Following the excitement of the 2012 NBA Draft in New Jersey on Thursday (and the boos directed to Commissioner David Stern), teams and fans are infused with optimism they found a future star. Some of these draft picks are expected to contribute down the road, or way down the road (i.e. Knicks' small forward Kostas Papanikolaou). The important question is, which of these rookies are going to be the 2012 fantasy additions to add to your team?
The most coveted fantasy rookie will be the (uni-browed) No. 1 overall pick, rebounding and shot-blocking beast, Hornets' center Anthony Davis. Other top rookies were drafted to teams where their skill sets will lead to instant starts and significant playing time. I will outline a few players who should be considered when your league fantasy draft rolls around. Let's hope my picks are as popular as Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver walking to the podium:
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F, CHA (2nd overall pick) - Kidd-Gilchrist was an integral part of the Kentucky team that won the NCAA championship this past fall. He just may be joining a less talented team than the one he played on in Lexington. MKG meet MJ. He averaged 11.7 points per game and 7.4 rebounds in his only season as a Wildcat. Those numbers seem small, but his presence was much more than the numbers. He can dominate in transition and is an NBA-ready defender who will grab a solid amount of rebounds. His scoring opportunities will be aplenty because the Bobcats simply do not have other heavy scoring options. MKG is an all-out "hustle" player, winner and leader that will be looked to immediately in Charlotte to improve on last year's miserable team.
Bradley Beal, G, WAS (3rd overall pick) - Beal was the third of three straight SEC freshmen taken to lead off the draft. The 6-5, 202 shooting guard averaged 14.7 points per game at Florida this past season, shooting 44.5 percent from the field. He is known as a high-character person and the Wizards have needed that presence more than any team the past few years. Beal has been compared to Celtics' shooting guard Ray Allen, as he's a pure shooter who can spot up shots well, is great from the free-throw line and can knock down threes. His main playing competition is guard Jordan Crawford. John Wall is incredible at creating opportunities for teammates when he drives the lane, so Beal and his shoot shooting stroke are a better fit than Crawford, who needs to dominate the ball to be effective. Beal gives coach Randy Wittman a threat on the perimeter for Wall to set up and keep defenses from collapsing on Wall's scoring in the lane.
Terrence Ross, G/F, TOR (8th overall pick) - Ross was taken a few picks higher Thursday than many experts were predicting. His skill set as a wing would have been too difficult for Toronto to pass on. At 6-7, he's tall enough to slide over to small forward, a position he often played in college. The Raptors have a similar wing option in DeMar DeRozan, who thrives in transition and likely will lead to Ross beginning the season in a bench role. He averaged 16.4 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game while shooting 37.1 percent from three as a sophomore at Washington last season . The Raptors will definitely make use of his contributions from the perimeter and his role should grow as the season progresses. His defensive game is decent for a rookie and his all-around scoring ability will give him regular playing time from the start, and he should eventually play alongside DeRozan.
Marquis Teague, G, CHI (29th overall pick) - The speedy Teague set the tempo for the NCAA champion Kentucky Wildcats as a freshman last year. He averaged 10.0 points and 4.8 assists per game for the high-powered Wildcats. He's known for his penetration in the lane and great court vision. He will be joining a Bulls team that will be without point guard Derrick Rose for a period of time due to his knee injury. The Bulls also reportedly may not bring back C.J. Watson, who filled in for Rose much of last season. That leaves the diminutive (5-11) John Lucas III and Teague as the only options at point guard, and the latter has the much higher ceiling (figuratively and literally). Teague's experience playing with a boatload of talented teammates at Kentucky should only help his transition to the Bulls who have Luol Deng, Richard Hamilton and Carlos Boozer to handle the scoring load. He may have difficulty on defense against other NBA point guards but coach Tom Thibodeau will help develop that part quickly.