Looking to the Future: 2012 Draft Updates

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Published: January 14, 2012

This week we look at how the projected lottery picks fared and give you some lottery sleepers that could be Hornets come June.

Last week we took a quick peak at some of the players projected to be taken early in the 2012 draft, along with a few games to watch if you felt like playing the role of scout yourself (I hope you caught that Illinois/Ohio State game we recommended. It was FAN-tastic!) This week, we will focus on what stood out over these past seven days while also shinning the spotlight on a couple of players we overlooked in our last edition.

The Week That Was

Clear cut #1 pick Anthony Davis had a relatively quiet week, averaging just 13 and 8 in two games. He did average 5.5 blocks, however, and on the year Davis is averaging 4.6 blocks while only being called for 2.2 fouls a game. A 2:1 block to foul ratio is almost unheard of, especially for a Freshman. Just for comparison’s sake, the last guy people touted as a defensive game changer, Greg Oden, averaged 3.3 blocks per game while getting whistled for 2.72 fouls.

Some might argue that Andre Drummond has a chance to be the #1 pick in 2012, but Drummond himself disagrees. You see, this week Drummond announced that he intends to come back next year. I will believe it when the early entry deadline has passed and Drummond is not on the list. Not to harp on Greg Oden, but I remember him once claiming that he intended to stay at OSU all four years. When the NBA comes calling, you pick up the phone.

Indiana freshman center Cody Zeller has stepped out of the shadow of his older brother Tyler and has established himself as a big man who could be drafted in the lottery this June. In the past two weeks he has led the surprising Hoosiers to wins over Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State and had the best game of his career in a close loss to Minnesota. If Drummond does not declare, Zeller could easily position himself as the #1 center in this class.

Perry Jones III ended his recent mini-slump by helping Baylor defeat #18 Kansas State (in another game we advised you to watch). Jones went for 17 points on 8-12 shooting and pulled down 8 boards against a veteran squad in a conference game. My only concern is the five turnovers.

Harrison Barnes was awful in North Carolina’s most recent game, going 2-12 from the field. Now, you are going to have games where you miss shots, but the problem with Barnes is that he doesn’t really help you in other ways. Nobody will accuse him of being a shutdown defender, and he is pulling down less than 5 boards a game and only averaging one assist.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has followed up his breakout performance of 24 points and 19 rebounds against #4 Louisville by averaging just 8 points and 6 rebounds over the last three games, while shooting just 36%. He has 4.3 turnovers per game during that stretch as well. Just goes to show the inconsistency of youth.

The Other Guys

In addition to Cody Zeller, there are a handful of other prospects that could easily find themselves as lottery picks next June. One of those players is Tony Wroten, Jr. , a freshman point guard at Washington who David Thorpe believes would make a great fit for the Hornets.¬†Wroten is a phoenomenial prospect who has tremendous size for the point guard position, along with the ability to finish at the basket. The knock on him is that he may be more of a combo guard, but with Eric Gordon having the ball in his hands so much due to his elite ability to run the pick and roll, perhaps the Hornets don’t need a true PG.

Patric Young and Myers Leonard are two guys that the Hornets could target in the late lottery if they focus on team need over best player available. Young is a poor man’s Al Horford, undersized for the center position, but powerful enough to hold his own, while Leonard has the height (a legit 7-footer), he just needs to add the bulk. With Gordon, Aminu, Henry, and even Vasquez all able to play on the wing, Demps might feel that it is worth the risk to draft a less talented big rather than a guy like Bradley Beal simply because of need.

3 Games to Watch This Week

1. Indiana at Ohio State Sunday at 4:30 on CBS

The “safe pick” Jared Sullinger goes up against “the project” Cody Zeller in this battle of top ten teams. Sullinger played well last week against Myers Leonard, scoring 21 points in a close loss, but he only grabbed two defensive rebounders against a player that had the size Sullinger will be going up against every night in the pros.

2. Baylor at Kansas Monday at 9:30 on ESPN

Two likely top-five picks go at it as Perry Jones and Thomas Robinson square off. Robinson has been on a tear of late and has seen his stock rise as a result. If he can win the battle against Jones in this game, it could go a long way in determining who is chosen first come June.

3. North Carolina at Virginia Tech Thursday at 9PM on ESPN

Just watch this game without any preconceived ideas of who is an elite prospect and is destined for greatness according to draft “experts.” Tell me who stands out to you, and which guy(s) you would like to go to battle with on your team.

Looking to the Future is a weekly piece that you can find only on Hornets247.com every Saturday. For prior articles, click here.

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