Throwing Names Around

Anthony Davis, whose defense has been compared to Bill Russell's, entered last Thursday's draft as the Franchise Player, a title that was reaffirmed when the Hornets chose the willowy 6'10" forward from Kentucky with the first pick. What tags are other prospects wearing?
July 09, 2012

THE HIGH RISER

Dion Waiters

Shooting guard, Cavaliers (No. 4)

There was a suspicion that the 6'4", 221-pound Waiters—who withdrew from the predraft combine and canceled all of his workouts—had a promise from a team in the lottery. But few expected him to go to Cleveland, where he will share the backcourt with reigning Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving. Scouts say Waiters has an NBA pick-and-roll game, while Cavs coach Byron Scott compares the Syracuse sixth man to Dwyane Wade. "He's a pit bull," said Scott. "This kid isn't afraid of anyone."

THE ODD MAN OUT

Scott Machado

Point guard, Rockets (undrafted)

Scouts flocked to the Iona campus last season to see Machado, a 6'2", 205-pound playmaker who led the NCAA in assists (9.9 per game). Yet on draft night Machado watched as seven other point guards were taken. One reason his name wasn't called: He failed to impress at the combine and in individual workouts. "He's not a great athlete," says an East personnel exec. "The workouts don't showcase what he is good at." Machado wasn't on the sidelines for long: Houston signed him on Monday.

THE ENIGMA

Perry Jones III

Forward, Thunder (No. 29)

Last year the 6'11", 235-pound Jones, who has the size of a center and the handle of a guard, was a potential top pick. But an inconsistent sophomore season at Baylor—his field goal percentage and scoring average dropped—coupled with concerns about his right knee, which he injured in high school, pushed Jones to the brink of the second round. He won't feel pressure to perform immediately in Oklahoma City, which has big men Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and Cole Aldrich.

THE FREE FALLER

Jared Sullinger

Power forward, Celtics (No. 21)

General managers were already down on Sullinger because of his low motor and limited athleticism. When doctors red-flagged a potentially chronic back injury the week before the draft, he tumbled from the lottery. Still, there is potential in that 6'9", 268-pound frame. Sullinger is an efficient scorer (51.9% from the floor last season at Ohio State) with a polished low-post game. The chance to practice against Kevin Garnett for the next three seasons won't hurt him, either. "If his back holds up, he will start someday," says a scout.

THE REPLACEMENT

Kendall Marshall

Point guard, Suns (No. 13)

Incumbent Steve Nash declared toward the end of last season that Phoenix needed to improve to have a shot at bringing him back as a free agent; it's doubtful he was suggesting that the team draft his successor. The 6'4", 198-pound Marshall—whom one G.M. calls "easily the best point guard prospect in the draft"—has the skills (an NCAA-best 3.5 assist-to-turnover ratio last season at North Carolina) and the savvy to start as a rookie. But will the pressure to replace a Hall of Famer overwhelm him?

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PHOTOAL TIELEMANSDAVIS TWO PHOTOSPORTER BINKS PHOTOJOHN W. MCDONOUGH PHOTODAMIAN STROHMEYER PHOTOGREG NELSON

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