Players Who Could Slip in 2012 Draft

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics front office held its collective breath as picks 10 through 18 of the 2010 NBA Draft were announced. They wanted their prized possession, Avery Bradley, to be on the board when they made their selection at No. 19.

After scouting Bradley for years, the Celtics had pegged him as a top-10 talent. That is, of course, if he could eventually overcome the left ankle injury he suffered leading up to the draft.

Bradley injured that left ankle less than two weeks before the draft, which drastically affected his draft stock. He eventually slipped all the way to the C’s at No. 19, and all he has done since is turn into one of the most dominant defensive forces in the game while supplanting Ray Allen as the Celtics’ starting shooting guard.

Those are the types of breaks that can happen from time to time on the night of the NBA Draft. There are always concerns surrounding talented players, leaving many teams weary of wasting a first-round pick on what could potentially be a bust.

This year’s draft is no different, so here’s a look at seven talented players who could slip in Thursday night’s draft due to a variety of red flags. Boston selects at No. 21 and No. 22 of the first round.

Jared Sullinger – PF – Ohio State

Jared Sullinger

Jared Sullinger has been one of the most celebrated amateur players over the past two years. He has been pegged as a top-10 pick ever since he came out of high school, and his back-to-back seasons of averaging at least 17.2 PPG and 9.2 RPG at Ohio State did nothing to dispel that notion.

However, since his season ended and he has prepped for the draft, tests have revealed some issues in his back. Sullinger’s father admitted to ESPN.com last week that his son has a “bulging area that was due to his hamstring and quads being so tight.”

The NBA declined to invite Sullinger to the draft to sit in the green room, which is the latest indication that his stock has fallen due to health concerns. He could be on the board when the C’s select at No. 21.

Terrence Jones – F – Kentucky

Terrence Jones

Terrence Jones was a major part of Kentucky’s national championship team this past season, thanks in large part to his versatility. That versatility, however, is part of the reason why no one knows where Jones will be selected Thursday night.

Jones is a 6-foot-9 player who would be undersized as an NBA power forward and oversized as an NBA small forward. Although he possesses strengths in many different categories, from rebounding to 3-point shooting, his NBA position is still up for debate.

Jones is an established player who is very talented, so it would be a shocker to see him fall into the 20s of the draft. Still, with teams wondering how he’ll fit into the NBA game, the potential is there for Jones to be selected outside the lottery.

Kendall Marshall – PG – North Carolina

Kendall Marshall

Kendall Marshall became a household name in March when he suffered a fractured right wrist in the second round of the NCAA tournament. His injury may have cost North Carolina a national championship. Since then, Marshall has also divulged that he fractured his right elbow on the same play.

Marshall has been advertised as the top passer in the draft, drawing comparisons to players like Jason Kidd. But no matter how good of a passer he is, teams aren’t going to spend their first-round pick on him unless they believe his injuries will heal.

Fab Melo – C – Syracuse

Fab Melo

Much like Marshall’s injury hindered North Carolina’s season, Fab Melo’s absence may have prevented Syracuse from taking home its second national championship. Melo was declared ineligible for the NCAA tournament as a result of academic issues. It was the second time in the 2011-12 season that Melo was reportedly suspended for academic reasons.

Melo has since explained the issues by stating that he was struggling with his English during his tenure at Syracuse. Melo, who hails from Brazil, did not speak English until four years ago.

Although that is a reasonable explanation, teams may continue to be weary about selecting Melo high in the first round. He has had an opportunity to explain himself during interviews, and we’ll see if those explanations were good enough to secure himself a mid to late first-round selection.

Perry Jones III – F – Baylor

Perry Jones

Of all of the players in the 2012 NBA Draft, Perry Jones III may be the one who has the highest and lowest draft ceiling. In other words, he could go high in the lottery or he could slip into the 20s. Why would an ultra-athletic, 6-foot-11 player be so difficult to draft? Because so many talent evaluators thought he would be much more productive in college.

Jones has been a highly rated prospect thanks to his athleticism and diverse pool of talents, but he never averaged more than 14.0 PPG or 8.0 RPG in his two seasons at Baylor. He may have underperformed at Baylor because he was playing out of position, which is another concern. He was Baylor’s center, while many NBA scouts see him as a wing. With his position up in the air and his underwhelming collegiate stats, Jones could wind up being a steal in the latter third of the first round.

Royce White – SF – Iowa State

Royce White

Since the onset of this season’s mock drafts, many sites have slated Royce White as a top-10 talent who could fall all the way to the bottom of the first round. It’s not because he underperformed or because scouts are unsure of his position. Instead, teams are concerned with his anxiety disorder.

White has dealt with anxiety for quite some time and it affects his ability to fly. Reports have surfaced that his interviews at the NBA Draft Combine were phenomenal and that he shined in explaining his disorder. Those interviews could help him rise back into the middle portion of the first round, but he could still be on the board when Boston is on the clock at No. 21.

Quincy Miller – F – Baylor

Quincy Miller

Quincy Miller tore his ACL during his senior year of high school and battled back from that injury during his one and only collegiate season, which was underwhelming to scouts. Many believe that a healthy Miller would challenge to be a high lottery pick in both this year’s and next year’s draft, but no one knows how healthy he really is.

Miller is a long, talented player who has many different skills. He stands at 6-foot-10 and measured out with a 7-foot-1 wingspan at the combine. The combination of his length and skills doesn’t come along every day, especially for a player who was expected to be a high lottery pick. He’s unlikely to land in the lottery Thursday night, which means some team could wind up with the steal of the draft if Miller fully bounces back from that ACL injury.