Leading up to the 2012 draft, everyone knew Anthony Davis was the prize of the class, thanks to his terrific freshman season at Kentucky. This was the classic "one-man draft." But two things have since happened that no one expected: (1) Davis has already become a superstar and (2) the class actually has three great players, possibly four.
With several potential All-Stars and a depth of starting-level talent overall, the class of 2012 is shaping up to be a pleasant surprise that looks even better when compared to this year's rookie crop.
Who are the top second-year players in the NBA today? Let's take a look. And remember, this ranking is based on where these guys are today, not where they were yesterday or where they will end up one day.
1. Anthony Davis, Pelicans
Davis does not have a consistent shot yet, nor does he have a plan in the post. But even without those two significant skills, he might already be one of the top players in the game. That should scare the "tank" into almost every team in the league that does not have a legit superstar.
His elite-level talent as a transition finisher, his production rolling to the rim off ball screens, and his triple-threat impact on defense (blocks, steals and covering space) will lift him into All-NBA consideration, potentially as a first-team forward.
2. Andre Drummond, Pistons
Drummond is almost Davis' equal as a player if we look only at his impact in the half court, where his size and agility continue to remind people of Shaq. He simply dominates in the paint by having the proper mindset, which is to force opponents to deal with his big body in front of the rim all game long.
He'd be even more effective if his teammates looked for him more often, which they will learn to do with more film study and coaching. This will result in better production for Drummond and the Pistons as the season unfolds.
Drummond is not the full-court threat Davis is, but he is one of the top rebounding centers in the game today and will compete for All-NBA honors at center for the next decade.
3. Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers
If we redrafted this class, there would be a debate about whether Davis or Drummond should go No. 1. But the No. 3 pick would be easy. Lillard is just better than any other player in this class except for the two guys above him on this list. He has the rare gift of being a world-class shooter and an extremely skilled ball handler, and he plays with poise and aggressiveness simultaneously.
Lillard will never be the athlete that guys like John Wall or Russell Westbrook are, but it's just as unlikely that those players will ever match Lillard's shooting skill. He is good enough to be the starting point guard on a title team while being one of its top-three players.