Ranking top NBA draft prospects

Projecting how this season's college stars will fare at the next level

Originally Published: May 30, 2012
By Doug Gottlieb | ESPN Insider
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Meyers Leonard, Royce WhiteUS Presswire, Getty Images, Icon SMIKidd-Gilchrist, Leonard and White are among the trickier prospects to project this season.

For the last nine NBA drafts I have covered for ESPN and ESPN Radio, I have put together my own big board. It's just a list of players, not based upon draft needs, but rather upon my own evaluations, formed with the help of several NBA executives and college coaches. It's not a reflection of where I necessarily think these players will be drafted, but rather where I would draft them if given the choice, after having seen them play on the college level.

There are three factors I try to keep in mind when I put together my rankings in terms of how players' college careers can affect their draft stocks:

1. Some players are, in my opinion, overvalued by NBA teams because they come from advantageous college situations, like Derrick Williams was last year and Joe Alexander in 2008.

2. Some players are undervalued because they were on college teams that struggled (poor guard play, bad chemistry, etc.) or because they were playing out of position in college.

3. Even more are hard to peg because they are so young and so early in their development that ultimately it is their work ethic that will truly determine their NBA future.

Here's my current ranking of this year's NBA draft prospects. If you're interested in seeing how my list has evolved throughout the season, check out my previous editions from December and February.

1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky Wildcats

Think Tyson Chandler on defense, with some Tim Duncan on offense. With great timing on blocking shots, solid ball-handling on the perimeter and an improving jump shot, there seems to be a limitless ceiling for Davis at this point.

2. Bradley Beal, Florida Gators

Beal is a prototype 2 who wasn't even run off of many screens in his one college season. He seemed to take a huge leap from the beginning to the end of the season in terms of his off-the-dribble game. He should translate into an NBA shooting guard right away, especially with his athleticism and range.

3. Andre Drummond, Connecticut Huskies

Drummond is a freak athlete who has a way to go to be a starting big man in the NBA. On the other hand, he has massive upside, an incredible body and great spring. There is a DeAndre Jordan quality to how poorly he has developed thus far on offense yet how physically imposing he will someday be, but if the right team takes him and he buys in, he can be better than Jordan.

4. Harrison Barnes, North Carolina Tar Heels

Smooth and steady, Barnes is not the next Kobe Bryant, but he is still a solid NBA wing for years to come. His game lacks the burst to create a lot of his own shots, but he can post, will guard some and really made strides in being a solid 3-point shooter.

5. Royce White, Iowa State Cyclones

White is similar in many ways to former New York Knick Anthony Mason. He is an undersized 4 who can handle, shoot some, rebound and score in the low post. He has been very open about his anxiety disorder, as well as his transgressions that lead to him leaving Minnesota. He is a risk, but he can also be a dominant player, one who took over at midseason after two years of rust wore off.


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