NBA Draft 2012: A Look at 5 Instant-Impact Rookies

Rob MahoneyNBA Lead WriterJune 29, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 28:  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (R) of the Kentucky Wildcats greets NBA Commissioner David Stern (L) after he was selected number two overall by the Charlotte Bobcats during the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft at Prudential Center on June 28, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Anthony Davis is slated to reverse the course in New Orleans from day one, but he isn't the only draft prospect who can be expected to make a reasonably quick splash on the NBA scene.

This year's draft class is deep and mystifying, but if we cross-reference what we know about this year's first-round selections and the likely depth chart of each NBA team, we can start to get a decent idea of which players—aside from Davis—might be productive right off the bat.


Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats

It may be an easy call going with the No. 2 overall pick, but Kidd-Gilchrist was among the most NBA-ready prospects overall. He has the kind of energetic game that should translate to the pros seamlessly.

Most college standouts need control of the ball or a pivotal role in the offense to be effective, but MKG should do just fine by working his man over on the defensive end, slashing at opportune times and facilitating the Bobcats' growth on both ends of the court.


Thomas Robinson, Sacramento Kings

The Kings had a great prospect fall into their lap at No. 5 and had the good sense to take him off the board without overthinking their selection.

Robinson isn't going to redefine Sacramento's future, but he'll force his way into the rotation immediately, fight his way into some solid rebounding numbers and gradually work toward offensive efficiency. Even if Robinson ends up falling short of NBA stardom, he'll be a quality pro for a long time—and should be highly playable from opening night.


Kendall Marshall, Phoenix Suns

Much has already been made of the stylistic contrast between Marshall and the transition-heavy Suns. But there's nonetheless an opportunity for an intuitive playmaker on a team in need of a new direction.

Steve Nash's bags are essentially packed, and though Phoenix could go with any number of potential options at the point next season, I think Marshall will get ample opportunity as the Suns look to initiate a proper rebuild. He's no honest replacement for Nash, but he's good enough as a ball-handler to usher in the next evolution of the Suns offense.


Jared Sullinger/Fab Melo, Boston Celtics

Ah, the power of necessity. Boston will likely be short on bigs next season even if Kevin Garnett re-signs, opening the door for a player like Sullinger or Melo (or both) to become relevant members of the Celtics' rotation.

Whether or not Sullinger is in need of immediate surgery—as was hinted in the pre-draft chatter—obviously would play a significant role in his rookie-year viability. But supposing he's healthy enough to play, he would make for a fine sub right off the bat.