally fooled by his low scoring numbers, though.  He’s playing with a pair ball-dominating teammates out to get their own shots.

Point Guards

Sadly, there aren’t any top prospects at the point.  Maybe McNamara will get his wish and see Kendall Marshall fall to us for a late round pick obtained via further trades this year of our veterans.

3 Games to Watch This Week

1. Wisconsin at Michigan- Sunday, January 8  on CBS

Neither team has a guy that the Hornets will snatch up in the lottery, but both have guards that could intrigue the Hornets if they can pick a late first round pick for Kaman or Landry at the trade deadline. Wisconsin senior point guard Jordan Taylor has a limited ceiling, but he could come in and play from day one. Meanwhile, Michigan point guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. isn’t really a point guard like his father, but has the potential to be a Jamal Crawford like scoring guard at the next level.

2. Baylor at Kansas State- Tuesday, January 10 on ESPN 3 and ESPN.com

Baylor has played a lot of cream puffs this season, and as a result, we haven’t seen future lottery picks Quincy Miller and Perry Jones tested much. Kansas State, however will offer up quite a test as those two will have to face off against a veteran team that includes senior forward Jamar Samuels.

3. Ohio State at Illinois- Tuesday, January 10 on ESPN

Illinois ranks 150th in the country in rebounding, so Jared Sullinger should have a field day against their soft interior. Part of that soft interior, however, includes Myers Leonard- a 7’1″ sophomore center that some team will undoubtably take in the lottery next season because of his size. Hopefully Dell Demps tunes into this game and realizes size doesn’t matter. Think Dejuan Blair verse Thabeet in college. Blair dominated those match-ups, but Thabeet went #2, while Blair lasted until the mid-forties.

Anyone you think I’m missing?  Anyone on this list you hate – or love?  Let us know!

Looking to the Future is a weekly piece that will appear only on Hornets247.com every Saturday. 


  1. StefanC

    January 7, 2012 at 6:35 am

    Love this post! I don’t watch college, so these posts will really help me follow possible future Hornets. Keep them coming, Ryan.

    • Michael McNamara

      January 7, 2012 at 9:29 am

      We will feature them every Saturday, updating you on the top prospects and others who are rising and falling- along with giving you crucial games to watch so you can sift through the 200 college games every week and lock onto the important ones.

      As always, we will also take any suggestions into account so that we can make these posts the best that they can be. The goal of the new and improved Hornets247 is to look at the big picture- on the court, off the court, upcoming draft, T’Wolves season, analytics, etc. So any feedback is appreciated.

  2. Jo D

    January 7, 2012 at 7:18 am

    I won’t cry if we get Davis. I’m just not head over heels for him.
    Drummond and Robinson are my favorite to bigs in this class. Robinson works hard all game… Something to admire these days…
    MKG.is the prize on the wing. He has a do it all attitude. If he can get that shot to fall… SCARY!…
    A name in the point guard ranks to look at is Myck Kabongo….
    Crazy quick guy. tons of potential. And fans will get behind him because he has one of the funnest names ever. I salivate at the thought of the hive erupting in KAAAAA BOOONNNGGG OOOO…

  3. George

    January 7, 2012 at 8:23 am

    I love this feature, have always loved analysing draft prospects. I think solid talent extends outside the ten you have listed with Arnett Moultire, Austin Rivers, Terrence Ross, and Terrence Jones all being available and all have the potential to succeed at the next level in my opinion. I think you may have underestimated Drummond a bit, he is a beast. Also Lamb plays shooting guard.

    • Jo D

      January 7, 2012 at 11:07 am

      Shooting Guards and Small Forwards = Wings

      • carpo

        January 7, 2012 at 6:51 pm

        it does say SF under his name in fairness to him

      • Jo D

        January 8, 2012 at 1:21 pm

        I’ve seen lamb play 3 positions. Mostly sg sf… So I find sf to be acceptable. But so would sg. He has him listed in the right area..

  4. edbballin504

    January 7, 2012 at 11:09 am

    I’d feel the Hornets have hit the jack pot if we get a top 2 pick, a top 6 and a late 1st rounder….then on draft night walk away with Drummond, Kidd-Gilchrist or Barnes, and K. Marshall.

    My brother follows college basketball closely and he’s passionate about the Hornets NOT taking Anthony Davis. He feels on a team like CLE, Davis would be a good fit (already have a prospect at PG in place), but on a team like the Hornets he would be more of just a role player that isnt as effective as a Drummond type, especially on offense, which is where this team has major issues.

    To me, I am okay when we lose games because the bigger picture says its okay. As long as we compete like we have, then I am fine. The Hornets real season is on draft night if you ask me. That’s what I am looking forward to, so should you!

    • nikkoewan

      January 7, 2012 at 11:37 am

      if given the choice between Davis and Drummond, i’d rather have Davis. If i understand correctly, you’re brother thinks Davis would fit in here because we don’t have a PG to run with him? Well we have a pseudo PG in Eric G. Add in the fact that Davis has more desire and faster motor makes me want him more. I agree with MM here, Davis looks like a superstar, Drummond? not so much.. He might be one, but its not 100% sure.

    • Eli

      January 7, 2012 at 11:43 am

      I feel the exact same way. I think if we had the choice of drummond or davis, we should take drummond. Quality centers are just too hard to come by and it would be stupid to pass up one with drummond’s talent and potential. Plus, this team needs efficient offense, and drummond is the better offensive player of the two, and he’s no slouch on defense either. Drummond’s profile on draftexpress.com says “Amare Stoudemire 2.0”.

      I also think barnes or k-g should be our second pick. Even if we have both the top
      two picks. We need an electrifying, high scoring small forward to spread the floor
      and have a balanced inside-outside offense as a team.

      And I also love the idea of getting kendall marshall is great. He should go mid-late first round, and I think we should trade up if we are not in position to draft him. He is said to be the best playmaker and passer of all the pgs in this draft. He will be a perfect fit setting up shots for drummond and barnes/k-g.

      I cant wait for the 2012-2013 season!!
      This may be as bright a future as the hornets ever had!!

      • edbballin504

        January 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm

        Good reply Eli!

        We are definitely on the same page here. Davis might end up being a star but Drummond should be one too, and he fits so much better with the team. If we had a great offensive center and a talented PG then I’d say grab Davis, but if Davis pans out to be a Marcus Camby that won’t be good enough to the Hornets. Atleast with Drummond, you get a true center thats just as good on D as Davis, yet has so much more upside on offense, plus he has the NBA body already. I’m 5’10” and I probably weigh more than Davis right now. How many other times have we seen long skinny PFs/Cs fail? (i.e. Anthony Randolph, Brandan Wright)

        Then as you said, after we get our big 1st getting a solid 3 is a must. Ariza has been great for us but we all know going forward he’s not gonna be around. I think you can’t go wrong with either Barnes or Kidd-Gilchrist, I love both guys. K-G has more all around value, while Barnes is a flat out shooter and scorer who is smart and ready now (Glenn Rice was a perfect comparison). I say either guy is an upgrade over Ariza and Aminu.

        K. Marshall is also the perfect PG piece for this team. I have been following him closely this season and his court awareness and vision is unbelievable. He doesn’t shoot much, or defend the best but the kid knows the game and its hard finding pass 1st PGs that actually love setting up his teammates like he does.

        If we pull these 3 players from the draft we have to get an A grade. With those 3 plus Gordon and all the other young guys, plus keeping atleast 2 of our vets around (I’d prefer Jack and Landry) then I say next season will be both fun and special for Hornets fans.

  5. alika32

    January 7, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Just so you know John Henson is not a duke player. He is from UNC.

    • Ryan Schwan

      January 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      Wups. You’re right. Sorry about that.

  6. BRballboy

    January 7, 2012 at 11:55 am

    The Hornets can get 2 guys of this caliber, plus another 1st rounder (or 2) later via a trade of Kaman, Landry, or Okafor. Then we can sign 2 max contract guys due to plenty of cap space now available. One of these could be Gordon, or we could trade him for a nice haul. Add this bounty to the role players we have, and this team is a contender for the playoffs. Trader Dell can turn whoever’s left of Kaman , Landry , Okafor , Gordon, Jack, and Ariza into more picks if he desires. This will be a whole new, potentially powerful team.

  7. PP3istheMVP

    January 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Sure Anthony Davis can be a star but the dude is too skinny at this point to even want to take him over Drummond. He will get pushed around defensively. Barnes is questioned for his motor but there are definitely some games where his intensity level rose to the occasion, he wont be an emotional leader out there but he isnt disinterested.

    • 504ever

      January 8, 2012 at 6:33 pm

      Barnes is questioned for his manhood, including by his current head coach. Too often he refuses to drive to the hoop or rebound (offensively or defensively); he just wants to be a jump shooter. Unless that changes, that is a HUGE red flag for his NBA future!

  8. J

    January 7, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    I see us getting a PG in free agency next season and draft Anthony Davis and Gilchrist in the frist.

  9. JJ

    January 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    If we land a top 3 pick, I say we go straight for Drummond and then draft either Thomas Robinson or Sullinger to pair with him. If we don’t get a top 5 pick and end up in the 7-10 range, I’d like to get Michael-Kidd Gilchrist. His motivation and passion for the game is unbelievable. I bet Monty would love to have a natural leader like him on our team.

  10. Blattman

    January 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    I’m not that high on MKG. His stats are very close to the freshman year of Aminu, they’re very close prospects and at least Aminu decided to have one more year under his belt before going pro. IMO the only sure thing on the wing is Harrison Barnes.

    But I truely hope that hornets don’t draft another wing, we have 2 young prospect already in Aminu and Henry and even if they don’t flourish Ariza is still a young serviceable player.

    For me, Davis is far better than Drummond. His ceiling is as high (reminds me a young Garnett) and he’s more ready to contribute, even with his skinny frame. I still like Drummond, but with the top pick you go for Davis or trade the pick for the 2nd or 3rd + assets.

    On the PG side, they’re still some prospect in the mid-first round with Marshall, Wroten and Kabongo.

    Right now my draft board would be :
    For a pick in the top 5:
    1) Davis (Drummond but only if we can be sure to pair him with Sullinger, Robinson or Henson)

    Late top 10:

    Late lottery :
    1) C.Zeller

  11. Southpaw

    January 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Gordon, Kidd-Gilchrist, and Drummond would be the most exciting team to watch, and a very scary one too.

  12. Jason Calmes

    January 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Iiiiii LikeIt.

    Nice work.

    My little head no hurt. Me feel smart after reading.

    I like the game recommendations. I can’t evaluate your recommending skill, I just mean I like the aspect of the feature.

  13. jmbell

    January 7, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Love the post. Some other names, that probably would be lottery picks in other drafts but not this one due to the depth, include:

    Myck Kabongo
    Marquis Teague
    Terrence Jones
    Quincy Miller
    Patrick Young
    Austin Rivers

    Ignoring the potential stars, this draft has the potential to produce a lot of 2nd round role players/ solid contributors.

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  15. AG.

    January 7, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    best possible situation next year:

    kendall marshall-jarret jack-vasquez

    bench needs work, but something like that…

  16. JJ

    January 7, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    @Blattman GilChrist does have a wif of bust. He reminds me of Ariza. Not a strong outside game, but an amazing defender and hustler. With out two top picks we need serious impact guys who may be allstars or just-not-good-enough-to-be-an-allstar- players. The only difference I find between Ariza and MKG is Gilchrist’s work ethic, which is unparalleled by anyone else in the draft. But I agree, we should only draft Drummond if we can pair him with Robinson or Sullinger.

  17. JJ

    January 7, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    With our*

  18. Bower's Woodshed

    January 7, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Harrison Barnes, please.

  19. sp

    January 8, 2012 at 1:01 am

    Some Hornet fans will probably kill me for saying this, and EJ might cry if he reads this, but what would people think of the possibility of trading Eric Gordon for say Javale McGee and their 2012 first rounder.

    I know Gordon’s potential has yet to be seen, and there’s a chance that it could very well be seen with the bees, but isn’t the worst thing for a rebuilding team, paying big money for players who don’t play due to injury. I don’t want to look to far in to Gordon’s knee injury, and I’m not saying this would be a good idea, just bringing up the question.

    Gordon will probably receive a max contract when his current deal is up, and I wouldn’t be overly surprised if we were the team to give it to him. But there are a number of things that could come from our current situation with EJ.

    1) We pay him the max, he gives us 40-60 games a year.
    2) He opts not to extend with us, signs elsewhere.
    3) He becomes an all-time hornets great.

    With the first round picks of New Orleans, Minny and Washington, that has the potential to be three top 5’s with the number 1 overall pick included. Imagine if this draft class ended up being as strong as ’03 (bron, melo, wade etc) and we were able to take 3 of the most promising rookies from the draft.

    It’s obvious we’re in rebuild mode, and giving out max contracts to players who we THINK could be great, seems like a huge risk, but not giving him the max and giving him the opportunity to walk could be even worse.

    This is the safe option, it’s living with the fact that EJ could go elsewhere and have a great career, but trusting that Monty and his crew will be able to develop a few special players into NBA studs and potential superstars.

    We could draft a big three.

    (apologies for the depth chart, i know they are tedious, annoying, and completely pointless, but I’m going to draw one up anyway with a potential ’12 draft class hornets squad.

    (assuming we keep Landry and Kaman off the books next year).

    PG – J Jack, Vasquez, Squeaky.
    SG – Beal/Lamb, Henry
    SF – Barnes, Ariza, Aminu.
    PF – Davis, Aminu, Smith.
    C – Okafor, McGee, Smith.

    Would love to hear some thoughts on this idea.

    ps: I really do LOVE the way Eric Gordon plays and what he could bring to the table, I picture him as the face of a very successful franchise wherever he plays his career. But I also think that Dell needs to be careful putting up big money for a guy who has shown us so little so far, when the alternatives could lead to bigger and better things in the future, with the possibility of us being stuck in the CP3 dilemma with EJ again 18 months from now.

    • Jason Calmes

      January 8, 2012 at 2:17 am

      Seems like you aren’t local, if you were, this is ticket worthy. Well-thought out and well-presented, whether I agree or not… That is immaterial.

    • DownUnder

      January 8, 2012 at 2:27 am

      I would feel the same guilt as you about Gordon, but I would like that scenario a bit. Im not thrilled with Gordon yet cause he has barely played so thats likely to change, but I like the idea of three potential studs growing through the league together rather than 2 and one guy thats been in the league for 4 years.

      Eric Gordons future is a blur because of the reasons youv’e said, so i just like the idea of drafting our own three, probably not practicle though.

    • Jo D

      January 8, 2012 at 1:53 pm

      I like this idea. However I have one reservation.
      McGee is nice. Great potential. Already a good player.
      But he like Gordon was drafted in 08. Meaning he would be in his contract year.
      I don’t think many would disagree that Gordon is the better player at the moment.
      That being said. Big men get premium rate contracts in this league.
      Deandre jordan just got 10 mil a year off of straight potential.
      Didn’t Kwame Brown just get 7 mil this year from Golden State?
      Aren’t we kinda overpaying for Meks services?
      Javale has certainly shown more than Deandre. And is miles better than Kwame has ever been.
      I fear he would require the the same max or near max contract Gordon would want. And Gordon is the more proven player.
      If this were to happen, I would be ecstatic as I have long wanted Javale in creole blue. But it doesn’t stop us from paying out a huge contract.

    • Jo D

      January 8, 2012 at 5:49 pm

      Also in regards to the depth chart.
      Start Vasquez. Start McGee. Have Smith before Aminu PLEASE!!!
      I figure vasquez could grow with the other youngsters..
      no reason not to start McGee if we are developing..
      I would consider aminu part of the youth movement, but he has yet to show ANYTHING

    • JJ

      January 9, 2012 at 6:11 pm

      Thumbs up sir, thumbs up.

  20. Trey Alexander

    January 8, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    How is no one even mentioning Austin Rivers? This kid is a stud, and he’s going to be a star in the league if he declares, no doubt. For those of you who don’t know…


  21. Eli

    January 8, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Austin rivers might not be as good as you expect. First of all, hes projected to go 21st in this years draft, theres much better talent than him.

    http://www.draftexpress.com/ (right side of page)

    And second, hes one of those tweeners who really dont have a set position. Hes a mix between a point and a shooting guard.

    Im not saying he isnt going to be any good, but we definetely shouldnt draft before pick 18 or so. There is A LOT of great talent we can take before him.

    • Eli

      January 8, 2012 at 6:44 pm

      *left side of page

  22. Eli

    January 8, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Also, that gordon trade idea aint too shabby, but I would like to see gordon play some more before i can say I want that trade to happen.

  23. Trey Alexander

    January 9, 2012 at 12:40 am

    Hes’ projected to be a lottery pick on this website (12th overall), and I think his stock is only going to rise:


    Click on 2012 Mock draft to see the full mock.

    I think he’s definitely a lottery pick. He’s a bonafide scorer, very versatile, and can handle the ball well. His quickness is rare. He’s listed at 6’4, which isn’t terrible for a shooting guard. His ball handling skills enable him to log minutes at point, something he does sparingly with Duke. Sometimes, versatility (or “tweeners,” the negative connotation that players like Rivers have garnered due to the plethora of players like him who haven’t panned out in the past) isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The bottom line is the kid can score, and that will definitely translate in the NBA…

    In a perfect world, I’d love Anthony Davis OR Perry Jones, and a guy like Rivers or Harrison Barnes, who could be the faces of a franchise….not completely sold yet on Drummond and Sullinger. Youth=the OKC model. Bright future for the Hornets indeed.

  24. Trey Alexander

    January 9, 2012 at 12:44 am

    I try to envision the young, athletic, fast-paced team we’re going to contend with in the future, and I can’t imagine Gordon not being on it. He’s an elite level SG, and he plays with a tenacity and a head of steam that’s hard to come by.

    I think if we’re going to trade, it will be other pieces. Gordon was the centerpiece, and thus the new building block, of the CP3 trade.

    • Jo D

      January 9, 2012 at 11:01 am

      A less talented eric gordon?

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