Twelve top NBA prospects teamed up with a group of kids at The Children’s Aid Society Dunlevy Milbank Boys & Girls Club in Harlem Wednesday to lend their athletic talent to a healthful cause. Popular players, including Thomas Robinson and Bradley Beal, spent the day before the NBA draft running an NBA Fit Clinic, leading more than 100 children through several fitness drills.
The clinic, created by the NBA Cares initiative, uses basketball as a language to promote staying active and living healthy.
“You see their faces today,” Todd Jacobson, the NBA’s senior vice president of community relations, said of the kids participating in the clinic. “They’re just so excited to spend time with the players and that’s what it’s all about -- to encourage them to go out and to be active everyday.”
Other NBA prospects in attendance included NCAA champions Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who played for University of Kentucky together. Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller, former teammates at University of North Carolina, also participated in the day's events, and Andre Drummond, John Henson, Meyers Leonard, Damian Lillard, Austin Rivers, and Dion Waiters joined in, too.
Potential draftees dispensed words of wisdom while coaching the participants on dribbling, shooting and rebounding. Barnes, one of the top-rated players in the recruiting class of 2012, advised the younger generation to “get into" nutrition bars and to incorporate organic foods.
“What you eat is how you perform,” said Barnes. Still, he admitted to eating a less-than-stellar diet as a child. “I used to go for the more Rice Krispies, Pop Tart, brownie route,” he said.
For those with limited access to nutritional resources, Barnes points to water as a vital staple accessible to all. “You don’t need to drink sodas and pops and juices, just make sure you stick to water,” he said, obliquely addressing the current controversial debate involving sugary drinks. “Worst comes to worst, you can always try to go for fruit.”
The draft's presumed first pick, Davis, towered over a gaggle of youngsters and dished out his thoughts on maintaining a long-lasting career.
“Hard work pays off,” said the power forward and center, who is also known for his pronounced unibrow. “Some [of the kids here] are going through the motions. I tell them, ‘Do it like you’re doing it for real.’”
The 2012 NBA draft is set to air Thusrsday night on ESPN and stream online at 7 p.m. EST.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story identified Todd Jacobson as the senior vice president of community relations for NBA Cares. He is senior vice president of community relations for the NBA. Jeremy Lamb and Terrence Ross were also not in attendance as previously stated.
1. New Orleans Hornets -- Anthony Davis, C, Kentucky
No surprises here: Davis is the consensus No. 1 pick in this draft and for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jordan-schultz/kentuckys-anthony-davis-_b_1282379.html" target="_hplink">good reason</a>. At 6 feet 10 inches with a massive 7-foot-4-inch wingspan, he already possesses elite shot-blocking skills with impeccable timing. The 19-year-old has a very good feel around the basket and is comfortable extending his range to 16 feet. Assuming the Hornets can re-sign Eric Gordon, the combination of Davis and Emeka Okafor gives new owner Tom Benson a formidable front line and a great young scorer to build around.
2. Charlotte Bobcats -- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SG, SF, Kentucky
While Davis was the most heralded Wildcat last season, Kidd-Gilchrist, with his <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jordan-schultz/kentuckys-michael-kidd-gilchrist_b_1262910.html" target="_hplink">tenacious defensive pressure</a> and dynamic open floor ability, was often the driving force to Kentucky's national title run. At 6 foot 7 inches, 228 lbs., he can guard at least three NBA positions. His skills need refining, but MKG, still just 18 years old, is a flat-out winner and would instantly give Kemba Walker a running mate on the fast-break. Michael Jordan and Charlotte are aggressively shopping this pick though and also strongly considering Kansas' Thomas Robinson, so this is the most fluid pick by far in the top five.
3. Washington Wizards -- Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
Washington desperately needs to build a winning culture and provide John Wall with scoring support. The selection ultimately comes down to what GM Ernie Grunfeld feels is his biggest need. Beal's pro-style game (39.5" vertical) will fit in extremely well with Wall because he is an outstanding shooter who can really attack the paint off screen-and-roll. Beal is still just 18 (he turns 19 on draft night), but his fluid and smooth scoring ability, coupled with his ultra high basketball IQ and willingness to take over late in games have already sparked comparisons to Ray Allen. In his last five games as a collegian (during the SEC and NCAA tournaments), Beal averaged 17 points, shot 58 percent from the field and 46 percent from deep while nearly leading the Gators to a Final Four berth.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers -- Harrison Barnes, SG, North Carolina
Cleveland is in a great building around Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving along with Tristan Thompson. But the Cavs still need to add another scorer who can operate in the half-court. Barnes, who is still a bit robotic and never lived up to the absurd hype around him when he was entering college -- he was the first ever freshman to be named to the preseason All-America team, yet shot just 32.8 percent in 2012 NCAA Tournament -- the 6-foot-7-inch wing proved to be a very effective scorer whose one-dribble pull-up game and ability to post up will translate very well to the next level.
5. Sacramento Kings -- Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
This is a tough call because if Charlotte doesn't trade the second pick, it could very well nab Robinson. The Kings are also looking to move down, but if Robinson -- perhaps the most improved player in college basketball last season -- is available, he will be their guy. At a chiseled 6-foot-9 inches, he possesses a relentless motor, if not the most defined skill set. His 31 percent defensive rebounding rate was the best in college basketball, per Synergy Sports. Robinson, the Big 12 Player of the Year, is not the franchise changer of an Anthony Davis, but he has an NBA-ready body and is going to be a plus-starting power forward in this league for a very long time.
6. Portland Trail Blazers -- Dion Waiters, PG, SG, Syracuse
Portland finds itself at a pivotal part of the lottery. The Blazers need another low-post scorer to complement LaMarcus Aldridge but Andre Drummond is a massive risk and memories of Greg Oden remain imprinted. Portland, however, still hasn't found a replacement for the retired Brandon Roy, and needs somebody who can get to the bucket alongside Wes Matthews. Waiters is a rugged, highly physical guard who fits the mold as one of the draft's most gifted scorers and attackers. He is a bit volatile and streaky, not to mention undersized to play off the ball, but he also fills a huge need.
7. Golden State Warriors -- Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut
There are two very different ways of evaluating Drummond: On one hand, he is a 6-foot-11, 270-pound behemoth with a 7-foot-5 wingspan, good feet and a deft touch around the hoop. With such metrics, Drummond's freshman season in Storrs was more than just a bit quixotic. He averaged just 10 points per game, shot under 30 percent from the free throw line and, more often than not, looked disinterested and bored during games. In general post-up situations with his back to the basket, Drummond displayed very little feel, converting a mere 32 percent of such shots last season, according to Synergy Sports. Once again, though, his sheer physical tools are so robust that the thought of taking him at seven and pairing him with Andrew Bogut is too tantalizing for Golden State to pass on.
8. Toronto Raptors -- Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut
Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo has a particular affinity for drafting European big men, but this draft lacks such a thing. Lamb, meanwhile, is a pretty sweet alternative. The 6-foot-5 20-year-old is undoubtedly one of the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/02/college-basketball-preview-2011_n_1069359.html#s448788&title=Lovin_These_Lambs" target="_hplink">most talented players in this draft</a> and a perfect fit at shooting guard with his sound shooting stroke, athleticism and length. Toronto already has a tantalizing young talent in DeMar DeRozan; pairing these two together would give the Raptors its most athletic wing combination since Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady. Plus, Colangelo has 2011 first-rounder Jonas Valanciunas to fall back on; Valanciunas dominated the Under-19 world championships last summer and could start as a rookie.
9. Detroit Pistons -- John Henson, PF, North Carolina
Given third-year man Greg Monroe's rapid improvement, Detroit would love nothing more than to pair him up with an elite shot-blocker. Because Monroe is not a particularly good athlete and not a rim protector, Henson -- who blocked nearly 3 shots per game last season -- makes a whole lot of sense. He needs to add a substantial amount of girth to his frame and he tested horribly at the pre-draft combine with dexterity and vertical (30" max), but Henson's defensive ability and quality shooting range makes him a nice fit for the Pistons.
10. New Orleans Hornets -- Damian Lillard, PG, SG, Weber State
Lillard has steadily risen up draft boards over the past few months because he is a terrific scorer (24.5 points per game) and overall athlete (40" vertical) who appears increasingly comfortable as a lead guard. He is not particularly good in pick-and-roll however, which is a big concern moving forward as he plays alongside Davis. The Hornets essentially have two options in this slot, both of whom are point guards: either take Lillard or North Carolina's Kendall Marshall. Marshall is more of a pure point and a potentially lethal pick-and-roll partner with Anthony Davis, but Lillard has much more upside. If he's still around at ten, New Orleans will take him.
11. Portland Trail Blazers -- Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois
Portland's second pick hinges on whether or not they go big or small with the sixth selection. I had Jared Sullinger here before but the risk factor with his back and his limited mobility just doesn't present enough value for a Portland franchise imprinted with the Greg Oden and Brandon Roy injuries. Leonard is ideal because he represents far less risk than Andre Drummond and is a more physical presence in the paint than LaMarcus Aldridge. He is a super athletic center who has steal written all over him. At 7 feet tall, he can block shots (2 per game) and already possesses a quality feel and touch around the basket. Leonard also displayed impressive dexterity in college with the ability to shut down his man in the paint. Reports say he has shot the basketball extremely well in his pre-draft workouts as well.
12. Milwaukee Bucks -- Perry Jones III, SF, Baylor
Aside from Andre Drummond, Jones is perhaps the hardest player in this draft to evaluate; he is a sensational talent with legitimate Kevin Durant type of ability. The worry is that he lacks the sort of killer instinct to ever maximize his oozing potential. One scary note is that according to Synergy Sports, his usage rate dropped as a sophomore, as he accounted for just 18 percent of his team's possessions. In other words, Jones rarely commands the ball in the half-court and as the NCAA Tournament proved, doesn't command the ball late in games either. Still, for a Bucks team lacking any sort of identity and very little upside on its current roster, adding a talent like Jones at twelve could be a huge steal.
13. Phoenix Suns -- Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina
Steve Nash is not going to re-sign and Sebastian Telfair is far from the team's future at point guard. Marshall, not unlike Nash, isn't an especially athletic guy, but he has a remarkable feel for passing and executing pick-and-roll. His 9.7 assists last season ranked him second in the nation and with Marcin Gortat getting a healthy 33 percent of his offense in pick-and-roll, per Synergy, investing in a young lead guard makes a ton of sense. Then again, Phoenix has a cadre of holes, and if a big time perimeter talent like Perry Jones III is still available, it could pull the trigger there as well.
14. Houston Rockets -- Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina
Zeller had a very good, if not spectacular, senior season in Chapel Hill, showing just enough offensive ability along with his rebounding and defensive prowess to warrant a late lottery selection. Akin to Luis Scola, Zeller is a highly cerebral big (think a bigger Nick Collison) who relies on intelligence and positioning along with his broad 7-foot frame. Fellow 7-footer Meyers Leonard out of Illinois is another option here as well, but Zeller is ready to play right away.
15. Philadelphia 76ers -- Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
For a second round playoff team, Philly is a tough team to forecast because it still has quite a few holes. Most notably, the 76ers need scoring, and they need it fast, but they also desperately need to add length and athleticism. Moultrie, although still rather raw, brings both to the table. At 6 foot 10 inches, he is bouncy with quick feet, and he is comfortable banging and stepping out to 15 feet. He averaged over 16 points and 10 rebounds in the rugged SEC as a junior last year. Ultimately, Moultrie can be a big upgrade from the grounded Elton Brand.
16. Houston Rockets -- Moe Harkless, St. John's
I fell in love with Harkless' game throughout his freshman season because of his remarkable versatility. Houston GM Daryl Morey unblocked the logjam of small forwards by trading Terrence Williams. While Harkless can play the four if he adds bulk, his long-term NBA position is really at small forward. The Queens native actually possesses many of the same attributes of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist; he is a terrific and durable athlete (no other freshman prospect played more minutes) who can guard multiple positions. At just 19, he has a huge ceiling that has gone mostly unrealized thus far.
17. Dallas Mavericks -- Austin Rivers, PG, SG, Duke
Jason Kidd is 39 years old and Jason Terry is 34. As Dallas learned firsthand against OKC in the playoffs, you have to have young and athletic guards who can create their own offense. Rivers is far from a finished product -- he's definitely not a lead guard and takes too many bad shots to be an efficient scorer at this stage -- but he himself is still just 19 and a much better leaper than anticipated, leaping 37.5" at the combine. Rivers has the potential to be a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/17/dukes-austin-rivers-a-pointed-evaluation_n_1099481.html" target="_hplink">very good second option</a> as a pro because of his ability to get in the lane in both isolation and screen-and-roll scenarios. Eventually, it is also reasonable to assume he could provide minutes at the point as well, given his ball handling ability and quickness. It's hard not to like the value and need elements he fits for Dallas here at 17 -- don't buy the hype around Rivers sneaking into the lottery either.
Houston Rockets -- Terrence Ross, SG, Washington
Minnesota has agreed to send the 18th pick to the Rockets for Chase Budinger. GM Daryl Morey seems willing to mortgage his team's future for Dwight Howard, which could mean that this pick, along with 14 and 16, is merely a ploy in a bigger plan. I will keep Ross here now, because the need for an athletic wing is intensified with Budinger gone. Ross is a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/02/college-basketball-preview-2011_n_1069359.html#s448442&title=Watch_Out_For" target="_hplink">first-class athlete</a> who can really shoot the ball and will fit in immediately running the break. Plus, at 6 foot 6 inches, he has great size for his position, is a tenacious on-the-ball defender and excellent rebounder (6.4 per game). Ross may not be there however; the Suns like him a lot as does Philly.
19. Orlando Magic -- Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio St.
It's a humbling time to be a Magic fan. Dwight Howard is all but gone this offseason, leaving the roster with its best big man in the form of Glen Davis, excluding the perimeter-oriented Ryan Anderson. Jared <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jordan-schultz/jared-sullinger-kansas-ohio-state-final-four_b_1394661.html" target="_hplink">Sullinger</a> has the back concerns as well as question marks regarding his athleticism, but is a banger and a proven winner, two things you need that to get through the rugged Eastern Conference right now. His ability to rebound should mostly translate to the NBA and the Magic will need plenty of that come next season.
20. Denver Nuggets -- Terrence Jones, SF, PF, Kentucky
Denver continues to buck the NBA system by being a really solid team without a superstar. Terrence Jones is definitely not a savior, but he gives the Nuggets more versatility with his capacity to play both the three and four spots. Had he left after his freshman season, Jones would have likely gone in the top five, but an underachieving sophomore campaign has led to his stock slipping. Still, as a left-handed 6-foot-8 player with good skills, he becomes very hard to pass on at this stage of the first round. The biggest things for him are improving a shaky jumper and consistently hitting the glass.
21. Boston Celtics -- Jared Cunningham, SG, Oregon St.
I had Fab Melo here before but moved him to 19 with Orlando, although he could fall as low as 25. Boston meanwhile, has a litany of holes and with Ray Allen off the books, one of those holes is shooting guard. One option for Ainge is packaging picks 21 and 22 to trade up, with the hope of attaining Jeremy Lamb or perhaps Terrence Ross. But Cunningham as been one of the steady risers because he is a tremendous athlete with great size (6 foot 5) for his position. For those who didn't see him at lowly Oregon St., this is a dynamic prospect that excels in transition and has the potential to become a true lockdown defender. His infusion of athleticism and speed will be a welcomed sign for the Celtics.
22. Boston Celtics -- Royce White, PF, Iowa St.
Royce White has lottery talent, but he has slipped considerably down the board because of his anxiety disorder, which among other things, limits his ability to digest information. That's a risk that Danny Ainge can afford to take on a 21-year-old. The Celtics have a power forward in Brandon Bass, but White is an actual point-forward who can handle the ball endline-to-endline while creating offense for himself and others. His barrage of skills (most assists per 40 minutes by a PF over the decade, according to DraftExpress) gives Doc Rivers great flexibility to go both small and big with White on the floor.
23. Atlanta Hawks -- Tony Wroten Jr., PG, SG, Washington
Jeff Teague has emerged as a solid starting point, but the addition of Tony Wroten Jr. gives Atlanta great flexibility in its backcourt. From a developmental standpoint, Wroten should have stayed in school at least another year, but very few players in this draft have his natural tools. Close to 6 feet 5 inches tall, Wroten is a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jordan-schultz/tony-wroten-jr_b_1242145.html" target="_hplink">left-handed, non-stop attacking scorer</a> who excels in the open floor and has also shown flashes of genius with his ability to pass. The downsides with him are that he can't shoot (16 percent threes, 58 percent free throws), is a walking turnover (five per game) and has a reputation for being a very selfish teammate. Even so, Joe Johnson isn't getting any younger, and Atlanta really needs another explosive playmaker who can work both on and off the ball.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers -- Quincy Miller, SF, Baylor
The pieces are starting to come together for Cleveland: Kyrie Irving is the franchise building block and Tristan Thompson quietly had a solid rookie campaign. Quincy Miller was a massive recruit who never seemed to recover from a torn ACL, which he suffered in high school during his time at Baylor. Not unlike fellow teammate Perry Jones III, Miller has a Swiss-army knife of talent, but scouts question his motor and overall production. He averaged under 10.6 points and under five rebounds per game. The Cavs are still in rebuilding mode right now: Barnes is the team's shooting guard of the future, and Miller -- if he wants to be -- can be the starting small forward within three years.
25. Memphis Grizzlies -- Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky
Marquis Teague, the brother of Atlanta PG Jeff Teague, was surprisingly steady as a freshman for Kentucky during its national title run. He isn't special in terms of shooting the ball, but has at times excelled in the open floor with elite quickness and finishing ability. With O.J. Mayo gone to free agency, Memphis needs help alongside Mike Conley to push tempo and get the basketball in the hands of Rudy Gay. Plus, Teague -- who can really get into the lane -- would be a deft pick-and-roll partner for Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
26. Indiana Pacers -- Doron Lamb, PG, SG, Kentucky
Staying with the theme of Kentucky guards, Doron Lamb is one of my favorite players in this entire draft class. A pure jump shooter (46.6 percent threes), he was perhaps Kentucky's most clutch performer in its title run. Lamb is your <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/02/college-basketball-preview-2011_n_1069359.html#s448788&title=Lovin_These_Lambs" target="_hplink">classic combo guard</a> who can score from the perimeter and utilize a deadly pull-up, but loves to play within the team concept as well. He's a bit undersized, but has quick feet and long arms (6-foot-7 wingspan) that should allow him to guard both guard positions as a pro. Indiana may very well try and deal Darren Collison this summer, and Lamb gives the Pacers another piece in its back-court to challenge in the east once again.
27. Miami Heat -- Draymond Green, PF, Michigan St.
The 2012 playoffs showed just how desperate Miami is for another stretch four-man alongside Chris Bosh. Draymond Green lacks pure upside, but at the end of the first round, he represents great value because he can play right away. The former All-America is a proven winner with several defined skills: He can step outside to 20 feet and loves to create for his teammates (four assists per game). While Green does play below the rim, he makes up for it with positioning and a wide base that allow him to rebound at a high level (11 per game). He should accept the torch passed by Udonis Haslem.
28. OKC Thunder -- John Jenkins, SG, Vanderbilt
OKC has a bit of everything on its roster, but John Jenkins -- perhaps the draft's best pure shooter -- instantly gives the team an additional threat on the perimeter. Daequan Cook is a free agent after next season, as is James Harden and Jenkins, who made 44 percent of threes during his senior season at Vandy and could be an excellent fit with the Thunder. He is also very adept at playing off the ball, coming off screens and quickly shooting on the move. Jenkins is a limited prospect, but could be an ideal fit here in a Kyle Korver type of role.
29. Chicago Bulls -- Evan Fournier, SG, SF, France
Even with the Derrick Rose injury concerns, Chicago has a stop-gap at point guard with C.J. Watson. Evan Fournier meanwhile, is the draft's best European prospect as a slashing and dynamic scorer. At 6 feet 7 inches tall, he is a terrific athlete who also excels on the fast-break -- which Luol Deng has struggled with. He also has all of the tools to become a plus defender in the NBA, which we know is crucial under head coach Tom Thibodeau. Although he will likely stay overseas one more season, 19-year-old Fournier could be a very good contributor during a year when the Bulls offense needs an infusion of scoring. A slew of injuries hasn't allowed him to showcase all of his ability during the pre-draft process, which is just fine by Chicago.
30. Golden St. Warriors -- Andrew Nicholson, SF, PF, St. Bonaventure
From a purely skills perspective, the 6-foot-9 uber-versatile Nicholson should garner lottery attention. Although athleticism concerns have him slipping down the board, Nicholson is an NBA-ready stretch-four who can play on the block and the wing while also guarding 3s and 4s. The Atlantic 10 POY guided lowly St. Bonaventure to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 12 years. The Warriors desperately need to build a roster with proven winners, and Nicolson is versatile and is a terrific shooter with legitimate NBA three-point range.