Lamb to Cavs among best draft fits

Robinson, Lamb and Sullinger would be wise draft choices for certain lottery teams. Getty Images

This year's NBA draft is not full of future stars like the 2003 draft that produced LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh. It's not even going to end up like the 2008 draft that produced Derrick Rose, Kevin Love and Eric Gordon.

Few drafts have that much firepower. This is more typically a draft that will require sifting through a couple of years' worth of accumulated information on prospects. That means savvy evaluating for the combination of talent and fit will yield quality NBA players for some, but not all, teams.

Now that the 2012 NBA draft selection order is set, here are five great fits for teams in the lottery:

No. 4: Cleveland Cavaliers

Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut Huskies

Put Lamb in the backcourt with defending rookie of the year Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers have solved a major problem for the next decade. Lamb's positional size, scoring ability and high ceiling make him a great fit for a rebuilding franchise.

While Lamb, who is younger than Irving, can certainly improve his strength, the notion that he is a soft player is foolish.

He showed his toughness in the NCAA tournament his freshman season. Despite Kemba Walker's brilliance all season, there would have been no NCAA title for the Huskies in 2011 without Lamb's heroics. His clutch shooting bailed the Huskies out even when Walker went ice cold in games against Arizona and Butler.

This season, on a chaotic Huskies team, Lamb averaged 17 points per game. And while he struggled at times with his consistency from 3-point range, he shot a blistering 60 percent inside the arc. He learned to make plays for himself off the dribble this season and his movement without the ball has always been Ray Allen-like.

Right now, Florida's Bradley Beal is the direction in which the herd is being pulled, and he is certainly a lottery pick. But if it were up to me, I'd take Lamb. In a draft full of questions, outside of Davis, the Cavs' decision about who they should partner Irving with could have an impact on the team for a decade. I think Lamb will be a star.

No. 2: Charlotte Bobcats

Thomas Robinson, Kansas Jayhawks

Don't overthink this pick, Bobcats. You need ready-to-go NBA players right now -- and a lot of them. Robinson will step into your lineup at the power forward position and contribute double-doubles right away.

Last July, I watched Robinson dominate the counselor workouts at the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio. And yes, Anthony Davis, Jared Sullinger, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Plumlees were all there competing as well. After biding his time behind the Morris twins at KU, this camp was Robinson's coming-out party.

Then, in what would be a dominating junior season, Robinson basically put the Jayhawks on his back in leading them to the national championship game. Here's how.

While Robinson is closer to 6-foot-9 than 6-10, he has the requisite NBA athleticism, low-post skills and high-energy motor that will endear him to any franchise in the lottery. And it's clear that rebounding tends to translate from college to the NBA. His 31 percent defensive rebounding rate was the best in college basketball. He physically dominated the country for most of the season.

Robinson's toughness and level of competence as a player is a great starting point for the Bobcats, who are obviously disappointed they won't land Davis. They have to start somewhere, and a guy who will get them points and rebounds immediately is a good place.

No. 3: Washington Wizards

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky Wildcats

In another draft, Gilchrist's overall skill package would relegate him to a lower slot in the lottery. Even as a rookie, he may struggle to score and even consistently knock down outside shots. But the one thing he would be able to hang his hat on in any draft is his competitiveness. And nowhere is that needed more than in Washington.

Gilchrist was the de facto leader of this year's young Kentucky national championship team, setting the tone with his energy, toughness and athleticism. He ran the floor relentlessly and attacked the rim with abandon. He'll rebound his position as well as anyone. And hopefully the way he's conditioned himself to play will rub off on a Wizards team that went 20-46 this season.

If Gilchrist can polish up his offensive game -- he shot 26 percent from beyond the college arc -- he'll start from Day 1 and compete for the NBA Rookie of the Year award. This is a great fit because he will play a prominent role immediately on a team that has to learn how to win.

No. 8: Toronto Raptors

Jared Sullinger, Ohio State Buckeyes

The Raptors could certainly use help at a number of spots, but I like them rebuilding their team with a front line that includes high-character Ohio State star Sullinger and 2011 first-round selection Jonas Valanciunas, the 6-11 Lithuanian 20-year-old who spent the past season playing in Europe.

Sullinger may not have the elite athleticism you'd want out of an NBA power forward, but he has always thrived on his toughness around the basket, his outstanding fundamentals and great basketball acumen. He drew an average of 6.1 fouls per 40 minutes this season and shoots a shade under 70 percent from the foul line. In a league full of undersized forwards, he'll get opponents in foul trouble.

Valanciunas, who dominated the Under-19 world championships last summer and who played well this season in EuroCup play, has some toughness of his own. His length and defensive potential at center will complement Sullinger's scoring and rebounding potential as well.

The two 20-year olds won't make the Raptors a playoff team, but it is a good start.

No. 10: New Orleans Hornets

Perry Jones, Baylor Bears

Davis, Gordon and -- most importantly -- Hornets coach Monty Williams will make a good marriage for Baylor's Perry Jones. First of all, the franchise has already hit the lottery (pun intended) with the chance to pick Davis at No. 1, so there's room here for the risk/reward of the equally prodigious talent, Jones.

Under the right circumstances, Jones could have been a top-three pick last year but elected to return to Baylor for his sophomore season. However, his long bouts of inconsistent play this season raise a lot of questions on the part of NBA decision-makers.

Here's what I know. At 6-11 and 240 pounds, Jones has a nearly perfect NBA power forward's frame and the requisite athleticism to be an All-Star. And few at his size can handle the ball like he does. In addition, he is a high-character kid who will work as hard at his game as Williams pushes him.

If Jones is missing anything, it is the "nasty" (as Gregg Popovich would put it) and toughness needed to compete night in and night out against guys like Kevin Garnett and Bosh. And he'll need it, because I don't believe he has the skills to float on the perimeter as a small forward, although he's being marketed that way.

Williams is one of the bright young coaches in the NBA and Jones has a lot to learn about the game, but he will be a willing learner. If Williams can get the 20-year-old to begin to play to his potential, the Hornets' rebuilding process will be sped up considerably. It's a gamble that I would take.