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NBA Atlanta Hawks

2012 NBA Draft: First Year Projections For First Round Picks

The 2012 NBA Draft is in the books, so it is time for some projections for the rookie class.  I will take a look at every first round pick made in Thursday’s draft and try to guess what they do in their rookie year.  Without further ado, let’s get to it!

Key:  Starter = 30-35 minutes,  6th Man = 25-30 minutes, Rotation Player = 15-25 minutes, Back End Rotation Player = 5-15 minutes, Deep Bench = 0-5

1.  Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets:  Davis will start from day one in the Big Easy and he should be the face of the franchise.  He’s going to struggle on offense at first, but his defense should be superb.  Projection:  Starter, Rookie of the Year

2.  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats:  MKG is going to join his former college teammate in starting right off of the bat.  The Bobcats have no one else to start at the 3 and he should give them big minutes.  Projection:  Starter, All-Rookie First Team

3.  Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards:  Outside of Davis, this was probably the best fit in the lottery.  Beal will be able to get big minutes on a team that is going to make a push for the playoffs.  Projection:  Starter, All-Rookie First Team

4.  Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers:  Waiters was the biggest reach of the draft in my opinion and Cavs fans better hope he can produce right away.  I just do not see it.  Projection:  6th Man, All-Rookie Second Team

5.  Thomas Robinson, Sacramento Kings:  If someone is going to take Rookie of the Year away from Davis, it is T-Rob.  Then again, he and DeMarcus Cousins might fight to the death before games start.  Projection:  Starter, All-Rookie First Team

6.  Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers:  I expect Lillard to start from the get go and be a very solid player for a very fickle fan base.  If he doesn’t start, there is an issue.  Projection:  Starter, All-Rookie First Team

7.  Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors:  Barnes fell down the draft a little bit, but he landed in a good spot.  Won’t produce right away.  Projection:  6th Man/Starter, All-Rookie Second Team

8.  Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors:  Taken about five spots too high.  Certainly will not start next year and just a bad fit all around.  Projection:  Rotation Player

9.  Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons:  Could be a giant bust, but I love his potential with Greg Monroe.  Should start him right away to see if he responds.  Projection:  Starter, All-Rookie Second Team

10.  Austin Rivers, New Orleans Hornets:  I am drooling in anticipation of watching Rivers and Davis play on the same team.  Should be one of the most entertaining rookie combinations in the league.  Projection:  6th Man, All-Rookie Second Team

11.  Meyers Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers:  Maybe being a fan of two other Big Ten teams has clouded my judgment, but I just don’t get the love here.  Could be good, but needs a long adjustment period.  Projection:  Rotation Player

12.  Jeremy Lamb, Houston Rockets:  Lamb can be a very good guard off the bench for the Rockets next year.  Could still be packaged for Dwight Howard down the line.  Projection:  Rotation Player

13.  Kendall Marshall, Phoenix Suns:  I am a lot higher on Marshall than most.  I think he plays a perfect backup point guard to Steve Nash.  Yep, I’m betting Nash comes back.  Projection:  Rotation Player

14.  John Henson, Milwaukee Bucks:  Henson will struggle to get minutes his rookie year.  There are so many posts on the Bucks that it is hard to break free.  Projection:  Back End Rotation Player

15.  Maurice Harkless, Philadelphia 76ers:  Another pick that confused.  He’s a clone of half of the roster and is going to struggle for minutes next season.  Projection:  Back End Rotation Player

16.  Royce White, Houston Rockets:  White is one of my favorite players in the draft and I think he is going to do big things for the Rockets.  Should get lots of minutes early on.  Projection:  6th Man, All-Rookie Second Team

17.  Tyler Zeller, Cleveland Cavaliers:  Zeller should be motivated after falling in the draft but it will be a struggle for minutes early on unless a trade happens.  Projection:  Rotation Player

18.  Terrence Jones, Houston Rockets:  I don’t like this pick.  Probably wanted Zeller, but Jones is too similar to a lot of guys on the Rockets bench.  Projection:  Back End Rotation Player

19.  Andrew Nicholson, Orlando Magic:  I think Howard gets moved before the season starts, which is going to open up minutes for Nicholson.  He’s going to surprise people.  Projection:  Rotation Player

20.  Evan Fournier, Denver Nuggets:  I am not big on this pick due to the glut of backcourt guys in Denver.  Will struggle to find consistent minutes.  Projection:  Back End Rotation Player

21.  Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics:  Sully is going to love playing in Boston and he is going to get big minutes for the team once KG steps away.  Projection:  Rotation Player

22.  Fab Melo, Boston Celtics:  Won’t get as many minutes as Sullinger, but is going to get a chance to prove himself as the season goes on.  Projection:  Back End Rotation Player

23.  John Jenkins, Atlanta Hawks:  Jenkins can shoot the rock, but nobody on Atlanta ever wants to pass.  Not a good fit his rookie year.  Projection:  Back End Rotation Player

24.  Jared Cunningham, Dallas Mavericks:  Will struggle for minutes to start, but his defensive prowess will steal him some minutes here and there.  Projection:  Back End Rotation Player

25.  Tony Wroten Jr., Memphis Grizzlies:  Wroten should get some minutes as a defensive guy, especially if OJ Mayo leaves in free agency.  Projection:  Rotation Player

26.  Miles Plumlee, Indiana Pacers:  Just a stupid, stupid pick.  Plumlee will be lucky to get any type of minutes next season.  Projection:  Deep Bench

27.  Arnett Moultrie, Philadelphia 76ers:  Will probably replace Elton Brand at some point, which isn’t a bad thing for the team going forward.  Projection:  Rotation Player

28.  Perry Jones III, Oklahoma City Thunder:  Top five talent and he falls to a team that can mold him.  Perfect fit for the biggest steal in the draft as he can watch and learn.  Projection:  Back End Rotation Player

29.  Marquis Teague, Chicago Bulls:  Teague will see minutes right away as the starting point guard for the Bulls until Derrick Rose gets back.  Rotation guy after that.  Projection:  Starter, Rotation Player

30.  Festus Ezeli, Golden State Warriors:  Not going to be a lot of time for Ezeli to steal next year.  Warriors have a lot of center depth.  Projection:  Deep Bench

There are my predictions for the first picks of the 2012 NBA Draft in their rookie season.  If you agree or disagree, let me know in the comment section.

For winners and losers from the first round, click here.

For steals and reaches from the first round, click here.

For team by team draft grades, click here.

Riley Schmitt is a writer for Rant Sports.